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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

One Big Mistake

You guys are my people. Some of you are family, most of you are friends or acquaintances, but if you read these words in this space, you're my people. So I need to tell you about something that happened last weekend.

You know how I have a tendency to only attempt things I'm already good at, or things that I know I'll be successful at? Well if you don't know, now you do. I'm the kind of girl who minimizes her risk of failure at every turn. Remember how last year's pull-up challenge was so good for me in even just admitting I was a beginner at something?

See there's something in the way I'm wired that makes me terrified of failure. I know no one enjoys failing, but my particular brand of fear means I don't even try things if there's a chance I won't be an instant success. I quit things that are hard and if by chance I attempt anything difficult I do it in small spaces. Small try, small fail. I'm an Ennegram 3 after all and part of my 3ness means being very careful to present a failure-free Katie to the world.

But I got a job recently. A friend and I paired up to start a boutique digital marketing firm and now we have multiple clients that we do real work for in the real world. Which is 1 part exciting and 1 part terrifying- because what if? What if I'm not great at this? What if I screw it up? What if they find out I'm not an expert? So I've been slowly stretching my wings and doing work that I LOVE for clients I BELIEVE IN and it has felt a bit busy and at times chaotic but overall, worthy and exciting.

And then last week I made a mistake.


The kind of mistake that backspace doesn't fix. A big mistake that went out on the internet for thousands of eyeballs to see.

My (new) boss was the first one to catch it. I got a text in the middle of an otherwise lovely Saturday afternoon and I instantly knew what it was and how it had happened. My torso heated up and my heart started racing. I couldn't breathe. This was it. My worst fear was actually happening and it was really public. She had seen it and there was no way to undo it or to get the mistake genie back in the bottle.

I tried to do a BIG NEW THING and made A BIG MISTAKE. I felt stupid and unknowledgeable and incompetent. I was apologizing while knowing there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn't take it back and I couldn't make it right.

And then my boss did something so incredible, so loving and so kind. She offered me grace. Now I know - I'm a Jesus-follower. I have been extended Grace with a capital G. I ought to understand how sweet a gift it is. But it is so precious to have a human offer grace and frankly, I don't open myself up to the need for it very often. My boss called me right away and we talked about how and why it had happened and she gave me the gift of gracious words. I knew she was upset- I would have been pissed. I knew she was frustrated and this was not something she wanted to think about on a Saturday and that this was kind of a big deal, and yet...she extended grace. She told me it was okay. She said it wasn't the end of the world and that we weren't doing brain surgery. (Which, um, for my brain surgeon friends out there - what do people say when you make a mistake!?) It didn't minimize my mistake and it didn't change the situation, but it changed the way I felt about myself and it drew my heart toward her and this work.

As Easter approaches this weekend, I can't help but make the comparison. Isn't that just the best picture of what Christ has done for us? We are big mistakers. Over and over again. And not just accidental, oopsie! kind of mistakes, but real, willful, on-purpose mistaking. And in the middle of our mess He reached out and extended grace. Jesus knows about all our mistakes. He reaches out anyway. He draws us near and declares, "I still love you." When this Grace is the foundation I have built my life around, why is it so hard for me to let down this wall and own up to my own imperfection?

Am I embarrassed? Yes. Chastened? Yes. A little wiser than I was before the big mistake? Yes yes yes. But it has been over a week since the BIG MISTAKE and the world is in fact still spinning. I've even still got a job. My family knows all about the big mistake and they are still talking to me.  I'm hoping that maybe in making this one big mistake I've taken a sledgehammer to the wall of perfection I've built around myself. Maybe it's a part of a long over-due process that will finally tear down the wall.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

That Time I Got a Job

Six months ago I said yes to a project.

A friend and I saw an opportunity to help a ministry we love do something we love doing. So we formed a company and launched a website and pitched ourselves as the solution they didn't know they were looking for. We ended up getting a three month contract to do work for them and I'm making it work by staying up late or getting up early. I'm figuring out how to fit "work" into the cracks of life formerly filled by reading or resting (okay fine - formerly filled by binging Parks & Rec).  And you know, we are doing dang good work and just got our contract renewed for another 3 months, yay us.

Then a few weeks ago another opportunity presented itself - a chance to do meaningful work for another lovely organization and get paid a little something for the effort. We figured it was a long shot, but my friend/partner is legit INSANE when she gets an idea in her head and she went for it and (unsurprisingly considering the effort she put forth) we got it. I'll get to tell you what it is in a month or so.

And frankly? I'm a little bit terrified.

In the span of a few short months I've voluntarily signed myself up to be accountable for deadlines and to do work that actually has an effect on other people's lives. Y'all. Over the past 9 years of staying at home, I have had practically ZERO accountability to others. I mean, beyond God -which is pretty serious- and beyond my husband, who is the most easy-going man on the planet, don't nobody tell me what to do. I'm the CEO around here and the only lives affected by my productivity or lack thereof is my family's. So having work to do for other people is a big change of pace. And beyond that...this whole mom thing takes a lot out of me. After a day of homeschooling I need to decompress like a diver coming up from the ocean floor.

So why on earth did I get myself into this situation?

For 9 years mom life has been my sole focus and it feels scary and strange and a bit unsettling to change what is so comfortable a routine for me. But I want to see where this all goes. In part it felt silly not to use skills I've acquired when it comes to producing and publishing digital content when there was a need and an opportunity to do so, and in larger part, I really like what these organizations are up to in the world. When I hemmed and hawed about whether or not I had the margin to take on these projects, BJ wisely asked if I would regret not taking these opportunities. And the answer was yes.

So FYI - I got a job. It doesn't pay particularly well yet but it engages me daily with people I admire, doing worthy work for the express purpose of encouraging mothers. Seems like a decent gig to me. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Waiting on Sabbath

My third grader still struggles to know what day of the week it is. If he asks and I respond with, "well yesterday was Tuesday, so today is..." He'll scrunch his face, give me a questioning glance and guess, "Thursday?!" 

I can't really even blame the kid. One day looks a lot like all the others around here. Besides attending church on Sunday, there aren't any major events that divide the week for the kids and me. We sleep in on Mondays and take our field trips on Saturdays. There's not a whole lot of reason to get particularly excited about Fridays, except that pizza is on the menu for dinner. For the most part I like our rhythm. The idea of rushing around in the moorings is an anathema to me...but it has been nagging at me lately that all of my days seem to run together too. There's absolutely a Groundhog Day effect going on:

Wake up, make coffee, feed kids. Discipline kids. Re-heat coffee. Teach kids. Make lunch. Discipline kids. Clean kitchen. Teach kids. NAP TIME! Discipline kids. Karate. DAD'S HOME! Dinner. Discipline kids. NETFLIX! Sleep. 

There's nothing wrong with that rhythm, but it starts to feel mind-numbing after a few years. My "work week" looks nearly identical to my weekend and it can be BORING. There's no down beat- the rhythm of the week never changes. I'm guessing whether you work or stay at home or homeschool or put your kids on the bus, a lot of moms can relate to the Groundhog Day thing. 

All of creation was designed to fit into the rhythm of work and rest. You see it in nature's seasons and as humans our circadian rhythm requires an activity-rest cycle. God chose rest after six days of work creating the universe- and then He commanded the Jews to follow his lead - "Work 6 days and do everything you need to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don't do any work..." (Exodus 20:8 MSG)

Modern Christians mostly ignore the Sabbath commandment of rhythm and rest. I myself have never been good about observing the Sabbath, considering it something legalistic and no longer required under our new covenant. But I've been ignoring the obvious fact that many things which aren't a requirement are still really good ideas. Like getting vaccinated or exercising frequently or brushing your teeth. We do things we don't have to do all the time for the sake of wisdom - maybe Sabbath is the same? 

This past week I determined to Sabbath. I took inspiration from an Instastory post by @anniefdowns who made a checklist of things she planned to do and things she planned to not-do on her Sabbath. What a concept! The idea that I could determine myself what Sabbath should look like for me in this season?  That I can define "work"? That "rest" might even mean going for a run? All of a sudden Sabbath sounds amazing! 

So on Saturday I was intentional and did ALL of the laundry. Like ALL of it y'all. Four loads. Washed, dried, folded, put away (mostly). I made a pot of chili for Sunday's dinner. I hand-washed dishes I would usually have left in the sink for the next day. I ran the dishwasher. Come Sunday morning we told the kids they were in charge of breakfast. Anything they could prepare themselves was fair game but I was not making waffles, flipping pancakes or schmearing their bagels with cream cheese. 

We left the TV off and played cards with the kids.

We ran out to Home Depot to buy flowers for the front porch because we wanted to.

We ate lunch off paper towels.

We went to church and came home to a dinner that was already prepared.

We left the dinner dishes in the sink for Monday. 

I stayed off social media all day long. Which was really refreshing. Turns out I didn't miss anything. 

It was delightfully simple. Not easy by any means, but simple. And probably, that was God's intent all along. Sabbath should rest our souls. Should provide breathing room to reflect on the lovely in life. Should remind us that it is God who makes the world turn and provides for us. Should allow space for the sacred to enter in and touch us.

One of my intentions this year is to Sabbath more regularly. To leave some space in my life for days that are "unproductive", to give my mama-hands a break from the monotony of the quotidian tasks that fill my non-Sabbath hours. To remind myself and my children that I am not God and I do not make the world turn.

What do y'all think? Anyone out there a committed Sabbath-er? If so give me all the encouragement!  What does your rhythm of work and rest look like? What does a day full of "rest" look like for you?

Anyone up for joining me?!

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