The Awkward Hello (after a long, long time away)

the awkward hello

Um. Hello.

It’s been a while since I wrote anything at all on this blog, and I’ve had a growing sense of awkwardness about what I might say when we saw each other again. A lot like some friendships, I suppose, when it’s been a while and you both know—as social media makes painfully clear—that Things Have Been Happening but you Haven’t Been Talking and so you’re just not sure where to start. And so, too often, you just don’t. You don’t send the text. You don’t write the email. You feel awkward about the distance and, at a loss for how to close it with the perfect “opening line”, you increase it.

I’ve been in that space for a few weeks: feeling like I needed to write a smashing blog post: a virtual Ta-DAAAA! to announce that summer was over and I’m back. (insert jazz hands here) But instead, I’ve opened up this page a half dozen times and stared at the cursor. Actually, last week I was cracking myself up (yes, I laugh at my own jokes) at a thought and I desperately wanted to turn it into a blog post but it turned out I was exactly three hundred and forty percent less technologically capable than I needed to be to pull it off.  The end result? More silence.

It has been a long, long silence. This summer was mostly spent with my kids swimming and reading library books (not at the same time, though), with a smattering of Vacation Bible School thrown in… ELEVEN WEEKS of ELEVEN HOUR DAYS of me and the kids. At home. In triple digit heat. (We ate a lot of ice-cream. We watched the Star Wars Trilogy. The real one. Don’t even start with the Clone Wars.) But in the midst of all this at-homeness and mothering-ness, I had one unapologetically girlie night and got to see Adele in concert. It was fabulous. No opening act: just her, in all her vocal glory. No dancers. No gimmicks. In an age where I feel like every news story has spin and every pop star is a carefully curated package, Adele is so refreshing. Listening to her sing is like bearing witness to the Redemption of Talent.

But we waited a long, long time before she came onstage. We got snacks. We had a drink. We told stories. We took Adele-Like extreme close-up eye-selfies:

But she did finally come on stage, and (of course), her first words were:

Hello. It’s me.

In the absence of a so-fantastic-it-must-certainly-go-viral blog post to break the silence, I thought I’d take a cue from Adele, and just say: Hello. It’s me. Because sometimes that’s all it takes just to get things going again, doesn’t it? After months of silence, we can pick up the phone, or send a text, or draft an email, or turn up on a doorstep with a cup of coffee and say: Hello.

In my experience, awkwardness doesn’t dissolve over time. Awkwardness in relationships is like awkwardness in dancing: it’s not being sure where to step so that you don’t step on someone’s toes. It’s uncertainty and fear of rejection and nervousness about whether your breath smells and whether they’d say something if it did.

But no-one ever became a better dancer by not dancing for a little while longer. And no one ever fixed an awkward friendship by prolonging a deafening silence. And, if that is true, no blogger ever got back in the game by waiting until she had the perfect post to share with you all.

So I’ll share an awkward selfie and just say “hello”. It’s nice to be back. I missed you.

The Blogger’s Husband (and other naming dilemmas)

So, here’s a question: how should I refer to my husband online?

Some of the bloggers I read have invited me right into their homes and introduced us to their family by name: Rachel Held Evans has her Dan (Go, Team Dan and Rachel!) Kristen Howerton has a feisty daughter named India: I would recognize her spunk at 100 paces, even if she wasn’t wearing rompers. Ashleigh Slater goes with Ted. Glennon Melton has her Craig, Chase, Tish and Amma. And I know Jen Hatmaker has Brendon, Remy, Sydney, Gavin, Ben and another kid whose name I don’t know so they must be either very private or very boring (who am I kidding: clearly the answer is private. Boring is not an option if you are a Hatmaker.)

Others are more cryptic. I know Sarah Bessey has an “Anne with an -e” (of course!), but usually she calls them her ‘tinies’. Parenting forums use the ubiquitous “DH” for “darling husband”, which I find more than a little cheesy. My friend Jen opted for MOTH: the Man of the House – sheer genius!  My friend Cara calls her beloved “HBH”, Hot Black Husband, a most awesome combination of privacy and flattery.

I am choosing the more private route. While I am willing to bare my own soul on this blog, my husband would rather have root canal than talk about his feelings. His trust has been long-won, and I work hard to walk the line between being honest about my life while not sharing about his. My children are in the same boat.  So while they do make appearances, I don’t post pictures of their faces or their names on this blog. But what, then, to call them? And in particular, what to call my husband?

Ann Voskamp loves her Farmer. And Ree Drummond has MarlboroMan (and honestly – who can not vicariously love a man like that?) But my husband is not a Man of the Earth, who spends his days doing manly things in manly ways, sweating manly sweat and wiping his brow on his rugged plaid shirtsleeves. He is an engineer, and an excellent one at that. But I can’t call him The Engineer. It’s altogether too Dilbert-like, and I ain’t anyone’s pointy haired woman.

And so, I call him “my husband”. Accurate, but not exactly catchy or endearing.

So I’m wondering: Do you have any suggestions? How would YOU refer to your family?

 

When pajamas and an iPad are the tools of the trade

Today's Writing Station - Thord Daniel Hedengren (Flickr Creative Commons)

Today’s Writing Station – Thord Daniel Hedengren (Flickr Creative Commons)

My thoughtful blogging friend Jody Louise invited me to participate in a ‘blog hop’: a pyramid scheme of the very nicest kind. In it, we get to answer a few questions about the how and why of writing, and I also get to introduce you to three writers who I enjoy reading. I LOVE recommending other writers, so how could I turn this down?

I must confess that I found the questions a little intimidating: they seemed formulated for people who were much more intentional and organized in their writing than I am. However, the process of thinking through the questions was worthy in itself, and I hope that the answers about me, as a haphazard writer, are interesting for you, gentle reader 🙂

(So without further ado, here is a drumroll….)

What am I writing or working on?

I do not plan very far ahead in my writing (see question 4 on the writing process). I do not have a writing plan for next week, or next month. But I do have a few ideas I am rolling around with: I have an “ask me anything” question I’m mulling over before I answer, and two pieces I am working on for other publications.

After I wrote the Screwtape Letter after the World Vision fiasco, a friend suggested I should write a sequel in the Screwtape/Wormwood genre, focused on some of the lies that women believe. I love this idea and have been thinking over it and reading about it, but I have yet to write a single word on it.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hmmm. This question assumes I know what genre my writing is. I find it hard to categorize: my “genre” is really whatever I am thinking about/talking about on any given day – which means my blog covers a gamut of things that make me laugh and things that make me think. Sometimes it’s parenting, or body image, or theology, or literature. Sometimes it’s a hot topic, sometimes it’s just something I thought was funny. Certainly my most widely read genre are the things I have written about marriage. I find this astounding: I would NOT consider myself to be a marriage expert. We have more than our share of struggles, and yet it seems that being willing to share what I am struggling with and learning in the process has found something of a niche.

One thing I have found as I have been writing is that I am not really a lifestyle or mommy blogger, which I thought at first I might be. As it turns out, my writing has much more spiritual content than I expected it would. It kind of surprised me how, when I started to dig deeper on any given topic, there was almost always a faith-root exposed.

Why do I write what I do?

Because it’s what I am thinking about and talking about anyway.

Because I like the process of writing. (And it’s a ministry I can do in my pajamas with an iPad at home.)

Because people tell me I’m good at it.

But mostly because I hope that somewhere out there, the words I write might have a positive effect on someone: whether to make them smile, feel understood, or to understand something a little better. I write to bless.

How does my writing process work?

I am a post-by-post, article-by-article kind of writer. In general, I am fairly haphazard: I write about what I feel like writing. I think about it, and then I download it into a blogpost and hit publish. I was quite mortified when I attended the writing festival in April and discovered that the norm in writing is to write drafts and to edit one’s work… oh yikes. I am so much more impulsive than that.

However, I’m trying to build a little more discipline into writing and take this seriously, as it does seem something that I feel a modicum of ‘calling’ to do right now. To that end, I’m waking up 1-2 hrs before my children to read, pray (and write, if I get to it) in the morning. Some nights, I put an hour in too. But the rest of the time, I’m a full-time-mommy, and the writing thoughts congregate and coagulate in my head until I find the time to try and force them into more concrete, wordy shapes.

Which other writers would I like to introduce you to?

Gosh! I’m so glad you asked 🙂 Readers, I’m thrilled to introduce 3 bloggers to you – maybe they’re a voice you’ve been missing all along!

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Profile pic 05.14 Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African pastor and spends her days relying on the Lord’s grace (and plenty of chocolate) to homeschool their three children by day, and freelance by night. Kate writes for iBelieve.com and Ungrind Webzine, and has contributed to several other publications including (in)courage, Start Marriage Right, Thriving Family, MOPS, Radiant Magazine and Young Disciple. You can read more from Kate at her blog, Heading Home, or on Twitter @k8motaung.

I knew Kate long before either of us started writing, and it has been so wonderful to be on this writing journey with her. Kate wrote a fabulous guest post for this blog here.

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1424377_2486623925114_1440151646_nBriana Meade is a millennial writer and blogger. You can read her millennial-focused blog here or follow her on Twitter @BrianaMeade. She has published online at Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, The Christian Post, and Forbes and is currently working on her first book, Love In Fast Cars, which explores the heartbreak and nostalgia of growing up–a book about millennials and for millennials.

I got to meet Briana in person at the Writing Festival in April, and liked her 1000% from the word go. Briana guest posted in the Words that Changed my World series with Running in the Rain (ICYMI – read it!)

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SarahBWCloseLaughSarah Siders is a social-working writer and church planter with her husband in a Midwestern college town. She is working on her book, Dream or Die, a primer on recovering dreams and vision for our lives, which will release this year. She laughs and thinks out loud on dreaming, relationships and the hilarity of parenthood at her blog home, www.sarahsiders.com, or you can find her on Twitter: @sarahsiders.

Sarah and I both write for Start Marriage Right, but we really got chatting one day on Twitter when we were comparing notes about who the worst potty trainer in the world was (I maintain I am worse. Sorry, Sarah). We got to follow up with a lengthy and hilarious skype meeting, and I for one was cheering for her this week as she had to return to work after the birth of her second kiddo. Read her lovely post about that here.

Happy Bloggity Birthday

A yeIMG_0185ar ago, I nervously took a risk. After an invitation to guest post over at Tim’s blog, I decided to collect a few of my thoughts and start a new blog of my own – and Bronwyn’s Corner was born.

Friends – I had NO IDEA what was coming. No idea that people would actually read my stuff. No idea that I would land up joining (and loving!) a most wonderful Writer’s Guild. No idea that I would start writing for other online publications.

I had never had any ambitions to be a “writer” – and so this past year has been one long, constant surprise. It has amazed me how much I’ve enjoyed it: writing feels like talking to friends and turning thoughts about life over with them as if we were drinking coffee together. I love that: it reminds me of my favorite parts of ministry.

Also – I had no idea how many online friends I would meet, and that some of them would turn into real life friends. I had no idea that I would get letters from readers saying “thanks, that’s just what I needed today.” Every time I get an email like that, it still amazes me.

And happy birthday to my little blog 🙂 For its birthday, my awesome friend Corrie helped me give it a make-over. Cute, don’t you think?

So thank you, friends – for reading and encouraging me to keep writing. Thanks for sharing my posts and telling friends about it. Thanks for leaving comments. Thanks for making this little corner of the internet feel, to me, like an extension of my living room: a place for grace, caffeine and laughter.

I am so grateful for you all.

A writer’s prayer for the new year

A Writer's Prayerfor the New Year

Lord God,

I need your help for the year ahead. I need the usual bucketloads of grace as a wife, mom, and friend, but I need your help as a writer too.

I need grace to overcome insecurity with confidence in your adequacy.
I need help to overcome jealousy of others with generosity of spirit.
I need help to cover enmity with encouragement.
I need your courage to speak truth in places where there is silence.
I need your insight to shine light where there is darkness.
I need your humility to make mistakes in public.
I need your love: to love You and to love those around me, whether we agree or not.

If writing is what you are calling me to do, let me write well and worshipfully. May my words be gracious and truthful. May your kingdom be represented on this blog, even as it is heaven. For whether many read this, or none at all – the power, the glory and the honor are yours. Now and forever. Amen.

 

photo credit: Catherine de Lange/istockphoto

The Buddy System

Scuba-diving school was intense. The instructors taught us how to manage our equipment, clear our masks, regulate our air flow and how to descend into the water slowly to give our bodies time to equalize under the pressure. We practiced in the pool, and after a few sessions we graduated to the ocean.

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Standing on the sandy Saldanha Bay beach, our instructor imparted one more lesson before we took the plunge: we could not dive safely unless we had a Buddy. We quickly paired up and studied the wetsuit-clad features of our new partners. These were the people we had to look out for underwater: were they handling the pressure changes? Were they safe? Were they close enough to reach if there was trouble? Every few minutes, we needed to check in with our Buddy. “All OK?”, I would ask with a signed thumbs up. “All OK,” my Buddy would signal back.

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Having buddies made diving safe.

Four months ago, when I started this blog, it felt a lot like scuba diving. There was so much new information, a new world to explore: the equipment was unfamiliar, my figurative mask needed clearing, I wasn’t sure how to control my breathing. In the excitement of the first few weeks, I dived in and quickly felt the pressure building even though I hadn’t ventured in very deeply.

That’s the tricky thing about deep water: the pressure increases quickly.

I was so thankful a few weeks later to have lunch with three women who had been writing for a lot longer than I had. They had perspective, encouragement, tips. They offered support and community. As it tuned out they were all members of the Redbud Writers Guild: a community of Christian women who are “fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities and culture.” I turned in my application the next day.

It seems fitting to me that the Redbud writers call each other “Buds”. Diving into writing, I need a buddy. I need someone to check: am I handling the pressure changes? Am I safe? Am I within arms reach if there is trouble? I need experienced buddies to watch and learn from, to see how they chart their courses and handle the currents. Social Media allows us a way to check in with each other: “you OK?” a Bud will ask. And fittingly, the facebook signal for reply is exactly the same as in diving:

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Having Buds makes blogging safe.

In a sea of sharks, I’m so glad I belong to my Buds.

 

This is day 5 of 31 Days of Belonging. Click here to see a list of other posts.
Photo credit: splash dive.com, liveandletsdive.com

 

Reasons to love Rachel

I loved Rachel Jankovic from the first minute of the first article I ever read of hers. It sent me trawling the Internet to find more of her writing. I read all I could at Desiring God.

I ordered her book loving the little years: motherhood in the trenches and soaked it in. It was pithy, honest, wise and helpful. And most importantly for a mom of little ones, it was short. Loved it. Loved her.

I recently discovered that together with her wonderfully talented sisters and mother in law, she blogs at Femina. While reading back on past posts, I discovered something that made me love her even more.

In one post a few months back, she stuck her neck out and wrote a piece on farmers, food and our ethical responsibilities. I could see where she was coming from, but was hesitant to give it my usual hearty amen. She took a lashing in the comments section.

If it had been me, I would have cried hot, desperate tears over it all: tears of regret, sadness, humiliation and frustration. It is a terrifying thing to subject yourself to international online scrutiny. I hate to be called out on a thing, especially in front of others. If she is anything like me in this, it must have been a really tough couple of days.

But this is why I love Rachel Jankovic even more now: she wrote a piece which needed more thought and polish. She could have pulled it from the site, but she didn’t. Instead, she admitted to it needing more thought.

The site requires comments to be approved by a moderator before they are published. She could have refused to publish the harshest and angriest of her critics. She didn’t.

Her humility and courage in handling a situation that might certainly have caused this young blogger to cringe and quit writing were deeply encouraging to me. She could have stopped writing, but she didn’t.

I’m so glad she didn’t. I have learned so much from her great pieces (which 97k people loved, according to the sites stats!), but I also learned from the piece she perhaps wished she had written differently. I may not have learned something new about food, but I learned something about humility and grace in blogging.

Yet another reason to love Rachel.

P.s. Go back and click on that first link now. Go! Go! Go!