One of the practices I have most enjoyed over the last few months has been keeping track of what I am learning. The idea came from this post by Emily P. Freeman, and I’ve found that the discipline of writing down the things I am learning as I learn them has encouraged me to pay closer attention to my life. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned this spring!
1. All experiences - grief, joy, suffering - are object lessons for the glory of God
Over the last twelve weeks, I took part in a writing mentorship led by one of my favorite writers, Lore Wilbert. One of the most pivotal moments for me in the course was during a one-on-one call with Lore when she explained that all experiences - grief, joy, suffering - are object lessons for the glory of God. This changed how I view so many things in my life and encouraged me to begin this blog. I decided that if I have been given these experiences and the gift of writing, it is not for myself, but to be used for the glory of God, to build up the church, and to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ. I learned so many other things in the course, but this was by far the most pivotal.
2. The difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy
Something I have been studying over the last few months after listening to this sermon from The Village Church is the difference between orthodoxy (right knowledge) and orthopraxy (right practice or action.) One of the things I have learned is that in scripture God reserves his harshest judgment for those with right belief and wrong practice - those who know what is right but don’t walk in it. This has challenged my thinking and how I practice faithfulness in my daily life, and having the language to describe these two ideas has been so helpful.
3. I can quit a book (and Audible will let me return it!)
In early March I started listening to this audiobook that turned out to be a terrible choice for the season I was in. It was nothing against the book or the writer; in fact, the reason I started listening was because of the raving reviews of a few writers whose book recommendations I really respect. However, it wasn’t for me in this season and that’s okay.
Before this, I had never quit a book without finishing it. It was a source of pride for me, that I could call myself a bonafide book-finisher. It turns out though, I can quit a book and be better for it. In fact, Audible let me return it no questions asked and I used the credit to buy a book that I am currently loving.
4. “Unity is easy if you don't care about holiness, and holiness is easy if you don't care about unity. But the Bible tells us we need both.” N T Wright (verbatim)
In April, Josiah and I had the incredible privilege of meeting, listening to, and even sharing several dinners with one of our favorite authors, N T Wright. At some point in the week, he shared this idea and I have been mulling it over ever since. So much of life is about tension and balance, holding two important things in your mind and heart at one time, and I am learning that unity and holiness fit into that category.
5. I don’t have to commit to a bad mood in order to validate it
I’m not sure when or how the bad mood started, but one evening I found myself irritable for no real reason. After about thirty minutes of being inexplicably angry at everything, I was feeling better, but I thought if I didn’t commit to my bad mood then it wouldn’t be validated. So I stayed mad. Until I realized I really didn’t have to. It seems so simple, and it is, but this realization has allowed me to move on from little bouts of irritation without dragging on for hours and making myself and everyone around me even more miserable.
6. How to make cornbread in a cast iron skillet
One of the most fun things I did this spring was host a family get together with my family and Josiah’s family. We ate pulled pork, baked beans, and this delicious cornbread made from a recipe that stole my heart because it comes straight from Disney World. I made it using my cast iron skillet and it was an instant favorite.
7. How to design and launch a blog
This spring I designed and launched a blog. It has been so exciting and scary and fun, and I can’t wait to continue publishing my writing in this space.
8. The psalms are the school of prayer
There have been many days over the last few months it has felt nearly impossible to pray. Grief and sadness felt overwhelming, and I was thankful for the psalms I could pray when my heart felt weak. Some of my favorites over the last few months have been Psalm 119:1-32; Psalm 143; and Psalm 23.
9. Sephora offers free makeovers and will match your skin tone with different foundations
The evidence of warmer days full of sunshine is a face full of freckles for yours truly. I love my freckles, I really do, but they make the already difficult process of finding a foundation that matches my skin even more of a struggle. As it turns out, Sephora has a wand that magically determines your skin tone and matches you with several foundation options. I just bought this foundation in the shade Birch 1.5 and I am so happy with the way it looks and feels!
10. This quote from Emily P. Freeman has been so helpful for when I am feeling overwhelmed by things that should bring me joy: “Pick what you like then see how it grows.”
One of the things I’ve noticed about grief is it makes even small decisions that should bring joy feel overwhelming to me sometimes. Over the last few months there were a few different situations - a day to myself to spend however I liked, picking out salsa at Walmart, choosing a new color of nail polish, etc - that could have been fun and exciting, but for some reason caused me to feel anxious. This short phrase (which Emily talks about here), “pick what you like then see how it grows,” simplifies what feels stressful in the moment, and brings joy back to fun decisions.