One of the ways I intentionally practice appreciating the beautiful but so-very-ordinary stuff of real life and regular days is by keeping track of what I’m learning.
My friend Emily is the mastermind behind this simple but meaningful practice. Since 2016, I’ve joined her by jotting down notes of the small, the sacred, the silly, and everything in between.
More than anything else, this helps me pay attention to what’s happening around me, what’s happening within me, and what surprises me along the way.
Seven Things I Learned This Spring:
1. Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly from The Office) and Sean Gunn (Kirk from Gilmore Girls) grew up five minutes away from each other
In fact, Jenna’s mom taught Sean in a summer acting class when he was six-years-old. In high school, Sean somehow managed to act in the plays and musicals at Jenna’s all-girls school.
2. There’s just nothing like getting lost in a thick fiction book.
Growing up, I mostly read fiction. But for the past seven or eight years, the vast majority of books on my nightstand, bookshelf, and Kindle have been nonfiction titles. This wasn’t intentional, but simply the natural result of having mostly nonfiction-writing author-friends and Virtual Assistant clients.
Plus, the truth is that once I start fiction, I simply can’t put it down until I’ve come to the last page. Because I was in such a full season for months on end, beginning anything that would surely keep me up until 4am didn’t seem wise.
This Spring, I purposely carved out space and put several fiction titles at the top of my “to be read” stack. Five books later, and I can honestly say I’m a happier me when I’m in the middle of a story — or have a thick book to look forward to on the weekend.
3. Nothing, not even a palm frond, is too small for God to redeem.
After my church’s Good Friday service, I drove to Starbucks and read for an hour in one of the comfy corner chairs. At some point in that hour, I stumbled across a verse in Revelation that the author mentioned in her book. Did I immediately tear up and then call a friend, rambling in amazement? Yes and yes.
I’m not sure if I would have made the connection had it not been Holy Week, with Easter just days away. But there it was (and is), clear as day in Revelation 7:9-10.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throneand before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
He redeems it all. Every little thing. Even when we have no idea how quickly our “hosanna’s” will turn to cries of “crucify!”… He’s already at work making all things new.
4. Sometimes “abundantly more” looks like crying in a bookstore.
Ask me how I know…
5. My email signature means more than I realized.
If you’ve received an email from me in the past four years, you know that my email signature is the following:
only and all grace and peace,
I thought long and hard about what I wanted to automatically include at the end of each email, but no matter how many ideas I came up with, no matter how many words I switched out, I always came back to grace and peace.
Well. You should have seen my face a couple weeks ago when I learned one (probable) reason why Paul opened all of his New Testament letters with some form of “grace and peace to you.”
“Grace” sounded like a standard Greek greeting, while “peace” was a Jewish blessing. Instead of writing to the groups of believers separately, he beautifully wove together a cultural identity and a rich heritage. It’s familiar and it’s brilliant, reminding men and women of their family-ties in the Gospel, which is for all people.
6. Sabbath isn’t just for one day and rest isn’t a risk or a burden — it’s a gift.
Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that busy is a badge of honor and rest is for the weak. Maybe it’s how I was raised or maybe it’s how I’m wired, but this Spring I intentionally worked on untangling the lies. And the funny thing is, I only applied them to myself. Rest for you? Wonderful. Go for it. Rest for me? Undeserved. Laziness and a waste of time.
I was burning the candle at both ends, running myself into the ground in the doing and serving and rushing. I was last on the list of “people and things to take care of” and I knew that although there was “no time” to slow down, that now more than ever I needed to work hard so bills would continue to be paid, enough was enough.
I was empty. So I stopped. I slowed down and it was uncomfortably still. The first week, I kept reaching for my phone, my computer, my to-do list. My mind spun even when I sat still and the lies began to taunt. But when I opened Scripture, it was right there in black and white:
Jesus did all He was given do, every bit of it, and He also intentionally pulled back and slowed down. Even when it didn’t make sense to those around Him. Even when there appeared to be more to say, do, heal and accomplish.
His identity was secure. It was never tied to what He did, but to Who He was. And so this season has looked like daily practicing placing my worth solely in who He says I am — not in what I do. (Easier said than done, but I’m learning.) It looks like reminding myself that peace is worth saying “no” to what looks right on paper, trusting that God has a greater (larger) plan in store that I simply can’t yet see… and rest is not a sign of weakness.
7. When Moses asks to see God’s glory, he receives God’s goodness.
I honestly can’t quit thinking about this. A few weeks ago, I shared this image and lesson learned on Instagram. Instead of linking over there, I’m including the entire caption below because I really, really don’t want you to miss it.
“I had a mouth-wide-open, how-have-I-missed-this moment yesterday. This morning, I dug deeper in my Hebrew/Greek Study Bible (long-live my religion minor days). And y’all? I am beside myself. This is so good.
In Exodus 33, God tells Moses “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Moses replies that they don’t want the Promised Land without His presence. God says, “I will do the very thing you’ve asked. I know you by name.”
Moses, clearly feeling bold, makes another request: “Show me your glory.” Okay then, Moses. No big deal.
In Hebrew, “show” in 33:18 means: to realize, know, consider; to become visible, appear, show oneself; to cause to see; to meet with
In Hebrew, “glory” in 33:18 means: glory, honor, splendor, wealth
Basically, show Yourself. Let me see Your splendor. Meet with me. And this is where my jaw dropped. The Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.” A few verses later, He promises to protect Moses as His glory passes by.
Did you catch it? Glory, goodness, glory. It’s interchangeable.
Moses wants to see God’s glory and he gets God’s goodness. Moses expects splendor but glory sounds like the goodness of His Name (Exodus 34:6-7). They go hand-in-hand. God’s glory is His goodness, His goodness is His glory.
This same glory-goodness in Exodus 33 is also in Exodus 16 (God provides in the wilderness — bread every morning, meat every evening, and Moses says it’s the glory of the Lord.) and John 1:14 (“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only.”).
Protection. Provision. Presence. Glory and goodness… they’re tied together, bound in a Name that came for us, put on flesh and moved into the neighborhood.
His glory, which is His goodness, is literally all around. It doesn’t look like wealth, it looks like with-ness. In the Promised Land. In the wilderness. Right here, right now.”