7 Things I Learned in October


Today, I’m linking up with Emily Freeman to share what I learned in October.

  1. Fall colors are UH-MAZING. I think I assumed in the fall, all the trees would just turn various shades of brown and look as they were dying. I don’t know why I thought this, exactly, because I’ve seen the Martha Stewart Living covers and I did the elementary school crafts like everyone else. But now that we’re experiencing our first fall, I’ve discovered that the trees are actually turning the most brilliant, unbelievable shades of red, orange, and yellow. They are bright and bold, and I LOVE it.IMG_1650
  2. Don’t read the comments. Don’t read the comments. Don’t read the comments. Last week, RELEVANT posted an on-line article related to the gender pay gap, which they linked to on Facebook. On Twitter, someone mentioned that the comments were crazy, and I mistakenly clicked over to read them. TERRIBLE IDEA. Among those comments were some of the meanest, sexist, and most judgmental statements I’ve read on the internet. (Which is so sad given the fact that RELEVANT’s target audience is Christians.) I spent days switching between angry and sad as I reflected on those comments. There are a few on-line communities that I’m a part of where the comments are always kind and aim to be helpful, even if they reflect divergent opinions. It was a good reminder for me to spend more time in those places (at least as far as comment sections are concerned).
  3. Bob Goff gives away $500 whenever he says something critical or harsh. I listened to a webinar between Bob Goff and Michael Hyatt last week, and Bob talked quite a bit about the importance of choosing our words carefully. (Coincidental given #2 above.) He said that he has a banking app on his phone, and when he realizes he said something critical, mean-spirited, or harsh, he immediately opens up the app and donates $500 to an organization he believes in. He said that $500 is roughly what it would cost him to purchase a plane ticket to Maui, and so he asks himself, “Would I rather go to Hawaii with my wife or say this critical thing?”
  4. Small, thoughtful gestures go a long way toward building community. We joined a 6-week small group through our new church. Most people in the group are Michigan natives (or at least native to the midwest). They’ve all been giving us lots of advice about the pending winter, and this last Tuesday, another couple gifted us a brand new ice scraper! It was such a simple, small thing, but it meant an awful lot to us. (And now I feel just that much more prepared for this Michigan winter we’re fast approaching.)
  5. Liz Gilbert isn’t signing books on her current book tour. Her reason why is wonderful. I have all the heart-eye emojis for people saying “no” to what appears to be a given. Like the article suggests, it’s simply a given that an author like Liz Gilbert will sign books after her talk, but she thought critically about what she reasonably could and could not handle. What simple thing was going to put her over the edge? I’m wondering what, in my own life, am I doing because I’ve assumed it must be done? Is there a small change I can make, a small “no” I can say that will make my days more manageable?
  6. BJ Novak has created an app, and I might be in trouble. I keep thinking about all the potential uses for this app, all the ways different media outlets, celebrities, writers and artists, and EVERYONE could be using it. (This blog post is a good example of something that would work well on the app!) And BJ brilliantly rolled it out, giving celebrities and organizations the opportunity to beta test it. That means that when you sign up, you’ve got a whole slew of interesting accounts to follow. I’m on there as @lindseycornett, and I’m really enjoying it so far (though I’ve only written one list myself so far).
  7. And last but not least, the Gilmore Girls news. This is actually a 2-for-1: I learned that Gilmore Girls is coming back with help from Amy Sherman-Pallodino, but I also learned that I will need to get a Netflix account.

Big Magic

Remember back a few weeks (or was it months?) ago, when I wrote about how I was tired of thinking, “I want, I want, I want…” all the time? I said that when I caught myself thinking that pesky little phrase, I would repeat a new mantra to myself: “I am enough and Christ is enough in me.”


I’m having mixed results.

It’s true that I’ve restrained my personal spending in some areas. I haven’t bought one new autumn decoration, and if that’s not a sign of personal growth, I don’t know what is. I have occasionally (but only occasionally) resisted the urge to run through the Starbucks drive-through. I don’t know that the frequency of my wanting has decreased at all, but in some regards, the consumption has. I’d be lying if I said I’ve been entirely happy about it. I often feel all grumpy and entitled when I decide not to purchase something. But I think I’m making (very, very teeny tiny) baby steps in the right direction. My old pastor used to say “Put your body in the right place and your heart will follow,” and I think that’s what I’m trying to do here.

At any rate, I have a story to tell you.

I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of Liz Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I went to Schuler’s on the evening of its release, in part to write and in part to take a look at that book. I found it as soon as I walked through the doors: it was sitting with a bunch of other hardbacks on a “New and Notable” table, all shiny and new and proud. I grabbed a copy off the table and meandered to the back of the store, where I plopped myself onto a VERY saggy couch to write.

I was debating whether or not to purchase the book, knowing that it will take me forever to get my hands on it at the library, and also knowing it’s the type of book I like to own: well-underlined, sticky-notes throughout, asterisks and brackets in the margins.

At the same time, I knew that I had well exceeded our book buying and fun money budget as of late. I knew Evan would be sweet and kind and not really mind if I bought it anyway, but I also knew that we have a new baby coming in a few months time, along with the requisite cost of diapers and winter clothes and extra hand soap. But I sat there having this internal debate and feeling very put out about the whole thing.

In the end, when I walked out the bookstore doors an hour or two later, I put the book back amongst its hardcover friends. As I walked toward my car in the parking lot, I repeated the mantra to myself: “I am enough, and Christ is enough in me.”

And at that very moment, I had a bit of a breakthrough. You know those moments, right? I caught my breath in my throat and felt tears rush to my eyes, surprised by my own thoughts and the realization that was catching me off-guard. It was as if Jesus Himself said to me in that moment, “You hear that? You are enough.”

I realized just then that my true reason for wanting the book was this sneaking feeling that I was not, in fact, enough. Not creative enough, not talented enough, not disciplined enough to eek out writing of any significance. I wanted to buy Gilbert’s book because I was thinking it would help me become more the person I want to be: brave, creative, prolific. A writer.

I know that Liz herself (I can call her Liz, right?) would scoff at this whole notion, tell me that I have everything I need to do my best work right inside me all along. And I would tell her right back that I know it’s true in my head, but I’m not sure I believe it most days.

When I decided that I didn’t in fact need to purchase the book, I also had to ask myself whether or not I actually believed I needed it to become who I want to be, or the person God made me to be.

Don’t get me wrong–I love Liz Gilbert, and I am quite convinced that this book is full of all sorts of wisdom and encouragement and experience that will do any creative person a world of good to read. I am going to buy it, and probably sooner rather than later. But I still needed the reminder that there is a difference between being inspired or encouraged by something and trying to search for your identity in it.

I don’t actually need the book. I just don’t.

I can learn to listen for and write with my own voice. I can trust in the life Christ is building within me. And then I can sit down and do the work, even if it doesn’t feel particularly magical on most days.

I am enough and Christ is enough in me.

Settling In

We picked a church here in Grand Rapids. Have I told you that?

A few months ago, a neighbor commented that it must be so fun to go church-hopping: to experience lots of different styles, perspectives, and communities. I thanked her for the reminder that the process could be fun and was meant to be enjoyable, but internally I harrumphed grumpily. It didn’t feel the least bit enjoyable, but I think that’s because I was still mourning the loss of our Summit church family. In many ways, I still am.

I suppose you could consider 10 million different factors to consider when choosing a church: style of music or preaching, how money is handled, relationship with the neighborhood, age of the congregation, children’s ministry and youth ministry, how visitors are welcomed, denomination, theology, size, location, and on and on and on. At Summit, we felt comfortable with regards to all of those factors from almost day one. Even then, I knew it was too much to expect a church to be “practically perfect in every way,” a-la Mary Poppins. And of course, Summit was NOT practically perfect. Never was and never will be.

But what sealed the deal was the people we met: the connect group that became our family, the babies we watched grow, the volunteer teams we served on, the people we cheered for on baptism days, the adoptions we prayed for.

As we began our search for a new church here, we weren’t opposed to trying different denominations or congregation sizes or worship styles. Still, we hoped to find a place that felt like a perfect fit, like Cinderella and her pesky glass slipper. With that perspective driving us, no church felt right: maybe we were welcomed warmly but had major issues with what we heard preached from stage, or we appreciated what we heard but were distracted by the style.

We finally came to terms with the fact that we would not find a church where we loved every element of every Sunday service, and that would need to be ok. As a result, when we showed up on Sundays, I started asking different questions (the ones I probably should have asked from the beginning). What feels the most worshipful? Where can we best follow Jesus? Where are we learning something new? Where are clear opportunities for us to serve? Where do we think that all three of us are most likely to be transformed more into the image of Christ? With those questions in mind, the best church for us was suddenly pretty clear.

We decided to settle here for a few months and see how it goes. We haven’t said, “This is our forever place,” but just “Let’s invest here for a bit and see what happens.” There is something to be said for settling.

Not settling down or settling for, but settling in.

I spent months walking into churches thinking, “What do I like about this and how does it compare?”

Instead, I now think, “This is our place. How can I engage with what’s happening?” Because the decision has already been made, I no longer need to form an opinion about what I’m experiencing; I can just experience it. I’ve switched from critic to worshipper.

It’s hard to feel like your heart is in two places, and each time we make a commitment in some way to our new church home, I feel as though I’m cheating on our old one. Of course, I understand that this makes no logical sense, but it feels true. It’s hard to have two homes. Tonight, we’ll attend a new small group for the first time, and I almost want to shout from the rooftops, “Don’t worry, old connect group! No one will ever be as wonderful as you.”

But I remember how I felt when I graduated from college and left my community group: a palpable sense of loss, a deep-seated belief that no group of people will ever feel as much like home as that one did at that time. But you know what? God was faithful to provide, as He always is, but we had to settle in and open up, so as to give Him room to fill up the spaces.

So, here we are again. Settling in, and hopeful.


I am…

Cheering on the Gators enthusiastically. It’s amazing how good every win feels when you go into the season with very, very, very low expectations. All hail Coach Mac.

Reading All the Light We Cannot See. Ian keeps referring to it as “Mama big book!”

Eating pumpkin chocolate chip cake and pretzels with cookie butter. (Not together.) Do you realize what the cookie butter means? Trader Joe’s is officially open in Grand Rapids!

Feeling very, very pregnant. Every ache, pain, and symptom seems stronger during this pregnancy than my last.

Sad that ArtPrize is officially over.


Writing thank you notes to all our Orlando friends, who sent us the sweetest package of gifts and cards for Leo.

Washing and sorting all the tiny little newborn clothes.


Evan is…

Working hard and working long hours because he has two big deadlines this week.

Reading reviews of the Surface Book, which is basically the product that for years now, he’s been telling me someone needs to make.

Hoping that George O’Leary will be fired, while mourning the rapid downfall of UCF football.

Drinking lots and lots of hot chocolate.


Biking to and from work every day, while trying to decide how much longer that will be doable.

Predicting that we’ll have some snow within the next two weeks.


Ian is…

Speaking in 3rd person most of the time but starting to occasionally use “me” and “you” correctly, instead of backwards. (It makes me a little sad. He’s getting so big!)

Singing made-up songs while he strums the guitar. They usually go something like this: “Blue car song, blue car song…” “ABC song, ABC song…”

Eating lots of homemade applesauce and pretzels. IMG_1568

Showing the first signs of jealousy/uncertainty about his baby brother. He keeps asking us to hold him, and while he’s in our arms he says, “Oh, baby Ian…” (As opposed to just a few days ago, when he would insist “Ian no baby! Ian big.”

Sleeping in his big boy bed at night with no trouble, but still napping in his crib.

Pointing out which direction we need to turn to head back to our house. “Home dat way!” Clearly, he did not get his navigational abilities from me.


Pretty much over eating meals in his high chair. He wants to sit in the regular kitchen chairs at most meal times.


We are…

Thinking about little Leo all the time, and wondering when he’ll make his arrival.

Enjoying the cool fall temps.


Closely looking at the trees each day, watching as the leaves change to yellow, red, and orange.

Beginning a small group at our new church this week.

Laughing at the funny things Ian says every day.

Amazed at how big he suddenly seems. We constantly say, “What are you, fourteen or something?”

Trying to imagine what Leo will be like and what our life will look like as a family of four.

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Weekend Reading: Some Links I Loved

On Failure, and Not-Failure. “As an exercise, here’s a very incomplete list of my life’s “failures.” With the benefit of perspective and hindsight, I don’t see very many of these things as failures anymore, but at the time, they sure felt like it.”

(I love, love, love this idea of making and SHARING a list of the life moments that felt like failure at the time but have since proved to not be the end of the world, or even failures at all. What freedom in that!)

Finding whitespace amidst a surfeit of treasures. “Things gain significance when they are surrounded by space.”

(Though Anne is talking about scheduling and commitments and “balance” here, this statement holds true in so many areas of life. I’m noticing this a lot now that I have gotten rid of some of our books: every book on the shelf feels special because every book is well-loved, and it’s not surrounded by a bunch of books I didn’t like or didn’t read.)

Parenting is hard. Especially when you’re doing it right. “…just because the road gets bumpy doesn’t mean we are off course.”

(The terrible twos and the accompanying meltdowns have been throwing me for a bit of a loop the past week or two. This was a good reminder, and I don’t think it applies to only parenting. I think MANY things are probably hard if you’re doing them right. Besides, like, laundry.)

On Vulnerability, Perfection, and Helping the Person Behind You. “I might not be an expert, but I’m farther along than someone.  And I don’t have to wait until I reach perfection to help someone who’s behind me on the journey.”

(This is a wonderful reminder when negative self-talk threatens to keep me from ever sharing or doing anything. It’s vulnerable, but it’s also valuable.)

Enjoying the small things. “My favorite thing that makes me come alive is the everyday fuel. The shift of the weather? The pumpkin display outside the grocery store? The way Nella and Dash hold hands together in the parking lot walk into preschool? It makes me come alive.”

(I have been following Kelle on Instagram for awhile, but this is the first blog post of her’s I’ve read. I think Shauna Niequist linked to it. Sometimes I feel silly for being SO excited about the small things like weather shifts and a good book, but it’s true: those are the things that help me come alive.)

Dance for me. “We say, Dance for me. Up to the sky. Again and again. But what we mean, I think, is Dance with me. Show me how it feels. Teach me what it looks like. Tell me how to do it, that it’s worth it, that it means something.”

(I think Erin’s blog is my favorite right now. I love how she uncovers the meaning and value behind small moments, and I love her writing style.)

Happy Saturday, friends!

Taking Myself Out of the Running

When did I become obsessed with being the best?

Did it start the first time my parents applauded me for reciting every word of Beauty and the Beast? Was it in 3rd grade, when our class raced to see who could memorize all their multiplication facts first? Is it simply a product of that typical first-born mentality? I don’t know. By the time high school rolled around and the pursuit of scholarships and test scores and college acceptances was in full-swing, my desire to be the best had long-ago solidified.

You know that game “Two Truths and a Lie”? Well, here’s one of my go-to truths: I don’t know how to ride a bike. I never learned. It started out as fear: I fell one afternoon while my dad was trying to teach me to ride without training wheels, and I got scared. So much time went by before my next attempt that I decided I did not want to try again. In 4th grade, a P.E. coach unsuccessfully tried to teach me during a bike safety unit. Evan has tried to teach me once or twice since we’ve been a couple, but no luck there either. The truth is, I gave up a long time ago and decided it was something I will never know how to do. What started as a fear of skinned knees evolved into a conviction that I just wasn’t good at it, and therefore, it wasn’t worth attempting.

And because I’m nothing if not consistent, I’ve avoided anything I “knew” I couldn’t do well: bike riding, dancing, basketball, math, grilling, running, small talk. Why risk failure? Why risk embarrassment? Why look silly or disheveled or incompetent? Somewhere along the line, I began to believe that what I stood to lose in these situations was more significant that anything I might gain.

If I couldn’t be “the best” (or very, very close to it), I stopped trying.

Recently, I listened to Jamie Ivey’s conversation with Jess Connolly on The Happy Hour Podcast. Jess is someone I love to follow on-line because she is honest and forthcoming about her struggles and is great at noticing and celebrating what God’s up to in her life (or so it seems from a distance).

On this particular episode, Jess shared a phrase that was becoming her personal mantra. She said that she repeats it to herself when comparison, competition, and life threaten to overwhelm. The phrase is, “I am taking myself out of the running.”

If she was disappointed with her mothering, she’d think, “I am taking myself out of the running to be the best mom.” In business, “I am taking myself out of the running for most successful company.” On social media, “I am taking myself out of the running for the most likes and comments.”

I immediately knew that I needed this phrase in my life and my heart, and I’ve been saying it ever since.

I sometimes needs to be reminded that I’m not competing against anyone, including myself. I don’t need to be better than you or even a better version of myself. When I take myself out of the running, whatever I manage to eek out on any given day is more than enough. I don’t need to meet a self-imposed, imaginary benchmark. And there’s freedom in that.

I am setting out to do my best on any given day, and I’ve given myself permission to embrace the ebbs and flows in what that looks like. On a day when Ian requires an extra dose of patience, the laundry will need to sit unfolded. When I’m determined to finish a writing or scrapbooking project, Ian may play cars all by himself for a little longer than normal. I am learning to be ok with that give and take.

Over time, I’ve grown comfortable sharing some of my shortcomings with others. I’ll happily share that I’m not very good at managing impulse spending, that I can not wake up early to save my life, and that I almost never mop my floors. But sharing those things out loud didn’t change the fact that internally, each of them still felt like a failure.

I still feel that way sometimes. But most days, I’m learning to remind myself that when it comes to being the most frugal, waking up the earliest, or keeping the cleanest house, I am choosing to never enter the race.

Over time, with lots of self-compassion and help from Jesus, maybe I will actually get better at saving or cleaning. Maybe one day and I’ll even learn to ride a bike without training wheels. But maybe not. For the first time, I’m learning to be ok with the “maybe not.”

I have taken myself out of the running.

“I imagine that God…puts his hand on my head, on my heart, on my savage insecurities, and as he does it, he thinks thankful thoughts about me. In my best moments, when I calm down and listen closely, God says, “I didn’t ask you to become new and improved today. That wasn’t the goal. You were broken down and strange yesterday, and you still are today, and the only one freaked out about it is you.” –Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines

Simply Tuesday

When I was in high school, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series was in its heyday, and some of my friends and I were just as obsessed as you’d expect a group of high school girls to be. What I loved most about those books, though, was that the characters were progressing through life at the same pace I was. When Lena was falling in love for the first time, so was I. When they graduated from high school, so did I. Each book was released with just perfect timing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I didn’t enjoy Cather in the Rye: I didn’t read it until almost the end of college, and all my angst and rebellion and wanderlust were pretty much worked out. I couldn’t relate to Holden Caufield. I simply missed my window of opportunity to truly get that book.

When I met Emily Freeman at the Writer’s Barn last fall (a full year ago, now!), I teared up as I [very awkwardly] tried to thank her for what her writing has meant to me, the way it has changed my walk with Jesus and subsequently the whole of my life.  Grace for the Good Girl and A Million Little Ways were each released with near perfect timing: they spoke to exactly what I was struggling with in that season and helped me uncover how sin manifests itself in my life. They helped me invite Jesus further in to the process of becoming more the person He made me to be. Emily’s writing has helped me learn to be more fully myself in the presence of others, and she’s helped me to embrace all the disparate parts of my life–interests and ambitions and responsibilities–and bring them all into the presence of Christ.

And now, once more, her new book, Simply Tuesday, is out, and the timing seems perfect.

I have been struggling with my smallness lately. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that leaving my job at the church (which had felt significant, life-giving, and kingdom-building) has been hard for me, as has moving away from our friends and community. No one expected it to be easy, right? But what I didn’t see coming was the ugly stuff in my heart and mind that this process would reveal, and a large part of the challenge has been confessing and recognizing that along the way. Moving and leaving my job revealed that I was carrying around an awful lot of pride.

The truth is, I like feeling known, significant, and influential. The prideful part of my heart took some pleasure in knowing that it mattered whether or not I showed up to church on a Sunday morning, not simply because I have value as a child of God or member of the community, but because my job description said so. My friend Eddie recently Tweeted, “One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned about myself is that being insanely busy has way more to do with ego than with time management.” That’s true for me as well. I like feeling important. It’s not pretty, it sounds arrogant, and I know it. But it’s the truth.

Now, stripped of the job title, I find myself looking for worth in a million different ways and spending a lot of my mental energy thinking about what I’m going to do next, instead of perhaps asking, “Who is God asking me to become? What does this small moment hold for me?”

In Simply Tuesday, Emily shares the stories and discoveries that have helped her embrace “small-moment living in a fast-moving world.” Part of that transformation happened when her husband left his job as a youth pastor, and while I’ve been following that journey through Emily’s blog the past few years, I hadn’t made the connection to my own journey until picking up the book. Emily writes about that, about her own journey as a writer and mom and friend and Jesus-follower, and each page felt like looking into a mirror.

My life feels small right now. I don’t have deadlines to meet or an overflowing e-mail inbox. No one is waiting for me to tell them where and when they need to show up or asking my opinion on curriculum. And I hate admitting it but the truth is, I have felt like something was missing and that I was less valuable without it. (And this is just when it comes to vocation and work…I could go on and on about motherhood and community and social media and all the other ways this is manifesting itself.)

“I know the pain of inefficiency, the addiction of ambition, the longing to build something important, and the disappointment that comes when the outcome looks different than I thought.”

Simply Tuesday is helping me remember that Jesus always chose the smaller, simpler way. “He came as a baby, small among men. He began to build his kingdom in the womb of young Mary. Jesus himself arrived small on earth, but he was not insufficient or lacking in significance. Simply, he did not hold on to his own glory.” When Jesus talked about faith, he talked about small things: salt, yeast, and mustard seeds. He distanced himself from the crowds, and asked his friends not to talk about his miracles, and built the kingdom but without seeking glory for himself. It’s the strangest of paradoxes, but it makes me love him all the more.

I have felt what Emily calls “the pain of smallness,” because I have been striving to build a life and manufacture influence: dismissing “small” as a negative thing, though it was subconscious most of the time. Instead, I’m now learning to embrace small, to accept the life that Christ is building within me.

“I’m figuring out how to walk with Christ into my day, into Target, into church, into the kitchen, and most importantly, into the lives of other people. Christ doesn’t stop being relevant just because I’m standing at my sink, cleaning out my closet, meeting or coffee, driving to the bank…Sometimes, that’s what prayer is. Simply inviting God to join us where we actually are, not because he isn’t already here but because inviting him reminds us that it’s true.”

I have underlined almost the entire book. It is dog-eared and sticky-noted and has been pulled off the bookshelf a million times. I cried my way through certain chapters and paragraphs, and when I read the prayers at the end of each section, I actually had to stop and put the book down and close my eyes and say, “Amen,” because I knew how profoundly true Emily’s words were and needed to be in my life.

Truthfully, I feel more healed and whole, and I didn’t know I needed healing before I set out. I’m more grateful for the job I held, the team I led, the ministry I was a part of.  I’m also no longer resentful of the small in my life, and as Emily writes, “small is my new free.”