I was thinking over the past few days as I have been gathering voices and stories to share that I want to expand the circle here. In the past I have usually just looked for stories and voices that uplift me, challenge me, or inspire me in some part of my life–most particularly my faith and the kind of person that I am and want to be. This is not going to change, but I also realize that there is more to life and more to me than just the inherently spiritual aspects.
While I in no way want to diminish those aspects or imply they are somehow less important, I spent far too long in my life overspiritualizing everything. Everything had to somehow relate to my faith, my personal growth in my relationship with God, or my part in my community of faith. Again very important things if kept in perspective, but when they become all consuming and your only source of identity and way of relating to the world and others–suddenly for me authenticity and meaning began to drown in a sea of perfectionism and performance.
So while I am far from figuring out how to live a life with a meaningful faith, I do know that I do not want to fall back into an old habit of putting forward just that one dimension of my life. Also, while my faith has played an integral part in my life, I have to be honest that I am now in a searching and rebuilding season where it looks very different. So with that there are and always have been so many other dimensions to my life (even the boring or normal ones) that I never realized or acknowledged before for the meaning they all add to my life.
So with that I am going to work on making the Townhall look more like a Townhall meeting, where yes voices are shared that challenge our souls and our faith, but I also plan on bringing in others who speak to me where I am at in life, on multiple fronts, not just the spiritual.
So with that, lets get started!
Be forewarned there is lots of stuff here, so peruse the categories that speak to you!
What I wanted her to know is: People have been in pain before, struggled to find hope, and look what they’ve done with it. They made poetry that landed right in your shoe, the same shoe you didn’t wear for four months because of your despair. ~ Betsy MacWhinney
This mother found a way to reach her daughter in a creative, noninvasive way that spoke to her. I don’t know yet what it is like to be a parent and want nothing more than to fix whatever is hurting your child or to convince them of what the better choice is when you fear their choices will only bring more pain — but I do know what it is to be part of a family and to feel that way about people you love so much. But I also know what it is like to be in the middle of that pain and no matter the number of voices, you still have to go through a process of figuring your way out of it on your own. I thought this mother’s way of still reaching out to remind her daughter when she knew her own words would only start to pile up and possibly only worsen things was truly beautiful. As someone who has always found solace in written words penned by someone else who found a window to their own soul and thoughts–I can think of no greater reward for a writer than to see their words used to heal someone else.
Writing has forced discipline in my life. More than I ever expected, writing requires discipline. The past six years have involved countless early mornings and late nights. Most writers will attest to that fact. Writing requires the discipline to sit quietly on a chair, alone in a room with a blank page. All writing begins there. ~ Joshua Becker
Joshua Becker’s Blog, Becoming Minimalist, is a beautiful space and one that speaks to me in many ways. His challenge to declutter our homes and lives and to keep only that which truly matters is something that I find both inspiring and very challenging. I am not a minimalist, just look in my closets…but I would love how to learn to be more of one. This post spoke to me about where I am right now in writing. I often get so discouraged because I feel like I have to wait to be inspired to write anything worth reading, and yet when I wait for that days and weeks can go by. I never thought about writing being a discipline to build before, but I am seeing now how important it is to approach it that way.
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong. ~ Anne Lamott
This book. I am only a few chapters in and I am highlighting like mad. It is a book many writers recommend so I started it with both excitement and awe, and a slight sense of embarrassment that it is my first Anne Lamott book to read and that I am just now getting to it. Either way it is beautiful and just what I need to be reading right now. Lamar too is teaching me about how to make writing a discipline in my life and reminding me of why I started writing in the first place.
You don’t have to leave the country to enjoy some good time relaxing and decompressing. Maybe you just need to get a cabin by the lake or in the mountains or a cheap flat walking distance from a beach. Whatever the case, those things cost money. Maybe it’s time to start saving some of your income every month or abstaining from certain purchases so that you can INVEST in a trip that will create great memories and experiences that will last a lifetime. ~ Anthony and Joy
This blog is a new startup by some friends of ours we had the privilege to meet during our time in Japan. They have spent considerable amounts of time traveling as individuals, as a couple, and now as a family and have decided to share that wealth of information with the world. I for one could not be more excited, as traveling around the world and experiencing different cultures has been a huge influence in shaping the person that I am. Growing up in a small town and now living very close to that in another small town, I know that traveling the world can seem so far and so expensive, but it is possible if you save and make it a priority. When Rick and I were in Japan, as difficult as it was to go long periods without seeing our family, we made the decision to save the money we would spend on traveling back to the states and to spend that money and our holidays seeing places we might never have the chance to see again. We traveled all over Japan in all of its beautiful seasons, and we also got to experience Korea, Thailand, and China. We made memories of a lifetime that we will never forget.
On Parenting and Kids:
Now, before anyone fears that the person without the kids is going to offer up parenting advice, don’t worry, I won’t be. However, as much as some may fear it will never happen in my life, I do want to be a parent someday, and so I am always saving voices and advice I happen along that speak to me about the kind of parent that I want to be. So given I know some of my readers are parents, I thought I would share a few I found recently.
“When I grow up, will I have no chin?”
At first, I didn’t know what he was talking about, but then I realized that most of the men he knows have beards, so he thought his chin would disappear. I explained that he could have a beard or no beard, and either way, he would still have a chin.
I thought my work there was done, and was about to head to the living room to watch TV with Alex, but his follow-up question was…
“How did Anton get in your belly?”
Big questions, Tobes! ~ Joanna Goddard
This amusing and adorable conversation between a mom and her son, and how this mother chose to address this infamous conversation spoke to me. Sex education for children and adults is something I am finding that I am very passionate about, mainly because I grew up in a home and a community where it wasn’t offered. Most kids can probably remember a day or a time where they had some sort of “birds-and-the-bees” conversation with a parent, or if not they remember having to endure some type of it in school. The only sex education I remember receiving as a child, was the information that sex was something parents and married people did and that we would talk about it someday when I got married. By the time I got married though and had those conversations, I had already learned more from TV, the internet, and asking friends. Even still, what I learned was very limited, being the shy, naive, and easily embarrassed person I was on all matters regarding sex. Little did I know how much I would wish for years after getting married that I had been better prepared and better informed. So now knowing what I know, I want to learn how to not only be better educated myself on a healthy, respectful, and self-positive sexual ethic, but how to share that knowledge with others as well. My family has changed on this subject considerably since my childhood, so thankfully my siblings are getting a different experience than I had–but coming from the world I grew up in where shame, guilt, and ignorance were the mainstay teachers on this subject, I now am so grateful to learn there is a different way.
Seeing a Woman: A Conversation between a Father and Son
There are two views regarding a woman’s dress code that you will be pressured to buy into. One view will say that women need to dress to get the attention of men. The other view will say women need to dress to protect men from themselves. Son, you are better than both of these. ~Nate Pyle
This is another great post by Nate Pyle. As a woman who has felt the pressure of both those views, it is so encouraging to see a Father encouraging his son on how to find a better way to view and relate to women.
On Matters of Faith:
But when you grow up believing everyone outside evangelical Christianity is going to get spewed from God’s mouth at best or cooked for eternity in hell at worst, when the people you love most in the world belong to the evangelical community and want you to belong to it too, making a deliberate step out of that tradition is a big deal. ~ Rachel Held Evans
As many know, Rachel Held Evans blog, books, and words have been a huge influence in my life over the past three years. I honestly don’t know how my faith would have survived without finding her voice, showing me a way forward. Once again Rachel puts into words, exactly how I have felt on so many occasions. Some people may not understand why for me to “take a break” from church, to consider attending other churches, and to question my faith in general has been so difficult and why it is still an on-going process — but here again Rachel shares some insightful truths on why we all “can’t just get over it.”
I know what it feels like to be a Christian in a land of privilege. I know the constant pound of guilt that well-meaning organizations tend to drive into your heart. Give more! Do more! Be more! There is so much need! You have so much wealth! Care more! Care more! Care more! ~ Addie Zierman
Addie is another post-evangelical voice that has been an encouragement and source of wisdom for me in this journey to find myself and my faith anew. This piece startled me with it’s honesty and it’s vital wisdom for anyone like me, who can get caught up in caring so much that we miss when the demand to care is replaced with the demand to perform and to fit in. For anyone who cares enough to spend their time giving and serving, whether it be for a church or community or school or a nonprofit organization — burnout is a very real and painful reality if there are no boundaries, no time for self, and nothing being poured back into you. Giving of ourselves necessitates that there be something there first to give. I have forgotten this countless times, and find myself overextended, over-promised, and void of the ability to truly care. Addie’s reminder this morning holds key truth for anyone who needs a reminder on the importance of balance and boundaries. I know I did.
Why do I seek to get it right when I can never “get it right?” When my questions linger and my prayers go unanswered and I make the same mistakes over and over again?
Sometimes I just want to let go. Not “let go and let God,” but let go of God.
But I cannot. Not because I feel compelled, or because I think I’ll be damned. But because of that still small whisper that captured my heart at 17 years old, and again at 34. ~Claire De Boer
Be still my heart. Remember what I said about how people’s words mean so much to me. Knowing someone can pen to words, their experience of feelings, thoughts, and heartache that I too have been experiencing means more than I know how to express. I too have wished on many occasion that I could just “let it all go” or not care, or not wish anymore — because wanting and praying and seeking and trying doesn’t seem to get me anywhere. But then a song comes to mind, a scripture, or I find myself praying without even realizing it till I am mid-sentence. Letting go of faith and a relationship with God that has been a part of my life since my earliest memories of childhood is like trying to cut a piece of my very soul out. It’s not possible, even when I’ve wanted to give up out of exhaustion. So I have to believe that being honest about where I am and continuing to seek, even when it seems impossible, is the very process of trusting that in what I can not see–that process we call faith.
On Daily Life and Home:
This season work for me is a strange routine. For the past couple of months my daily routine has consisted of working on projects long distance on my computer for a marketing firm in Little Rock that I started working for last fall, as well as spending many hours working on my grad school classes. This year is my final year of my program, and these classes are proving to be especially challenging and time-consuming. Beyond that, my days have also been full of taking care of and keeping an ever-watchful eye on our new puppy.
Meet Hazelnut, our beautiful Border Collie. She and Moka are ever so slowly learning to be playmates, much to the Cat’s dismay.
As much of a joy as it has been to be able to focus on my school, to have the convenient ability to work from home, the time to organize the house, and to be able to enjoy the pets and a husband home every night — the worker bee in me is already fighting the urge to go stir-crazy here at home. So I have decided to expand my experience in the education field, and to do some substitute teaching here in the local schools. It is flexible enough for me that I can pick and choose how many days a week I want and have to give to it, but also gives me some purpose and interaction outside of the house. I am nervous and excited all at the same time.
So with that coming up here are some other great tips I have found for helping with work, a busy schedule, and stuff around the house.
Check this out for some great recipes, ideas, and some cool looking lunch boxes. Who said kids were the only ones who needed one?
Pure genius. Seriously. I have got to try that Tennis Ball trick and I should try using the mesh bag for socks too. I think I should win the award for missing socks and mispaired socks. Where do they all go to anyways? I blame the cat and dog for always thinking they are a great toy to carry off and hide somewhere.
How do you pare down when you’re overwhelmed by the piles? Where do you start?
As with anything, you should start small, and start simply.
Just pick one spot. Spend 10 minutes. Make a dent in the piles. ~Leo Babauta
After spending the past two months slowly trying to make my way through the piles, and getting discouraged that it has taken me that long — this post makes me feel better. There is hope. There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. It’s ok to start simple and to start small. His thoughts on how to do it are definitely worth reading.
WHEW. Well that’s definitely enough for now. Hope you find something in the pile worth digging out.
- Which category most spoke to you?
- Have you ever felt the urge to minimize all other aspects of life, except the spiritual?
- What have you been writing about lately or what other writers have spoke to you? Please post a link in the comments below and share!
Until next time,