I have read a LOT of books about decluttering, organizing, sorting and getting rid of junk. I've gone through the White House Black Shutters 40 days 40 boxes challenge a couple of times. I read The Magic Art of Tiding Up before the author had a hit TV show. One of my favorites was Swedish Death Cleaning which is full of hope contrary to the sound of the title. When I was invited to be on the launch team for Joshua Becker's Minimalist Home I quickly said yes.
Joshua Becker has a very successful blog and has purportedly helped millions learn how to clean out and free their best lives by letting go of all their stuff. I loved his quotes and memes. The book was well researched and had lots of helpful information. I was floored by the fact that there is enough self storage square footage in the United States to house every man, woman and child in the USA. Crazy town.
My one complaint is I felt like the structure and layout of the book was cluttered and packed. The dissonance between the message of minimalism and the packed book I found distracting. A tightened structure, streamlined message and less busy typeset would have been more consistent with Mr. Becker's message.
Our children hit some milestones this past week. The youngest one lost another tooth and officially entered my favorite phase of childhood - the double gap goofy grin. I am so excited her big teeth are nowhere to be seen so we'll get to enjoy this grin and sweet lisp for quite a while. I'm gonna cry when the big teeth surface.
The big sister graduated up another level in reeds for her alto saxophone. Those of you fellow band nerds know how much growth a new reed level shows. For those of you who never were in band probably its similar to stepping up to new cleats in soccer or toe shoes for ballet. It's like losing another tooth. Baby steps left behind - new stuff up ahead.
I spent the evening last night following five middle school girls around the mall so they could purchase dresses for an after school dance. No way is this mama letting teens wander the mall by themselves. I don't care if the other moms do. Sign me up. Being a mom isn't for wimps. All five girls found dresses, all on sale and all with enough fabric to pass muster. Cheers! They also bought candy, rode the quarter little kid rides and tested out every single makeup sample. I grinned as I watched.
What I've discovered about middle school is the stories people tell aren't the full truth. Sure - middle school is emotional and hard and awkward. Girl drama sucks. But it's also sweet and joyful and precious. We do best when I remind myself I'm the adult. If I can be stable and centered and grin instead of yell we'll be just fine.
My house will have teenage daughters for twelve straight crazy fantastic years.
Be still my heart. It's gonna burst.
My spouse took this photo of me at a fun restaurant on the way home from the beach a couple weekends ago. I love it. The sign makes me grin. The grungy cat beds are awesome. Don't you just love people who know who they are? This restaurant is willing to let you come EAT but only if you accept their cats. Take them as they are or eat somewhere else. I had clam chowder in a big bread bowl dripping with butter. The cats didn't bother me.
Here's the deal. I want to write. I want to post beautiful pictures I took on morning walks. I want to send out encouraging messages to my dear friends and family. This is what I want to do.
My nephew had surgery. My parents are moving. I'm hiring and training new employees. I'm driving to Olympia to testify and negotiate and deal with legislative issues. I am working stupid long hours.
I'm not complaining. I'm just explaining.
I want to write. I just don't have time.
Life has chapters and this one is crazy.
I'd love if if you'd pray for Quirky Faith. Pray for space in my schedule to clear so I can get back at what I love to do.
As for me, I'm accepting the state of my life as it is - crazy and messy. I'm doing my best to serve and love in the situations right in front of me. Life doesn't always look like an Instagram photo. Sometimes it has grungy cat beds.
We spent the weekend at marriage retreat. Amazing weather. I kept having to remind myself it is January. At one point I was standing on the deck watching the stunning sunset and drinking coffee.
My spouse took a couple of photo. He started to laugh. And then said hello. Turns out we know the people in the room next door. Little friendly photo bomb.
I think sunsets are one of the ways God waves hello. A little reminder He tucks into our day to call us upward. When I get too busy, distracted or self absorbed I love to see God show up and get the focus off me.
When does God wave hello to you?
It's been awhile since I posted a blog post. If you follow Quirky Faith on Facebook or Instagram you know I haven't completely disappeared. However, finding time to sit and write has been on the bottom of the list lately. I've had quite a bit of work at my actual job and I had the great joy of speaking to five different groups for Quirky Faith about the power of words. It was a lot of fun but took the time I normally put toward the blog.
The last two weeks I've been completely focused on all the color of Christmas. We decorated early - a week before Thanksgiving. Don't be mad and judge now. I love Thanksgiving. We had a houseful and fed them well - turkey and sausage stuffing, pie and green beans. We prayed and talked about gratitude. We focused on being thankful. But it happens to be that one of things we are most grateful for is the Christ Child so the Christmas decorations added to the thankful hearts in our home. Jesus coming is not a distraction.
Then my eldest daughter and I and a group of friends got up at 4:30 am and joined all the crazies in the frenzied sock buying festival that is Black Friday. It was fun. I had not yet purchased any Christmas presents for anyone so I was a shopping machine. And then a wrapping party broke out. Then Christmas cards. Then preschool bell choir. I love the preschool bell choir. The kids this year were intent and joyful. I cried. But writing didn't happen.
So this morning I'm sitting with my laptop under a fuzzy blanket next to a glowing tree. *my English professor would not be impressed with that last sentence. Too many prepositions. I'm currently reading "The Intelligent Conversationalist". The last chapter was about how now to embarrass yourself with grammar mistakes. Split infinitives. I have heard of these my whole life and never knew what they were. Dangling participles. These grammar issues seem like diseases. If you look them up on WebMD you'll likely be convinced you are dying.
My spouse just handed me a cup of coffee. He wins. Perhaps this post will loop into something clear now that I'm adding coffee. Perhaps not.
One of the problems with not blogging in awhile is the pressure in my head mounts. My inner critic starts to preach a lie that the next post has to be phenomenal because I've been so absent. So then the little thoughts I have and want to write about don't seem like enough. So I don't post. And the time goes longer. And the pressure mounts.
So this morning I'm just writing. Just to rip off the bandaid and get something out. Sometimes the best way to get past a block is to take a step forward. Any messy but courageous step.
Good morning. It's Saturday. Christmas is coming. Be of good cheer.
My daughters and I signed up to do the iCan race. The fifth and sixth graders at our church put the race on to raise money for a service project to help foster kids. If you know me well at all you shouldn't be surprised that I was drawn in by kids helping kids. We signed up for the easy walk 5K.
I just loved it. When I stood at the race starting line I was so impressed with the teens who sprinted off the take off line. I loved watching the church cheer on the fastest runners and encourage those of us who were slower. Along the race line were signs which had cheerful sayings to keep us motivated. iCan pray. iCan encourage others. iCan persevere. iCan try harder. iCan share Jesus. As we approached each sign my kindergartener sounded out the words.
Somewhere in the middle the little one started to lag. Her legs hurt. I grabbed her hand and we soldiered on. We rounded a corner and up ahead was a refreshment station manned by the kiddos from church. One of our friends saw us. She came running forward, cheering on my little one, bringing us water. I almost started to cry. Not at all because the race was difficult. But because in her action I saw the church. This is what we are supposed to do for each other. Encourage. Cheer. Aid. Run toward. Smile.
We turned back and hustled our way to the finish line. My youngest one needed cheered on. Her big sister prayed for her. I held her hand. We kept walking on the path in the right direction. You see the sermons hiding in there right?
At the end of the race our children's pastors were standing at the finish line. They saw the little one. She decided to run and finish strong. I'm telling you I almost cried again. Not because her action was so amazing. Because its was a symbol again of what the church does. Her pastors cheered and yelled and encouraged her to finish the race. When she crossed the finish line they both gave her a high five and welcomed her home. Seriously more sermons. Great way to start a Saturday.
I had the opportunity to speak at our church's women's retreat this last weekend. So. Much. Fun. If I'd been thinking about it I should have filmed it for Quirky Faith....ah well. Maybe someday. At any rate I am loving having the opportunities to speak more often . If you have a retreat, conference, event or would like a sermon fill in let me know and we'll see if we can work out a topic and time. I'd love to share Jesus with your crew too.
I promised the women at retreat I would share the links to a few of the studies I mentioned in the speech. major point of the presentation was my attempt to prove words have power. These studies show the amazing impact words have on our actions, thoughts, emotions and relationships. If you know of other studies which prove the power of our words and language feel free to share them in the comments. I'm collecting research. Enjoy!
The Color Study
Jules Davidoff from Goldsmith University in London conducted a study of how the perception of color is affected by language. The Himba tribe in Namibia does not have a word for the color blue and consequently struggled to identify it in the study. Sounds unlikely until YOU try to pick out the different color green without having the word to differentiate. Crazy interesting. You can read the full study HERE. A good summary is below.
This matters because what we think about, name and process mentally is what we see in the world. Name lots of things to be angry about? You'll see more anger. Process and learn more about God? You'll see His actions all around you.
The Movement Study
The University of Brussels conducted a study of how artificial intelligence can create language by placing robots in front of mirrors and showing them their own movement. I'm telling you - I can nerd out on this type of thing all day long. Here is the study.
Saving for a Rainy Day
blog.ted.com/saving-for-a-rainy-day-keith-chen-on-language-that-forecasts-weather-and-behavior/comment-page-2/Economist Keith Chen delivered a TED talk looking at how the use of tensed verbs can affect the responsibility decisions in culture. Apparently when our thoughts about our actions separate the consequences to a future date we're less likely to behave. Watch the whole talk below or read a shorter summary HERE.
If you talk to me anytime in October I'll probably mention Pastor Appreciation Month. I love the idea of saying thank you to people who invest and love and could likely use the encouragement. This year I'm going to make it a point to say thank you to the husbands and wives of our pastors as well. Think about it - when pastors are pulling long nights at hospital visits or praying with people in the midst of difficult circumstances their spouses are picking up the difference at home. Many good ministers depend on their other halves for support and care and comfort. Whew. Heavy load. Thanks are appropriate.
Kay Warren is the wife and ministry parter of Pastor Rick Warren. The Warren's serve at Saddleback Church in California, helped start Celebrate Recovery, are involved with The Purpose Drive Life and some incredible AIDS support and outreach programs. They are crazy busy. Kay's first book Dangerous Surrender is on my must read list. She's faced recovery from sexual abuse, depression, marriage problems, and suicide of their son. She loves Jesus. This new book Sacred Trust is about the blessings and difficulties of ministry and how to serve without drowning. Its gorgeous.
I've got a copy of Kay Warren's book Sacred Trust to give away! I'll be making a list of all the pastor's spouses I know and drawing a winner from the list this coming Friday. If you have a person who is married to a pastor you'd like to add to the list send me an email. You might consider buying this beautiful book and passing it on as well.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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