16 Things I Did This Weekend Instead of Blogging

I love blogging. And I have a few in process all the time but none seemed appropriate this weekend. So rather than writing a new blog that worked or posting something I had written before that seemed oddly timed, here is what I did (not necessarily in this order)…

1. Had a quiet lunch with my husband. Alone. Out.

2. Had a quiet supper with my husband. Alone. Out. On the same day we had lunch together!

3. Took Valentine cookies (which I didn’t make) to my sister’s house to share w/ coffee.

4. Held my new baby niece for hours on end.

5. Helped my sister give baby niece a bath, with the help of my other precious niece (age 6), after which I held my baby niece once again for hours on end.

6. Watched Idiot Abroad and laughed like an idiot.

7. Went shopping for inexpensive Valentine gifts for people I love (and found a yummy little candle for me, too).

8. Took daughter to look for Valentine shirts (where she ended up also buying something for her brother for Valentine’s Day).

9. Helped son with a video commercial he ROCKED for a school project. (He did it, I just offered some technical assistance and sacrificed a few hours away from my laptop so he could use it.)

10. Ate with some dear friends at a restaurant I had never tried before and LOVED.

11. Enjoyed some incredible homemade Valentine cupcakes that my daughter made, right after enjoying a delicious meal my husband made.

12. WOW, one would think I ate way more often than normal people, but it’s really not like that. So, with that in mind, we took advantage of Subway’s 5-Dollar-Footlong deal after church.

13. Polished my nails – fingers and toes – which hadn’t been done in weeks.

14. Snuggled with my Chihuahua for hours while enjoying an “American Pickers” marathon.

15. Watched the Grammy’s and savored every wild, wacky moment — and every wild, wacky tweet about them.

16. Went 24 hours without ever opening my laptop. I’ll admit that I tweeted with my iPhone and posted some pics to Facebook but I didn’t work. At all!

Am I getting lazy? Nope. Am I neglecting my writing duties? Nope. Quite the contrary. If we write about our experiences more than we actually HAVE experiences… it’s time for a weekend filled with fun. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to unplug and soak in moments that make us happy. I highly recommend it!

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When Faith Doesn’t Feel Like Faith (Re-post)

pain“Faith” sounds so strong and sure.  It’s one of those terms that, for many, conjurs up images of heroic bravery.  But when you hit a rough patch in life, and we all do, faith suddenly takes on a different tone.  The natural emotions that go along with things like: a hurting child, a diagnosis, a loss, a financial drought, a relationship that just isn’t getting better, and a million other circumstances, somehow make the idea of having “faith” pretty muddy.

I used to admire people who faced life crises with a smile that implied that they’re really fine because they “have faith”.  But the longer I live, the more I have to believe that putting our arms around the concept of faith does not automatically remove us from the pain and disappointment life brings. Thank God, faith isn’t about feeling.  It isn’t even about us.  It’s about an unchanging God who really, really (REALLY) loves us enough to let us process the pain and disappointment while keeping us drawn to His side through it all.

I don’t believe for one moment that denial honors the Savior who mourned over our sin and literally gave his lifeblood to redeem it.  He is stronger than sin.  So I am confident He can handle our emotions – the anger, the sadness, the guilt, the questions – ALL of them, because he has felt all those same feelings (yes,  even  guilt… because He carried OURS).

I’ve heard a million times, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.. the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrew 11:1)  But what’s easy to forget is that HE is that substance.  Not some little human feeling that we conjur up …or fail to conjur up, in many cases.  If drawing near Him in crisis doesn’t feel all warm and gooey, I have a hard time believing that means our faith isn’t good enough or big enough.  I even wonder if maybe it’s the strongest faith of all that can  literally crawl to Him and say… “I don’t get this.  So just hold me.”  To really have “faith” in an Almighty God, I can’t imagine we would be required to clean up our feelings and put them in a tightly sealed box that looks neat but is brimming with resentment or uncried tears.

Faith that truly trusts in His character is bold enough to ask hard questions… to be honest about our pain… and to know that our human range of emotions will never, NEVER shock Him into withholding His love from us.  He has seen and felt it all.   Authentic faith, I believe, has enough confidence in Him to be completely transparent… knowing He isn’t going anywhere.

My letter to 2009.

Dear 2009,

Goodbye.  And don’t come back.  But thanks for all you taught me.  You were interesting.  I’ll give you that.

You brought upheaval and you brought to the surface every imaginable emotion.  But you also brought a tidal wave of information that has helped us help our son’s Asperger’s. You brought my daughter some beautiful moments of accomplishment that will stay with her forever.  You brought Scott and me closer together through the challenges you presented and we worked through some of the core issues that have held us back for years. You introduced us to some incredible people – friends who have encouraged us, prayed for us and enhanced our lives in a hundred different ways.  You showed us how to draw important boundaries so we can focus on our true purpose in this life.

You wore me out,  but you didn’t take me out. 2010 is here now, so I’m leaving you in the past.  I’m taking what you brought because it’s going to help me press on to whatever the future holds.  And, ironically, you showed me that the future doesn’t hold a candle to this present moment where I sit content in the Presence of the Only One who can bring true satisfaction.  So, 2009, I resisted the urge to punch you in the stomach for one reason and one alone… you made me a stronger person.

So bye.  Thanks for the memories.  Don’t let the new year hit you in the butt.

Emily

I’m stuck! But maybe you can help…

Most blogs, I write after wrestling with a question and working it out in my heart and mind a little.  Today, I’m mid-struggle.  This time, I would enjoy getting YOUR perspective.  Help me get “unstuck”.

I’ve felt for some time that I’m in a kind of tug-of-war between “here and now” and whatever it is next. (Sure, aren’t we all… right?! That’s why I’m bringing this to you.)  Some days I have dreams.  Other days I can’t see past the moment. I want to be “in” each moment, savoring all that’s good about where I am right now, but am I missing opportunities that the world needs me to see?  When is it time to step outside my current head-space — from what is — to see what could be!  (I realize I just opened myself up big-time big-time for jokes about my “head space” – so go ahead and have fun with that for a second.  Okay, that’s enough.)

I’ve always been of the opinion that when I’m supposed to take a next step, it will be obvious.  I’ll just know.  That’s the way it has always happened for me before.  But is that really true??  Am I missing some important mission because I’m looking at it all wrong?

Now, after savoring Don Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for weeks – months, even – I’m still trying to figure out what the “main character” in my story wants!  And who IS the main character??  Is it even me?  Don’s words call to my inner writer with parallels between the elements of a great story and my own real life story.  I keep finding myself asking… “What am I DOING here?!”  I always look at whatever I’m doing as training ground for the next thing, yet I don’t want to get sidetracked and become less useful in what my life requires of me right now.

I get ideas, some are good ones and others questionable.  All of them sit around collecting dust… waiting. I don’t share them, for lots of reasons. Don’t even know who can be trusted with them.  But how else will I know which ideas will amount to anything (not just materially, but in impact)?  And… here comes the big question… what will I say “no” to in order to say “yes”?! Will it be worth it? That question is scary and uncomfortable.

I’ve grown SO tired of the cliche “getting out of your comfort zone” — it feels a little guilt-ridden to me.  But then, could it BE that I hate that phrase simply because I am enthralled with safety?  I don’t think that’s it, UNTIL I start considering what the adventure might look like. What if it turned everything I know on its ear?  Truth is, it might.

Then we have issues of validation (and by “we” of course, I mean “I”).  Is there a need for validation driving my quest for whatever is next?  Or was I BORN for it and it’s all part of my mission? Will taking a step somehow express that I am ungrateful for where I am now and the fulfillment I currently enjoy – as a writer, as a wife, as a mom, as a worshipper and overall person?  How does a person manage to be “content in whatever state we’re in…” yet seek to deepen and enrich the impact we’re making on our world?  I  want to reach for the next chapter of this grand story!

Readers, I need your experience here.  When have you been in this place and how did you get unstuck?  Or am I really stuck at all? Could all these questions bring me back to the realization that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be?  Talk to me.

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