I just wasn’t feeling it.
It had been a long day in the middle of a very full week. Youth group loomed on the calendar horizon, an unwelcome commitment on this particular Wednesday. As an introvert, large group gatherings tap everything in me, so going ‘empty’ isn’t a great way to begin an evening of ministry. And 60 middle and high schoolers (whom I’ve come to genuinely adore) are a tougher crowd than most.
It’s the Christmas tradition I’m ready to ditch.
Living away from extended family means most of our holiday celebrations are either shared with friends or spent with merely my four fellow Holmbergians. More often than not, it’s the latter. As an introvert, that’s often okay with me. Other times it produces a subtle but steady pain, similar to a headache that you don’t quite realize you have until you find yourself spitting nails at your spouse — utterly unprovoked.
I cheat every year.
The first morning of school is too frenetic in our household to stop and take photos on the way out the door. And my kids depart at differing times, making a group shot impossible. A few years ago, I began taking their pictures the night before school… or even a couple nights before. My goal is simply to capture what they looked like at this juncture in their lives… it doesn’t really matter to me that they don’t have a backpack on or that it wasn’t 7:45AM when I snapped the shutter.
If I take an honest look at my motivations, I admit I also prefer that their clothing is somewhat coordinated. I detoured from my Finance coursework in college and took a photography class, so I came to care whether colors and stripes conflicted or complemented. But we’re long past the days when I could mandate their ‘outfit’ for the first day of school. By taking photos on a different day, I manage to get a cohesive picture with a coordinating color scheme.
I feel a little badly about saying this to you. Even just for thinking it, really.
But I don’t feel so badly that I won’t say it. I’ve been tracking the career of an author with some 10+ Lifeway-published book titles to her name and a prolific speaking calendar. Her trajectory is one that I admittedly envy. (I’m not proud of that, but there you have it.)
Today, in my inbox, I received notice that her next big event was cancelled. Cancelled. The reason? Lack of interest and registration. Not enough attendees to justify putting on the event.
I like checklists, categories and formulas.
If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you already know this about me. In my life as a Christian, it’s tempting to reduce my relationship with Jesus to a set of behavioral checklists to satisfy. In my dialog with others, I see how many of us desire to know the ‘right’ way to act so our lives conform to the Christian image. In essence, we want a category to put things in so as to please God (or at least convey that appearance).
Two sports. Same season. Vastly different results.
My daughter has been playing basketball in a non-school league, as mentioned in On the Court: Part I and Part II. During exactly the same timeframe, she’s also been competing on her school’s track team. In terms of success, the two experiences have been diametrically different.
In track, she’s been her team’s lead female runner in the 1600M, earning the highest place for the school in each meet even if she didn’t win. On the basketball court, however, her team has suffered excruciating losses, logging 30 and 50 point deficits with nary a win for the entire season.
A $12,000 royalty check from book sales.
Not my book, mind you. Not my check. This royalty check went to author Patrick Wensink, whose book was an Amazon best seller last year. While a sizable sum, it puts him right at the poverty line for annual earnings, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. He shared the fiscal details of an author’s plight in an article last week. Ironically, the article posted on the same day I met with my tax advisor — the day I confronted my own meager earnings from 2012.
When I later read the article, it served only to spiral me further down into the depths of discouragement. If his earnings were so insubstantial even after time spent at the ‘top’, what chance do I have of contributing to my household income as a writer and speaker? The only thing lower than my book’s Amazon ranking was my spirits:
He had lied. I gently confronted him in a moment of vulnerability and he confessed.
The topic of my son’s lie is essentially irrelevant — most children lie at some point, which means that many of you can relate to a parent’s perspective without my detailing it here.
Earlier in the day, my husband quizzed him about something we suspected he’d done and was met with vehement denial. When I later inquired again, his eyes fell and a quiet confession escaped his lips. We squared the issue and I encouraged him to apologize to his father for the layer of deceit.
I just wanted to be nice.
I had the ability to give a small gift and I wanted to do something for them. My daughter was going to be in the dentist’s chair for an hour, so I had both the time and, fortunately, the money for a run to the coffee shop. So I offered to treat the office staff to an afternoon indulgence. They were eager for lattes, but misunderstood my desire to pay. All three opened their wallets, counting out the bills and jotting their orders on yellow sticky notes. I protested, reiterating my offer. They hemmed and hawed, reluctant to permit me the pleasure of giving.