There is something quietly beautiful about a foggy morning.
Hello there. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. A good friend told me that age fifteen of having a teenager would be the busiest. She wasn’t joking. They want to be involved in everything, but you are their transportation. So here I sit almost at the beginning of February wondering where January (or even the last year really) went. I decided to do a “What I’m Into Lately” post because it’s an easy way to get back to blogging. I have thoughts swirling around in my head for upcoming posts, but haven’t made myself sit down and put those words to paper.
So here you go. What I’m into lately:
It all started several years ago with Downton Abbey then Dr. Who and now I find myself watching more.
Call the Midwife: An incredibly well done drama that airs on PBS set in the late 1950s, early 1960s that follows the nuns/midwives and midwives of Nonnatus House in East London.
Doc Martin: My chiropractor recommended this one and it hasn’t disappointed. It follows the extremely gruff surgeon Dr. Martin who is now a GP in the village of Portwenn after no longer being able to perform operations due to a sudden onset of homophobia (fear of blood.) The show weaves comedy and serious issues together quite well as you get to know the cast of characters from the tiny english fishing village of Portwenn.
I have recently found myself wanting to read more fiction which has surprised me. In recent years I have only read a very limited amount of fiction. Mainly from Billy Coffey. If you have read any of his I recommend you checking them out.
The Third Target and The First Hostage by Joel C. Roseberg. I’ve never been into prophetic/end of days type fiction, but I enjoy Roseberg’s books and these are his latest two.
Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah. Anne Bogel recommended Kristin Hannah to one of her guests on her podcast “What Should I Read Next?” and I decided to see what my library had of her work. An easy read with just enough drama to hold your attention and keep you reading.
Out of the House of Bread by Preston Yancey. Preston has been one of my favorite writers since I discovered him several years ago through his blog while he was still at Baylor. Out of the House of Bread is his second book and I’m loving reading his beautiful words again.
I attribute it to my Scott/Irish roots, but I love the Wailin’ Jennys. I love the mix of folk and bluegrass their music has and their harmonies are nothing short of amazing. I have a Wailin’ Jennys radio on Pandora, and the majority of the time Pandora does a good job of finding other artists that are very similar to them.
My Erin Condren Planner
The choice between all digital or all paper seems to always be a hot topic at the end of a year into the beginning of the next. For me, I’m a mix. I love the paper for my to-do lists which is why I love my Erin Condren planner so much. I bought the vertical weekly calendar which gives 3 blank sections per day. It’s perfect for listing the tasks I need to accomplish each day. I write any appointments on the monthly layout, but these also go in my iPhone as well.
I like the Pocket Informant app which sync with my iCal for my calendar, but also has great tasks/checklist aspect as well. I like having all my appointments in my phone so it will alert me with a reminder ahead of time. I don’t use the tasks aspect of Pocket Informant very often since I use my EC planner for those, but the Checklist is great for making lists of things I need to pick up at the grocery store, etc.
I first started listening to the Popcast because Jamie is one of my favorites on social media plus I had met her through Alabama Bloggers and she is amazing. While I am unbelievably out of the loop when it comes to pop culture I do like this podcast from Knox McCoy & Jamie because it is just fun and entertaining. I never miss a week.
What Should I Read Now? with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy. Anne chats with one guest each week about books they have enjoyed or have not enjoyed and then makes recommendations on what she thinks they should read next. This has been great for adding books to my “books to read” list.
Do you have a favorite podcast or two that you would recommend?
My kiddo loves the chocolate chip muffins I make. He wipes them out within two or three days. They are on my to-do list to make today. I found this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I find that I usually add an extra egg as the local ones I buy are more medium sized than large.
I’m enjoying making these 8×8 canvases with scripture on them (above.) I’ve sold all I’ve made so far and working on more.
I am trying to find a place to hang one of my favorite abstracts I’ve ever painted (below.) It’s called “Ascend.” I have another long skinny canvas prepped and ready to begin this week also.
What things are you into lately?
“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” -Romans 12:6-8 NASB
How do you know your gifts? They are the things that when you are doing them you know that it’s what you were made for. Even if they are sometimes hard, you still enjoy doing them. These are things that others also see in you; friends who give you godly counsel confirm these are the things you are good at doing. They are the things that you think about doing when you are doing other things. Things that come naturally. Like you were born to do them. Like you were made for doing them.
Now I know this may not really be a secret. But too often I think we walk around like it is.
We compare our gifts to those of others.
Here’s the thing though. God didn’t create you to be someone else.
We cower behind the fear that we will become too proud if we embrace our gifts so we paralyze ourselves.
If we keep our focus on our Creator who created us with these gifts we can can use them for His glory and not our own, and walk confidently in the purpose He has for us, not someone else.
We allow other’s opinions of us to keep us from using our gifts.
This is a big one. Too often these attacks on our gifts come from other Christians. Someone writes an article or post about how they think worship teams are just performers wanting the applause. Or maybe a friend speaks hurtfully about you when you are using your gifts.
Yes, many times the ones trying to keep you from using your gifts come from others within the Christian faith. How unfortunate that we cannot respect each other’s differences and encourage one another instead of tearing each other down.
Isn’t that exactly what the enemy wants? He wants there to be infighting among those who call themselves Christians so we aren’t focused on using the gifts God has given us to reach a hurting world or to use them for His purposes.
Perhaps someone thinks their position trumps your purpose. Maybe jealousy or pride or insecurities cause them to discourage you or even sabotage your efforts. Don’t let that deter you. When you know the gifts and purpose God created in you, you have to fight the attacks that try to push them underground.
Here’s the truth I want you to remember. I want you to burn this on your heart. People like that, people who want to stifle your gifts? They don’t get a say in how you use the gifts God has blessed you with. If someone wants to lead you well they will speak life into your spirit, and even when the difficult conversations and corrections are needed to lead you, they will do so with kindness and encouragement. (More on this in an upcoming post.)
So discover your gifts. Develop & grow your gifts. Use your gifts. Don’t be afraid to use them in different areas to find out what ignites your passion when using them. If you don’t feel like you’ve found your passion, try using your gifts in another area. Ignore anyone who tries to tell you that you shouldn’t be using them. When your passion and your gifts intersect, and they bring God glory, you will know it. It will make you feel so alive you will know THAT is exactly what God created you to do.
“Clara sometimes asks me if I dream. Of course I dream I tell her. Everybody dreams. But what do you dream about she’ll ask. Same thing everybody dreams about I tell her. I dream about where I’m going. She’ll answer that, “but you’re not going anywhere, you’re just wandering about.” That’s not true. Not anymore. I have a new destination. My journey is the same as yours. The same as anyone’s. It’s taken me so many years. So many lifetimes. But at last I know where I’m going. Where I’ve always been going. Home. The long way around.” – Doctor Who
There are days where I feel like I’m wandering. Days where my focus can’t lift itself from the ground beneath me. Frustrated with any number of situations trying to steal my joy. Isn’t that life for all of us?
It’s easy to simply wander about. And there are some days where we need to slow down and breathe. But we can not remain in a state of just aimless wandering.
It takes intention to not only shift our focus upward, but to maintain it there. Daily intention to look up.
Daily titlting the mind. Refocusing our thoughts on home. Not the home here under our feet or where we lay our heads for sleep. Daily displacing the efforts of our flesh to make room for our spirit to steady on the perspective that can shift everything. Eternal perspective.
In the episode from Dr. Who above the good doctor realizes a fact so significant that it shifts his perspective drastically. He realizes he is no longer just the last of his kind wandering aimlessly about trying to save the world. He now has a goal. He may get there the long way around, but he now knows where he is going.
How difficult is it for us to do the same. Because this long way around can be discouraging. We may still be wanderers but we no longer wander without purpose.
If we can keep our perspective on the eternal our purpose shifts. It shifts toward home.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about excellence versus perfection.
Have you ever had such a good experience that you walked away incredibly impressed with the business, company or organization?
We all walk away from these types of experiences for the better.
Excellence is a great goal to strive towards.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” – Colossians 3:23
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might;” – Ecclesiastes 9:10a
Not long ago I was buying a few groceries in my favorite grocery store. One of the items I buy regularly was no longer on the shelf. It wasn’t simply out of stock. There was no longer a shelf label or place for it. One of the reasons I love this store is their attention to excellence and customer service. There is almost always an employee on every other aisle that will ask you if you need any help. The employee that happened to be on this aisle was the manager. I asked him about it and was informed they had changed some products the previous week and he offered to check the marked-down table up front for the item. When he couldn’t find it, he offered to order it for me. Now I’m not sure if they will be able to order it again or if the company is no longer making it, but this store went out of the way to help me.
Was it perfect? No. They did not have the product I wanted and may not be able to get it again.
Did the store strive for excellence in their interaction with me the customer? Absolutely.
There is a fine line between excellence and perfection. One that all too often becomes blurred.
There is a difference in striving for excellence and expecting perfection.
I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s easy for me to slip into that mindset of wanting things to be perfect. I’ve learned over the years how stifling perfectionism can be though. I am constantly reminding myself to give grace when things do not go perfectly. I constantly remind myself that doing things to the best of my ability and with excellence does not equal perfection. And that’s okay. It’s not something I always do well, but I am trying and giving myself grace when I fail.
Striving for excellence is a good thing. As leaders we should encourage excellence in all we and our teams do. But expecting, even demanding, perfection slams the door on grace. It stifles growth.
Demanding perfection cultivates fear. It ignores the truth that we are all imperfect creatures, and it creates a hopelessness that what we are doing is futile. We must encourage those we lead and help them discover their potential with grace while aiming for excellence.