One Word

I’ve been using the You Version Bible app lately.  Particularly, the devotional plans.  I’ve been choosing short plans, less than 5 days because I know my attention span.  I chose the One Word devotional last week.  It’s a four day “devotional”.  I put devotional in quotes because it’s less of that and more of a how-to about hearing God’s voice speak a word into your life to focus on throughout the new year – I know it’s February, but work with me.

They give three steps to discovering your One Word (my adaptation):

1)  Look in – during unplugged moments, ask God to give you clarity; examine your heart and prepare you for your one word.  Don’t allow fear to surround it.

2)  Look up – ask what God wants to do in and through you this year.  Don’t just pick a good word, but ask for a God word.

3) Look out – keep your one word front and center; find an accountability partner to hold you in check; keep it in focus.

From my journal:

My one word must be easily understandable or I may abandon it (again, I know myself – sort of).  I need (will be given) a word that can be woven into all areas of my life. 

So, words that have come to mind as I’ve meditated on and asked for a word:

Trust

Forgiveness

Justice

Kindness

Patience

Prestidigitation (just kidding)

There are so many areas lacking in me and I feel overwhelmed.  I want to take all of them and do a crash course – preferably online- to fix me all up neatly, quickly, and with a pretty bow slapped on top.  Of course, that’s not the point. sigh

I’m also currently thinking of how I might speed up the process of discovering the One Word.  Cast lots perhaps?  I know, however, that this is not the point either.  Maybe the discovery part of the process is meant to prepare my heart to live out that word in obedience and with tenacity.

OK, I’m still working on slowing down and allowing the discovery to take it’s time.  Maybe I’ll have an actual word at the end of the year.  Maybe the word isn’t even one I’ve thought of…or maybe it’s the first one.  Trust…

That one is HUGE for me.

My Learning Curve

from Wikipedia:

“The familiar expression “a steep learning curve” is intended to mean that the activity is difficult to learn, although a learning curve with a steep start actually represents rapid progress.”

I didn’t blog during December, maybe you noticed?  I took the month “off”, although I can hardly justify blogging as work.  I lounged. I procrastinated. I ate. I learned to live with pain. I bought presents (one niece got three of the same thing from me because the first two wouldn’t arrive in time so I bought more). I read and read and read. I “started” a book club.  Started is in quotes because just two nights ago I decided on a book and a time and place for meeting – February 24th at Panera Bread. Yay, me!

Here’s the thing.  The books I read probably raised some eyebrows because through the wonders of social media and Kindle, people knew what I was reading and when I finished them.  In fact, I know some hackles were raised because folks were not stingy with their opinions.  Some backstory:

I live in south central PA.  A firmly evangelical, fundamentalist, conservative part of the state.  I drank the Kool-Aid often and from a very young age.  In fact, the church I grew up in had a Christian school (which I attended through 9th grade) and February was named patriotic month.  Wow!  Did we ever celebrate!  It was akin to Easter and Christmas.  There were month long school projects, American history dress up days, parties, and a patriotic cantata at the end of the month at the church with all the glorious school projects filling the large, grand lobby for everyone to ooh and aah over.  I was patriotic.  I was conservative.  I was evangelical and fundamentalist. I pledged allegiance to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible EVERY DAY!  The flags held prominent positions in every classroom and at the altar.  I have learned and re-learned Christian-speak from Kindergarten.  We even had Catechism, good, fundamentalist catechism.  I didn’t wear pants – they weren’t feminine or sanctioned by the pastor. I wore culottes.

from Wikipedia:

Culottes is a word that originated in the French language. Historically, “culottes” referred to the knee-breeches commonly worn by gentlemen of the European upper-classes from the late Middle Ages or Renaissance through the early nineteenth century.

When I was newly married, I attended the church my husband grew up in.  A little Mennonite church on the “wrong” side of town.  It was intriguing to me and I was astonished at the non-patrioticness (call me Noah Webster) of it all.  But, not being patriotic didn’t mean that they weren’t conservative and it didn’t mean they weren’t properly schooled in Franklin County political culture.  We were in a young marrieds Sunday School class (which also included singles and older marrieds – it was a small church) and the teacher one Sunday actually called me a feminist.  A FEMINIST!!  I was appalled…offended…irritated…angry…flustered.  The nerve of this guy!!  I was the anti-thesis of the “feminist”.  Not only had I continued on my conservative, fundamentalist, patriotic trajectory, I had recently added conservative talk radio to my daily diet, with enthusiasm.  I think you can do the math and figure out who I listened to religiously for many, many years and I’m not dissing him.  I still agree with him on some things, but I’ve moved on.  Honestly, I NEVER thought I would say those blasphemous words.  Hello, I’m Deanna and I’m a recovering conservative talk radio listener.  Nice to meet you.

Fast forward many, many years to this past November and December.  Through the world of the internet and blogging and Facebook, I was introduced to a blog, then to a book, then to another book and another.  In the past eight weeks I have read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, and Seven by Jen Hatmaker.  Wow!  I was busy curled up on the couch reading and wrestling with all those thought, phrases, and emotions instilled in me from that Kool-Aid.  I’m exhausted by the mental gymnastics I’ve had to perform to readjust my conservative thinking.  I’m convicted because I am part of the problem.  I have hope because of these women and so many, many more who are smart, articulate and, wonder of wonders!,  Jesus followers.  I want to be like them when I grow up.

I want to challenge the status quo in the church’s view of women in ministry, of patriarchal hierarchy.

I want to change my views on the poor and destitute in which I insulate myself and my family from “the least of these”.

I want to empower women all over the world to grab hold of their God-breathed gifts and use them for his Kingdom.  We’re missing the Kingdom, people!  Missing it in the midst of the American church.

I do not want to throw stones anymore.

My path will have many stops and starts.  I won’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but I will make a difference.  It may not be seen by anyone but God.  And that’s okay because He’s the only One who really matters in these changes.

I haven’t wrestled out all these thoughts yet and I’ve already come under criticism.  I can deal with that.  I’m admitting here and now that I know I won’t agree with everything these women say, write or speak, but that’s the beauty of the Body of Christ.  I can learn from them, just as I learn from Lydia or Bethany or Ann or Tsh or Rachel or Emily or Lysa.  As I learn and gain rapid progress (see Wikipedia definition at beginning), I will be able to answer those criticisms with wit and grace and maybe a tad of sarcasm because, after all,  I’m only a women…right?

and…drumroll, please….

I’m a Jesus Feminist.

I guess Mr. So n’ So got it right all those years ago, but not in the way he meant it.

Wick Trimming Update

In an effort to trim wicks during the Season, I’m taking some time off from scheduled blog posts. If I find something to write about that I just can’t wait to share, I’ll post.
Otherwise, have a meaningful Advent and Happy Christmas!

Worn In vs. Worn Out

My kids are very different.  Aside from the fact they are over a decade apart in age and are different sexes, there are many others things that are night and day.  However, there is one idiosyncrasy I’ve noticed that they share.  They like things that are worn in.  My daughter prefers clothing, particularly jeans, from a second hand store.  My son prefers his shoes to be second hand.  In other words, worn in.

Once this thought came into my head I immediately thought about the difference between being worn in and worn out as moms.  So often we are just worn out.  Worn out with all those things that need to be done.  As a wife or mom, whether you bristle at it or welcome it, your home and taking care of your family is your calling.  It is a Divine thing.  Did you ever notice how God created the family first?  Not church or ministry or jobs or friends, but family.  Sure, he gave Adam some chores such as naming the creatures, but Adam was still alone.  To meet Adam’s needs, God gave him Eve – a family.

“Worn in” conjures up feelings of comfy pj’s and slippers, the favorite spot on the couch or your favorite jeans and boots.  Worn in means comfort.  Isn’t that what we want for our families – comfort.  Particularly during this time which gets a lot of lip service about remembering “the reason for the season”.  Choose events during December carefully.  Choose those things that are life giving, not life draining.  Choose those permanent things, not the urgent things.  Usually the things that are screaming the loudest are those things that you can and should ignore.

Ann Voskamp says “Life is not an emergency.”  Most of our daily lives are not urgent.  Dropping things from your calendar to give your family some white space during this season can help you to breathe and relax and breathe new life into your life and those of your family.

Can I encourage you this holiday season to allow yourself to be worn in and comfy?  To be the mom who says “no” to those extra holiday things (although good) just for the sake of not getting yourself worn out.

Bookshelf – How to Buy a Love of Reading

51q1ZdQ0YGL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Why does a book catch your eye?

Cover? Title? Author? Recommendation? Placement on the shelf?

I can’t explain why I picked this one up at the library.  All of the above except a recommendation.  This was placed prominently on a library shelf on my way to the check out station so I grabbed it.  I had never heard of Tanya Egan Gibson.  Not surprising since this is her first novel.

I’m still struggling to put into words what the story was about or what I think about it.  The gist of the story is a wealthy family in an exclusive suburb in New York (new money which means they are looked down on by the old money families – think Kennedys) who are planning the sixteenth birthday party of their only daughter.  The father made his money creating some sort of fantastic bra and is obsessed with, well, breasts.  The mother came from old money but was disowned when she married her salesman husband so clawing herself back up into the upper echelons of “society” is very important to her.  So important that her daughter is a disgrace to her.  Carley, said daughter, suffers from acne and is overweight.  Two unforgivable sins in this culture.  Gretchen, the mother, is constantly trying to outdo the other moms while at the same time actually trying to convince Carley she should get an eating disorder “just for a while” so that she can fit into a more respectable size.  (Gretchen is a size 00).

Unfortunately Carley is also not exact a brilliant student either which is yet another source of horror to her mother.  Carley hates reading; hates literature of any kind.  So, her mother decides that for her Sweet Sixteen she is going to “buy” her daughter a love of reading.  In other words, she would find an author to accept a commission, come live with them for several months and write a novel with Carley’s input that Carley would like.

There are so many sub-plots.  The characters are not hard to keep track of; but the plot is. My overall sense was that the novel is very satirical.  She entwines (sometimes not very well) teen addiction, eating disorders, uber-wealth, sex, adultery, The Great Gatsby, the publishing industry, the television industry, reality television and, not surprisingly, true love or the lack of it.  The novel ended as it only could but I won’t give a spoiler here.

I struggle to give it a rating.  I did like it, in the sense that it inspired enough interest in me to want to read what happened next but the ending left me feeling ambivalent.  She spent a long time on denouement, almost too long since the ending was predictable.  So, in effect, the climax was anti-climactic.

I suppose if forced I would give it 2 1/2 stars.  Good enough that I didn’t feel my time was wasted but not so good that I felt I came away with anything lasting.  I honestly can’t figure out if it was actually really deep or really shallow.

So again, I ask, what makes you pick up a book?

Wick Trimming

Autumn brings candles.  Mmmm, candles*.  Those who love candles know that you need to trim the wicks unless you want a plume of black smoke to burst straight into the air once the flame catches.

As I lit a candle the other day, I noticed that the wick needed trimming, but I ignored it.  I even told myself in my head that the wick needed trimming, but I didn’t get the scissors and do it.  That got me thinking: what other areas in my life need trimming?  What am I ignoring because I don’t have time, I’m too lazy or I’m too attached to it to trim?

I’ve done a pretty good job at wick trimming in this past year in my outward life.  I have stepped back from some really draining responsibilities that left me empty and my family disgruntled.  I also believed God has blessed my stepping back and has given me a season of rest in order to re-prioritize things in my life and contemplate where our family is headed.  I’ve trimmed the wicks of outside responsibilities so I can focus more on inward things.  The whole family has done this to some extent.  We are slowing adding some things back in, but only those things we love and feel called to do.

However, my inward life continues to need some wick trimming.  There are a few little things I can think of.

Right now one wick that needs attention is my bedtime routine wick.  I get a second wind around 9 pm and, though my day is done and I should head up to bed around this time, I find other things to do.  Growing up, I was a night owl and I have regressed back into those tendencies.  When I do finally put myself to bed it’s usually gone past 11.  I set my phone alarm.  Well, confession, I set four alarms on my phone with drill sergeant messages (which I don’t read).  I ignore all of them.  I fall back asleep and get up groggy and grumpy – not a pretty sight.  I need to trim staying up late regularly so that I can get up earlier in the morning.  I want to be a morning person, I really do.  For a season of my life I was and I loved it.  Especially this time of year when the air is so beautifully crisp and the sunrises take your breath away.  I want to spend time contemplating, praying, listening to God and watching creation come alive – with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands.

Another wick I need to trim is my procrastination streak.  I want to live intentionally so that means streamlining things like housework and meal preparation.  I have taken steps towards this, but I’m always one step forward and two steps back.  I have committed to once a month cooking through a subscription service through Once a Month Meals and it is going well and I’ve recently completed another marathon cooking day.  We’ve eaten and liked every meal but one which mixes BBQ sauce with pasta and cheese.  Why not just use tomato or alfredo sauce?  I didn’t get that one.  The melding of flavors didn’t, well, meld.

But housework…ah…housework.  Let’s just say I love it when things are clean and tidy, I just don’t do well at actually getting it done.  I procrastinate.  Like now.  I should be cleaning my bathrooms but it’s more fun to blog about not doing it.  I do have a chore scheduled for each day (for today it’s CLEAN BATHROOMS) but I find that my rebellious streak not only extends towards others, but towards myself.  I get some sort of guilty pleasure out of ignoring my own lists.  A familiar theme, as in, ignoring my morning alarms.  Is rebellion the root of procrastination?  Possibly, but that’s another post. Can you wait while I write that down on my blog idea list?   Oddly enough I don’t rebel against my blog idea list.

A friendship needs trimming.  I’ve begun that process but it is hard because, well, it just is.  I know there are necessary endings but I don’t want to get this wrong.  My desire is not to burn bridges so I have to be careful how I trim and not allow the smoke in my eyes (hurt feelings and rejection) to blind me so that I trim so much I can’t find that wick when or if the relationship can be redeemed.

Trimming wicks.  Inwardly and outwardly.  A candle is a beautiful and relaxing thing, but it can blow ugly black smoke into our faces if we don’t trim the wicks.

What parts of your life are blowing ugly black smoke into your face or into others’ faces because you’ve got some trimming to do?  Some decisions you must make?  Some activities you must cut?

As an aside: Yankee Candle makes a scent called Turkey Stuffing.  Forgive me, but wouldn’t that get a bit old?  Who wants to smell turkey stuffing day in and day out for weeks?  I love the smell of a turkey roasting over the holidays, but geez, isn’t this going a bit too far?  Unless, it’s for vegetarians…. but then, wouldn’t it make you want leave your Tofurkey on the table and go to the nearest buffet?

Bookshelf – Desperate

41qCbGQbKdL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Since they use a rating system on Good Reads, I suppose I will continue with it.  This is a 5 star one right here, baby.  I really enjoyed this book.  I have read Sarah Mae’s blog for some time now and have two of her ebooks.  She lives not too far from me in Central PA.  I recently also completed reading Educating the Whole Hearted Child by the Clarksons.  How come no one recommended it to me years ago??

Anyhow, this book is written by both ladies following the Titus 2 model of mature women coming alongside young women and helping through their journey, particularly motherhood.  I knew much of Sarah’s back story but it was refreshing to read again about her struggles and her journey to the other side.  I found myself vacillating between both of them since I have an almost adult and a first grader.  There are many things yet to learn and also many things I can give to younger mothers.

I will admit I do find their relationship enviable.  I feel mentors are so hard to find because we are all so busy, busy, busy.  But, are we really too busy or are we just too scared to let people know that we don’t have it all together either, or that we didn’t have it all together?  I know that I and my family would have benefited from a strong mentor relationship if I had only been willing to be vulnerable and admit my many failings.

I would recommend this books for women across the age spectrum.  My only regret is that I read through it alone and not in a community of women.  Perhaps, though, that is yet to come.

Morning Colloqu–what??

It’s Morning Colloquy (kŏl’ə-kwē) and I first came across this unusual sounding word on a blog called Permanent Things…resisting the tyranny of the Urgent.  I was researching Sabbath Schooling and one blog, led to another blog which led to another blog…you get the idea.

Fortunately, she had a link to a blog post about the topic specifically so that I could read what it was exactly.  You can click on the link below to read her post.  I have found many of her writings refreshing and thought provoking.

Colloquy – (from Latin colloquium: con– [together] + loqui [speak]); meaning “discussion” or “conversation”

I found this intriguing.  I had been having trouble getting my first grader to unplug from his plans in the morning to getting schoolwork done.  I know that no other homeschool mom has trouble getting her kiddos into school mode <wink, wink> but I do.  So, I thought why not give this a try?

No matter how late our morning runs, we always do our Morning Colloquy before anything else.  It didn’t take him long to catch on.  The word Colloquy didn’t scared him as much as it scared me.

We start with doing our memory work.  We use Classical Conversations memory work, but we’re doing Cycle One which coordinates more of our study of history right now.  After our memory work, we work on his AWANA verses.  He adores AWANA and it fits perfectly with our Colloquy because we can have discussions about the verses or the stories.  Then we move onto a story.  We snuggle up on the couch and read.  Right now we are reading from Crystal Pool: Myths and Legends of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean.  He loves this time as well.  We spend time talking about how a lot of the ancient people had their own “creation” stories and how it differs or is similar to the one we believe in the Bible.

After this it’s very easy to transition to schoolwork. I think our Morning Colloquy may change over the years but I’m hooked and I’m so grateful to Angelina in Lousiana for posting it on a blog that ended up on my screen when I needed it most.  See??  Divine Appointment via computers.

To read Angelina’s blog, click below.  Then hop away around her blog or to others.  Enjoy your Morning Colloquy!

Permanent Things

Bookshelf – Praying In Color

4112qIumZEL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_This. Book. Is. Wow!

It’s not a big book and nor is it bulky with theology.  It’s simply a new way to connect with God.  I don’t know about you, but I struggle with prayer.  I have several friends who can pray like nobodies business.  Both in front of people and in their prayer closets.  I actually don’t have too much trouble praying in front of others because I know the things to say.  It’s the praying in private that I struggle with.  I have a particular friend who is spiritually gifted in the area of intercession.  She prays for God to burden her with the burdens of those she should pray for.  Wow!  I admire her for that and I’m so grateful when she is burdened for me.

But, my prayer life?   Well, I make my list (which takes forever because I’m trying to think what should be on the list & how to word it) then I try to go through the list.  My mind wanders.  I think about my to-do list, not my to-pray list.  I look out the window and think about the weather.  I think about whether the load of laundry needs rescued from the dryer or needs to be washed again because the mildew has set in.  I think about the crack in the ceiling…oops I’m supposed to have my head bowed.  I think about the dirt under my fingernails.  It goes on and on.  I can’t stay focused.  I doodle on my list.

I’ve also tried praying before I go to bed, but that ends up in sleep.  I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to fall asleep praying.  I’d like to think God looks at me as I would my own children surrendering to sleep in my arms.  However, I don’t think it should be the only time I pray.  In fact, I know it shouldn’t.

There are books that are recommended to you by other people.  There are books assigned to you.  There are books that you choose depending on your mood at the time.  Then, there are books that you understand you’ve been directed to by the Divine.

I didn’t go looking for this book, it found me.  It was a Divine appointment because it was such a breath of fresh air for me.

It is precisely because my mind wanders and because I’m a natural doodler that this book found me.  It showed me that just because praying off a list is tedious for me, prayer is not elusive.  I can use my doodling as a prayer outlet.  When I need to pray for my daughter as she’s selecting a college, I can write her name and doodle away all around it weaving color around her name and names of the colleges and the choices she must make; keeping my hands busy and so my mind can focus on the praying.  It also allows me to open my heart when I have nothing to write and no words form, just color and shape.  This frees up the Spirit to pray for me. Romans 8:26

You don’t need to be an artist to pray this way.  In fact, I would think being an artist might be a limitation because an artist may look at their color prayers too critically.  I know I’m not great at drawing so I’m less likely to notice if the heart I’ve drawn is more bloated on one side than the other.  I’m not good at perspective either, but that’s okay because it’s God’s perspective I’m after.

If I’m rating this book gets a 5++++++++++++++ from me because I love my new artists’ sketchpad and markers and the prayers I’m creating.

Why WhiteNoise?

I started out in the blogging world with a blog entitled “Blogger Come Lately”.  It was a take on Johnny-Come-Lately because I didn’t come to blogging until after the boat had sailed.  It took me a while to catch up to this social media phenomenon.  I’d been reading blogs for some time but found that I would spend hours hopping from blog to blog and waste an entire day.  The blogosphere can be a huge black hole.

When I returned to blogging with a different focus and understood the black hole it is, I knew in all likelihood it would get lost among so many other blogs.  Blogs that help you save money.  Blogs that have giveaways (which I would like to do someday).  Blogs that teach you a Spiritual Truth.  Blogs that encourage you.  Blogs that chronicle life in spite of a disease.  Blogs that tell you how to fix a car.  Blogs that tell you how to make your own laundry soap.  Blogs that teach you how to cook.  Blogs that review new techno gadgets.  Blogs that show you gorgeous photography.  Blogs that….you get the idea.  You can Google anything and in the entries blogs will appear.  Blogs are everywhere.  So, Blogger Come Lately, while catchy, didn’t fit the reality of the blogging world.  Which meant choosing a different name.

I finally chose WhiteNoise because that’s what it is.  It’s just indistinguishable noise on the spectral scale of the blogosphere.

But I’m ever so grateful you read it sometimes.

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