Sandpaper and Confetti – What I Learned This Fall

In a span of six days, our family celebrated my son’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and my birthday.

It was fun!

But sprinkled in like jagged scraps of sandpaper amidst the sparkly confetti of celebration, were moments where I became frustrated, grumpy, and rude to my husband and kids.

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One mid-celebration-week morning I was especially rough and scratchy – coarse grit sandpaper. My husband gently brought this to my attention and I couldn’t deny it.

Reality was, my unpleasant exterior was a manifestation of an even more coarse interior; one which had misplaced priorities and purposes.

I was prioritizing performance over people and purposing to achieve for the sake of praise rather than produce from a heart of love. I was grasping for control of the throne of my heart rather than delighting in the One who has given me a new heart.

Sometimes learning isn’t about acquiring new information, but comes from remembering. Remembering what you’ve already learned and know to be true.

And this I know:

The holidays aren’t about celebrating my delicious food or perfectly picked gifts or party planning skills (I’m not saying I’m great at any of these, I just have grand ideals). Celebrations aren’t for me to make or do special things, that maybe, hopefully, will earn me some respect or praise or accolade. This time of year isn’t a stage upon which we all must perform.

I’m learning more and more to receive God as the King of my heart and to stop trying to usurp Him. When He is on the throne, I delight in Him alone; He gets the glory when my skill and effort is bent toward serving others in love.

Maybe we all need to become like the shepherds and wise men of old who came to worship the Christ Child. Maybe we all celebrate best when we bow to the Creator and Savior of the world.

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I want to let what God has revealed to me this past Thanksgiving help me to move forward into the even bigger season of Christmas with a posture of humility and an attitude of praise.

Will you bow your heart to the Lord and celebrate Him with me?


In addition to learning what it means to really celebrate, I’m reflecting on what else I’ve learned this Autumn.

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Here’s my list:

I Need To Be Connected To Nature – Back in September, we experienced layer upon layer of smoke settling into the Mid Willamette Valley due to forest fires. We were told to stay inside as much as possible to avoid the oppressive and dangerous atmosphere. The sky was so filled with smoke that it looked like a thick fog. It was during this time, when it was advisable to withdraw from nature, that I began to ache for even a glimpse of the foothills to the East. Though I’m not a die-hard outdoors woman, I was desperate to dwell in connection with creation – to smell, see, touch, feel, and hear the fingerprint of God all around me. Part of me felt lifeless without it.

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It’s OK Not To Finish That Book – This fall I learned to say no to finishing what I started. I was reading a novel that was entertaining in it’s own way, but lacked the depth and meaning I search for in literature. So, I stopped reading after the first five or six chapters. It’s in my nature to finish what I’ve started, so this was a difficult decision to make, but in the end I’m glad I did. Saying no to finishing an uninspiring book allowed me to say yes to more meaningful uses of my reading time.

Names – I’ve learned names galore this season! Three months we’ve lived in our new community and I still have more names to learn. The beautiful thing about all these new names is the story which lies behind each life that name represents. I’ve met so many precious people already and look forward to encountering many more!


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It’s interesting as I consider my list of learning to realize that all of it has come partnered with something difficult or unpleasant. The smoke was yucky. Moving is hard. Quitting is against my nature. And it took God revealing some ugliness in my heart for me to learn a bit more how to walk in His ways.

It’s a good reminder that what seems bad or uncomfortable may be the very thing that is bringing about beauty and growth in our lives.

If you’ve been encouraged by reading my list, you may enjoy reading what other bloggers are learning and sharing on Emily P. Freeman’s website.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and maybe learned something along the way. On this last day of November, maybe you can take a few moment to reflect too.

God bless you with His Peace this Christmas season!

Summer Learnin’

I gave up watering my hanging baskets a few days ago. August is positively crispy, and my once a day dousing isn’t helping my blooms to thrive. So, goodbye bubblegum pink and midnight purple Petunias. Farewell, sunset orange African Daisies and verdant cascading Wandering Jew. Until next spring!

As our family is transitioning to a new city and school begins and Bible studies start and routines settle in, it’s easy for me to discard the summer like I did my flowers and get wrapped up in what is to come.

That’s exactly why I need to stop. To remember. To consider past growth before I look forward to future growth.

I had a science teacher in High School who made us all keep a journal of something new we learned each and every day. At the time, it was a drag to have to stop and consider and recall information. But, maturity brings a new appreciation for taking time to celebrate growth.

I’m so thankful we all continue to learn; it’s a reminder that God is not finished with any of us.

So, here are a few things I’ve learned over the summer:

The History of National Doughnut Day

I didn’t actually eat a doughnut on National Doughnut Day this past June, but I did learn what it is all about. And it’s not just about consuming those doughy delicious delights. There’s actually a connection to WWI and the Salvation Army. You can learn more here.

That’s Awkward

For so long I blamed any relational awkwardness I experienced on myself. I figured I just wasn’t ‘in the know’ concerning interpersonal interactions. But I finally realized the truth: every single one of us is awkward in our own way. Do you know how much of a relief this is to me?!?! I don’t have to take all the blame or responsibility for awkward situations! I can just embrace them for what they are, and maybe end up having a good laugh when all is said and done.

I’m awkward, and you are too. And it’s just great!

Also, isn’t the spelling of awkward super awkward? 🙂

My Humor Tank

My brother and sister-in-law came all the way from Delaware to visit us West Coasters this summer. They are two of the goofiest people I know – and I love it! But. Having them around made me realize that I have a ‘humor tank’ and once it’s empty, I’m pooped. Physically and mentally worn out. Has anyone else experienced this??

Enthusiasm

Did you know that the word enthusiasm comes from two Greek words which translate ‘in God’? I feel like there is some great nugget of spiritual truth here, still mulling it over though.

Fig Tree and Ficus

We’re considering planting a fig tree in our new yard. As I’ve researched it a bit, I learned a fig tree and ficus are the same thing.

Preachers are Artists

The longer I live with my pastor-husband, the more I believe that preachers are artists and they would do well to consider themselves so. They arrange words just so in order to paint pictures in our minds through their stories, and persuade us to action through conveying God’s truth. I can also attest to the fact that they are completely mentally and emotionally exhausted when all is said and done.

Have you thanked your pastor lately for all he pours into his preaching?

Writing Reflects My Inner Health

The amount of ink on page is a fairly accurate litmus test for the state of my soul. When my thoughts and feelings don’t come out through writing, it usually means I am stuffing or ignoring my emotions. This is not healthy for any of us.


There you have it! A few things I learned over the summer. What about you? What have you been learning? I’d love to hear!

If you’d like to read more about what other people having been learning over the summer, head over to Emily P. Freeman’s website – it’s where “What We Learned” was birthed! I know you will be encouraged by her honest and gentle writing.

God Bless!

What I Learned

It’s been a season of relative internet silence for me. Fewer visits to social media, and even fewer blog posts. Nothing is wrong. But I find it’s in the seasons of deep internal work that I’m externally more quiet. The more inner energy I am experiencing, the less I desire to get caught up in the external. I haven’t decided if this is good or bad or if it just is. Probably just is.

This is one reason I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned over the last six months rather than the last quarter.

Also, I’ve sorted what I’m learning into categories this time around. It helps me make more sense of what’s going on in and around me. I hope you find this list interesting and that maybe you will consider thinking about what you’ve been learning too!

Maker Skills – I mentioned in my last ‘What I Learned’ post that I was reminded that I am creative, no matter how often I tell myself I’m not. So here are a few of my new ventures in creativity!

  1. Pyrography (also known as wood burning) – I caught a glimpse of this art and was immediately enraptured by the idea. I bought a cheap wood burning device from Amazon and just dove in. I’ve got a lot to learn, and don’t get to do it super frequently, but here’s what I love about burning wood: 1. There is something appealing to me about the permanence – once the wood has been burned, there is no erasing – so it takes thought and care before setting element to wood. 2. I’m captivated by the smell. The aroma arouses in me feelings of comfort, of being surrounded in a warm hug almost. Maybe the smell brings back good memories of campfires or something; whatever it is, I love it. 3. The naturalist in me prefers this close-to-nature sort of art. Wood plus heat equals art. Nothing artificial. I suppose this is important to me because it’s what I desire to be as a person. It’s what I value.34188211213_ab2def2d89_oI made these little plaques for a few of the moms in my life this year. I byproduct of learning wood burning is that I’m also learning more about lettering.
  2. Crochet – I tried to get into knitting many years ago, but carpal tunnel syndrome made it a no go. I had surgery, but never gave it a try again until this winter. My husband went to Guatemala in January and was gathering as many hygiene supplies as possible to take and give away. I have  bunch of yarn so I figured I’d knit some wash cloths. Then I remembered people saying crochet was easier so I picked up a few hooks at the craft store and looked up some youtube videos and voila, I was crocheting! Yes, it is much easier than knitting. So far I’ve made a baby blanket, some boot cuffs, and several pairs of slippers. It’s a great craft for those rainy PNW winters when life is spent mostly indoors, but now that it’s warming up my hands are busier in the garden than in the yarn. It’s definitely a skill I’d like to continue to learn though.
  3. How to build a bench. So my husband and I decided to build a bench together (with my dad’s help). We picked out a beautiful piece of Maple and are working on giving it a new purpose. At this point, the legs are built and the top has been cut, routered, sanded, and has one coat of polyurathane. We didn’t stain it; just wanted the natural beauty to shine through – again with the natural! We’re hoping to have it all put together within a week or two.

Tent Dwelling – Our lives here on planet earth are literally wrapped up in flesh. And this flesh is sometimes mystifying and frustrating….

  1. Sight – My third born was diagnosed with some vision problems in April and I’m learning a whole new vocabulary to go along with it. She has saccadic eye movement dysfunction, convergence insufficiency, hypertmetropia, and mild dyseidesia. I had never heard these words before. In short, her eyes are not working the way they are supposed to and it’s inhibiting her reading, writing, learning and fine motor skills. The good news is that with therapy the prognosis is very positive. She starts therapy on Friday and I’ve been warned that it can be a particularly difficult process. I’m trusting that through it all God has valuable lessons He will teach my daughter, my husband, and me. Prayers appreciated!34610099410_3a05b2d408_oSweet Girl!
  2. Shingles – Did you know that more and more thirty-somethings are getting shingles these days? My husband had them a year ago and I had them in January. Fortunately ours were fairly mild – still very uncomfortable though. Apparently, since our kids’ generation are getting vaccinated for the chicken pox, us adults aren’t getting our natural ‘booster’ by being exposed to the younger kids when they have the pox. Isn’t it all just so strange and perplexing sometimes!? There’s not a lot that can be done once you’ve got shingles, but I did learn about a suplement called L-lysine that’s supposed to help. I gave it a try and it seemed to quicken the healing process. So there’s a little tidbit if you’re ever in the same boat.

Inner Work – These are the happenings of the unseen parts of me. A brief look into a couple of those deep inner workings I mentioned above.

  1. Living in the Middle, instead of wishing for the End. Give me a good story and I’m a happy camper; especially when it all comes to a nice, tidy, happy end. If only that were real life. I want to be at the end of my story, where life makes sense and the hard parts have been endured and everything is as it should be. But that’s not realistic. So I’m trying instead to view myself in the Middle. The plot of life is still unfolding. I’m still learning and growing. The villain of pain and suffering hasn’t yet been completely defeated. The Author and Finisher of my faith is still building momentum in the story line of my life, working to a climax and an end. An end that He’s given me beautiful glimpses of which leave my soul aching with longing. But here I am in the middle. This is where the Author sees fit to place me. And I trust the Author. In the Middle I’ll stay.
  2. “Sacred Pathways,” by Gary Thomas has been a recent breath of fresh air for my soul. The subtitle to his book is ‘Discover Your Soul’s Path to Go.’ The idea is that all of us approach God, enjoy God, and are refreshed and renewed by God in different ways. We relate to God and draw near to Him in unique ways. Gary Thomas outlines nine ‘spiritual temperament’ and provides insight from the Bible and history and his research into how we can participate in our walk with God in these different ways. Turns out I am an Ascetic, Contemplative, and Intellectual. Beyond understanding myself better, this book has also been a great encouragement to remember that we all connect with God in different ways and that’s ok! I’m probably most excited to practice some of his suggestions for each temperament with our family so that we can expose our kids to different ways they might connect with God. If you’re seeking to grow closer to your Creator, I highly recommend this book!
  3. In Marriage, ‘ok’ isn’t always ‘ok.’ I may share more about this later on down the road. What I can say at this point is that though my husband and I have a committed marriage and desire to be honoring to the Lord, we’ve had a wake-up call in the last couple months to the destructive, yet oh so subtle, behaviors we both bring to the table. Thank God that He brought some things to our attention when He did! We’ve been reading some books together that are bringing us closer together and helping us understand each other better than we did before. I’ll share those later too.
  4. Why I write. You may have noticed that I’m posting to a new site today. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past several months about my motivations for writing. And I think I’ve been through a crucible in a way – a time of purifying of motivations and clarifying of purpose. So this is my new internet home. It’s still under construction, so be patient with me. But I’m not in a rush. I will no longer be blogging at kimplexity (though everything I’ve posted in the past is still there if you’re interested). I’m Aiming At Heaven.

The World Around Us – It’s a marvelous place, this world we live in. I love learning more about it!

1. There is a lonely cluster of islands in the North Atlantic called the Faeroe Islands. Situated between Norway and Iceland, these sparsely inhabited islands display the rugged beauty of God’s handiwork (at least from what I could see through my TV screen). If I could travel anywhere in the world right now, it would be to Norway and surrounding areas. I have Norwegian heritage and am a fan of the composer Greig. This area of the world seems to call my name.

Just Stunning!!

2. Hygge. I’ve heard several different pronunciations of this word so I’m still not exactly sure how to say it. But the concept, as far as I understand it, of a Thanksgiving type atmosphere is very appealing. I’ve just scratched the surface of this idea and hope to learn more by the next What I Learned post!

So there you have it. A smattering of the things I’ve been learning over these past six months. Isn’t it fun to learn? I think so!

Please stay and explore my new sight a bit. If you’d like to get an email when I publish a new post you can sign up below.

Also, if you’re interested in what some other lovely people are learning, check out emilypfreeman.com. Emily does a quarterly link up that encourages us to look back and remember how we’ve grown.

Thanks and God Bless!