Tag Archives: Quotes

Living a Portfolio Life

Calling GoinsI’ve spent the last four years (at least) trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I’ve been working at the church, but that didn’t seem like enough, even though I knew I was supposed to be there. And I made it to the last round of interviews for my dream job and then didn’t get it. I just couldn’t figure out what I was missing.

Until I read The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. In it, Jeff talks about the significance of calling and explains that it goes way beyond your day job. Your calling is the sum of many things—your skills, your job, your relationships, your interests—it’s the whole picture of your life, how you choose to spend your time and use your gifts.

I realized that I don’t have to spend my days agonizing over the ominous and evasive calling God has placed on my life because I’m living it right now.

My calling is to work at my church, to be a good wife and friend and sister, to spend my free time writing and reading and editing and blogging (and crocheting and sewing). My calling is to embrace where God has placed me, do what He has asked me to do, and give Him the glory no matter what.

And I think I’m okay with that.

Are you trying to wrap your mind around the idea of your calling? Check out Jeff’s book. It’ll get you asking the questions you need to ask to figure out what you’re meant to do. Visit this link to find out how to get a free copy and a ton of bonuses—you just pay shipping.

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*As a member of Jeff’s launch team for The Art of Work, I received a free copy of the book in exchange for spreading the word. 

Not My Circus

If you stop by my office, you’ll see a framed copy of this Polish proverb on my wall where I can see it every day:

“Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

I love it for a few reasons. One is that it’s the only Polish proverb I’ve ever heard. And since I’m Polish and proud of it, that’s a big deal.

But the main reason I love it is that it speaks to the heart of one of my greatest strengths, which also happens to be one of my greatest weaknesses–I am a responsible person (responsibility shows up in my Strengthsfinder Top 5) and I tend to be a fixer. Doesn’t matter if it’s my responsibility or my problem to fix. You can bet I’ll try, and I’ll feel pretty crummy when it doesn’t work out the way I think it should.

It’s hard not to take on extra responsibilities, especially at work. It’s not just my job, it’s also my church. And that means a significant personal investment, far beyond what I would devote if I worked somewhere else. I want to do a good job, and I want my church to be a healthy place. As a result, I struggle with wanting to stretch beyond my job description to make everything meet my own personal ideals.

But the church is made up of many people for a reason. We each play an important part, and we don’t all do the same thing. It’s okay for me to let others fulfill their responsibilities, whether I think they’re doing it right or doing it wrong. It’s not my concern how or why they do what they do. And there’s freedom in that.

Romans 12:3–6 says, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

A friend once told me that when I find myself taking on responsibilities and even frustrations that aren’t mine, I need to resign. So if you listen carefully outside my cube, you may hear me say “I quit.” It’s not because I’m leaving my position, it’s because I’m choosing to lay down what I shouldn’t have picked up. Because God gave someone else the gifting to do it better than me. It’s not my circus. And those aren’t my monkeys.

Not My CircusNot My Monkeys (1)

Settled

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Waiting for Settled

Until last week, I believed someday I would reach a point in my life when I felt settled, like I had arrived, like I could get comfortable where I was and coast on through the rest of my life.

What was I thinking?

I thought if I could just get married, finish college, get a full-time job, buy a forever house, have kids…everything would feel more long-term, more permanent, more settled.

But it doesn’t work like that. It wasn’t a lighting-strike epiphany, more like a foggy mist of realization that settled over me quietly as I drove to work, when I was wondering if what I have now is all there is. And if it is, wouldn’t that mean I’m settled now? And wouldn’t that be terrible because, really, I don’t want to be stuck like this forever?

What Being Settled ISN’T

Being settled isn’t a result of the circumstances in my life or what I do or don’t do. It’s not about who I married or how I’ll parent or whether or not my student loans are ever going to be paid off. If being settled is about those things, I’ll never get there. None of those things are constant. None of them will last. None of them are eternal.

What Being Settled IS

As I read Psalm 37 last week, I remembered memorizing verse 4 in high school:

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

Even back then, I knew that meant if I delighted myself in God, my desires would begin to line up with His. That was so much easier to do when I wasn’t responsible for my own life, when I didn’t have to make decisions about where I would live or work or when I would have kids or even whether I should put that pretty bottle of nail polish back on the shelf because, really, I already have like 20 bottles and that $8 could go straight toward my student loans. And when those are paid off we can finally think about a down payment on a house . . . Anyway . . .

At this point in my life—age 27—I’m clinging to verse 23:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in His way;
Psalm 37:23 (ESV)

It’s the same idea as verse 4, but it seems a little easier to understand now that I’m grown up and worrying about things like feeling settled.

The entire Psalm is about that settled feeling I’d been searching for. It says, “fret not yourself” and “He will act.”

So I’m learning that being settled is about trusting God, about delighting myself in Him, about waiting for Him to act, to direct my steps, to fight my battles, to count my days, to bring forth my righteousness, just like Psalm 37 says.

Packing Light by Allison Vesterfelt

Packing Light

Packing Light is the account of writer Allison Vesterfelt’s decision to quit her job, sell her stuff, and drive through all 50 states in a beat-up Subaru with her friend Sharaya. But it’s not just a we-did-this, we-saw-that kind of book.

Vesterfelt dives beneath the surface of her trip and shares her heart and the lessons she learned on the road— lessons about packing more than you need, letting go of baggage, leaving rules behind, trusting God, and not being afraid to use the gifts He’s given you.

Since reading Packing Light, I’ve become a little obsessed with Allison Vesterfelt. I followed her on every form of social media I could, got really excited when I thought she lived in Minneapolis (I was totally going to ask her if I could take her out for coffee), and nearly cried out when I found out she moved to Nashville less than a year ago. Anyway . . .

Her book changed and challenged me in too many ways to sum up in a neat little blog post, so I’m going to share some of my favorite quotes and let you decide what to do with them.

 

On Rules

“Rules give us a false sense of control. They make us feel like if we just follow a list of instructions, we’re sure to get the outcome we want . . . Rules never buy us the safety we think they will” (pg. 122).

“I hope we never stop asking ourselves what the intent is behind the rules we’re following, and if they’re accomplishing the objective” (pg. 123).

“We need a generation of people who aren’t rule-followers—who aren’t rule-breakers, either, but rather live lives that aren’t dictated by the rules at all . . . How much more in tune would we be with the twists and turns of our journey and prepared to handle them with conviction and grace, if we didn’t think the ‘rules’ were protecting us?” (pgs. 123–124).

“The reason rules don’t protect us is that the rules presume that every circumstance, and every person, is identical” (pg. 151).

 

On Pride & Insecurity

“The more I think about it the more I think that my insecurity is really pride. My insecurity makes everything all about me” (pg. 210).

 

On Fear & Regret

“You don’t have to go. You can stay home. It’s up to you. But if you let fear stop you from doing what you really want to do, you’ll regret that forever” (pg. 246).

 

On God’s Direction

“God wasn’t telling me what to do. He was just helping me to see what I actually wanted. He was saying, ‘Here’s permission to want what you want, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Here’s permission to be the woman I created you to be. You think you don’t have the resources, but you do. I will provide them. You think you aren’t strong enough to face the obstacles, but you are. I’ll be with you the whole time. Here’s permission to live your life, not dictated by fear of what might happen. Go ahead . . .’” (pg. 247).

“When we stop seeing God as a controlling God who tells us what we have to do and what we can’t do, we stop feeling so much anger toward Him” (pg. 247).

“Our life is not ruined. We’re not being punished. We’re not doing it wrong. God isn’t mad at us; He’s just waiting for us to wake up, to take responsibility, and to start living life with Him. He’s waiting for us to do something beautiful, something courageous, something totally out of the ordinary” (pg. 247).

“There comes a point where we don’t need anyone to tell us who we are anymore, we just need to take the information we have and run with it” (pg. 210).

 

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.