Transitions: a guide for looking at the rest of the year

2020 has been a completely crazy year. I don’t think any of us could have imagined what this year would hold and yet I’ve found myself looking at the rest of the year with hope, not that things will go back to normal, but that I can live well throughout whatever comes. This is not something I can wait out, frozen in place. This is a place to cultivate.

My kids have been my greatest inspiration actually. They work hard and they play hard. My five-year-old can now ride his bike without his training wheels; he rode on an 8 mile trip on vacation. He learned to come up for breaths when swimming underwater. He’ll be reading soon. I keep reminding all of them that they have to practice. Practice math, practice swimming. Practice being kind. Practice listening. None of us will wake up one morning the person we always hoped we would be, the person that reflects the true humanity found in Jesus. We need practices and we need to practice.

Sometimes, when I’m thinking about ordering my life, I’m tempted to imagine a different and entirely fake life. I can design an amazing plan for an imaginary person. It might be fun, but it doesn’t help me at all since I’m not writing fiction currently. I’ve learned to reign my imagination back to my own embodied life: a woman who lives in rural Kentucky with her husband and four sons. I want to put my imagination to work where it matters- in my actual life.

Seminary Notes 2: be a beginner

Seminary is reminding me to lean into being a beginner. It’s been long enough since I’ve officially been in school that I have to remember how to keep up with a syllabus, email a professor, portion out assignments. This week I’m writing an interpretative paper and I’ve never done that, specifically with these instructions, before.

Since I’m counting the wins where they come it, reading so much over the past years has proved useful. I’m used to reading and underlining. I’ve spent time talking through passages with friends and that has helped with discussion posts. I love the subject matter.

More good news is that I have practiced writing. I have read widely and distilled information and then written some conclusions. I can look at the instruction for this paper and think, “1200 words? Piece of cake.” It doesn’t mean that my writing will be what the professor wants from this type of work, but it does mean that I can write it, get feedback, and grow.

If it’s not what the professor wants, guess what? I’ve never done it before. This is a great learning experience that will only help my time in school and my writing.

Be a beginner. You don’t have to have it all figured out.

Seminary Notes 1: glimpses of life

I started seminary at Fuller Theological in their spring quarter. In other words, for three whole weeks, I’ve been reading reading and doing assignments and checking syllabi just like it were 2003. I’m going to start a tiny project where I share little glimpses into seminary life for two reasons. One, because Future Lisa will be glad I did this. It will be amazing to look back over this journey when I’m finished and remember things that I’ve forgotten. Two, because I want there to be perspectives of grown women with lives and kids going back to graduate school.

I expect that each of these will look different and honestly, that’s really what I’m hoping for.

Seminary has looked like:

-a stack of books on my desk with pencils stuck in all of them
-23 tabs open on my computer (really- I counted)
-trying to think through 3 assignments simultaneously
-doing a light weights workout while listening to lectures
-deciding I needed to write a weekly blog post; possibly because I’m crazy

Will I be back with a weekly blog post? I don’t know. I would like to be. I wrapped up the last season of the podcast before classes started and I haven’t regretted that once. Time only stretches so far. But it’s possible that I could write a post in my morning writing. Then pandemic has made everything in life strange and a regular order of assignments and due dates has almost been a relief in the midst of work that cycles, seemingly coming undone every night.

I hope you are well!

How Story Shows Us the Way

Moses ended his ministry leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land with a brilliant sermon and song. When he finished the song he said, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 32:46-47.

Moses had already spent the entire book reminding the people of their story. He reminded them how God had brought them “out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:14) and he reminded them of how the law is supposed to shape the people they become in the midst of people who don’t know God. It’s his time to die but the story of the people will go on. As they go, it’s important that they remember what happened before.

Living in the Age of the Internet: 2 ways to keep focus

I’ve been spending this past week working on a seminary application. Since this has moved from a dream that I’ve had for multiple years to the first steps of a goal, I’ve been hit with fear. What if they don’t accept me? What if I’ve forgotten how to be in school? What if I don’t have time to work on actual class assignments? But I’m committed to not making decisions out of fear so I’m still writing essays and asking a few people for references.

I don’t think seminary is for everyone. However, if we went around stating our wildest dreams I’d love to sit on a translation committee when I’m in my 60s or 70s. I want to learn Hebrew and Greek. I’d love to learn to fly planes and contribute to missions work. I’d like more ministry training. I’d love to do research and eventually get my Ph.D (I already have an idea for a dissertation). I want to settle down in a community, serve locally, and leave behind a lifetime of work that disciples the people I meet in real life and the ones that come after me.

Home: a space for our people

Maybe it’s because volleyball is over and I’ve cleared up time and mental space or maybe it’s because it’s getting cold outside and it’s time to start feeling cozy. Either way I have ideas for the house coming on strong.

I want to handletter a wall of Andrew Peterson lyrics in the laundry room. It’s really a hallway and there’s no way anything can be hung there so it’s just blank. Don’t you think the words to “His Heart Beats” would be incredible with the laundry and the trotting the children in and out of the house? “He rises, glorified in flesh/Clothed in immortality, the firstborn from the dead/He rises, and His work’s already done/So He’s resting as He rises to reclaim the Bride He won/And His heart beats/So crown Him the Lord of life/Crown Him the Lord of love/Crown Him the Lord of all!” Of course they would be perfect. I might fist pump the air every time I swapped the towels.

It’s Not About Me: tiny mantras that change my thinking

Sometime in my mid-twenties I learned a valuable lesson. When having a bad hair day, ignore it. Don’t apologize for the offending hair. Don’t make self-deprecating comments about it all day. Every time it comes to mind, redirect my thoughts.

I have better things to do with my brain space. If I spend my day thinking about my hair and how it doesn’t look like what I want, I’m not doing the work that God has given me. You know what I discovered? Not one other person is paying attention to my hair. They are too busy thinking about their own hair or that project at work or a tiff with a friend.