It’s All In The Past

It’s All In The Past

Stories. They’re so important, aren’t they?

Here are four I’ve heard in the past couple weeks. They are all about COVID and specifically the vaccine, but they could be about anything. 

1. Sarah*  has a child who suffers from asthma. Avoiding a virus that seems to attack the lungs, she chose to wear masks and get the vaccine as soon as it was available. After spending a year keeping her family as protected as possible, the vaccine was a welcome relief.

2. Elsie** lost her sister to cancer, due to a drug her mother took when pregnant with her (DES by Lilly Pharm, which she took after multiple miscarriages, hoping she could carry a healthy baby to term). So the thought of a vaccine still in its trial stages sounded dangerous at best: hadn’t the “experts” convinced her mother that DES was perfectly safe too?

3. Jeanne** grew up in the age of Polio and became a nurse. She saw vaccines as the most straight-forward way to rid the world of dangerous diseases. Her blood boiled at the thought of people choosing not to vaccinate,  because they were putting themselves and everyone else at risk “because someone told them the vaccines might be dangerous.”

4. Laura** has an autoimmune disease. Knowing something “triggered” her body into fighting itself, but not knowing yet what that trigger was, she’s resistant to taking a vaccine whose sole point is to attack specific cells in the body: what if it decided another part of HER body was the thing it was created to attack? It had happened once already…

*name changed because she thought it would be cool to have a code name

 **changed their names too, because it’s fun!

These stories are all real. 

They all help explain why each decides what they do about whether or not to get the COVID vaccine.

And, if they don’t know another person’s story, why they would think that it was crazy to have any other conclusion than the one they themselves came to.

 

What if we’re all right?

What if everyone you see is doing the best they can with the information they have, but more importantly, with the backstory they carry with them?

How would that change things? 

And it’s not just about the vaccine, or about COVID.

It’s also about:

-why people choose to go into debt to go to a private college…

-what makes people choose the faith they align with…

-how we approach our diet

-who we vote for (and at least as important: who we vote against!)

-and just about everything I can think of.

What does it all mean?

It means we recognize things as true because they align with our experiences. When we hear something that resonates, we are a million times more likely to add it to our arsenal. When we come across something that doesn’t match our previous experiences, we throw it out as wrong/stupid/a conspiracy theory/ignorant.

The term for this is confirmation bias, and a quick Google search shows article after article about how dangerous it is to live only listening to sources that agree with how we already think.

When we are bombarded with people saying something that doesn’t match our experiences, it’s overwhelming. It makes us angry or anxious, and it doesn’t take long scrolling through social media to see that this ends with people sharing memes confirming their beliefs and often bashing the alternatives.

I feel like we need to take a step back and recognize that we all see the world differently. Because of our different histories, our tendency is to continue to focus on the things that fit in with our views.

Pushing past our comfort zone, spending time listening respectfully to those who have a different experience and conclusion, is a difficult but powerful way to start feeling more connected. We need to feel like a community again, not fragments who barely tolerate each other.

It’s hard. Being face-to-face with someone who feels passionately the opposite way I do is super tough. But I have made meaningful connections when I have done this, and that’s a million times better than the momentary feeling of victory when I stood my ground and spoke against what the other person was saying. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts! [email protected] or comment on Facebook And feel free to subscribe by going here and signing up! I blog about once a month (or as inspiration strikes), and I will never EVER do anything with your email address.

But I don’t want to go there!

But I don’t want to go there!

What do we KNOW about Noah building the ark?

“Build a large boat from cypress wood,” and then God gave him some dimensions.

 

  

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Gen 6:22 NLT)

Now imagine you’re Noah. Which of the following sounds more exciting to you?

 1. You live in the desert. You’ve never seen a boat, and probably have never visited a body of water. You have to grow the trees before you can build the  boat, which is why it took 140 years. What a faith-building experience, right?

2. You live near a large body of water and you spent years watching the ships come and go. Maybe you even watched or apprenticed under ship builders.

These are both hypotheses I’ve heard in the past. One is an amazing faith walk, so that’s gotta be what happened right?

Perhaps. But maybe, just maybe, God gives us paths that aren’t actually that big a jump from our normal interests and strengths. And, most importantly, he can birth new passions in us.

My pastor talked about being afraid as a teen to fully submit to God’s will because he was worried he’d have to go to China, where he was sure he’d be martyred. Three years later, the Lord changed his heart and he felt like James Bond, smuggling Bibles into mainland China.

I, on the other hand, have always loved the idea of other countries, and I got to spend 2 years teaching music in Istanbul. Two years doing something I was trained to do, in a place I loved with the kindest people and the best food. Getting paid to do it. 

 

Sometimes God does need to correct our thinking to use us in the ways he has planned. Sometimes it does feel like our use of the word “never” is a challenge for him to knock us down a few pegs.

But I think more often than not, he wants to use the passions, gifts, and training we have already. 

Example: this blog. I’ve enjoyed writing for…pretty much forever. (just don’t ask to see the stories I wrote as a child. They all featured Strawberry Shortcake or Donald Duck. They were good if you need something to put you to sleep.) Letting God use the writing passion in order to speak to others is a natural step. It’s still scary and a step of faith because putting things “out there” that have been on my heart is vulnerable. But it feels good because I’m hearing from others that these topics resonate with them, too.

So if you’ve been hesitant to let God’s will be done in your life, no strings attached….don’t be. Don’t worry. He’ll use you in the way he made you, and he’ll add passions or interests where needed. 

He is a GOOD father. That means he wants to see you thrive, while at the same time bring you closer to him and use you to bring others to him. But he wants to use YOU in the way he made you. He doesn’t need a million Billy Grahams or Mother Teresas. He needed both of them, and he needs you for the unique contribution you bring to the world.

 

So what do you think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts! [email protected]

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Church Talk

Church Talk

My parents witnessed a traumatic church split when I was a baby (half the congregation walked out mid-service).

After that, my dad paid a lot more attention to the Spirit and left situations before they got to that point.

I have done the same, recognizing that the church I was going to was no longer the same place I started at. 

For someone who is fiercely loyal, I’m grateful that I’ve learned from my parents and left when the church was no longer where we belonged. 

 

But how do I know it’s time to go? How can I discern between frustrations to fight through and problems that are roadblocks?

 

Here is what I feel about my current church, and how I feel people should feel about the church where they choose to put down roots.

 

  • I feel connected (I know I need to do my part, but in past churches that still didn’t guarantee I felt that connection)
  • I agree with the direction my church is going.
  • The way the church interprets the scriptures resonates with me.
  • Thinking about church fills my heart with joy.
  • The leadership is strong but not unbending. (I don’t want to feel like the pastor is bowing to the whims of society, but there is a scary control that some pastors can obtain)
  • The church values faith over fear. The pandemic has made this abundantly clear.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! [email protected] or comment on Facebook And feel free to subscribe by going here and signing up! I blog about once a month (or as inspiration strikes), and I will never EVER do anything with your email address.

 

Comfort versus Improvement

Comfort versus Improvement

We all long for comfort. 

Even more than improvement, subconsciously we want consistency.

So we put up with “less than” in favor of familiar.

When I read books, watch movies, etc, I see life change and I know the character longs for the “good ol’ days.” Because that’s what I want for myself. I imagine how peaceful life felt before the craziness of the story started.

 

But the thing about the story I watch or read: the ending is what matters.

Even if is has a tragic ending, the character grew, usually learning some important lessons in the process.

 

 

 

  

I think that’s why we watch and read–we want to know that WE will learn and grow, too. Since our lives seem to change more gradually, others’ stories give us the confidence that we’ll get there too. 

 

And then we go back to fighting the change.
Putting up with comfortable imperfection.

 To some extent we have to do that. If we got a new ____ (job/house/partner/church) every time we saw something we didn’t like, we’d be a mess. We aren’t supposed to be a potted plant: we need to put down roots. It’s an important part of life to know how to work through discomfort. Tenacity is an excellent characteristic that will take you far.

But there are so many times we feel a nudge to move on…and we ignore it. We stay in a dead-end job, telling ourselves at least it pays the bills. We go to a church we no longer feel connected to, purely because we know so many people there. 

I fluctuate between the two. Sometimes I cling to the familiar too long, and other times I jump into the next thing.  And at times I do both simultaneously. (case in point: when I married Josh, suddenly I found myself living in a new city, with a new name, a new job, and a whole new pattern of life. I held onto the junker of a car I was driving, purely because I needed something that felt familiar. After a couple months, I was ready to let go of that car, but it was my little piece of security while I made so many changes in my life). 

Do you agree? Do you tend to hold onto the familiar or jump into the new, or are you like me that it’s somewhere in the middle? Any inspiration or encouragement for people who feel like maybe it’s time to make a change, but it’s a scary prospect? Join the Facebook conversation here.

Or if you’d like to write to me directly, I’d love to hear your  thoughts! [email protected]

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Heading into the New Year

Heading into the New Year

Heading into the New Year

Just like pretty much everyone else, this year has been just a little rocky. At times it felt like all I could hope for was to survive. Even though I had been homeschooling since 2010 so in a lot of ways life didn’t change that much, at the same time nothing was the same.

…No dance classes (or running the front desk at the studio!)

…No going to church,

…The stress of wearing a mask and distancing myself from others whenever we went out in public

…No opportunity to go to Disney…

Right now, looking at 2021 with high hopes, it’s also making me look back at 2020 a little more analytically. 

It feels like this past year we were all cocoons. From what I’ve read, caterpillars become basically mush before becoming a butterfly. More than just a transformation, the middle stage is a mess. “Caterpillar soup.”

And that, more than anything else, sums up 2020. 

Looking ahead, I get a glimpse of coming alive. Like 2021 is a year of blooming. Blossoming. 

And I’m taking that idea and embracing it. 

To me, this means becoming more confident in who I am. Being less embarrassed about the things that make me different, and sharing the things that I can use to bless others.

It also means I’m going to take things that are in process, like the book I wrote 3 years ago, and put in the hard work to get it ready to publish. It does no good sitting on my computer! 

I’ve been focusing on my health since I first got the Hashimoto’s diagnosis in August 2019, and this year I’m going to continue to dig deeper into what else I need to do to get it fully into remission. 

These are all things I can do, no matter what new rules come or old rules get removed (thinking about mask requirements and the various other things we’ve seen happen this past year). 

What will you do this year? What is within your control? How will you help yourself blossom this year, no matter what curveballs 2021 throws at us? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Writing

Writing

Did you know that I write?

More than just for this blog, I have actually written a couple novels!

In 2015 I started participating in NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. (that’s 1,667 words a day). 

I’ve “won” twice and gave up on a third novel (because it was boring ME to tears). This is my fourth attempt and I’m not anywhere close to giving up on this story.

 

One of the books is actually on Amazon! You can see it here:

 

This is an affiliate link: Not only will I get royalties from the book selling, but I’ll ALSO get an affiliate commission. **happy dance** (ha! That’s like an extra three cents!)

 

 

I’m actually procrastinating from starting chapter 7 by writing this post. Shhhh don’t tell anyone!

I can’t wait to see how the story ends. This book is a Chick Lit style novel, and it’s pretty fun to write so far. 

If you’re interested in my progress, I’m tracking my daily word count here:

https://nanowrimo.org/participants/charmboxstudios

I’m on track to finish before Thanksgiving. Well, finish the 50K words, not the novel. That should be closer to 75K when it’s done, if it’s like a normal book in this genre.

Enough stalling. I’d better get back to my story now… 

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