Browsing Category: Intentional Living

Living in a World at War

All of yesterday my mind was raging, wondering what my response should be regarding the new deaths of two black men. Am I even allowed to have a response? Last night I lay in bed, my mind definitely not shutting off. How could it? The news had just flashed across my feed telling me of the deaths of even more people. Senseless deaths, because honestly, is death ever senseful?

I’m white. My husband is white. My children are white. Hell, our last name is White. We are as white as wonderbread. We don’t have colored friends. I never have. I live in rural New England: There are no blacks here. I’ve mourned that for all of my aware life. So no. I don’t understand all of the subtle cultural nuances and difficulties. I want to.

Someone tells me I’m not allowed to have an opinion because I’m white. Someone else tells me I don’t get it because I’m white. Someone else tells me that if I don’t speak up then I am part of the problem.  Someone else tells me I don’t have the right to speak up. Someone else says that I can’t mourn the murders of two black men and police officers. I don’t know the right things to say, I don’t know the right words to use.

The only thing I do know is that ALL LIVES MATTER (I know there are those who HATE that statement). I don’t say that as an excuse or a platitude, I’m not trying to justify the lives lost on any side.  I say that because it is the Gospel truth. Jesus does not care about the color of one’s skin: People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

I know that police can step out of line and be bought and racist. I know police can step in the line of fire to protect those they have sworn to serve, without questioning the “worthiness” of that person’s skin color. I know people do things out of character when they are scared. I know that things can be set in motion that no one intended to have happen. I know people will kill others without a thought. I don’t know the numbers and statistics of deaths and murders, the ratios of blacks to whites. What I don’t know is a lot more than what I do. But I am trying.

I don’t know the fear of a mother with a dark skinned son, or a wife with a husband in blue. I do know the fear of a wife and mother though. I know the fear that someone may take the life of one of my children or my husband. I’m sure someone will say that I have no real idea of that fear because I sit in my white privilege castle, and maybe that’s true.IMG_1551

I also don’t know where mine or my children’s lives will be called to go. I don’t know if one of my children will swear to serve and protect, or serve as a missionary. I don’t know if a son or daughter in law of mine will be black. I don’t know if there is a precious little one somewhere with dark skin that Jesus is calling me to love and mother. But I do know that I want to be able to hold my head up and tell them they are loved, that their life is valued, that I didn’t just sit at war in myself about what to do, doing and saying nothing.

We are a society that does not value the inconvenient inconsequential life, the life that makes us uncomfortable. We place value only on what is valuable directly to us; on that, all sides are guilty. Life doesn’t matter in this world.

The lives of others don’t ever matter nearly as much as our own. No other cause holds more importance than our own. We champion our cause as the only important one, the only one that matters. That if we don’t address THIS cause first none of the others will matter.

Black lives matter. Unborn lives matter. White lives matter.
All lives matter
.

This truth of equal value doesn’t lessen the value of it’s parts. A truth can’t ever lessen the truth of other truths, it can only bring about the commonality in all of them. LIFE MATTERS! I do know that every single life matters. I do know that until we are ALL willing to hold ALL life sacred it will keep on happening. Until we are willing to step outside of a culture bathed in blood, stand firm and say NO MORE,  we will continue to drown in it.

 

*Disclaimer: I will not entertain any derisive comments. I am not perfect, I’m sure I have said or viewed things wrongly. I only know that my heart is breaking, I am sick to my stomach at the amount of bloodshed that has occurred this week alone, and I have no answers or solutions.

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET!

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

It’s official: Summer is here!

School finished last week, swim lessons are soon, and the temperatures are rising: There are just some things that just ooze summer. Particularly when it comes to magazine articles and ads all toting the same message: “MAKE THIS THE BEST SUMMER YET!” That somehow by using this product or buying that gadget, our burning desire to experience the ABSOLUTE BEST SUMMER YET will be fulfilled.

Here are some easy tips, that I’ve tried, that certainly help me to enjoy the best Summer has to offer:

How to have the Best Summer Yet
{in 3 easy steps}

How to Have the BEST SUMMER YET! (and what does that even mean) @JessicaMWhite.com

Stop

Stop racing around, feeling like there are a thousand things to accomplish, because summer is only so long. If you’re racing all over the place, you’re not enjoying what you’re actually doing. Look at the schedule, make some changes. Maybe it means not having the kids in so many activities, canceling a few engagements, or reprioritizing what’s on the agenda.

Drop

Once in a while drop what you’re doing and take 10 seconds, 10 SECONDS; close your eyes, breath and feel what’s around you, really taste that berry, or relive a favorite memory. Don’t even think about telling me you don’t have 10 spare seconds in your day, because ain’t nobody that busy. Those 10 seconds will give you enough time to process what your thinking about, and give you a momentary respite from the chaos.

Roll

Roll with it. If you have a crazy whim to forego dinner and get the kids an ice cream…it’s seriously not going to kill anyone, but I can guarantee you the kids will remember that ONE TIME {or more} that mom let them have ice cream for dinner. If someone calls you about a spontaneous get together, do it {even if it means going to the grocery store and bringing a deli salad}. Or invite them over. Don’t think about what your house looks like, think about spending time with your family, a friend, a neighbor.

If you can do those 3 three things, I can pretty much guarantee that your summer is going to be the best yet, because you actually took the time to remember it, to experience it to the fullest.

Those advertising people are sneaky. Somehow they convince us that we need their things in order to be happy; to have a Summer that is actually worth bragging-rights come the Fall. Psst….we don’t. All we need to have the best of any thing, any experience, is to actively pursue God’s desires for us in this life, which is to enjoy the world He has created for us and the people he has blessed us with.

“But seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 6:33

Now, this doesn’t mean since we were kind enough to include God in the things that we think are the “best” for us, that it will be given to us. We must pursue what God deems best, what He would have us find fulfillment in, which is Him; activities and things which will draw us closer to Him. That is always what is Best.

As long as we are seeking our own enjoyment, we will be left disappointed. Having missed out on what truly is the best of anything. As long as our heart is motivated for ourselves, not God, we won’t find fulfillment in what the world deems the best-ever-of-all-time anything.

Summer is here, a time of year we all rejoice in. Seek not the best of the world, but the best of God in the world. The beauty He has created for us to enjoy, drawing our hearts and minds to Him, and all the best He’s created just for us.

“The heavens declare the Glory of God; the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”
Psalm 19:1

Every summer already is the “Best summer yet”, because every day is new, every day is a fresh start, a new day for us to seek God and His will for our lives, to go deeper in His word and draw closer to Him. Why settle for less, when God will ALWAYS give you the best?

How do you plan on truly enjoying your Summer?

 

This post originally appeared on my other blog, on 6.30.14.

Overcoming Creative’s Block

This blogging thing hasn’t been coming easy to me the past few months. I think I feel so far removed from my creativity that I feel as though overcoming creative block is impossible.  I’ve allowed myself to get to the place of “Why am I even trying?!”  Which is absolutely ridiculous, but it’s the truth. I see so few people reading and sharing blogs, see so many who are writing and creating beautiful spaces, that my space seems rather more an eye-sore, than a heart-salve.Overcoming creative block

I tell myself it doesn’t matter if I don’t have perfectly curated graphics and pinnable images. That it isn’t necessary if the words resonant with at least one person. The problem is that I desperately WANT to create that visual beauty in whatever way it is birthed. I take pictures and look at them and wait and ruminate (did you know that you should wait before sharing a picture on INSTA-gram? That it’s better to really be intentional about the photo and what you say?) and then convince myself no one wants to see this, that it’s not as good as I want it to be, so why bother. Of course, this has also bled over into my quilting as well.

Can you tell that sometimes most times I am my own worst enemy and critic?

But who isn’t?! We all are. I’d love to tell you that I figured out the fail proof way of being free in one’s creativity without feeling like a failure or that it’s good, but not nearly good enough. Or that good enough is good ENOUGH. I don’t. I don’t know how. I do know that it takes a bit less moaning and groaning and bit a more just doing it. Just putting fingers to the keys, blades to the fabric, and needles to the thread: Letting the words and fabric fall where they may.

Sometimes the hardest part of starting is getting started.

That’s where I feel I am.

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (READ IT if you consider yourself a creative of any sort). Unfortunately, I had a library copy that I couldn’t mark up, because there was so much delicious goodness in that book (seriously, just google quotes from the book)! So much that just spoke to my struggling creative soul, and ALL OF IT telling me to just get over it, over myself, and just do a little bit, just START! That if I don’t even do that, then I’m doing myself and the world a disservice by not delving into my God-given creativity.

The bottom line: I need to get over what I expect my writing should look like; I need to get over feeling as though, if I can’t do “perfection” then I shouldn’t try; I need to get over this hurdle and just write. That’s what I need to do. I need to convince myself that I am a writer, even if I don’t have any “published” works. That I don’t need to have a certain pen and paper or laptop (even though I function much better when I’m not distracted by things that are seriously bugging me). That I can just string words together and let them exist for now, maybe to be edited…maybe not.

I know I’m not the only one struggling with this, because if I was Big Magic wouldn’t be as popular a book as it is, and there wouldn’t be a plethora of writing groups on facebook: Obviously, a lot of people struggle with their creativity. Who’s with me?! Who’s struggling to creating, whether it be with words, paints, fabrics or something else. I know I’m not alone.

Do you listen to podcasts?

Over the last few years I’ve spent a bit more time listening to podcasts…they were great when riding back and forth to Albany for doctors appointments (2 hours one way). I’ve had a lot less time lately to listen to them, which has been kind of sad. One in particular I’ve made a concerted effort to listen to Sarah Werner’s Write Now Podcast, because I love it! IMG_5934

I don’t remember when or who I started listening to with Podcasts…I think maybe it was Kat Lee’s How They Blog, which I’m not even sure it exists anymore. I do know that she does Inspired to Action, which is another great blog. Anyways. It went from there to God Centered Mom and a whole bunch of other ones, a lot of them radio shows that I just never caught on the radio.

Then came the day that I just declared podcast bankruptcy because I couldn’t handle looking at the number of unplayed podcasts. In November I was looking for podcasts specifically about writing, which is when I found Sarah’s awesome podcast, which is what got me back into the whole listening to podcasts thing and wanting to BE a podcaster {I love them, I’d love to do one, I’d love to be on one…no idea what or who I would talk to}.

The thing I love about podcasts is how my mind can be engaged in something, while doing mindless stuff. I can learn something new, be entertained, inspired, or just about anything else while listening to a podcast and it doesn’t take away from my ability to perform any of the myriad of mindless activities that I need to do on a regular basis.

Just recently I started cleaning our church on a weekly basis which gives me a couple of hours of quiet time to listen to podcasts! Score! Until I got caught up on every podcast episode…now I am in need of some new material…WHICH IS WHERE YOU COME IN! What are your favorite podcasts? Why? Do you listen to every episode or pick and choose? And, if you DON’T listen to podcasts…why not?

What do I listen to?

I love Write Now Podcast, which I mentioned above. She does two different types, the more frequent ones are interviews, referred to as Coffee Breaks, and then there is the more technical/inspirational being a writer ones {which are my favorite!}. I have yet to listen to a Coffee Break, just because…my time was limited, but with cleaning I’m planning on delving more into them.

I also started listening to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s What Should I Read Next? The premise of the podcast is interviews and matchmaking between writers/readers and what they have been reading and what they should read next. It’s really a rather fascinating idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something similar once a month on here.

I’ve already mentioned God Centered Mom and Inspired to Action, both of which I really enjoy. I just starte
d listening to Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz, which is great, as is Tsh Oxenreider’s The simple Show. I do also enjoy listening to ProBlogger‘s podcast, but it’s more on the if-the-topic-interests-me basis, the same for Focus on the Family‘s daily broadcast.

I’ve really been looking for a family radio theater kind of podcast…either Lamplighter or something similar, but haven’t come across one. We love the Family Hour on Family Life Network, but it goes too late for our crew {they’re in bed by 7:30}.

What are your suggestions? What podcasts do you love? or maybe one that you listened to that you’re definitely not tuning in to again. Maybe you don’t even listen to podcasts. I want to hear from YOU!

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way {more than a review}

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way a reivew @JessicaMWhite.com

I’ve long loved the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible: One sister sitting peacefully at the feet of Jesus, the other scurrying around trying to make everything perfect for Him. There’s something about the story that touches most, if not all, of us: We all struggle to find the balance between these two women and what Jesus calls them to be.

This is such a heart-topic for me, that a few years ago I did an entire series in October {31 Days} about How to Use Your Martha to Be a Mary {Check out my series HERE}taking the every day business that we all have to do and using that to bless those around us. So often we get caught up in life that we neglect to be a Mary, that we neglect to sit peacefully at the feet of Jesus and just listen. There’s all this Martha-Busyness around us that we really do HAVE to do. This is what Sarah Mae’s new book, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way is all about!

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way a reivew @JessicaMWhite.com

Sarah Mae’s book started out, just as my series did, as a 31 days series called “31 Days to Clean”, but now it’s updated and revise:

31 Days to Clean is now Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean Home and a Satisfied Soul.

And this time, the battle cry is for the heart to know it can be loved and secure and identified in the One who gives us our homes and our calling. 

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way is for those of us who are still drowning a bit in housework, but who need to know that our identity is not in the work or the expectations put on us. At the heart, this book is about love, loving ourselves and others through a home that offers rest and peace and welcome. It is a move towards gentle homemaking, where we accept our limitations with grace, and offer that same grace to those who come under our roofs and into our care.

If you’ve struggled under the weight of all there is to do and be as a woman who makes a home, my hope is that you will find in this book refreshment and relief for your weary, overwhelmed soul. 

~From Sarah Mae’s email newsletter

What are my thoughts on it? I love it! The book is broken down into quick to read sections for each day of the month; a few pages of inspiration, a Mary Challenge, a journal-style page of devotions and questions, followed by a Martha challenge, with practical cleaning tasks and tips.

You can take each day as it comes, read the whole thing at once, address the Martha-housekeeping tasks, or focus on the Mary Bible-study. It’s truly fantastic and flexible, which is Sarah Mae’s entire idea. Homemaking shouldn’t be this daunting thing and it doesn’t have to be, but we also need to keep our priorities and faith in order.

The great thing about Sarah Mae’s book, and her in general, is that this is entirely a gentle approach to housekeeping. This isn’t about you need to do this, this and this, or you’re failing. This is about grace. This book is about doing the best you can and leaving the rest to God. It’s about creating a home that is filled with that grace, so that you can pour it out on those who live and visit your home.

Right now Sarah Mae is offering a special gift to anyone who purchases her book:  http://sarahmae.com/2016/03/cleaningfun/

Where can you order the book? Anywhere. You can purchase it on Amazon.com via my affiliate link {which I would so appreciate: You can read my disclosure policy here.}

*I received this book for free as part of Sarah Mae’s launch team; however, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.