Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Balance, Part I

Well, my hubby's sabbatical is nearly done, and life in the Baart home is about to undergo even more major changes. Aaron has one month left as the pastor of our church, and we have just over two weeks to wait for our little one to join the ranks of our ever growing family. Then school starts in August and our Big Boy enters full-time school as a first-grader while our Baby (who I can no longer call a baby--though I suppose he outgrew that nickname years ago) starts preschool. Whew, does life ever slow down?

I hope not. I love the bustle and go--even if it means time marches on. There is a blessed, bittersweet joy in watching the seasons unfold as God continues to grant us days we don't deserve.

But this post isn't about my sappy, pregnant musings. It's about balance.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Making it Happen, and I explained that the question I am most often asked is: "How do you find the time to write?" Well today I want to talk about what I would consider the second most common question: "How do you balance the rest of your life with your writing?" I recently received an email from a young woman who I would say wants it all. She titled her email: Life, writing, and changing the world. Ambitious? Absolutely. And I absolutely loved it.

Guess what? I want it all, too. I want a loving husband and a great marriage, adorable children, an exciting career, fantastic friends, the time and opportunity to travel, the freedom to pursue the things I love (cooking, gardening, entertaining, photography, reading, etc.), a passionate relationship with God, the energy to pour into ministries that move me, and the never waning desire to leave the world better than I found it. Whew. I get tired just reading that list. But I long for all of those things... And I refuse to give even one up.

So, how do you balance a career with a family? Or a great relationship with your spouse and the time it takes to foster deep friendships? I'm no counselor or therapist, and I'm certainly not a motivational speaker. But there are a few things I've learned along the way that work for me. Take my ideas and make them your own. Twist them, bend them, or use them as a launching pad to structure your own philosophy of balance. Whatever you do, approach this topic with determination. I don't believe balance happens accidentally...

1. Realize that there is a season for everything. When Aaron and I were newly married, I longed to travel. We had big plans to backpack Europe, tour Southeast Asia, and visit the slums of India. I'm sad to say that none of those grand plans came to fruition. Yes, we've been to Alaska and Hawaii. We've even toured southern Spain and central Ethiopia. And though they were all wonderful trips, I still want to see more of the world. And you know what? I will. Just not now. Right now I have young sons and a baby on the way. Right now my responsibilities keep me close to home. And that's okay. I'm trying to enjoy every minute of the season that I am in right now. But you can bet that when Aaron and I are empty nesters, our nest will be truly empty! We won't even be in it... You can forward our mail to Bali.

2. Don't be afraid of a schedule. We artists are a flighty bunch. We like to fly by the seat of our pants and let inspiration be our guide. Great idea if you're independently wealthy and have the luxury of lounging around all day waiting for the muse to bless you with her presence. Not so great for those of us who, uh, have lives. If you want to accomplish much, you have to be disciplined. Personally, I schedule my writing time as if I have a job. The time is sacrosanct, and though I would love to ditch my writing some days to hang out at the pool with my friends and their kids, I don't let myself. There are other days for that. Family time is family time. Period. Writing time is writing time. Period. If I'm making a gourmet supper for guests, the computer gets turned off and put away. I make a schedule and I try my hardest to stick to it.

I think I'm going to stop there for the day. This is a long post already and I have more to say! Stop back on Thursday for Part II of this post. In the meantime, it's your turn! Are you a well-balanced person? Or does your life feel off-kilter? Why do you think that is? What (if anything) do you plan to do about it?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2 weeks & 4 days to go!

Hoping those contractions are doing more than just making me breathless! :) Can't wait to meet my baby!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taking a break...

I've had so much fun the last few weeks really connecting with many of you. The conversations that have unfolded both in the comment section of certain posts and privately via emails and Facebook chats have been so edifying for me. Thank you! You're amazing, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue...

However, I'm going to take a short break from blogging. My husband has a sabbatical during the month of June, and as we near the end we've decided to take some family time. Time to turn off the computer, let the cell phone battery go dead, and spend some precious hours reconnecting with each other and our incredible sons. Waffles for breakfast, long walks, trips to the park, kite flying, and afternoons at the pool. Mmmm... bliss.

Anyway, in the interim I encourage you to spend some time with each other. So many of my readers have amazing blogs--about writing, adoption, family life, enduring abuse, embracing grace, and so much more! Whether or not you know it, I stop by your blogs, and though I've been silent in the past, I'll be popping in to say "hi" in the coming weeks and months. I understand why people lurk (I do it often enough myself!), but I've discovered that there is much blessing when you take even a moment to reach out and let someone know that you're there.

Grace and peace to you in the coming week! I'll be back soon...


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Living "Green"

One of my life dreams is to be "green." Not "in the green," or Kermit green, or even what many people consider to be "green." My definition is a bit more personal than that... I long to be fair, organic, all-natural, ecological, tuned in to the environment, and socially aware of the world around me. To me, living a stewardly life is about much more than pinching pennies and recycling my cardboard boxes. In fact, my definition of a socially and environmentally conscious life probably has little to do with reality since it is so vast and loosely interpreted... When I hear an idea that resonates with me, I adopt it wholeheartedly. And yet there are many areas of my existence that are as of yet untouched by my fledgling desire to live beyond myself.

For example, our family refuses to buy anything but fair trade coffee. Our second son was born in Ethiopia and after seeing the poverty of that coffee-producing country we vowed we'd never buy "cheap" coffee again. And we haven't. However, after seeing the even more devastating poverty in Liberia, and realizing that the rubber tree farms in and around Monrovia produce rubber for American consumption on the broken backs of overworked women and children, I still bought myself a pair of cheap (rubber) sandals at the start of the summer. Guess where they were made? Bangladesh. Probably in a sweat shop run by women and children. Argh. It isn't easy being green.

I'm no saint, and I have much to learn (and even more to give up) in my ongoing quest to live a stewardly, green, organic, call it what you will life. But there are a few things I've discovered along the way, and I thought I would share them with you in case you also long for equality and global/environmental consciousness.

I'm a bargin bin shopper and there is nothing I love more than a great deal. However, what child had to work a sixteen hour day so that I could buy myself a $5 Old Navy t-shirt? I can't buy cheap clothes when I picture a starving child working the stitches. That's not to say that I don't sometimes turn off my brain and walk the aisles of my favorite stores anyway. But I'm trying... And I've found some great sites where I can buy fair trade clothing at a reasonable price.

Fair Indigo
Cute clothes and fair prices, especially if you shop the clearance site. When I have this little one and need some new (less roomy) clothes, I plan to do much of my shopping here.

Revive Fair Trade
An independent boutique that connects buyers with talented artisans from around the world. You can buy anything here--from great clothing for the whole family to shoes and home items.

Toms Shoes
For every pair of shoes you buy, Toms will give one pair of shoes to a child in need. How fantastic is that? As an added bonus, the shoes are funky and fun, and they've just introduced a wedge.

Believe it or not, though we used to buy our coffee online or in specialty stores, we've discovered that our local Wal-Mart carries fair trade coffee. I'm not a huge Wal-Mart fan, so it's a bit of a concession, but when we're in a pinch (i.e. out of coffee) I can buy their organic, fair trade without hating myself. However, buying direct is better and these are some of the sites I like.

Equal Exchange
We love this coffee, especially because it can be ordered in an Ethiopian roast. A local store also carries this brand, so we don't have to order it online.

The Fair Trade Coffee Company
We've never ordered from this company, but I like it that you can order flavored coffees and blends from quite literally all over the world. Definitely worth looking into.

No, we don't order our food online. But the Baart family is trying to buy local, fresh, and organic. Instead of purchasing store brand breads, we opt for loaves from the local bakery. A weekly farmer's market provides fresh veggies, and strawberry picking and sweet corn season are just around the corner! Unfortunately, we haven't quite convinced ourselves to swallow the expense of organic meat (hormone-free, free range beef and chickens are readily available but quite costly). But hey, baby steps, right?

Anyway, it's your turn! Are you concerned with global/environmental issues? Or not so much? Is there anything you do or don't do (or buy or don't buy) that you'd like to share? I'd love to hear of any websites, tips, or products you love...

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I've spent most of my life dreading change. I like my life predictable, comfortable, and sane. None of this globetrotting, job-changing, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pantsing for me. In fact, I was such a homebody when I was younger that I didn't even like sleepovers. I remember several slumber parties where partway through the night I just wanted to go home. No tears, no gnashing of teeth, just the simple truth: I would like to go home now. The hosts called my parents and I went to sleep in my own bed.

Wow, God has a way of upending our lives, doesn't he? I don't dread change anymore, but not because I've learned to accept it. I tolerate, no, I anticipate change now because I've been forced time and time again to face my biggest fears.

Here are a few of the trials by fire that have slowly shifted my perspective:

  • I married a pastor. Something I swore I would never do. Best thing that ever happened to me.
  • I moved to another country. Something I was sure would break my heart in two. I loved it.
  • I quit my full time job to be a full time mom. Something I thought would drive me insane. Nothing prepared me for the indescribable joy and challenge of being the center of a little one's universe.
  • I lost four babies. Something that nearly did break me in two. But it opened my eyes to grace, surrender, and ultimately peace in the knowledge that what God has planned for me is infinitely better than what I have planned for myself.
  • I adopted a baby from Ethiopia. Something I always wanted to do, but never fully understood until the day the case worker told me, "We can't guarantee that your child won't be sick. We can't even guarantee that he won't have HIV." In that moment I realized that it didn't matter. AIDS baby or healthy little boy, he was my son. And now, almost four years later, my gorgeous, healthy son is still one of God's greatest reminders to me of his faithfulness.
Guess what? These days, I don't just anticipate change. I think I love it. It means that God is actively working, that my life isn't standing still. It's like turning a new corner and peering around the bend to see what awaits just out of sight. How exciting is that? Scary, yes. But scary in a roller coaster, thrilling sort of way. It makes me want to close my eyes and feel the wind on my face.

The last few weeks/months have been full of change for the Baart family. Since I consider you my friends, I'd like to share a bit of what's been going on with us.
  • Probably the biggest change we are experiencing right now is that my husband is no longer a full time pastor in a church. A couple weeks ago he accepted the position of Dean of the Chapel at an amazing, liberal arts college in the midwest. Though we don't have to move, this is a huge change for our family. It was such a tough decision, but we have utter peace with it and we are eager to see what God has in store.
  • We have a baby on the way! I saw my peri yesterday and we've set a tentative induction date for my due date: July 15. Though I don't really want to be induced, we don't have much of a choice... I live over an hour away from the hospital, and my delivery with Isaac was only 20 minutes. You do the math! Aaron is not impressed with the idea of delivering a baby on the side of the road. Also, I need to stop my lovely blood-thinning injections at least 24-48 hours before I go into labor. The only way to ensure that I do that is to know when I'm going into labor. So... the official countdown begins. :)
  • This isn't necessarily a change, but it was a life-altering scare. Several weeks ago Aaron discovered a lump on his tongue. An oral surgeon decided it needed to be removed immediately, and shared with us the possibility that it could be malignant. Almost one-week post surgery, we are so relieved to know that everything looks okay and Aaron should make a full recovery. Right now he's still in a lot of pain, and it's difficult for him to talk, but hey--I'm not going to complain! I'll take slurred words and repeated requests for milkshakes over meetings with an oncologist any day.
Yikes. I didn't mean for this post to be so long... Seems like I have lots to say this morning. Anyway, thank you for letting me share a bit of my life with you. I'd love to hear what's going on with you! Are you afraid of change? Or do you embrace each unexpected curve in the road? Have you faced any trials by fire that proved to be an agent of change in your life? Are you facing any big changes yourself these days? Take a moment to comment. I'd love to say a prayer for you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Being Present

Let me say right off the bat that I love technology. I'm a big fan of my computer, I'd be lost without my phone, and though my iPod isn't strictly a necessity, I do consider it one of God's little blessings. Music at the touch of a fingertip... Ahhh.

But if there's one thing that continues to frustrate and annoy me about our tech-y age, it's the fact that people are rarely present anymore. I mean truly, deeply, totally focused on the moment. Coffee with a friend is also coffee with her cell phone--and all the people who call and text her during an hour of "alone" time. And car rides with the family aren't about enjoying the scenery and time together anymore. Instead, the kids watch DVDs or play games on their Nintendo DSi. We even surf the web while we're on the phone or text in the middle of a movie. A few weeks ago I received the welcome packet from the birthing center where I hope to have our little one, and was shocked to read the following instruction: "Our hospital enforces a no texting policy during birth and labor. Birth is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is our hope that you will focus on the birth of your child and worry about updating your Facebook status later." People text in between contractions? Are you kidding me?

I said I love technology, but it's a love-hate relationship. I hate what it does to our attention span, our ability to listen, our potential to engage the moment--to relish each minute that we've been given. How many little blessings do we miss on a daily basis because we're too busy multi-tasking to notice that God has gift-wrapped a sunset?

Sadly, I think the fact that we are easily distracted translates into every area of our lives. I know it does for me. I sat down yesterday to write, and I found that no matter how hard I tried I couldn't shut off the cacophony of voices that kept drawing me away from my craft. The phone rang, my computer beeped to inform me of a new email, my cell phone received a (rare) text. (I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I have never sent a text in my life. What a loser, eh?) Anyway, it struck me that even in my writing, my art--something that I love and that expresses me and that is essential to who I am--I am shiftless and inattentive, incapable of giving myself wholly to something that gives me great joy. That's just plain pathetic.

So, what to do? I think it comes down to small steps, little nudges in more positive directions. When it comes to being present with people, Aaron and I have set down a few ground rules for ourselves. For example, we refuse to have "call waiting." We will never cut someone off in the middle of a phone conversation to see if someone "better" is on the other end of the line. And we have one cell phone between the two of us. It's an emergency phone that we use when we're away from the kids or on the road. Oh, and though we admit this may change someday, we don't have a DVD player in our car. Rather than hook our kids up to earbuds, we play I Spy and point out wonders along the road. Sunday we witnessed a doe and her twin fawns leaping in the ditch.

As for being present when I write, I think it's time to start being more deliberate about reducing distraction when I work. I believe I may have to shut off my computer and write longhand. The good, ol' fashioned way. Who knows? Maybe sans diversions I'll come closer than ever to saying what I actually want to say. Wouldn't that be grand?

Your turn: Are you one of the few people who is truly present in the moment? Or are you easily distracted? What's the number one thing that steals away your time and attention? What is something that you intentionally do to cut down all the background noise and focus on what's really important?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Reading

The first week of summer vacation has been filled with pool trips, ice cream, and bike rides to the park. I love the lazy days of summer! Especially now since sitting with my behind in a pool and slurping on an ice cream cone are about the only things I have the energy to do. ;)

But in addition to enjoying the sun and the way it makes my beautiful boys even more gorgeous, I love to dedicate countless languid summer hours to reading. Summer reading is not like winter reading. At least, not for me. When it's dark and cold outside, somehow deep, literary tomes that fuel my mild seasonal blues seem appropriate. But when it's glorious, I want fun books with cheerful endings--something that makes me grin (or that, at the very least, doesn't depress me) and reinforces the fact that the world is indeed a beautiful place. I'm going to share a few of my top summer picks and I would be forever obliged if you would do the same! I'm desperate for a few good books... A week-long trip to the lakes is impending and I need at least a stack to take along.

Happy reading!

Broken for You
Stephanie Kallos

Though this book may seem dark at first glance, it is filled with hope and grace. You'll cheer for the characters, weep when they weep, laugh when they laugh, and ultimately relish every moment that you spend with this glorious book. Five stars, all the way. (BTW, it starts off pretty literary and around mid-point becomes a fast-paced page turner. Don't let that throw you off.)

Love Walked In & Belong to Me
Marisa de los Santos

Have you read any of the Shopaholic books? (The first was recently made into a movie.) Marisa de los Santos debut and the accompanying sequel remind me of those books only with more style and depth. These are fun reads, but they don't shy away from tough topics. I loved them both! 4 enthusiastic stars.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

I'm not going to lie to you. The first time I started this book I stopped after about 75 pages. But someone encouraged me to get past the seemingly meandering plot line and inconsistencies, and on the second go-round I found myself devouring it. Lisbeth is riveting, and once you meet her the action will leave you breathless. 4 stars, but only because I haven't yet read the rest of the Lisbeth Salander books. They're on my must-read list.

Her Mother's Hope
Francine Rivers

I recently shared on my Facebook page that I received Francine's newest offering in the mail. Though I'm not quite finished with the book, I'm going to jump the gun and recommend it wholeheartedly. It's sweeping and beautiful and heart-wrenching... I can't put it down. When I do put it down I find myself thinking about the characters and wondering what will happen next. It's distracting--in a good way. 4 1/2 stars because I'm not completely finished. When I am, I'm sure it'll be a resounding 5 star book.

Your turn: What have you read lately that you loved??

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mac Cam

So I have a new computer. Have I mentioned that already? ;) Loving it, loving it, BTW. And though my IBM friends still consider me a Benedict Arnold of the worst degree, I'm so happy not to have to deal with the "blue screen of death" on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. But I'm not blogging this morning to start another computer war... I just want to share my newest discovery.

My Mac has this fun (albeit somewhat useless, as far as I can tell) program called Photo Booth. I discovered it recently on one of my many "journeys into the unknown" (a.k.a. attempts to figure out all the fun features of my computer). Apparently this lovely little add-on is exactly what it sounds like--a way to take random, spur-of-the-moment photographs from a camera embedded in the computer screen. Both kinda creepy and kinda fun.

See? This is me. Right now.

It's kind of like Skype except for I'm (blessedly?) silent. Neat-o, right? But what's the point? Good question... The way I see it, as I continue to brainstorm and dream about who am I and who I hope to reach, I think it would be helpful if we continue to get to know each other. How can we be a part of a community if we never see each other? Sure, photos are nice, but let's face it--we usually spiff ourselves up for pictures. The above photo is what I look like on a weekday morning when I'm sitting at my computer writing. Bet you didn't know that my hair is naturally curly (I straighten it when I want to be "pretty"). Or that my "daily" make-up is some lip gloss and eyeliner (because without those necessities I'd resemble a corpse).

Bet you didn't know that I like to take twenty-second catnaps when my eyes get tired from staring at the computer screen.

Or that I sometimes get really frustrated with myself and my craptastic writing.

And I bet you never guessed that my favorite flowers are delphiniums and that my garden is resplendent with them right now. Thus, the lovely vase that overlooks my current workspace.

Sadly, these beauties are a few days old and raining cobalt petals on my keyboard. Oh well, there are another thirty or so blooms out back. But I digress...

Here's the deal. I'm going to be using my Photo Booth app from time to time so that I can give my readers a little sneak peek into some of my routines, joys, and frustrations. Just for fun. But I'm not going to be posting photos from my Mac Cam (clever palindrome, don't you think?) on my blog. If you'd like to see the unvarnished, weekday morning me, you'll have to join me on my Facebook Page. I'm not trying to be coy, it's just 100 times easier to upload a quick photo to Facebook than it is to write a whole blog post about it.

Anyway, hope to see you there! And if you have a Mac yourself, I'd love to see you! Dare to let me see the unpolished you???

Your turn: I have to admit that it's not easy for me to post a less-than-perfect photo of myself online. But I believe that there is something so real and beautiful about sharing ourselves (as we are) with others. Are you a bare-it-all sort of person? Or is there some area (many areas?) of your life that you'd rather hide? Dare to share?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Making it happen

I'm convinced that one of the absolute hardest parts of any creative endeavor is finding the time to allow yourself to be artistic. Let's face it, artistry needs time and space... It's not really something that you can schedule in or force to comply with your daily agenda. I wish that was the case! "Hmmm... looks like I've got an hour and a half midday where I could squeeze in a couple thousand words on my manuscript." Uh, yeah right. It works in theory--until the phone rings, my husband reminds me that the flowers are in desperate need of water, my son wakes up early from his nap, or, worst of all, I sit down with pen in hand and the only thing running through my head is a grocery list of chores and to-do's that I need to get done ASAP.

And yet, sometimes when I have a big block of time set aside, I'm actually not that much more productive. It takes me a while to get into creative mode... It's like easing into frigid water--you know you'll love the swim once you've acclimated yourself to the chill, but it takes a bit of convincing. So, what's a visionary to do?

Over the course of my young and fledgling career, I've learned that no one can tell me what will work best for me. But I'm indebted to everyone who has offered advice and allowed me to apply my own experiences and needs to make that wisdom work for Nicole Baart. To that end, I've come up with an answer to the question that I get asked more than any other: How do you find the time to write? This is my answer, my way of making it happen on a day-to-day basis. My strategies may or may not work for you. But I hope they spark your imagination and help you to come up with even one small way that you can set aside a couple of minutes (maybe more?) every day to indulge your own creativity.

How I find time to write:

1. I daydream. A lot. Maybe even an embarrassing amount. I daydream while I drive, cook, clean, make meals, water plants, and nearly every other "idle" moment of my day. But my daydreams are far from idle. When I was young, I let my mind wander wherever it wanted to, but now that I have books to write and deadlines to meet I keep my imagination under tight rein. In short, I allow myself to daydream about my books. My characters, my setting, plot developments... You get the idea. I think about my writing all day long--and it results in a very clear understanding of my characters and my vision for the book as a whole.

2. I observe. I once saw a t-shirt that said: "Look out, you might end up in one of my books." On the back it read: "And I'll kill you." Not only is the t-shirt hilarious, it's so true. At least, for me it is. (I'd love to own that t-shirt!) I've trained myself to view absolutely every experience, every interaction, every stranger I see on the street as a potential aid for my story. Just today I saw a woman coming out of a local gas station and you can bet your sweet bippy that she'll factor in to the next scene in my book. I'd tell you all about her, but they you'd want to put her in your book, too!

3. I write everything down. Purse-size notepads and pens are this girl's best friends. I keep a supply of writing tools in my purse, my car, and my nightstand. I also carried paper and pens in my diaper bag back in the days when I had to lug around a... Wait a sec. I'll be carrying a diaper bag again real soon, won't I?  Well, the pens are going back in it. ;) I can't tell you how helpful it is for me to scribble down even a fragment of an idea. Even though I'm often convinced I could never forget this wonderful image I've just penned in my head, if I don't write it down, chances are it'll disappear. So frustrating...

4. I make myself do it. Though most of my writing happens in my head (while I'm giving my kids a shower, taking the dog for a walk, and emptying the dishwasher), there does come a time when I have to sit down with pen in hand (or laptop in lap) and actually write. When I started writing novels, I would sometimes craft and re-craft the same sentence fifty different ways. I don't do that anymore. Instead, I tell my inner editor to shut up and I just git 'er done. Once it's down on paper I can always go back and edit or finesse. But I can't work with nothing, so I give myself something.

Works for me! What works for you? I'd love to know how you find time to nurture your own creativity--even if your creative outlet is not writing. How do you set aside time for the things you love in the midst of your own busy life?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Your wish is my command!

Nikolyn asked me in a recent blog comment to post a picture or two of my expanding belly. Well, this one is far from professional, but here you go! As you may or may not know, I am the fairly new owner of a MacBook Pro, and as I learn more and more about my computer, the more I love it! This adorable (Ha!) pic was taken by my Photo Booth, and though I had to lean down to get most of myself in the picture you have a pretty good view of my baby bump. Getting bigger and bigger...! :)

Thankfully, I have a friend who dabbles in photography and she is going to take some more professional pics of our in-utero Baby Baart. I promise to share a few of them at least, but I can't guarantee they'll be any good. Since I have to give myself injections every day, my tummy is a wee bit bruised--we'll have to place hands in strategic places or the photos could be used for a domestic abuse website. Honest to goodness, Aaron has been nothing but wonderful to me!

Anyway, Nikolyn asked, I delivered. Your wish is my command... Any other questions, musings or requests? Leave a comment and I'll do what I can.

Have a lovely weekend!

One more for good measure... :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010


"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Okay, I'm jumping headfirst into the deep end of a heated, much-debated worship war... But I can't help it. I thought this video was hilarious. And that's saying something, considering that the church I attend doesn't look all that different from the one depicted in this mock trailer. 

Yes, I go to a "contemporary" church. And yes, most of the time I love it. But I'm not completely blind to the fact that sometimes modern interpretations of worship can be considered fake and manufactured, more concerned with being culturally relevant than biblically sound. Some of the stereotypes can be true. My husband (the pastor of our church) sports spiky hair, flip-flops on Sunday, and yes, he has a tattoo. But that's him--100%, bona fide Aaron. Never mind the evangelical tag. Or the fact that he preaches nothing but Scripture. And you know what? He laughed his head off at this video. Thought it was a clever satire.

As for people who shake their heads and cluck in disapproval at the sorts of churches that North Point Media pokes fun of, it might be your turn next. The truth of the matter is, all of our churches (traditional and contemporary, liberal and conservative, denominational and non) have shortcomings and--let's face it--failures. We're not perfect. And I'll laugh just as hard at the video the highlights the church of my youth... You know the one. It'll open with a stoic, grim-faced pastor cinching his tie just a little too tight then pan to an equally somber (but well-dressed) congregation of WASPS filing slowly into a church with stained-glass windows and hard-backed pews...

Sorry if that sounds cheeky. I don't mean to insult. I happen to be one of the people who loves both expressions of worship (and everything that falls in between). I adore a great base line as I all but shout out Mighty to Save. But I'd be a liar and a phony if I told you that I don't choke up every time I hear an organ begin the opening chords of one of the old greats: Amazing Grace, When Peace Like a River, Come Thou Fount... And I may belt out praise and worship songs in church, but I sing hymns to my children every night before bed because I can't stand the thought of them growing up not knowing the words to Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.

I'd rather take the best of both worlds than stand on one side of the worship war and fight with my brothers and sisters in Christ. How about you? Where do you fit? Do you find the video funny? Insulting? I'd love to hear what you have to say. And don't worry, if you think I'm an idiot, you can feel free to tell me so. I won't be insulted, but I might laugh. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Who are we?

I have had so much fun getting to know you over the last week or so! I sound kind of pathetic reiterating this again and again, but you are all awesome. Such an amazing group of women... I truly would love to meet up with you all at some spa in the mountains and have long chats over glasses of fine wine and dark chocolate. Anyway, I've been pondering who you are (and who I am) for the last long while, and I've come up with some statements that I feel pretty confident encompass us all. Of course, I could be off, or maybe I'm idealizing or putting too much of myself in the picture, but I'd love to know if you think I'm even close to accurately describing us. I think we rock. And I think we are a unique brand of women--a diverse group of thinkers and feelers, women with big hearts and willing hands, and the ability to look beyond our differences to appreciate the unique qualities we all possess. Wow. You inspire me. So, who are we???

We're creative and artistic in a kaleidoscope of different ways.

We long for purpose and meaning.

We strive to make the world a better place.


We're independent, but we choose to tether ourselves to family and friends, husbands and children.

We're idealistic, but we accept the reality of our own shortcomings.

We're educated and intelligent, but we prefer simplicity and grace over a militant, self-serving agenda.


We are not who you think we are...

We're brilliant, beautiful, and broken.

So, what do you think? Did I capture you, even a little? Is there anything you would add to the description? Anything you'd take away? I'd love to hear what you have to say...

PS - The winner of the giveaway is Sherry! I'm going to be sending you my entire collection of books. Please email me and let me know your address as well as any requests you might have for how the books are signed.