Category Archives: Learn it

Contentment is not as far as you think.

Contentment, like most things in our lives, is a choice.

We are humans, so we don’t like to believe that our happiness is in our own hands, but it is. It’s not in our circumstances. And it certainly isn’t wrapped up in others or even in that gift under the tree (no, not even THAT one). It is a choice we make Every. Single. Day.

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We say I’ll be happy when I have a better job…

When I make more money…

When I have nicer clothes…

When I’m no longer single…

When…fill in the blank…

But the fact of the matter is each moment we live wishing for “when I have” we waste the moment to enjoy or appreciate what we do have.

Sometimes I look at my sister’s life and I envy her. I think how unfair it is that she got the fairy tale ending at 24 with everything including the white picket fence (ok so it is a brow privacy fence but the concept is solid), a mortgage, doting daughters, even stretch marks.

And it hurts.

Then I remember who I am and what I have become because I didn’t get my fairytale at 24.

With the grace of God I have helped first generation students graduate high school and become productive members of society.

I’ve written novels, published stories, met writers, poets, and politicians.

I’ve gotten grants to travel and study in places I’ve always dreamed of cultivating life-long relationships with amazing people.

I’ve taught teenagers about loving Jesus and themselves even when it seems like no one else does.

I’ve loved and been loved.

And sure I still get jealous sometimes(they have a nicer house, car, clothes etc.) but Contentment IS a CHOICE.

When I wake up, I get out of a bed, in a house, with clean water. I drive to work where I teach English freely to both young men and women. All of which are genuine privileges I often take for granted. This is a broken world, but that doesn’t mean that we have to walk around in around permanent state of surly discontentment. God is good. And thank God I have the opportunity everyday to remember that, to thank Him, and to choose contentment over resentment.

Merry Christmas!

Practical or Brave?

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I’ve been reading Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest devotions. It’s not the first time I’ve gone through these, but every time I do I always learn something new about myself and my relationship with God. I’ve been ruminating on these words for the past few days: “Let God’s truth work in you by soaking in it, not by worrying into it…Obey God in the thing He shows you, and instantly the next thing is opened up.”

One of my major faults is worry. I have this major control problem, where I want to plan everything out in meticulous detail, with contingency plans and back ups for my back ups. Let me be frank, that gets exhausting. Especially because Robert Burns was absolutely right, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” So when my plans don’t work out, it feel like a failure, and the problem with that is—life can’t be meticulously planned out. It just doesn’t work that way. And because I feel like it should be, I feel like my life is a complete failure.

I’ll be honest with you, this is not what I pictured my life to be like when I was 15 and planning out my future (I had it ALL PLANNED OUT!). Like most little girls, I was going to be married, with 2.5 kids, living in a suburb. I’d have a mortgage, a dog, a fenced in yard, and I’d be writing novels while taking my kids to soccer practice and church picnics. I’d be a model wife, a pillar of the community. I’d be a master baker, bringing in cupcakes and homemade bread for church functions and school PTA meetings. Once my kids were all in school I’d go back to teaching.

That’s not what my life looks like. And to be fair, I kind of shudder when I think about that being my life, too. It’s what I planned, but it’s not what God had in the cards for my life. I struggled for years feeling like a failure because I’d been rejected in multiple ways. I don’t bake (unless, you know, it comes out of a can and all I have to do is put it on a cookie sheet. Even then, there’s a 50/50 shot I’ll forget it’s in the oven and burn it anyway). I don’t cook (I worry too much about it being “perfect” and then I end up making something awful 7/10 times). I’m not married. No kids. No mortgage. My life isn’t what I planned, but…

That’s not what failure means. I’m still figuring out what God’s truth is for me. One thing I learned, was that I have to stop being so damn practical all the time. Yes, having a plan and a goal is important, it’s how I function. BUT having time to be spontaneous, fun, and brave is how I end up growing. I watch this TV Show called “Jane the Virgin”. (I know, I know, this show is not wonderful; it’s cheesy, racy, and a little on the “what the what?!?!” side of soap opera-ville. But we’ll call it a guilty pleasure). A question that is asked of the main character when she is in high school: what do you want to be? And she counters with “Am I being practical or brave?”

So can you be both practical and brave?

Oswald Chambers ended his devotional with “Beware of becoming “wise and prudent”. I don’t think that means we should stop seeking wisdom, but rather we should stop trying to become so wise that we forget who holds the ultimate Wisdom and Truth for our lives. It’s so easy to become wrapped up in our own practical truths, that we forget to trust our future to the one who knows us better than we know ourselves. We forget to be brave.

So that is my goal. To let go of my plans and soak in God’s truth. Because when you do that, doors open. And you just never know where those doors might lead.

I’m Not a Romantic…

I have never been a romantic. And yes, I know the irony of that. I write romantic novels, but I’m not the “lovey dovey, heads in the clouds, let’s kill ourselves if we can’t have one another” kind of person. To me that is not romance. That’s stupidity.

So maybe I should say I’m not what the world would call a romantic. Because Romeo and Juliet makes me want to throw up. That my friends, is not romantic. I’m reading it with my 9th graders now, because you know, it’s part of the curriculum. But DUDE, the more I read it the more I wondimageer why we consider that romantic. Let’s take another look at that balcony scene shall we?

Romeo and Juliet just met, for the first time, that night a party Romeo crashes—which by the way he only does so because he’s looking for some other hot chick he thinks he’s in love with. Talk about flaky. He kisses Juliet, runs off and then goes and hangs out under her balcony in the middle of the night eavesdropping on her private thoughts while she’s in her nightgown. While on earth does this girl not go screaming in the other direction? That is not romantic. That is creepy stalker serial killer material there.
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I think people confuse romance with infatuation and lust. It’s just not the same thing. That’s why “romance novels” get such a bad rap. If you write romances then all you are writing about is sex and infatuation. But it shouldn’t be because that’s not what romance is—it’s certainly not what the Romantics of the early 19th century believed. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Mary Shelly, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne—these romantics were rebelling against the Age of Reason and elevating the idealism, imagination and emotion. It was more about  being an individual and thinking outside the box than it was about lust and sex.

And that’s what true Romance is.

It’s the man who tells the woman she’s beautiful when she is losing her hair because of a sickeningly and shockingly aggressive form of cancer—and he means it.

It’s the woman who comes home from her job and cooks a meal that is both healthy and hearty for her husband because she knows he loves meat, but she wants to keep him healthy for their family—even though she’s exhausted having worked all day she still puts her energy into making him happy.

It’s the mother who quits the job she loves to take care of the kids she adores for the husband she’s committed to.

It’s the boyfriend who holds her hair when she’s sick, and brings her soup…a cleans it up when she throws that up too.

It’s the messy stuff that holds a relationship together that makes something truly romantic. Helping someone understand that they don’t have to be perfect and understanding that you have to give a lot of yourself to get anything in return.

So no, I’m not a romantic. I’m realistic. Because when a relationship is real. That’s when it’s good.