Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Things I Hope for my Teenage Daughter

With Em's birthday right around the corner, and given the fact that every year I think "she's HOW old?" I am doing my first 10 on Tuesday ever, just for her.

1.       I hope she doesn’t let other people define her

2.       I hope she is brave

3.       I hope she isn’t afraid to lead by a compassionate example

4.       I hope she remembers not to let being pretty rule her life

5.       I hope she never feels the need to impress a guy

6.       I hope she remembers she is never alone, even when she feels like she is

7.       I hope she dreams big

8.       I hope she learns from her mistakes

9.       I hope she trusts God enough to step out in faith when he asks her to

10.   I hope she loves the life God gives her.

11.   (I hope she doesn’t think I’m stupid forever)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Like a darned 80’s sitcom

So Randy and I try to have a date night every Wednesday evening. Please don’t take this as super organization, or as how really good at focusing on our marriage we are, it started as a matter of necessity and we just fell into the habit.

Our kids go to youth on Wednesday evenings and since we live outside of town and have to drive in to drop them off and pick them up. We just stay and usually share a burrito at Chipotle for dinner. Last night we switched it up a bit and went to a pizza place downtown. Yes, I live in a small town now, and yes the picture above is of the downtown area for all my readers who are not K-State savvyJ. It is very picturesque with the limestone city hall, churches, libraries, shops, theaters and restaurants, even a cool art gallery and high class tattoo parlor (yes I have been inside, no I didn’t leave with anything though the idea intrigues me….) The only thing missing are antique stores. I totally don’t get that, but whatever.

ANYWAY! Last night as Randy and I ate at this great pizza place I watched across the street at a locally owned yarn and knitting shop. The lights were on and women were arriving instead of leaving. Not much is busy downtown Manhattan on a cold Wednesday night, so I know it was an event of some kind, maybe a knitting circle or a class. Can you picture it? Cold night, women scurrying to the front door bundled in coats and gloves, carrying knitting bags.  Opening the door and visibly relaxing in the warm shop; hugging friends, settling around the table in the front chatting the whole time. It just looked warm and cozy, totally small town and heartwarming. And there I was on the outside watching this fellowship of women, mingling, interacting, and feeling a little left out. Do NOT misunderstand me. My family would look at me as if I had grown another head if I said I wanted to learn to knit. That is the furthest thing from enjoyment this impatient, clumsy fingered woman could ever picture. But a part of me yearned a little bit just to be included in something that warm, a part of a place. I’m not sure that even makes sense to some people. I don’t honestly know if it would have made sense to me a few years ago. I had a place where I had grown up, made friends, made connections. I knew a lot of people between church, school, family and community.  I had roots with people. Then we picked up and moved here to Manhattan and I found myself alone.

I liked it at first, just putting myself into my husband and kids, making home and not missing crazy schedules. Then it got a little lonely. Not lonely as in alone, I have a great husband and wonderful kids, but lonely as in I missed the fact that I couldn’t pick up the phone and meet a friend for lunch or a soda. Or lonely in the sense that no one knew me, and I had to tell the same story every time I met someone new. From KC, Randy took a job here, kids in school, blah, blah, blah. Sad story I know! Now you’re thinking “What a whiner!!” And I really don’t mean it that way.  I know there are people who start over all the time, moving ton’s more than me and people who are much more alone than me.  I just had an idealized picture of what moving to a small town would be like. Friendly, lots of new Facebook friends, opportunities to know more people, and God really used it to teach me a lesson. Like a darned 80’s sitcom, my life is a lesson, who knew?!

I would meet women and think here is a person I could be friends with! We are so much alike! Only to stand on the outside getting the very clear message that “I have enough friends thank you very much, and I really don’t have the time or desire to invest in someone new.”  OUCH! I think maybe…..perhaps…..possibly…….okay I know I have said those words in my head when meeting someone new in the past. I think I might have even said them out loud to a good friend.  And there it is. I am totally confronted with who I am. Who I have been and it has come back to bite me firmly in the backside.

I know women need relationships with other women. It’s the way God made us. So when we have babies and sick kids and boy troubles and questions about faith and scripture and how to be whatever it is we are striving to be, we have someone with whom to share our burdens.   I know that, but it is still so easy for us to be so wrapped up in our own stuff that we miss people God puts in front of us to grow us. I’m not comparing myself or situation to people who are truly outcast or on the fringe. This was just God giving me a nudge to actually see the women around me who might need a friend or someone to just listen. I don’t think God wastes any moment of our life. It is too fast and fleeting to let whining about what is momentary distract us from what we are supposed to be doing.

Another life lesson learned. Honestly I always though getting older would mean I knew more. What it really means is that the older I get, the more I realize how little I know, and how big my God is.
         "Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul"
                                                                                                              Proverbs 27:9 The Message

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Give Away!

I have an additional copy of the book "7" an experimental mutiny against excess, which I would love to give away. If you would like to enter to win, add a comment here or under the book review post with your name and email address. We will pick a winner at random January 10th!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review of "7" by Jen Hatmaker

You might have heard me mention on Facebook a week or so ago that I was reading a book called 7 by Jen Hatmaker. The book is a journal of sorts which Jen keeps as she, her family, and a circle of friends intentionally begin to experience the process of reducing or separating from the overindulgence of the American norm. They took seven months and chose seven areas in which to simplify their lives. Food, Clothes, Spending, Media, Possessions, Waste, and Stress. I read the book this week and was given the wonderful opportunity to review it. So here is my opinion (for what its worth).

Several months ago I had the privilege to hear Jen speak at a conference. At the time I was struck by how real, normal and relatable she was. I’m the one who drove her back and forth to the airport and the hotel. She had plenty opportunity to reveal her true self during those times and while our conversation certainly touched on the spiritual and the motivation for the conference. We also talked kids, gardening, food, college football and the Big 12. (My husband is laughing hysterically right now at that picture in his head!) I met the same person at the conference that I met while reading the book. Funny, irreverent, earnest and willing to be honest about who she is.  That’s why the book “7” works. It’s not a pie in the sky, super spiritual book that you walk away from thinking, “Wow what an amazing Christian woman!” (No offence please Jen!). You walk away thinking, this woman is like me, and that means if she can do it I can do it. Which makes us want to look outside of ourselves to see our community, our neighbors, our environment and our role in each. The book tackles issues that many people want to avoid thinking about, like the homeless, the environment (which conservatives like me run screaming from for fear of being considered liberal) and keeping the Sabbath with a Biblical perspective you might not have heard before.
The impact this book had on me wasn’t perhaps what you would think. Three years ago, when our life changing stuff really began to happen I experienced by circumstance not by choice some of what she talks about in her book. Ask people who have been in the same situation; it’s amazing what you can live without when you have to. As for getting rid of stuff? Ha! My closet is a perfect example of how much stuff we have gotten rid of. It is plenty full now and literally a quarter of the size it was when we started this journey. I was impacted so much more by the things I least expected. The Chapters on Spending, Waste and Stress were my big “Ah Ha!” moments. Jen spends time on the modern church in the chapter on Spending, and it was one of those times I had to keep interrupting my husband’s bowl games on TV to read excerpts out loud so he could appreciate it too!
Don’t read “7” with the expectation that it will change your life. Jen definitely leaves that up to you. But it will confront you with the question of whether you really want to change your life, or whether you just want to live with your status quo. She doesn’t ask us as the reader to do what she is doing to achieve a better relationship with God. She doesn’t set this up as an ultimate how to book nor is she angling to become your social awareness guru. Jen is just honestly sharing with us what this process looks like to her, and in doing so what it would look like to you if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone. So my view if you couldn’t tell? Do Read “7”.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cha Cha Cha Changes!

My family is cranky. Maybe it’s the fact that the kids are ready to go back to school, or maybe it’s because they aren’t ready to go back…….Maybe it’s too much of everything; Christmas, time off, time awake, togetherness. Who knows why? But they are cranky. Maybe I am too. I insisted today that we get out of the house and away from the TV/video games/movies/mindless vegetation. So we went to the library to use the Internet, and to Radio Shack to talk to someone about how to get it at our house. (Yes there is a place in this United States where normal people don’t get Internet.)  Then came back home to watch more bowl games and do nothing! We did that a lot this break, at least the half of break after Christmas. Before Christmas we had snow days, finals, projects due (we hardly saw Randy for two weeks!) and crazy busy schedules. We didn’t watch TV the whole time though. The house is super clean, and we re-did the office. Now you can actually get to a computer without climbing over boxes and chairs. I need to see if we have any before pictures so I can post an after picture so you can really appreciate all that was accomplished.

Some super fantastic friends came out New Years Eve from KC and spent the night and everything! We did nothing except eat, talk and have fun together for 24 hours straight. I so appreciate their friendship and the joy they brought to me by doing that. Not everyone would have put up with the chaos 10 adults and 13 kids can create especially overnight.

So now it’s 2012. I have a feeling it’s going to be a year of great change for us. Some things have already happened; some things are yet to come. Have I mentioned how grateful I am for a God who is constant even when our lives are not? I can’t really talk about a new year without mentioning that. Even when I feel like I have no idea where I’m going, He is there.   He knows where I’m headed before it even enters my mind. He knows my heart’s desire even more than I do. No matter how confused I am. He never is. He offers such peace WHEN I REMEMBER THAT! How is it that I ever forget?

Psalms 139:2-12 (The Message)
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!
 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,

You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.