To Simplify

I have a brave new haircut. I don’t necessarily love it, but it works well for me right now. I keep begging hair people, “Isn’t there a way for me to like my hair but NOT spend the rest of my life with a flat iron in my hand?” No one has really answered that yet. Still, I’m enjoying the change. Thinking of all the time I’m saving is pretty sweet, too. With the extra time I’d like to think I’d spend more doing stuff like this:

hairshow

Besides, my vanity could use a kick in the pants once in awhile! : )

Simplicity is a virtue that I’ve never worked on much, but I’ve done just a few things lately to cultivate it. The hair, for one thing. I also bought one gray suit and I plan to wear it every Monday for the entire semester. I wear gray pants on Tuesday and Wednesday and a gray/brown skirt on Thursday. Friday I look forward to casual pants since I don’t teach and only have office hours. I’ve only done this for two weeks, but it amazing how much easier the morning is when you have a plan for what to wear!

I’ve simplified meal planning as well. We eat, like, 6 evening meals consistently with a few nights of sandwiches or salads. For now I’m not wasting any time looking for new recipes or trying out new items at the store. I just buy the same list of staples and we eat the same things every week. Ideally, it will help us cut a few calories and a few dollars in impulse buying. We’ll see.

Just things I’m trying in an attempt to simplify. Any ideas from your life you’d be willing to share? How do you simplify?

A Good Book

Becoming an English major was probably my destiny because I come by my inner bibliophile quite naturally. My Dad’s soft brown leather armchair is literally nested in by piles of books and magazines on every side. Getting the mail for him is like picking up the periodicals shipment for a small local library! Apparently, the gift goes on:

Reading2

That’s my daughter Claire at Big Name Bookstore. I wasn’t sure Claire would be a book lover; after suffering brain damage shortly after her premature birth, doctors couldn’t predict what kind of learning disabilities she might or might not have. But First Grade has come along now and Claire spends a good portion of every evening after school reading through her beloved copy of Tiptoes.The tradition continues.

If you love books like me and you don’t mind blogging about them occasionally, you should check out the Thomas Nelson program called Book Review Bloggers. They send you FREE books in return for a blog post and a review on a site such as Amazon. Sounds good to me! I don’t mind working for my books. In fact, I have the latest Max Lucado book, Fearless, and I get to be a tiny part of a huge media blitz on Sept. 8 when it officially releases. Fun!

Another tip for book lovers. This morning I walked past an old issue of World Magazine and had to drop my bag and sit down to have a look. It is the Book Issue and they list the top books of 2009. Also, if you can get your hands on a copy, inside they make lists of some of literature’s best last lines. For example, from Charlotte’s Web:

It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

I’m diving into a fabulous new semester of classes were I get to read, read, read, and then write, write, write. Luckily, to love it is in my genes!

And So It All Begins Again . . .

SCHOOL!

school

No, not for them. The kids have been in their new classes since June (year-round school here).

FOR ME!

I start online college classes again on Monday. Whew. I don’t think I’m ready. I keep referring to the leisure that is this Saturday as “my last day of freedom.” Think I’m feeling a little pessimistic?

It has been a lovely homework free summer (one that will probably come back to haunt me when my math credits don’t line up in May), but now it is time to work again. I’m enrolled in 12 hours online and hopefully picking up a fundamental math class at a nearby community college.

Thankfully, I love school. Even more thankfully, I hope to finish this undergrad in May. : )

Thanks for the prayers for strength, endurance, perseverance, energy, and, most of all, academic brilliance!

On Going to Church

I get it. Sometimes going to church gets tiring. Sometimes my kids are more work than I can get out of the message in return. Sometimes I’m three songs into the worship time before I realize I haven’t thought about God once. Not once, even though I’ve been singing His Name and making various proclamations for nearly 10 minutes. This is a screen shot of our row at church a few years ago:

church

But once in awhile, usually when I least expect it and when I need it the most, something happens at church that reminds me why I make that choice every week (usually more than once).

Our church is home to the Heartland Men’s Recovery Center, a ministry for broken people who need help with life’s various problems. It was Graduation night this week, and it was wonderful. There are so many beautiful moments from the evening to share, but one made the biggest impact on me. It was my ah-ha moment.

As each graduate was introduced – the culmination of at least 18 months of hard work and commitment – any family members of that graduate were asked to stand at the same time. Some men had rows of guests. Others had a few or even just one parent who managed to stick with them through the tough times. But one guy stood up alone. The director announcing him passed over the moment quickly, but not before the nearly 100 guys in the Men’s Center could stand up first as representatives of this guy’s family. They were followed shortly by the rest of the church.

In another graduate’s speech he thanked the church here for being the Body of Christ to him even though his interactions were primarily with the Men’s Center staff and members. “Thanks for always being here,” he said.

And I got that. Sometimes it’s enough just to be here.

I know there are often a million reasons NOT to go to church, and I’m not arguing any of them. Today I’m just reminded of why I go. Why I like to be here. And it doesn’t have much to do with me.

Help for Friends

Almost two years ago Dan visited our friends in Brazil at their ministry called CBC – Channel to Brazil for Christ. He was there for a special day when the children enrolled in the education programs reached out to the other children in their neighborhood with free salon-style hair cuts, manicures, a lunch, and some games.

It was truly an example of the gospel at work. This girl was one of the guests that day:

showcbc 109

I just recieved word that this season Brazil has experienced the worst flooding of 20 years, and our beloved ministry was not immune to the country’s troubles. Classroom ceilings have collapsed and others are under water. The teachers and students have tried to carry on, but the damage is extensive.

The University for Life program at CBC provides an important service of hope to the poorest of Brazil’s children. Since the public school only holds classes for half a day (due to over-crowding and teacher shortages), the University for Life program enrolls students for the other half of their day for fine arts classes, computer classes, and tutoring. It is a fantastic program.

And they could use our help. Check out their website. If you have anything to offer, it would be put to good use by good people for great kids. Thanks!

This song from the CompassionArt project rings in my head ALL THE TIME. In light of this post, I thought I’d share with you all!

Tweet Envy?

Hello, Internet. My name is Felicity White and I have Tweet Envy.

Tweets

Surprisingly enough, my Facebook world and my Twitter world have only a few overlapping contacts. Recently I noticed that after reading updated tweets I felt a little blue – that kind of blue that has no real point of origin but manifests as a general lack of serotonin. Sort of a PMS-blue or a forgot-to-eat-lunch-blue.  However, reading Facebook status updates rarely made me feel that way; in fact, quite the opposite.

After analyzing the contacts on each list, I recognized the problem. My Facebook contacts are, in general, my friends and family. Real people that I actually know and live life with on at least a semi-regular basis. If I’m not related to them or live near them, I probably have been in some kind of everyday life kind of relationship with them at some point in my history (school, church, work, etc.).

Twitter relationships are different for me. While I follow several family members and friends, I also follow a lot of people that I would otherwise never know. And, for awhile, this was one of the great joys of Twitter: new people, new experiences, a taste of different lifestyles. But that’s when it started getting hairy for me.

Via Twitter I learned that a bunch of really cool people live “on campus” in Franklin, Tennessee, a charming historic area outside of Nashville. I never knew I wanted to live in Franklin, Tennessee!

Via Twitter I learned that some people visit the beach every year. Every year, people! My son is eight and he has NEVER BEEN TO THE BEACH! I never knew I wanted to go to the beach every year!

Via Twitter I learned just how much free time celebrities actually have every day and it is A LOT!

Via Twitter I learned that EVERYONE exercises more than I do!

Via Twitter I learned that so-and-so is getting ANOTHER book deal and so-and-somebody-else is co-writing songs the church will be singing for decades. O.K. – So I’ve sort of always known I’d like to write books and songs. : ) But apparently, I’m not too happy to read about other people doing it all the time while I sit in my windowless, non-charming office in the northeast corner of land-locked Missouri. Apparently, THAT is just too much.

But, believe it or not, I don’t think I’m woman enough to just shut down my Twitter account altogether. Instead, I think a simple change of perspective is in order. After all, I may not take them to the beach, but my kids are pretty darn gorgeous and fun to be with. A water tower with a cross on top may be the closest thing I have to a city skyline, but I live with a lot of amazing people who are trying, like me, to the best of their ability to love God in this place. And I’m pretty sure what they say about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence is true.

I am, however, considering a new approach to my tweets.

Got any suggestions for how I could use my tweets to give someone ELSE tweet envy?! : )

Happy Anniversary, Bane!

This post is slightly delayed. Our anniversary was August 6th, but since I was surprised by a city retreat for two days, I didn’t get to post this as I planned. It is, of course, still true today.

Happy Anniversary, Dan!

Dan

This is one of my favorite pictures of you.

At this season in life, the greatest gifts you have given me are symbolized here: Jesse, Claire, Ellery, Ada, and Macy. We make beautiful babies, sir, and your love for them is amazing. Not just the affectionate love demonstrated in this kiss, but also the faithful love that guides and corrects them, making them the kind of people others will love as well. You are the best daddy.

I love those hands. They are strong and disciplined thanks to hours upon hours of instrumental practice. But they are also gentle enough to hold the smallest baby in need of your touch. Hands made to hold mine.

Those eyes! Those are the eyes full of mystery and fun that first drew me to you. Eyes I would see peeping around the corner just in time to walk with me though the freezing cold to my next class – with a hot coffee, too! Eyes that said more than your mouth was permitted. Eyes that have seen too much pain but that have only grown better, not bitter, because of it.

I love you, Babe (definitely NOT “bane” – as I once typed accidentally in a text)!

Thanks for doing this life with me. I am blessed among women.

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