‘God Sightings’ Amidst Travel Drama: Part 1

As I re-read my last blog post I now feel even more convicted about what happened during my trip (not so much during actually, more just the travel days). I was preachin’ to my own choir. Most of my problems on this adventure were still quite small in the grand scope of things but it still was a test of faith. I didn’t do so hot. But God sure showed up! Let me tell you what He did.

At first, everything seemed great. My flight out of Minneapolis was smooth as butter and I enjoyed flying over mountains and valleys and desserts on my way to L.A. for a connecting flight. But then in the LA airport I stood in line for a coffee MUCH longer than I should have and barely had time to fill my water bottle up to get on the next flight. The flight to Honolulu was longer and there was more turbulence than I’ve felt before. It wasn’t overly dramatic or scary turbulence but it was there and it lasted a good hour! I hadn’t really eaten any real food (other than the peanut butter bars I packed) and after drinking all my coffee and all my water I developed a headache. It was probably a tension headache from turbulence and I was also dehydrated and hungry. I started feeling kind of sick and I’ve never felt sick on a plane before.

Finally, the flight landed. I had a splitting, throbbing headache and felt nauseous. I was so antsy to get out of the airport though that I didn’t even stop for water or for a bathroom break. I just went straight to my rental car and then I had to find my sister and pick her up. She was waiting for me at a nearby terminal parking lot but as I circled the unfamiliar airport my GPS map and the road signs had me turned around and I ended up leaving the airport. I had to drive 5 miles down the freeway to turn back around and drive back to the airport to pick up my sister!

We drove about 30 minutes to the North side of Oahu where she rented an Airbnb. Not only was this Airbnb hard to locate and find the entrance for, but 2 dogs bolted out of the gate and ran away (which we later found out was “normal”) and then we found RAT POOP all over the smelly, musty rental house.

Nope.

Then we drove around for a long time, got food, went to some cafes and shops trying to kill time as we figured out what to do next.

Airbnb provided a full refund plus an extra $40 for the hassle. THEN, my sister found and booked a replacement Airbnb that turned out to have the dreamiest lanai I could have ever imagined. This was the first big God sighting.

Despite the chaos of the travel day I actually wasn’t nearly as crabby or ill-tempered I would typically be. I had to go with the flow and I couldn’t stress too much because most of it was totally out of my control. God ended up providing a sweet place to stay that was well worth the hassle.

Sadly, I must have gotten a cold from the airport because after that day I felt just a little bit under the weather for the remainder of the trip. But I didn’t want to let that prevent me from experiencing the week like I would if I was totally healthy.

The rest of our time was pretty awesome, despite my cold. We went to a few different beaches, went out to eat several times, relaxed on the lanai, completed a crazy jungle waterfall hike, saw some pretty botanical gardens and visited Pearl Harbor Memorial. In fact, please enjoy my Vlog of the trip too for all the fun stuff! The second video below is my sister’s vlog. I figured I would link both since they are both fun and have some differing perspectives.

When it was time to go home, unfortunately, I arrived to the airport later than I should have. To my defense, I arrived to the airport with about as much time as I gave myself at the MSP airport and other airports that I’ve been to! However, I was woefully unprepared for the chaos and disorder that was the Honolulu Hawaiian Airlines Lobby. Lines were out the door. I stood in the wrong line TWICE. There were not nearly enough airline staff to direct the masses and help all the confused people. And I was not the only one confused either, several others around me seemed just as disoriented. Finally though, I was checked in with my boarding pass (even though I was checked in at the same time as the boarding time) and I still had to go through TSA.

One staff member tried to rush me through the line but it took a while… if you ask me, there was a little too much “laid back” Hawaiian chill among the airport employees there. The security at TSA reassured me though that I was checked in and the airline knew I was coming so they would hold the plane.

I ran to my gate… which was clear to the other end of the airport! I was sweating and developed blisters on my feet. When I finally reached the empty gate I blurted out to the agent “did I miss it?” and she sighed and said, “…yeah…”
“But TSA told me you would hold the plane!” I shouted.
“Yeah…they’re not supposed to say things like that…” she replied.

What happened next was a little embarrassing. I kind of flipped out. My emotions were all over the place and if I can put it poetically at all I suppose I would use Anne’s words and say I was “in the depths of despair”.

If you want to find out what happens next stay tuned for my next blog post and I’ll share even more God sightings from my crazy travel experience!

God Sightings is a term recently coined by our pastor to encourage us to share testimonies of how God shows up in our lives; kind of like a God moment. So, with this spiritual exercise going it is only fitting that I use this great term.

7 Truths I Rehearse to Avoid FOMO and Anxiety

What if the plane crashes and I die? Lots of people travel for work all the time, I’ll be fine. I better just make sure things are in order, just in case though. Oh no, what if something bad happens to the kids while I’m gone. I will feel so guilty. What should I pack? What outfits should I wear? I wonder if my makeup is small enough to meet the liquid requirements for flying. I don’t even know why I’m going on this trip. I don’t deserve this at all. I’m excited to get some writing done. I hope I can actually get some writing done and not have writer’s block. I hope my book doesn’t suck. It probably sucks. Yeah, it’s a terrible idea. What am I doing with my life? I can’t wait to see how hiking in the jungles will inspire my jungle scenes. Maybe I need to bring pepper spray. I am so excited to travel to Hawaii and see my sister but how do I cram in everything I want to do and see! I have a bad case of FOMO right now… *thinks of a new plot twist or character development scene* Oh yes that’s a great idea. I can see it will all come together in the end. This is going to be so fun. I will miss the kids. This story moves me, I can do this. I feel called to do this. I wonder if I should just get up and go write down my idea quick. *checks time on phone* It’s 2:00am yikes. *Goes down and gets laptop, makes a quick note on GoogleDocs* I want to write more but I can barely see straight I’m so tired. I am going to go back to bed.

This is a little snippet of what it’s like in my brain at night when I am feeling a little bit of insomnia. This happens to me once in a while and usually almost always before something major is about to happen, like a trip or big event. I just accept that this is just part of my own bent and struggle with anxiety. Nights like this do not happen that often and if they did happen often I would reach out for help because no one should wrestle with anxious all-over-the-map thoughts like that every single night. But when circumstances warrant a little added anxiety I just try to roll with it.

I need to rehearse truth to myself as often as I remember during the day so that I’ve practiced what I will tell myself at night when the thoughts come pounding in.

Truths like:

  1. This trip to Hawaii is a GIFT. Gifts are never deserved, that’s what makes them gifts. It is a gift from my husband (and ultimately from GOD!). What can this good gift illustrate for me? What is God trying to teach me?
  2. Since this is a joyfully given gift from someone I love and trust I can accept that this gift/trip is GOOD and I am supposed to go on this trip.
  3. If God wants me to go on this trip then He must have a plan and purpose for it. His plan and His purpose are what bring me peace, not my own plans or my own purposes.
  4. If I can walk in faith and trust God and His plan then all the other details will work themselves out and I don’t need to stress about them.
  5. As people we can be so focused on the end result: the successful trip, the finished novel… that we forget God uses the PROCESS for His purposes in and through our lives.
  6. I will work towards my goal of getting writing done and following in the steps I believe I am supposed to take but always remember that my life is the Lord’s and if He wants me to write a book then it will happen.
  7. I will not be swayed by the pervasive Fear of Missing Out. I will do exactly what I am supposed to do, not more, not less. If it isn’t meant to be, it isn’t meant to be. If there are adventures to be had in Hawaii that I won’t have time for I will firmly say, “Next time!” and be content with reality.

Maybe you have something big coming up or there is something in your life that causes some anxiety or FOMO in you. Maybe you don’t have a big trip coming up but what is in your life right now that are gifts you maybe don’t always see as gifts? Insert your *thing* where I’ve written about my trip and see if these truths help you think through fighting your anxious thoughts.

And Even If my worst fears are realized, I know that God is sovereign and in control and feeling stressed or worried about my fears does not honor Him or add one ounce of goodness to the situation. I must put my hope in Him and He will lead me.

I’ve seen a popular quote circulating instagram lately:

That’s basically how I feel.

As I prepare for my writing/adventure trip I am starting to pack a suitcase… but I also want to pack a mental suitcase. In it I want it filled with scripture passages and a loose plan and some focus for my writing. So that is my next task, to be mentally prepared for this: armed with God’s word and ready for what lies before me.

If you have a passage or verse you want to share with me please leave it below in the comments. I will write them down in my idea notebook or my prayer journal. I’m sure I could come up with some passages to make my focus on my own but it would be fun to hear what you think.

I think this blog post is evidence that I overthink everything, but I just wanted to share where I’m at! Till next time!

I’m Writing a Book

If you missed my recent blog post about this announcement that’s okay. I recently decided that I was ready to finish a novel I started writing when I was 15. It’s been tucked away in the dusty old files of an external hard-drive for the last decade or so of my life and after one night of nostalgia re-reading my old works and some self-reflection I was inspired to pick it back up and finish the thing.

I began reading the 30,000 word draft and fell in love with the story idea again. However, much of the actual writing was very clearly written by a young teen: melodramatic, overly-complicated, and cheesy. So I started editing. I cut down so much that I basically started over. However, the story is still the same. The plot was re-evaluated and re-worked and the outline came. The message and the why is what has motivated me to pursue this. Writing (and publishing) a book has been a dream of mine since childhood but not something I have thought of really doing until recently.

So here I am and I’m excited to share the process with you. I found a couple of writing tags online and will answer some of those questions for fun.

  1. When did you start writing and what made you want to try it? When I was a kid. I don’t even remember when I started writing. I think as children, we write as we play because childhood imaginations are so active. I would make up plays, puppet shows, skits, and even radio programming (that we recorded on CASSETTE TAPES) with my sister and my cousin all the time! I would journal and draw and write story ideas down often. I think I was also highly encouraged and influenced by my family and extended family who all have a deep love for the arts and creative expression.
  2. What inspires your stories? Life. That’s a lame and cliche answer. But I believe it’s true for all of us. What inspires my current work in progress (WIP) is the common human struggle of finding peace and self-acceptance. Relationships, setting, and history also deeply inspire me.
  3. What themes do you explore in your writing? Like I said above: self-acceptance, self-pity, identity crises, and even some gender role issues (maybe in ways you would not expect either) are being explored in my current WIP.
  4. Are you a plotter, pantser, planters? For my current WIP it started out as pantsing. As I re-read and edited and started re-writing I quickly realized that to make this book make sense I NEEDED a strong plot. So I figured out the plot… it took a few weeks.
  5. Where are you in your writing journey? Just beginning. Writing was an avid hobby of mine as a child and as a teen but not as much as an adult. I am a busy homeschooling mom so writing is not my main priority in this season, it is more of a hobby. But I do plan on pursuing publication when my novel is finished.
  6. Have you entered any writing contests? Did you win any? I wrote a poem in high school that won a contest and was published in an anthology. It was very exciting.
  7. Who are your writing heroes? Jane Austen, Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis (I know… typical!)
  8. What is your current WIP about? It is a historical fiction story of relationships and lost treasure set on an Island in the Caribbean in the late 1500s.
  9. Do your ideas begin with characters, plot, world building, or something else entirely? For this WIP the setting inspired my story. I remember wanting to write in a historical castle/fortress type setting. So I remember googling that and found something beautiful and mysterious that drew me in. The story started that way and has evolved since.
  10. How do you puzzle piece your story elements together? Do you start with the ending and make your way to the beginning or vice versa? I started with the beginning, the backstory actually (I wrote a whole two chapters of just backstory) and then move forward. The point of conflict is also a driving force.
  11. Do you share your book ideas with friends or keep them a secret? I used to keep everything very secret when I was a teenager because I lacked self-confidence. Now as an adult I feel like I can own my creativity a little better and I am beginning to share more of my writing (which is why I am blogging about it too). It’s easy to feel afraid that people will think you are crazy or think your work is terrible but if I want to be a good writer and publish a book I need to have the courage to face criticism because that criticism is what will help me improve and write a good story that people will like.
  12. Have any of your favorite movies/tv shows sparked ideas for scenes in your book? Hahaha yes……. probably too much. My weakness is watching too many things and not reading enough books – I am working on that. But I will give you a list of movies that inspired me as a 15 year old because it is easy to remember: Pirates of the Caribbean, Mask of Zorro, The Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Rings. There’s probably more but those I think are the main ones that have directly or indirectly influenced my current WIP.
  13. What’s the oldest/first story idea you remember coming up with/writing down? I wrote a story in 7th or 8th grade I think for English class called “The Paradisiacal City” (thank google for teaching me that knew word). I don’t even remember what it is about but I printed it out and even made some of my own illustrations. I also submitted a short novel in 9th grade instead of just writing a short story called “The Lonely Road” about a young woman trying to run away from her painful past via solo travel in her car. She meets a guy and they fall in love and he helps her accept her pain and make peace with it and blah blah blah (think teenage melodrama).
  14. What are your writing goals? To publish my current WIP. I haven’t decided yet if I will self-publish or try for a publishing company. I know both will be hard for different reasons. I do have more story ideas but I want to try and focus on one at a time even though that’s hard. In my season of life it’s also hard for me to make specific writing goals because I don’t have protected, scheduled time for writing. It happens when it happens and I don’t want to push myself too hard too fast because I want to keep my family life a priority. This is why my husband is sending me to Hawaii for 4 days to write – because he believes in me and wants me to get away from my normal routine so I can make some headway on this project. But daily writing goals or monthly word count goals? I just can’t commit to those things yet. Maybe someday!
  15. What’s your ideal writing setting? Right now I am in my bed feeling cozy, looking out the window at the rain falling and listening to classical music. Taking my laptop out in nature or sitting in my car can also help my brain or being in a coffee shop or library are also great settings I love to go write in!

That’s all for now! In my next post I am going to talk a little about my plans for my Hawaii trip and how I plan to deal with FOMO (fear of missing out). That’s a real thing ya’ll and I will have some of that while in Hawaii. I need to stay focused on my task though and remember what the purpose of this trip actually is for.

Thank you so much for reading! If you’re not connected with me on instagram yet I would love to say hi to you there.

My review of the movie ‘Unplanned’

If I’m honest, I don’t really like Christian movies. I’ve seen a few, and while I usually get something personal out of it and I find it edifying for my own faith, I still cringe every time I watch one. There’s just something about the forced message, or the acting, that diminishes the messages power. Or maybe it’s the portrayal of the Gospel that sometimes seems weak. I wish that Christians in the film industry would make something truly artful, that the message behind a compelling a story was more subtle, and that a “Christian movie” could be disguised as mainstream in order to reach a wider audience.

I went into the theater for Unplanned with this in mind. However, this particular “Christian movie” is far more compelling than any other Christian movie I’ve seen before? Why? Because it’s about abortion. Abortion is the silent genocide of our day. In a culture that prides itself in fighting for equal rights this particular issue has gone by the wayside and only the “pro-lifers” care to fight for the rights of the babies in the womb.

This movie is more than just a Christian movie right now. It’s a cry for our culture to wake up and recognize that we are silently killing off our own human race for the sake of convenience, for the sake of ‘women’s rights’, for the sake of personal freedom. If this movie helps save any lives at all who could have been lost to abortion I will be all for that.

So here’s my honest reaction to seeing the movie Unplanned. Did it have Christian movie cringe-worthy moments? Keep reading to find out.

The movie was incredibly powerful and emotional. I expected this and was not disappointed. Abby Johnson’s real life story is incredibly eye opening and she was the perfect person to base a movie like this off of. Right away you are drawn into her life and her story and the ride is heart-wrenching and thrilling all at the same time.

I didn’t care for the pacing of the movie or the initial narration. I think the story could have been told just as well without the narration in the beginning. The flashbacks were a bit confusing to me and I was left wanting more details about certain events of her life because I didn’t catch which event happened when.

Along with the pacing of the movie is the editing. The main story is centered around Abby’s “conversion” if you will regarding her complacent and pro-choice stance to the total opposite. However, once the conversion takes place she has to take action. This is where the pacing felt off to me. The court trial was anticlimactic. I felt like that could have been the driving event of the entire movie. I’m sure during the process Abby was forced to recall many details of her past, even if it wasn’t directly brought up in court. I wished there was a courtroom scene where we saw everyone in there together hashing it out in front of a judge but we didn’t get to see any of that at all. Just “this isn’t over” from Abby’s Planned Parenthood boss, Cheryl. That was just a bit anticlimactic for me. I think it also would have been fun to see Abby being depicted in the many interviews she did on TV with various news hosts. But instead, the movie ends after the Planned Parenthood clinic she used to run closes.

Let’s talk about the acting. The actress who played Abby Johnson did a stellar job. I felt her performance was convincing and moving. If you look her up online you will quickly find interviews and videos of her explaining how AFTER she accepted the role, knowing that Hollywood might blacklist her from any future gigs, she found out that her mom had almost aborted her. The actresses mother was in the clinic room on the table and suddenly had a change of heart and walked out. If that doesn’t give you chills I don’t know what will. Clearly, God knew from the very start, that this actress would have her own powerful story to share as she stepped into a vital movie-role for the pro-life movement. Was that unplanned? I think not.

The woman who played Cheryl (the Planned Parenthood boss) also did a phenomenal job depicting this character. She was fierce, intimidating, and evil. I do not know what this woman in real life is like but I can infer that this character was used as a representation of Planned Parenthood as a whole. The organization, when it comes down to it, is hungry for profits not hungry to help women in need. The abortion industry is a business and the movie did a fair job explaining the ins and outs of what that actually looks like. Cheryl at first, draws Abby in and prunes her for advancement but then when betrayed tries everything to devour her.

As far as the rest of the characters, most of them supporting, they were okay. I actually felt like the rest of the Planned Parenthood workers were very believable too. They were warm and friendly and seemed completely naive that they might be doing anything wrong by working in the abortion industry. I was glad they were depicted this way. Abby’s family was okay in the film too. The protesters and 40 days for life crew were okay too.

Speaking of the protesters. The movie was honest in showing that some people on the pro-life side carry their position poorly. Shouting at fences, holding up bloody images, spewing condemnations at vulnerable women, etc… none of those things are effective or helpful! Then, the people who were with the organization “40 days for life” were the opposite, they were gentle and kind and not condescending and not approving of the other style of protest.

I like that they made this point to show the difference because just like we hope for our world to wake up to the atrocity of abortion, the pro-life camp needs to also wake up to where we’re getting it wrong. Where are our words or actions more hurtful than helpful? We need to be able to see our weakness in order to grow stronger. Pro-choice people who are thinking of changing their stance will be more inclined to do so if they don’t see us as condemning.

As far as any cheesy Christian movie moments? There were a few. I felt like a lot of the pro-life characters (the people with 40 days for life and Abby’s family) were a little flat. They just were not very interesting or compelling to watch. The acting was mediocre and I wished there had been more raw emotion. Some of those scenes just seemed very scripted and I was very aware I was watching a written-for-the-screen movie. When you watch a movie you want to get lost in the story and forget that you’re watching a movie, but unfortunately I didn’t feel that way the entire the time (sometimes I did – like during the abortion scenes). I also felt that everyone in this movie looked too good all the time. Most of the hairstyles were all the same (not everyone in real life curls their long hair the same way every single day) and the clothing and make-up looked way too polished to feel believable. It’s okay to have actors ‘look normal’ in a movie and not be so put together. I don’t know why this bothers me but it does. Everyone looked too pretty and it bugged me.

Now, I would like to address the most controversial aspect of this film, the reason it has an R rating: the abortion scenes. There are a few of them. I am only going to address the most memorable ones for myself as a viewer. One scene is when Abby Johnson undergoes a chemical abortion. Basically, she takes some pills that induce labor and what follows is a grisly scene in her home bathroom where she endures a traumatic passing of the fetus.

The other scene is the one surrounding her “conversion” where she witnesses an ultrasound guided abortion on the monitor. What the previews don’t show you is that you see the blood being sucked through a tube. It’s actually hard for me to write that and think about it too much because it makes me feel sick.

I believe these scenes (and others) are appropriate to warrant an R rating. If you don’t have a strong stomach, don’t see the movie. If you want to understand the reality of what an abortion actually looks like, see the movie. I would argue that, in today’s culture, it is better to be fully aware and exposed to what an abortion is than to not be. So, see the movie, because this is important.

Watching these scenes gave me a better understanding of the trauma that a woman goes through when undergoing an abortion (any kind too!) and I feel more compassion and heartache for their experiences. I hope that this movie can help give women something to relate to and that it can bring them some healing.

I found it interesting that on IMDB the R rating for Unplanned says it is for “some disturbing/bloody images”. Yes, that’s true – it is disturbing and bloody. However, for the movie Hacksaw Ridge it is rated R for “intense prolonged realistically graphic” war scenes (I’ve seen this movie so I can attest to the truth of this statement), “including grisly bloody images”. Maybe it’s just me, but I would describe the abortion scenes in Unplanned as grisly. They are not “prolonged” but they certainly are “realistically graphic”.

There was also one scene in particular where the writers had a perfect opportunity to explain the Gospel. I believe it was a scene where Abby is asking her husband how God could ever forgive her. His response was simple, “Because He is God.” It’s not that this isn’t true… but it was a perfect moment to talk about Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us and that His blood covers our sin! But…I guess that would have been too much Christian propaganda for an already intense film? I don’t know…but it was disappointing not to have taken advantage of that perfect opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus. Oh well… *facepalm*

If you want to read an interesting Pro-Choice Review start here. If you want to go read some real haters just go to google, you’ll find a bunch pretty easily.

I’m going to wrap up this blog – I know it is long. I know it isn’t very polished either but I really wanted to share my thoughts on this movie and wanted to do it sooner than later.

Nick and I would like to see the movie again sometime and write something a little more polished and detailed. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve seen it now so the content isn’t as fresh. Next time we see it I will take a few notes. Even though I had a few criticisms of the movie I believe the pros far outweigh the cons. This movie is a powerful story, a true story, and it has been and will continue proving to a pivotal tool in helping to save the future of our children, helping bring healing to post-abortive women, and helping abortion industry workers to get out of their field and also find healing. I hope you go see the movie and would love to know what you think.

20 Things I Did In My 20s (plus an announcement!)

Goodbye 20’s.

Instead of listing 30 things I’ve learned in 30 years or something typical like that I instead want to look back on the last decade and say goodbye. I want to pause and reflect on where God has brought me these last ten years. So here are 20 things I did in my 20’s and I’m thankful for each and every one!

  1. Got married: definitely a major life course decision! I am so thankful I got to marry my high school sweetheart and that I’ve been able to do so much life with the greatest partner by my side.
  2. Graduated college: I started out as an English major and switched to Psychology. It was a fantastic program and I grew so much through the experience.
  3. Became gluten-free: I started having gastrointestinal problems early in my 20s and started taking medicine for chronic heartburn. At a chiropractic visit I was swayed to do a food test. Since cutting out gluten as an experiment my issues resolved and I’ve been eating that way since. I could have Celiac disease, I may not, I will never know and I’m okay with that.
  4. Had my first baby: Surprise!!! Best surprise ever for us was becoming parents. My first baby was born 7 years ago this month! *cries*
  5. Became a seminary wife: Since our family began expanding earlier than expected we decided to make seminary a priority since we knew that was Nick’s next step to answering his call to ministry. So we…
  6. Moved to Louisville, KY: We moved 2 months after our baby was born (which was insane!) but we knew God was calling us there for a season. We traveled back and forth for Holidays during those two years a LOT. We made sweet friends and our marriage was stretched and strengthened in so many ways during our time there.
  7. Had my second baby: In 2013 we had our daughter! My first two kids are only 15 months apart in age (which is also insane). We also moved apartments that same summer (insane) but made it through. Becoming a mother was a hard transition for me but I loved my new role as a mom to two babies. It was hard being away from our family though so the following year we…
  8. Moved back to MN! Nick found an amazing job as an Associate Pastor at a small-town church in Southern Minnesota and we got to move back to our home state.
  9. Became a pastors wife: Seeing my husband exercise his giftings and using his education in real-life church ministry has been such a sweet gift. We love our church and this season and his job has helped us truly blossom as a family, even with the many challenges that families in full-time ministry face.
  10. Had my third baby/my first home birth: I said that I wanted to wait a year to transition into our new home before having more babies but God knew that I needed to be stretched and challenged more in my parenting journey so we were surprised (again) at the addition of a third child. This time though, I got to have my first home birth experience which was amazing and something I am so grateful I have to look back on.
  11. Overcame postpartum depression and anxiety: I believe the exhaustion from pregnancy and having a newborn who wouldn’t sleep paired with changing hormones lead me into some crazy depression and anxiety issues I dealt with for a few months. Those months were some of the longest of my life. But through counseling, prayer, patience, and getting our sleeping patterns back on track I feel that I made a full recovery.
  12. Redecorated my bedroom: As I came out of my depression I began to find myself again through the therapeutic process of redecorating my bedroom. Blogging about the experience was so fun and I started a new hobby of painting furniture as a result. It’s been a source of joy to develop a new creative outlet.
  13. Began homeschooling my kids: We joined a Classical Conversations community in 2017 and haven’t looked back since. It’s been quite a ride as I’ve been learning how to homeschool my kids in these early years especially but I love the adventure and it’s something I feel so passionate about for our family.
  14. Did a family road trip to Louisville and made my first vlog: We’ve done lots of little trips here and there but our family vacation in May of last year was the first time we planned a long trip purely for our leisure. It was an exhausting trip but we learned so much about ourselves and made some really amazing memories.
  15. Learned how to paint furniture and made some random videos about it too: Like I said before, the creative outlet of redecorating my bedroom lead to a newfound hobby. I experimented with some DIY videos too which was really fun and another good learning experience but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll keep up.
  16. Had a scary hospital stay with my daughter: My 3 year old daughter suddenly developed a high fever and severe abdominal pain resulting in a trip to the ER on a Saturday night. Because her abdomen was so tiny none of the tests came back conclusive about what was causing her symptoms. So after a night of observation the doctor decided he needed to do “Exploratory Surgery”. I underwent the biggest test of faith that day as I had to trust God with the outcome of my baby girl. What started out as exploratory surgery ended up being an appendectomy. Things could have turned out much, much worse and I praise God for giving us the best case scenario. But being faced with the reality that no matter how hard things got or how bad our suffering might be, God was still good and in control. That was a major life-altering experience for me!
  17. Traveled to Rhode Island, New Jersey, and the Caribbean (4 times for 4 different cruises): Our experiences traveling are some of my favorite memories of the last decade! My first cruise was early in 2011 on the Allure of the Seas. We have since done three more cruises!
  18. Sold my painted furniture at a vendor booth: I was crazy enough to sign up as a vendor for a big flea market. I pushed myself (and my family) to the limit and learned a great deal. Still, it was a successful experience and incredibly fun to put my work out there.
  19. Had my kitchen professionally reorganized: I’ve been taking some adventures in minimalism and have slowly embraced a more minimalist mindset about my home and the things in it. I still have a long ways to go but hands down one of the most impactful things I have done so far was getting my kitchen professionally organized by my sister-in-law!

Now we come to the last thing. The big announcement I have, the exciting news to share!

20. I committed to writing a novel. Since being a little girl I have always enjoyed the art of storytelling. I’ve been making up stories and writing stories since my childhood. In English classes instead of writing the typical short story that everyone was assigned I would turn in books or screenplays. It’s always been a dream of mine to write a book for publication and I have recently decided to take the plunge and commit to writing a book. It’s not a new story of mine either. The story is actually one I began writing when I was 15! I’ve dug out my old files from an external hard drive and for the last month I have been editing, researching, plot outlining, and character building. I plan to share more about the process and what I’m writing about but for now this is all I will say.

I am really looking forward to the things to come in my 30s. I don’t really like the fact that I am getting older but I know I need to just embrace it and look on the bright side. I think a novel I could write as a 30 year old will be much better than anything I wrote at age 15. I just hope this next decade doesn’t go by too quickly because once I’m 40 (AH!) my kids will be really old and I am so not ready for that yet. Time slow down. I want to soak in this next decade and dedicate it to God, my family, and the specific things I feel called to do (like homeschool, write a book, etc…). So that’s all I got for now!

Soli Deo Gloria

The History of a Western Civ Class

His pencil poked my knee. I wrote “Hi” on his notebook. He wrote something back on mine. We sat near the front of the lecture hall but were far enough back that we could easily get away with flirting during class. I’m ashamed to say I did not do very well in that class. I was much to preoccupied with the newness of college and finding my place to care about the history of Western Civilization. My twitterpated heart persuaded my brain to squander the some $1400 that class was probably worth.

Yes, I was foolish and immature, but it was all in the name of young love. I suppose it was a small price to pay for growing a successful relationship with my future husband. Still, if I had my wits about me, I know I could have done better in that class. In hindsight… we should not have sat next to each other.

Western Civilization – a class that covered all of history from ancient Mesopotamia to the modern day Americas (or so I think, I had to ask my man what he remembered because it wouldn’t matter if he was twitterpated or not; he remembers just about everything). The professor was a bit intimidating too. Like I said, I was a twitterpated 18 year old freshmen in college. I just wanted to take a class with my boyfriend.

Using Classical Conversations as homeschool curriculum has been a welcomed refresher for me in the education spectrum. I almost think I’ve been needing it more than my kids. I appreciate and engage with history so much more with a less twitterpated more mature adult brain and wish I had paid more attention when I was in school.

Thankfully, I know how to study, I know how to read, and I know a lot of really fun CC history songs. So I am re-learning more each day! All of this history is crucial for me right now because of a certain project I am working on. But I am going to tease you and not say what it is yet. Can you guess?

This creative hiatus is going really well. I am developing a plan of action for when my social media break ends and I am actually looking forward to getting back on, but in a more healthy way.

I’ve been thinking about my creative goals and my love for creativity and it causes me to pause and think of God. He created us, he created the complex world in six days, he continues to create new people and who knows what else! God’s creativity is endless. Since we are made in His image, that drive for creating reflects the Father. Creating draws me closer to God. It gives me joy to think that I am this little creation that also makes even littler creations and God delights in it all because it reflects His character.

I am looking forward to sharing my next blog post with you. I promise I will finally tell you what I’ve been working on lately.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read my little series on the Enneagram (post 1; post 2) I would love to have your feedback.

Sneaky Neglect and Digital Minimalism

I recently returned from a women’s retreat and came away with some pretty tough convictions. As a group, we watched this presentation given by Betsy Gomez from the 2017 Revive Conference. You can watch it below if you like, it is very good!

Her message was inspired from the chapter in the book Adorned called Taste of Heaven by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth and boy did it hit me hard.

I was struck with the realization that if I struggle to keep my home maintained or I struggle to spend quality time with my kids and give them the attention they deserve that I am probably neglecting my God-given calling. It doesn’t mean I have to keep a perfect home (that’s impossible!), it doesn’t mean I have to be a whiz at organizing, or a pro decorator, but are there other things in my life that are sneakily taking precedence over my home or my family? I was suddenly facing the reality that my own priorities easily get out of whack.

Younger women with children need to be particularly careful that other activities – even good ones – don’t cause them to neglect their children and homes.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Adorned p. 215

So how do I balance other activities with homemaking/mothering? Can I say with confidence that x,y,z pursuit is not at the expense of home management? Am I neglecting my God-given responsibilities to pursue my own interests? How do I successfully keep my priorities in check, serve my family well, and also utilize the unique giftings and areas of interests God has given me?

These questions and more mulled through my head over and over. I think this was at the heart of why the Junk Crush experience was so testing on my marriage! That event DID sneak to the top of my priority list and I neglected my family a little bit during the few weeks leading up to that event. It’s not that what I was involved in was wrong I was just bad about maintaining a godly perspective of my priorities. I do not want to keep making that same mistake with the other things in life I want to give some attention to.

Much of the stress and strain are the result of attempting to take on activities and responsibilities that compete with my core commitments and my priorities for that season (or that moment). Periodically we need to push the pause button and ask ourselves if some of those activities (jobs, hobbies, even ministry involvements) would be better postponed for another time when we can undertake them without violating other God-given responsibilities.

In God’s economy, something vital is lost when we neglect our calling at home.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, Adorned p. 215 & 221

For me, I knew right away what one of the main culprits of my disorderly priorities were: distractions. I have a lot of freedom in my schedule because we stay home, homeschool, and I don’t have a ton of outside commitments (we have a few). I love that our lifestyle allows lots of freedom and that fits my creativity well. However, sometimes there’s too much freedom and that freedom turns into distractions and the distractions keep me from focusing on my priorities.

So, I felt God convicting me of my neglect and being distracted by things all the time. I am still trying to figure out how exactly I can stay focused on things and not be distracted so easily. But the biggest BIGGEST cause of my distractions is: social media/my phone! I already committed to a 1-month long break from instagram but it has become apparent that I need to do more if I want to honor God better in my home life.

So, after some thought I decided to start using an App called Quality Time to set specific rules and guidelines for myself and my phone usage. So, Monday through Friday from 9:00AM to 3:30PM the only thing my phone can do is text and call. A special screen pops up that says “Home Priorities” if I try to open anything else. So, my goal is to not use any social media, no blogging, no computer, no writing, no nothing from the hours of 9 to 3:30. During these hours my only focus should be my family, homeschooling, house chores, cooking, other social (face-to-face) activities etc…

It’s been about a week since I’ve started doing this and it has actually been kind of hard. I think I have a worse phone addiction than I thought. It’s also hard because I know the problem stems from my heart attitude, not from my phone itself. I can still find plenty of things to distract myself from housework without needing my phone or computer! I just get more creative with my distractions.

I am a work in progress but I recognize this is a journey and it will take some time for me to develop better habits, heave healthier boundaries with my time, and be mentally strong when distractions pop up. I am not aiming for perfection, just improvement. I know my kids and my husband will be the perfect people to ask about how my progress is.

Since taking more serious measures with limiting my phone and computer use I came across this article:

It is Cal Newport’s idea of “Digital Minimalism” that I like and believe I have already started trying to practice. Once 3:30 hits, we will have school work done, some chores done, at least a plan for dinner, and we can relax and enjoy some downtime. The kids can watch a show and I can then open up my computer or my phone and work on a blog post or catch up on my emails. I can feel good about allowing myself that time for my own interests because I’ve given my home and my family my all first. So far, this method is working out pretty well but I know I still can be distracted during the day by the random thoughts floating around in my brain. So, this is definitely a self-discipline journey as much as it is a daily detox from technology.

I find this process is helping me realize just how much time I actually DO have to pour into my creative projects or hobbies. I feel less stressed about what I want to get done and instead just feel peace that in this 1 or 2 hour slot I got to work on this or that guilt free. I am feeling the rewards of this exercise with my kids as I try to really be more present with them during the day and enjoy the time with them. The blessing of that has definitely been noticed by myself and by them.

I want to know, how do you keep your *insert distraction here* from messing up your list of priorities? What boundaries do you find helpful or useful? Why do you think we can be so easily tempted to neglect important things? What do you think of the idea of #digitalminimalism? It’s a discussion I want to be more open about and can’t wait to hear what further wisdom I can glean from you all.

Thank you so much for reading!

Enneagram and Turning 30: Part 2

So how does this Enneagram know me so well? I don’t know and quite frankly I don’t know if I want to get too invested in this whole personality test world. Sometimes I think personality tests try to categorize different types of people and it can kind of put ourselves (and God) into a box.

God is the creator of humanity and we are made in his image. God made us all unique and different. No two people are the same. So even if I have a similar personality type to other Enneagram 4s, we are all different. We have different stories, different pasts, different desires, different questions. I believe there is more to our personalities than just the 16 Myers-Briggs or the 9 Enneagram types.

How cool is it that God created us in his image with many different types of personalities? What do you think that says about God himself? It helps me see that God is big, complex, deep, layered, and unlimitedly creative! That is a cool thought.

But back to the Enneagram. It is important for us as Bible believing Christians not to take these man-made quizzes with too much seriousness. Yes it can be helpful but we have to keep it in its place. This article put out by The Gospel Coalition I found most helpful in navigating those murky waters. What I appreciated most about the article is the time he took to really do his historical research on the Ennegram.

Every chapter [of The Road Back To You – a foundational Enneagram book] talks about some combination of forgiving myself, finding my true self, becoming spiritually evolved, being healed from wounded messages, dealing with codependent behaviors, and pursuing personal wholeness. This is not the language of the Bible. We hear nothing about fear of man, the love of the praise of man, covenantal promises, covenantal threats, repentance, atonement, heaven or hell. When faith is mentioned it’s described as believing in something or someone bigger than you (203).

In a critical section at the beginning of the book, the authors describe their understanding of sin: “Sin as a theological term has been weaponized and used against so many people that it’s hard to address the subject without knowing you’re possibly hurting someone who has ‘stood on the wrong end of the preacher’s barrel,’ so to speak.” To be sure, we must face “our darkness,” but then Cron and Stabile give this definition of sin (from Rohr): “Sins are fixations that prevent the energy of life, God’s love, from flowing freely. [They are] self-erected blockades that cut us off from God and hence from our own authentic potential” (30). To quote their definition is to refute it. There is nothing here about sin as lawlessness, sin as spiritual adultery, sin as cosmic betrayal against a just and holy God.

Enneagram: The Road Back to You, Or to Somewhere Else?

It would be easy to see our personality flaws as just that: flaws. But it would be a detriment to our true spiritual growth if we did not see our sin for exactly what it is: sin. So, be careful to realize that whatever personality “flaw” you have, that’s probably not just a flaw but sin.

God’s grace and forgiveness and God’s law for us is more powerful than our personality type. What I like and want to take away from the Enneagram is best summarized here:

Yes, the great Christian theologians have talked about the importance of knowing oneself. Calvin, for example, is cited as one who argued for the necessity of self-discovery (15). True, Calvin argues that we must know ourselves to know God, but what we must know is our “shaming nakedness” which exposes “a teeming horde of infirmities.” Knowledge of self is indispensable because from “the feeling of our own ignorance, vanity, poverty, infirmity” we can recognize “that the true light of wisdom, sound virtue, full abundance of every good, and purity of righteousness rest in the Lord alone” (Inst. I.1.i).

Enneagram: The Road Back to You, Or to Somewhere Else?

So go ahead and take an Enneagram test if you so desire. Especially if you want to learn what areas you are gifted or weak in when choosing a career path. It can shed some interesting light on understanding why you do the things you do, as it has for me. But let’s just leave it at that and move on and remember that Scripture has more authority over our lives than a 12 minute personality test. Remember that, there is a large portion of the world that does not have the luxury of personality tests and many people do not have much of a choice as to what career path they end up in. This is very much a First World problem and it’s good to remember that. No matter where you are, what you’re doing or what country you’re in, a personality test or a specific vocation is not the end all be all of our existence, it is loving and serving God in His Kingdom.

Thank you for reading. Next week, I am going to share a funny story about a history class I was in. So subscribe with your email so you don’t miss it! Facebook might crash again, who knows. I don’t want to lose you!

Previous posts:

Why I am Taking a Social Media Break

The Enneagram and Being 30: Part 1