Author Archives: Beth

Five Minute Friday: Excuse

 

The weather has gotten colder and basketball season is gearing up.

I’ve enjoyed having some evenings at home this week.  It’s harder to go out when it’s cold.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.

This week’s word: excuse.

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Have you ever stopped to think about why you make an excuse for something?

Sometimes our behavior is irrational. We’re trying to avoid pain, maybe. We’re trying to protect ourselves.

Sometimes that behavior is governed by a core belief we don’t even know we have. Sometimes we cling to irrational beliefs.

Looking them square in the face and deconstructing them helps.
Getting another person’s perspective helps. (As long as they don’t share your irrational beliefs.)

Prayer helps.

It’s so very hard to tell ourselves the truth.

So many times it isn’t pretty.

The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, after all.

It even deceives ourselves. Especially ourselves.

So, making excuses might just be clue.

A clue to the real motives behind behavior. A peek at the irrational beliefs that are really driving us.

It might hurt to look closer, but, ultimately, the path of truth is better.

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What I’m Reading, November 2017

On the home front, looking at the carnage of two rotten trees in our front yard makes me philosophical about loss.

I think it’s good to remember, to try to make sense of loss, to let yourself feel the sadness.

I also think it’s helpful to focus on what’s left, not necessarily on what’s gone.

Linking up on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

On to the books–

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The Secret of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers by Matt Bird

I am fascinated by story.  I believe with every fiber that story is one of the most powerful teaching tools, and probably the most underutilized.

I found Matt Bird’s observations to be insightful and helpful.  His field of expertise is TV and film, but I think a lot of the principles he’s discovered are universally applicable.

Here’s a few gems:

“You must write for an audience, not just yourself.”

“Audiences don’t really care about stories;  they care about characters.”

“Your story is not about your hero’s life; it’s about your hero’s problem.”

Good stuff.

 

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Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Five stars for being a wholesome, well-written YA.

It’s interesting to stop and think about what it’s like to be blind from birth. How impossible it is to picture anything. What it means for your social interactions.

Add the fact that you’re sixteen years old and transferring from a blind school to a public school.

This is an engaging, feel good story. Satisfying.

 Buy now from Amazon

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Viktor was a prisoner in a concentration camp in Germany. But, he was also a psychartrist. So, he analyzed the fellow prisoners, the ones who had given up hope and died and the ones who had the will to live.

He concluded that everyone needs to find their own reason for being on the planet: their life’s work. He had a book he was working on before he was imprisoned and he was also married.

Focusing his thoughts on finishing his book and seeing his wife again sustained him during the horrific experience of the concentration camp.

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Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

The main premise of this book is that traditional PR, marketing and advertising with it’s big budgets and campaigns are no longer necessary for success.

Ryan Holiday should know. That was his field.
But today the playing field is leveled with desktop publishing, everyone as a photographer and social media taking your message viral.

I believe in some ways it’s easier than ever to get your message out. In other ways, you have more competition because everyone has access to what used to be only available to a few.

The challenge now is to stand out and be noticed in an avalanche of everyone promoting their message.

What are you reading this month?

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Five Minute Friday: Silence

It’s Friday!

I’m already feeling the increased pace of the holiday season and  I’m strategizing on how to cope.  Just when you think you have things figured out, there’s another monkey wrench.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.

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Silence is rare and precious.

Maybe that’s why it’s called golden.

Our world is busy and noisy. It’s hard to be still and breathe deeply. It’s hard to think. It’s hard to remember to stop and be grateful.

We have to intentionally build pauses in the rhythm of our days and weeks and years where we chase silence.

I know there are those who have too much silence. They long for more voices, more sounds of feet, more jostling and playing.

I’m not there yet. I still don’t get enough silence for my soul.

But, I’m thankful for this phase of life. Too busy. Too noisy. But full. Full of relationship, meaningful work, a few pauses and occasional silence.

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Frozen Grief: Why it Matters to Global Nomads

I was not aware of the concept of frozen grief until I stumbled across an article by Marilyn Gardner of Communicating Across Boundaries. All of a sudden pieces of the puzzle started falling into place.

Yes, this is what is happening.

The Frozen Sadness of Ambiguous Loss explains how the grief process is arrested when we don’t even realize we need to grieve.

Ambiguous loss is a psychological term meant to apply to those losing loved ones to Alzheimer’s or those with an absent father who might reappear at any time.

Marilyn makes the point, and I wholeheartedly agree, that this is what Third Culture Kids deal with.  The very fact that the losses are not recognized and acknowledged causes the grief process to be frozen.

The ambiguous loss is an important piece to the puzzle.

It’s hard to put a finger on what is lost when a TCK (or any global nomad) moves from one life to another.

I think loss of identity is one of the key factors.

Maybe being a white face surrounded by dark ones.  Maybe the status that comes with having more or knowing more than the people in your circles.  Maybe the respect that comes with a certain level of achievement. Maybe the loss of a position or job that defines us.

Of course, there’s the loss of good friendships and the positive memories. That’s something that needs to be grieved. How do you memorialize that? How do you thank people for what they’ve done for you?

That doesn’t take into account the food. And the rituals and the traditions which were meaningful but are not supported by a new culture.

It’s all very ambiguous.

Just having a name for it validates me. Lets me know I’m not alone. Isn’t that what community is all about? Knowing that we’re not alone?

I remember the first time I read about phone phobia in The Introvert Advantage.  It was so exciting to discover that other introverts felt the same way I did about phone calls.  I wasn’t defective.  I was part of a group.  My tendency had a name.  Other people were like me.

I wasn’t alone.

The frozen grief of ambiguous loss isn’t a cheery subject.  Maybe even a little disheartening.  But, a successful cure is more likely after a good diagnosis.

The fact that it has a name is encouraging.

It means I am not alone.

And it means you are not alone.

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Five Minute Friday: Need

It’s Friday!  It’s been a week.  All the extremes of emotion.  Stress. Gratitude.

It’s nice to have some constants every week to be anchored to.  Corporate worship on Sundays is one.  Five minute Fridays is another.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF writers.

This week’s prompt is: Need

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What does need feel like?

Thirst and hunger.  A craving desire that consumes.  A focus on the lack rather than the fulfilled.

Humans are no stranger to need.

Every person on the planet can think of a time when the unsatisfied cravings of the body, mind or heart consumed him.

The bigger question is, what do we do when we feel it?

Where do we turn?  How do we try to quench that burning craving?

There is so much that doesn’t satisfy.

So many ways to try to fill that gaping hole that don’t work.

But, so great the relief and peace when the need is satisfied.

When we are filled with what we long for at our very core.  So wonderful.  So blessed.

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The Biggest Danger in Having a Great Morning Routine

I do 7 things every morning that make a huge difference in my life.

I take selenium. I drink hot lemon juice sweetened with stevia.* I sort the mail for 2 minutes.

I write 500 words, I work on my blog for 15 minutes, I have devotions and I facebook my husband.

These habits have made a HUGE difference in my life, health and happiness. It’s been a long road of tweaking the habits and there’s more I can add, but these are the ones that help me now.

Because my morning routines are so helpful, they set the stage for the greatest danger.

I realized it when a line from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling** devotional flattened me:

Don’t make an idol of routine.

Here’s my problem. These routines are so helpful. They make such a difference in my life. I don’t want to mess them up or skip a day.

But, life happens.

There are demands on my time, energy and focus. Even at 7 am. Even at 5:30 or earlier.

So, how do I react?

It’s so tempting to get frustrated, to throw my whole day out of whack because my routines got interrupted.

I’ve gotten pretty good at plans B through G, but sometimes, I can’t pull that off, either.

And I have to let go and remember:

Don’t make an idol of routine.

 

 

 

*The selenium and lemon juice helps me deal with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

**More about Jesus Calling here.

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Five Minute Friday: Overcome

It’s Friday!

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF community.

Today’s word is: overcome.

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There’s nothing like the feeling of overcoming an obstacle.

Of summiting when you didn’t think you would reach the top.

There’s a lot of excitement at the beginning of something new, but the middle gets messy.

It gets discouraging.  There’s temptations to quit.  Momentum slows down.  It’s just hard to put one foot in front of the other.

But, when the end is in sight, when the summit is in view, that’s enough encouragement to keep going.

Then, you reach the top.

Oh, the relief.  Oh, the exhilaration.  Oh, the fading of memories of the messy middle.

The goal has been reached.  The prize is in hand.

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Five Minute Friday: Discover

Good week.  Busy week. Been doing some learning and reflecting that will result in some tweaking of my writing and blog.  Excited for those changes.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

This week’s prompt is: Discover.

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There’s something about the wonder of a child when they make a discovery:

To see with new eyes the immenseness, the intricacy, the awesomeness.

To experience for the first time and to feel the thrill of uncovering a secret.

We lose that child-like wonder. The reds and yellows and oranges of fall cease to amaze us. The baby grows and we forget the miracle of birth. The butterfly emerges and flies away and we forget the wonder of transformation.

We live in a blaze of glory but it all becomes routine and ordinary when we lose the thrill of discovery.

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What I’m Reading, October 2017

Whew!  What a month.

Since September 15th, I went to Tribe Conference and my youngest turned 18.

Soccer season wrapped up with a heart break game.

We’ve had unusually warm weather, which is good for me.

On to the books:

  Buy now from Amazon

Fearless by Eric Blehm

I’m fascinated by the story of Adam Brown’s life.  He had some high highs and low lows.

The whole narrative around NAVY seals is interesting, but Adam Brown stood out, even it that elite group.

His journey to becoming a highly decorated SEAL is certainly not conventional.

What can I tell you that will let you know what a great book this is?  I don’t know how to describe it without spoilers.

I don’t know how to tell you what I was impressed with, what I was surprised by, how it all played out, because I want you to read it.

Okay, the interesting thing to me about Fearless is the addictive personality and the success as a Navy Seal.

He was a good kid. He did good when he was focused on the football team. But, when he got sucked into drugs he fell hard.

He got so many commendations for his work in the military.

He was able to deal pretty well with transitioning from his work to family life. He had lots of determination and drive.

He slipped up once after a few years of service and lots of commendations. He should have lost his job.

It was the recommendation of the father of one of his childhood friends that actually got him into the military service. Without that person sticking his neck out on the line, he couldn’t have done it.

 

  Buy now from Amazon

This Undeserved Life
by Natalie Brenner

It’s the pinnacle of compassion to see life through someone else’s eyes.

Natalie Brenner gives us a chance to do that: to walk her road with her, to feel her pain and know her sorrows.

She teaches us that everyone’s story matters, not just celebrities and newsmakers.

Transparency about our stories destroys the glittery facebook highlight reel that we imagine everyone else is living. Perceptions are not reality.

Her story isn’t just about fertility, adoption and parenthood. It’s also about relationships, calling and identity.

Natalie has given us the gift of her story.

 

 Buy now from Amazon

Reading People

by Anne Bogel

Reading People is a good way to get a quick overview of some of the personality frameworks. Some I was familiar with, some I wasn’t. I find personality fascinating.

It’s easy to see the practical applications and helpfulness of the different frameworks when Anne shares personal stories of how they have helped her.

I’m recommending this book to young people because it’s so important to know yourself. Having a vocabulary and reference points is so helpful for teams, co-workers, spouses and family members.

Highly recommended.

  Buy now from Amazon

Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Writers want to write best sellers.  Lots of books don’t sell well.  I’m a bookseller, I know.

The premise of this book is that it’s a better goal to write a book that will be enduring, that has good enough content to sell over a long period of time, not just spike to a best seller list and disappear.

He has a good point.

We often don’t look to the long view.

This is a challenge to consider what your body of work will be long term and not strive for long term wins.

Of course, the majority of the population can’t write a best seller or a perennial seller, but every author in the history of the world started unpublished, so there’s that.

 

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If I Perish by Esther Ahn Kim

Esther was a Korean imprisoned for her faith by the Japanese in the thirties and forties.

Quite a story. I learned history that I didn’t know before.

She endured quite a bit of physical hardship. Songs, scripture and prayer was the lifeline for the Christians in the prison.

God answered some prayers in miraculous ways, but other times the prisoners suffered a lot.

Many believers today are persecuted for their faith, but we’re not hearing their stories much.

What are you reading this month?

 

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Five Minute Friday: Invite

Our youngest turned 18 this week.  So, the running joke is that we’re officially done with parenting.  Life is full of transitions.  Sometimes navigating them can be tricky.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday gang.

Today’s prompt is invite.

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When was the last time you were invited to rest?

Isn’t that a lovely word? Rest.

It conjures images of cozy fires and comfortable chairs. A rug on the floor and a lap blanket.

When we are weary and heavy laden, we are invited to rest.

To put down the burdens and put our feet up.

Wrap our hands around something hot and sweet and exhale.

To sit still in His presence and breathe peace.

What a great invitation.

Why do we insist on striving and worrying when He invites us to rest?

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