What I Learned (Winter Edition)

I’m completely late to the game on this one, since it’s basically spring already (at least here in Mississippi.  My prayers are with you, Northeasterners.)  But it’s equal parts fun and helpful for me to reflect back over different seasons and months to remember what God’s been teaching me, what I’ve struggled with, where I’ve found encouragement, and what I’ve been learning.  So in the spirit of ‘better late than never’ and in no particular order, here are a few things I learned this winter (from the random to the thoughtful):

1.  George Clooney starred in a Norwegian banking commercial…and it was the best commercial I’ve ever seen. 

Someone linked to this on Facebook and, I kid you not, I probably watched it 10 times.  It’s too good not to share, so here you go.  You’re welcome.

 

2.  When it comes to adoption grants, it never hurts to apply.

We found out in December that we received the third adoption grant we applied for.  That makes us three for three in the grant department.  At the time, it definitely felt like God was showing off a bit for us, but let me tell you, we have clung to His provision over the past several months as complications in the adoption process have raised their ugly heads.  These grants have been a sweet, stable reminder that our Father hasn’t forgotten us and is still fighting on our behalf and on behalf of our children.

3.  Four dozen Christmas cookies are NOT enough for my husband when it comes to sharing.


My hubby is a world-class cookie monster.  So it should come as no surprise that the baking of Christmas cookies is a favorite tradition of his.  During one of the baking marathons, he came home to trays full of cooling pepparkakar, Swedish ginger cookies that are made of glittering lights, tinsel and everything magical.  They ARE the smell and taste of Christmas.  After helping himself to a number of the proceeds, he began to count the remains, remarking “We’ve only got 49 cookies left, babes.  How many people do we have to share with?”  Apparently too many.

4.  Winter in Mississippi is bipolar.


One day in January, I went for a run on a local trail.  It was 30 degrees outside and I was bundled up in all the layers, teeth chattering, wondering what on God’s green earth had possessed me to step outside of the house.  Two days later, I went for a run on that same trail in 70 degree weather with a tank top.  I mean, really?  The only thing more confusing is high school calculus.

5.  Alanis Morissette updated her song ‘Ironic’…with a little help. 🙂

https://youtu.be/6GVJpOmaDyU

Another little gem from the Facebook archives.  PS – isn’t James Corden the best?

6.  Joy is a decision.


This is one I’m still learning honestly.  Between the noisy political climate of the past year and numerous obstacles in the adoption process over the past few months, it’s been easy to get swept up in all the clamor…and cry.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit, gentle teacher that He is, has slowly, gradually, been opening my eyes to see not only the battles, but the victory He provides – even in the little ways.  But it’s a daily choice to keep my eyes open to those tiny threads of joy in the midst of the hard.  Because sometimes they can be hard to see…but they’re still there.

7.  The Ellie Holcomb Pandora radio station is a great soundtrack for my day.


Have you listened to Ellie Holcomb yet?  If not, get thee to Pandora or Spotify or Apple music straightaway and have a listen.  You won’t be sorry.  Her voice is like a cup of French press being poured right in front of you, rich and soothing.  Plus, I follow her on Instagram (@ellieholcomb) and girl’s got style.

Happy Spring, friends.

 

Fear Shouts…But Love Whispers

I first met Becky McCoy through a Hope*Writers Voxer group that several of us joined to cheer each other on during the Write 31 Days challenge back in October.  Over the past several months, I’ve been encouraged and challenged by her bravery in the midst of grief, and by her courage to stand up and embrace whole-heartedly the season and the work that God has given her.  So, the honor was completely mine when she offered to share her writing space with me over on her blog this month…

If I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure that I have what it takes.

Adoption has been unchartered territory for us.  Surprises we didn’t see coming.  Bravery we didn’t think we had.  Limited resources.  All the questions.  Not always a lot of answers.  All the feelings of not enough.

And yet, bravery for my husband and I has looked like standing in the face of all that, and choosing to listen to the whisper in both of our spirits and lean forward with a tentative first step anyways.

Choosing to listen, instead of speak, argue, or reason, although we have definitely done all of the above – multiple times.  It’s been much easier to make a list of all the reasons this isn’t possible on paper than it has been to listen to the still, small voice that urges us onward.  The whisper that says these children are worth fighting for, that there is more to the story than what we currently see.

But that still, small voice hasn’t been the only one we’ve heard…

Continue reading over on Becky’s blog…

Weekend Reads, Episode 14

Happy Saturday, lovelies.  Lately, some gentle reminders have been sinking deep into my soul, like water into thirsty soil.  Maybe you’re in the same boat, also wondering how to love boldly, wrestling with discontentment, or desiring to filter the noise in your soul?  If that sounds like you, well then, here are some kind words for your weekend.

mudroom-leslie

Loving after Trump by Leslie Verner for The Mudroom (fun fact: she was a former colleague of mine when I taught English in China)

“Love does not lose.  And God is not thwarted now.  And so it is in this belief I will fight – not with fists swinging, but willingly sacrificing my human right to wallow in anger, fear and sadness.  I will choose to love boldly.”

connection-and-contentment

How Connection Helps Us Find Contentment by Holley Gerth

“I realize that discontentment can actually be a helpful warning sign with neon letters.  If doubt and fear are howling in my ears it’s most likely because a too-noisy life has drowned out God’s voice.  If I find myself wrestling with a friendship then I probably haven’t had quality time with that person lately.  If I worry about my work it’s often because I haven’t been actually writing.”

amber-salhus

When Your Soul Needs a Slower Pace by Amber Salhus

“I start filtering all screen time through one question: Is it valuable?  Am I scrolling for a reason, or as a reflex?  Is this actually valuable or am I just ingesting copious amounts of useless information?  Adversely, am I offering anything of value?  Or am I just another voice in an already noisy space?”

***

Short and sweet this week, friends.  Enjoy your weekend!

Weekend Reads

This month has been a bit bipolar here in Mississippi.  Two weekends ago, we were hunkering down with snow and ice (because an inch or two = Snowmaggedon for the south), while the past two weeks have been 70 degrees and sunshine playing peek-a-boo.  Normally, I’m all about the sunshine, but I also sorta love lighting candles and cozying up under a blanket while the world is wet and chilly outside (as long as I don’t have to drive in it).  So light a candle and enjoy a few good reads for your weekend.  I hope it’s the warm and cozy kind.

amber-haines

What Do You Taste? by Amber C. Haines

“When we can’t tell the difference between the courthouse and the church, let’s remember that so many things can happen.”

amber-haines-2

When There’s a Lion in Your Yard by Amber C. Haines

“This world is charged with the grandeur of everything but God – unless you realize that the Kingdom is already within you, already within the child, already within the poor and marginalized, and already within the mercy-hungry, unforgivable tax collectors who’ve taken from us.  The Kingdom belongs to such as these.”

liz-curtis-higgs

When Your Heart Needs a Fresh Start by Liz Curtis Higgs for A Holy Experience

“I stopped pretending I had all the answers and started asking God questions.  Through it all God loved me.  That was the realization that undid me, in the best sense of the word.  It shattered my misconceptions.  It trampled my pride.  God didn’t just rock my world.  God blew my world apart and then rebuilt it from the ground up…. ‘The old has gone…’ 2 Corinthians 5:17”

holley-gerth-7

Defeating Fear and Worry by Holley Gerth

“People would ask, ‘How do you feel about your infertility?’  And I would say, ‘I have a peace about it.’  And they would look at me like, ‘Yeah, yeah, Sunday School answer.’  And I said, ‘No, it’s the kind of peace that comes after war.  And I fought for it.  I will surrender everything else but not that peace.'”

THIS.

Happy Weekending, friends.

 

 

A Beautiful Mix of Holiday Traditions

I was honored to guest post on Flourish, the Noonday Collection blog last week.  Now that we’ve returned home from spending Christmas in Florida with family, our bags are unpacked, and I’m stubbornly leaving up our Christmas decorations just a few days longer, I thought I’d share that post here.  Happy New Year!

***

red-lanterns

 December, 2004.  Beijing, China.  I was six months into a year-long teaching commitment in China.  It was also my first Christmas away from home and my family.  Just as the culture shock began to wear off and I began to get used to the language and customs of this country that I was starting to fall in love with, the holidays rolled around and homesickness washed like a wave over me again.  On top of it all, I had come down with THE sinus infection to end all sinus infections and spent most of Christmas Day in bed with a box of tissues and a humidifier for company.  It was not my favorite Christmas, but it was a memorable one.  Now, given the distance of time and space, other memories from that Christmas float to the surface…

Continue reading over on Flourish…