A Life Contrary

living a life out of the ordinary

Archive for the month “April, 2016”

In Which We Discuss All The Books

Well, I didn’t exactly get a book report done for March.  There’s a good reason for that.  I didn’t read anything other than Scripture in March.  One of my Lenten goals was to read through the gospels.  I decided to take that and read nothing but the gospels for most of Lent.

So, since I don’t have much to report of what I have read, I thought I’d give a quick update of what I’ve been reading.

I know that I should be reading things off my 2016 book list, but there are just so many books and so little time!  I5 Habits have decided to give audiobooks a try for more than just long distance trips.  I’m currently listening to 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit by Nicki Koziarz.  It was picked to be a bit of an experiment and see how well I would retain the information with only listening in bits and pieces.

I’ve learned two things:  I retain more than I thought and I find myself listening more often that just when I’m commuting or in the car.  It may only work for certain books, but I am definitely going to try to keep up on the audiobook thing and see if I can double my reading.  I’ve even started a list on Hoopla of books that I want to listen to.

Loving My Actual Life

I’ve been picked for two new launch teams and I can’t wait to share more about each of those books.  The first is Loving my Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall.  I’ve just downloaded it and hope to get it done soon.  The second I’ll be writing about soon.

Love DoesWhen I Don't Desire GodI also bought Love Does by Bob Goff and When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper.  I haven’t gotten started on these yet (see above), but we’re going to have Chas start Love Does soon and I’ll probably read it with him.

 

I also picked up a copy of Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs at work the other Present Over PerfectLooking for Lovelyday and started to thumb through it.  I got through the introduction and realized that I must read this soon.  Shauna Neiquist’s Present Over Perfect will also be released soon, so chances are, I’ll be grabbing a copy of that, too.

None of the books above were on my 2016 list, but if you’ll remember my list was pretty light for just this reason.  I don’t know that I’ll get to all of these or even those on my list soon, but a girl can dream, right?

So, what are you reading?  What have you read this year that has really stuck with you?  What must I add to my ever growing list?

Quieting the Noise and Listening for Answers

Confession time:  I both love to pray and simultaneously don’t do it nearly often enough.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like to talk to God while driving or when washing dishes, etc.  Talking is easy.  I do it all.  The.  Time.  That’s why I love it.  I can vent to God.  I can tell him all my troubles.  I can share whatever it on my heart without fear.

That isn’t what’s hard.  No, I have much more of a problem with the listening aspect of prayer.  I have trouble being silent and letting God get a word in from time to time.  Did you know that the word translated as prayer in the bible is overwhelming more of a listening than a talking type of prayer?  Around 75% of the time, it is used as listening rather than talking.

Listening.

Sitting still.

Being silent.

These are things that don’t come naturally to me.  Even as I sit here typing away, I keep thinking that I need to turn on some music or have an audiobook or podcast playing in the background.  But this is what God wants.  He wants us to be silent so that we can hear His voice.  Now certainly He can make himself known over the sound of all the noise, but why should He have to do this?  Why can’t I take a little time each day and listen for Him, listen to Him?  Because it is amazing what He has to say.

Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

Often times, we think of God speaking to us in prayer as a call to action.  We pray that He will tell us what to do in a certain situation or give us direction on major life events.  Sometimes we pray for others who are going through something, an illness or loss.  We pray for healing and comfort.  We pray for all kinds of things.  But do we listen, too?  Do we wait to hear what God has to say?

God answers our prayers in a great many ways.  Sometimes He uses signs.  For example, my pastor was trying to discern whether or not to start a sermon series on Philippians when several things began to come together culminating with a guy coming into the bank where he worked had on a Philippians 4:4 tee shirt:  Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice!

Sometimes God answers our prayer with Scripture.  A friend shared last week that she’d been praying for God to show her how to work through a grieving process when she was shown Romans 12:1-2 and knew immediately that she needed to start renewing her mind and begin to change her thoughts so she’d be more in line with God than with her grief.

Other times, God can answer prayers by simply having a friend send a cookie through the mail.  And you receive it just after having the worst day ever and needing a pick-me-up.  (This happened to me a couple weeks ago).

And sometimes, God doesn’t answer our prayers.  At least not immediately or in the way we were expecting.  Sometimes the answer is ‘No’ and we simply don’t recognize it at the time.  It’s hard for us to realize that the God of all Creation may not actually give us the desire of our heart.  It’s even harder for us to realize that sometimes that desire of our heart, isn’t actually what we need.

Regardless of how God shows us the answer to our prayers, or what the answer is, we still have to acknowledge that God does answer prayer.  We just have to be willing to listen to it and listen for it.

 Want to hear more about prayer, or more specifically answered prayer?  Check out the link up at Mrs. Disciple and hear what others are saying.

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Chas, the Crooked, Little Redbud Tree

Once upon a time, there was a little redbud tree that was planted by a bird at the edge of a farm.   Also on the edge of the farm, there was an apple tree and a cedar.  The cedar had been there for a couple decades and was already getting big and lush with thick needles.  The apple tree had also been there for a while.  She was producing delicious apples and beautiful blossoms.

The redbud was planted there beside the apple and cedar.  It was pretty much a miracle that the seed took at all with the crowd that was around.  But take it did.  And before long it began to grow.  It had to suffer through adversity.  The cedars bulky needles crowded out the sun.  The apple tree’s blossoms created shadows and it’s apples fell dangerously close to the weak little redbud.

But throughout the adversity, the redbud continued to grow, crooking it’s trunk and spreading it’s limbs to reach the light.  Taking its bumps and bruises and suffering the elements.  But still it grew.  It grew taller and thicker and persevered.  Each spring it’s pretty, purple blossoms would appear between the cedar and the apple tree.  Each spring it would show it’s beauty despite its circumstances, never once being squashed by the hardships it had to endure.

Until one day a farmer came along.  He saw the struggling redbud and examined it.  Surely this contorted little tree needed to be put out of its misery.  However, as the farmer began to examine the situation, he noticed a problem with the apple and cedar trees.  It turned out that even though they were big and strong, they were unhealthy (it turns out that apple and cedar trees are prone to a particular fungus and will pass it back and forth).

They farmer wasn’t happy, but he knew he had to cut down the cedar and the apple trees.  So, he set about and got them both down.  And when he did, he saw the little, crooked redbud tree still standing, alive and well sprouting his purple blooms.  The farmer realized that the little, crooked redbud tree was the real treasure there.  So he left it and let it bloom and enjoy the sun for the first time unobstructed and free.

  

Houston, We Have Kittens…

Right, so I know that this blog is supposed to have purpose and meaning. I understand that I’m supposed to mainly discuss health and wholeness. But occasionally on this long and twisted journey, something so beautiful happens and I can’t help but want to share.

Our little blind, one-ear runt of a cat, named Bartimaeus had kittens last week!

She’s been preggers for what seems like forever and we’ve honestly been on baby watch for the past 2 weeks. And then last Thursday, our cat that doesn’t know she’s a cat, didn’t come when my husband called. This was so odd that after the third time, he went to search for her.

He was pretty sure he knew where she’d go to give birth and sure enough on the coldest night of the spring, she had holed up in the broken down little shed in our backyard. We’ve actually been waiting to tear it down thinking this might be her birth plan.

Sure enough, she was there. She had given birth to an unknown number and was hiding them and keeping them safe and warm. Nathan went and got a heater and a tarp and covered all the large holes and made sure they’d all have adequate warmth as she took care of them.

Today, he found out that whereas she’d indeed given birth to 3 kittens, only two made it. So, now we’re the proud owners of our little tortie, Bartimaeus, as well as two little gray kittens, who’re still yet unnamed. Though it’s looking more likely that they’ll be called Patience and Defiance (or, Sebastian. We’re still deciding).

What’s going on with you all today? How are you finding your joy?

Five Friday Favorites: Audibles

 

I don’t claim to be a big football fan.  There was a time when I really enjoyed all sports and watched most of them.  Hockey and baseball were always my favorite, but I would watch football with my dad (basketball was never an option).  However, I do have a basic understanding of the audible.

Audible

So, when Mrs. Disciple posted that this week’s linkup would be discussing 5 audibles, I really began to think about my life and times when we have been headed in one direction, ready to execute the play, but before we knew it, an audible had been called and we were heading in a completely different direction.

So, without further ado, here are 5 audibles that have been called in our life:

1.)  Due to several circumstances, it took my husband 10 years to achieve the goal of being a Navy chaplain.  He was called to this work and then had to complete seminary, work through endorsement by a government-recognized entity, and various other hoops that took a decade.  But back in the fall of 2006, he made it and shipped off to the Navy’s Chaplain School in January of 2007.

We embarked on that journey and spent 6 years in that ministry believing that this was the end goal.  We had no clue that God had other plans.  At the end of those 6 years, my husband told me that he believed that God was leading him to leave the chaplaincy.  Stubborn to a fault, I said no.  But after much prayer, I knew this is what God wanted.  It took us a year to put things in place so after 7 years, we left the ministry that took 10 years to get into.  Definitely a change in the play.

 

2.)  The April that our son turned 5, we began to talk about where he would go to school the coming fall.  I knew that my husband’s desire was for us to homeschool, but I also knew that I was no teacher and had no more than a high school education and couple semesters of college.  So once again, I said no (don’t worry this isn’t a theme).  It took a lot of grace from my husband, but we decided to put him in a small church run school.  We were blessed to find amazing schools each place we moved with the military and the discussion never really came up again.

However, toward the end of our time with the Navy, Chas was in a school that was less than ideal.  God used this to break my heart of its hardness and stubbornness toward homeschooling.  Even though we found a great school to finish out our time there, He had planted a seed so that once we left the military; I knew that we were supposed to homeschool our son.  It has been challenging and difficult, but I can’t deny that this change in the play wasn’t just necessary, it was blessed.

 

3.)  I never really had an answer to the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  I wanted to be a great many things but never enough to actually follow through and do them.  So I did what most 18-year olds do – I went to college without a clue and an undecided major.  I had thought about journalism or mass media as a safe bet, but criminal justice was what I was actually working toward when this audible was called in the form of a young sailor that entered my life during my first semester of college.

Married at 19, baby at 20, and moving from Missouri to California was not the play that I had set up, but God changed it up and I can’t imagine things being any different now.  It’s been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

 

4.)  As stated in #3, I left college to follow my sailor around the country.  This required me to leave college, which wasn’t a very big sacrifice considering I had no clue what I really wanted to do anyway.  I was pretty happy with the wife and mother gig so I saw no real rush to go back to school.  Even though the hubs made a promise that I would go back at some point.  But life, right?

So, at 30, I kind of figured that that ship had sailed and I was okay with that.  So imagine my surprise when a random email comes through about an online opportunity and before you know it the play is changed yet again and I’m applying at age 35 to go back to school and finish my bachelor’s degree!

 

5.)  I grew up in a rural, farming area, but we lived in town (of 325 people!) and my father had left farming long before I was born, so even though to most I seemed like a country girl, I was actually more “city.”  At 18, I left rural Missouri and headed to the city for college and never really looked back.  After marrying Nathan, we traversed most of the major cities of the country living in, or just outside, Corpus Christi, TX, Lexington, KY, Nashville, TN, Providence, RI, etc.  The closest we got to country living was the Mojave Desert, but even then we were an hour from Palm Springs, 2-3 hours from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas.

So imagine my surprise to currently be living on a 5-acre farm in Middle Tennessee… and LOVING it!  I will admit that there are several things about country living that I’m still averse to (bugs!), but I’m learning and counting down the days until our little farm is functioning the way we intend.  Who would’ve thought that such a change in the play would actually be so great!

 

What about you?  What audibles have been called in your life?  How has the change in the play affected it for the better or worse?  Head over to Mrs. Disciple to hear what others are saying about the audibles in their life.

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Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner, but Sometimes She’s There Anyway

We’ve all heard that birth order can, and most often does, affect personality, but I hadn’t realized how far reaching this can be.  I’ve always heard friends talk about their kids and how, “she’s definitely a middle child,” or “somehow, I got two first-borns.”

I’ve always been the baby of my family.   Youngest of all the cousins and in my class at school, too!  I hadn’t really thought about how that affected me until the other day when I was standing in the sanctuary after church and my husband, our pastor, and a deacon were talking.  I tried to put my thoughts out there and add to the discussion, but every time I began, it fell on deaf ears.

Later the same day, Nathan and Chas were talking… passionately, in the car and I was trying to interject and be the voice of reason, but in the car with two loud boys, I was just overpowered.

This has always been an issue for me.  I’ve always felt unheard and often that my words don’t matter because of it.  When I am talked over or just plain ignored, it brings back old fears and hurts.  I tend to clam up and it is a major confidence hit.  For years, I would never try to jump into conversations because of that fear.

Not having a voice can be paralyzing.  Even more so when that lack of voice is merely perceived and not real.  It is a tool of the Adversary and shuts up more people, especially women, than we can even imagine.  There are many reasons why we may feel that our voice is silenced.  Most often it is due to hurt or trauma.  I am not one of those.

No, my muteness is of my own making.  This makes it difficult to overcome because there’s really nothing concrete to overcome.  It’s all an abstract idea in my head that makes me believe that my voice isn’t good enough; I’m not good enough.  I’m still working through this.

This blog is one of the main ways that I try to beat this.  Putting my words out there in a medium where they can be heard and my voice is out there.  I still fear having others read them.  I still worry every time I hit publish, but I’m doing it anyway.  I’m trying to push through one blog post at a time.

Whether anyone reads these words or they are just for me, I see triumph each time one is posted.  A sense of accomplishment every time I know that I overcame and pushed through that fear.  Victory at each post that gets published.

And in a world where it is he, who talks loudest, that is heard, I’m learning to value quiet and to truly discern when it is time to speak up and when it is okay to be silent.

Find your voice

How do you use your voice?  What do you do to speak out?

Embarking on a Journey to Find my Passions

I’ve never been one to talk about my passions.  Part of that is the puritanical way in which I was raised (the very word – passion – was definitely NOT part of my vocabulary).  And part of it is the fact that there was literally never much that I was passionate about.

I have always loved to write.  Crafting fictions and poems from my youth, but it was never something that I felt a yearning to do.  It was just something that I always did.

I have always loved music.  I played flute in junior high and whereas I never excelled there was always something great about seeing a piece of music come together.  I’ve also loved listening to music.  Not tied to genre, I definitely like to explore.

Likewise, there are things that I have adamantly avoided, like public speaking or the plague.  I’m not one to get up in front of groups and speak.  I’ve also never really fancied myself a good teacher, which is ironic considering that we now homeschool (more on that in a moment).

I’ve found things that I would describe as my jam (like music) or my happy place (like cooking), but I’ve never really had something that was my thing.  This thing that is mine and that I do and if I don’t do it then I just don’t function.  I’ve never really had a passion before.  Even when going to college, I couldn’t decide on a major or “What I wanted to do when I grew up.”

But the Lord has been bringing me on a journey.  Late last year, He gave me the word ‘Joy’ as my #oneword for 2016.  I hadn’t thought about how all that would play out, but I have been truly trying to seek out joy and learn more about what brings me joy and how to seek it out.

By way of this, I came up with three goals that I want to work on for the year:  Focusing/Meditating on Joy, Running, and Writing/Blogging.  As I set these goals, I realized that writing was part of joy for me.  I realized that writing was more than just something that I liked or enjoyed.  It brought me joy.  It really was a passion!

I’ve since discerned that I have a true passion for women’s ministry.  God broke through my public speaking/teaching barriers when I was at a chapel that needed teachers and I was pretty much it.  I’m still not super confident, but I’ve learned the value of women studying and learning about God and His Word and have submitted myself to doing what needs to be done to accomplish that.

It is still a learning process, but at 35 I’d say that it is about time for me to figure out my passions and actually do something about it.  I’ve got two goals (one is this blog) that I’m actively working toward achieving that coincide with my passions.  Hopefully, I will share these along the way and how God has set these passions in ways that will honor and glorify Him.

Pursuing Passions

What about you?  What are your passions and how are you using those to achieve goals or glorify God?

Five Friday Favorites: Laugh Out Loud

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Life has been super heavy lately.  Perhaps it was the observance of Lent.  Perhaps it was the death throes of winter.  Perhaps it was the abundant stress that seems to be following us around like a dark cloud over our heads.  Regardless of the reason, I will say that it is beyond time for a little bit of levity.

With that in mind, I’m joining up with Mrs. Disciple to bring a few laughs this April Fool’s Day because who couldn’t use a laugh or two?

 

1.)  Jimmy Fallon – Games with Guests

Can I just say that this man consistently brings the funny?  I watched him a little on SNL and caught his previous talk show in bits, but I’d say that he has definitely found his stride on the Tonight Show.  I don’t watch regularly and I rarely watch the guests or performances, but the games!  Seriously, I’ll wait a bit and then hit up You Tube and just binge watch all the games with guests.  A few tend to fall flat depending on the guest (like, Whisper Challenge with Blake Shelton or anything with Kristen Stewart) but there are others (like Nonsense Karaoke with Chris Pratt, Catchphrase with anyone, Egg Russian Roulette) that I will watch over and over.  Perhaps I just have the sense of humor of a 12-year old, but I can’t help it.  He gets me EVERY. TIME.

 

2.) Relevant Magazine – Relevant Podcast

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m more of an “Oh, that’s funny,” type person rather than a Laugh Out Loud person.  It takes a LOT to actually make me laugh.  This podcast does it on the reg.  I cannot think of a time when I have not just cracked a smile, but actually laughed, loudly and often.  Cameron Strang, Eddie Kaufholz, Jesse Carey, Jeremiah Dunlap, and a steady rotation of Shauna Niequest, Joy Eggerichs Reed, and Tiffany Brunson deliver every week.  True to form, there are some weeks that are funnier than others, but after having listened for over a year (and binge listening older episodes), I can say that there hasn’t been a show yet that hasn’t garnered a chuckle or guffaw.  Bonus:  Interesting and informative interviews with authors, musicians, theologians, actors, and more (but we know what’s really up).

3.)  This Knock-Knock Joke (best if read out loud or used on another person):

Knock-Knock

Who’s there?

A Little Old Lady

A Little Old Lady who?

I didn’t know you could yodel?

 

4.) Puns and Dad jokes

Yeah, I can’t help it.  I love a good pun.  There’s something about the more intellectual ones that just send me over the edge. And I feel that Dad jokes just fall into the same category.  There are so many good ones out there and with the ability to search for funny things on the internet, it’s hard to find new ones, but they are out there.  Here’s a great way to stay on top of all things punny:

Pun of the Day

 

5.)  Cat Videos.

Let’s just be honest, there’s a reason why cats rule the internet.  They are funny.  Look!  That cat just fell off a table!  This one is walking like Nosferatu.  That one was scared by a dog!  Seriously a friend posted a video of a cat attacking green apples on a bed.  I watched it 3 times.  There’s just something about those silly felines that get me and I think most of humanity.  It may be the best test on how to tell if someone is a sociopath.

What about you?  What makes you laugh out loud?  Head over to Mrs. Disciple to get a few laughs today.

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