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What I’m Into (January 2013)

Monday, February 4th, 2013

January, what a month! My standards for post-holiday-winter are low, so I’m calling January a smashing success just because nobody got the flu.

TV & Movies

I’m loving the Lizzie Bennet Diaries . I can’t believe I’m obsessed with a web series, but it’s fantastic. I’m so impressed with the way they updated Georgiana’s elopement, and Lydia’s running off with Wickham. Great stuff, and now that the ending of the series is actually in sight I’m so happy Hank Green is planning a follow-up. He’s been hinting at another Austen title, or perhaps Jane Eyre or a Bronte work. I’m game.

While we’re talking Lizzie Bennet, read this: Pride and Prejudice at 200: Stop Looking for Mr. Darcy!

I’m still loving Downton Abbey (though I hate having to watch it episode-by-episode with the rest of the unfortunate Americans). For Downton-related humor, try this: If Downton Abbey Took Place Entirely on Facebook.

I finally got to the theater to see Les Mis. Will and I were 2 of the 6 people in the theater for a 10am showing in Dayton, Ohio, because we were out of town for a wedding, childcare was taken care of, and we’d take what we could get. I was so prepared to require 3 boxes of Kleenex that I felt downright stoic when I only needed half a box.

While we’re talking Les Mis, check out this flash mob from the cast of Les Mis in Warsaw. It’s in Polish, but who cares? We all know the words. (Isn’t Enjolras terrific??)

Also loving: Pitch Perfect. A capella groups were big at my college and this brought back so. many. memories.

Lots of great writing links on the web this month. My favorite: Just Keep Writing.

Also loved: Let’s Talk About the Early 30s Breakdown. YES.

On My Bookshelf:

Favorite read: Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. SO GOOD. I’ve also read some great Kid Lit this month, my favorites being The Giver and The Wednesday Wars.

My Life:

I wrapped up my Whole 30. This month I have been really into grilled chicken breasts, frozen broccoli, and The Clothes Make the Girl blog. Her chocolate chili is a new family favorite.

Since I’ve been off coffee and wine, I’ve drunk my body weight in herbal tea this month. I need some new flavors besides Ruby Red Chai and Mint Melange; got any suggestions?

On the Blog

Over on Modern Mrs Darcy, I finally completed a long-awaited redesign. I kinda like it.

I’m joining in with my friend Leigh Kramer for her What I’m Into link-up. And yes, I’m publishing this in the middle of the Super Bowl because I just. don’t. care.

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Constant Vigilance

Monday, January 7th, 2013

does constant vigilance lead to anxiety

Something along these lines was said from the pulpit during the Advent season, and I’ve been turning it over ever since. These words so perfectly express my dilemma with expectancy.

Can I wait with confident hope? That is the question.

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My One Word for 365: Dwell

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Dwell My One Word 2013Despite my desire to keep “expectant” for 2013–I’d like a do-over on that one, please–I’m choosing a new word for 365. A word that–I think, I hope, I pray–will shape my soul in such a way that I can actually look forward with joyful expectancy, and not with fear.

About 5 years ago, my husband and I led a small group Bible Study at our church for young couples. We chose the name Dwell for the study, because of the layered richness of the word in context.

Psalm 91 (and plenty of other places in the Old Testament) sings the importance of remaining close to God, starting with verse 1–

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Dwell’s synonyms are abide, rest, occupy. Synonyms for “dwell on” include ruminate, contemplate, highlight. These words explain my dissatisfaction with “expectant” for 2012. When I look back, far too much of my time was spent ruminating on the wrong things. I’m entering 2013 feeling the importance of what I’m dwelling on–what I’m turning over in my mind, what I’m feeling in my heart, what I’m choosing to ponder.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

And finally, Dwell is an edgy design magazine I like to peruse. Dwell is where–and how–I live. This year my fuzzy goal is to cultivate a warmer atmosphere in my home: more love, more joy, more kindness. My kids are quickly getting older, and it terrifies me. I need more time to do better by them, but I’m running out of it. This year I’m focusing on where–and how–we dwell.

These are the things I need this year: to nestle close to God, to ponder wisely, and rightly, and to imbue the place where I dwell with love.

I resisted “dwell” because it feels static, but I recognize the divine nudge, and this is it.

And if “dwell” completely intimidates me, I suspect that means I’m on the right track.

God willing, 2013 will be a time to deepen my roots, and my peace, and my love.

Dwell.

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My One Word for 2012: A Year in Review

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

I chose “expectant” as my One Word for 2012.

I said I felt like the runway was clear. I said, “I am ready to see what 2012 holds, and I am setting off to meet it.”

When I chose my One Word, I was looking into the New Year with hope and determination. I was proactive and confident. I was feeling brave.

But this year threw me some curveballs (of course it did; I should have known) and my expectancy too often took on a fearful tone. Instead of setting out to meet good things, I found myself waiting for the worst. Not all the time, not even most of the time. But definitely too much of the time.

I know why I do it–it’s my own scars from 9/11.

But I want next year to be different, and I’m choosing my word for 2013 with that very much in mind.

photo credit: Jimmy MacDonald

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How to Support the Support Staff at Your Church This Christmas

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

I’m looking forward to this Christmas for all the usual reasons, but also because this will be the first Christmas Eve (and/or Christmas Day) in 7 years that my husband won’t be working.

For six years, he served as support staff at a large megachurch. (That means that while he worked at a church, he wasn’t a pastor.)

No two churches are the same. Tiny churches have no support staff–they may not even have one person, including the pastor, on the payroll. Large churches may employ hundreds of people who don’t serve as pastors but who nevertheless keep the organization humming along. These roles are varied: they include the “executive directors” who serve as vision casters and big-picture thinkers at  some megachurches, as well as the people who rearrange the chairs and swish the toilets to keep the facility service-ready every week.

Their roles are very different, but they’re all needed. The body needs someone to preach, and someone to vacuum the carpet.

When the holidays roll around, we–the church body–tend to thank our pastors, with our words and our fudge and our gift cards. We don’t typically thank the support staff., especially those who serve behind the scenes.

This season, would you consider saying thanks to the people who keep your church running along from week to week?

Thank those whose role isn’t so visible, those who operate behind the scenes. Thank the person who salts the parking lot; thank the person who takes out the trash. Thank the people who wash the communion cups and pluck the candy wrappers off the sanctuary floor.

In many churches, these people arrive long before the pastor for holiday services (and every other service, but we’re talking about Christmas). They’ll leave later because their job is often to clean up. They’ll spend the holiday apart from their family, because they’re at work. At church. But–unlike your pastor–they often do it unnoticed.

(This is not a rant. My husband served in a visible role; people thanked him with words and fudge and even a gift card or two, though I doubt they had any idea just how many hours he put in–away from his family–for holiday services. But his position opened my eyes to the vast behind-the-scenes network that kept our church running smoothly and looking good from week to week.)

I would imagine that most people who serve as church support staff are not doing it for your appreciation or your thanks. Some of them serve the church because, well, a job is a job; some of them are cleaning toilets to the glory of God. Either way, they are serving the church, and showing your support for them would be really great.

Here are a few ideas for supporting the support staff at your church this Christmas:

1. If you don’t know who works behind the scenes to keep your church running along, find out. Learn names.

2. Tell them “thank you.” Don’t be all awkward about it. Just say a quick “thanks, I appreciate the work you do for this church” when you pass them in the hallway.

3. If you don’t see these people around, drop them a note.

4. For an extra-nice touch, make some cookies. Get a gift card, or whatever same small token of appreciation you thought about getting your pastor.

5. Don’t limit your thanks to Christmas time.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about this one. Does your church have support staff? Tell us about the dynamics in your church, and if/how you say thanks, or not. 

photo credit

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