The Clash of Feelings and Reality

My alarm wasn’t set to go off until 6:00, but I awoke at 4:45 and after trying to fall back asleep for a few minutes decided I might as well get an early start on the week. Mornings are my favorite – I sit by the open front door and listen to the birds and crickets and sometimes the Piano Guys (not in person, although they’re welcome to serenade me anytime). I live just seven hundred and fifty feet from the Ohio River, and even though I can’t see it from my little home I often walk there in the evenings and watch as the sun sparkles and shimmers over the peaceful water that everyone has assured me is beyond dirty.

Some things in life make me feel like perhaps I’m beginning to grasp what it means to be an adult. Like, my porch swing that sat in a heap on the porch for over three months is finally hung. (When you don’t have tools or knowledge even small home improvements are difficult.) Being able to sit on the swing without having it collapse – well, that’s a good feeling. Weeding my flowerbeds also makes me feel like perhaps I might have life under control. As does buying a mousetrap and catching the critter within a day of discovering it took up residence in my little domine. And the fact that I have my mortgage and electric bill set up to be paid automatically. And that I (finally!) have a screen for the front door – although I just bought it, my roommate’s the one who actually hung it. (Much like the porch swing if you must know, but shhh… I never claimed to be the adult in this home.)

Then there are other things that make me question my past, present, and future. Like how the shower faucet broke over five weeks ago and it’s still not fixed. Or that I let my brakes get so bad on my car before I noticed something was wrong with them that it cost twice as much to fix them as it should have. Or that my spelling is as atrocious now as it was when I was a teenager and I rely on Siri to help me not make a complete fool of myself. (And yes, I literally had to ask Siri how to spell her name just now…)

It’s so easy for me to get overwhelmed with what I can’t do, what I’m not doing, and what I’m doing incorrectly. But when I find myself getting bogged down in the mire of what could be, should be, and needs to be, I feel the joy leaking out of my life. And joy isn’t supposed to be based upon my circumstances – that’s what happiness is for. Joy? Joy is deeper. Joy goes beyond feeling and reason and reminds me that I’m loved by the very Creator of the universe. So I climb out of bed early and watch the world slowly grow light as I seep myself in God’s Words, God’s love, and God’s promises.

Last night I was feeling annoying and sad and overwhelmed by all that’s wrong in the world and wrong with me. But then I stopped to think about reality, and as it turns out, my thoughts and the truth didn’t match up. Sure, I can be annoying, and yes, there is a lot wrong with the world. But, the specifics that I was feeling at that time were just feelings and not based on the truth. When I stopped and thought about it I could see that the condemnation I was experiencing was more likely a result of an over-active imagination and tiredness than how people were actually viewing me. It was a good reminder that feelings are just that – things we feel – and not necessarily the truth.

Something I started doing last year that really helps me is using my prayer journal to sort out my feelings versus reality. I write down everything I am feeling on one side of the page – the good, bad, and conflicting and contradicting feelings – and then on the other side of the page, I use passages from the Bible to write the truth. Realizing that how I feel doesn’t always match up with reality has helped me silence lies and listen to logic and truth.

The day is now bright around me and this post – which started out as a book review and quickly morphed to musings – has reached a length of nearly 800 words. I’m about to pack my lunch (with food that I meal prepped last weekend while being a steller adult) then head to work where I still question how I ended up where I did (because it’s fun and challenging but I’m still an eight-year-old at heart so how did I get so much responsibility?). My day will be long and I’ll probably be extra tired by the end due to my early morning, but it will totally be worth it. I’m thankful for the rejuvenation that I feel this morning, along with the reminder that feelings don’t determine reality. Blessings to you, my friends, and Happy Monday!

17 Reasons I Love My Job

Yo. Folks, I began writing this on March 6th, then my computer cord died and I had to wait to finish it until I got a new cord. And we all know March 6th was a lifetime ago. Reading through this again makes me miss my job, life, and co-workers so much. 

There are a lot of things I enjoy in life. In fact, I pretty much find excitement and joy no matter what I’m doing – with a few exceptions, of course. My middle name is Joy and when I was a kid my parents would inform me that meant I was supposed to be joyful. I didn’t always want to hear that as a preteen, but nowadays I’m thrilled that I get the daily task of living up to the name my parents choose for me.

Over the years I’ve been blessed to travel all over the world (North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe), experience many amazing things, and been handed incredible opportunities. I’m so thankful for my life and all I’ve gotten to do.

Wanna guess what my favorite thing to do is, though?

Going to work. At night I go to sleep counting down the hours until I get to head back into my job. In the morning I wake up excited and enthused to dance into work (oftentimes quite literally) and start the day.

Of course, I don’t enjoy every single moment at my job. There are times when I’m tired, have a headache, or don’t feel well and leave as soon as possible. But more often than not, closing happens sooner than I wanted and after I clock out I hang around for a few more minutes, just soaking everything in.

IMG_4135

In addition to the daily, mundane work (which there’s plenty of that), I also have a plethora of exciting, stimulating, and helpful tasks and experiences handed to me. Today I thought I’d compile some of the things/reasons I love my job. I was recently asked to be a part of a short promo video where I got to talk about this very subject, and I only had a few seconds to share my thoughts, so here’s the expanded version.

  1. My teammates – without a doubt, this is my favorite thing about where I work. I love getting to spend time with the other SET members. We have stimulating conversations, encourage each other, and they daily help me become a better person
  2. My managers – this ties with number one. There is so much freedom to learn and grow knowing that although mistakes I make will be addressed, it will be done in a private and kind manner without an ounce of shaming. I’ve worked in three different departments under four different managers, and each one of those experiences has been amazing. I’ve felt truly valued, listened to, and cared about not just as an employee, but also as a human
  3. The environment – the work environment is full of encouraging, kind, and thoughtful people. Mistakes are addressed in quiet, while wins are celebrated in public. While working hard is a must, building relationships and unity throughout the day is also cheered on
  4. Making a difference – I know that what I’m doing each day makes a difference, first of all for my coworkers, and then for the guests who come through our doors
  5. Learning new things – I’ve had to leap out of my comfort zone so many times with the job I have, but when I have a strong team standing around me cheering me on, it’s not quite so scary. For the most part, I’m able to learn at my own pace and although I try and always be ready to say yes, if I really don’t feel ready for something they are okay with letting me have more time to prepare
  6. The variety – my position allows me to move from task to task at a rapid pace and that makes the day fly by
  7. My co-workers – in addition to my teammates (the six people on my actual team) I also love being around my co-workers. We’re taught to celebrate, thank, and encourage each other on a daily basis which is what I thrive on. I’ve made so many delightful friends through work
  8. Learning experiences – my boss is incredible at giving us time to not only do our job but learn how to do it well. If he finds out we aren’t fully trained in a department then he’ll help us get the training we need.IMG_4333
  9. Staff meetings – multiple times a week we come in early to attend staff meetings where we get to learn about what is helping around the ministry, country, and even world. We have truly amazing guest speakers, wonderful musicians, and talented doctors share with us
  10. Feeling truly valued – recently each of the departments spent a day celebrating our team, thanking us for our help. I wasn’t there that week, so one of the departments ever-so-sweetly put together a basket of lovely gifts for me and spent an afternoon showering me with love and appreciation
  11. Being listened to – when I have an issue with something I know I’ll be listened to. I’ve brought concerns to leadership various times and every time they’ve given me time, attention, and then either answers that make sense, or else they take steps to find answers. It’s exceedingly important to me to know that what I say is taken seriously
  12. Perks – working at the museum provides me with many discounts, free resources, and a plethora of perks that I hadn’t even imagined when I applied for the job. For instance, we can get discounted tickets for family and friends who are visiting, free drinks while working, and half-off all the food in the cafe. Also, there’s nearly always food or other goodies in the break room
  13. The guests – we get to meet people from all over the country and the world. Sometimes while walking through the parking lot I’m amazed by how many different places are represented by the license plates. I’ve had delightful conversations, watched peoples face’s light up when they see our exhibits, and had the joy of meeting needs for those who come to our attrations
  14. Flexibility – whenever I’ve needed time off (such as when some of my family was in a car wreck last year, or for my sister’s gender reveal party, or when my family decided to move), my manager has graciously worked with me to make it happen as often as possible. In return, they’ve won my loyalty and I will do pretty much anything I can to work extra when they need it
  15. Resources – not only do we have access to all of Answers in Genesis resources in digital form for free, but we also can attend most conferences for free. Plus, in our daily team meetings (which is different from the aforementioned staff meetings) we get taught so much cool stuff
  16. Feeling Safe – there are a lot of people I come in contact with every day, which means the potential to run into an unsafe situation is always at hand. But I’ve never felt at danger. Not only do we have a great safety department (they’ve even graciously escorted me to my vehicle when I wasn’t parked close to the building and had to work late and had co-workers who were worried about me walking across the parking lots late at night by myself), but we also have a great cleaning crew. That means not only do I feel safe from anyone with bad intentions, but also from germs. Plus, we’re always provided with the correct equipment and training to make sure each job is done with the utmost safety
  17. Unity – and one of my very favorite aspects of where I work is the unity. I love being part of a team. I love knowing that when I go through something difficult I’ll have people praying for me, asking about me, and taking care of me. And, I love that I get to do that for others as well. It’s one of the best examples of being part of the body of Christ that I’ve ever seen, and I’m so thankful for where I work and who I work with

The Reset Button {How Introverting Work}

I called it my Reset Button long before I actually knew how it worked.

It was simple really but seemed so convoluted and illogical that I wasn’t sure how to explain it. I would get into a good rhythm with going to bed on time, sleep well, and then work hard all day long. It felt glorious, but all too soon I’d feel abnormally tired and not be able to function like I should. It befuddled me.

Finally, after a week or so of this happening, I’d throw bedtimes out the window and indulge in a late night reading session. The thing that confused me most is that sometimes the book I was reading wasn’t even all that exciting – or maybe it was a re-read. So, it wasn’t the stellar story itself keeping me up, but I’d feel compelled to keep turning the pages.

Then the next day instead of feeling extra tired like I’d expect, I felt fantastic and was ready to tackle another day. Say what?

10770-fullsizerender-287

It happened fairly often and I began to greatly look forward to the stillness of a sleeping house and dim lights where it seemed like my book and I were the only thing in existence.

Years passed and I simply referred to it as my reset button and moved on with life. Then one day a few months ago I was exhausted – like I could barely keep my eyes open exhausted. I settled in for the night, but then instead of going to sleep like would be the “smart” thing to do, I pulled out a book.

Then I lay there confused. Why? Why was I reading a book on a night like this? My sister had just gotten married and I didn’t really care about the book I held in my hands. I didn’t really care about anything at that moment, I was just bone-tired. But instead of sleeping I was going to read. And read I did, glancing at my phone every once in a while to watch the hours slide by.

Then it hit me.

My reset button worked when I was more people-tired than I was physically tired. 

I stayed up late at night reading because sleeping didn’t rejuvenate the introverted-need-to-be-alone side of my personality. And sometimes, no matter how worn out I was physically, my people-fatigue trumped all else and, for me, there’s nothing like being the only one awake for miles around and delighting in the complete stillness of the world around me, to find restoration.

Being an introvert is a gift. Being an extrovert is a gift. Being a human is a gift.

Recently I’ve been working on learning about how to manage the various aspects of my personality that make me, me. I’m learning how to use my introvertedness as a tool to help me become a better person.

And do you know what? Having a reset button helps a huge amount. 😉

January From a Bookerly Perspective

January is one of those months that makes me want to do two things: Cooking and Books.

It’s the best when you heat up the house by having the oven going with fresh breadsticks and the stovetop full, and knowing that soon everyone is going to gather around the table to enjoy a big, homemade meal that you just prepared. Cooking in the winter time with snow falling lightly and hues of gray, white, brown, gold, and blue taking over the world creates a cozy atmosphere. It steeps the world in calm and makes me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.

And then books… What could be more delightful? It’s equally as wonderful to read as to write because winter is the catalyst that makes words build up inside me, eager to escape, but also makes me long to fill my brain with more words.

FullSizeRender-49

My preferred writing setting is to sit at my desk with low lighting – my Christmas lights and salt lamp – soft music playing, a hot beverage standing at attention nearby, a candle filling the room with heavenly scents, and my office clean. It’s not like I’m picky or anything… (insert eye-roll) Really though, I can write in most environments, I just know which environment sparks my muse and sends my imagination off on a flight of happiness.

As for reading? That can happen anywhere, at any time. But, if we’re talking about the cozy winter reading? Then my overstuffed couch, a fuzzy blanket, light snack, and lighting that’s just the right brightness so I can read without straining my eyes wins out.

This will be the first winter in a long time that I’m not going to Florida at least once (last year I went twice). My grandparents live there and since I work from my computer, I generally spent a couple weeks with them a couple times a year. I very much miss not getting to go hang out with them (due to my job at the coffee shop), but I’m delighted to be spending so much of winter in, well, wintery settings.

Do you like winter? Is it wintery where you live?

Writerly Musings

The ideas come at strange times, but I suppose that should be expected considering that I’m thinking and brainstorming about Echoes at random and somewhat strange times.

One of my recent happy breakthroughs took place when I was driving to work – early morning, windows down, music cheering me on. I was singing along with Josh Wilson (I think that’s who it was anyway), happy to be alive, enjoying the long drive, and musing my way through how to make Kios (the country where Echoes takes place) keep true to it’s non-European setting.

By the time I got to work I was nearly wishing my drive had been longer, which happens to be a first for me – at least when it comes to driving to work. When my co-worker asked how my day was going I informed her that it was going great and I’d come up with a needed breakthrough for my writing. She asked if I’d be able to remember it and I assured her I would, then I switched my brain gears and got to work and put bookish things aside for a bit.

1.jpeg

But here I am now – several (busy!) days later, sitting at my desk, Whimsy in my lap, prepared to edit away.

It’s a beautiful day to be editing. (Who are we kidding? It’s a beautiful day even if editing wasn’t on the plate for my morning. Y’all. I know I probably gush about Ohio and how much I appreciate my life here, but it’s seriously amazing. As I blog this morning I’m sitting in front of my window that overlooks a little gravel country road, a newly cut hay field, and a couple of deer munching contentedly right outside my window. But enough of all that.)

This morning reminds me of the years that I’ve taken part in National Novel Writing Month which starts in just two weeks. It makes me think of the delightful hours I spent holed up in my room, drinking coffee and juice, and typing away to my heart’s content – and sometimes far past that.

I’m not planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling nostalgic and wishing I could squeeze it into my life. Maybe today when I’m editing I will pretend that this is already November and I’m taking part in that wonderful month of focused writing. (Shh! Don’t remind me that I’m editing, not writing.)

What are some of the nostaligc feelings that surround you during the lovely month of October?

The Color of Encouragement

Encouragement. It flows freely around me, pools up in my soul, and colors my world with vibrant hues.

This morning it hit me again how much writingish encouragement means to me. All week long I’ve donned an apron each morning and spent hours in the kitchen, preparing food at my non-writng job. As I work, I get to have dozens of short, fun conversations with the people who I’m cooking for. Some of the people I’ve never met before, but some of them I’ve had a working relationship with for several years.

I’ve been amazed over and over again at how many of them have asked me about my writing. (In fact, I just took a break from this blog post to check on how things are going in the kitchen and yet another person asked me about writing.) It means an incredible amount to me that these friends who I only get to see a couple times a year remember our conversations from years past and right away bring up the subject of writing.

img_4562

The people who I’m around this week know me mainly as the girl who runs the kitchen and helps keep stuff clean. In fact, I often joke when I meet a new person at work that they won’t ever see me without an apron on, and for the most part that’s true. It’s not uncommon for people to thank me for my work in the kitchen, and even to compliment me on the food, and I really do appreciate that a lot.

Yet, so many of these lovely people have delved deeper, and instead of just asking me about what’s on the menu, they’ve taken the time to ask about me as a person. (Just in case you haven’t caught on to it, anyone who asks more than about two questions about my life automatically hear about my writing.) And, in a way that means even more than hearing about how delicious the food is, because it means they actually care about me, not just the food I help prepare.

I want to be that type of person. I want to encourage others, remember their interests, and engage them in an uplifting conversation, even if it only lasts two minutes. Because do you know what? We all have the ability to inspire and encourage each other. And when we remember what it is that means a lot to someone, then we have the chance to throw sparkling, beautiful encouragement into their lives. And that’s lovely.

That Thing Called Life

Last night I hung out in our hotel room working on a project and listening to my dad talk on the phone. He mentors a couple of guys, and although I don’t generally get to hear his conversations with them, I always find them interesting when I do.

Listening to his wisdom reminded me of how incredibly blessed I am. I’ve had the privilege of growing up in a family where my parents not only encourage us to continually learn and grow, but they also actively work on learning and growing.

One of the verses our family talks about fairly often is Luke 12:48b From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Living in the a free country with an incredible amount of resources is amazing, and also a huge responsibility. Instead of having to learn everything from our own mistakes, there’s a never ending supply of books, sermons, podcasts, articles, and people we can learn from.

This morning when I opened the Bible to the Proverb for today, the first verse really hit me. Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. 

fullsizerender-326

Although I appreciate being instructed, I’ve struggled for years with accepting and responding well to reproof. I finally discovered that my problem is I see reproof as an indicator that I’ve failed, and I feel like I have to punish myself, therefore I dread it. In reality though no one is perfect, everyone needs to be reproofed, and reproof is a good thing.

I’m so thankful for the people in my life who are able to correct and help me. Life is way too short to have to learn everything on our own by trial and error, plus that would just be incredibly stressful and unhealthy.

Today I am thankful not only to live in a family where I know I’ll be kept accountable and lovingly spurred on to learn and grow, but I’m also very thankful to live in a country where resources are so readily available. Each day is a gift where I can read, listen, ponder, learn, grow, and become more of the person God has called me to be. And that is a huge blessing.

I hope and pray that Noveltea has useful information mixed in with the whimsical musings, writing updates, and life-ish things I post, so that y’all can learn from my life and my mistakes. Hopefully they will help y’all skip over some of the bumps in life that I’ve experienced, so you can go further, faster and live a eternally-significant life.

Happy Monday, y’all!