Mistaken Goals for Adults During Quarantine

We’re living in a strange time. There seems to be an emptiness layered with anxiety, it’s a cake we would never order.

Looking for “Normal”

Yesterday when hubby and I got back from the Blackwater River, we did some yard and deck work, arranging furniture, raking the yard, picking up sticks, and it felt so normal.  We like the “normal” feeling so we came inside afterward and hung up some of my book wreaths. We were tempted to keep working after a late dinner. It was nearing 8pm ( my wind-down til bedtime). I think our reason was double fold. We both like to work and we want to get projects finished. Secondly, we like the “normal” feeling. I liked feeling as if all was right with the world as we picked up sticks in our new yard. I like the feeling of finishing a project. The problem? Only working is a mistaken goal. Time is a gift of this season. I’m tempted to squander it on projects instead of people. Squandering time is never satisfying.

Mistaken Goals

I’ve been doing a short series on Facebook and Instagram from How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos on mistaken goals. It’s easy for kiddos and adults alike to slip into a mistaken goal for this or any season. Since I don’t have anything in our lifetime to compare this COVID 19 season to,  I’m feeling my way through the tunnel. I bump into some walls along the way. I’ve bumped into a few physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Give  Choices

A few days ago, I shared the mistaken goal – total control. 

“When a child has had no control over his life and no guarantee that he will be cared for, he will try to exercise control in any war he can. Even as an adult, I often fall into the trap of trying to control my circumstances, so it’s not surprising that kiddos from hard places do the same. 

What can you do to realign this goal? Give choices.”

In the past few days, I gave myself some choices. Are you giving yourself some? Or are you also (raising my hand) working to feel “normal” until you are exhausted and then feeling empty and unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong. Work is good. Obedience is better. Obedience is gazillion times more satisfying than plain old work. 

I think of a vision of a mama saying, “I sacrificed all my energy and every second of my day so you can have a good meal and a clean home ( worthy of a magazine).”

 Then I hear the scripture echoing in my head:

“Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices

As in obedience to the voice of the Lord?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed [is better] than the fat of rams.”

I Samuel 15: 22

OUCH. Yep. Why is obedience better than sacrifice? Obedience is about relationship with God and unbroken companionship. Relationship with God without obedience is like saying, “I love you, I’m just not going to do what you ask me to.” Imagine our kiddos saying that to us.

The other day, I was talking to Marcy Holder*, and I shared with her how I keep working way too hard. It’s as if I can’t turn it off. I think I invented my own mistaken goal – I’m not valuable unless I’m working. I’m like a cartoon character who keeps running into a brick wall. Then I stop and say, okay, I’m feeling broken and exhausted. Then I get up and do it again the next day. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote down a to-do list in my Sunday coffee meeting with God. Then I proceeded to work straight through my list until, you guessed it, I hit the wall. I prayed and asked God to show me what was wrong, “God you told me to do all of this? What’s wrong?”

I could hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit say, “Not all in one day.” 

There are no quarantine metals

It’s tempting during this time to think we have to do all the things and do them perfectly. It’s tempting anytime, but more so now. Moms, there’s this invisible pressure to be the most grateful you have ever been, work harder on your home, make the best meals, play all the games, all with the heavy burden of trying to carry it all. We know in our hearts, God is in control. Let’s just be real here. Feelings and truth don’t always agree.  It’s as if I think I’m going to get some sort of prize or medal if I do everything perfectly during the quarantine. Will there be some sort of celebratory ceremony when this all ends? Will I get a medal for most walls painted? Books written? Online workout classes taken? (Asking for myself).

Plant Seeds

I’ve said this several times in the past few weeks, I feel as if this is seed planting time. With that said, we must decide what sorts of seeds we are planting. Obedience? Mistaken goals which will produce mistaken fruit. Pursuing “normal” feelings instead of resting and trusting God is in control? Which seeds are you planting? Apparently, I’m planting a variety pack. 

*Marcy is spiritually-focused personal coach, you can find her here plus she’s a guest on The Whole House Podcast releasing Monday, April 6th.

How will you grieve the quarantine?

How will you grieve the quarantine?

Yesterday, with the sky blue, sun shining, I set out for a walk down to the lake. I’d been outside spray painting a coat rack to repurpose as a purse rack – pink it’s the color I had on hand. I quickly decided my yoga pants weren’t going to be warm enough. The wind up here on the mountain is razor-sharp, it slices through pretty much anything. I changed into jeans (which I seem to wear more now instead of less) and added a few more layers. Then I took off on my walk. Away from our windbreak pines, the wind bit me down to bone. I thought about turning around and heading inside but I didn’t.

What I can control

My thoughts – 

  • Walking outside is something I CAN DO.
  •  It’s something I can control. 
  • I’m a bit uncomfortable but just think how wonderful it will feel to go into a warm house!
  •  My legs are moving. My arms are pumping. I’m listening to one of my favorite podcasts.

I love comfort

Yesterday, I talked about how we have become a society who seeks personal peace and comfort. I am totally raising my hand here. I love comfort. I’m like Goldilocks. I like things just right. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. 

It’s just not realistic. Take it from a mama of seven kiddos. Life is not comfortable all the time. Plus we appreciate comfort so much after uncomfortable circumstances. For instance, after my walk, a hot cup of tea, a bowl of chili, and fresh hot cornbread were the ticket.  

The Real Discomfort

Let’s talk about the real discomfort we’re feeling – not just being cold on a walk. The discomfort of putting some projects on the shelf, canceled birthday parties and celebrations, coffee at the local coffee shop, not hugging people, changing the patterns of our days. It’s just darn-right uncomfortable. It’s okay to grieve what we thought our lives would look like at this moment. Or what we thought it would look like in a few months and probably won’t.

Right now I’m sitting in an orange camping chair on the banks of the Blackwater river while my son and husband fish. It’s chilly but the sun is shining. I’m wearing a winter hat, a coat, sweater, flannel shirt, and a tee underneath. I’m pretty comfortable. It’s the first time I’ve been out of my compound, I mean neighborhood, in a few weeks. It’s a fishing trip for the guys and a mental health day for us all.

Confession

Want to know what I did this morning? I sat in my bathroom and cried at the helplessness and lack of control I feel.

  • Not being able to go to Target with my daughter and grandkids.
  • Not being able to “work” at Joe n Throw with my other daughter (our coffee office).
  • Not being able to host family dinners.

I won’t give you the whole list of things I’m grieving. I’m sure you have your own list. Even when we have a list of items and comforts to be grateful for, it’s okay to grieve the loss of things we miss. It’s a season of light and darkness at the same time. 

We should grieve the loss of human connection. It’s what we are created for!

What are you grieving today? What comforts are you looking forward to?

What to do When Your Circumstances aren’t Perfect

This week on The Whole House Podcast I spoke of what do when your circumstances aren’t perfect. Obviously, we have imperfect circumstances right now due to COVID 19 and all economic, physical, emotional, and other side effects. Let’s face it, life is imperfect and it was before all of this happened.

This is a great pivotal point for all of us, we can pivot towards the Lord and wait expectantly for Him to show up or we can shut down, let fear win out, and seek only our personal comfort. I know. There are days I want to hunker down with a book and coffee and just tune out the world. That’s okay for a short while, but God is asking us to trust Him. We need to trust Him to be our strength when we are exhausted with carrying the weight (and the wait) of the world on our shoulders. If you are a creative with a burden bearing personality, you know what I’m talking about. We feel as if we are carrying the burdens of our family, friends, and sometimes the whole world. It’s just to heavy. We can’t expect ourselves to carry the circumstances. We can expect God. Just EXPECT Him.

On the podcast I break down Isaiah 30: 18:

And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship.”

PERSONAL PEACE AND COMFORT

Our society is big on personal peace. I’m not talking about not engaging in a war or conflict. Frances Schaeffer speaks of this concept in How Should We Then Live? It’s the ideology of peace and affluence for oneself. We live in an age when many of us have every earthly item we need to make us comfortable. We can hunker down with our Netflix, our Keurig, some chocolate, and all the toilet paper we have (if we were lucky enough to get any). All of our comforts give us a false sense of sufficiency. Of course, for many of us, the foundation of sufficiency is tottering like an old dead tree, ready to fall in the slightest gust of wind.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Our circumstances aren’t perfect. We don’t have complete control. How do we handle things when things feel out of control? The truth is much of our life isn’t in our control, to begin with. We practice a sort of pseudo control, making lists, planning our days, checking items off our list, and taking credit for it along the way. Some days that works just fine, but what about the days that we have no say. We don’t know how to move forward and we are stuck in survival mode.

I share many more tips on the podcast, you can listen below, but let me leave you with this – if you are a control freak (like me), there is something in your control – your expectations. When you expect God to intervene, to guide you, to comfort you, and you seek relationship instead of personal comfort, He promises to show up. Not only does He promise to show up, but He’s also been expecting, waiting, longing,  to be gracious to you. He wants to give you grace!

Create a Mind Map

This is the final installment in the month of journal series! If you have followed along, thank you! And YAY you.

Yesterday, we focused on putting together an article, beginning a novel, and starting a blog. We covered a lot of information! Just remember, these assignments are like little seeds, the ones you plant, cultivate, and work on the most will grow.

Mind Mapping

This last day may seem as if it should have been posted a few days ago. Shouldn’t we have a map first? Some people prefer to mind map before they choose a theme. I choose a theme first.

“A mind map is a tool for the brain that captures the thinking that goes on inside your head. Mind mapping helps you think, collect knowledge, remember and create ideas. Most likely it will make you a better thinker.” – simplemind.eu

Here’s a great article to get you started on the basics of mind mapping. Simplemind uses a birthday party example, all you need to do is tweak it to your theme. Have fun with it. Draw or write your theme in the middle of the page and then, if you are writing a novel, you can do characters, plot, subplot, plot twists, etc. If you are writing an article, your theme can be your topic such as “How to Keep Your House Organized in Three Easy Steps.” Use lines to list your steps, a personal story, a quote or two from other sources, and there you go. You’re ready to write!

While I was packing up my office closet, I found one of my old mind maps for the novel, Defining Home. I had actually gotten to the point of doing a mind map per chapter. Here are some random words from my mind map. 

Chapter 1 – Theme – New Beginnings

  • Adelina meets prospective parents
  • Inciting incident – newcomer – Cecylia
  • Daria – Acting strangely, new boyfriend, adoption failing
  • Sabilia – social worker
  • Adelina and Cecylia form some sort of bond.

You Will Not Use Everything on Your Board

Your mind map is a brainstorming session. You will not use everything! It’s okay. There is no grade on this project. This is to get your brain warmed up. If you are one of those people who think the book will write itself, or you have to be in the mood to write, or some voice will speak to you and tell you what to write, without any forethought or planning, good luck with that. Sure, there are rare occasions when someone just puts it all down on paper. I’ve never had one of those. Writing takes preplanning, perseverance, and proactivity.

If you (like me) are a perfectionist and don’t feel as if you can let an idea go, I hear you. Take a deep breath. Get some feedback from another writer, not just a random person on social media. I changed names, habits, outcomes, and even decided not to let someone die in a book because my revision team advised me against it. They were right, that character was actually needed in the sequel! 

I’ve thrown a lot of random information at you today, so I’m going to leave you with a few simple instructions and some resource suggestions. First, get a white board or poster board out and try a mind map. Follow the instructions here. 

Second, if you want to pursue some more writing, here are a few resource suggestions!

Speed Writing For NonFiction Writers by Ryan Healy

Also, if you are serious about a writing career, and you want to be an indie writer (self-publish), Joanna Penn is your go-to person. I linked her website yesterday. Gone are the days of self-publishing when you print to order and have a garage full of books that you sell only to your aunt, uncle, and grandma. Indie writers can make a living from their writing (as well or better than) traditional published writers. Are you a doubter? I was. Then I found Joanna Penn, bought her books, listened to her podcasts, read and reread her articles and changed my mindset! Check out her website for more info!

Journaling a Book or a Story

The same guidelines for planning out an article apply to a nonfiction book. Like I said the other day, my book 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas started with my own need, and then grew into a series of articles, and then into a book. If you want to write a nonfiction book, it’s a great idea to think of it as a process instead of something you can do in a day, a week, or even a year. The same applies to  novels. 

Get some education and encouragement

Obviously, these last two days of a month of journaling is only to get you started on your journey. If you plan to continue, let this be your springboard, not your landing. There are plenty of podcasts, articles, freebies, just waiting for you on the internet. Just a warning. Don’t get so caught up in learning everything that you never start. You have to start somewhere.

Several years ago, after teaching a novel writing curriculum to my son, my desire to write one was rekindled. As I watched the videos with him, did the assignments, and read the textbook, I had all sorts of ideas. I started by writing them down. I wove those together with places I had been (Poland), the orphanage my kids had lived in, a cause close to my heart -ending human trafficking. As my son did his work, I copied worksheets for myself and did the work alongside him. The point is – it’s okay to use resources and frameworks to get you started. I see so many people who want to write a book start it forty million times and never finish, not because they aren’t disciplined, but because they need help organizing. It’s okay to need help.

And the moral of the story is…

The phrase “the moral of the story” is one I used often when homeschooling my kiddos. It’s another way of saying, “What’s the theme of this book/story?” You must have a theme. Don’t believe people who say that some books have no moral or underlying message. Every book has a theme. It’s important to know your theme before you write. Here are some themes:

  • Encouraging women
  • Advocating for or against something such as human rights
  • Instructional – such as writing self-help or a how to
  • Overcoming – how the main character (or you) overcame difficulty
  • The reluctant hero – A novel or nonfiction about a hero 

This is a short list. You can find more including the common ones – man against man, man against nature, man against God, etc. with a simple google.

Your assignment today? Write a theme you would like to pursue. Go through your journal for some clues as to what you would like to pursue. Also, if you are serious about writing, check out some of the resources below.

Expect Opposition

One last warning. It’s pretty much a given. You make a pot of coffee, sit down on your couch or in your office with your laptop and your phone rings, your computer won’t start, the children need you or fill in the blank. Expect opposition and don’t give up. Opposition is not a sign that you shouldn’t write. It may be just the opposite. When I finally decided to write my first novel, after combatting some things were said to me about my writing ability, I sat down to work. And guess what? My computer died. Like deader than Marley in A Christmas Carol.  I didn’t have the funds to buy a new computer so I pulled out a typewriter. I typed my whole first novel on it, plunking away every evening after I cleaned up from dinner. Take a minute right now and brainstorm some ways you can handle opposition. I don’t know what sorts of interruptions and opposition you face, you do. Think to yourself, if this happens, I will do this. Make a plan to run into roadblocks and then plan how to get around them! You can do this!

Some Resources

You are a Writer (so START acting like one) by Jeff Goins

Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull

Thecreativepenn.com

Joanna Penn has a podcast, freebies, including an author blueprint!