How To Approach the New Year: Happy 2017

Sometime in November I mentioned to a friend that I was breaking up with 2016. It’s been an interesting, in many ways difficult, year. And yet, when I stopped a few evenings ago and really thought back over the year, all I saw was the goodness of God blanketing every hard thing. I’m learning this year to hold two opposing emotions about the same event. I’m glad to close the door on 2016 for many reasons but as I thought this through I realized something.

Nothing really changes when that ball drops at midnight on January 1st. It’s not magic. Life isn’t suddenly different. I’m not even suddenly different. Some of the difficult parts of 2016 won’t cease to be when the calendar changes to 2017; they will continue and new hard things will arise.

Now I love a new year as much as anyone. I’ve been working on goals for 2017 and I’m excited for what’s upcoming. But it doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will be rosy and all-worked-out like I would prefer.

There’s Time

It was almost one when we fell asleep that night. We’ve drifted back into that bad habit and it’s shown up all week. So when my alarm went off the next morning I laid back down for a few minutes, then let the boys snuggle in bed with me watching Donald Duck while I read my Bible and drank coffee. It’s a surprisingly peaceful start to the day for this mama who doesn’t really enjoy mornings.

We moved on to a volleyball practice hairdo, games in the hallway, pancakes and Awana review, vacuuming, laundry sorting, and morning kindergarten work. We finally hit the yard to play for a while before we made lunch and the boys romped with sticks, observing all best practices for safety of course. After I finished helping them up the ladder and pushing them on swings, I sat swinging softly, watching them and talking to God about a problem.

Dear Christian Who Still Supports Donald Trump

First of all, let’s clear one thing up. I’m not a Hillary supporter. I disagree with her policies and her stance on abortion leaves me both sad and shockingly angry. Please don’t send hateful emails telling me I’m a Hillary supporter. (You’ll still send the emails, I know.)

Second, there’s not been a final straw. I’ve never been a Trump fan. He’s always been a despicable man but there comes a time when one has to say something.

Third, if you’re voting for Trump to keep Hillary out of office, I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. It would be a waste of time. I’m almost convinced that there is nothing he could do to keep you from voting for him anyway.

But there is a difference between voting for Trump and supporting Trump.

I Didn’t Speak Dutch: 3 Ways to Creatively Love Our Neighbors

Today I’m thrilled to share Charissa Steyn and part of her story of living in the Netherlands. One thing I’ve been praying about in my own life is how I can love the people around me who might not seem like “my people.” Charissa provides some examples where she was on the receiving end.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but after two years of living in the Netherlands I never learned Dutch. At least not anything beyond “hoi, hoi” which is a typical greeting for hello or goodbye in the southern province.

Anytime someone would ask about how my Dutch was coming along I would mumble something about my lack of progress. I often wonder how our time here would have looked if I taught myself to carry on simple conversation in Dutch, put my kids in a Dutch preschool, or took language classes once a week. Would we have stayed longer or had stronger community? Perhaps.

But that didn’t stop my neighbors, Reen and Hannelie, from embracing us.  

The One Thing Good Writing Requires

Silverware clanked and our friends stared at their little boy. “Look, he never eats and he loves this!” I only laughed because chicken alfredo is my favorite meal too and I make it for company because it’s easy. Even people that aren’t quite two will dig in.
 
Over dinner we talked about the NICU and jobs and church and blogging. There are only a handful people that I have serious conversations about blogging with in real life and we discussed everything from writing filters to what influences topic choices to the best hosting services.
 
We agreed quickly that writers get a lot of flack when they put their work in public. Everyone realizes that. What most people don’t realize is that the people who feel compelled to write are the very people who have the hardest time accepting that criticism and possibly hate.

We’re All Older Women

I’ve never been a good fangirl. When I was at Declare Conference in July I did go talk to Kat Lee because when else am I going to meet Kat Lee? At Influence Conference last year I had my picture taken with Ruth Simons and Erin Loechner. But as much as I admire these ladies and learn different things from them I know they are just women. They’ve wanted to pull their hair out in frustration at ten in the morning when the baby is crying and a toddler is clawing at their legs. They’ve had to apologize to their husband more than once (a day) because of a bad attitude or a snippy tone. They’ve also gone to bed at night discouraged with where they are in life and how much they have left to learn.
 
They are just like me and they are just like you. However, I’m thankful that they don’t allow that to stop them from sharing what they’ve learned. They don’t let the fact that they’re human keep them from using the talents God’s given them to help others. They keep writing, keep podcasting, keep painting because they have a story and they want to help people.
 
Phylicia and I receive quite a few emails from podcast listeners who lament that they don’t have advisers. There’s no one in their lives to ask their questions about sex, motherhood, and marriage. There’s no one willing to invest in their lives and get involved and see the mess and not run away.

Dear Woman Who’d Like to Change the Past

If I could go back to college I’d pick a different major.
 
I took an art class my freshman year and my teacher strongly encouraged me to at least pursue an art minor. Did I? No. I had an English teacher who invited me to several higher level classes she was teaching but I declined those opportunities as well.  (My biology teacher also wanted me to major in biology but I think everyone’s glad I turned that down.)
 
I had a major. I had a plan. That plan involved finishing school and getting married.
 
So I graduated a semester early with a double major in Public Health and Secondary Education. I had no intentions of teaching, although I did finish student teaching. I was considering a graduate degree like the one at I found at the Universitiy of Tennessee at the time combining Nutrition and Public Administration.