Category Archives: Journaling

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson

all summer longThe weather is gorgeous, the calendar is full, and time to relax is much appreciated. For me, this summer means surviving lots of extrovert activities—grad parties, family get-togethers, camping trips with friends—and that means my
“introvert days” are extra important. If I don’t have a chance to be quiet, to recharge by myself, to feed my mind without the noise, I get super grouchy. Just ask my husband. I am not a pleasant person to be around.

I’m battling the grouchiness with some extra reading time. I decided to give up Netflix unless I’m at the gym or with my husband in favor of more time to read my Bible, journal, and get sucked into some good books.

I’ve read some fun ones so far, but All Summer Long by Melody Carlson has been my favorite. It’s a chick-flick in book form. The main character is as lovable and ambitious and hopeful as your favorite rom-com heroine, and her love interest is every bit as dreamy as Tom Hanks. (Okay, maybe not quite Tom-Hanks level, but you get the picture.)

I’m a long-time fan of Melody Carlson. When I was a teenager, I discovered her Diary of a Teenage Girl series, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it probably changed my life. Carlson’s characters became my role models, my example of what a Christian teenager and healthy relationships should (and should not) look like.

I loved this love story. And if you like happy, fluffy romance with a leading lady who follows her dreams thrown in, you’ll love it too.

5 stars—I loved it and will recommend it to everyone.
(Learn more about my star system here.)

I received a copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review. The opinions are my own and were not influenced by the publisher or author.

You Don’t Need a Crisis to Be Thankful

3-doug-robichaudRecently I started reading through my old journals. So, so many struggles that now I don’t even remember. The only account is what I wrote in those journals. And now they don’t seem so important. That box of journals is my monument, my testament of what God has done in my life, my reminder of what He’s brought me through.

A few weeks ago I attended a women’s ministry event at church that started with a few songs of worship. As I sat between two dear friends who have been going through a lot of hard things lately, I realized that I’m not. I’m not going through anything hard right now.

My first reaction was to feel unspiritual. How silly is that? I felt like I couldn’t possibly be learning anything if I wasn’t going through something hard. But I felt like Jesus whispered, “But look at all the hard things I’ve brought you through over the past few years.” My mind wandered back to the car accident, the school closing, the midnight panic attacks, the divorce, the days of paralyzing anxiety, the pain of not getting my dream job . . . and I was overcome.

For the first time in about a year, I cried (thank you, anxiety medication!) and fully surrendered myself to worshipping Jesus and thanking Him for His work in my life. I didn’t need a hard circumstance to focus my eyes on Jesus and be reminded of His grace in my life. I can do that anytime. I can thank Him in the GOOD and in the bad.

The next time I go through something difficult, I’ll remember that night, that reminder of God’s faithfulness in my life. And I’ll have what I need to push through and come out okay on the other side.

27 Lessons in 27 Years

globe babyToday I turn 27. Actually, in three minutes from the time I’m writing this. Honestly, I’m feeling old. My sister turns 21 in November, my baby brother is graduating high school next year, and I’ve been married for (almost) five years. This is the first year I’ve actually been grateful when people say, “You’re 27? No way!” And I finally understand why turning 30 is a big deal. I’m not there yet, but I totally get it.

When I was trying to figure out what my “birthday post” should be, I decided it would be fun to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are a little funny, but they’ve all been a part of “becoming me” in a significant way.

  1. If someone is trying to annoy you, ignore them. They’ll eventually get bored and go away. (I can thank my little sister for teaching me this one.)
  2. Churches don’t have to be full of hypocrites.
  3. Leadership doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes quiet leadership is more effective.
  4. God is trustworthy. Always.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help.
  6. Relationships don’t work when each person only gives 50%. Each person must give 100%, so when one person can’t give their all, the other person can pick up the slack.
  7. God cares about the little things, too.
  8. Stories (real or imagined) change lives.
  9. Babies aren’t so scary after all.
  10. Adults don’t have it all figured out. Life is an experiment.
  11. We’re all different, and that’s a good thing.
  12. When you have a favorite thrift store, second-hand shopping is awesome.
  13. Budgets don’t prohibit you from spending money, they give you permission to spend it wisely.
  14. You can learn a lot from other generations. Everyone has something different to offer.
  15. Teaching four-year-olds about Jesus is SO FUN.
  16. Humility often means not seeking credit and taking blame.
  17. Regular dental appointments are important. You do NOT want to get a root canal.
  18. No matter how much you hate exercise, it will make you feel better. (If my husband asks, I did not admit this.)
  19. Divorce sucks. And it will affect your kids—no matter how old or young they are.
  20. Food doesn’t make you happy, it just makes you fat.
  21. You don’t have to have all the answers to be a good friend. Just be there.
  22. (Usually) good writing should go unnoticed. It should flow in such a way that the reader doesn’t even think about the act of reading, they just do it.
  23. What you want to do is not necessarily what you’re called to do.
  24. Working at a church is hard.
  25. There’s no such thing as a normal family.
  26. Minnesota isn’t so bad.
  27. Having a husband who’s your best friend makes life a lot more fun.

So there you have it. Obviously I’ve learned more than 27 things in my lifetime. At least, I hope it’s obvious…

Toothpaste, Ira Glass, and the Picture in My Head

wildflowers in a field

 

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you . . . We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work . . . It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions . . . It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” —Ira Glass

 

When I was five, I decided I needed glass slippers like Cinderella. So I made some. I snuck into the bathroom and, using and Q-tips, I covered my new patent dress shoes with a sticky paint made of  toothpaste, baby powder, and baking soda. Then I did what any five-year-old would do—I put them in a donut box and hid them under my parent’s bed. Because, well, where else would I hide them? Mom was not happy when she discovered them two weeks later, rock-hard and still under her bed. She later told me that’s when she knew I had an imagination.

I was a frustrated artist. I didn’t have the supplies or the talent to create the images I had in my head—landscape watercolors, sketched portraits, painted houses. Some did make it to paper, but they always resulted in tears. (Of course, I cried about everything—not being able to buckle my seat belt was enough to provoke frustrated tears.)

And really, not a whole lot has changed.

A few months ago I tried to turn a four-hour car repair ordeal into a Father’s Day blog post. It was awful. I’m sure I could go back and do something with that draft now, but my first version was so far from where I thought it would be that I didn’t even go back for a second read through, let alone any edits.

I’ve become afraid of writing, which is sad because it’s something I love to do. I always have. In high school I had the luxury of journaling everywhere I went, and if I wasn’t doing that, I was writing long notes to friends. It was exciting to spend my entire hour of chemistry writing while pretending to pay attention. (I really hated science.)

I have all these great ideas—ideas that pull in quotes from literature, personal stories, Scripture, and my own thoughts—but I don’t write them. I jot the ideas in a notebook that follows me around every day, mocking me because yes, I had the great idea, but it will never turn out the way I want it to.

I know that I’m supposed to write constantly, even if it’s crap, because that’s how I’ll get better. That’s how I’ll find the gold, but that is SO hard for this perfectionist to do. I want to do it right and do it right the first time. I want to send it out into the blogosphere and wow everyone with my words. I want to make Annie Dillard and LM Montgomery and Philip Yancey proud. (But mostly Annie Dillard.)

How comforting to know that my struggle is normal, that my writing will improve as I work on it, that my skills will catch up with my taste in beautiful words. At least I hope they will. But hope is important. It’s way better than not writing just because I’m afraid.

So I’m actually going to post this even though I’m not completely happy with it, even though it falls short of the picture I had in my head. Because I have hope that just the act of writing it will get my next post that much closer to where I want it to be.

Lately I’m . . .

JournalIt’s been a long, long three months. And since I’ve been (mostly) absent from Editionally, here’s an update on what I’ve been up to.

Getting better. Finally. I caught some kind of bug in the middle of January that set off a chain reaction of health issues. It triggered my anxiety, which resulted in so much muscle tension I lost strength in my hands and arms. I just finished physical therapy last week. That led me to start taking an anxiety medication, which had some really “fun” side effects that led to some kind of infection which led to antibiotics which led to more side effects. But all the side effects have worn off, the infection is gone, and I finally  feel like myself again. Oy vey. I am so ready to have a healthy spring.

Researching becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist (expert level). When I mentioned to Jonathan that I wasn’t feeling challenged, he suggested I look into Office certification. Since I spend 85% of my work hours in front of a computer and I love to learn, I got excited. I’m still not sure what training and testing will look like for me, but I’m doing my research. Let me know if you know anything about it!

Writing again. With the return of my anxiety and the little bit of depression caused by all my health nonsense, I wasn’t writing. I couldn’t. When I get to a place like where I was, I avoid any independent thought. I cope by cutting out quiet spaces and freedom to think. I’m not saying it’s healthy, but it’s how I stave off some of the anxious thoughts. As a result, my creative stores dried up and I had nothing to say, even though I tried. But here I am writing again. I’ve kinda gotten back to journaling, too. And I currently have a six-page list of ideas for devotionals. I’m so ashamed to admit I haven’t been published in a really long time (so long that I’m not even going to tell you how long it’s been). I feel like I’ve been wasting the education I’m still paying for. But I’ve got tons of ideas, so I just need to start submitting. Feel free to give me a pep talk—I tend to put things off so long I don’t care about them anymore. But I really want to make this happen. For the experience, the joy of seeing my name in print (honesty is best—I love that feeling), and the extra money won’t hurt. And I like to think what I write could make a difference. I’d love to write the devotion that someone reads in the morning and it just changes their whole day. You know when you read something and you know it was meant for you? I want God to use my words like that.

Painting my nails obsessively. (If you’re a guy reading this, you can probably skip this part. Unless you want to know something about women, or at least this woman.) Okay, so they’re not painted now because I figure they need a break, but I’ve become addicted to nail polish. I love the colors. And as silly as it is, my job (which consists of lots of writing and typing) gets infinitely more fun when I can watch the pretty colors fly across the keyboard. Julep has amazing (but spendy) polishes that last over a week if you use a top coat and keep your cuticles hydrated. I also love Essie—their polishes last quite awhile, too.

Planning a vacation. Sometime this summer we’re going to get away for a week. With our limited budget, I’m still trying to figure out where the heck we’re going (I’m thinking north shore, but maybe not). Suggestions welcome, but keep in mind that we’re not going to fly anywhere.

Learning about Jewish culture. Our Life Group is listening to some talks by Ray Vanderlaan, and we’re all learning a ton. It’s amazing how differently you read and interpret the Bible when you know the historical context. For example, I learned that typically students would find a rabbi they wanted to follow and then ask if they could. If the rabbi thought the student could be like him, he would accept his request. But Jesus chose his disciples—and they were all kids who likely flunked out of rabbi training, hence the fishing. And Jesus still thought they could be like Him, even after they screwed up, like Peter.

Praying for Grandma. Jonathan’s grandma, Carol, had a heart attack and a stroke last week and we’re not sure what’s going to happen. If you’re someone who prays, please pray for her.

Ten Resolutions for 2013

I’ve been making New Year’s Resolutions for the last three years. And after last year’s didn’t go so well, I’ve decided I need to make this year’s public. And I need to put them where I’ll see them often. So I’m sharing them with you and posting them on the fridge.

Without further ado, here are my goals and resolutions for 2013:

1.That’s only two books a month—what a sad number. With working full time, freelance editing jobs, blogging, and having a life, it’s tough to fit reading in, but I still want to make sure I’m doing it. Two books I want to get to this year are Don Quixote and Les Miserables. And maybe Mere Christianity, since that was on my list of resolutions last year and I bought it but never read it. Oops. But right now, I’m going back to an old favorite: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Click here to see what I’ve read so far.

2.With all the dental work I’ve had in the last two months to make up for a childhood of poor dental hygiene, this is a big one for me.

3.Ideally, this will be running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday or Sunday, and two days of yoga.

4.Not gonna lie—this one scares me. But I really want to get there just because I think I can’t.

5.Jonathan and I read together most nights, but I want to make more of a concentrated effort to spend time in the Word on my own. I haven’t really gotten started yet, but I’m planning to use a reading plan from Canvas Church’s website. If you’re interested in joining me, you can find the reading plan here.

6.Last year, I wanted to journal every day. It didn’t happen. Not even close. So this year, I’m shooting a little lower and broadening the possibilities—it can be journaling, a blog post, or something else. And unless I’m having a bad week, stuff I write for work won’t count.

7.We eat out way too much. Especially when we don’t have leftovers for lunches and we eat out then, too.

8.I made this a goal for myself two years ago, and it was a great challenge. I love finding and trying new recipes. Especially when they turn out great. I think I’ll start with one (or both!) of these . . .
Sun-dried Tomato Spread
Man-Pleasing Chicken

9.I’ve written about this before, but I fell out of the habit. It made life much easier when I didn’t procrastinate in the small things.

10.Earlier would be even better, but as it’s been, I’ve been getting up at 7:45ish, only about 20 minutes before I have to leave for work. No bueno. Things have got to change. And if they do, I might even have time to get my run in or do my quiet time before I go to work. That sounds like a recipe for a much better day.

What are you goals/resolutions for 2013?

Professional Development . . . More Journal Entries

Recently I posted an entertaining entry from the journal I kept when I was nine. As much as I laughed at myself, I also read some things that make this professional writing major groan a little. Clearly I’ve learned a few things . . .

How to spell. I think by specifying 90s Christian, I was making it clear that I only approved of contemporary Christian music. Not that stuff they played at my grandma’s church.

How to use apostrophes correctly. I’m sad to admit this one was from high school.

How to write a coherent sentence. You know, one that actually makes sense. This was at the end of an entry.

Further reading revealed that, at some point, I went back and made a few edits to that first journal. Once an editor, always an editor.

Do you ever look back at things you wrote years ago? Is it as embarrassing for you as it is for me?

A Stack of Memories

I’ve been journaling for a long time—since Valentine’s Day 1997, to be precise. That journal up on top is my first one. I remember going to the Hallmark store with my mom and begging her to buy it for me. I promised I would write in it every day if she would please, please, please buy it for me. But the promises of nine-year-olds are fickle. I didn’t write every day—I didn’t even fill up that first journal (or most of the ones I’ve had since, as my husband will tell you). Clearly, though, I’ve continued to journal over the years.The stack at the right is all of the journals I’ve used in my almost-25 years. I keep them in a box in the closet and pull them out from time to time.

I journal for a few reasons:

1) I enjoy writing. And the more you write, the better your writing gets.

2) It’s cathartic. It gets everything in my head on paper.

3) I like to look back and see where I’ve been. Sometimes it’s faith-building, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s downright embarrassing (but that’s what happens when you put everything in your head on paper) . . .

(Click on the image to make it bigger)

A bit of explanation . . .

Chris was my first crush—except for maybe the guy with the curly hair from Phillips, Craig, and Dean. Not sure which came first. But let me tell you—Chris had nothing on my husband when it comes to making me crazy ; )

I have no idea if the Barney thing is true or not. Obviously, I believed it when some kid told me it was true.

Stay tuned! I’ll be sharing a few more journal entries soon.