From My Many Open Tabs 1

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This was the first week of school for my kids. The kicker is we moved to a new school district, so this has brought nervous anticipation for even our school-seasoned middle-schooler. Good news: it all went as well as could be hoped. Kids are resilient. I’m apparently resilient, too, because I’m back on that 6:15am school-year wake-up grind. Thank goodness for human adaptability all around. :)

Last week, we spent (from what I can tell) our 10th summer vacation at our favorite lake in Tennessee. We always stay at the same little marina resort, spend all day every day on the water, and aim to end the summer well right before school.

This year, after a grueling summer, I was afraid of missing out on really diving deep into the gift of rest that this vacation promises. I knew I would be tempted to zone out—the cell signal has increased steadily over the past decade we’ve been visiting…now, reaching us (GASP!) all the way in the middle of the lake. I knew after being in between homes all summer I could wish away vacation, preferring routine and normalcy and nesting at home.

So, on the first day, I sat down with a pad of paper and wrote down my best hopes for vacation. I wanted to leave the week feeling like I’d connected deeply with God, engaged with my kids playfully, and was filled up rather than drained. THEN, I made a corresponding list of what I could tangibly do to reach those hopes.

  1. Read books instead of the internet (that fills me up rather than draining me).

  2. NOTICE and fully BE in nature—the sounds of the bugs and the wind, the colors of the sky and the water, the sensations of swimming. (This leaves me in awe of God and tethered to Him)

  3. Jump off the cliffs and get up on the wakeboard. (These are two things I do annually to “stay young” and because my kids love to do both!)

More than anything, I knew how I wanted to FEEL when I left vacation, so I reverse engineered the vaca and didn’t let it pass me by. It worked like a charm. This is the kind of vacation where you don’t even pack makeup. THE BEST.

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And, because someone should benefit from my 56748 open tabs:

She’s 5’9”, but how will it look on my 5’3” self? I’ve ordered, am awaiting shipping, and will report back.

Can this man actually make bread from 4500 year old yeast he found in ancient ceramic pots? Spoiler…you betcha.

All 23 matter. Everytown on every single El Paso victim.

795 (and counting) women on their magical secret talents. Cup of Jo is always delightful and insightful.

4 bus rides at 95 years old, all to pay your respects. Amnesty International asks an elderly man for his wisdom.

The Weird Magic of the Music of Summer 1999. The Ringer explores LFO’s “Summer Girls” and the rest of that summer in a hazy nostalgia.

What I learned in February 2019

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I finally hit my Winter Limit on Monday of this week. I wanted to go outside without having to grab my heavy, puffy coat. It was the first time all winter I’d felt that toddler temper tantrum feeling squeak up in my throat. I wanted to cry and stomp my feet and take a nap until it was warm out.

There’s something about the inevitability of time that makes me panicky sometimes. The fact that I can’t move it along when it’s dragging on makes me feel a little trapped. And, the reality that I can’t pause time or stop it altogether in those sweet, magical moments troubles me even more.

BUT, this February I have learned a few new things:

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  1. If you dread meetings—even if you like the people you’re meeting with—it helps to plan the meeting for a place you really love going. Sure, Starbucks is easy and home is cheap. However, I’d gotten into the not-great brain groove of dreading any time I had Bible Study even though I love the girls in the study…and obviously I love the Bible. ;) BUT, when I started doing Bible Study at the local cafe that feels very design-y and vibe-y, all the sudden I was looking forward to that morning all week. Sometimes I just order the bottomless coffee, sometimes I order a big breakfast. Last week I just ordered crispy bacon and a mug of decaf. Life-hack right here, y’all.

    Also try: an art museum, your local library (i LOVE libraries!), the pool in the summer!


  2. I enjoy all things Internet when it is very edited. I’m an old-school Internetter, have been on all the blogs and social medias and websites practically since they were a thing. Having a computer at our home and the Internet soon thereafter became a way to experience the wider-world. HOWEVER, because of this, I have loooonnnnnnngggg lists of people I follow. Old Internet acquaintances, old Internet interests, old Internet curiosities. I’ve had Instagram longer than I’ve had my youngest kid (who is now SIX YEARS OLD thank you!). It was long past time to edit what I allow into my day. It’s not so much the content that’s the problem (I’ve always been pretty good at only following people and things that bring life)…it’s the volume. There’s just too much and it’s too loud.

    This book I picked up at the airport on a girls’ trip is seminal on this topic: Digital Minimalism

  3. I am apparently v. into stories of art theft. This tracks because I LOVE art history, art museums, and the act of creating art.

    If you’re also interested try: this NPR podcast, this GQ article, and this show on Netflix

  4. Strengthsfinders isn’t kidding when they say you don’t really change your main strengths. I did Strengthsfinders when it first came out and then again this month at the urging of a friend. AND THEY WERE ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME (just a slightly different order). Input, Ideation, Strategic, Activator, Adaptability

    Have you taken the test? Start here, with the book. And, if you’re loving it, this time I paid for the extended report and it was v. enlightening.

I’m inspired by Emily Freeman to not only write these posts, but to write them as a way to slow down and looooook around. That’s kind of her whole vibe. I hope you know of her already, but if not, click over. Her book The Next Right Thing is coming out April 2nd. She has a podcast by the same name.

The Whole World Is Looking For a Fresh Start

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If you want to see the world’s hunger for the Gospel clearly, look no further than New Year’s Eve. Everyone is hustling and bustling, looking their best and hoping that finally, this one time, things will really be different when the clock strikes midnight.

We’re all plotting and scheming how we’ll show up better this time. We plan how we’ll advance our cause, how we’ll move the ball forward. We vow to make ourselves smaller, or make our accolades louder, or our list of achievements longer. Maybe we hope our lives will be simpler, more peaceful, with more margin and better investment. We imagine a kind of alchemy, a handshake between time and will that’ll finally change things for good.

We imagine we’ll wake up the next morning full of willpower and grit. Completely different than the wrung out, exhausted, sliding-into-the-holidays mess that we were just the night before. Somehow we imagine we’ll finally ace relationships, we’ll juice our vegetables into something palatable, we’ll dig into our Bibles with consistency.

We all want a defining moment where we’re different.

And, I’ll tell you, the only time that has EVER happened for me was when I have met the Lord in a new way.

  1. It happened when I finally relented to His relentless pursuit of me and attended a high school small group Bible Study…even though I wouldn’t really get it all straight for more months. I felt different and I was enthralled with the maybe that all this God stuff was true. I was constantly tumbling the possibility of it in my mind.

  2. It happened when all the sudden on a high school retreat I heard the words “Let my life reflect the beauty of my Lord” in worship and I GOT IT. I got what the whole Christian Life thing meant. Where before I couldn’t sort up from down, all the sudden it supernaturally came into view. I believed in Jesus in a real and tangible way and NOTHING about my life has been the same.

  3. It happened when I was laying with my cheek next to the toilet on the cold linoleum. I’d lived in cycle of believing the “next thing” was going to fulfill me for years. I believed life would really start when I left for college, or when I got married, or when we had a baby. I was never content, because I just thought there was something better a little out of reach. When I found myself newly married, newly pregnant, and constantly sick for all 40 weeks…I was at the end of myself. At that moment by the toilet, I was exhausted. Objectively, I’d grasped every single thing that I had thought would make me happy. I was married to a genuinely amazing man, we lived in a cute little apartment, and I was pregnant with this tiny baby. Except this tiny baby was making me truly miserable. And, I realized at that moment, face slicked with cold sweat and sticking to the nasty bathroom floor, “I have everything I said would make me happy…and yet.” It was then that God intervened and somehow, I realized that life wasn’t just over the horizon…but life was right now. For the first time in my life, my will was matched by an unchangeable situation. I couldn’t just plan or maneuver my way out of this difficulty like I’d managed to do in the past. The only way out of this hard time was through it. This was my life, and on paper I had everything I’d ever wanted. From that moment, I no longer lived in a state of constant discontent.

There have been a handful of moments since then that changed everything for me, supernaturally and without striving. It was all Him and none of me.

This is what the world is longing for. We are all hoping that there is an answer to our messed up, backwards-and-upside-down lives. There is something deep in our souls that whisper hope, but in our flesh we think we have the power and responsibility to change in our own strength. Sure, we can make small changes and amend our habits, because common grace is a real thing. God has given us free will and humans are amazingly capable beings.

But, that REAL, soul-deep change that we obsess over, that’s the work of God. We think it might be able setting goals and shining ourselves up, but I don’t know that I’ve been changed from the inside out that way. Goals are great for making the most of who you already are, or making small and tangible movements to who you’d like to become. BUT, the overnight, I-was-this-and-now-I’m-that kind of change remains fully in the purview of our supernatural God.

That’s what we’re all craving. Let’s make sure that we offer God when we see the world asking for Him without knowing. <3

This is a quick, unedited mind-dump. Thank you for reading. You can find more on Instagram or in my books! :)