Sunday, November 27, 2011

An Epiphany

I’m reading Flunking Sainthood by Jana Reiss, a memoir of the author’s year of trying out different spiritual practices, including fasting, lectio divina, and more.  I’m about halfway through and have been quite interested in her insights.  She has finished each month so far not by not being successful at the spiritual practice, but at finding that the attempt at practicing it is bringing out deeper spiritual issues in her life.

The chapter I just read is about simplicity and the author’s task was to avoid any non-essential purchases for a month.  What she learned through the month was that shopping and consumerism aren’t real problems for her, but the underlying spirit of coveting is real and problematic.

I read that a little self-righteously because, after all, I’m not big on conspicuous consumerism.  Our furniture is old, our TV is dying, we wear socks till they have holes in them, etc.  You get the drift.  But, as I considered what she had written, I realized that I am not content with my life in many ways – and it’s not the “holy discontent” of wanting to walk more closely with Jesus or even having goals in life.  I’m not content because I look around my house and think “If we had less stuff and clutter and were more organized, I’d be happy.”  Really?  Will a clean house and organized meal plan make me happy?  They aren’t bad things, but they certainly aren’t top-of-the-list most important, either.

My epiphany this morning (which I don’t think was due to the two-day headache and Topamax) was that I’m once again waiting for contentment and happiness when they are  right here in front of me.  PWM and I try to impress upon the kids that relationships are more important than things – but I’m not doing such a great job living that out.

The Great Commandment says (paraphrased) to love God and love others.  The stuff is of secondary importance.  I’ll still declutter and give away a bunch of stuff in the next few weeks.  And I hope to have a decent system of meal planning in place by the first of the year so we can save some money.  But, I’m praying for the grace to remember to love God and love others and let the rest fall where it will.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday–11/26/2011


So, it’s Saturday, but let’s not quibble about details, especially when it’s Thanksgiving week!

1. The Topamax appears to be helping my headaches.  The chronic headaches are much less, so I’m getting a real break between the migraines.  I feel the cognitive slowing more than I’d like, but it’s not very noticeable to the rest of the world.  I’m not going to ask my doctor to increase my dose for a while to see if the side effects will decrease a bit.  In any case, I’m feeling better overall (although today is a pretty rough one).

2. I felt really well on Sunday and made it to church, which made for a successful day in and of itself.  But, it got even better.  PWM and I decided to go see Les Miserables on it’s last night playing at the Fox Cities PAC.  Sure, we had seats in the nosebleed section, but it was wonderful anyway!!  Such amazing music – and a wonderful story!!

3. Rosie Girl got a Kindle in lieu of payment for babysitting this summer, but she hasn’t been using it nearly as much as she expected that she would, so PWM and I have bought it from her.  I never felt any interest in an e-reader, but I’m loving this Kindle!  I have Les Miserables on the Kindle, which was free.  It keeps track of where I’m reading, let’s me highlight things, and is easy to read.  It also weighs a fraction  of what the print version of Les Miserables must weigh!!  A couple of nights ago, I knitted a cover for the Kindle so that I don’t have to worry about just throwing it into my bag.

4. We put up our Christmas window display at The Knitting Nest yesterday along with Cathy from Premier Petals and Kasi from Focusing Life Photography.  Originally, we were just going to use our little 18 inch Christmas tree, but then decided to include our 4 foot tree as well.  Which means that we don’t have a Christmas tree for home right now.  I think we’ll have to take care of that tomorrow or Monday.

5. We had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, iced tea, apple pie, pecan pie, and vanilla ice cream.  We’re still eating leftovers, of course!  PWM cut most of the turkey off the bones, but he wasn’t too fussy about getting every last bit because the bones are in the freezer so I can take them out and make turkey and andouille gumbo tomorrow or Monday.  The week after that, we have a half ham to eat.  I’ll use the ham bone to make the stock for tomato soup.  It’s become a tradition that we do our Christmas dinner on December 26th and I have no idea what the family wants for that meal – but I’ve got a few days to sort it out!

6. I’m feeling the need to get rid of stuff and get organized.  PWM is feeling the same way.  Well, he’s not as fussed about the whole organizing thing.  But, when you don’t have as much stuff, you don’t need to worry about organizing.

7. Christmas is on the way, and I refer you again this year to Advent Conspiracy.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel guilty for being generous, but it’s important that we remember during the holidays, as during the rest of the year, that our lives should focus on Jesus. 

See what others are up to at Conversion Diary!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


For the record, I used to be really good at multitasking.  I started young, as all good control freaks do.  In high school, I could be doing homework while listening to music and talking to a friend on the phone.  By the time I got to med school, I would be walking down the hall while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and looking over my notes before rounds.  And, in medical practice, I was often doing 2, 3, or more things at a time.

When I quit work because of my migraines, though, I didn’t really stop my multitasking ways.  You see, I was still under the impression (delusion?) that if I worked hard enough, I could keep all the balls in the air.  I thought I could certainly juggle educating the kids, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and more along with having the migraines.  The problem with juggling, though, is that you never have one ball in your hand for any length of time.  Consequently, it’s easy to forget what that ball is, what it looks like, what it’s name is, etc.  But, when you don’t juggle, you can hold each ball in your hand and enjoy it and learn about it’s characteristics.

Over the years, I’ve gotten rid of some of my multitasking mostly by learning that the world won’t end if I don’t get everything done – and I might be happier and more relaxed if I don’t get it all done.  Now, I try to read without having any music on so I can concentrate on the words, the plot, the message.  I still often listen to books or watch TV while I knit, but I try to spend some time each day just enjoying knitting.  It’s a relaxing activity – when I don’t try to incorporate in other things to do. 

I’ve even been known to just sit in a quiet house and do nothing for a while.  That still takes a good bit of discipline, but it’s good for me.  Jesus gave us the example of practicing solitude.  I can pray during that time.  Or I can meditate on Scripture.  Or sometimes just let thoughts go through my head.

There are a few multitasking activities that I won’t give up (at least, anytime soon).  I like listening to (and singing with) music when I clean the kitchen.  When I’m knitting (particularly if it’s a repetitive stretch of knitting), I will still often listen to music or books.

I am only keeping one fiction and one non-fiction book around instead of always having 8-10 books going at a time.  I am trying to eat without feeling the need to read something at the same time. 

Mostly, I want to quit juggling.  It’s a tiring and inefficient way to live.  I want to spend time with my family just sitting and talking.  I want to be with my kids.  I want to be present in my own life, not a spectator.  The way to do that is to pay attention, to do only one thing at a time.  Unfortunately, this is a pretty counter-cultural way to live.

Jesus was counter-cultural, though.  And not just so that people would think he was weird.  (Sometimes, I think Christians adopt certain dress and mannerisms just to be “different”.  Jesus had a reason for everything He did.)  Jesus spent intimate, quality time with his 12 disciples.  He spent time every day in solitude and prayer.  He slept when He was tired (think about the miracle where the disciples had to wake Him so He could calm the storm!).  His big multitasking activity was to heal people as He walked from town to town.

This is the life I want.  I want to be intentional; to do one thing at a time; to have deep relationships.  And, while I know there’s a selfish component here, the real reason I want to live this way is because I won’t be too busy to follow Jesus.  I won’t have to pass by people in need because I have 14 other things on my to-do list.  Being busy should not be a badge of honor – despite the fact that I acted like it was for many years.

What are your thoughts on multitasking?  Is it always a bad thing or just sometimes?  How can we live more intentionally obedient lives to Jesus?  And on that note, I’m going to read a book for a few minutes and then go to bed!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Our Week In Review–November 4, 2011

(I wrote most of this on Friday, but didn’t finish till Saturday.  FYI.)


I really don’t feel like our week ends on Friday since the shop is open on Saturday and we often have a Saturday afternoon knitting class.  I offered to have the kids do their schoolwork on Tuesday through Saturday, but they prefer the Monday through Friday schedule.

Halloween was on Monday, but our town’s trick-or-treat hours and Main Street BooFest were held on Sunday from 4-7pm.  Unfortunately, I had a migraine, so I couldn’t go, but the kids and PWM dressed up and gave out candy at The Knitting Nest’s booth. 

The shop is closed on Mondays, so that’s the day we do our errands and appointments.  This week, I had a mammogram on Monday and then PWM and I both had eye appointments (and will both be getting new glasses).  Low on fun, high on utility.

The rest of the week is eventful only for the fact that I had a migraine from Monday afternoon through Thursday.  Yes, I was about to lose my mind!  Thankfully, I’m feeling much better today.

What have the kids been up to?

Rosie Girl

  • History – 1930s, Nazis, The Great Depression
  • Writing – She starts her Research Paper workshop with WriteAtHome this week.
  • Literature – She finished Brave New World.
  • Science – Reading Healing at the Speed of Sound as well as working on her research paper.
  • Music – Playing lots of piano and ocarina.

Wild Man

  • History – We’re listening to The Three Musketeers and he’s been looking up various things online.
  • Science – Watching a Teaching Company DVD set on Astronomy.  Pretty cool so far.
  • Literature – He’s been reading “fun books” since we’re listening to The Three Musketeers.
  • Writing – Adding “dress-ups” to the paragraphs in his story.
  • Music – Band, youth band

So, that’s it.  Excitement level has been pretty low (until Saturday night and the LSU game – but more on that another time!)

See what others have been doing at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Simplifying Life–November 2, 2011

I know, I know.  I’ve been talking about simplifying life for years, but I have been spectacularly unsuccessful at it.

Symptoms that I need to simplify life:

  • The house is never clean.
  • We have too much stuff – there’s no room to keep it all and we don’t use it all.
  • I generally feel overwhelmed.
  • I am almost always doing more than one thing at a time – knitting while watching TV or listening to a book, cleaning while listening to a book, etc.

I haven’t been successful with this previously because I’m still addicted to the idea that I have to be “productive” at all times.  I feel bad when I am reading a light novel or when I’m just watching TV.  Multitasking has been my life since I was in high school.  But, this needs to change.


I’ve been reading the Zen Habits blog and getting some good ideas.  I’ve also been going back to some of the ideas from Foster’s The Freedom of Simplicity and Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines.  Not only that, but my counselor and I have been talking about how to manage stress, particularly when I start to get busy on days when I don’t have a migraine.  Here are some of the steps that I’m taking, although I’m only changing one thing at a time (for the most part).

  • Have Grape-Nuts for breakfast every morning.  How is this simplifying life?  Well, I don’t have to think about what to eat and it’s healthy.
  • 20 minutes of stretching and yoga-type exercise without watching TV or listening to a book.
  • One fiction and one non-fiction book at a time.  I usually have 3 or 4 or more books going at a time – and then feel guilty that I haven’t read enough!
  • One fiction and one non-fiction audiobook at a time.  I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I knit, but I’m going to limit the number I have going at any one time.
  • Get rid of stuff!!  The rest of the family is helping tremendously with this.  PWM is highly motivated to get rid of things we don’t need, which is good.  He and the kids cleaned the school room on Monday so I have a place to block my large swirl jacket that I’ve knitted.  I really need to get rid of some clothes and go through the kids’ school stuff.
  • Only have one or two things on the to-do list for each day.  If I don’t have a headache and I get more done, great; that leaves more time to knit!  If I have a migraine, then there’s no guilt about not doing something.
  • Spend time every day just sitting and being mindful of where I am and how much God loves me.

That’s it so far.  I don’t think I’m going to leave behind my overachieving, multitasking ways completely overnight, but I’m starting.  And, now, I’m off to do some light reading.  And nothing else.