Homemaking Career

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Do you ever have a moment where something finally clicks and you get it? Lightbulb! A-ha! Eureka!

I had one of those about three weeks ago: Homemaking is my career.

Now, let me put some flesh on that thought.

I have this weird fatalistic streak that runs deep in my soul. A c’est la vie, or what will be will be, attitude. After years and years of wrestling with it, I’ve realized I twist the sovereignty of God into laziness. Deep down, I believe there are things I can’t do anything about, so I shouldn’t be required to deal with them.

I can be aggressive and self-educating if I am interested in something, but if it overwhelms me, I just shut down. I move whatever it is over into the God’s sovereignty slot. God’s in charge. He’ll have to deal with that. Now it’s not my problem.

Homemaking was one of those things.

For some reason, I believed that as a woman I was a natural homemaker. End of story. It was just something inherent in me like the way my body was shaped. Which meant, I was only as good or bad a homemaker as God had made me. Thus, it wasn’t my responsibility to improve beyond a point. I can work out. I can watch my diet to keep my body healthy. But, I can’t wish myself into being tall and willowy, or that my hair would turn red. The same with being a homemaker. I can cook and clean, but once you move beyond my natural skill, that was it. My husband just needed to learn to be content with what he got and quit pushing me.

God only hands out so many skills, just like there are only so many red heads.

So, instead of looking at Homemaking and Housekeeping as my career in this life, given to me by God, and something I need to be fully engaged and invested in, I looked at homemaking as something that naturally flowed from my fingertips as a human being with a uterus. I didn’t need to read, study, learn, grow, or develop. I just needed to keep plowing forward. As I practiced, I’d get better.

This mindset ended up developing into attitude issues.

Our 10 Year Anniversary as owners of Feminine Fashions Consignment Boutique.

My path as a homemaker wasn’t what I thought it would be. From childhood, my heart’s desire was to be a wife and a mother…and a cowboy. But, instead of getting married and having babies right away, we bought a business. Instead of being at home cooking, growing plants, and surrounding myself with little people, I dived head first into fashion, marketing, customer service, company culture, employees, and all that owning a small business entails. (Don’t think I did this all on my own, please. My husband was the forerunner, leader, and head researcher.) We always talked about how our boutiques were an extension of our home. That’s how I viewed them. But, I didn’t look at homemaking as my career. I still looked at it as something inherent with being female. I didn’t view myself as having a career. I was serving and helping my husband. At no point did I connect in my head the fact that I do have a career, and it’s homemaking.

Then, for lots of reasons, we sold our business, and I came home. I quickly became as busy, or busier than I had been before. I dived headfirst into life. Everything got a yes answer. Conferences, showers, writing lessons, every imaginable event with nieces and nephews, writing groups, and so much more. I had several social events a week, plus all the duties of keeping a home and feeding a family. But things weren’t going well. Instead of studying, learning, and growing as a homemaker, I continued to assume it would just happen, as I gained more experience and practice. I was a women, right?

Even at home now, I didn’t see this as my career. I didn’t want a career, unless it was as a writer. I wanted to be a stay at home wife. I never linked them. *Insert face palm here*

Every time my husband tried to push me to show more aggression, or tried to explain that something was my responsibility, I hunched down in my shell. I tried to make him happy, but I always felt like he was asking me the equivalent of suddenly becoming a redhead. I would watch other women who always seem in control of their home, and I never saw them study. They just naturally exuded comfort, beauty, a cheerful welcome, joy. Why didn’t I? Well, God just must not have given me that skill.

Two years into being a Homemaker, I got sick. My body just gave out. Years and years of running on adrenaline, and other factors just took their toll. I was out of the game. The couch became my place. I rarely looked beyond my own body. I rested and rested and rested. Life was on hold.

Two years of no energy have passed. I am able to function, not at full speed, but I don’t really want to try and do what I was doing for twelve years. I want to find a new speed. After all that, I feel like I’m a twenty-two year old just starting out. I’m a newbie. I don’t know how to keep my home, to be a homemaker.

About three weeks ago, after one of those weeks where everything you do is wrong, every sin is out there for all to see, and God is exposing all the wickedness in your heart, I decided to read some blogs about being a homemaker. I knew something wasn’t right. The smallest things overwhelmed me. I was never happy with how my home was, and I knew my husband wasn’t happy. This had nothing to do with cleanliness. I was never in control of our home. I flitted from one thing to the next. I always felt overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. After being out of pocket for two years, there was a lot that needed to be done. Plus, we have Seminary looming on the horizon, and a possibility of getting pregnant. (If you want more info on that, you can email, text, or message me.) Things needed to get in control. I needed to be in control. I needed to be able to manage my home and help my husband, with a right attitude, not a put upon attitude.

I needed to quit acting like the hired help. I’m not a maid and cook. I’m the lady of the house. I needed to act like . . . I needed to believe that was who I was. I needed to see that as my career.

One of the blogs I read mentioned studying to develop a new skill in Homemaking.

Click. Lightbulb. A-ha. Eureka.

A thousand different things slid into place and I realized I’d never ever looked at homemaking as my career. I assumed it just happened. I’d never treated it with the same focus I had owning our business, or my writing. My thinking and understanding of homemaking has been all wrong. I’ve read books about being a good wife and mother, but I’ve read few about wise housekeeping or wise homemaking, starting with perspective and working out into labor. I didn’t pick other women’s brains about how they create a culture in their home. I did when we owned our own business, but not my home. I just assumed my home was my home. I never went at it with purpose.

Oh the burdens lifted from my soul when the light of truth shone in.

Stumbling and bumbling, I have started looking at my home as my career, my life’s work, given to me by God. What have I find? A supreme challenge with wonderful benefits. I have found something that will stretch and grow me beyond any work I could set my hand too. A homemaker must be good at so many things and willing to switch between them at the drop of a hat. Here was a life-long challenge! But, here was also comfort, beauty, hospitality, serving my church. All the things I’ve ever wanted in their proper place.

Each time I’ve wanted to run and hid, duck down, wrap myself back up in my little shell of God’s-gonna-have-to-deal-with-that-if-He-wants-something-done-about-it, I have reminded myself that this is my great work. My work given to me. From that I have found courage to face things I’ve avoided for many years.

By grace, I’m taking control of my home. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel trapped in a maelstrom of ‘everything needs to be done’ and look, Abby has to do them. I know what needs to be done. I know what needs to be done first, and I can make a plan to do it.

It’s also soothed my frustrations as a wife who writes. I have struggled for years with envy towards all the women I know whose husbands embrace their writing career, invest money in getting them published, and bless them with large chunks of time to write. My husband never did this for me. We always found my writing to be a source of discord. I’m ashamed when I look at this now. Of course my writing caused discord. I wanted to focus on it while I refused to focus on my home. I spent every spare moment I could snatch from a day writing, or studying about writing. I wanted more time for it, when I wouldn’t spend one more minute on my home. My poor husband. Of course he found it frustrating. (Through all this, I’ve been amazed at how gentle and patient he has been with me for years.)

Now, I see it where my writing belongs. It is a part of me. It is something I want to develop. But, my career in this life is homemaking. Not being an author. Being an author can snuggle in there amongst all the other things, but it can’t be my career. Why? God didn’t call me to be a writer. He called me to be a homemaker. Yes, He gave me those gifts. Yes, I have a responsibility to use them and grow them. But under the heading of my career, homemaking. A person with the career of being a lawyer doesn’t just fudge his way through that, while focusing all of his being on growing rosebushes. He doesn’t let innocent men go to jail because he was thinking about the next plant he was going to buy. He keeps his love of roses in its proper place. It’s not a bad love. It’s just kept where it belongs.

Understanding, and believing, and trusting in the priorities that God has given me has helped me calmly face the situations of my own life. If all those women’s husbands are one way, and mine is another, that’s okay. I wasn’t sovereignly married to them. I was married to mine. And right now, I need to put my focus on learning my career, not trying to have a different one. Also, all those women I envy may have learned a long time ago that their first career in life is homemaking, putting all of their life in the correct order, while I had mine all out of order.

There are still many things I must learn. There are still lots and lots of old habits that need to be broken. I still battle anxiety every day. But, now I have motivation and direction. I’m already seeing the benefits of my lightbulb moment. I’ve conquered more things in the last few weeks than I have in months. I’ve been able to communicate clearly with my husband about where things are at. I’ve had a sense of peace and control. I’m not trapped in the dungeon of, “I did the best I could, and since God saw fit to only give me these skills, everyone just needs to accept that, and appreciate it.” Instead, I freely dance in the rain and sing, “Since God has blessed me with a mind and resources, since God has told me this is my job, I’m going to go research this, so I can do my best for His sake.”

I would imagine that most of you reading this have already come to this conclusion. I would imagine some of you think of me as an excellent homemaker because my home is generally clean. I’ve learned those aren’t the same thing. Having a clean home may be because someone is an excellent homemaker. But, it may be that they go through the steps never really understanding why they’re doing this beyond just that it needs to get done, and when it gets done, they can go back to their real life. This is my real life. And it’s a good one.

I think we do a disservice to women as a culture because we don’t see homemaking as a career any more. All the things out there are a career. You have to go clock in, or go to school, or drive to an office, or at the very least have your own business to have a career. Being a homemaker is just something lazy women do. I think this has led some women who are homemakers to be lazy because they don’t see what they do as a career just like being a lawyer, banker, and business owner. If you don’t see it as a career, you’re never going to give it its due. I think some men disrespect it for the same reason. They don’t see what their wife in the home as her God-given career either. The world lies to us. It tells us that we deserve more. It tells us that being a keeper of our homes is a waste of our skill. It tells us homemaking is an un-career. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we take in those lies. We lie to ourselves, and sometimes we don’t realize we’ve believed the lie. Sometimes we react against it by thinking we shouldn’t have a career at all as women. (That’s what I did.) But we do. God gave women a career: homemaking.

Courtesy of Pinterest.

God is good. He is light, hope, and joy. In His providence, He gave me a lightbulb moment.

I have a career, a good one, and a challenging one. I’m a homemaker.


What lightbulb moments have turned your life around? How do you view your homemaking? Do you see it as your main career given to you by God? What resources have helped you the most in this work?

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Uncle Book and the Jalapeño Overdrive

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It’s not every day that one of your oldest friends puts out an album. It’s been a lot of fun to watch Uncle Book/Tim Worley develop his music over the years, create a YouTube channel, teach children how to play, collaborate with others, and now he has an album to his name.

Uncle Book and the Jalapeno Overdrive is a wonderful ‘everyman’ album about the simple things in life, both good and bad. You won’t find any high-minded pretension here, or overly sexualized lyrics. Like most people who sing the blues or folk music, the themes are common to us all: holes in our shoes, taxes are due, but also the joy of summer time and watching a Ranger game.

Snake Eyes (a fun, get you moving song with a 70’s feel) starts out the album and grabs you right away. The throaty Whiskey Woman stands out as one of the best songs on the album. Nichole is beautifully soothing, a soft love song about sharing life. This album is a great easy listening album that changes things up with each song. One of the neatest elements of the album is the way Tim brought many different artist (over 22), from all over the world together. He not only applied his own musical talents to it, but brought different singers, instruments, and gifts into the mix. This provides a unique element to the album as a whole. I must admit, I chuckled out loud in the car, by myself, over the last track.

As many of you know, my own particular music taste doesn’t lean towards the blues. I’m a heavy metal, Irish Punk, Christmas music sort of person. But, I’m not going to not listen to an album my friend put out. Uncle Book expanded my music horizons! J I find the blues compliment much of the Irish Punk in theme: that earthy troubles feel. The use of so many different musicians, singers, and instruments kept things fresh. Each song on this album is different.

I look forward to seeing where Tim takes his collaborative talent over the years and for the next album.

If you enjoy blues, and down to earth stories, and supporting independent musicians, pick this album up. You can get it on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.

Rachel Atterholt’s Graduation

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Rachel on the right.

My dear friend, Rachel Atterholt, graduated from High School and I was honored to be asked by her parents to say a few words at her Graduation Party. I just thought I’d share them here:

I want to start by saying Congratulations on Graduating from High School and getting your GED! That’s one of the first milestones of life with many more to come! You stand at the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood with adventures, battles, sufferings, and great joy ahead of you.

One of your favorite quotes is the well-known line from Robert Frost: I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood an I – I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.

So, what do I say as a woman with a few more milestones under her belt, to you a woman about to face them? What do I say about the ‘road less traveled’?

Here’s the advice I wished I had heard…or in reality, what I wished I listened to:

The true road less traveled, and more important than any career, friends, dreams, aspirations, life goals or your family is your church. All around you the world is screaming to at you to pursue happiness, pursue your dreams, live life, get out there and be a roaring woman.

What you need to do is invest yourself in your church. Look, listen, pay attention, and figure out how you can serve your body. Value the preaching of the Word. Make this your life’s priority and you will be on the narrow, less traveled road.

This is more important than a boyfriend, romance, true love, getting married, having kids, your sisters and your parents. Your church is your first thing. Not second. Not third. First.

After that and only after that comes everything else.

This is the best advice I can give you as you graduate from high school and face adulthood.

Your favorite Bible verse is, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.

You have faced trials already—health issues, relationship issues, life issues—and, I hate to tell you, you will face many more. Life here on earth is a constant battle, constant hand-to-hand combat between our remaining sin, the sinful world, and following Christ. But God, who is rich in mercy, is working all things for our good. Each trial, each bit of stress, each battle is working to make us more like Christ. More battles are coming in your life. Cling to Christ and his word.

Rachel, I’m privileged and honored to be your friend, to read your writing, to share movies and music with you! More than that, I’m thankful to watch you seek the Lord, attend church regularly, host teas, help in the kitchen, and be involved.

I hope and pray that as you end one stage of your life and sort through what you want the next stage to be that you’ll be a faithful church member, feed on the preaching of the word, and grow in wisdom and grace.

Happy Graduation!

 

Two Years Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Sunday, I marked the 2 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m two years old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

Imogene's second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

Imogene’s second birthday! (Picture stolen from Liz.)

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband was leading our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed.

In 2015, I developed a chronic issue, Epstein-Barr Virus, that made it impossible to maintain the writing schedule I’d had last year. Instead of multiple posts each week, I barely kept up with a few posts a month. I didn’t even really have the energy to care. What little writing I did get done revolved around the books I was reading. The Lord has seen fit to continue to bless me with readers and, as I’ve started to feel better, time to write.

I had two funny situations this year:

One, I actually introduced myself to Tom Chantry as “A gentle and quiet Spirit” at the ARBCA-GA.

Two, a pastor-friend pointed me out at our SBFC-SW as the woman who wrote My Church is a Failure. I almost had a heart attack as that is the article that I got the most negative feedback over, but at the same time I felt so excited.

Life as a writer, right?

Now, let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 206
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Cindy V, and TheGatheringFire.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Brazil, the Untied Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
  • Top Posts: Being a Childless Wife with 1,356 views. Followed by Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 376. And My Church is a Failure at 272. I have no idea why the Red Heels article is so popular. The Childless Wife article was shared by several other friends and blogs. I think it hit home for many women. Plus, it providentially went up at Mother’s Day.
  • May 2015 was my highest traffic month with 2,130 views followed by Sept with 1,058. While my numbers are lower over all than last year, it’s not by much, which is very encouraging.
  • This year, I also redesigned my blog to fit my personality better. I think it has also made it easier to navigate.

Last year, I submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration. Those stories got lost in cyberspace, so I touched base with SGP again this year and we’ve started down that road again.

This year, I also finished up the major plot re-write of my YA Fairy Tale Book 1: The Cost of Two Hands. And, I finally started Book 2: The Sparrow and the Star. Book 1 is in the hands of some excellent beta readers. It is my goal to finish Book 2 and Book 3 before starting in with heavy edits. I’m so thankful for all the dear women who have agreed to read the Cost of Two Hands and help me see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

God is good. God is trustworthy. Dealing with chronic exhaustion has challenged my commitment to God’s goodness as many things I love had to be set aside, many opportunities to serve had to be passed on, and many things I wanted to do had to be postponed for the foreseeable future. God is still good. He has used this sickness to grow me, grow my relationship with my husband, reprioritize my life, and enjoy the service of others.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my books, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this second year!

Irish Music: It’s in the blood

My brother recently sent me a new Dropkick Murphy’s song called the Rose Tattoo. I have since played it on repeat 1 for days. It reminds me of this description I once wrote for a book that isn’t finished called Hope’s Journey. This is the beauty of Irish music:

Images of rocky highlands, gray sky and a cool wind tugging at my hair filled my mind. The music wasn’t body rubbing sexy music, it wasn’t techno music, it wasn’t sleepy or just hate-filled. This was life music. IT was drinking, fighting, loving, poverty, wealth, God and country. This was a green land with good strong people who found their pride in being the underdog. This was sacrilegious, spiritual and earthy. This was a woman who stuck by her man and worked just as hard as he did. This was people always looking for a better life and always read to tell a tale to make you think life was better. This was fathers, husbands and highwaymen, vagabonds and scoundrels. This was mothers, maids, crones, lovers, sisters, and whores. This was Irish in its body and blood.

In the middle of them all, more Irish, more green, more ready to walk the craggy hills, sat a man beating his drums in some primeval, tribal call.

The raucous, rebellious, resentful music swelled. Beneath the heart stomping beat rose anger. Anger throbbed and pounded in the’ drums. It beat and beat against the crowd with a deep seated hatred of those who betray trust, those who enslave, those who hurt and lie. It wept for those who suffer at the hands of stronger men and its tears turned to power. The anger, pain and power could rip nations apart, families and homes. It could travel across oceans, time, and flow even in the most deluded blood lines.

This is Irish Music

 

Still Sick

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m still sick. I had good news from the doctor, so I hope to be well soon. Until then I’m reading at watching movies. My Mom sent me this quote and I wanted to share it with everyone:

‘The God of Providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sickness; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestined, each relapse ordained, each depression of the spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing escapes the ordaining hand of Him who numbers the hairs of our head.’ CHS

A Thousand Words are Worth one Picture: Christmas Tree

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This is my Christmas Tree. I can show you the picture. It’s a pencil tree, tall and thin instead of short and squat. It works well with our vaulted ceiling. Look at the picture. See?

But, let me tell you about this tree. Sparkling lights cover this tree. Lights. Lights. Lights. There is a beauty, a soothing peace that comes from their soft warm glow. They shine out on dark cloudy days. They shed a light that warms the soul when the winds blow. Christmas lights are the reminder that there will not always be short days. It will not always be winter. Winter. The cold bleak time of year when the world is sleeping and looks dead, but it will not always be winter. There is both an earthly truth here and a spiritual truth. It is true that spring will come and the days will again be long. There is also the truth about Christ. He came into this world and shed a strong and mighty light into the darkness dispelling the shadows. His light brought judgment, but it also brought a soothing peace to his people after a long and terrible war. So next time you sit beside your lovely Christmas tree on a dark cold night, remember that Christ came, the Light of the world. How beautiful is this?

All over my tree, I have white, clear, and silver glass ornaments. For me they represent the snow. I love the beauty of falling snow. I love the odd silence, the stillness the snow brings. I picked these ornaments because they sparkle in the lights. They reflect and refract the light out adding more sparkle to my tree. And, the tiny glass balls look a bit like bubbles which appeals to the fairy tale side of me.

I’ve added reindeer to the mix both as a representation of Santa’s eight reindeer and because I love all things woodland. I love foxes, hedgehogs, owls, crows, and deer of all kind. The tree ties into my woodland love, too. I love trees. So having a tree, tall and towering, in my living room for four to five weeks is pure magic! It makes me soooo happy.

The red ribbons add a hint of elegance to the tree that reminds me of an English Christmas. See, if you grow up reading and watching The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe, if you grow up watching The Christmas Carol you have a sense that there is something perfect about an English Christmas. There is something older and deeper there than what we have here in America. You have a sense of time going back, of dignity and beauty and order tied to the good rich earth. The long red ribbons on my tree tie me back to that. They remind me of the old country.

Lights, tree, glittering ornaments, and a star on the top. The star is reminiscent of the star over Bethlehem when the greatest single act of grace began. When God became man. Oh what a glorious day, when God became man.

You can look at a picture of my Christmas tree and see the lights, the glow, the sparkle, and the red ribbons. You can see the swirling beauty of white, red, and green. But, the picture can’t tell you of the hope that winter will end. It can’t tell you of the hidden pictures of Christ’s First Advent. It can’t tell you of history weaving back, Christmas to Christmas to Christmas: Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

I love Christmas tree because around them lie the memories of my childhood, my family, my joining with another family, my first kiss, and many many cold nights spent cuddled up safe and warm.

Merry Christmas!!

 

Slice of Life: Destress your Holidays

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I know so many people who have a bah-humbug attitude towards the holiday. I’m not talking about everyone who teases me about my proclivity to listen to Christmas music at totally inappropriate times…like July. I’m not talking about the people who have very few happy memories tied to the holidays. I’m talking about the people who growl at you when you tell them Merry Christmas, or tell you that Thanksgiving is a waste because people just pig out. (I’ve heard that one, yes.)

Do you realize we live in a society that might have forgotten the point of a holiday? Go listen to the original Grinch who stole Christmas. They eat Roast Beast! And they enjoy it! How politically incorrect of them.

Maybe your holiday is stressful and grumpy because you have forgotten the point. Maybe you should spread cheer instead of snarls?

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If you get stressed cause it’s so expensive, have the courage to examine you’re standards are for a happy holiday. Maybe you could work together with a couple other families for Thanksgiving and share the expense load. Maybe you could make homemade gifts out of things just lying around the house. Pinterest is full of neat ideas about how to re-purpose things.

If it stresses you out because it takes you two weeks to decorate the house and three to take it down, maybe you need to cut back on your decorating.

Christmas should be about the tradition, the fun, the family.

When I was young, it was all about the presents. As I grew it still stayed about the presents. Would so and so like what I got them? Oh, the pressure to find the perfect gift! What about my gifts? What if someone got me something I hated? What would I do? What about me!?

As I got older and my family grew up, my siblings and I created our own families and got to see each other less, I noticed my concerns shifting. I wasn’t worried about presents, I was worried about my brothers being home for the holidays. I wasn’t worried about black Friday, I was worried about what time my extra brother would have to leave us so he could be at work on time. The presents aren’t really that important to me anymore. It’s far more important that we all get to be together for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the food, the warmth, the cheer. It’s reading the Christmas Story together, impromptu nerf gun fights, video games, beer tastings, pictures, watching our favorite Christmas movies and singing our favorite songs. It’s the magic of snow and lights. It’s teaching the kids to quote Christmas quotes and sing Christmas songs. It’s eating too much pie.

The holidays are only going to be as stressful as you let them be. If you feel anxious about the next eight weeks instead of excited maybe you need to reevaluate what you think the holidays mean. Maybe you need to pass out cards with personal notes in them instead of buying gifts. Maybe you need to get in the kitchen with some friends instead of alone. I recommend sisters or your mom!

Maybe you have suffered significant loss on the holidays or are alone. Make some new holiday traditions. Remember the point: be thankful for what we have, and, as Tolkien said, for turning point of Grace when Christ came to earth. This is the point. Make memories around that.

And don’t get all PC about the waste of the food. Holidays only happen once in a while and they ‘re meant to be over the top celebrations. Be a Fezziwig, not a Scrooge.

Fezziwig's Ball

Fezziwig’s Ball

One Year Later…

Ladies and Gentleman, dear readers, on Saturday I marked the 1 year anniversary for the Gentle and Quiet Spirit blog. What a year it’s has been. I’m a year old! Seeing as one of my nieces was born just before my blog went public, it should be easy to remember how long I’ve been working on it in the years ahead.

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

My blog and Imogene share a birthday!

In October 2014, I found myself convicted about my writing. I needed to change course. Did I served my church and my home before myself and the rest of the world with my writing gift? No. My writing didn’t line up with the direction my husband lead our family. It didn’t specifically encourage the saints. It didn’t lay up treasure in heaven.

The conviction to wrap myself more firmly in the Lord and less in the world didn’t come easy. (Does it ever?) It meant laying aside things that I loved and a place I felt comfortable trusting the Lord would provide for me. Trusting Him, as I set aside something I treasured, hurt. By grace alone, I clung to Him and His Word 100% convinced changing my writing was the right thing to do. Christ is my all. He saved me, adopted me, and sanctifies me. He laid aside everything to suffer and die for me and me in the body of Christ. How could I not, in a small way, do the same thing?

The Lord has shown Himself trustworthy in many tangible ways this year. I stand amazed. I have had more views this year than I had in the total run of my previous blog. I have made some good online friends, connected with other Confessional blogs, and I may have made a few enemies. That was terrifying interesting.

Let me share some numbers with you!

  • Followers: 160
  • Top Commenters: Robakers, WriteFitz, and Strokemanswoman followed by Claudiajswain, Cindy V, and Lizzigroves.
  • Top Viewing Country: United States, followed by Canada, the Untied Kingdom, Brazil, and Australia.
  • Top Posts: My Church is a Failure with 1,376 views. It is followed by Happy Mother’s Day! with 291, and Lessons from the Boutique 5: Red Heels with 221. Look at the difference. That’s quite a jump from 291 to 1,376. One of my friends said the My Church is a Failure went viral. I don’t know that it went viral as a whole, but maybe amongst Reformed Baptist.
  • August 2014 was my highest traffic month with 2,384 views followed by Feb with 1,564 when a guest post I wrote for Strokemanswoman was shared by Tim Challis. This guest article has gotten as many or more views as My Church is a Failure.

This year I also submitted my first writings to a publisher. I submitted two Texas Cousins stories to Solid Ground Publishing for consideration.

God is good. God is trustworthy.

You might think that’s easy to say with the limited success I’ve had with my blog. Of course, I think He’s good when things are going better than I could have ever imagined. God is good, not because this change in my life has rewarded me with better blog success. God is good because He has saved me and made me His child, then He slowly and gently worked in my life to bring me to the point where I could lay aside what I wanted for Him. Seeming material or no material reward, I would still praise Him for He is mighty. He owes me nothing for the sacrifices I have made for they are just a happy following after of my elder brother, my heavenly husband, my Standing Lamb. If the blog had flopped, I would have experienced His sanctification in that and by grace would praise Him still. The success of my blog or lack thereof doesn’t change the joy I have at the great mercy He showed me. I trust that He would still use the gifts He gave me even if it’s not how I expect. He has given me everything and owes me nothing. These aren’t rewards. These are graces. These are a kind gift from the hand of a kind Father, not a debt He owed me for my great sacrifices.

I’m very thankful He gave me some tangible gifts when I switched my writing course. He didn’t just give me some, He richly gifted me. Its humbling and all I can say is use me more Lord. Pour me out for your sake.

Thank you for reading, sharing, liking, commenting, and supporting this blog. I look forward to another year of Sunday Thought articles, movie and book reviews, news about my stories, and more children’s stories.

Here's to another year of blogging.

Here’s to another year of blogging.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how I could improve the blog, articles you would like to see, stories you want to hear, movies/or books you want reviewed. Thank you for all your support this first year!

A Thousand Words is Worth One Picture: Cruise

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I didn’t anticipate the sheer giddiness that overcame me when we put out to sea in August on our first cruise. I had spent the last four weeks trying to make sure everything was packed just right, passports came through, evening wear was not super wrinkled, that I had enough motion sickness blockers to cover me the whole week, and all the other planning that goes into a cruise the first time. When those giant engines roared to life and the ship put out to sea, I laughed. I laughed for joy.

Hearing the words ‘International Maritime Law’, seeing dolphins and flying fish, and finally, finally sailing out past all that is mankind to only ocean awoke a part of my childhood I had long forgotten. Memories of Peter Pan’s ship, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Horatio Hornblower, and the Pirates of the Caribbean, and other books and movies where they sailed the seven seas in search of treasure flooded me as the wind hit my face tasting of salt. I wanted to sing “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me.” I wanted to sail by the stars in Her Royal British Navy. I wanted to re-live childhood dreams.

I only then realized how much time me and my siblings spent reading and watching movies about the days of sailing around the world in clipper ships. I only then realized that while I had always loved the ocean from the shore, I had never loved the ocean on the ocean. It is truly something that grips you and never let’s go.

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We’ve all seen pictures of the open ocean, or the moon gleaming on the water, but a picture can’t tell you about the open feeling of only sky and sea. Nothing as far as the eye can see but sky and sea. It can’t tell you about sailing through storms. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing north, east, west, or south. Turn in a circle and only sky and sea. Weight lifts from the shoulders, burdens seem small in the beauty of open ocean. Mixed with this beauty, akin to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, is the tiny drop of horror. You look around and nothing. On a cruise ship filled with enough food to feed a small nation the horror of emptiness lies remote, buried. But, a well-read home-schooler remembers tales of ships lost at sea. All that water and not one drop of it safe to drink boggles the mind. The beauty mixed with just a drop of fear draws you to stare out into the empty space. And it’s not just the lack of food and water, it’s the life below the surface.

Dolphins raced through the waves created by our massive ship, flying fish, tiny and almost impossible to see, flew out across the ocean, and sea gulls called in our wake, but you look for the shadows under the waves. Imaginations can run wild when you know an unexplored world lives below what you can see. This is what is captivating about the open ocean. Beauty and fear.

While we were on the cruise, there was a super moon. It shone out across the water pulling along a bright golden tail and lighting up the ship. It looked like a cheesy ocean post card and I kept waiting for a dolphin to leap through the moonbeams. We watched the moon until our eyes were heavy with sleep and bed called in an inescapable lullaby.

The sun rose over blue oceans turning clouds pink and lavender. What a glorious way to wake up. Sleeping on a ship was some of the best sleep I’ve ever had. The gentle rocking, the sense of nothing, the going on forever lulls you down into the depths of unconscious dreaming.

Formal night delighted me with finery and laughter. Movies from the twenties came to mind and I half expected Hercule Poirot come around a corner with his perfect mustache.

In a picture, you see the open ocean, you see the blue water with hints of purple and bits of green, but you don’t really see the open ocean. You don’t see how your eye instinctively looks to the horizon, that far distant line of blue meeting blue. You don’t see how the ocean is the perfect shade of denim with just enough dark wash and just enough light. At the corner of your eye dances the sparkle of the sunshine slipping across the top of little waves. Above, the sky is a very clear blue with a strong white under tone too strong to be a baby blue. It is a true and real sky blue broken by a wisp or poof of cloud here and there.

The voices of the other guest sound out, excited children call out to each other, breaking through the soft, muffled woosh of the ship cutting through the water. A gentle sway reminds you you’re not on solid ground and the smell of coffee delivered to your door reminds you you’re on vacation.

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I could dedicate a whole other article to the storms we sailed through. They were spectacular. After one we almost missed due to dinner, we saw the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen. The rain trailed from blue clouds like beards off an old man’s face. The sun turned the sea and sky pink, orange, orange, and pink. A double rainbow arched across the blue expanse.

The sea is a dangerous thing and someday I’ll return to her again.

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This article is dedicated to my Husband, the Coles and the Garricks. It was wonderful to spend so much time with all y'all!

This article is dedicated to my Husband, the Coles and the Garricks. It was wonderful to spend so much time with all y’all!