Set Down The Strings.

I have this counterproductive dance I do with my long-distance loved ones.

Here’s how it goes: when I don’t expect to see faraway friends and family anytime soon, I’m pretty good at keeping in touch. I make calls, write cards, and send care packages.

But when I do expect to see people soon – say, in the weeks just before a family vacation – I slack off. I don’t call, and I hold back from sharing. My justification for this is that I’m saving up the best discussion topics for in-person interaction.

Family

My sweet family, Thanksgiving 2015 – we’ve been taking group-shot selfies since way before they were cool.

Alas, this saving up mentality doesn’t deliver on its promises.

I don’t feel close to my loved ones when I’m hoarding information. Rather, I feel close to beloved people when I’m sharing my stories, trusting that there will always be more to tell.

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In Which I Dare To … Dress Better.

It’s funny how, without meaning to, we can get stuck seeing ourselves a certain way.

Until recently, I’d feel bemused (and even confused) whenever someone complimented me on my appearance or clothing choices. I’d smile and say thank you, but still, a voice inside would say, Oh, if only they knew …

Sure, I might appear to be a grown woman wearing a nice dress, but inside of me lived a shy, vulnerable girl who chose to wear prairie dresses and cameos in homage to her early literary hero, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Lest you think I exaggerate, I will include photographic evidence.

gradeschool

Grandparents’ Day in elementary school

As you’d expect, I got teased about my clothes a lot; even my good friends thought they were weird. I hardly ever felt like I was wearing the ‘right’ thing, or that I was ‘cool’.

By contrast, my husband Jonathan remembers looking around his middle school, wondering at his peers’ collective obsession with being ‘the cool people’. Then he had this epiphany: “Wait a minute … I am the cool people!” I wish I could have gone through life with this same assurance, but then, I’m guessing that this realization came easier for him. After all, he never wore a sunbonnet to school.

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This Makes God Smile.

Friends, I’m going to share an excerpt from a new book with you today. But if hearing the words ‘daily devotional’ makes you want to bolt, I understand, because I feel that way sometimes too.

Daily devotionals and I have a checkered history, as they tend to trigger perfectionistic thinking. If I’d miss a day, I’d start to feel bad about myself, thinking, Shouldn’t I be more disciplined?

And at some point I’d start comparing myself to the author, thinking, Shouldn’t I be ‘more spiritual’, more like so-and-so? Then I’d end up feeling like I’d failed at loving God if I admitted that the book was hurting rather than helping. In short, daily devotionals equaled a big mess.

But today I want to tell you about a book that has been a safe place for me to heal from all that. It’s called Journeying Through Lent, and it’s by my dear friend and fellow writer Brooke Adams Law. (You may remember Brooke our Spend It Offering Light series.) The book is on sale at Amazon for $1.99, just in time for Lent, which begins Wednesday, February 18.

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