I rarely make New Year resolutions or promises or goals. I will NEVER be too focused, too driven, or too ambitious. My personality just doesn't lean that way, and never has. I don't want to lead anybody, conquer the world, start a movement, compete for anything, or be famous. Just leave me alone over here while I read this book. Maybe we can go get coffee later.
But I don't really do anything. I mean, my house is usually clean and people are generally fed and clothed, and I'm on a lot of committees and go to a lot of meetings. But I don't set personal, longterm goals and then march toward them in a manner that reflects my agreement with Robert Browning that a man's reach should exceed his grasp.
A couple months ago, while I was teaching a Bible study at church on organization, I decided to cut back on my leisure time. As I read (incidentally, I recommend the books Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung and The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin), I got excited thinking about how much time I would have available if I unplugged and was more efficient with my work around the house.
I made a few false starts, but now I'm in a good routine. I'm not online very much. (Writing my book on my laptop is okay, but I avoid the Internet). I still have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts, but I just use them in moderation. Television has gone, too. I watch two shows each week. And obviously, I'm not blogging very often anymore.
It's highly unlikely I will ever fall prey to the sin of cutthroat ambition, so I figured I'd make some commitments this year. I believe that with God's grace, I can get some stuff done.
1. Finish my Lucy novel. 2. Reach a goal weight of 135 pounds with healthy living and exercise. 3. Give my girlfriends here in San Gabriel good (thoughtful, personal) birthday presents. 4. Learn how to use my DSLR in modes other than "Auto". 5. Go to my mom's house and write down all my favorite recipes of hers. 6. Memorize the book of Colossians. 7. Make peach icecream. 8. Teach Claire how to embroider. 9. Learn how to crochet. 10. Learn how to make crème brûlée.
(I recognize numbers 5, 7, and 10 may be incompatible with number 2, but we'll cross that bridge when we blow it up, as the saying goes.)
This is a little video (from last spring; the video is from last year) about our church friend, Moe. Moe is in my Sunday school class, and his story is good to hear.
The man with the distinguished white beard :) who is having coffee with Moe is our friend Rich. Rich is a partner at the law firm where my husband works. (Rich's wife is my best friend, Pam.) They and some other families in my church shared their love of Jesus with Moe, who now shares it with other people.
The man in the video who baptizes Moe is my brother-in-law, Steve, who is also the pastor of our church.
So with no further introduction of various people :), here is Moe and some of his story. I hope it is a blessing to you.
Artist Molly Crabapple has illustrated excerpts from one of Susan Cain's talks (to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce), and this is that video. :) It is short and sweet and I enjoyed it.
If you are not familiar with Susan Cain, she wrote a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. In Quiet, she explains and then questions America's "Extrovert Ideal" and our cultural bias against introverts, and really knocks over the stereotype of "introvert as unfortunate". It was an encouraging and interesting read, and I took much away from it.
She is also known for the excellent TED talk she gave, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
Every spring, Claire goes to the Kidspace Children's Museum with her dad and gets a Painted Lady caterpillar. Then she raises it, watches it turn into a chrysalis and then a butterfly, and releases it into our backyard when it's ready.
She named this year's caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly "Noodles". :)
Here are two good working definitions of introverts and extroverts:
Introverts tend to be more energized by time alone than by time with people, and tend to have an inate preference for less stimulating environments.
Extroverts tend to be more energized by time with people than by time alone, and tend to have an inate preference for more stimulating environments.
I believe both introversion and extroversion are God-given personality traits, and because each is God-given, each can be used to His glory.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:3-5)
I happen to be an introvert, and am always interested in learning ways that I can use this introversion to glorify God. How can I best serve the body of Christ, using my very own personality? My attempts at life have never gone well when I've tried to be someone I'm not. :)
One thing I have noticed when I've read articles on introversion over the years is that these articles tend to be defensive in tone, or to have a somewhat bitter flavor. This is probably because introverts recognize that modern society is geared largely toward extroverts: if we're not careful, we can spend a good chunk of our lives either feeling like a fish out of water, defending our own preferences to people who think something is wrong with us, or just feeling completely exhausted and awkward trying to be extroverted. I don't think that's what we're supposed to do with our introversion. Nope.
I've read two excellent articles lately that recognize the potential of using introversion to God's glory.
Plead with God to make your in-disposition to be with people a blessing to people. In other words, I would say after 33 years, my default after preaching is to go home and pray and read, not to hang out for three hours over a meal. That’s my disposition. I do hang out for an hour and pray with people, and I’m glad I do, and it is rewarding to do it.... If you're wired that way, instead of constantly praying God would make you another kind of person, pray that he would make you really useful for people. I think he’s done that for me....
He goes on to explain exactly how he thinks God has best used him in his ministry as a pastor.
In her article Four Lies About Introverts (see? we tend to go on the defensive), Amie Patrick, the introverted wife of an extroverted pastor, writes,
The lie I'm most tempted to believe is that the way God has wired me is incompatible with the life he's called me to live.
She goes on to dismantle four misconceptions about introverts (extroversion is the Biblical ideal; introverts don't like people; solitude is selfish and indulgent; introversion is incompatible with teaching and leadership gifts) and to advocate a view of introversion and extroversion as two complementary and important models of leadership within the church.
... my leadership gifts aren't expressed in the same way as my extroverted husband. I tend to lead best from a more contemplative place. My creativity flourishes, and my best ideas rise to the surface when I have time to be alone more so than when I'm brainstorming with others in a highly dynamic environment. Since there is no one-size-fits-all model for leadership, our churches will be best served when there's room at the table for extroverted and introverted leaders alike.
I was blessed by the insights in both of these articles. :)
It is the very tail end of my birthday, and I always think this gives me a little excuse to do something a bit self-indulgent here in suziebeezieland. :)
I was trying to think of what that might be this year, and decided I want to share this new video short with you about one of my favorite artists, Makoto Fujimura. I have talked about him a little bit in suziebeezieland before.
I think if you enjoy beauty, you will like this video. It is not very long. (The full-length version is coming out this spring.) Click on the screen twice quickly to make it bigger so you can see it properly.
He is always erudite, sometimes goofy, often hilarious (he has written for the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly, and as an English major at Yale, he edited the Yale Record, the nation's oldest college humor magazine), and he speaks very openly and winsomely about his faith in Jesus and his desire to serve the True and Living God.
I realized everything I had rejected about God was actually not God. It was just dead religion. It was phoniness. It was people who go to church and do not show the love of Jesus. It was people who know the Bible and use it as a weapon, people who don't practice what they preach, people who are indifferent to the poor and suffering, people who use religion as a way to exclude others from their group, people who use religion as a way to judge others.
I had rejected that, but guess what? Jesus had also rejected that. He had railed against that and called people to real life and real faith.
Here is his speech given at the National Prayer Breakfast this past February. It's good. (Thanks, Christy B., for telling me about this.)
Today I felt good again, and went a little nuts with the thrill of it.
First, I cleaned house and did laundry, big time.
Then after school, Claire and my niece and nephew and I grabbed some icecream. We visited a little and read a little, and experimented with gummy worms.
Then Claire and I went to a plant nursery and bought a few pink flowers to put in the lonely pots of dirt on the back patio. Mostly I just wanted to be outside around nature, and the nursery seemed like a good, gentle way to ease back into it.
Then we called Bob to see if he wanted to meet close to his work for an early dinner, and he did. So we sat outside and had guacamole and fajitas and wow, the weather is great outside.
I am so sorry, but I have not been posting because I have absolutely nothing interesting to report. I was thinking I was home free because I had survived all winter without getting sick, and then I caught this virus from Claire about ten days ago. She bounced back from it in about four days, although she still has a lingering cough, and she wiped out for a long nap yesterday, which is unusual.
But this past Friday I thought, "I think I'm getting worse instead of better. I wonder if it has turned into a sinus infection." And then that night I woke up in the middle of the night because my teeth and all the bones in my face hurt, and I thought, "Oh, great, it is a sinus infection." (It is not helping anything that our house is full of dust from the bathroom remodel.)
So I got up and took a shower and ate a bowl of cereal and got dressed at 3 a.m. and drove myself into urgent care, right that second, and now I'm on amoxicillin for ten days for the sinus infection.
And then this morning I woke up and have pink eye, as if for emphasis: Stay away, people. I'm not messing around.
Bob has been holding down the fort around here, bless him. I need to send him to a spa or something when I'm better, to thank him.
Have I used this week in bed to read great literature, study the Bible, catch up on thank you letters, make lists of my life's goals, dreams, and plans, or think about important things?
No. No, I have not. All I have done is drink tea, blow my nose, sleep, look at pinterest, pick up a magazine and flip through it kind of lackadaiscally, and watch a few cooking shows. I have absolutely no idea why, but the only time I ever watch food-related television is when I'm sick.
Actually, I do think I know why. I think it's because it reminds me of my mom, and I always want my mom when I'm sick. :) It's very soothing to watch people talk to you about food. Except Giada is kind of bugging me with her fancy-schmancy Italian pronounciation. What is that? Just say "parmesan". Mom, please call Giada and tell her how you pronounce things so she does it right.
I have bonded quite a bit with Miss Violet, who is a delightful companion when you're sick. She just lies on the bed all day as if to say, "Here I am at your disposal if need be." I love this little dog.