Keeping Traditions Even When They Grow Up

Today on a walk, I remember that for the past seven years, I’ve contributed the “Boo Platter” for the classroom Halloween parties. It was never anything special, but if you remember, the Boo Platter became a signature moment; the children begged for that Boo Platter each year. I laughed that while I wasn’t skilled in artistic design, I did know something about words. So I wrote “Boo” and filled in the fruit. That was me. Words. 

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But now with one daughter in high school and one in middle school, the days of class parties, costume parades, and Boo Platters fade into the past.

I have a moment with myself—a sad little moment where I know that I lived once through a time now gone.

But I also realize that I can retain a bit of childhood even though no classroom needs the Boo Platter. Maybe I need it. So I create a miniature version (that’s nearly impossible to discern) for after school snack. It’s not my best work, but I know the word is in there.

So the Boo Platter hasn’t retired yet. And neither have I.

 

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Creating Hygge: Inspiration from My Danish Friend

I’m currently obsessed with the Danish word hygge–one of the most important words to the Danish soul–that has no equivalent in the English language. My friend from Denmark tells me that the closest equivalent means “cozy”, but there’s so much more to it. The word, I learn, comes from the Norwegian word “well-being,” and Danes embrace this concept as part of their identity.

And I love it so much. It’s a way of living, a way of being.

I research the word, and I’m entranced. A hyggelig atmostphere is all about warmth, joy, and comfort. Something is hygge if it creates a refuge with friends. It involves homemade food, candles, relaxing chairs, warm beverages, and inspiring conversation free from debate or conflict. Hygge is about never being in a rush. It’s also so wonderfully about giving of yourself in spoken words through a tale of your childhood, your heart’s great loves, or ideas you’re thinking about. Winter marks the high season of hygge for the Danes because it’s a way of surviving the dark, long, cold winters. Imagine warm, candlelit gatherings of good friends, steaming beverages, delicious food, and a conversation of the soul. Imagine sinking into a chair beside your friend who has no place else to go for a while.

My Danish friend reminds me of how the happiest people on the planet live differently. Even while doing laundry, working on projects, or studying, Danes still bring hygge to whatever they’re doing. And I’m learning to as well as the cold days of winter approach. As my Danish friend likes to say: “Winter is the warmest season.”

Living with flair means cozy and warm. It means learning from Danish hygge. 

 

 

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A Note From a Widow that Touched My Heart

The best part of publishing is meeting new people and experiencing fellowship because you’re on a spiritual journey together. It’s a taste of heaven for me.

Yesterday, a reader sent me a link to her blog about how Guarded by Christ has helped her think about Jesus as a widow. I was so inspired by her writing and her insight into God’s guarding care of widows, and I thought you might like to read her words (or send them on to someone who needs them today).

She blogs at Reflections from My Porch Swing. Read her post called, “The Castle of My Heart.”

(I love how she orders a miniature replica of HighClere Castle to remember the fortress of God’s care. I want to do this!)

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All This and Mashed Potatoes

I notice all the little things that make children around me burst with joy after school. It was a long, rainy day, and I arrive home tired and spent. But then, children remind me to think about all the joyful things. Things like:

  • finding not one but two cats asleep on your bed
  • learning that we are, in fact, having mashed potatoes with dinner
  • finding the chocolate cake our neighbor delivered last night just because
  • anticipating going to Youth Group

But mostly, it was the announcement of mashed potatoes that tips the scale from happy to joyful.

When life feels weighty and serious, full of work and deadlines, I stir the mashed potatoes and remember a time when what we were having for dinner could make me leap for joy.

 

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Prepared for What’s Coming: Forecast and Hindcast

This morning, the Crossing Guard and I exchange our regular pleasantries, and I request a bit of his wisdom–in whatever form it may take.

(Yes, I still occasionally walk down the hill with my youngest daughter and send her off to middle school even though the Walk to School Campaign is a thing of the sweet past.)

We talk about the weather, and I ask for his predictions about the coming winter. He’s always correct, so I lean in to listen.

“Will it be bad?” I ask, pulling my winter coat around me in the 29 degree morning.

He nods and waves some cars on while stopping others with his bright stop sign. My daughter walks on into her life, braced against the cold air. He says: “I’ve heard that nature takes care of the squirrels ahead of what’s coming. Look at the fat acorns. They’re huge. The squirrels will need them to survive what’s coming. It will be a hard winter. I don’t know if that’s true about the acorns, but that’s what I’ve heard.”

I have no idea if it’s true, but the idea that nature takes care–ahead of time!–for what’s coming brings a certain delight. Can the acorns forecast? I have to know! I decide to do a little research, and I find that while the Farmer’s Almanac claimed in 1978 that the abundance of large acorns forecasts a large winter–and other sources insist large acorns constitute a true sign–scientists claim that big acorns aren’t a forecast but a hindcast. 

A hindcast!

It means that the acorns we’re currently crunching underfoot tell us what was happening several winters ago. Their size comes about from past mild winters and rainfall levels, for example. They are signs of what happened, not necessarily what’s coming. 

But who knows for sure?

Either way–forecast or hindcast–it’s just as marvelous. I think of the acorn in a new way: it holds within its big shape a history, a particular climate, and an experience to remember. I pick one up and examine it carefully. It has a story to tell of winters’ past.

Perhaps the acorn does forecast, but today, I love thinking of the hindcast. I think of the shape of our lives and what we reveal about where we’ve been, what harsh or mild conditions, and what unusual environments. We hold so much information even as we look ahead to the hope always coming with each new season.

We forecast and hindcast all at once.

 

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Some Fun Book Updates and a Lesson Learned

Every so often, I know you like to read writing updates and gain some sneak peaks into the publishing and promotion of a book.

So far, I’ve had a few radio interviews that you can listen to on Guarded by Christ:

Chris Fabry Live! was a great 1 hour interview about how to think about God when your’e experiencing anxiety. Click here to listen. This was a live interview (I was on the phone in my hotel room; yes, I was in my pajamas), so I’m amazed that God has helped me stay calm and clear-thinking when I know I can’t have a “do over.”

I also enjoyed a one hour radio interview with Gary Chapman that was taped a week in advance. This was a fun interview but approached some complex questions about God’s guarding care especially when faced with anxiety or depression. Listen here. 

Finally, Crosswalk.com featured an article called, “What if God Doesn’t Heal My Anxiety or Depression.” 

Do you see a theme? I’m learning that when you write a book that talks even a little bit about mental health, this is what people want and need to talk about. Sometimes you simply can’t predict or control what your readers will care most about. I’m learning to trust God, respond to the direction He’s going, and stay in the fortress of His care when I’m surprised by interviews, articles, or comments.

When you write a book, people will talk about it.

And you can’t tell them what to talk about!

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The Leaf House Memory: Letting Kids Be Kids

I’ve told my youngest that her main job right now is “to be a kid.” She’s only eleven years old, and she talks about exams and her “schedule” more than just playing. She asks if it’s OK that she has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up. She asks about grades and work and all these adult things.

Be a child! Be a kid! Oh, the stress of always needing to know your purpose, of always needing productive afternoons, and of accounting for your time!

Oh, childhood! Come back to us!

I remind my daughter about building “leaf houses” like my sister and I did at Ft. Lewis, Washington. I was in 3rd grade, and I can picture my pink coat; I can smell the leaf piles around us; I remember the darkness falling as we refused to come in for dinner. I remember falling back into my living room pile of leaves while my sister built her own couch of leaves.

I remind my daughter, too, about the inside fun of apple pies, leaf art, and cider on the stove. I remind her about cinnamon sticks and pumpkin decorating and roasting seeds.

Childhood! Come back!

 

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Great Things

I’m read a quote from missionary William Carey stated in 1842 : “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

Something about the quote resonates deeply because I realize how small and self-centered both my expecting and attempting remain. I feel the smallness in my soul.

So I felt a little stirring, another course correction, as I thought about the great things God is doing that aren’t just about me or my family. I remember what once thrilled my heart in Colossians 1 and the statement, “All over the world, the gospel is bearing fruit.” All over the world! God is doing amazing things! I get so excited and remember the power of God at work all over the globe. Great things are happening. Christian are attempting great, impossible things and seeing God move on their behalf all over the world.

I wish I could peer into the stories of great, global things; the gospel is bearing fruit in remarkable, astonishing, unfathomable ways. I think about global Christianity and about the rate of Christian conversions in Nepal, Yemen, China, or Cambodia. I think about the power of the gospel and this message of salvation that’s awaking souls in the thousands every day in Africa alone because of one name: Jesus Christ.

I worshipped with the whole world on this Sunday morning, and I remembered the great things God is doing outside of my own life’s experience.

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Where You Find Yourself

Sometimes you find yourself in new, enormous cities, driving in rental cars you secured in the dark night, blazing down interstates as trucks and cars squeeze you on both sides. And all this after airports and luggage and hotels alone, where you stare at the ceiling underneath those crisp, scratchy sheets that feel nothing like home. 

The old you would have never gone so far from home, alone. 

But this time, you are home because God is here; He is your dwelling place. You are here and settled because home is the fortress of His peace and joy that invites you into your own soul even as the hotel room AC booms on and off the whole night. 

Before this time in your life, it was all anxiety and fear and hiding away because travel felt traumatic. But now, it’s simple and ordinary because you’re home no matter where you go.

Even when your EZ pass doesn’t activate the toll gate, and a million cars honk and spit over your stupidity as you hold up traffic all the way down the highway, you just get out of the car as the night wind whips up your hair and cape. You hold up your hand in an apology, call for help, and think that things like this don’t happen in your familiar neighborhood. 

You sing along to your music and nod as the shaming cars, so impatient to be anywhere but here, zoom pass. 

You’re not bothered. You’re not wishing for home or that you were some other capable and confident self. 

You’re just here, still and smiling, at home in your soul with Jesus. 

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