Opinions, part 2

I wrote Opinions, part 1 because people’s opinions have felt weighty lately. People’s voices have felt louder than they should, in a way that they haven’t since that dismantling years ago. I wonder what God is up to.

One thing I learned before was that feeling as I am now was an indicator that I needed to withdraw from people and spend time with my Father. I learned that his voice was easier to discern in the quiet, and I grew to love the silence and the stillness. I learned how to fight to preserve this time as necessary for my soul. As a way to refuel so that I would be equipped to love others.

Something interesting happened as I began to experience freedom from the weight of people’s opinions. I became less self-trusting, and more self-confident at the same time. I knew my tendency, and as I spent time listening to God, I was more sure of how to listen and respond to people. I was able to wade through opportunities with freedom, confidence and joy.

When Jeremy and I got married, our separate, large communities began to feel like more than we could keep up with and we similarly felt the need to withdraw. We needed to spend time together and with the Father, building a foundation. Looking back, I feel like it was a gift, almost like the Father covered my ears with his hands so I didn’t even have the option of discerning opportunities.

As we have been drawn back into shared community more recently, I have felt the din of the crowd growing louder. And not just in community, but everywhere – at work, with family, old friends, new neighbors. My instinct is to withdraw, to assume I must have forgotten to spend time with my Father. I must need some quiet.

But I feel Him calling me into something different this time, and I’m perplexed. Am I hearing Him right? I feel like He is asking me to listen, to engage, to hear them. To be sure enough that He is leading me that I’m able to wade through opportunities and to discern to what and in what way to respond.

I don’t like it! I’m afraid I will give people’s opinions too much weight. That their voices will drown out His, and that I will be back on the roller coaster. It’s not that I haven’t struggled with this since, I have, I do. It’s something I keep coming back too, but now it almost feels like He is asking me to “get on board” and trust that He will be with me.

I wonder if He is reminding me of my struggle, making it feel fresh, so that I can relate to some women in my life who are learning similar lessons now. I wonder if it’s so I can right about it so others can read it. Or I wonder if it is His voice at all…

Am I trying to do more than He is calling me to? Am I doing what others want? What I want? What He wants? Or is all this simply a reminder to seek Him…

P.S. As mentioned last week, I wrote this post awhile back, and at the time was feeling “in the thick of it.” More recently, particularly, the last month or so, I’ve felt the call  to rest once again and enjoyed opportunity to do so. Interesting how God works, isn’t it? 

Opinions

I wrote this post last winter about circumstances which took place 6-8 years ago.

For most of my life, I have cared TOO MUCH about what other people were thinking of me. First, I made assumptions that I knew what they were thinking or that they were thinking of me, and secondly, I assumed (most of) these thoughts were critical. Maybe these assumptions reflect more what I was thinking of others than any accuracy of others’ thoughts!

I came face-to-face with my own approval addiction at age 27, and it was a dismantling that I found devastating. I began to see, for the first time, how my thoughts were my choice and how I was continually choosing to give people more weight than they could handle. My expectations were high, and while I had always ridden a roller coaster in light of my performance and others’ approval (or lack thereof), I began to see that I was choosing to “get on board.” I also began to experience a lack of approval from many different directions all at the same time.

I entered what I would say was possibly a bit of depression. I stopped caring about everything and didn’t know who I was anymore. During this time, I moved into my pastor’s family’s basement because I knew I needed people to speak truth to me. It was mostly awful… until it wasn’t.

My family was worried about me because they didn’t understand how someone who had always known she was a sinner could suddenly be discouraged by it. What had changed? Why was I dwelling on the bad news when there was more to the story? But you see, the good news isn’t really good until you know how desperately you need it.

As I began to experience the depth of my sin for the first time, I felt its’ despair, heaviness, hopelessness. I knew grace was undeserved, and I was in the midst of experiencing my sin being “worse than I knew.” All during this time, my pastor’s family and others around me spoke truth. I heard what they were saying and I watched how they lived.

They didn’t care for people in the way that I had always perceived care. They weren’t warm, placating or affectionate. In short, they weren’t trying to “make me feel better!” But I knew they cared about my soul. Like in a deep, “I-don’t-even-know-if-I-want-people-to-care-about-me-that-much” kind of way. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and frightening because it challenged everything I knew.

I also made some dear friends during this time because unbeknownst to us, we were experiencing the same dismantling of our worlds. They were the ones who were in the trenches beside me, trying to make sense of what was happening. Together, we were trying to find ourselves, or perhaps trying not to lose ourselves.

It took a couple of years, this process of my kingdom crashing down and God’s truth actually becoming good news. I’m not exactly sure how or when it happened, but I know that it did, and I know that people were part of the process. A few years later, I visited a handful of people who I wanted to thank for their role in my process, and I was able to declare: God is good! and really mean it.

GodSpace

One of my favorite authors has a new book out!

I was especially pumped about GodSpace before reading it because it promised to include topics that Keri Wyatt Kent has written about previously, in books which have challenged and encouraged me, while expanding in new directions.

Topics such as: Sabbath, Hospitality, Worship, Simplicity, Gratitude, Generosity, and Critical Thinking.

I was especially curious to see the big picture of how creating space for God connects to each of these topics from her perspective – years spent living and writing – knowing that I am particularly passionate about this concept and some of it’s implications.

I started reading GodSpace over the break, and I have not been disappointed!

It reaffirmed ideas I’m particularly passionate about in ways that encourage me to pursue living, reading and writing in a way that is unique to me. It also fleshed out inherent challenges in each of the topics presented, many of which I have or am wrestling with, and thus, also serves as a reminder that all of life is a journey. I appreciated hearing from someone who agrees spiritual practices are worth writing about, and who has gifts that are both similar and distinct from mine.

Highly recommend!

Two Women on Ministry & Culture

Hey Ladies.

I wanted to share two resources with you today.

One, if you or someone you know leads a small team and would like to hear from everyone about their experience this past year this questionnaire from Beth Moore may be helpful.

 Use it, adapt it, share it.

Then read this:

Two, this is a great article from Ann Voskamp about standing strong as women in the midst of a comparative culture.

 

Once Upon A Thanksgiving

Today is my cousin Jon’s birthday.

I remember the Thanksgiving when Jonathan was born. I was nine and eager to meet him, along with the whole family who had been anticipating his arrival for A LONG TIME. My aunt and uncle had received a call on their 10th anniversary, weeks prior, and they were able to be at the hospital when Jon entered the world the day before Thanksgiving of that year. With my mom’s help, Jenny, Katlyn and I got a peek at him in the nursery while Papa fell asleep in the waiting room guarding our neighbor’s borrowed video camera (clearly, it was the 90’s!).

Waiting seemed to take FOREVER, but then there was a super cute, tiny baby to bring home for the holiday. The adoption lawyer worked it out so Jon could come home the next day, Thanksgiving. We took turns holding him, and without a doubt, we knew what we were most grateful for that year.

Well, cousin Jon, I already ate my turkey, but I’m still grateful for you, and I wish you a very happy birthday!

P.S. This Thanksgiving was good as well  – turkey trot, cooking, eating, socializing… it was a record 55 here in Spokane, reminiscient of the Virginia air from my childhood. My parents were with Jon and family, and my sister and I so enjoyed calling “home” and hearing this story.

Jeremy and I hosted his parents, my sister and a friend – our second Tgiving hosting and everyone’s dishes worked great together. Our chef neighbor also contributed a dish, and while there were no complaints on my potatos, I’m motivated to make them creamier in the future. Pie turned out delicious, but a little, umm, lopsided?! I was joking about how I never understood why the grown-ups were so tired after the meal, but mom, I get it now!! Grateful for all the hard work of those making the meal, then and now.

P.S.S. Jeremy made the turkey again!

I Spy… Educators!

So I was sorting through the mail this weekend… then flipping through the Washington Education Association’s latest news when I came across my friend Libby’s picture!! She and some teacher friends helped spread the word about WEA’s choice for their district’s Senate and were caught doing so. We’re proud of you, Libby! And not surprised to seeing you making an impact for education!

Btw, if you haven’t heard, WA passed the budget this summer, but not necessarily to everyone’s satisfaction… đŸ˜‰

Another Perspective on Rest (Parenting & More)

In today’s post I reference an article from The Atlantic from about 5 years ago, written by a female politician who chose to quit her job in order to stay home with her teen son. It is a lengthy and controversial article, but the reason I share it with you today is because in the middle of our reading on Rest, it offers an opinion on the idea of Sabbath. Whether or nor you agree with what the author has to say about women, I found this interesting, she says: “one of the great values of the Sabbath—whether Jewish or Christian—is precisely that it carves out a family oasis, with rituals and a mandatory setting-aside of work.” This quote is found in the part of the article on “Revaluing Family Values” and compares a marathon runner’s training to a parent’s daily life.

What do you think about this perspective on…

1. Rest

2. Parenting

3. The rest of the article

 

In Memory of…

Veteran’s Day always make me think of my grandpa and others like him who fought so we could be free. We called him Papa (pronounced Puh-paw), and he and Mama (pronounced Mum-maw) inspired many and in different ways. Hey, I’m actually writing a non-fiction book that is inspired by their legacy, specifically what I learned from Mama’s gift of cooking. Who does Veteran’s Day make you remember?

 

Ancient Roots & Purpose of a Weekly Rest (Chapter 3, part 2)

Roots

In ancient Judaism, Sabbath was a day anticipated, and then reflected on.  Sabbath followers would spend 3 days preparing, 1 day observing and remembering, and 3 days looking back in gratitude for a day in which they were allowed to rest. At this time in history, people worked 7 days a week so some cultures viewed them as lazy for taking a day off. Other cultures, such as the Romans, similarly adopted a day off.

Thus, while the Jewish & Roman calendars aligned, Sabbath has been practiced in many ways by different people groups throughout time. The early Christians emphasized a day of gathering in celebration, as opposed to the Jewish Shabbat rest, and the day of the week shifted from Saturday to Sunday after the time of Christ (hint: think Resurrection Day).

As far back as creation in the Old Testament, we see the idea of Sabbath mentioned. With the giving of the 10 Commandments, there were 3 instructions about relating to God, 1 about the Sabbath and 6 about relating to others.  After the Exodus, the more detailed law was given to the Israelites to show them how to live as free people and included instructions about how to Sabbath. In the New Testament, Jesus seems to model a new approach to the law, again Sabbath is still included.

Purpose

It seems the original purpose of Sabbath was for the people to remember two things. First, that God worked for 6 days and then rested for 1, and so by living as He did we remember Him (and simultaneously remember we are not Him!). Second, the people who were slaves and never allowed a day off were now free. The symbols of the Sabbath meal included reminders of God’s provision and opportunity to thank Him.

In what other ways did people observe the Sabbath? Is there any relevance to today? Does it matter which day it is, what we do, or don’t do? I would agree with Kent that the Sabbath is more about freedom than rules, that it is an opportunity to receive the gift of rest and to remember that we are loved, but I also find it interesting to research. In studying and practicing the Sabbath today, we connect to an ancient past, remembering that the story is bigger and older than we are and that rest, freedom and love are available for all.

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 3 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 4!

Happy 4 years of Friendship!

Last Monday, I mentioned that we were celebrating one year in our house this week. Well, we are also celebrating 4 years of friendship this week!

Here are four years in four pics…
engagement photo @ Boots

Jeremy and I met on the Gonzaga campus TODAY in 2013 and took a long walk to Boots bakery…

 

 

what we didn’t know then was that 1 year later we’d be married and returning from a trip to San Fran…

trip to San Fran

…or that’d we’d win best costume at my sister’s Halloween party… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

or that we’d dress like our first home when we were moving into it!

Halloween @ our house
Here’s to more adventures to come!