Day 11: Pumpkin Thoughts (31 Days of Simple Truths)

*It’s Sunday night. I’m moderately rested. A new week is on the horizon. I decided we should go with a light-hearted, carefree post tonight. Still true!*

20151010_191042The last month has been such a whirlwind that my attention to social media has been minimal. I sort of breeze through, scrolling fast for the highlights before moving on with life.

So imagine my surprise to find that pumpkin—PUMPKIN—of all things has become somewhat controversial. A minor controversy, admittedly, but enough that people felt the need to speak up that liking something doesn’t make you basic or cliche or something of the sort. Why is this a conversation that needs to happen? Why did someone feel the love of pumpkin a necessary thing to belittle someone over? What is happening???

This autumn was also the first time I was made aware that the love of pumpkin and all things autumnal is apparently a white girl thing. Again—why? What does this even mean???

I’ll admit I occasionally feel the pumpkin craze has gone too far, mainly when all the processed, packaged, fake foods in the grocery store have decided to jump on the bandwagon with artificially flavored, brightly colored, pumpkin weirdness. “I really wish there was such a thing as funky orange colored pumpkin spice Oreos!” said no one ever.

But, I digress. My main point being, I don’t have time for pumpkin controversies. The rest of the world can duke this one out. I’ll be over here, happily munching on fresh-from-the-oven pumpkin bread and spiced pumpkin raisin cookies (just made the cookies for the first time tonight – delicious!). If you love pumpkin or bread or cookies, feel free to stop by sometime, and we can share over a cup of tea. If you really love me and I really love you, you might even be able to put in a request for your favorite baked thing! If you don’t love pumpkin, that’s more for me! I see no reason why we can’t still be friends.

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Day 10: Rest Days (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image Source: Unsplash

Image Source: Unsplash

All my life, I heard about the importance of a Sabbath rest – a weekly day set aside for rest, but I never regularly experienced this bliss until just over a year ago.

We started going to church on Saturday nights, something I previously thought would feel weird. I was so wrong. It was the complete opposite of weird. It was perfect.

What used to happen was that Saturday was for catching up on all the things that hadn’t been done all week: grocery shopping, house cleaning, errand running, etc. Then, Sunday was spent at church. And then it was Monday, and I was constantly tired. Maybe church is restful for some people. I don’t know. And I’m not suggesting that I didn’t like going to church. But it was a scheduled thing, somewhere you needed to be, and in my case, a place where I still had responsibilities and expectations to meet.

All that shifted for us when we went to a church with a Saturday night service. Saturday mornings, I did the grocery shopping, midday I took care of things around the house, in the evening we went to church. And Sunday? We rested. We played. If we felt like it, we did a project we’d been trying to get to. And by the time Monday rolled around, I was refreshed. I stopped dreading Mondays. Who knew?

We’ve moved now, and we need to find a new church. There seems to be a shortage of Saturday night services in the area. And we’re trying to figure out what to do.

But something is different for me. And the issue isn’t really one of whether Saturday or Sunday services work better. The real issue is that I’ve discovered the bliss of an entire day set aside to rest every single week. And I’m not going back to the way life was before. Whatever day of the week it has to be we’ll have to figure out. But this is the simplest, yet most profound truth I know right now: Rest is everything. It is essential. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth saying no to things for. It’s worth whatever you have to do to make space for it in your life.

Do yourself a favor, and schedule some regular rest into your week.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Church, Rest

Day 9: Perspective (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsIt’s important to realize when your perspective is skewed.

For example, my life is in a lot of upheaval right now. We’ve just made a major transition, we’re not settled into our new home, there are a lot of questions that still need to be resolved. So when people ask me if I’m excited or how we’re doing, I don’t try to come up with an answer; I just say, “I don’t know.” Because I don’t. I’m too tired to know.

Earlier this week, I started pondering a decision that might need to be made. I felt my tension escalating, but before I could get overwhelmed, I recognized that this is probably not the best time to contemplate potential life decisions. I’m too tired to decide.

I’ve read this advice before—to not try to make major decisions if you’re stressed, tired, sick, etc. But I think we have to go one step further and recognize our own unique signals. There are things that might interfere with my vision, but wouldn’t necessarily bother yours. We have to be honest enough with ourselves to say, “I’m probably not seeing this in the best light right now.”

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Day 8: Listening to Understand (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Death to Stock/Foster & Asher

Death to Stock/Foster & Asher

There is listening to understand and listening to defend.

If I am listening to understand, then I will hear the entirety of what you have to say without cutting you off to interject my own opinions.

If I am listening to understand, I will not be dismissive of your reality, even though I may have had a different experience.

If I am listening to understand, I will not automatically counter your thoughts with all the reasons you are wrong.

If I am listening to understand, I will not make assumptions about your heart, character, or personal convictions; instead, I will lovingly seek clarity where it’s needed.

If I am listening to understand, I will respond with thoughtful questions that show my desire to draw out the essence of what matters to you.

If I am listening to understand, I will take time to ponder what you have to say instead of promptly brushing it aside and moving on.

It’s not easy to listen this way, especially if you are challenging me, convicting me, or calling me into territory I am unfamiliar with or uncertain of. It’s not even a little bit easy.

But it’s necessary if I want to establish trust with you and if I want to walk alongside you. It’s necessary if I want to value your heart. It’s necessary if we ever hope to make a positive difference in this world.31daysOfSimpleTruths

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Day 7: Magical Breakfast (31 Days of Simple Truths)

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This one’s for all the weary mommas out there. Or anyone who is tired of making dinner or struggling with picky kids.

Breakfast for dinner is magical. It makes the day feel like a special occasion. It makes the mundane feel a little more bearable. It can be fancy or it can be simple. It just works.

We had quiche, fruit salad and cinnamon raisin toast for dinner tonight. And lest you think I spent the day working hard in the kitchen, I had some pie crusts in the freezer from another day when I was going to make quiche, but the oven broke. Further, I forgot to take meat out of the freezer to thaw. On top of which, I had a really intense work day. Basically, I completely didn’t have it together, and breakfast saved my tail. The kids declared it the best dinner ever! I win!

In stark contrast with the intensity of yesterday’s post, I invite you to take a deep breath, let go of everything that feels so serious and complicated, and go scramble some eggs.

31daysOfSimpleTruths

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Day 6: Bridging Divides (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsI am deeply weary of polarizing conversations. To the point that I want to weep every time something controversial comes up. I already have an intense dislike for confrontation, but this? This is so much more.

I know some people who regularly hashtags their posts with things like #liberalsarestupid. I know others who regularly post things about all conservatives being greedy and indifferent to the poor or hating women. I want to shake someone and shout, “How is this helpful???”

If you see that there are some deep-rooted problems that negatively affect minorities woven into our system of policing, you must hate the cops.

If you state something showing gratitude for law enforcement, you’re racist and ignorant.

If you observe that yes, Israel has a significance on the world stage and in spiritual matters, but maybe that doesn’t give them a blank check to do whatever they want, you’re anti-Semitic, anti-American, and quite possibly, not Christian anymore.

If you support the right to bear arms but think maybe there should be some additional safety measures in place because the world is a messed up place, you’re ignorant, anti-Consitution, and anti-American, and want all the criminals to be able to run roughshod all over you.

If you think that in spite of whatever Planned Parenthood’s claims to the common good are, their roots are horrendous and there’s some shady business going, you hate women and want all the poor, minority women to suffer the most.

On and on. It goes on and on and on. I’d like to add a disclaimer that my examples above are extreme, but they’re not. These are conversations and interactions I observe every single day, and it breaks my heart. We think the worst and say the worst, and meanwhile, there are gaping wounds that need to be healed.

Maybe this isn’t a simple truth. Maybe it’s complicated, or maybe it’s become complicated, even though it shouldn’t be.

However extreme or different our views may be, we all have a vested interest in the well-being of our nation, of the world, of individuals, of families. Nothing will get better by calling names, by assuming that anyone who thinks differently than you is stupid or ignorant or hateful. That kind of language might get article hits and social media shares, but it doesn’t bring healing or redemption or hope or solutions.

The simple, not-so-simple truth? Change starts when we are willing to truly listen, not to tear down each other’s arguments or form our own defenses, but to hear what matters to someone else’s heart and find the common ground we need to stand on and move forward. Change starts when we are willing to challenge our own views and deeply held convictions, while seeking to understand why someone else’s conviction is different than our own.

Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

Unsplash/Nick Scheerbart

We can all stand there stubbornly holding our ground and shouting insults, or we can close our mouths, open our ears and our hands, and start building bridges.

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Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Healing, Justice

Day 5: Trusting (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsIt was one of those mornings where you stumble over your prayers a bit until God lovingly, but firmly, puts His finger right on the tender spot you were trying to avoid and then the dam bursts.

Of the many emotions coloring our family’s recent move, this one is intense—the concern for my children to find the place where they belong. For so many years, I worried about them every single Sunday when I took them to their classes at church, not a moment’s peace as I juggled my responsibilities at our church plant. It wasn’t anything that anyone did wrong, just the nature of something that is fledgling and continually changing as it tries to establish itself.

And then the worries intensified as I realized I had unwittingly done the one thing I most never wanted to do—sacrificed my children on the altar of ministry—and I suddenly saw it takes it toll on them. The guilt was enormous. Occasionally, it still is.

My son especially struggled. And when we landed in a new church, my heart broke over his anxiety. But something happened in that place, as the children’s workers so lovingly and patiently poured their hearts out into my babies. Over the course of a year, both of my children went through a transformation. They became sure of themselves, secure in their place, hearts unfolding before God. It was amazing.

So it broke my heart to take that away from them when we moved. And the weight is heavy. Where will we go where they will feel so loved, so safe, so secure again? They ask, and I don’t have an answer right now.

Thus the very raw, very tender spot God put His finger on today. I wept. But the thing is, over a year ago, when I didn’t know exactly what to do to help my children’s hearts, God knew, and He sent exactly what they needed. And He knows what they need now. He knows what we all need now.

Change can be terrifying.  I spoke with a friend today, and he said, “Even if you know it was a good move, it is still a transition, and it feels like a death.” Hope and grief can exist side by side. Some things die, so other ones can live. But there’s not a limit to how many answered prayers we get. We don’t even have to know exactly what to ask for in order to get exactly the answer we need.

I feel more tears coming, weighted with all the uncertainty, but I trust this—God came through before. He will come through again. Meanwhile, wait and hope.

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Day 4: Family Time (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsI’m slipping in at the last minute, after a day spent with my family. We made pancakes, went for a hike at a nearby nature preserve, then cleaned up and headed to my cousin’s wedding. I’ve just tucked two munchkins into bed who wore themselves out dancing, eating cake and running in circles with second cousins they rarely see. It was a good day, and as my body starts prompting me toward bed, I feel how much my soul needed it.

I’m very task-oriented. I get things done, but sometimes, I can lose sight of people in the process. And I can definitely lose sight of me.

With boxes still unpacked, walls that need to be painted before pictures can be hung, a week of homeschooling to prep for, and work hours that I’m behind on after all the moving and being sick, it was tempting to come up with a to do list for the weekend. But I’m finally learning (isn’t that nice?), and I paid attention to the needs of my family and the needs of my own body & heart.

We rested. We played. We watched movies. We enjoyed autumn’s belated arrival to Texas. We caught up with relatives we haven’t seen in awhile. And now, the week ahead seems a little less daunting.

It’s been said before, but it’s a truth worth saying again and again—sometimes, we need a little less doing and a lot more being.

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Day 3: Ask (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsI am not good at asking for help when I need it. Some weird mixture of feeling weak, not wanting to inconvenience someone, or the possibility of being perceived as too needy swirls into my brain, and I stuff the vulnerability down. Our world seems to value strong, independent women—the ones who sweep in and get things done. I’d rather be one of those.

The thing is, I am strong. Independent. Capable. But also, human. And we’re not meant to go it alone. God explicitly said it’s not good for us to try to navigate life alone. I do need help sometimes. We all do. And if we are perceived as weak or too much for that need, the fault doesn’t lie with us.

I’ve got a lovely graphic for this series now. Because I asked a co-worker for help. He whipped this out in a matter of minutes. One day, I’d like to figure it out for myself, and maybe I’ll ask him, or any of my other graphically talented acquaintances, for help.

Meanwhile, if we can practice voicing our small needs, perhaps it will be less daunting to ask when the need is bigger. After all, asking is a mark of wisdom, not weakness.

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Day 2: Enough (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Within moments of waking up, I felt overwhelmed by the number of things I needed to do that were rushing through my mind. I wanted to pull the covers back over my head and hide because it was all too much.

But in the end, I am just one person. One woman. And granted, some days, the number of things I manage to pull off makes me feel like Wonder Woman. But still, I can only do what I can do, and that will have to be enough.

I let go of my expectations of myself and the expectations I feel from others, both real and imagined. I let myself ask, “What can I realistically accomplish today? What three things are most important?”

It is enough. I am enough.

And you—whatever you face, whatever you can bring to the table today—it is enough.

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