31 Lessons: 10. On Selfishness and Bravery and the Art of Your Life

Wisdom on not fitting in from Scarlet to Maddie on this week’s episode of Nashville (you can find little lessons everywhere, y’all!):

“You know that’s a big part of what makes you an artist. And it’s a blessing, but it’s also a curse because that is what we do: we feel, very deeply, all of the time. But instead of sneaking out or acting up, the best way for people like us to deal with all them feelings is to write them down.”

Wisdom on brave choices from Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes:

God had given me a gift of this time.
My time. My choice. My approach.
Your time. Your choice. Your approach.

What’s that soul thing for you, that God-honoring thing that keeps slipping away because there’s no time to set aside and actually start?…After all, remember the decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul. Those 3.5 hours seem like a reasonable gift right now.

Yikes, I hear the critics’ brakes screeching right here. Right now. They are jumping out of their criticism caravan holding up posters with these verses on them:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:3-7 ESV)

The critics would be wrong to use these verses because Paul wasn’t talking about personal unity but about the unity of the church. Though Paul wasn’t referencing schedules here, I think it’s important to understand this soul thing isn’t about us. It isn’t about selfish ambitions or vain conceits. It’s giving voice to what otherwise just stays a quiet whisper locked inside. It’s about letting out that cry of passion God entrusted to you. It’s about letting it all the way out so as to touch others, help others, and bless others.

To do this soul thing is actually the opposite of selfishness. Keeping it inside with no chance to bless others would be the selfish thing to do. (27-29)

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31 Lessons: 9. Listen

So I took the leap a few weeks ago to do this whole 31 day thing, and I have loved the opportunity to share and connect each day. It has been a life-giving experience for me in so many ways.

But it’s also pretty exhausting.

Before this 31-day series began, you know how many posts existed on this wee wittle blog?

22. Over three and a half years. If I do the math (me doing math is scary), that’s like half a post per month.

So by the time I finish this series, I will have written 31 posts in that same period. That’s a six thousand percent increase. Wowzers!! (And thank you, Google, for helping me figure that out.)

I revived my writing because some days I have so much story in me that I could just burst, and now I have the gift of time as I’m at home raising our son to work on it. Thus, the 31-day challenge became my challenge and, as a former teacher and a lifelong learner, lessons the focus.

An interesting result of this series, though–as I half-wittedly alluded to yesterday (truth be told I was also half asleep!)–is that most days I am overwhelmed by what I don’t know. I’m not so sure whether I’ve been called to tell stories of lessons I’ve learned or whether God is teaching me and shaping me as I try to work on this soul thing of storytelling. A still voice is telling me, it’s both. Some days I don’t know all that I’m supposed to share, but I do feel compelled to keep writing. Some days I also feel compelled to shut up and listen.

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Thankfully, I have a few days away and a chance to do just that: listen, rest, and be still. In the meantime,  I’ll share some of the things and voices that are speaking to my head and heart, and I invite you to listen along.

-pp

In light of the 22 posts that existed before this series? Listen to the words of Proverbs 22 about “thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge.” I promise you that I just discovered this today when counted my posts and went to Proverbs, thinking about lessons and wisdom and seeking the Lord for what to say.

Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the Lord, I have made them known to you today, even to you. Have I not written for you thirty sayings of counsel and knowledge, to make you know what is right and true, that you may give a true answer to those who sent you? (Proverbs 22:17-21 ESV)

And thirty sayings of counsel and wisdom for my thirty-one day series? God, you are so cool. I’m here. I’m still. I’m listening.

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31 Lessons: 8. I’m Still Learning

So I started this whole “31 Days of Lessons” thing, and while I know that I never in one hundred bajillion years thought I knew everything…

Y’all.

Basically I know…not a lot. I am still learning a hundred bajillion lessons. Some serious, some silly. A lot the hard way (sigh).

A few examples:

I am the world’s worst at doing anything ahead of time.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Always pack a snack. (Is anyone else immediately hungry upon getting in your car? Just me?)

Thou shalt not covet.

Ignore your teeth and gums, and they’ll go away.

Ignore your laundry pile, and it will grow at an exponential rate.

Go with your gut.

Wash the dishes before you go to bed.

Puppies and babies are bad for your sweet little hormonal mommy heart.

When you’re debating whether to buy the chocolate, the answer is ALWAYS yes.

Doubt your doubts.

One signature piece you really, really love is always a better investment than ten bargain looks you’ll wear for a season.

There really is such a thing as “too early for Christmas music.” Learning that one just about broke my heart.

Worry never changes anything.

Say YES more often.

Drink more water (the struggle is real!).

….and about a bajillion more.

What about you? What are you still learning? I’d love to know (and probably commiserate)!

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31 Lessons: 7. The Days are Evil

“See, then, exactly how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise, 
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

-Ephesians 5:15-16

I once heard the entire book of Ephesians read aloud at a conference. The part that pierced my heart?

The days are evil.

Boy–in the days of diapers and dishrags and the constant tugs of little hands at my legs or the incessant lures of Instagram or Facebook at my eyes–I know this full well.

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How did I spend the minutes of today?

Today there were groceries and errands and gathering travel necessities.

There was food for the dog.

There was tutoring a student, encouraging a mom, catching up with a friend.

There was a sweet baby with the longest, darkest, most feather-like eyelashes who needed to be rocked to sleep just this time.

There were piles of laundry and sinks of dishes.

There was teaching about smiles, about balloons and fishes, about bye-bye and “sit down!”

There were fifteen minutes of peace and conversation around a meal.

There were quiet moments in the presence and truth of God.

How did I spend the minutes of today? I absolutely did not get everything done.

Yet I hope I chose to spend them lavishly with intention and attention and thanks.

May love absolutely bankrupt my moments each and every day.

That is enough.

-pp

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31 Lessons: 6. A Silver Badge of Courage

I did a little shopping tonight.

I’m a girl who likes clothes.

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And shoes.

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And boots. Mostly boots. (All days, boots.)

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I love putting on beautiful fabrics and interesting little details and the sure footing of a good boot.

But the most important thing that I, personally, need to put on nearly every day, without fail?

Courage.

How many days do I shy away from doing the hard things?

I think our tendency (my tendency) is to spend so much time decorating the outside that we never truly cultivate the inside.

(Preaching to myself here, people.)

I bought this necklace because it was a visual reminder of something I’m trying to cultivate in my own life.

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Have you ever stopped to think about what the things you wear on the outside say about what you’re trying to cultivate on the inside?

Now I’m not so crazy as to believe that wearing my courage on the outside somehow makes it more true on the inside. My actions absolutely must speak louder than my words–even the words emblazoned on my chest for the world to see.

But the thing I’m crazy enough to believe? The outside matters, too. We do have the power to move others by the way we live our lives: the things we do, the things we say, the beauty of our selves and our smiles and our hearts.

Maybe the way you live your life outwardly is the canvas for your artist soul. 

So I’m shopping tonight and the man ringing up my items notices my necklace and asks me about it, asks me why I wear it?

People notice the brushstrokes of your life. Sometimes the last people you’d expect.

If the badge I wear to call up my own bravery bolsters someone else to paint courage into the world, then I’m making art with my life.

We’re all making the world beautiful and bright.

-pp

  My sweet spoon necklace was purchased from the fun and lovely ladies at LTD 7 in Staunton, VA. 
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