Tuesday, August 30, 2016

August's Fabulous Finds

Patience is a word I need to be familiar with.

In the back of mind it's already been September for two weeks. You can drive yourself crazy thinking, planning, dreaming one step ahead, one step ahead, one step ahead.

This is a surefire way to waste a lot of precious time. Because we can make plans. And then, life. And then, rent goes up. And then, and unexpected opportunity or a dream you thought you'd put to rest long ago begins to take on a life of its own.

And all those plans? Though, perhaps they gave us a sense of control and security in the interim, there's no escaping what they really are: a waste of time.

I Tried Day Designer for a Month and Here's What Happened

So, we don't make big plans for the future. But we can plan our day-to-day. We can write out our goals and tasks for the day. We can keep our appointments, meetings and due dates in order.

As a planner-addict, I'd coveted one of these bad boys for a long time. They're so pretty and their social media game is so strong. Peonies, creamy coffee, puppies. Utterly drool-worthy.

I'll be honest, it took a little while for me to get used to the day-by-day version of the planner. I typically like to stick to the week-at-a-glance sort of planners. But for someone who gets a little overwhelmed at her task-list, it's nice to turn over a new leaf every day and rank your most important to-dos.

There's even a space at the bottom of every page to write something you're thankful for, a space for meal planning (something Gordon and I have been able to keep up since January) and a by-the-hour section for appointments.


Overall, I'd mark it as a "fabulous find" because it's helped me focus on one project at a time rather than getting absorbed by a week-long list of deadlines for my real-person work, my freelancing side-gig, blogging and pod-casting.

If you have a lot to balance and are a keep-the-plates-spinning sort, I'd encourage you to try it. Now that I know how this planner works, I think I'd have a really hard time adjusting to another one a year from now.

What I Read

Our small group is cooking our way through Shauna's Bread and Wine. I know, I know. I harp on her a lot around these parts. But, goodness, her books are so relevant at any time, honestly.

I'm also continuing to work my way through Present Over Perfect. I'm reading it too quickly. Her chapters are so short but so chock-full of little nuggets of wisdom. If I zone out in my usual reading pattern, I miss stuff.

Other than that, I'm looking for some good, fun, fiction. Because. Well, try as I might, I'm a grown-up. And we grown-ups can read whatever we like when we like ;)

What We Watched

Slim pickin's for movies in July. Gordon and I checked out the Bourne movie. Which, was pretty good, and had a story line for people like me who hadn't seen the other 27 movies before this one came out.

Florence Foster Jenkins

It was a delightful film, really. Meryl (Muriel) is always a safe-bet. I had some fundamental problems with the story. But it wasn't really the movie, if this was how it all truly played off in real life. I was going in anticipating a Julie and Julia piece of work. And it was a smidgen darker and more depressing. But the costumes. The soundtrack. And the courage. It was pretty inspiring. And heartbreaking.

Who I Followed

I made a new friend on the internet! Her name is Danielle, and she creates these magnificent signs and sells them through her Etsy shop.

We met each other on Instagram, and before I knew it she told me she was going to send a sign in the mail -- one from her hymn collection. I was so jittered, and was so excited when I received her package.

Little did she know this is my all-time favorite hymn. At the end of my graduate school commissioning ceremony, my cohorts and I sang it together. That moment, everything collapsed, emotionally:

The years I spent working nights and weekends, the financial and social sacrifices I had to make to even get through school. The work. Heavens, the work. And yet, the loving professors who truly rooted for me. And the fact that God's faithfulness, in that moment was so real. 

What I Learned

To get back up when you're frustrated with your life's circumstances. And to not despise the day of small beginnings. Because they can lead to something outrageously fun.

Would you like to be featured on a Fabulous Finds post? Let's chat! It's important to me that I only ever feature products and services that I know and love. If you' think we'd be a great fit, email brett@theprodigalsister.com.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Bringing Others into the Story

Meet me for emergency pedicures?

It was one of those fly-by-night, shot-in-the-dark texts. Very last-minute.

And in a season where so many of my friendships have to be scheduled around full-time jobs, kids, volunteering, side-hustles, I didn't expect her to be available.

Not that it's a bad thing, to work to make time for friends. But still. It was all very exciting when she responded with a yes! When and where?!

Those are the sort of people I always want to have in my life, and the type of friend who everyone should have: someone who will drop everything to get a pedicure with you.

That's when I knew that Sarah was a woman I wanted to bring into the

Prodigal Sister story.

For those of you who are new around here, Prodigal Sister started way back in 2008 as a college assignment. One of my professors had instructed our class that if we wanted to write we should be writing.

Back then it was more of a diary – a place for me to write out thoughts about college. Then it became a sort of therapy. A place where I could grumble about singleness or life post-graduation.

And now, thanks to a little persistence, encouragement from my professors in graduate school, my sweet best friends and a few internet BFFS (hi, Renee, Sarah, and Jenny!), here we are. The Prodigal Sister. 

A blog about community. Faith struggle. Marriage. Friendship. Red lipstick. Coffee. You name it. I've written and written and written myself into a frenzy. Online. Professionally. And in the nooks and crannies during lunch breaks and when my husband is doing schoolwork, the writing I love best.

I'd have to blink at the stats on the page. Because it seemed like more people were reading along than just my mother.

Frankly, I'm still surprised when I discover someone other than my close friends or family members are reading along.

It's an honor, really.

And I feel so lucky to live in a world where we can communicate so easily. Where we don't have to cower away in a chilly, Dickens-like home by a fireplace, hunched over parchment. We don't have to do any of it alone. Our lives, our careers, our free-time can be vibrant. It can be beautiful.

Besides, a blog about community should have more than just one voice.

One thought-process. One opinion. One upbringing. Don't you think?

That's why (drumroll, please!):

We're launching the Prodigal Sisters Podcast!!!!

A weekly podcast that's girlfriend therapy for the life journey. We don't have all the answers, but we promise to be there every step of the way.

This project, comically, started in a similar vein as our friendship. A series of texts, digital blips, where we joked about starting a podcast together.

And then we got serious. Started writing down topics, and having grown up meetings in coffee shops, and had our pictures taken by our friend Christen.

We even have a few episodes recorded. They're giggly and deep. And, honestly, I can't wait to see where the project takes us. In our friendship, certainly, but also in bringing others into the community. Into the conversation.

It's been a long-time dream. And I'd love to invite you to come along!

Our very first episode will be live in September 2016, and we couldn't be

more jittered.

We hope you'll follow along on Facebook and Instagram for important updates as we continue to get our website and voices spiffied up.

I can't wait for you to hear it. And I sincerely hope you'll be with us from

the very start.

Thank you, sweet friends, for allowing me to have the privilege to write and be read. I don't take this lightly, and I'm looking forward to growing with you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On Letting Yourself Get Interrupted

"Sometimes if I have to write a paper and a friend calls or wants to stop

by, I'll just turn the paper in late. It's just a paper."

I blinked at my friend. Nothing in my life was just anything. Just a paper? Just a deadline? How foolish, I thought. How irresponsible. How borderline-lazy.

Those words were spoken to me and a group of friends several years ago. Back in college. Back when papers were necessary currency to your GPA as well as your intellectual standing with your friends/classmates/competitors.

Back then, I couldn't imagine putting something as important as a paper on hold for a person. I couldn't imagine putting my academic career on the line to make time for a coffee or dinner date.

I'd sing a constant song with how stressed I was or how much I had to get done when one of my friends who was really making an intentional effort to spend time with me asked me to dinner. Again. And again.

My answer to her each time was a personality cocktail of incredulous tension: I don't have time.

To which she replied, you do still have to eat, though, right?

Back to my friend, who was speaking to a group of us. Sharing her wisdom with us in a quiet, safe circle:

"I always want to make time for people," she said. "So I let myself get interrupted."

And so, I carried on my merry way, momentarily baffled by this philosophy on friendship and life in general. Letting myself let go of the temporary in favor of the eternal. Staying up a little later, or all night, if it meant helping a friend get through a fight with her boyfriend at 3 a.m., or accepting a simple coffee date even when my schedule was jam-packed.

(Or at least, the collegiate version of a jam-packed schedule.)

And let me tell you: I don't remember a single paper I turned in. I don't remember the individual grades of each one. I don't remember the tests that wore me down and made me unable to function without a Venti coffee and an energy drink throughout the day.

But, I remember the dinner dates.

I remember my a capella group rehearsals three times a week and weekend performances that we we were all too busy for, but somehow still made time for.

Those moments are what I remember. Those glorious, rose-gold interruptions. Thank God we made time for them. Thank God. Or I would've missed out on one of my fondest seasons without realizing it.

So much of my life as a writer is time spent alone. 

Time spent inflecting. Getting in some face-time with my bright-white screen.

And many writers will tell you to make time for your art. To be diligent. To  prioritize your creativity and your ambition over everything else. Because no one will do it for you.

I do this sometimes. I burrow myself away in a room when all of the extroversion within me would rather be sipping tea with a girlfriend or spending time with my husband that doesn't include plopping on our big red couch and watching Frasier reruns.

It's not really a discipline for me. I know the writing will get done.

But the letting myself get interrupted? In the name of a grieving friend or a discouraged family member? That doesn't get done as often as I'd like.

I do this with my spiritual life, too.

I don't want to be thought of as productive. Well, as only productive. Do I want to be a hard worker? Yes. Do I want to under-promise and over-deliver in my professional and creative life? Of course.

But, I don't want that to have such a stronghold on my life that it's the only adjective that describes who I am. I don't want to be so focused on what I think should matter: money, writing, gaining followers, writing fiction and non-fiction that stacks up in the industry that I forget.

My dreams, my goals might get interrupted. 

Many times I feel like my career, my progress as a human who's been pruned and encouraged and uplifted enough to believe that she's destined to have a big impact on the world around her, is at a stalemate.

But maybe, at this time, in this season, it's simply being interrupted. Interrupted for character growth. Or personal development. Or to simply enjoy.

We are always at risk of being interrupted at the hand of our Creator, our master storyteller. 

How many of us have been surprised by a pregnancy? 

Or swept into a whirlwind of a seasonal shift? 

A move?

An illness?


A car repair?

A new opportunity?

A job failure that pushed you into a new career?

A book deal?

A boyfriend who becomes a husband? 

Our lives might be fraught with interruptions. For better or for worse. And we can choose to invite them in. To let them perform somersaults in our schedules and day-to-days. We can welcome them in, and watch the friendships, the joys, the frustrations, setbacks, surprises and disappointments play out.

Because we put what we thought was important on hold long enough to see the beauty in a life that makes room for interruptions.