On women and writing and community

by Lesley on March 15, 2015 · 9 comments

in writing

At this stage of my life, justifying time away from my family is always a battle. There’s the money battle (“Can we afford this?) and the logistics battle (“Who will watch the kids on Friday?”) but, the worst battle of all is the one in my soul. Do I really deserve time away? 

I’m writing from a hotel near Chicago O’Hare Airport, killing time before my flight back to California. My body is tired from staying up too late and a mysterious 1:00am fire drill, but my soul is more than overflowing. Did I deserve the time away? That’s a silly question. Did I need this time away? YES.

I joined the Redbud Writer’s Guild about two years ago, but this weekend was the first time I met many of the women in person. For years I’ve read their books and watched their words pop up on websites like Christianity Today, Relevant, The Gospel Coalition, and Sojourners. These women are shaping Christian culture, advocating for the marginalized and oppressed, filling the world with beautiful poetry and songs, and pointing myself and so many others back to the Gospel through brave, authentic storytelling. They represent many political backgrounds, denominations and races. They range in age from young to old. There are attorneys and seminary grads in the mix, moms and grandmothers, marketers, teachers, a judge, songwriters, pastors and preachers and teachers (or whatever you feel comfortable calling women on the pulpit, wink wink.) But, the thing that unites us is a faith in Christ, and our passion and gifting for the written word.

To be honest, while the weekend was packed with devotions, worship, seminars and panel discussions, the casual conversations were my favorite part. I tried to sit with someone new at every meal and meeting so I could hear about each person’s passions and projects. We talked about everything from how to find a good agent to how to find a good babysitter (the latter is still fuzzy for most of us) and we found encouragement in each other’s successes.

During lunch today I listened to Jenny Rae Armstrong and Amy Buckley discuss how they’re each working on biblical equality education in Africa. (I added nothing to this conversation, just in case you were impressed or wondering.) Not only was I humbled by their minds and hearts for God, but I also loved seeing how He was bringing together women with similar passions and gifting to do crucial KINGDOM work on the other side of the word. (On a related note, check out Amy’s recent article on Relevant called What Does It Look Like to be a Christian Feminist.)

I came into the weekend not knowing what to expect, and I left with clarity and goals for my writing, new friendships and a huge admiration for the work of the Holy Spirit.

If you’re a female, Christian writer please ask me about Redbud. There’s a place for you in our community, and we’d gladly welcome your voice. Thank you Buds, for being a community who shares the same trunk, and blooms together for the same purpose.

And, speaking of thank you, my husband deserve a big one. Jonathan, thanks for brushing Anna’s hair, taking the kids to donuts, and being a generally amazing dad. I needed this time, and you made it happen for me. xoxo

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Stuff I’m into lately

by Lesley on March 5, 2015 · 1 comment

in what i'm into

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You guys, February was fantastic, so don’t let me lack of blogging tell you otherwise. While California’s drought is a bit scary, I have to admit that I’m loving our mild winter. We have spent a lot of time outside as a family, and we’re enjoying the simple things like trampoline jumping, avocado picking, and cul-de-sac playdates with “the neighbor boys.”

…Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Books: I mostly read Amy Poehler’s new book, but skimmed the last half. And I’m almost done with Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Mind. So good.

Music:  Uptown Funk has been on constant repeat since December. Also: Sugar by Maroon 5 is my new jam. The super cute music video, combined with a few family weddings, has given Anna major marriage fever. A few days ago we had a long discussion about the appropriate age to get married. Right now, she’s convinced it’s 16. Sigh.

Food: Anne and Amy’s Chicken Noodle Soup is amazing, but if I shared the recipe I’d have to kill you. (Just kidding. I’m too lazy to type it all out.) We also tried Blue Apron this month because of their “two free meals” deal. The food was delicious, but I didn’t love the concept. Each meal took an hour to cut, chop and prepare. With a little boy who still likes to be held, especially in the late afternoon, I rely on pre-made food, make ahead meals or simple, 15 minute or less prep. Have you tried Blue Apron?

TV/Movies: I made it through the Parenthood season finale, sob, and wish the series wasn’t over forever. Did you watch? We also saw American Sniper (double sob) and I’ve been sneaking in a few episodes of Sister Wives Season 5, because I can’t help myself, and nothing makes laundry folding more fun.

Podcasts (new category!): I’m still really sad that Serial is over. I need it back in my life. But if I’m on the treadmill, I do have a few other favorites. This American Life’s If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS was one of the better podcasts I’ve heard in a really long time.

Wearing: Jenny gave me the greatest ever birthday present: a hand-me-down Lululemon workout top. (She remembered that I wanted one last year, and hers didn’t fit well anymore, so I got it! Score!) I’m also loving this tiny gold ring from Ashlee and my favorite pair of black skinny jeans. The stretch on these babies is so, so forgiving.

A few of my favorite purchases in February: This drawing for our new hallway gallery wall and lots and lots of Girl Scout Cookies.

Things I loved in February:

  • Sarah’s wedding in San Diego (January 31st, but it still counts.) Anna nailed her flower girl job duties; smiling the whole way down the aisle and sitting quietly in the front seat during the ceremony. The rest of us had a blast dancing, eating cookies, and feeling the love of family and commitment. That photo at the top of the page is the happy couple and us, at their rehearsal dinner.
  • Lots and lots of sunsets, all month long. It’s a New Year’s goal to catch 1-2 sunsets over the water each week, and so far, I’m doing it! We even caught an amazing sunset during the Superbowl halftime with cousin Isaiah.
  • Visiting the Melvins at their new house in Costa Mesa.
  • How Anna is calling everything “cute.” Example: “Mommy, your wedding photo is so cute.” and “Mommy, this birthday card is so cute. Awwwwwww.”
  • Owen learning the word “applesauce” (or, to be specific, a grunting rendition only we can understand.) He uses this word daily to communicate his food preferences.
  • Writing the feature story for Kidaround’s latest issue, which comes out today!
  • My birthday (I went on a beach walk! I got a pedicure! I drank a Blenders! And we had a date night!)
  • Valentine’s Day at the beach with our kids. It was 80 degrees. Crazytown.
  • Hachoo’s weekday visit, our birthday dessert at the El Encanto, and flying kites at Elings during sunset hour.
  • Anna graduating to the next level of swim lessons. The girl launched herself into the pool yesterday and then swam back to the wall. We are so proud of her! And she is SO proud of herself.
  • Spending too much time on Glide, catching up with my college girlfriends, and sending each other funny messages using the Crazy Helium Booth app. Trust me, it might be the most entertaining thing you’ll ever download.

Reading:

Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent: What You Should Give Up This Year (hint: you might be surprised.)

On Friendship and God’s Bounty

Where Should Your Children Go to School?

When We Were in the Fire

Anticipating:

A trip to Chicago for a Redbud meet-up, finishing What Alice Forgot (it’s so good!) and receiving Shauna’s new book in the mail.

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How is your new year, my friends? Ours is off to a wonderful start. Homegroup and MOPS haven’t started, and swim lessons are on hold this month, so everything feels less busy. I’ve squeezed in a few sunset walks and runs, and made some changes to my routine which seem to be paying off. It’s amazing how going to bed on time, getting up earlier, and throwing in a load of laundry every day (instead of three loads every third day) makes such a difference. I am convinced that we’d all be better goal setters if we eased into the new year instead of trying to tackle it with such force. We are easing in, and it feels nice.

Before the kids wake up, I’ve been working my way through this book, and at night I’m skimming this one. (Can you guess which one just isn’t holding my attention so much?) Oh, and Berenstain Bears also seem to be quite popular thanks to a recent library visit. What are you reading these days?

We had a sick little girl yesterday so after some light reading (see above) we took hot baths, ate Mac & Cheese, watched Planes and made it snow. I think this is the first time I’ve made a sensory bin Anna actually likes. (Also, I made a cake pan’s worth, because no way I’m going to waste four boxes of corn starch.)

Flower Girl Bootcamp continues, with game day only two weeks from tomorrow. This YouTube video seems to be motivating and helpful for our soon-to-be cream puff. Also, speaking of wedding prep, who knew alterations in Santa Barbara would cost as much as a small car? I’m really thankful to my mother-in-law who came to the rescue with a tailor in the Los Angeles area. Thanks, Marlene!

Also! Guys. We had NO TEARS at the dentist last week. After our terrible visit in July (tantrums, fear, crying, and then a little boy who gagged himself with a toothbrush on the way home) I got smart and did some prep. This video has been on repeat all month, and it worked! Miss Anna sat still, opened wide, and barely flinched through the whole visit. Who said electronics and media were a bad thing?

My two favorite reads this week:

A “Parenthood” Writer says Goodbye to “Parenthood” and To Fall In Love With Anyone, Do This.

Also, I was published on the Hello, Darling MOPS blog this past week–twice! 3 Tips for Making Friendship Work and My Friends Helped Me Survive My Husband’s Cancer

Have a great weekend, y’all!

p.s. Isn’t our little 18 month old so cute in his daddy’s lap? I can hardly believe he turned 1.5 this week!

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It’s officially the first Monday of a New Year which means that people everywhere are attempting to be productive, stick to their resolutions and generally make a go at change. I *tried* to crawl out of bed for a 6:00am yoga class but failed miserably. Maybe tonight instead. Maybe.

Last night we hiked to the top of Elings Park, which took about 12 minutes and gave us the most incredible 360 degree view of Santa Barbara that I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I didn’t know this hike existed until now. It was easy enough for Anna (we carried Owen) and the top offered sweeping ocean, city and mountain views. We agreed right then and there to make sunsets a part of our family rituals in 2015.

To be quite honest, I wish we didn’t have to make rest and sunsets a part of our resolutions. Shouldn’t those things come naturally? Unfortunately, I think many of us go go go until we break. I’m tired of feeling tired, you know?

This year I’ve decided to stop living in a scarcity mentality. I spent a lot of 2014 pretending that I don’t have enough time or money for what is important. There were many days I found myself whining, “I just wish I had more time to….xyz.” and “I never get a chance to…xyz” or “I’m always so busy, and I hate that I’m so busy” or “I wish I had money to purchase that really cute canvas for above our bed” or “My clothes are so old and I don’t have a beach cover up that isn’t faded!” (Whomp whomp.)

For Christmas this year, Jonathan got me a t-shirt from Etsy that says: He is Enough. (The HE being God, not Jonathan, wink.) I decided that while I like to tell myself I don’t have enough time or money, it’s really not true. I have plenty of time for the things that matter, and plenty of money for the things I need. And even if I didn’t, He Should Be Enough.

A few weeks ago my friend Kellie asked me to be her first guest on a new venture called The Postpartum Podcast. Kellie and I met a few years ago through the Sacramento blogging world and when she asked to be on the show, I jumped at the opportunity. I’d love to explore starting my own podcast someday, so it was fun to be part of her first episode, which airs today!

Despite the awkward start to the podcast (you’ll see what I mean if you listen…I might have used her daughter’s name instead of hers…) I think I did okay. (Kellie, I’ll let you be the judge of that!) I am so honored to be part of Kellie’s big launch, and I’m grateful she took a chance on me being that I have no experience. The show is 30 minutes long and we cover my thoughts on postpartum counseling, recognizing your postpartum trigger points, and Dinosaur Train.

You can listen to Kellie’s podcast via her website, or search iTunes for The Postpartum Podcast.

Happy Monday, everyone!

p.s. That driftwood heart? Made that last night and it might be the only DIY project I get to in 2015. DIY projects are not on my list of resolutions.

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Best of 2014

by Lesley on December 31, 2014 · 2 comments

in best of the year

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Dear friends,

Can you believe the year is over? We’re celebrating at home tonight and I’m looking forward to a hike and yoga tomorrow to start 2015 on the right note.

Every year (except last year!) I put together a list of some of my favorite things. Without further adieu, here they are! I wish you a safe and happy end to 2014 with hopeful wishes for all the next one brings.

Best of 2014 Reads 

Best of 2014 Music (you can listen to most of these on my Spotify playlist.)

  • California- U2
  • Budapest- George Ezra
  • I Dream of You- JJ Heller
  • A Life That’s Good- Nashville Cast, Lennon & Maisy
  • Greater- Mercy Me
  • Broken Hallelujah- The Afters
  • Oceans- Hillsong United
  • Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  • Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars
  • All About That Bass- Meghan Trainor

Best of 2014 Movies/TV (please, can I note, I barely even saw any movies this year!)

  • Boyhood
  • Gone Girl
  • Twenty Feet From Stardom
  • About Time (2013, but whatever.)
  • Tiny
  • If there were a podcast honor, it would go to Serial, of course. Maybe next year I’ll add a Favorite Podcasts award

Best Websites/Blogs of 2014 

Best Recipes

Surprising things that worked for me in 2014

  • We subscribed to the Sunday paper. Even though it often takes me until Tuesday to read it, I still get excited when I see it on our driveway each week. I think it helps me to slow down a little bit.
  • I started charging my phone in the bathroom at night. I hated that my phone was the last thing I touched at night, and the first thing I looked at in the morning. Got myself an old school alarm clock, and BAM, some mornings I don’t get on the dumb device until 9:00am. (Note: I still have a long, long way to go with my phone habits.)
  • We got a YMCA membership. This has been key to my health and sanity in 2014. I always thought a gym membership wouldn’t be worth the cost but let me assure you…it is. I took Pilates classes over the summer and now I run on the treadmill a few days a week while the kids play at Kids’ Club. I dropped a few of the pesky baby pounds that were still bothering me, and I feel strong again.
  • I started growing out my hair and re-discovered my natural waves. The result? I’m blowdrying MUCH much less, and using my straight iron just a few days a week. You guys, my primping time has been cut in half! Santa Barbara has me embracing that natural sea waves look, and I love it.

Memorable Moments of 2014

  • Fancy Italian dinner in Tahoe with Zach, Dana and Jonathan after a windy ski day at Heavenly. I needed that night away, desperately.
  • Seahawks Superbowl Party, while potty training Anna. That was funny.
  • Two life changing phone calls from Jonathan, at work, when my stomach dropped and my heart leapt, and I knew we were moving.
  • My last girls’ bible study in Sacramento
  • The “I’ll have two desserts” night on my college girls’ Carnival Cruise weekend
  • Time alone in a Salt Lake City hospital room with my Grandpa Frank, a few days before he passed away. He told me to write, and I will.
  • Giving my testimony at Goleta MOPS
  • Stormy weekday jacuzzi and pool play in the Outer Banks with Jonathan’s family
  • The look on Anna’s face when she saw her birthday bounce house
  • Celebrating Owen’s first birthday at the beach with family
  • Anna’s first day of preschool
  • Katie’s wedding (and finally getting to participate in a flash mob)
  • Post chapel lunch during Homecoming weekend– 10 year reunion!
  • Thai food and Lincoln Memorial night in Washington DC
  • Watching Anna sing during her preschool and church Christmas performances

I’d love to hear some of your favorites in 2014. Write your own post and link to it in the comment section, or, simply leave a few thoughts. Happy New Year!

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