Sunday Quotes Vol. 3



 

"No human being should learn from another. Each individual should develop his own powers to the uttermost, not try to imitate those of someone else."

-Agatha Christie, via Hercule Poirot, Lord Edgeware Dies

I read this quote yesterday, and it really amused me.  No human being should learn from someone else - that's not a view you hear often, is it?  I don't think I totally agree with that part, but I think what it's getting at is to not compare with someone else.  I like the sentiment of playing to your own strengths and talents instead of trying to imitate someone else's.

Speaking of quotes and books, I'm going to a library sale today!  Any authors I should look out for?

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Here's the maybe-schedule for the week!

Monday: Our Cleaning Habits And Routines

Tuesday: Find Yourself A Hobby: Photography

Wednesday: Instagram And Bloggers: Some Thoughts

Thursday: Reading: Pastime Or Hobby? 
(Note: A blog friend raised this question after my hobby post, and I had already written this topic title! It's a question, that.)

Friday: Bullet Journaling: How I Do It

Saturday: Thoughts On Family Culture



The Value Of Creating Tangible Things


My grandma on my dad's side died when I was around nine years old.  I remember crying at her funeral, but I don't think I fully realized at the time what I lost.  

My grandma was a really neat lady by all accounts, and I remember that too.  I remember her pulling out the toys for us to play when we went over to visit, and I remember going over with my mom one day to make a fall wreath craft together.  I remember her funny magnets on the fridge, and her glasses, and her big welcoming smile.  

I wish I would have had a chance to know her as an adult.  I won't really get to know her until I meet her in Heaven.

But here in my living room, I have two blankets she crocheted.  The stitches are intricate, and the colors are bright.  And I feel like even though I lost her before I was old enough to really know her, I have something of her every time I look over and see her blankets in the corner.

I was thinking about her blankets the other day when I was mulling over the value of hobbies.  One reason that I define hobbies as an activity that produces something is because of those blankets.  There is something valuable about a hobby that allows you to create something tangible, something to pass down.  Something your descendants can point to and say "My great-grandmother made that."

I have other things around the house that have been made for me.  I have hand towels and table runners and baby blankets that were crocheted for me by dear ladies in the church where I grew up.  I have quilts my mom made with me when I was a kid, the baby book she covered in fabric and decorated for me.  And I have wooden bowls, a gorgeous cutting board, and the quilt rack that holds my grandmother's quilts, all made by my grandpa.

All these things make me think that I need a hobby that creates something that my kids can hold in their hands.  I need to print these writings into some sort of book.  I need to print the photos I take.  I need to finish that baby blanket I started knitting years ago, I need to stop thinking about learning to embroider and do it.

Because sitting under my grandma's blanket while I read a book, I realize, there is something special about passing down something tangible.  Scripture tells us we can know things about God by the things which He made, and I think there is a sense in which that is true for us humans too.  I never got to know my grandma as an adult, but even now I can know some things about her by the gorgeous blankets she made.

Material things aren't as important as people, but they can remind us of people we love, they can remind us where we come from.  Holding something in our hands isn't the same as knowing the person who created it, but we can know something about the person by the things they made.  Tangible things aren't everything, but they aren't nothing.  There is value in creating something you can touch.

And this also reminds me not to get too caught up in this digital world.  My grandkids may not ever look up my Instagram account or blog, but they will flip through albums of pictures I took, or read words I wrote on a page, and maybe if I take the time, they can do those things while snuggled under a blanket I made too.


Do you have anything that was passed down to you?  Or have you made anything you can pass down to your kids?


Books That Help Me Find Joy In The Small


 

This whole week has been a difficult one for me - nothing big, just a lot of little struggles and failures that have thrown off my whole mood.  

As I was sitting in my room this afternoon, trying to decide whether to write anything today, or what I could write, or whether to scrap this whole project, I was reminded of a book I read once that encouraged me to see the small things in life that truly matter.  And when I started to think about that book, and a few others, I was also convicted again of my rotten attitude that has been adding to my troubles this week.  

The attitude of the heart - such a small thing, it seems, but it really is everything.  I can do the "right" things, the things I am supposed to do as a wife and mom for my family, but if my attitude is terrible that will sour everything.  And is my service to my family really of value in God's sight if I do it with a grumbling heart?  I can say with confidence that's a hard no.

Anyway, as I work on an attitude adjustment, I think the first book I need to go to to refocus is God's Word - verses and principles I've learned from my Bible is what the Holy Spirit was using to convict me this afternoon.  

Maybe I need to read the story of the Israelites grumbling in the wilderness again, or just remember that in everything I am supposed to give thanks - especially in those moments when I am tempted to grumble instead of recognizing the blessing it is to have a family to take care of, a house to clean, children to teach. And I know I need to remember to turn to Jesus with my struggles and sinful heart attitudes, because He is the one who saved me and can help me overcome those sins now.

As I am working on an attitude adjustment today though, I thought I'd also share a few of those other books that I remembered, the ones that have made me appreciate the value of small things - especially the small thing of choosing to serve my family with love and joy and gratitude, with my eyes fixed on the glory of God.  Have you read any of these?



936 Pennies: Discovering The Joy Of Intentional Parenting by Erin Lynum – This book is all about how the author filled a jar with 936 pennies to remind her how quickly the weeks with her children were going by. This book was a good reminder to make the most of every little moment that you have with your kids. 

Loving The Little Years by Rachel Jancovic – I read this book when my kids were babies, and it was very impactful on me at the time. It has been years since I read it, but I know it made me appreciate those small years so much more. I think it’s time for re-read! 

Roots And Sky by Christie Purifoy – This book made me appreciate little things in my life because the writing in it was just so beautiful! That’s the main thing I remember about this book. I don’t remember the points the author made so much, and it’s been a few years since I read it so I don’t know if I would still think the same way about it.  But I still recall the gratitude I felt when I first read her beautiful words.

You Who? by Rachel Jancovic - This book was a case of reading the right book at the right time for me. At a time when I felt very discouraged, this book made me think about my work in the home in a new way, and the value of serving others, even when it’s not something the world tells you is important.

Beyond Bathtime by Erin Davis - I read this book when I had just one very little baby, but I still remember how this book elevates motherhood.  I need to re-read this one too, because I'm sure it would still have encouragement on the importance of the work of raising kids.

Teaching From Rest by Sarah McKenzie - This is actually a homeschool book, but I am 90% sure this is where I first read the cathedral illustration that I mention in this post I wrote about when wiping faces doesn't feel satisfying (maybe I need to re-read my own words here).  McKenzie has a way of making you realize how the things that seem small can make a big impact.

Glory In The Ordinary by Courtney Reissig - I read this book in the year or two after I quit working as a hygienist, and I love how Reissig emphasizes the ways in which work of all kinds is glorifying to the Lord!  This is on my re-read list too.


If you have any good book recommendations along the same vein, send them my way!

Are Social Media Breaks Effective?


I am a big advocate of taking a break from social media.  As in, deleting the app from your phone for a set period of time.


Every December for the last couple years I have taken a break from social media.  Both times it has been a great reset, and I return refreshed and ready to set some boundaries.  However, if I’m honest, the effectiveness of those boundaries has varied.  Sometimes I set a rule or limit for myself that ends up being way too easy for me to cheat on, and I fall right back into old habits.  Sometimes my willpower lasts for a a couple months before those old, well-worn patterns start to re-emerge.  


It’s easy to dismiss slightly unhealthy social media habits as if they don’t matter - but they do matter.  Why else do we even feel a need to take social media breaks?  We know that social media can suck away at our time, at our lives.  That’s not really a small thing, is it?  It’s well worth the time to figure out how to combat the pull toward wasting time on social media.


Social media breaks can be so useful for clearing your mind.  There is a sense in which social media acts on our brains like a drug - we get a little dopamine hit every time we get a new notification on social media, and it keeps us coming back for more.  Social media breaks allow your brain to…for lack of a better word…detox from that loop, so that you can make decisions about your social media use with a clear head.


Did you get that last bit?  


You detox so you can make decisions.





Social media breaks by themselves are limited in their usefulness, in my opinion.  You might gain a little space during a period where you want that time back (new baby, the holiday season).  You might feel refreshed while you are off it - you lose that “yucky” feeling, you waste less time, you realize how nice it is to not have that opportunity for comparison constantly within reach.  But the second you upload that “I’m back!” post, you’ll be right back where you started.  UNLESS, you use your break to come up with a plan.  


This is how I handled my social media break last year.  I didn’t just take a break to get back a little time and attention for my family during Christmas (though that was a nice perk).  I read books about social media and found resources for creating digital boundaries.  I sat around and thought a lot about what I liked about social media, particularly Facebook, and what I didn’t like.  I made some really hard decisions and developed a plan, and when it was time to get back on, I followed through on those hard choices.


And I have to say, I’ve never been so satisfied with my Facebook use as I have been this past year.  I don’t feel sucked in by it like I used to, and the thought of giving it up for good isn’t even so crazy.  


But…that’s because I made some actual changes to my Facebook account that allowed me to be successful, and I kept the Facebook app off my phone.  If you take a social media break, but don’t use your break to be 100% honest with yourself about your social media use, how it’s negatively affecting your life, and how to change it - your break, in the long term, is probably going to get you exactly nowhere.


I know this because that’s what happened last year with Instagram and me.  With Facebook, I emerged from my break with some really clear ideas about what I wanted out of Facebook, and what specific steps I needed to take to make it what I wanted it to be.  I did not take the time to be so self-reflective about Instagram, and I have to say that this fall, I find myself right back where I was last year - hating how Instagram is sucking so much of my time, but unsure how to fix it.


You know what I’m going to do?  I’m going to make some obvious adjustments right now (why wait until December?), and then I may very well take another social media break, this time focusing my attention on Instagram.  I need a game plan, and I need time to sort it out.  That’s the key to having an effective social media break - coming up with a plan while you’re away.


Have you taken breaks from social media?  How long were your breaks?  Were they useful for your habits longterm?


Most Days You Have To Choose

If there's one thing I've learned in life so far, it's that you rarely can have everything you want all at the same time. Each day is filled with so many choices.  And these choices, though they might seem small, really aren't - they lead to habits, they are the sorts of thing that make memories, they create the whole environment of the home.  

All these little choices.  Will I wake up early to read my Bible before the kids get up, or will I get extra sleep and read later?  Will I let everyone sleep longer, or get them up to start school sooner? Will I clean the house or make a fancier dinner?  Will I read a book or watch a movie? 

My motherhood experience from the beginning has also thrummed with the tension of sanctification. Will I read our science book with the kids over lunch or escape to eat my lunch in quiet for a minute?  Will I hurry the kids through their schoolwork so I can check some items off my to do list, or will I exercise patience even if it's taking longer than I wanted?  Will I sacrifice that last cookie and split it with the kids? Will I hoard my spare time to myself or put some aside to give my full attention to the story my girl is telling me about the exploits of her stuffed animal?  

Will I hide away in my room to type up the pre-planned blog post for today, or will I settle on the couch to watch a show with my nine year old who is skipping Awana tonight because he thinks he might be getting sick?

So many choices.  You can't have everything you want all at once.  You must choose.  

Some golden days, or even seasons, when everything goes smoothly, I might briefly experience what it's like to have it all, to do everything I planned to do.  I think I've learned that these days are so rare as to be almost mythical, and I'm starting to accept it.  Most days I have to choose.  Am I going to lay down my life - my wants, my schedule, my plans, my feelings - in order to consider others, my family, as better than myself?  Am I going to follow the example of my Savior, or go my own way?

I don't always choose right.  Maybe it'll take my whole life to truly learn how to die to myself.  But tonight, I'm going to go rub my sick boy's feet.


What Happened To Hobbies?


This week I want to start a conversation here about hobbies.  Hobbies, in a lot of ways, seem to be in decline.  I want to talk about why that is, and also why it is a worthwhile thing to pursue a hobby.  I don't think hobbies are insignificant or meaningless, and I want to see if I can articulate my thoughts on the subject.

First, let's talk about what a hobby is.  This would be my definition:

A hobby is an activity that is done for enjoyment and produces something, and is not done on a professional level in exchange for money.

I'm defining a hobby this way because I think once an activity is done in exchange for money, it becomes a business or profession.  That's not to say that it's any less worthwhile if you get paid for your hobby - in fact, I think if you can turn a hobby you enjoy into a profession, you are a very blessed person!  And I think that even if you make your hobby your business, it can still be a hobby in essence if there are aspects you still do purely for the enjoyment of it (for example, if you have a photography business, but you still take photos that you aren't getting paid for, just because you love it).  But if your hobby is turned into a business, and you now only do it on a professional level, that changes the dynamic a bit, I think.

The other part of my definition is that an activity qualifies as a hobby if it is producing something.  An activity that is done for enjoyment and does not produce something would be a pastime.  Pastimes can certainly still be a valuable and enriching use of time, such as reading or traveling or playing sports (though I'm sure you can think of a bunch of pastimes that are really wastes of time too!). Pastimes are fun, but hobbies have to involve creating something.

It's not a perfect definition, and a lot of things are hard to categorize, but let's just work with it for the sake of this post.

I don't think there are a lot of people, especially young people, doing hobbies that are just hobbies anymore.  Personally I think there are two reasons for this.

1.There is a lot of pressure to "go professional" with your hobbies.

I think there is this idea in our culture right now that if you are producing something, it's not truly valuable unless you are making money from it.  

I find this a lot with blogging for example.  I tend to avoid telling people that I have a blog, because there is a sense in which running a blog is looked down upon if your blog is not a certain size and bringing in an income.  Personally, I reject that view of blogging.  Writing is certainly producing something, and practicing translating your thoughts into the written word is a worthwhile pursuit in my book.    Blogging and writing is not worth less because you decide to keep it in the hobby category instead of going professional with it.  

Photography is another personal example.  I enjoy photography and creating beautiful portraits of my kids at the different stages of their life.  I enjoy paying attention to the light and capturing a candid moment, just for the fun of it.  It adds a lot of happiness to my life and is a way of keeping my memories.  Is that worth less because I'm not earning money from it?  I don't think so.  

I also know, because of photo sessions I've done for other people, that turning photography into a business would completely change the game for me.  There would always be aspects that I enjoy, but adding the stress of setting up an actual business and pleasing customers changes it from a hobby into something else.  

It's okay to consider carefully whether "going professional" would steal the fun out of your hobby.  And if you think it would, it's okay to reject the pressure to go professional.  It's okay to have something that you do purely for the joy of it.





2. There are a lot of ways to waste time these days.

I think another reason why hobbies, true hobbies according to my imperfect definition, are on the decline is because there are so many distractions and time-wasters in this day and age.  And I'm saying that with no judgement, because I spend 2-4 hours per day on my phone. 

I know that even if I threw my phone away tomorrow, I wouldn't all of a sudden have a 2-4 hour chunk of time on my hands.  The time on my phone is spent in snatches.  But if I didn't have that distraction constantly pulling at me, would I be able to finish the essential tasks faster?  Would being more efficient allow me to be able to schedule more time to produce something of value, instead of scrolling and consuming on my phone?

It probably would.  And insert whatever distraction you want here, it all applies.  Watching videos.  Listening to podcasts. Checking social media. Who has time for hobbies with all the things we could be watching or listening to?

Note: Somebody will say that social media or podcasts or Youtube can be a hobby, but I want to make a distinction - those platforms are not hobbies, but they can be a way to showcase hobbies.  Writing and photography is the hobby, and that is showcased on Instagram (or a blog).  Making videos is the hobby, and that is showcased on Youtube. And think about the podcasts you listen to - a lot of them are based around the speaker's hobbies or interests, aren't they?  You should take ownership of the actual hobby - writing, photography, producing videos, speaking about something that interests you - and don't minimize what you do by substituting the platform for the skill.  (And if all you do is consume or re-post on those platforms - that's not a hobby according to my imperfect definition, remember?)

Just to clarify, I don't think there is anything wrong with spending a reasonable amount of time doing the things I mentioned above.  A lot can be learned from podcasts and videos, and I would never fault someone for checking in on social media and using it to interact with family and friends.  But there is something important in producing something, instead of alway just consuming.  Constantly consuming without ever using what we glean to produce something...well, I don't think it's good for the soul.

I think about the older people I have known in my life, the ones I've known who are free from the pull and distraction of technology because it wasn't something that had become a habit for them.  Most of them had hobbies, or pastimes that were worthwhile.  Most of them produced something that can be handed down to their children and grandchildren.  And so many of them were/are truly interesting and happy people because of it.

I think we are missing something with all these distractions, something small perhaps, but nevertheless significant.  I think we need to get back to hobbies.

Do you have a hobby? Do you agree with my definition? What do you think, is there a decline of hobbies in the younger set?

(Note: Dennis Prager's video about hobbies is what first started getting me thinking about the subject, and he has an interesting theory about why they are in decline!)

Sunday Quotes | Vol. 2

 

"It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.  Of course, you must make it up firmly."

-Anne Of Green Gables

 

Don't you just love Anne?  Lots of good quotes in those books, aside from the obligatory October one!

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As you read this, I am flying back from a quick trip to Montana for my cousin's wedding!  It's a whirlwind trip and I'm sure I'll be exhausted, so we'll see how my 31 Days Of Small Things project goes this week.  Here are some of the topics I'm hoping to get to (if you paid attention to the schedule last week, you know I probably won't follow this - but having it written out helps me to stay at least a little on track).

Monday: What Happened To Hobbies?

Tuesday: The Value Of Creating Tangible Things 

Wednesday: Are Social Media Breaks Effective?

Thursday: Our Cleaning Habits And Routines 

Friday: Find Yourself A Hobby: How To Start Dabbling In Photography

Saturday: To be determined...



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