When I make my to-do lists, I precede each item with a little, hollow box. When the task is completed (the letter sent, the laundry folded, the post written) I take great delight in filling in the little box with ink. I like the way my paper looks with a flush-left column of neatly filled-in boxes. Read more at (in)courage…
Archives for February 2010
There will be thirty of them. Many of them don’t know each other. Some are best friends. A couple might not really even like each other all that much. I get it. I was in high school once, too. Girls are funny when we get together. Put a bunch of high school girls in one house over night and out spills the best and the worst of them all. At least, that’s what we hope for.
I’m looking forward to hosting the 2nd annual Good Girl Project (along with my best girl Kendra) this weekend at my house. It’s for the girls in our youth group who are stuck in a private battle with that perfect, invisible good girl. A place for those of us who are caught in the cycle of trying hard to measure up with varying shades of success. A place for those of us who need to be reminded to simply be and receive in the midst of a world telling us to do and achieve. We’re gonna call that good girl out for what she is: a liar and a very bad friend.
And we’re gonna laugh a lot and share our Jesus stories and eat some chocolate because that’s what girls do. I wish I could have come to a weekend like this when I was sixteen. I’d tell myself to trust more, worry less and enjoy that stretch mark free tummy. Is there anything you wish you could tell your high school self?
To receive this day as it is and not as I wish it was seems like an impossible task sometimes, especially as I stand at the grocery store exit with a cart full only to realize it is pouring. down. the rain. Or when I have big plans for a productive day, but the littlest one is running a fever. Or when they come home from school only to fight until bedtime.
I wish for tomorrow a lot. I rarely consider the fact that tomorrow doesn’t really even exist.
Every week in this place, we purpose to receive this day as the only one we’ve got. Some Tuesdays, I am overflowing with gratitude for the beauty and the peace. I pick out gifts and blessings like two blooms in a whole field full of poppies. There is more than enough to go around.
But there are other days when I trip over too much stuff and too little time. I’m clumsy and worried and fragile. And I desperately need a nap. I am slowly learning what it means to embrace those days, too. Because those are the days when I discover my need for relationship, for encouragement, for community and solitude and forgiveness.
So whether you are in the midst of the mess, surrounded by the lovely or interrupted by things unexpected, I encourage you to pause and consider the gift, whatever it might be. Then, if time allows, share it with us.
Please be sure to include the permalink to your unwrapped post as well as a link back here so all will be able to find one another. If you need help, here are the details. All are welcome to join.
“A mother lives with grief every day of her life. Grief that her baby is growing up and won’t need her anymore. Grief over mistakes. Grief that time can’t be bought back.” -Emory Chance from Mary DeMuth’s novel A Slow Burn
Emory Chance called it grief. Some people call it guilt. I couldn’t sleep the other night because I was thinking of all the ways I could be mothering better. My good mom checklist was full of to-do’s and not one of them was checked off. I have a terrible habit of taking on too much responsibility. And of being a tad dramatic.
Shame rolls ’round and ’round my heart and head every day of my life. I would rather call it guilt because it doesn’t sound as embarrassing, but really I think it goes deeper. Guilt can be a good thing, a God-reminder when things aren’t right and an opportunity to change them. Shame is what happens when we let guilt fester and sink deeper and don’t deal with it. Shame seeps into our skin when we aren’t looking and takes our spirit hostage. And then she sits down heavy and masks herself as us so we can’t tell the difference between the two.
Shame waits until my defenses are down on a sleepless night and then begins to whisper doubt: Maybe you’re not doing enough. Maybe you’re not cut out for this. Maybe you’re messing them up.
And in that place, I have a choice. I can believe the dark suggestions that it is up to me to get it right on my own. Or I can trust that I was made in His image for such a time as this, to parent these He has given, and to receive grace and mercy from His hand.
(This post title is from Alan D. Wright’s book, Shame Off You: Overthrowing the Tyrant Within).
I’ve been doing a lot of work on the book these last few weeks, writing that won’t be seen for awhile. Unfortunately it takes me away from this space. That’s another thing I love about Tuesdays Unwrapped: I can direct you to other lovely blogs and small gift celebrators.
In case you didn’t get the chance to browse through the links on Tuesday, here is a quick roundup of some of my favorites. Hard to choose only five, but if I added too many more it would just be Tuesday all over again. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.
The Scooper decides to let go of the myth of having a clean house and chooses her kids instead: Slaying the Loch Ness Mommy @ a la mode.
This mom has redeemed her time of quiet and called a truce with her afternoon shift: Mom’s Taxi @ Imoomie.
Erin remembers her childhood and unwraps the ‘simple moments shared with a new generation’: Unwrapping Little Memories @ Together for Good.
Ellen sees her husband with fresh eyes: Different and Bettter @ Handmade Recess.
Finally, the way this girl notices things has my soul stunned in a good way: Textures @ Boy Crazy.
I have a really bad habit of wanting spring to start two days after Christmas. Winter’s fresh is cleansing, but I’ll take spring’s colorful warmth any time. So here we are in the middle of February. I count the days til the pool opens. I resent forcing carseat straps over thick, heavy coats. I shuffle snow around my front steps in search of brave bulbs peeking green beneath hard ground. I break my own rules of moment cherishing by longing for a season that isn’t ready yet. So this is me, calling a truce with winter.
Do you have a truce you need to call? A gift you need to reluctantly unwrap? We would love to hear about it.
When you link to your own post, please remember two things: Link directly to the post you want to include and link back to Chatting at the Sky somewhere in your post. Also, thank you in advance for keeping things relevant to the spirit of Tuesdays Unwrapped.
He could have had anything, but he asked for wisdom. And so it went that he was granted more wisdom than any man, ever. The third chapter of Ecclesiastes was his observations on how these earthly things go. There is a natural rhythm to life, an ebb and flow that we can’t bypass or ignore. There is no override button.
The thing about life is it was meant to be lived. Sometimes, that seems like bad news. I saw this chapter printed out on display in an office space last week. The middle of verse 8 was left out, so all it said was A time to love and a time for peace taking out the hate and war part. I like that better, too. But that’s not how things are.
As it is, I can’t read these verses without silently inserting turn, turn, turn (can you?), but that is the truth of it. Time turns and turns and rolls over itself, the awful and the lovely mixing in like colored play-doh. I can’t say that the awful makes the lovely more lovely, because I think the lovely would be just fine on its own. Somehow, though, it can be redeemed; even the hate and the war parts. As much as I’d prefer the lovely all by itself, beauty from ashes tells a more compelling story.
Love shows up in the most unlikely places. Here’s to choosing to see it, and to love in return.
Love in the midst of great loss @ To Think.
Love in the midst of forgiveness @ The Run a Muck.
Love in the midst of arts and crafts gone wrong @ Like Merchant Ships.
Love in the midst of sickness and health @ Holy Experience.
Love in the midst of a hot dog joint @ My First Kitchen.
Where has love shown up for you lately?
Other blogs have a well-defined niche and a lovely, inspiring focus, like frugal lifestyle blogger Jen, or the home blogs – Kimba and my Blissdom roomates: My sister The Nester, Melissa, and Sandy. Their creative ideas for how to make the home you have right now become the home you’ve always wanted leave me feeling empowered and encouraged to make small changes in the way I think about my home that bring about rewarding results for my family.
And then there are the writerly blogs, written by women who have hearts I admire, the kind where you know when you read, you will see a bit of yourself and a bit of another and maybe a glimpse of God. They put things into words that weren’t there before, and for that I am equal parts jealous and thankful. When I read Amber, Emily, Melissa, Megan and Arianne, it’s as if I’ve come home.
I almost didn’t go to Blissdom this year.
My time last year was incredible, but I left feeling a little lost, as though perhaps I wasn’t doing this blog thing right. The writerly types weren’t as visible last year. I have no craft to sell, no niche to define me and not one practical top ten list. I left wondering if the writing was enough, like maybe I needed to go out and find a new pair of shoes.
I don’t feel that way anymore, as I have been on a journey of discovering the value of quality content and that writing your passion applies no matter what kind of shoes you wear. I was excited to speak with such intelligent, articulate and passionate women (Deb, Isabel and Amber) on a panel called Content is Queen. Angela attended our session and wrote a nice recap, if you are interested.
Melissa, A Familiar Path; Emily, Remodeling This Life; Amber, The Run A Muck
I loved being at Blissdom this year. I love the women and the diversity and the grown-up-ness of it all (thank you Alli and Barbara!) I appreciated the two separate focuses: the business side of blogging and the writing side of blogging. Blissdom definitely had her big girl pants on this year. And she was wearing all kinds of shoes.
Each shoe pictured in this post did indeed attend Blissdom, as did each person who was linked to. If you would like to see more photos of people (and shoes), feel free to browse my flickr photo stream here.
One thing everyone says during blog conferences is that the best part is what happens between the sessions. A few years ago, I would never have dreamed that the women I read online would become women I know in real life. Those are Emily’s hands, holding her warm cup too early on Saturday. We sat, just the two of us, face to face at a small table by the wall. She is a listener, a question-asker, a truth-seeker. And now she is a real-life friend. I so like her. What a gift.
Join us as we unwrap these small, sacred gifts of the everyday. If you’ve never linked up before, this post will help you with the technical stuff. All are welcome.
I attended a workshop this weekend on Memoir Writing. As I was listening to the panelists talk about telling an honest personal story, I couldn’t help but think of Mary DeMuth’s memoir, Thin Places. The book officially releases today, but I was provided an advance copy for review. I meant to finish it by now, but a few chapters in, I realize this is not a book to rush through.
Much like Annie Dilliard, Mary invites the reader in to sit a while, giving the rich, poetic imagery time to settle and weave and surround. Her voice is honest, redemptive and raw. And sometimes, because of the subject, difficult to get through. I admit I put it down more than once because it was simply heartbreaking. Sometimes overwhelmingly so. But each time I picked it up again, Mary’s words reminded me of the healing and redemption that come from brokenness.
In her own words: “The end result is story: mine. It’s the story of a little girl who faced sexual abuse, neglect, drug-using parents, fear, death of a parent, and a host of other malevolence.
And yet it’s a hope-filled story, where the bright light of God’s climactic redemption outshines the dark places. It’s a story of God’s nearness when I thought I’d nearly lose my mind and will to live. How grateful I am for the beautiful love of Jesus, how dearly He chose frail me to shame the wise. It’s really His story after all.”
Find out what others are saying about Thin Places.
Get a copy of the book on Amazon.
The nights have been late and the rooms have been loud. Tomorrow we leave Nashville for home. I look forward to de-briefing on BlissDom soon-ish. Unitl then, link up with Blessed Moon. She wasn’t there, either.