In the last few months, I find myself constantly adding to my “To Read” list. I actually have had several book lists over the years in various places, and awhile back, I was reading this post by Nancy Ray and was introduced to Wunderlist. I really like this app, and I feel like I could utilise it for so much more than I am. It has helped keep lists like a reading list all in one place, though.
I wrote at the beginning of the year that I wanted to be intentional about learning, and a big part of that was by reading. I wrote that before finding out I was pregnant, and if I am honest, I have let the tiredness of pregnancy lead me towards a bit of laziness in this area. I haven’t done terrible, but I haven’t been as intentional in this area as I’d hoped. Here’s where grace comes in, and I am choosing to look ahead and not behind. It’ll all be ok!
That hasn’t stopped me from adding (almost daily) to this list of books I want to read. I am constantly seeing friends post in their insta stories about a book that impacted them or a quote from a book, and I am finding myself screen-shotting these photos all the time. One of the worst habits I have had with reading, though, is starting a book and not finishing it. Who is with me on this one? I don’t do this with fiction books, but with non-fiction books, I am a bit like a distracted toddler in a toy shop, focused until something else catches my eye and draws me in.
Robbie and I were meeting with a friend last week, and he was sharing a simple “equation” for success or results. This can be used in large areas of life, or even in small habits you want to grow and develop, like reading more regularly.
Desire –> Motivation –> Results
That sounds great, but the trouble is what happens when you don’t have the desire for something? There is a second part to the equation, and when desire is missing this is where discipline must kick in.
Discipline –> Motivation –> Results
Of course! It made so much sense, and then he broke it down even further and explained what ingredients are necessary to have discipline. In order to have discipline, you must have a schedule and accountability. Even more than that you have to allocate and prioritize in order to follow through with your schedule. I love when concepts that you know in your head are broken down so simply.
I find myself coming back to this often now and applying it to multiple areas of my life. For now, though, I am trying to take one thing at a time (ok, maybe 2-3 things at a time) so I don’t overwhelm the system and actually wind up with nothing to show for it.
In an effort to create accountability by sharing this publicly, I am going to tell you how I am going to allocate and prioritize time for this particular habit of reading. When I wrote my goals at the beginning of the year, they probably could have done with further specifics to help achieve these goals. Some of them had that but not all of them. Here is to creating discipline and seeing great results!
My Commitment to Reading
- First thing’s first – I am taking this one month at a time. Because baby is coming in September, I don’t want to set myself up to fail. So this is my goal for the month of August specifically.
- I will commit to read for at least 30 minutes before bed every night.
- I will commit to finishing 2 books that I am currently in the middle of reading – Long Days of Small Things and Loving Our Kids on Purpose
- I will commit to following up at the end of the month, possibly with a recap of the books I read.
Do you find yourself starting many books and not finishing them? What things help you stay disciplined to reach your goals?
I have been wanting to write this post for awhile now. It’s something I have been processing, and even though I’ve come to certain conclusions, I’ve still let this post gather dust in my drafts folder. I have had many thoughts over the past two years or so about my blog – many post ideas and themes. Yet, I haven’t written a lot of them. They sit in my draft folder as we speak.
When I first started processing why I wasn’t posting, I thought that perhaps I was too busy with being a mum or maybe it was because I had other obligations hanging over my head. Even with those things, I realised that it was neither of those because I was in fact still posting. I just wasn’t posting much.
I looked at what I wasn’t posting as opposed to what I was, and I noticed something very quickly. What I was posting – what I have posted – it’s fun or nice or encouraging. It’s about pregnancy and Eleanor and motherhood and photography. Even before that, it was about travel or cafes, or revelations I had been having about God or ministry. These are all great things, but what I wasn’t posting were things that were a touch more vulnerable or controversial. It was pieces that I feared would create backlash or bring on hurtful comments. It was topics that I worried would create debate or would have people look at me differently.
Fear really is the culprit here. So then I dug a little deeper, and I asked myself why I was so afraid now. When I was first in college, I wrote often. I had a blogspot blog and a xanga site. I wrote what I believed in, even if it may have frustrated one person or another, because I believed it was worth it to help others. I was bolder and more courageous. I was also less life experienced and definitely more immature. There was a lot yet to discover about myself and about God (and there most certainly still is). Even in the midst of my courage and boldness, there was a good dose of refining that needed to happen.
I thought about the journey from then until now.
A lot can happen in 12 years, and a lot has happened in my life. I finished college in a much different place emotionally and spiritually than I started. I moved halfway around the world to try this “missions thing”. I was changed in many ways and given new and fresh perspectives on things that had previously left me hurt and frustrated. I met my now husband, got married and had a child with another on the way. I’ve gone on outreaches. I’ve planned events. I’ve appealed for financial partners. I’ve had victories with immigration, even amidst the challenges and setbacks. I’ve been challenged and refined in weaker moments. I’ve learned. I’ve learned I have so much still to learn.
Yet in all of that “life happening”, I got scared somewhere along the way. I got a bit more worried about what people think, particularly as a mom, and somehow I forgot about the quiet call God had spoken to me. The call to write and to teach and to disciple. The call to be myself and to find all of my confidence in Him, even in this area of motherhood. Especially in this area of motherhood.
The more our culture and world becomes digitally engaged, the more I find my temptation to disengage. It’s probably the harmony in me. I cringe at online “comment debates” because they’re mostly done quite poorly. (I have definitely seen it done well, which is worth saying). I follow many different bloggers and writers who represent different spheres and nationalities. I read their blogs, and mostly, I find myself giving them the benefit of the doubt. I can’t help but notice the mean comments or the disbelief in their choices or lifestyle. I think about the desire to write, to influence and to impact, and then I see the comments and backlash and get scared.
Be Brave. Be You.
That is the call I am feeling. It’s been a gentle nudge over the years, but I am feeling it stronger than ever now. The minute I worry, God swoops in with someone to encourage me down this path. Lately, there has been so much encouragement, and I am feeling challenged to really pursue this. To pursue this dream and to continue walking in the calling and gifts God has placed within me.
So I will write.
You read it. You can quote me on it. I will write. It may not be perfect, and often, it’ll probably be in the midst of my own learning and development and growth. In fact, I hope it’s always in that place: in the journey. A few months back, I had a thought about authors and how scary it could be to publish your own thoughts and opinions onto hard copy, knowing it’s out there forever. What if you change your mind about something you’ve written or learn something new? Then I remember all the second and third (and fourth and fifth!) editions of books and the vulnerability of the authors in those first introductions. They’ve grown, and they’re not apologetic about it. They’re inspired by it. In fact, it is what makes me want to read them more because it shows humility, teachability and growth. I want those in my life through Jesus so much, so I am inspired. I am inspired to continue journeying, and I am inspired to write about it. To be vulnerable in this space. To share. To grow together.
Will you grow with me?
I feel like I need to write an update about life because a lot of what I have wanted to write in the past few months simply hasn’t happened. I don’t necessarily feel like I need to explain this, but I also feel frustrated that the blog has become a bit more dormant than my hope is for it.
Life has been busy these past few months and a bit unexpected at times. We went on holidays for four weeks to the States, and when we returned, it was a whirlwind three weeks as we finished June with Robbie’s school, teaching, a massive fundraising campaign for our centre and more. We finished the month sick – all of us – and honestly, I wasn’t surprised. I said to Robbie somewhat jokingly (somewhat not) that if June were a person, he took us out back and beat us up. It was too much, and even though we walked into this new month under the weather and exhausted, it was nice to have a chance to slow down and recover.
I entered my third trimester this past week as well, and it’s not escaping me that in just a couple months, life is going to change again with this new baby arriving. Busy will look and feel different than it ever has before, and the dynamics of our family that we have known for these past two years will shift to welcome our little guy. It’s good, and I am so, so excited. I am also a little nervous and a lot curious. I haven’t written hardly at all about my pregnancy because to be honest, I have no desire to do so this time around. I thought I would want to, but things are so different this time around. Half the time I can barely remember how far along I am. I have taken about a fourth of the photos of my belly this time, and pregnancy feels more like a road to a beautiful and incredible destination. Because I’ve been there before, I am just ready to get there again. I cannot wait to meet him. I am not marvelling at the newness of pregnancy this time around, but rather, I am watching my daughter daily, loving her more and more, and finding myself so anxious to add more of that to our little family. Did anyone else feel this way?
All that to say, my pregnancy is going well, and traveling to the States this time was a bit easier pregnancy-wise than when I traveled while pregnant with Eleanor. It was harder in other ways (hello, entertaining a nearly 2-year-old for a 16-hour flight…), but overall, it was pretty smooth. I am measuring normal, have normal blood work and glucose tests, am not swollen quite yet and haven’t had many cravings. I feel stronger in general because of working out prior to getting pregnant and staying moderately active this time because again, hello, 2-year-old. My current sickness that I am getting over has been frustrating and quite persistent, but I am hopeful that if I stay at a slower pace, I’ll fully recover soon.
In general, I have so much I want to write, and in the past few weeks, I feel like God has been speaking a lot and showing me more and more of his heart for me in this current season. I am reading a book called Long Days of Small Things, and it’s so good. I am only on the second or third chapter, but seriously, it’s so good. It’s just what my heart needs right now. I am trying to slow down, but I am also wanting to really soak up these last couple months with just Eleanor and me each day. One thing God has been showing me with writing is the area of vulnerability – how to do this well and why it’s good and right for me. I’ve been confronting fears when it comes to writing, particularly about parenting because the internet (which is people really) can be so harsh sometimes, especially in parenting. Like I have said before, I have questioned if I am strong enough or brave enough, but I am realising that some of that bravery and strength is forged in the fire. Some of it is founded in the tricky conversations and questions and responses. And again, like I said before, I do believe it’s worth it. I know it’s been worth it for me when others have been vulnerable, and I am incredibly grateful for them.
More on that to come. If you haven’t gathered in the past few years with this blog, it’s taken a lot of different shapes over the years, and part of that has to do with the season I am in. I am really working to continue plowing through the main heart and vision for this space and defining that more as I go on. Stick with me. I appreciate all of you who read, and I hope you continue.
2017 hasn’t really had the exciting zeal that I had hoped for thus far. On Monday night, I got a horrible stomach bug that left me feeling like I got beat up in the carpark. We thought I had food poisoning because I had eaten some leftovers that were perhaps a little old, and Eleanor and Robbie, who were fine, hadn’t eaten it. At least that’s what we thought.
Robbie got Eleanor ready for the day, and then my friend Emily watched her for nearly the entire day while I rested. I was so incredibly grateful that she was so willing to have Eleanor for the whole day. I felt terrible. Wednesday rolled along, and I was starting to feel better, even though little Miss was waking up around 5:20am! I ventured out on a walk with Eleanor, slowly but surely, easing into the day.
After a day full of social interaction, Eleanor was pretty bored spending the day with just mum, so I tried taking her to the warehouse to see some friends. Then later that afternoon, some friends came over to our house. And then, one of Eleanor’s little friends threw up twice in Eleanor’s room. Yeah…we were wrong about the food poisoning.
Three hours later, Robbie began throwing up, and I quickly ran to Woolies to buy the best sanitizing cleaning supplies on the planet for fear of Eleanor catching this terrible bug. Another two friends on base started throwing up later Wednesday night as well. It’s brutal friends – not a bug you want.
I sanitised every.single.surface in our house, including the bazillion play food pieces Eleanor got for Christmas. Oh the joy. And, I texted many friends to pray that this horrible bug was done attacking our little community.
The cherry on top of this wonderful first week of the New Year? Our sewer system for our entire house got completely blocked yesterday. THANK GOODNESS this happened post throwing up for everyone, but nonetheless, another lovely addition to an already challenging week.
We can still use things, but water sources like the washing machine and shower put too much pressure on the system, so we are avoiding those for today and tomorrow until it’s completely fixed.
I don’t write all this to garner a bunch of pity or sympathy. Seriously. I am more outward processing life right now. I have had to stop myself from my own self-pity, and I’ve had to recognise that as much as we like to think our “fresh start” can only begin on January 1, it’s simply not the truth. God offers a fresh start every morning in fact.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Today I am reminding myself that Eleanor has been smiling and happy and healthy all week. I am reminding myself of the incredible friends who help us when we are having a rough go. I am reminding myself that despite the barrage of articles online and shared on Facebook about what not to do as a mum, Eleanor will indeed survive if she’s watching a little more tv this week and outside a little less. She will be ok if I am not giving her as many vegetables, and I am not a bad mum for not trying as hard this week. I am reminding myself that prayer is beautifully powerful, and I am thankful that at this point, no one else has gotten sick. I am reminding myself that next week (or tomorrow or next month even) is an ok time to really think through my goals for 2017, and this week hasn’t been wasted, nor have I missed my chance to start 2017 off well. I am reminding myself that God is good, and He is not at all flustered or changed by my issues. I am reminding myself that all will be ok. I am reminding myself that there is immense power in hope and that gratefulness is the seedbed of hope. I am reminding myself that we have much to be grateful for even when things haven’t been as easy this week.
Have you ever tried to start a New Year or new season well and things just don’t go as planned? What do you have to be grateful for in this New Year?
Nearing 2017 sort of felt like when you’re ascending the hill on a roller coaster and you know you’re almost to the top but can’t quite see it until all of the sudden the force of the front of the car pulls you into it. I knew 2017 was near, especially as we got into December, but this past week or so sort of took me away with it. I think I thought it would go slower because we were out of our normal routine. It didn’t, though, and now it’s January 1st!
Happy New Year!
I really enjoyed 2016 despite what seems to be the consensus online. There were challenges, of course, like any other year, but the truth is there was a whole lot of good as well. I learned a lot, and Einstein’s famous quote, “the more I learn, the more I realise how much I don’t know” keeps getting truer and truer. I laughed a lot. I cried a bit. I sang and danced and thought and prayed. It was a good year, but just like any other year, I am ready for the fresh reality of a new year. It’s a beautiful truth to reflect on the fact that God created us to operate in seasons – from calendar seasons with a new year and even a new day, all the way to personal seasons you walk through as you go about life.
Robbie and I have been praying and chatting a lot about so much lately. There are many things to think and pray through at the moment, and at times, I can feel overwhelmed by that. Have you ever been hanging out with someone, and as you respond to their situation, you find yourself relearning or teaching yourself what you’re communicating to them? That happened to me this past week. In the midst of being overwhelmed, I remembered that these seasons are always worth it because we learn and grow. We navigate life a bit more, learn more about God and ourselves and each other, and we hopefully come out at some point with some victories in the midst of the tired eyes and battle wounds.
When I think about 2017, what comes to mind is the idea of “being intentional”. It’s something that I’ll admit has been a bit challenging for me personally since becoming a mum. I find I can “let life happen” all too quickly, and then suddenly another month has gone by. I want to be more intentional in the day-to-day, in what I am choosing to spend my time doing, in how I engage with the people around me (especially Robbie and Eleanor), and in what I invest my heart and my mind into. I’ve all too often used my “tiredness” as an excuse to give away my time carelessly doing nothing or things that don’t add anything to my life. I don’t necessarily think any of these things are bad in and of themselves, but it’s become my routine. I want to change that and make my hours and days and years count.
I am still forming all my goals or hopes or resolutions (or whatever you want to call them) for this year, and I am allowing myself a little extra time and room to intentionally think them through. I don’t want to let the calendar decide for me, but instead, I am letting it serve as a small reminder to be intentional as I process these things. Stay tuned for more details on some of my goals for 2017, as well as an 18-month update about Eleanor.
I hope you have enjoyed the past couple months of holidays with your friends and family, and I pray you are feeling hopeful for the New Year!
At the beginning of April, I challenged myself to only post to social media if I had used my good camera for the rest of the month. I got a Canon 60D and a 50mm lens about a year and a half ago after several years of taking a photography break. In 2014 I started using the YWAM camera for personal projects on the weekends as I began dabbling in photography again. It was a cool journey, and this time around, I do love the art of photography so much more than the first time around.
Since Eleanor came along, I have done many photo shoots with her. I do one each month to compare the size of her with her little elephant, and I’ve done others with her and different outfits. I have taken my DSLR to the beach with friends and taken a few of their kids here and there. But alas, this camera was still only responsible for about 30% of the photos I was taking. The trusty little iPhone just seemed easier on most occasions.
I was feeling challenged to not just post quality photos on social media but to also use the nice things that I have been given. I’ve read a lot of blogs for quite some time now, and I admire many of the bloggers’ photos. You can tell they take the time to use a nice camera and get the lighting right. They appreciate the quality that a good camera provides.
To make things even easier, for Christmas this past year I got an Eyefi mobi card. An Eyefi mobi card has a wifi component that syncs your camera to your phone directly and loads the photos straight into the app after you’ve taken it. It makes it pretty simple, and yet I still found myself going to my phone.
Which brings me to today – after a month of my photo challenge. I knew I wanted to continue posting to social media if for no other reason than to keep family and friends included in our journey halfway around the world. I knew I wanted to use my good camera more in the everyday, to learn to take it with me when I am out and about so I have the option to use it rather than just my phone. I also knew I wanted to continue learning about photography, which taking photos in the everyday is a great place to expand that learning because there is a lot of variety in your everyday scenarios.
Needless to say I loved it. I posted 21 quality photos from the past several weeks of Eleanor, Robbie, friends, Australia…of life. Not that I don’t cherish all my photos, iPhone or not, but there is something special about the time and quality of these photos. I feel challenged to continue using my good camera in the everyday. I feel challenged to continue growing and learning about this hobby, and I feel challenged to keep posting quality in the midst of an ever-growing barrage of content on social media these days. So maybe I won’t post every.single.photo from my DSLR, but I feel challenged to stop and ask myself, “Why aren’t you using your good camera right now?” To challenge myself to be slow to post and to think about what I am saying, not just in my descriptions, but in the photo. After all, “a picture is worth a 1000 words” right?
Here are some photos from the last month…