3 spheres of influence and calling

3 spheres of influence and calling Sometimes it's hard to try to summarize and recap a powerful experience. I want to try to give you a succinct summary of my trip to Portland last weekend, but I'm struggling to put my finger on the right words. Which is ironic, considering the main purpose for our trip was a writing conference.

It was a weekend of beauty and friendship and encouragement and kick-in-the-pants inspiration. Of good coffee and the best donut I've ever had. Of virtual friends made real and reconnecting with dear old friends as if no time had gone by at all, that is to say, of oh-so-kindred spirits.

Jumping back into regular life has honestly made it hard to try to process all that I learned, both in conference sessions, and also in heart-to-heart conversations.

I have twenty pages of notes in my Moleskine journal and a million thoughts swirling in my head, but this is what I'm most concretely able to pin down right now. As I process this, it feels a little like a manifesto, and maybe it is.

As a believer, my main goal in life is to glorify God and live out the gospel. But as an individual, I believe I have a few specific spheres of influence, areas of calling and responsibility.  I can't deny any of these or I will not be living fully as the person God created me to be. The more I invest in these areas, the more fully I will become myself (which, it turns out, is a pretty darn good definition of success, according to Emily).

1. My family. I have been gifted with the wonderful responsibility of being a wife, and a mom of three. It is my job to, in the grace of God, put forth my best effort in these relationships. A weekend away with my husband was a darn good way to invest in my marriage (but so is making his favorite dinner and sacrificing a Saturday so he can play golf).

Discipling my kids and training them in education and gospel living is my primary quotidian job. Parenting is really the hardest job I've ever had, and it refines me more than I ever wanted to be refined. It also teaches me more about my relationship with God than any other experience has.

2. My community. I believe that the sovereign hand of the Lord has put me exactly where I am for a reason, and that my family is right where he wants us to minister at this time. I love opening my heart and my home to others and I take the hard with the good because I wasn't created for isolation but for community.

My church family (and our community group and the music ministry), our extended family, friends, neighbors, school, sports teams, my local Community Bible Study group, even my long-distance friends and our farther- away extended family-- God has me right where I am to live out the gospel and connected to the very people to whom I am meant to be connected. I'm thankful for these people and for the privilege of doing life with them.

3. My words.

Two weeks after I graduated college I married David. This stage of life of marriage and raising a family and being a veritable grown-up seemed to start that day in June. Since then, those first two spheres have become such an integral part of my daily life and who I am.

The third one I have wavered in. I always felt called to words. A voracious reader, one who loved to write stories and poems and essays, a student of language and languages. I have bounced around in figuring what I felt like I was supposed to do in addition to those first two areas, but I've always known it had to do with words.

Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to not have a third sphere of life-- no calling beyond family and community-- but then I feel that I would not be living out true to who God made me to be. And I don't want to miss out on any of His plan for me.

I don't have this one nailed down yet--I don't know when it will fully emerge or what it looks like-- but I'm getting more and more inklings and feeling more of that heart-thumping pull to releasing the art I was meant to create.

In the pre-conference retreat day, we were asked in one of workshops, "How will this realization/lesson/experience change what you do on Monday after the conference?"

And so that's where I've started. I've started with words, with continuing to read, and with just plain ol' writing. I'm craving more consistentency in exercising this craft that I feel called and pulled towards. Because I've been waiting for inspiration and time, but time is just an excuse and "inspiration follows work" (Madeleine L'Engle).

There is beauty and glory in the world that needs to be translated into words, and our goal as writers is to show that the beauty of the kingdom is breaking through here on earth, and to show that to others. (Thank you, Seth and Nish, for articulating that for me).

So that's my calling, my third responsibility in life. I don't want to shy away from it even though there are a million fears that want to drag me down and away from it.

I have so many more thoughts from my experience at the conference that I'm sure will come out in one way or another as I process them. But for now, I leave you with this little manifesto, and I guess, I'd love to know if you've nailed down your own spheres of influence and calling. I know this life isn't the be all end all by any means. But I still want to make it count, and I want to be all who I was created to be.

Where blogging, community, and home collide

I finished grad school in the spring of 2006, and that fall I stayed on at my university as a part-time lecturer in Spanish. I also found out I was pregnant that fall. I continued my teaching job until a few weeks before the spring semester ended, when Gigi was born. I was never so career-driven that I wanted to pursue full-time teaching (not that the California budget made that a possibility anyway) or PhD, much to the disappointment of a few of my professors. I knew I wanted to stay home with my baby girl.

But I've always been an academic. I probably would have considered going back in the fall to teach one class a semester (every autumn I'm drawn to school supplies-- bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, anyone?-- and books and curriculum and learning) if we hadn't moved out of state, where I had no university connections.

It was there, in Colorado, where I first settled into officially being "at home." I joined a wonderful moms' Bible study and enjoyed days full of analyzing my baby's schedule, making baby food, researching cloth diapers and green living, documenting milestones, and learning about home management, organization, and productivity.

When I finally decided I needed an outlet for expressing other thoughts, findings, book reviews (besides just the family photo updates that were regularly posted on our family blog), I also discovered that the blogosphere wasn't just a place to park my soapbox (which I've long-since abandoned anyway), it was a real, live community.

The blog community was a place where I could be home-based but also well-connected, and exposed to ideas, deep conversations, and inspiration,  my academic mind stimulated and my new-mama heart encouraged. I really fell in love with blogging, and connecting over the enigma that is the internet with other kindred spirits who tap down thoughts and click publish.

When I started my first non-family-photo-album blog, I chose the name Gidget Goes Green, enjoying the alliteration and fun use of my childhood pseudonym of choice, along with my new passion to research and write about green living.

But very shortly thereafter (maybe a month later?), I changed the name-- I wanted to broaden my writing topics, and I realized that most everything I wanted to write about related in one way or another to the home. Not just to the physical walls and roof, but to a heart of hospitality, to the elements of homemaking, to the place where we gather to love, and eat, and discuss the deeper issues of life.

jane austen quote about home

jane austen quote about home

Last week I read an old-ish post by Emily Freeman that I really loved and was struck with resounding feelings of yes, when I read these words:

Home isn’t either beautiful or not, happy or sad, full or empty. Home is both and home is and, whether home is church or family or a cul-de-sac. Home has good parts, hard parts, marvelous and miracle parts. Home is where we celebrate and where we grieve, where we are broken and healed, hurt and made whole again.

It's a beautiful description of the place where we each come back to over and over and where we welcome others in and show them who we really are.

Someday, I may change the name of this little blog, who knows. But my hope is that it's always a virtual reflection of what a real home is-- the both and the and, a place that welcomes and nourishes, inspires, and fosters community.

And so thanks for being here. You are most welcome.