What I Learned (Fall 2017)

what i learned

We are now a solid week into December. I’ve had this post in my drafts for a while, but then there was Thanksgiving, then the Sinus Infection from Hades, and then…life. So, here I am, but better later than never, yes?

As I do a few times each year, I’m linking up with Emily Freeman to share what I learned during this past season. One of my strengths is Learner, and this is a simple way I check in with myself throughout the year. By thinking about what I’m learning, I feel a bit more caught up with my own life and mind. Not to mention, it just so happens that some of what I’ve learned became newly relevant today.

1. You can scroll through someone’s Instagram feed on one screen, rather than going back and forth between individual photos and the grid. I may be the last person in the world to figure this out. On their profile page, click on this little icon, and then you can go through their photos in reverse-chronological order.

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3. The majority of Christians living in the Holy Land today are Palestinians. A few weeks ago, our church hosted Todd Deatherage, the co-founder and director of the Telos Group. The Telos Group is a pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel, pro-peace organization that works to educate American Christians about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the path toward peace. It’s hard for me to narrow down all that I learned because I took a solid EIGHT PAGES of notes. This feels particularly relevant in light of today’s news. I can’t help but feel that this fact—just one of the many I learned—would change the way most American Christians feel about this conflict.

4. The order in which you clean your kitchen matters. One of my favorite podcasts right now is The Lazy Genius Podcast. Each week, Kendra gives some wise and often super-practical ideas around one area of life. (Her tagline is, “Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t.) She did an episode a few weeks back called, “The Lazy Genius Cleans the Kitchen,” and y’all, it has changed my life. See, we don’t have a dishwasher, and ever since we moved into this house, I’ve felt like I was constantly smooshed (yes, smooshed) beneath dirty dishes and a messy kitchen. Kendra proposes a very specific method and order to cleaning your kitchen at the end of every day; you can read it here.

Before this, I always did the dishes first because they seemed to be the messiest thing in the room. When I thought I was done, I would inevitably discover another dish somewhere in the kitchen that I had forgotten. And by the time I was done with the dishes, I was tired and not in the mood to wipe the counters or put away leftovers or sweep the floor. Kendra’s process has change everything. There’s never a forgotten or overlooked dish. If I have to stop in the middle, I still feel like I’ve made some progress. The dishes get done at the very end. I know it sounds crazy, but I’d suggest giving it a try.

5. I hate practicing. I knew this already, but it came into sharp focus when I attended a lettering workshop at the library. I want things to be good after a few tries; I don’t want to keep trying ad nauseam. I hate the process of tweaking and altering just a tiny thing and then trying again. If I do something well once, I want to then do it well every time. This is a problem, obviously. It interferes with creativity, with how I cook, and who knows how many other areas of my life.

6. Lin-Manuel Miranda sings the theme song on Netflix’s reboot of The Magic School Bus, and Lily Tomlin was the voice of Ms. Frizzle in the original! (And she does make appearances as “Professor Frizzle” in the reboot.) My boys are a bit obsessed with this show. Every day, Ian says, “Let’s play the Magic School Bus game!” (Occasionally, he also wants to play the Magic Food Truck game. I kid you not.) He also keeps talking about his “muh-moon system” (immune system). Most of the content is a bit over my kids’ heads, but they still love watching it.

7. “Our formation is not separate from our mission.” My pastor said this a few weeks ago, and I keep thinking about it. It’s certainly been true for me: my mission is usually the best environment for spiritual formation, but I also can’t fulfill any mission without formation and transformation.

8. The key to successful bullet journaling is, for me, pre-numbered pages. At the beginning of October, I decided to switch back to bullet journaling. In the past, I used one of my beloved Moleskine notebooks. I loved bullet journaling, but numbering the pages felt like such a chore. I’d put it off, the index would be out of date, and then I’d fall off the wagon. (Without the index, a bullet journal is kind of pointless.) This time, I grabbed a Leuchtturm1917 notebook, with pre-numbered pages. Voila! Bullet journaling is so much easier and sustainable.


9. “There is never a moment when you are without desire or fear.” A new-to-me podcast is The Call with Erica Williams Simon. In episode 17, she interviews Nina Jacobson, and Nina says that the key to telling a story is to ask “What do I want, and what do I fear?” She says that desire and fear are our primary motivators, and we are never without them, not even for a moment. (The example she gives is Beauty and the Beast: we always want Belle and the Beast to end up together, and we are always afraid of the murderous drive of the townspeople.) I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this idea.

There you have it! That’s some of what I learned this autumn. It was a pretty full season! We’re supposed to get our first real snow tonight (not counting that freak snow in October), so cheers to the winter ahead!


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