Liebster Award – Danke Schön!

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The lovely Andrea at Show Love Loud nominated me for a Liebster Award (thanks, lady)! The Liebster is given by newbie bloggers to other newbie bloggers in an effort to spread love and awareness of new sites. I love the idea of gathering around each other in this kind of community to share each others’ stories, so I am honored to accept. In turn have nominated 6 other bloggers, to whom I’ve linked at the bottom of this post. Go show them some love. 

Rules for the Liebster Award Nominees:

  • Thank the blog that nominated you on a post in your blog.
  • Answer the questions asked by the blog that nominated you.
  • Nominate 5-11 other new bloggers.
  • Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
  • Notify all nominees via social media.

And now to answer Andrea’s questions!

What is the number one thing on your “bucket list?”

I don’t really have a bucket list, but I have always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride. I’d also love to go back to Australia with my husband and show him all the sights I fell in love with when I studied there for a semester in 2003.

Do you want to have any (more) kids?

Hmm…we shall see! Considering I’ve spent the last 2+ years pregnant and Baby Boy #2 will join us in 5 weeks, right now the answer is a resounding no. But that could be my aching back and hips talking. Ask me again in a year!

If you could be in any profession and be very successful in it what would it be? (you can’t say blogger!)

Can I say writer? Blogging is great but I’d love to be an author of non-fiction books, most likely memoir. I also have a dream of someday offering workshops on writing to heal, both in-person and online.

What is your favorite animal and why?

Wolf. Independent, fierce, solitary but also strongly devoted to her pack. And they’re so beautiful. Wolves are my spirit animal.

Who inspired you to create your blog?

I’ve been inspired by so many women, and women writers in particular, but the ones who first come to mind are Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery and Addie Zierman of How to Talk Evangelical. I really appreciate how vulnerable they are in their writing and how bold they are about declaring the truth of their stories in the hopes they will reach others who may have experienced similar stories and help them feel less alone.

What’s one thing your reader might not know about you?

I know *some* of my readers know this because they are my friends and family (hi, guys!) but my husband and I just recently learned we are moving to Hawaii in July!

What’s the last thing you read?

The last book I read in its entirety is Addie Zierman’s Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark. On my kindle now is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (before we move, we need to purge BIG TIME!)

If you could live anywhere else where would it be?

If you had asked me this two weeks ago I would have said HAWAII! So I am getting my wish. But I also really, really love Seattle. I miss the market and the Olympics rising over the Sound. Living in Tacoma has been wonderful, but a sunny day in Seattle has a magic that I’ll never truly get over.

What is your favorite scripture/quote?

This is, hands down, my favorite passage in scripture. I’m a big fan of David, of his reckless heart, his treacherous story, and most of all, the way he never stops believing in the grace of his heavenly father. There was a time in my mid-twenties I couldn’t bring myself to crack open the Bible, but I wrote this on a note card and looked at it every day.

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 130:1-12

Name something you could eat every day.

Sushi. Specifically salmon nigiri. It’s hard being pregnant.

Music artist/band that could never do wrong in your eyes (your favorite).

I can’t give a short and simple answer to this question, so here’s a short list of those who make me pretty darn happy: The Dixie Chicks, Natalie Merchant, The Weepies, Stars, Simon & Garfunkle, Adele, Hillsong, Fun!, Our Lady Peace, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, and basically any and all alternative 90’s music.

*

I hereby nominate:

Katie at Just Enough Brave

Cat at The Cathartic Blend

Sarah at Sarah Elizabeth Finch

Amanda at Down Ups Teacups

Shannon at We’ll Eat You Up, We Love You So

Jessica at Keeping Up with the Joneses

Here are my questions for the bloggers I nominated:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. Do you have a writing routine? If so, describe it.
  3. Who inspires your writing?
  4. Do you picture any particular person or people as your audience as you write? What are they like?
  5. What is your idea of the perfect day?
  6. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  7. Pick one: what is the hardest thing or the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you?
  8. What is your go-to self-care routine?
  9. What is your favorite book?
  10. What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
  11. What have you learned about yourself through creating and maintaining your blog?

*

Thanks again to Andrea for the nomination! And special thanks to Jessica at Keeping Up with the Joneses for nominating me at the same time I was nominating her (don’t worry, Jess – you don’t have to answer my questions, too)!

I hope you’ll take the time to read through the blogs of these amazing women – they continue to inspire me each day.

xoxo,

etc

 

What if There is a Life More Beautiful Than I Dreamed?

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I can’t remember a time I didn’t know in my gut I wanted to be a writer, or that just as ardently, I wanted to be a wife and a mother.

Sure, as a child I also thought I might be a ballerina or a taxi driver, but even so, in my imagined future there would always be a pad, pen, husband, and brood of children awaiting my return.

As a child I was also a dreamer, a questioner, and a deep thinker. At three, I wrote my first story (a morality tale), attended my first West End musical (Starlight Express), and engaged in my first theological argument with a playmate while swinging from the tree in his backyard.

My parents often shook their heads, wondering, where did this child come from, but indulged my imagination as I re-enacted musical numbers on my Fisher Price roller skates, expounded on theories of what my stuffed animals did at night while I slept, and asked questions like “What does it feel like to kiss a boy?”

But somewhere along the line I started believing the lie that I couldn’t be fully me, fully in relationship, and fully loved. At some point I decided the only way to survive was to carefully hide the deepest parts of who I am, giving myself and others only glimpses of that creative, imaginative, insightful little girl.

Guess what? I’m tired of hiding. I’m ready to be me.

In November, when we Elevate girls were sending around initial introductions, Molly asked us to respond to the question “Where would you like to see yourself in 14 months?” Here’s what I wrote:

I would like to be writing creatively every day (or at least 5 days of the week). I’d like to have a solid blog with posts that I’m seriously proud of. I’d like to be able to say “I am a writer” and know that there’s substance to back up that claim. I’d like to either be enrolled in a master’s program or know definitively that it’s not the right time to go back to school. I’d also like to have begun a family or be pregnant – but there’s only so much planning we can do for that (yes, yes, the fun is in the trying…)!

In November I felt very clear about what I wanted: to be a writer. To make a decision about grad school. To be a mama.

Fast forward to January at the Elevate retreat, and I’m struggling to really own these dreams.

I have applied to and interviewed for a master’s program in theology, arts, and imagination (that I am so in love with, because it is so me), and I’ve started training for a half marathon in late August, but I’ve thrown the blog idea out the window (I’m still working on my voice!). I’ve pushed pause on the idea of immediately starting a family. Sure – my husband and I still agree to have fun trying, but we have decided the stress of ovulation strips and monthly devastation is taking a toll on our relationship, not to mention my sanity.

The word I claim for 2014 is “Flourish.” To grow, to create, to thrive. I declare I will renew my commitment to creative pursuits, to boldly step out and pursue a theological education, to train myself physically to be strong and fit and in the best shape I’ve ever been. I barely mention my dreams of having a baby.

Two days after the retreat, I’m holed up in a Starbucks bathroom in Laguna Niguel, peeing on a stick, partly because I’m a week late, but mostly because I want to know if it’s safe to drink the bottle of wine I’ve just bought to bring to my best friend’s house where I’ll be staying the next two nights.

And there, in the Starbucks bathroom, I see my future blooming in two very distinct, very bright blue lines.

I call my husband. Laughing. Crying. We’re going to have a baby.

I’m going to be a mama.

A trip to the doctor and I discover our baby will be arriving in September. Just five weeks after that half marathon I’ve been training for.

Well, then.

On Valentine’s Day I get the call telling me I’ve been accepted into the grad school program I’ve dreaming of. I’m in! The director tells me I’m brave and impressive and they want me. They are confident they can learn just as much from me as I can from them. Giddy, my husband and I pour teeny tiny glasses of champagne to celebrate life, love, and the dreams for which we are designed.

But I’m going to be a mama. And the baby is due three weeks after school begins.

So this is where I sit for a good month: fatigued, nauseated, and completely FULL of emotion.

One of the intentions I set for myself this year was to “be humble.” When asked my reason for choosing this way of being, I responded it was because I wanted to have a realistic viewpoint of my capabilities – I don’t want to be puffed up, but I also don’t want to be so deflated I lose confidence. Humility is a personal value I have; it’s also, in my belief, a fruit of the spirit of someone walking closely with God.

After our January retreat I scratched out “be humble” and replaced it with “be strong.”

So now here I am, almost forced into humility – because really, which one of us can ordain the timing of the creation of new life? But I’m also called to be strong – and now it’s not just for me, but for the little life growing inside me.

I’ve always said God has a great sense of humor.

With barely a baby bump, I’m already feeling the need to protect and arm myself in a mother bear fashion, ready for the opinions of others. To some, like my grandma, from the beginning the obvious answer was to keep moving forward:

“Women have been having babies and going to school for decades now. Why should you be different? Don’t give up your dream!”

(Love that woman.)

To others, the obvious answer was that having a baby trumps personal ambition. And honestly, as much respect as I have for women who seem to do and have it all, at first I agreed the latter plan was the best choice for me.

I generally do best with only a few important things in my life – I’m a deep diver, an all-or-nothing introvert who needs time and space to process and practice new things. I always pictured myself as the new mom who holes away for the first few months, learning all there is to know about this new tiny creature who requires so much time, energy, and care.

But then I thought: what if?

What if I could be the mama student with the baby sling and bag full of books? What if I could still pursue all I dreamed of this year? (Okay, with the exception of the half marathon. At 8 months pregnant? No way. Not happening.)

What if I could be an example to my child, showing him or her how important it is to pursue our passions, to get clear on our values, and synchronize our lives with what we know to be real, true, and holy?

What if I could still complete the program in the two years I have left here before my husband and I are relocated?

What if there was some creative option I hadn’t yet imagined?

So I decided to be bold.

I contacted the school and explained my situation. Within a week, I had chatted with my very encouraging admissions counselor and met with a warm and welcoming registrar, who helped me set up what seems to be a manageable schedule.

I enrolled. And I start classes this May.

In one month, I’ll be driving my pregnant self to Seattle three days a week to study theology, art, and imagination, with a personal focus on creative writing. I’ll be getting a head start on the studies I’ll put on hold next fall as I welcome my sweet new baby (to hole up and process and practice to my heart’s content). The plan is to pick those studies right back up where I left them at the beginning of 2015.

But as I’ve been reminded in this season, a lot of life can happen when you’re making plans. As I keep walking forward through 2014, I pray I will do so with an open heart, open mind, and open hands, ready to receive whatever comes next.

Originally appeared on Stratejoy

So, I’m writing a novel…

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Two years ago, at the encouragement of CJ, a lovely young woman at church, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated). CJ, bright-eyed and full of storylines, had already completed her first novel the previous year and was eagerly anticipating November 1 so she could get started on her next one. According to NaNoWriMo rules, she’d have to finish this novel by November 30. CJ who is an excellent writer, was also 16 at the time.  So I thought – oh yeah, I can totally do that.

I can’t over-emphasize how excited this news made my husband. I’m pretty sure he married me because he likes the way I write (notice I didn’t say communicate; verbally I’m the queen of unfinished thoughts, rabbit trails, hand gestures, many tears and exclamation points; our relationship began with written communication and while strangely he does truly love me in my moments of intense, emotional verbal processing, I think he holds my softer written words in a tender spot in his heart). Any chance he has to encourage me to pursue this introspective passion of mine, he takes with full force.

That said, he committed to making sure I was up by 6 am every morning, so I could start writing the 50,000 words required to finish the NaNoWriMo challenge. Please let it be known that I am *not* a morning person, and that cannot be changed,  I don’t care what anyone says – including my husband, who swears you can train yourself to be a morning person (but this is coming from someone who voluntarily signed up for the Army and medical school in one fell swoop. Advice from super heroes must be taken with a grain of salt). Anyway. Husband woke me up at 6 am every morning and for two weeks I sat there at the kitchen table, huddled under a blanket, clutching a coffee mug, hen pecking, word by word… a non-novel.

That’s right. I told my husband I would participate in NaNoWriMo but that I couldn’t possibly write a novel because I only think in non-fiction prose. Ask my husband for a story idea at any given time and he’ll rattle off some brilliant combination of character, location, and conflict. I, on the other hand, will stare at you blankly and say “Um, yes, well. It will be about this woman, in her early thirties, right? Yeah, so she’s had a lot of transitions in her lifetime and she really loves God but she’s often struggling with how to reconcile faith with the world around her and what it means to love Jesus, really…” You get the idea. Perhaps I am a little too self-centered (okay, I know I am, let’s be serious). But I also tend to think that I’ve been given a gift of tying pieces of my life together, of seeing things in a slightly different light, and of finding glimmers of grace in the broken down and sooty bits.

So I really do think that when it comes to writing, my calling is first and foremost to learn how to be better at this. So I committed to writing 50,000 words of non-fiction prose in November of 2011. And… it did. not. happen. After 2 weeks, I gave up. I had little time, little energy, and it was honestly a little annoying (and a bit guilt-inducing) to get all the NaNoWriMo emails encouraging me about my “novel” when a novel was not what I was writing in the slightest.

But.

This year is different. I have more time on my hands, for one. Last time I tried NaNoWriMo I was working full time, was a relatively new bride with boxes to unpack and a new husband-roommate to care for [get used to], and was completely stressed out to the max. Now I have a flexible schedule and several coffee shops in walking distance from my house. Our boxes are all unpacked. My husband is working on plans to transform our garden shed into my very own writing cottage. (Yes. You read that correctly. My husband is making me a writing cottage. Did I win the lottery or what?)

Also, I think I might have a story idea. Just maybe. It may turn out to be absolute crap, but the point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write the most amazing novel in the history of man; the point of NaNoWriMo is to get you writing each day; and to show yourself that it is entirely possible to write 50,000 words. The thought is, you get it all out in the month of November, and then you take the next few months to edit, revise, re-imagine – heck, you can take the next year. Because the crux of it is you’ve shown yourself you can commit to and execute something worth creating.

We’ll see how it goes. But I’m hoping, since I’ve published here that I am committing to the task, you guys will help keep me accountable. Let’s see where we are this time next month, shall we?