My creative playground: delight and this blog space

Over the past few years, I’ve been on the search for delight. I keep gratitude lists on the back of my prayer lists. I use the hashtag #chasingtinydelights on Instagram. I’ve turned into the woman who points out sunsets and birds and fascinating bark on trees, not just to my children, but to other adults as well. I no longer apologize for loving the things I love or reveling in some experience or appreciating some part of myself that I’ve learned to enjoy.

There are many reasons for this. The world can be a difficult place. This has always been true and it’s more true for some people than for others. Right now, we are starting the second year of a pandemic. It feels like the world as we know it is splintering apart. Some of it needs to be splintered and I can rejoice; some of it doesn’t and I can mourn. Any kind of splintering is terrifying in the moment though.

Not only is that how the world is but, by personality, I lean toward the serious. I see stacks of problems far beyond my reach all around me and my own personal responsibilities tower above my capabilities some days. That, combined with the splintering world, is enough to be crushing.

Delight and wonder and gratitude are the supports that resist the crushing. Of course, it’s God that sustains us and carries us, but I believe they are part of His method. They infuse strength that helps us carry the weight. I do not pretend that this is true for everyone. That would be ludicrous. I’m acknowledging my limits. Like all writers, I write from my context and my experience. It isn’t universal. It won’t apply to everyone. That’s why we are all here. All of our stories combined make up the human experience, not just my own. But delight is not an extra; it’s fundamental to living well.

Life as usual: pictures and links

I’m still debating what role social media is going to play in my life; I cannot find a good answer yet. I considered just jumping on Instagram and sharing some of this, but ultimately decided not to. I like that this is living here, in my own space, probably seen by fewer people but also not competing with an algorithm or leaving me waiting for likes.

The past two days have been the most gorgeous weather. While the rest of the country has been battling extremes in weather from hurricanes and wildfires, Virginia has felt those first crisp mornings that leave me longing for a lengthy hike. I’ve prayed for people who, on top of dealing with a pandemic, are displaced from their homes, specifically my summer professor who evacuated while waiting to see if a fire would consume her community. Alongside that, I have felt the cooler air rushing over my arms while biking to pick up my kids from school and my heart has exhaled many “thank you’s” as I pedal over the hills. I’m going to have amazing thigh muscles.

Falling in Love with the Process and not just the Results

When the enneagram “Eight” song released in February, a woman that I follow on Instagram shared that Sleeping at Last had an entire podcast episode discussing the making of the song. I listened and was captivated by how much the vision for the song changed as he worked.

I’ve become obsessed with process. I watched the director’s commentary on the extended edition of Moana. I listened to Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive talk about making “Maybe Next Year.” I’ve been reading books and articles about writing by people who are writing well.

Google may define the word process as “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end” but all of these people started with an idea that changed drastically once they started working. They had no idea what the work would come to, but they had a tiny thought that they started chasing.

When we develop ideas- books, companies, songs, ministries- we start with tiny ideas. We start working on the tiny ideas and they are shaped by the changes we make, the influences we exert. We’re not sure what’s going to come from them, if anything. It’s not just Andrew Peterson and the superb job that he and his team did with Resurrection Letters, Vol 1. (Although, friends, it’s almost Easter. This is your time to go listen it. Spoiler: I like it so much that I listen to it year round. It’s a favorite. It makes me feel simultaneously hopeful and homesick.) This is about making anything: a life of significance, a marriage, grounded community, knowledge of the Bible, a book, a song, a dinner event.

So You Want to Start a Blog: Answering a Reader Question

Blogging is supposed to be dead, you know. People don’t read blogs. It’s a waste of time to write blog posts when people want tweets. We read on phone, not computers, and therefore don’t want long-form reflection.

We all know that’s not true, don’t we? What circulated endlessly just last week, provoking laughter, cringing, some (gross) support, and Gospel responses? A blog post about what men prefer in women.

People still read blogs. Of course, the best way to get people to read your blog is to be controversial, to be relevant, to be already famous when you start one. But more than we need people who still read blogs, we need people who still write blogs.

The 100 Day Project: cultivating joy in a life that needs grit

In last week’s Sunday email, I shared that I have been going through life with a lot of determination but lacking some of my usual enthusiasm. The Christian life is represented as a battle but Jesus also promises us joy. We don’t have to stay in the camp of only one: balance in all things.

My word for this year is “warrior.” I want to think about the fact that we are in a battle, that the first woman’s defining word “ezer” is a battle word, that we are called to put on the armor of God before walking into life.  But I want to live with joy in the midst of that (John 15:11, 16:33, Philippians 4:4, 1 John 1:4).

The 100 Day Project starts tomorrow and I’ve been contemplating what to do for almost a month. I participated last year with an Instagram series on motherhood that I still occasionally post to. This year I’m going to do another social media project, just one that’s much more outside of my comfort zone.

The Circle of Fiction

I’m picky about the fiction I read. I open myself and let the stories march straight in. The characters move into my heart and I feel pain when they make bad decision. I feel anguish when life crushes them. I live those stories through them and obviously, that’s the point.

The problem is that I carry those emotions into my life. I still feel unsettled when I’m cooking dinner because Catherine and Heathcliff are tearing each other’s worlds apart. Or- my word- how will Harry live feeling responsible for Cedric Diggory’s death? Really, there are enough situations in my life and the lives of people I love that I don’t have a ton of emotions to throw away on “fake people.”

I’ve always been intrigued at the idea of writing fiction. I just finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing and it had a writing exercise in it. I was reading after the boys went to bed one night and got drawn into the prompt so I closed the book, opened my computer, and started typing. Over 1,000 words later, I felt satisfied with my ending to the story. Of course, it ended with blood pooling under the refrigerator but it was a Stephen King writing exercise.