Things I Learned in March

One of my favorite bloggers, Emily P. Freeman, encourages others to take time at the end of the month to write about what we learned. Be it silly or spiritual, sweet or just noticing life around me, I love this challenge. So enjoy what I learned this month and please share in the comments something you learned this month—be it silly or deep.

  • I appreciate sunshine more than I realized. After a long winter (and this wasn’t even a bad one) the sunshine and the warmer temps are affecting me more this year. I want to drink them in and be outside more.
  • My eldest child strives to be a classy dude. I knew that one but there were many reminders this month. From his love of wearing bowties and hats to his request that his sisters stop the potty humor so we can have a little class, I’ve seen it this month all over again.
  • When I eat junk, I feel like junk. Again, knew that but had a couple of days where I felt stressed and just didn’t care. Only by the end of the second one I felt tired, heavier (not just on the scale), and slightly sick. Note to self: buy more fruits and veggies…except broccoli. See next item.
  • I still hate broccoli. Seriously. The smell…gag. Ugh. I tried. I really did. Two of my kids love it and two tolerate it. So I will try to cover my nose and prepare it from time to time for their health. But don’t expect me to sample any.
  • Time at Starbucks with workout friends can be calming on a tempestuous day. Talking about nothing and anything over a treat can help recharge my batteries before diving into the necessary. And thanks to warmer weather I’m enjoying a Refresher at 90 calories instead of a macchiato at 290 calories. So there’s that….
  • A no isn’t always the end. Sometimes it is the change in direction you need. Sometimes, after you feel sad about the no, you can find new directions, new paths, and even new ideas. And reading new books to learn new things is exhilarating.
  • Some of the movies I was sure my kids would LOVE from my past have bored them to tears and some have rocked their worlds. Ah well. I’ll keep trying. Some classics are just worth seeing. I mean I haven’t even gotten to the Lethal Weapon series yet and Mullet Mel Gibson is so worth a look.
  • I think I would adore sitting and having coffee with author Kathi Lipp. Just started her book “The Cure for the Perfect Life” and I’m convinced we’d be fast friends.
  • I was reminded, yet again, that I adore the privilege motherhood gives me of being part of these four little humans’ lives. I get to watch my beautiful daughter Kati run track and do things I never could–specifically hurdles and playing the cello (just not while she’s running). I get to see Ryan find joy in the water in Special Olympics Swim Practice and discover gardening. I get to watch the pride in little Lucy’s face as she describes to me her reading progress and how she’s getting better at flips on the monkey bars. I get to help my son Jarod grow in his faith as he dives deeper into the Bible and comes to me with good, sound questions. I get to be part of that! Best. Job. Ever.

So what did you learn in March? Was it a good month for shaking winter picstitchsadness and embracing spring? Are you starting new books? New adventures? If spring hasn’t sprung, hang in there. I saw a beautiful tree outside Starbucks today I hadn’t noticed before. Its branches tickled the sky and tiny buds poised ready to burst forth in green beauty. Ah. I’ll enjoy that today for sure.

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February Reflections

As I sit here on a chilly Saturday morning trying to figure out how to be productive with my writing and motherhood, I find myself visiting a favorite blog—Chatting at the Sky. Emily Freeman has come to be one of my favorite authors. I’m getting lost in her book A Million Little Ways. I don’t want to finish it because then it will be over. So as I visit her blog, I see her encouragement to reflect on this month and share things I’ve learned. She’s even fostering community by allowing writers to post their links. See why I adore her?

Reflecting sounds like a productive use of my writing today while I listen to my children creating: the girls make brownies, Ryan makes gluten-free brownies, and Jarod makes a movie. So what did I learn in February? Hmmm.

  1. Community is essential to my sanity. Whether with my writing friends online, my new acquaintances in my exercise classes, or dear friends (see #2), I need my tribe. When life is battering, God uses my various communities to help me keep going. They encourage me and embrace who I am – warts and all.
  2. A night out with my closest girlfriends is essential for the sake of my mental stability. When the majority of us found a way to escape kids and homes to meet up for dinner and laughter and conversation at Applebee’s, it was salve for my soul. Plus that was the best steak I’ve had in a long time. I keep ruining them at home. See #3.
  3. I hate making dinner. Oh, wait. That wasn’t news. That was just confirmed again and again. Now that my six-year-old has been inspired by Master Chef Junior, she wants to learn to do this. I can’t teach her fast enough. Does that count as child labor?
  4. My eldest daughter is a closet writer. She just didn’t want to share her writing with anyone. When I told her one of my fav authors never let anyone see her writing journal until college, her face lit up. She found a notebook and spent the next hour using writing prompts to launch ideas. She found a hiding place for her work that I will respect.
  5. There is such freedom in having a teen son with a license. Can I get an amen from any moms who’ve passed this milestone? And yet the first time he drove off alone, I almost tossed my cookies. That’ll drive you to prayer right there.
  6. Taking leaps of faith are terrifying what ifand rewarding. This month I took risks with the future of my books. I have two done and one halfway there. I submitted the future of my writing to God a long time ago and as ideas for where to take a chance arose, I lept. Each time it was with white knuckles and held breath. And three of them turned into amazing answers. Stay tuned for more updates as God opens doors.
  7. I can only get three out of four of my kids to pause eating brinner (breakfast for dinner) to do The Twist with me when Elvis sings Jailhouse Rock on Pandora. Ryan thought we were all a little odd. So did the dog.

So there ya go. I learned quite a variety of things in February. I kind of like this idea of an end of month reflection blog. It reminded me that some really cool things happened this month in the midst of some not so cool ones. God is good even when life is hard; maybe especially when life is hard. I can’t wait to see what He does in March!

The Beauty of Art

Art. Poetry. Music. Dance. Film. Food done well. Literature.

Art is something essential to the human soul. There is something about a moving piece of music or a beautiful painting that resonates in the deepest parts of who we are. We can get lost in an amazing book or swept away with a beautiful movie so easily. Even if we are not artsy-types we still appreciate it in varying forms.

This weekend I enjoyed watching my daughter be moved by a piece of art in Hobby Lobby. It spoke to her. She stood, enraptured by the painting of a fall road with a scripture that gave her comfort. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 47:10. For fifteen minutes she stood, transfixed, contemplating if she wanted to spend every last cent she had saved to buy this framed painting. It was on sale. But $40 is a lot of money when you are 12.

IMG_1767I didn’t know which way to encourage her, to be honest. It would take every cent she had. But if it was art that would inspire her, bring beauty to her room, and make her smile, wasn’t that a worthwhile way to spend her babysitting money? However, it didn’t match any colors she desires to paint her room. It didn’t match anything, really. But did that matter?

Lately I’ve been dealing with the concept of art thanks to an amazing book—A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman. This book has been refreshing inspiration, breathing life into my dream of becoming a writer.

IMG_1684From the very start this book captivated me. One of the points she makes is so eloquent. She talks about Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” That verse spoke to me at my conference last summer. God has plans for me—amazing works he already knows about. But then Emily kindly goes on to give us a language lesson:

These English words used in this text—masterpiece, sometimes translated workmanship—these are translations of the original word used in the letter to the church at Ephesus, the Greek word poiema. Our English word poem comes from this same Greek word. (A Million Little Ways, page 25)

We are a poem written by The Great Artist. What an amazing image. Whenever I hear it translated workmanship, it feels like something functional, something solid like a chair or a house. There is artistic freedom in thinking of myself as a poem. There is unique beauty in that word. Yes, houses and chairs can be beautiful too. But a poem is beauty without needing to be functional. It is beautiful because it is.

I’ve had a hard week, an emotional week. God has spoken with such gentleness into my heart about the kind of writer I should be. He’s spoken to me about being careful with my words and the stories I choose to tell. There has been correction and guidance and redirection as he’s continued to write the poetry of me.

Seeing my daughter captivated by a piece of art today made my heart calm from the turmoil of the week. God is captivated by us. Sometimes he needs to redirect the art that we are living. He needs to paint over the mistakes we make or erase a line or two of the poem to make room for rewrites. But when we submit to his direction, the art becomes more complete each day.

What kind of art has God called you to create? If you aren’t sure, let me recommend Emily’s amazing book. Whether it is the art of baking or raising amazing kids, the art of making numbers move like a symphony across a spreadsheet or the art of painting a sunset, God has created us in his image. And God is an artist.