10 Things I Learned in August 2016

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At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. It’s how I take notice and be present.

“10 Things I Learned” have become some of my favorite posts to write. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. How to say “selamat pagi” (good morning) well enough to make people in Indonesia think I am local.

It has been a few weeks since our amazing trip to Indonesia, and I continue to be grateful for that experience.

2. Ali Wong’s comedy special on Netflix is pee-your-pants hysterical.

I’ve watched this three times, and it gets funnier every time. I love that Ali is a spunky Asian woman who is masterfully funny storyteller. We need more of this! Warning: you need to be ready for cussing and topics like sex and vaginas.

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3. How each Myers-Briggs Type reacts to stress (and how to help).

Read this article if you want to know how you (and others) uniquely react to stress. I can say that as an ENFJ married to an ENFJ, there are some really helpful and accurate insights here.

4. I am working on asking directly for what I want.

This is hard for me. Female + Asian + harmony lover = I don’t naturally ask for what I want. I can go for pretty long with stuffing my real desires down for long periods of time…which of course, is generally unhealthy for lots of reasons. But I’ve asked directly a few times this week, and each time I do, it gets easier. My mantra: “just say something and give the other person the chance to respond.”

5. Coaching a soccer team of 7-year-old boys takes lots of energy.

These boys. Just keeping them focused and on task for an hour of practice is requiring me to use every teaching/coaching/parenting strategy I can think of. I’m loving this coaching gig.

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6. I am surrounded by some pretty great mentors.

In the last year, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of really wise people who I can turn to for input and counsel. Especially in this season of ministry, transition, and parenthood, I am so glad for these mentors making themselves available to help guide me.

7. Having three young kids is wild and insane, but sometimes it’s the best.

Recently, our kids have been playing together so well. Last week I found them having their own group story time. It is a wonder to witness their friendships grow.

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8. My friend Amy Dixon writes wonderful children’s books.

Amy’s most recent book is Sophie’s Animal Parade, and my kids immediately fell in love with the magical, creative world that Sophie dreams up. Amy also wrote the book Marathon Mouse. If you know of any kids who love books, go pick up copies of Amy’s books!

9. My 1-year-old has finally lost that baby smell, and it makes me so sad.

I will admit that I am one of those weirdo parents who takes deep inhales to get that baby-scent high. Please, someone. Find a way to bottle the newborn baby smell and turn it into an essential oil. I will love you forever.

10. Any form of change we undergo involves three factors: vision, intention, and means.

Dallas Willard explores this in Renovation of the Heart. Vision is that picture of the preferred future – the way it could be if a change took place. Declaring and deciding our intention is essential: we move from thinking about a particular change to intending that change to occur. And finally, we need the means: the various processes we engage or resources we pursue in order to experience the change. I’ve been thinking a lot about how change happens for people, and love those moments when someone has all three of the factors – the vision, intention, and means – to change.

What about you, friend? What things did you learn this month?


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10 Things I Learned in June

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At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. It’s how I take notice and be present.

These “10 Things I Learned” posts really have become some of my favorite. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. I really want to take a practical, intentional step in my spiritual journey with God this month. 

I decided that for the month of July, I’ll be creating a small bit of space to encounter God through doing the Daily Examen. If you want to join me and others, check out 30 Days of Abiding.

2. Ten years of marriage is NO JOKE.

Steve and I had a wonderful weekend getaway to celebrate ten years as a married couple. The best part was reminiscing about our favorite memories together. To ten more years!

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3. Sometimes you write something vulnerable, hit send, and have NO IDEA what the response will be.

I wrote an article about my journey as a woman leader and preacher, and it felt very personal. I sent it to The Junia Project (a community that advocates for gender equality in marriage and church leadership). I didn’t hear back for a while, and was beginning to wonder if it was too personal or not informative enough. Anyway, I ended up getting great feedback from the founder, and they published the article! You can read it here: My Journey as a Female Preacher.

4. Speaking of preaching, I got to preach at my church two times in the last two months.

Want to listen to the sermons? Here is Embraced in the Love of the Father, and me and Steve co-preaching Romance, Marriage, and Never Being Alone (tip: listen to hear our proposal story).

5. Coaching is the new theme of my life.

I do a lot of “coaching” as a spiritual director and church pastor. And starting in August, I’ll be head coach of Aaron’s soccer team. So if you see me marching around with a coach’s whistle around my neck, now you know why.

6. How to cook AMAZING enchiladas.

I put out the word on Facebook: “YOU GUYS…HELP. I’m in Hawaii where there IS NO good Mexican food. So if anyone has legit Mexican food recipes, please send them.” Well I’ve got super awesome friends, particularly our pal Christina who visited us and gave me an entire cooking lesson on her enchilada recipe. Rejoice! Now I can cook them and not die every time I pass by a Taco Bell.

7. My 3-year-old is trying to convince me that earlobes are called “ear cheeks.”

I find this endlessly funny.

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8. It’s nice to listen to podcasts while I drive.

On my way from dropping the kids off at school, I’ve been listening to TED Radio Hour and several blogging/business podcasts. It’s a great way to pass the time.

9. I get so angry when I feel like I am being expected to do something I can’t do.

Last evening was a hard one. The kids were all whiny and needy, and I reached the end of my inner peace reserves. At some point I had to hide in the bathroom for a few minutes just to have space to breathe. Ughhh. Later, as I thought about what was so difficult for me was that I felt like everyone’s demands were being heaped on me all at once. I have no great solution to this, only the observation that I feel angry and resentful in those moments.

10. There is a Benedictine monastery on Oahu, and it hosts people for prayer retreats.

Later this month, I will be taking a 2-day personal prayer retreat, and I am SO READY for it.

What about you, friend? What things did you learn this month?


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The Pain and Joy of Motherhood

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Motherhood is weird, messy, wonderful, and everything in between.

Some people have painful memories and wounds from their relationship with their mothers. Some people have abiding joy when they think of their mothers. Some people long to become a mother, and are still waiting. Some people choose to mother in other ways – through being teachers, aunts, neighbors.

I have had a myriad of experiences as a mother.

I have the joy of raising my three children. Some moments with them are beautiful and fun. Other moments I want to cry and yank my hair out. Motherhood brings out the best in me, as well as the worst. Some days I feel like I’m in the Mom Zone, doing a great job of parenting. Other days it’s a hot mess and I completely fail.

I also have the pain of losing two children through early-pregnancy miscarriages. It is painful to never hold or know these two babies. But oh how my mother’s heart holds them with such deep love.

I’m trying my best as a mother. I’m trying my best to love and cherish and nurture my children. But I’m also being schooled by motherhood. It’s the place where I am still learning and stumbling. Ultimately, I believe that motherhood is a gift I have been given. I don’t get to control how it all goes. But I do get to learn how to steward it the best that I possibly can. And as I do, my heart is stretched and my love is refined.

I embrace the laughter and the tears. I embrace the beautiful moments and the awful moments. In both the pain and the joy, I embrace motherhood.