Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Here's Why I'll Never be a Blogging Rock Star

I have a life.

Simple as that.

A life that sometimes requires being a mom and at other times requires me to be someone else's mom.

(Just kidding about that last one--it's just that my job sometimes feels like I'm about 40 other people's mom.)

A life that requires me to be a wife.

And a friend.

Take this week, for instance. Last Friday, after meeting with 40 students over three days, I, along with my students, officially made it to Fall Break. The relief I felt at 2:00 p.m. Friday afternoon was palpable.

At 2:01 p.m. I switched hats. The "Professor" hat became the "Mom" hat. Just like that.

I didn't even feel a thing!

And for the next four days I was just Mom. Nobody asking me about their Argumentation papers; nobody wanting to hash through their audience; nobody wondering what "choppy" means. I was just, blessedly, Mom.

My two college girls came home for Fall Break, and we had fun doing absolutely nothing. We ate lots of good food; we watched the original "Father of the Bride" movie in the middle of the afternoon (an indulgence, indeed!); we shopped; and we just hung out, enjoying every minute together.

Yesterday the girls went back to school, and I hurried to clean up the house because a dear friend from college was coming to visit. [Fun side note: we were on the same floor our freshman year--that was over 30 years ago! I'm so thankful for our school and the friendships I made there.]

So my friend is here for a couple of days. Tomorrow she leaves, and my freshman year roommate, Jennifer, is coming for the weekend, bringing her darling daughter with her for . . . wait for it . . . her college interview! Hopefully E will be here next year and I can get Jennifer to come visit more often.

[Second fun side note: I'm always telling my girls that they will be friends with their college friends for the rest of their lives. Jen and I are living proof. I sometimes imagine that Jen and I will be old and gray and still getting together, laughing about how silly we were in college. Who follows people on their dates anyway? Who would do such a thing? Seriously.]

Have I mentioned that it's hunting season? B leaves tomorrow for a long weekend away.

Basically, my front door should look more like this:



than this:


I don't mention any of this to complain. I have the gift of hospitality, and I love to use it. It brings me such joy when my house is full of friends and family, especially daughters.

Why I DO mention it is to reaffirm, once again, that blogging, for me, just HAS to take a back seat to real life. Because real life is full. Real life is fun. Yes, real life is hard sometimes, but a blog can't hug you when you need it or smile at you when you walk through the door.

For me, real life is the thing. And while I love blogging and have no plans to stop, I refuse to let it rule me.

And that, dear friends, is why I will never be a blogging rock star.

I obviously won't be around here over the next few days, but please check back next week when I'll have more to say. (Better yet, sign up to receive updates in your email box or reader.) Or, come Monday, I might just go to bed for a while. My students will understand, won't they?

Now tell me. What makes YOU a blogging rock star? Link your favorite post from the past couple of weeks in the comments.

Shelly

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Good Reads

Some recent posts that I've liked, loved, or that have made me think.

The Gift of Time :: Privet and Holly. Suzanne really hits close to home with this post, writing about things that really matter. I love her heart.

Exhaustion is not a status symbol :: The Washington Post. An interview with Brene Brown about her newest book, Daring Greatly, which is on my reading list . . . if I could ever get it in my local library. This message isn't just for people in the workplace; it's just as useful for moms at home.

My Drug & My Defense :: Shana Nyquist. And another post on busyness. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out :: The Blazing Center. This post was criticized a bit this week, but I get what the author was trying to say. It's what I've been trying to say to moms, too.

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You to Run :: The Gospel Coalition. Another take on the above post. I get this one too.

The Key to Good Meetings, Marriages, and Probably Kung-Fu :: Jon Acuff. Be available. Yes. That.

And finally, not having anything to do with the theme of the week, but a post that made me laugh:

America's Slippery Slope into Britishisms :: The New York Times. I'm guilty of a few of these, and so are some people I know.

Happy Sunday!

Shelly

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Letters to My Daughters: Keep Believing


Dear Daughters,

I read this on a blog recently: “In the faith-fueled race of holiness, some days you will run well and some days you will run out of steam.”

I wonder if I’ve ever warned you that this will happen. That some days you’ll be flying high in your faith, so in love with Jesus, and knowing, just knowing, that you’ll be faithful to Him forever.

And then the other days come. When it’s like putting one foot in front of the other, trudging through your faith walk like your boots are made of lead. You wonder how you got here, so little left. You’ll wonder how you’ll get out of it. Or IF you’ll get out of it, this little pit you’ve dug.



Know this, dear girls: you will run out of steam in your journey with Christ. Way back in the 16th century, a monk named St. John of the Cross talked about his “dark night of the soul”—a time in his life when he felt he was having a spiritual crisis.

Novelists have agonized over it; poets have despaired about it. Lives have been triumphant, and lives have been ruined because of each individual’s response to their own “dark night of the soul.”

Have I told you? Following Jesus is hard some days.

Why do you think Scripture addresses it so much? Both the author of Hebrews and the apostle Paul talk about our Christian walk as a race, but it’s not a sprint—it’s more like a marathon. The Bible tells us we need endurance, not just resolve.

I want to encourage you today to endure. Why?

Because He is worth it. First and foremost, following Jesus is about Jesus Himself. He is beauty and wonder and majesty and grace all wrapped into one perfect person. Make Him your life, your entire life, because He is so worth it.

Because your life depends on it. Life lived without Him is not a life, it’s an existence. Sure, you can exist here; you can make money, get married, have children, travel—all that—but not really live. Because without Jesus you have nothing. Own Him and you’ll be worth more than the finest treasure.

Because your children need you to. I know, I know, you don’t have kids. You probably won’t for a while yet. But really, not only your future is at stake here; the future of your children, whenever they come along, depends on whether you keep at it, this faith thing. Have you ever thought of that? So many times I have seen parents decide He’s not worth it—that their own lives or their own happiness is more important than Jesus, and their children suffer. Tremendously. Keep trudging because they need Him, too.

Girls, I have no simple solutions to the hard days because I have them, too. But I want you to know that life is more than following our own passions and desires. In fact, true life, a life worth living, is lived for the sake of another.

On those days when you run out of steam, keep trudging. Keep seeking. Keep praying.

Keep believing.


Shelly

Other "Letters to My Daughters" in this series:


Will you join me? I’d love to have you come along on this adventure. Feel free to follow me via RSS feed or sign up for email updates in the sidebar.

Linking this post to The Parent Hood at Fried Okra. Pop on over there to see other parenting posts!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fabulous Friday Food - Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples

Well, hello, Fall!

And hello, Fab Friday Food!

You know things are bad around here when I haven't written a Fabulous Friday Food post since August. And the one before that was in June.

Just ask my family, that's about how long it's been since I've gotten anything close to creative in the kitchen.

It's sad, really.

Lately my argument has been that I'm still getting used to cooking for three since two of my girls are off at college. Or that it was too hot this summer. Or that I'm busy with teaching.

Yada, yada, yada.

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Lately I've become the Queen of Excuses when it comes to cooking meals.

And all of this is so strange for me because I love to cook. When I have time. When I have ideas. When I have motivation. When the stars are aligned and all's right with the world.

Not really. I DO love to cook. And I have no idea why I haven't been more motivated over these past few months. Let's just call it an anomaly and move on, shall we? I'm good with that.

Moving on . . .

Now it's Fall, and I'm heading toward having just a modicum of motivation. Cooler temps will do that for me.

But I'm starting out slowly--not overdoing it with the cooking thing. (Truly, what have we eaten over the past three months? I have no idea!)

A couple of weeks ago I decided that it really was cool enough to break out one of my favorite Fall/Winter recipes: Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples. (My mouth is watering just typing this.)

Don't think you like brussels sprouts? Neither did my family until I tried this recipe. Now they eat those little babies like candy, and that's pretty much what they taste like.

Here we go.

Preheat the oven to 425 and gather your ingredients: brussels sprouts, bacon, and apple. Easy enough for you yet? (In the interest of full disclosure, you will also need salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.)


Cut three or four slices of bacon into pieces (about 1/2 inch) and place in the bottom of a baking dish.


Bake the bacon for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, trim the brussels sprouts, and cut in half if they seem a little large.


(Yikes! My thumb looks HUGE!)


Once the bacon has cooked a bit, it will look like this.


Add the cleaned and trimmed brussels sprouts to the bacon, and stir it up a bit.


Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake these together for about 15 more minutes. When finished they will look like this:


Now add the apples and bake about 10 minutes longer.


When finished, toss the whole thing with about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.


I could make a meal out of these little yummies, but I served them with my delicious Herb Roasted Pork with New Potatoes.


What a perfect Fall meal!!!

Click here for a printable recipe page. And enjoy!

Now, tell me ('cause I really need to know) . . . would you like more recipes from me? Do you like Fabulous Friday Food? And one more thing . . . what do YOU like to cook in the fall?

Linking this post to Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Reading link up at Serenity Now. 

Shelly

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Homesick



A student came by to see me in my office yesterday. She poked her head inside and said, “You said I could come talk to you about anything, right?”

“Sure. Come on in.”

She sat in the empty chair next to the round table and poured her heart out about how she wasn’t sure she should be here. She talked about how she went home this weekend and had such a good time with her friends, just listening to music and dancing the way they used to. She told me she thinks about leaving school and just going home to be with her friends.

But then she said, “I know God wants me here.” And we talked about that. We talked about how she has a lot to contribute to this campus and how He has clearly led her here. We talked about how things at home wouldn’t be the same, even if she did leave and head back to her old neighborhood.

Things are just different now.

All of a sudden I realized her problem.

She’s been in school a month; the initial excitement has worn off. Classes and rehearsals and dorm life have become mundane, and it’s still a long time until Christmas. 

She’s homesick.

This weekend I attended the wake (that's Midwest for visitation) of an old friend from home--a woman almost as dear to me as my own mother. B and I drove an hour to get there, stood in line for 90 minutes to greet the family for five minutes, then drove the hour home.

It was worth every minute.

But, since then, I keep thinking about home. The town I grew up in was much too small for me; I didn’t fit in there; I knew God wanted me here. And yet, even now, I get homesick.

Homesickness, I’ve heard it described, is sometimes our longing for something we just can’t put our finger on. We know things wouldn’t be better “back there” and yet the here and now isn’t quite right either.

It’s the future we want, the future we long for.

Homesickness isn’t about going back; it’s about going forward. It’s about finding fulfillment in a place that isn’t "here and now" and that isn’t what has already been.

Homesickness is about all of our desires and wishes and wants fulfilled by something or someone who alone can fulfill them. It’s about finding love and acceptance and peace in the arms of someone who gets us completely and loves us still. It’s about longing for something we just can’t get our hands on here, no matter how far we reach.

As I talked to my student I realized, I’m homesick, too.

Are you?
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S. Lewis

Linking to Richella's Grace at Home party. 

Shelly

Thursday, October 4, 2012

October update


Sitting . . . on my back porch listening to the sound of the wind in the trees and the workers tearing out the bathrooms above me (more on that to come).

Reveling . . . in the glory of Fall—my favorite season.

Loving . . . the Fall arrangement next to my front door. I decided to get creative this year, so I moved a metal bench from the back garden to the front, bought lots of pumpkins and mums, and arranged it all semi-artfully (with a little help from Julia). I smile every time I walk in the door!


Thinking . . . about the lecture I heard last night: John Piper on racism. Intriguing.

Reading . . . Piper’s new book, Bloodlines, about racism. And also, the Bible. I’ve (pretty much) finished the Old Testament and moved on to the New Testament this week. (Have I mentioned that I’m reading the Bible through chronologically this year? Fascinating!)

Wondering . . . if I missed much last night since I chose Piper over the debates. (I’m thinking not.)

Feeling . . . thankful for the friends and family that God has placed in my life.

Not believing . . . what I saw at the end of my class yesterday: my daughter wandering in the classroom door just to give me a hug. I am SUCH a lucky mom in so many ways, and having my girls attend college at the same place I teach is just one of them.

Wishing . . . that this girl was still small enough to snuggle on my lap rather than attending her first Homecoming dance. How did she grow up so fast?


Hoping . . . the weather holds out long enough for us to go to the Homecoming game on Saturday. It’s supposed to get nasty. But then again, if it’s not nice, that means we get to stay home in front of the fire and watch it on T.V.

Hmmmmm. I might need to rethink that one.

How about you? What have YOU been up to lately?

Shelly