For Your Weekend

for your weekend - january

May we find a friend who keeps our secrets, do the work placed in our hands, read a book that speaks our language, trusting all into God’s hands. Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads for along the ways

A Complicated Peace by Sarah Bessey – Because sometimes life takes turns you don’t expect and we need to make room for grief and joy to co-exist.

Home Is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong by Sophie Hudson – Because lately I want to read everything there is to read about home, about place, and about gathering with my people, and because Sophie weaves joy, comfort, and faith together so beautifully in this new book of hers.

Waiting for Ourselves by Laura Ortberg Turner – Because sometimes I’m lonely for something but I can’t place what, and then I realize I’m longing to acknowledge the person I’m becoming, to look her in the face and call her friend.

On Breaking by my sister, The Nester – Because it’s important to find time to watch cats sleep and take baths and ignore the email.

We’re nearing the end of the month and that means it’s nearly time to share what we learned in January. This month’s list will go up on Friday, January 30. Hope you’ll join in with a list of your own!

The Spiritual Discipline of Learning Nothing

Releasing My Lesson Obsession

Last week we walked through a profound disappointment with one of our girls. I use the word “profound” because that’s how it feels when you’re eleven. Basically, she longed for something that, in the end, belonged to someone else.

As her mom, I see all the necessary parts of growing up happening in this one disappointment — the spiritual discipline of letting go, the practice of faith, the understanding that smallness is not always something to run away from.

But in her most vulnerable moments, lessons don’t help her, at least not the kind you teach on purpose.

Still, I sensed the tension within myself – on the one hand I felt like I should be teaching her something in all this, helping her to see the markers. On the other hand, I just wanted to comfort her and to remind her she isn’t alone.

It’s true, learning is good and disappointments are an opportunity for growth. But I’ve grown weary of trying to squeeze a lesson out of everything, of always asking what God is trying to teach me in every circumstance, of seeing the world through lesson-colored glasses.

I am guilty of managing my experience of difficulty so my struggles don’t feel wasted. In this action, I fear I’ve missed sacred times of healing in the darkness because I’ve wanted to rush ahead to the more understandable light. I have bullet-pointed my soul so that things make sense and have regarded God only as my teacher, forgetting he is also my friend.

School is good and necessary, but in my heart I long for home.

The words of Paul come to mind as I remember he didn’t say “To live is to become Christ-like.”

It sounds almost right, but it’s completely wrong.

Instead, he said, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

To live is a person, Christ himself.

Sometimes I teach my kids stuff on purpose. Mostly, though, I just enjoy their company.

Today I’ll practice walking into the great mystery of God. I will practice encountering Jesus as a person and not a character. I will live this day as a daughter first and allow the student to tag along behind.

Today I’ll grieve the losses, laugh at the jokes, sit in the silence, and move through the routines. I’ll keep my eyes open for Christ’s presence rather than trying to figure out his plan. And as I carry each moment as it comes, I will release my obsession with learning a lesson and instead begin to learn the person of Christ, whatever that might mean today.

For Your Weekend

For Your Weekend in January

May I be willing to see myself as I am and not as I wish I was. When I choose pretense over presence, may it be to me so foul an experience that I give up and give in, bringing every try-hard moment to Christ. Rather than working hard to create my own identity, may I be willing to receive the gift of myself from the hands of God.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads (and listens and watches) for along the way:

Finding God in the Ordinary by Ruth Haley Barton – A good reminder as we enter this season of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Easter.

20 Things I Learned in 2014 by Susie Davis – I loved reading through what everyone learned in 2014. This simple list was one of my favorites, I think because Susie is in a different life stage than I am and I want to pay attention to what she’s learning.

The Art of Simple Podcast – Tsh and I chat it up once again on her podcast this week – and Kyle left in what was supposed to be pre-recording chatter. The worst. Still, you can listen in as we talk about writing, favorite artists, and things that make us happy.

And because I couldn’t resist, here are a couple of links for your inner fangirl from two of my favorite things on the Internet this week:

The Top 10 Downton Abbey Boyfriends by Kendra Adachi for The Sugar Box – I mean, it’s just  so much fun to read this.

Jimmy Fallon Blew a Chance to Date Nicole Kidman – You’ve seen it (along with literally 15 million other people – and counting- this week) but it just had to be mentioned here because it’s too good. And for the four of you who haven’t seen it, you’re welcome.

For Your Weekend

For Your Weekend January

As we reflect on the year past and dream about the one to come, may we walk willingly into the great mystery of God. May we learn to accept that there isn’t always a why, a how, or a lesson. But there is always Jesus. And there is always love. Enjoy your weekend, friends.

Here are a few good reads for along the way:

20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection by Tsh Oxenreider – John and I have gone through these in years past and will do so again this year. Today, in fact. I can’t wait.

Expand Into It by Addie Zierman – For anyone feeling a little underwhelmed after Christmas, read this.

The 2015 Reading Challenge by Anne Bogel – I’ve been waiting for someone to boss me with a creative way to choose books to read and Anne is the perfect person for the job. I’ve already started my list and look forward to this simple 12 month reading challenge.

Reconciled by Shannan Martin – This is why I love Shannan’s writing, because she can write a compelling piece like this one about “the worst thing she’s ever done” and then she writes an equally compelling piece about salsa and lip gloss. I love all the words she puts on the Internet.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend

In the midst of our plans and our people, may we remember to breathe. May we be patient as we consider the colorful mess of joy and grief, understanding our soul may need a little space to sit quietly in the shadows before she’s ready to embrace the light.

May Christ be real to us in small and big ways, and may we be open to the ways he might want to be real to others through us. Enjoy your weekend-before-Christmas, friends. Here are a few good reads for a long the way:

  • Finally, here is a 5 minute clip of Dallas Willard talking about the connection of joy and sorrow, words that I’m sure are a great comfort to many who are grieving this Christmas. He passed away in May 2013 which makes his words even more meaningful here. (subscribers may need to click here to view the video).

At the end of every month I like to share what I learned that month, both the serious and the silly. Since it’s December, I thought it would be fun to broaden it to share what we learned in 2014, sort of a year in review.

If you plan to write a year-end post sharing the things you learned, I’d love to have you link up! The post will go live Tuesday December 30.

For Your Weekend

my corner office

Thinking of you this morning as I sit in my corner office (ha! I’m so funny) and share with you some favorite links from the Internet this week. I admit there are some days when I want to burn the laptop right up and become one of those people who doesn’t know how to spell “blog.” But today is not one of those days. Today, I’m deeply thankful for this space to connect with you, to talk about the gracefulness of the everyday and the sacredness of our inner lives.

Am I making up words by putting “ness” on them? I don’t even care! Thanks for sticking around here even when I disappear for a while.

Here’s something: I finished another book (!!) and you’ll be hearing about it soon. I don’t think I mentioned that here yet. Whoops. I turned it in this week and I’m all Look! It’s almost Christmas! I’m a human person! God bless us everyone!

So thanks to you for sticking with Chatting at the Sky even when there isn’t much chatting happening. Here are a few good reads (and listens) for your weekend:

How to Travel as a Highly Sensitive Person by Tsh Oxenreider – I’m all “Oh I’m not highly sensitive at ALL” and then I go and take the test she links to and score 19 out of a possible 27. Not off the charts but definitely sensitive. Very interesting.

Christmas: Not all Peace and Joy by Dr. David G. Benner – His words always remind me of what I already know but need to remember. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

God Rest Us Merry Annie Downs on The Hope*ologie Podcast – Dad, Myquillyn, and I sit down with Annie and ask her how she got to be so merry. Her answer is more intentional than you might think.

Sister*ologie – Every month my sister and I sit down and record silliness, idiocy, and all sorts of ridiculation for Hope*ologie members in The Sister*ologie Podcast. This month Dad put together a two minute teaser where we share about The Best Christmas Gift In The History Of Christmas Gifts.

7 Little Ways to Live Art – Sign up to receive these posts and/or my monthly newsletter in your inbox and receive my ebook, 7 Little Ways to Live Art, for free. That’s a way a day for a week – might be a nice way to start off a new year.

9 Gifts to Encourage the Soul – Here are 9 simple things in my house right now that might make a nice gift for a person you love.

Choosing Connection Over Competition

morning

The trees on the left live in our front yard in North Carolina, as seen yesterday morning from our front porch. The trees on the right live in Fort Lauderdale, right outside my hotel window. I’m currently in South Florida for my last trip of the year, one I’ve been looking forward to for many months now – not necessarily because it’s my last, but because it’s here, among women I’ve been praying for for many months. It’s an honor to serve them and worth every bit of nervous twitching before I get up to speak.

Sometimes it’s hard to be with women, isn’t it? Growing up, people would have said that I make friends easily. My sister remembers a teacher telling my parents after we moved from Iowa to South Carolina that I make friends quickly with other girls because I was always complimenting them. (eye-roll) could I be any more annoying with my “I like your shirt!” and “Your hair is so pretty!” Sheesh.

In my defense, I don’t exactly remember doing that, but it sounds like something I would do so I believe it. Having friends was important to me. But that was back when the word ‘friend’ meant someone you’re comfortable sitting with at lunch or someone who will walk with you to the bathroom so you don’t have to go alone.

All that counts when you’re in seventh grade. But now that I’m grown, friend means something more than that.

When we consider the spiritual transformation of our lives, it often means being stretched beyond what comes natural and leaning hard into what is supernatural, those things that come from God. Learning to move toward community is often one of those unnatural-turned-supernatural things for me.

Nothing causes me to face my own humanity, frailty, and weakness than when I am in communion with others. Nothing causes me to see myself as I really am, to admit I’m not as great as I think, or to face my perceived entitlements than when I am in the midst of other people. I am easy to live with in a room by myself. But I don’t want to live in a room by myself. Except for when I do.

Chatting at the Sky

When I walk into a room filled with women, I recognize in myself a tendency to ignore what God thinks of them and obsess over what they are thinking of me. Oh, dear.

I once heard Shauna Niequist say, “With people, you can connect or you can compare but you can’t do both.” And I think of Jesus’ mother, Mary, and John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth. These two women could have compared and competed with one another in all the ugliest kinds of ways – You’re too young! You were chosen to carry Messiah?! Why not me? or You’re too old! Why couldn’t God have given me someone my own age to relate with?

But they didn’t do any of that. Instead of competing, these women connected. Instead of trading fear, they traded praise.

May it be the same for us.

For Your Weekend

for your weekend november

In a brokenhearted world, I want to remember God’s love in the morning and his faithfulness at night. Maybe you’ll join me. Maybe it will help. Enjoy your weekend, friends. Here are a few good reads along the way:

  • Favorite Indies :: Christa Wells shares some of her favorite Indie tunes. Love these!
  • Then Came Jesus :: A four-week Bible study for Advent written by my friend, Lara Williams.
  • Some of my favorite books :: Here is a list of books I recommend for home & family life, writing & creativity, and overall good living.
  • A Million Little Ways :: Only 8.50 on Amazon when you use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout. You can get 30 percent off any book through November 30.

Let’s share what we learned in November on Monday, okay? Hope to see you then.

A Simple Blessing to Encourage Hope

To end the week, I want to offer you an extended weekend blessing, one I shared at our Hope*ologie Live event last weekend. I wrote it over time, pieces of it come from years ago, other pieces I wrote specifically to remind us of hope in the areas where we are perhaps most often discouraged – home, family, and soul.

A Simple Blessing for your Home, Family, and Soul

In the regular rhythms of home and play, of work and washing, of listening and slow conversation, may we see God even though we can’t see God.

May our home be a place of quirky delight and may we open our eyes to the gift of living inside her because of all the ways we’ve made her our own. And if our home doesn’t yet reflect our own personality, may we have the courage and moxie to make it so.

May we be people who hang pictures, paint walls, light candles, build forts with blankets, and try new things.

May we save our apologies for when we do things that hurt people and stop giving them out over messy living rooms and outdated drapes.

chatting at the sky

Toward our families, may we be full of hope – able to move beyond our fear and insecurities into the lives of others, willing to release the right to control the outcomes.

May we be open to finding a gift in an unwelcome situation, hearing wisdom from an unlikely person, and receiving grace in an unexpected place.

May Christ be my security when I care too much about the small things and my salvation when I care too little about the big ones.

May my heart be soft enough to know the difference.

Of all the things we give to others, may we never forget to give them hope.

A benediction from Chatting at the Sky

In my soul, may I not be surprised at my own contradictions, how I long to be alone, yet crave community; wish for attention and also anonymity; want my independence but secretly wish for someone to take care of me.

May I stop trying to smooth out my inconsistencies by the strength of my own will, but may I bring them all like a child into the changeless and unmoving presence of Christ.

May we not despise the small space we take up on earth because it is this very small place where Christ delights to make his home.

May we not be surprised when we discover the fixed point from which he longs to move into the world is not from some nebulous place out there, rather it is from an intimate place within us.

May fear, discouragement, doubt, comparison, envy, and failure not have the final say in our homes, our families, or our souls.

Instead, may we live into our truest calling as people who give and receive grace, forgiveness, and love. May we turn toward hope on purpose and begin again today. And then, again tomorrow.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom.15:13).

For Your Weekend

God Made Light

May this weekend be a time to . . .

“Sing songs ‘round campfires. Make marshmallow s’mores. Let Grandpa tell stories. Wage flashlight wars!

And if you ever feel scared in the darkness of night, remember the shadows are no match for God’s light.”

- from God Made Light by Matthew Paul Turner, a  lovely addition to your child’s library. And, truth be told, great for grown ups, too.

Enjoy your Saturday, friends.