Monday, February 29, 2016

What I Learned in January and February

Two of my favorite bloggers (Emily P. Freeman and Modern Mrs. Darcy) do something toward the end of each month that I always look forward to, so I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon.

I love to learn new things, and I want my kids to be lifelong learners. To help me model this for them, each month I’ll be sharing a “What I Learned in…” post. There are no rules here. The learning can be profound or profoundly ridiculous. The point is to pay attention to it all. 

So, without further ado…

What I Learned in January/February (I’m doubling up)!

1. I prefer cashew butter to almond butter.

I know, it sounds silly, but it’s been a big deal for me. I don’t consume a lot of peanut butter, even though I love it. Most people who make the switch to “healthier nut butters” go straight to almond butter. For the past couple of years, I’ve use almond butter and I like it. I just don’t love it. But cashew butter? Yumminess. 

I think there might be a larger lesson here. Something about not trying to force yourself to love something just because everyone else does? Or maybe about how it’s better to keep trying new things instead of assuming they are all basically the same? Come to think of it, that seems to be a theme for the entire month. Read on. 

2. I do not like e-books.

I don’t hate them. I’m not anti-Kindle or anti-Nook or anti-iPad. But if I have an e-book, there’s a good chance I’ll forget about it and never get it read. It just doesn’t speak to me the way the hardback on my nightstand or the paperback in my purse does.

3. I love going to movies alone.

After a near implosion mid-month, my wise husband sent me to a movie by myself. It was glorious. I may go to another one this month (he doesn’t know this yet). It’s not that I’m anti-social. But I am a highly-sensitive introvert and spending all day, every day with people, even the people I love more than anything in the world, makes me a little seriously crazy. 

That night, I went to dinner with my husband, then drove myself to the theatre where I arrived 45 minutes early (the only appropriate time to arrive for a move in my opinion). I got the best seat in the empty theatre then disappeared into another world (which included Chris Pine and that’s always a good thing) for a couple of hours. It was rejuvenating, both emotionally and creatively.

4. I love coffee. I don’t need the caffeine.

I gave up coffee in January. After 7 straight days of headaches, I finally broke free of the caffeine addiction. The coffee addiction, however, seems to be here to stay. I love a great cup of coffee in the morning, or with friends, but now I’m drinking decaf. Even at 6 a.m.

5. There are thousands of pounds of unexploded ordnance buried in Europe, particularly in Germany.  

I read a fascinating article in The Smithsonian about how/why so many bombs didn’t explode and were lost underground after the Allied bombing raids over Germany. My writer-brain is having a field day with it. I know there’s a way to use this in a story someday!

6. Mental clutter shuts me down and it’s worth the effort to clear it away.

I’m a very visual person and clutter drives me crazy, but I’ve always thought that as long as it was out of sight, it didn’t bother me. So things like cluttered closets or the kids’ messy bedrooms weren’t really an issue. WRONG. I spent a week cleaning out the kids’ rooms and closets and it has been deliciously freeing.

7. These sushi stacks are awesome. 

Try them. I’m not saying you won’t miss your favorite sushi restaurant, but they may help you survive until your next roll. (Random: The fact that I now love sushi is a complete mystery to anyone who knew me as a kid. If you have a picky eater, take heart. They may outgrow it!)

Ok – that’s it for now. I actually have five more things, but this post is already too long. 

I’d love for you to leave a comment and share one, two, or twenty things you’ve learned so far this year.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

You Get What You Get and You Don't Pitch a Fit

My boys have both been privileged to have the same wonderful teacher in preschool, Mrs. Rhonda. 

She’s responsible for teaching super awesome tips like how to hold onto your sleeve when you put on a jacket so your sleeve doesn’t wind up over your elbow. I think we can all agree this is a crucial skill for the preschool set.

She also has some fun little sayings. “One, two, three, eyes on me!” This one works great for her (for some reason, it is less effective when I employ it in our home). 

Without a doubt, my favorite saying is “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!” 

We’ve handed out crayons and you wanted a different color? “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!” 
We’re having cupcakes and you wanted the one from the far left corner instead of the far right? “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!”
My boys like to use this on each other. When one is on the verge of a meltdown because he got the blue plate and he wanted the orange one? You can be sure his brother will pipe up with, “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!” 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Probably Undoubtedly because I am prone to pitching a fit when I don’t get what I want. 

If I believe that God is both Sovereign and Love—and I do—then when something comes my way, shouldn’t I take it without throwing a hissy fit? 


Of course, there is a place for lament. We see it in Job. We see it in Ruth as Naomi laments her lot in life. The Psalms are full of them.

But lament isn’t the same thing as whining. Lament cries out against the injustice of a situation while declaring and trusting in the Sovereignty of God. Whining cries out against the injustice of a situation while doubting the goodness of God and insisting on our own personal sovereignty.

The truth is that most of the time, I can’t even pretend I’m “lamenting” a situation. I’m pitching a fit because I want to be in control and I’m seriously ticked off that I’m not.

I may might definitely have control issues.

I want the blue plate, the cupcake with the chocolate icing, and I want my day to go the way I planned it thank you very much. And relinquishing my desire for control? Submitting to another plan? Choosing to rely on the Father who loves me rather than my self? I feel helpless to figure this out. It feels hopeless. 

Because it is. 

If I try to manufacture this dependence on my own, I will fail. 
If I try to work harder to be more patient, I will be spectacularly unsuccessful.
If I try to pretend everything is okay on the outside when I’m losing it on the inside, I will eventually explode all over everyone unfortunate enough to be near me. (This is my default mechanism—believe me when I say the explosions aren’t pretty).

So what am I supposed to do? I’m a task oriented girl. I want a plan!
And how does God answer my lament whining? Not with a detailed action plan, but with one command.

Abide in Me.

To abide is to remain, to stay. It’s a state of being, which is lovely, but I have things to DO!

So then He reminds me of this . . . 

John 15:4-5 (ESV) - Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (emphasis mine)

Awesome. {Heavy sarcasm alert}

I am so far from living this out. It will take a lifetime of practice and I’m not even sure what it will look like. 

I suspect that one of the fruits of abiding in Christ is being able to accept whatever He gives, whenever He gives it, however He chooses to give it. 

Without pitching a fit.

I don’t know how to do this, but I suspect my Abba is smiling at me and whispering, “One, two, three, eyes on Me.”

I think that’s where I’ll start. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Writer's Fear

A few weeks ago, I watched a live Adele concertThe lucky people who filled the venue were an enthusiastic audience. There were cheers, applause, and the occasional sing-a-long when she sang a favorite.

I’m a fan so I enjoyed it immensely, but I couldn’t help but be struck by her vulnerability. She stood on the stage and poured herself into each song, even though she wasn’t sure of the response she would get. At one point, she wiped tears from her eyes and told the crowd how nervous she was and how afraid she’d been that they wouldn’t like her new songs.

As I watched, I kept thinking, “She’s Adele for crying out loud! What does she have to be afraid of? How does she not know that people are going to love it?”

When it was over the cameras followed her off the stage, all the way to a waiting elevator where she threw herself into the arms of her boyfriend . . . and sobbed.

It’s an image I’ve been unable to shake.

Even if you aren’t a fan of her music, it’s impossible to deny Adele’s success. Her voice is instantly recognizable. Her songs debut at number one on the charts and stay there for weeks. Even in this digital age, her albums have shattered sales records.

If Adele is still worried about how her music will be received, what does that say for those of us putting our art into the world for the first, second, or third time?

I'm guest posting today over at The Write Conversation. Pop on over there to read the rest of this story. 

And check back next week. I've got some new and (hopefully) fun posts planned for February. :)