Books · ePantry · faith · family · just write life · reflections · resolutions

Personality Tests, Surrender, and Dear Mr. Knightley

Why, yes that is a new header and logo.

Thank you to my sweet friend Merideth who blesses me with her talent.

Lately, I’ve been learning a few things about myself. Back in the spring the Splickety staff used the test at 16Personalities to discuss how different–and alike–we all are. I’ve realized for awhile now (pretty much ever since I became a mom) that I walk a line between extravert and introvert and this examination of my personality was pretty spot on.

According to the test, I’m an ENFP-T (the Campaigner)–really? I don’t much feel like a campaigner, but I am these things:

Extraverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Prospecting-Turbulent

There might be emphasis on turbulent.

View More: http://candiceholcomb.pass.us/al-wedding
This is my family. All my sisters and our one brother. And Jasper, the golden retriever. Because when parents of 7 kids become empty nesters, they need a dog who’s treated like a child.

The analysis says people with my personality type “tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected… through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.”

Well, that’s pretty true. I dug pomegranate arils out the other day for a salad and then wrote a story describing it that was about more than just pomegranates.

“ENFPs will bring an energy that oftentimes thrusts them into the spotlight, held up by their peers as a leader and a guru – but this isn’t always where independence-loving ENFPs want to be. Worse still if they find themselves beset by the administrative tasks and routine maintenance that can accompany a leadership position.”

Ha, I don’t see myself as a ‘guru’ at anything but sometimes I think others do. At least the people who don’t see me falling apart as a wife and mom on a regular basis are always asking for my advice and opinion and help, especially now that I’m a published and contracted writer. I type that and then figure I sound like a snob. Trust me, I know very little but I am always happy to share that little. I have to humble myself everyday, especially when I edit, and google questions like, “In fiction should numbers be written out?” (Yes, in dialogue especially.)

My favorite part of that description is the part about “administrative tasks”. Please keep those away from me. The paperwork, data, charts, analysis–that’s what I hated about teaching. Just let me read books and lead discussions, already. The decision making and final calling–what I wasn’t good at when I coordinated MOPS. Just let me connect with moms. The find a cute image, schedule posts, and dissect page views of platform building? Ugh, I write 500 words and wish that was enough.

It’s nice to be validated. To realize that there’s nothing wrong with me for not being good at/enjoying those tasks. I just enjoy other tasks more. And I struggle with these time consumers because while I didn’t always find my strengths to be exact in this study, the weaknesses… well, those were unfortunately true.

ENFP personalities tend to have poor practical skills, difficulty focusing, overthink everything, get stressed easily, are highly emotional, and fiercely independent.

Ouch.

But the beauty of having your weaknesses pointed out (and mine have been shown to me with this test and the loving words of some kind friends) is that when I’m aware these are my tendencies, I can make a conscious effort to recognize when I’m being a crazed, anxious, difficult person and step back to examine the why. Which is helping me do something I’ve never done before–say no and guard the time I need. Because while I might have tipped the scales toward extravert, I also know the introvert rises up everyday and needs a little time of withdrawal.

That’s why I get up early and sit in the dim light and drink my first cup of coffee without a three year old baby in my lap. Then I study.

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Obviously this was not an early morning. But it was wedding morning.

Ever wonder what a personality test would say about Jesus? It’s comforting to me when I realize He too was misunderstood by those closest to him. In Mark 4, he’s teaching so many parables and then takes his disciples alone and aside and explains the deeper meaning, yet, still when they cross the Sea of Galilee that night and the storm blows up and He rebukes the waves they ask—”Who is this man?”

They didn’t really know him, not yet.

I’m paging though My Utmost for His Highest for probably the fifth time and this line yesterday, “We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character.” It’s when we see our own shortcomings that we can surrender to grace. I’m not so good at that (ahem, independent is another word for likes-to-do-things-my-own-way). Chambers goes on to say it is our pride that holds us back from understanding Christ’s work in us.

But I want to understand. So I’ve lain down a list that’s between me and Jesus of those areas in which I don’t surrender. Maybe you have one too? And maybe instead of being consumed with how others perceive me–or how I perceive myself–I can become consumed with knowing and understanding God so He can work in me—conform me to His image.

And speaking of surrender, that’s a major theme in Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley which I finished just the other day.

Loved Dear Mr. Knightley—talk about introspective. Sam’s journey from hidden to found is delicate and though she appears fragile, we discover she’s a steel magnolia (trapped in Chicago). I learned I don’t really know Austen, so I’m adding Emma to my list (might read with Madelynne) and definitely Jane Eyre for a Bronte fix. This story is told in letters, which is unique, and at first I wondered how we’d really get the tale, but then I got lost in the first person narration. My only complaint was that she had to come out of it at the end (for justifiable and necessary reasons) but I hated losing Sam’s voice at that moment. Took me a few pages to feel we were still in her head. Which, the writer in me knows, is the trick of third person deep POV. Harder than one would imagine. So get this one if you like a good romance (not steamy but slow and savory) and appreciate good literature. Yes, I realize I just made romance sound like pot roast. But that’s the kind of story this is—wholesome and filling.

Oh, and if you’re interested I’m venturing over to Goodreads, so you can find me there if you want to talk books.

One more thing!

You can get some these goodies for free this week over at ePantry. I love ePantry. They send me items that make my daughter say, “I like to clean with the good-smelling spray.” Win-win.

She’s talking about that Meyer’s Multi-purpose spray. Favorite cleaning product EVER. I use it on everything and worry about nothing.

mmcd_fullbundle_stove (1)

The sweethearts at ePantry (y’all they write me handwritten notes) will send you a free Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning kit with a $20 purchase. To make it super simple, they’ll suggest a basket for you based on your answers to four simple questions. You can add/delete as you want/need but this is the easiest, cheapest, funnest way to freshen your January house. Just go here to sign up or here if you’re an existing customer. They’ll take care of the rest.

For example:

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Enjoy! I know I do, especially when the kids are cleaning and I’m reading. Sure, sometimes that happens.

What are you reading? Learning? Studying?

Linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee and the #TellHisStory crew today.

 

Books · resolutions · Uncategorized

Why (and How) I’m Reading 60 Books in 2016

This morning our normal routine finally resurfaced. Everyone went to school and this mom used her Starbucks gift card and holed up in a cold corner of the local Ingles. (If your grocery store does not have a Starbucks, I am very sorry.)

There was a man across the way, a big hulking biker looking man who is actually a really nice guy. I think he works in the meat department. Anyway, he was tucked away in the corner himself, on his break, reading.

Not on Facebook. Not mindlessly staring. Not talking too loudly on his cellphone. But reading a fantasy novel–as in actual paperback book–and  my writer’s heart sang.

Print’s not dead. Not by a long shot.

Of course print might mean Kindle or iBook and I won’t judge you if I see you scrolling on your phone (because I’ve got a big ‘ol finger pointing right back at me and my social media apps), but for me, there’s just something about a book I can hold in my hands. Which probably explains why I’m choosing a traditional publisher over self-publishing for my first novel.  This year will be a year of work and sweat and tears as I bleed again and again over that story (and the ones to come after), but this time next year? I’ll be able to hold a real book in my hands.

But in the meantime, as I pray and list and plan and wait for some revelation as to which project I should pour into next, I’m reading. A lot.

Sixty books in twelve months. Five in one month. More than one a week, my husband pointed out. Maybe you read more than that in a year? I’ve never tracked my consumption of novels and non-fiction, but this year I am. Because this year, I’m making intentional choices to do what I’ve always said I’m going to do.

And that includes reading books I’ve been saying I want to read.

There’s a shelf in my room that’s full because my mom retired and reads voraciously and then stacks books on my kitchen table with admonishments that I better love it. There’s a wish list on Amazon that frightens my husband with its one-clickability. There are author’s names that are becoming names of colleagues as I delve into publishing. There’s that number one tip for how to write better: READ more.

So I am. So I will. And wonder of wonders–I think you all want to as well. When I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook of my stack stacking up, I received so many responses I started a group.

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60 in 2016.

That’s it. Nothing too catchy. Nothing too hard. Read whatever you want. The point is–read the story or the information or the opinion that’s found its way between two covers while you’re snuggled under yours.

My Monthly Five:

  1. A book I’ve been wanting to read. (Cannot wait to crack open Dear Mr. Knightly which I scored off the clearance shelf at a LifeWay bookstore in December.)
  2. A book I ‘should’ have already read. (Just finished Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.)
  3. A book that betters my heart and soul. (This month that’s Restless by Jeannie Allan–might bleed into February though because I’m also on the launch team for Kristen Welch’s Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World and it is SO good.)
  4. A book that develops my craft. (For me, that’s writing. Haven’t settled on this one just yet, but probably The Extroverted Writer by Amanda Luedeke.)
  5. A book that’s a current bestseller or new release. (This covers my book club’s choices, but since this month we chose Go Set a Watchman and I’ve already read that, I devoured Gone Girl. In three days.)

What are you reading and how much do you think you read in a year? Join the conversation and let me know if you want to take the #60booksin2016 challenge.

Christmas · motherhood · resolutions

My Delightful Confession

You know that feeling when you keep trying and trying and working and doing it different and still you can’t finish?  You can’t accomplish even a small task like making a new blog header or writing up a great recipe or matching all the socks?

I knew you’d know what I’m talking about.

That’s kind of where I’ve been these past couple weeks.  Christmas kicks my tail every time, people.  It’s hard.  And busy.  And stressful.  And lots of traveling.

Then it’s over and it gets a little quiet and we still have ten days before school starts back and trying to find words for days of overwhelming chaos and quiet just seemed like a little too much for me.

So I waited until today.  Today I’m home with one RSV-recovering baby who just cried himself to sleep, one sticky kitchen floor that hasn’t seen a mop since Thanksgiving, and two rooms of little girls that are in desperate need of a Lego-sorter.   Today I’m beginning my new year with a confession.

Sometimes I don’t like motherhood.  

You’re probably not shocked.  I write about that struggle quite a bit.  But it’s hard to admit.  We’re supposed to love it, right?  Every moment, every milestone, every milk-filled cup left under the carseat.  Except sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes I want to put on real clothes and give instructions to people who actually listen and be respected for being a productive member of society.

Motherhood doesn’t always make me feel productive.

I’m not good at just playing.  I’m terrible at following through with chore charts and sticker rewards.  My kids aren’t the best listeners and they almost never remember to pick up their toys without being asked.  We make grocery store cashiers cringe when they see that car buggy coming with two on top and one beneath in perfect violation of the warning labels.  I can start the day with a full sink of dishes and somehow, after two rounds of the dishwasher, end with a sink full of dirty dishes.  Today Annabelle couldn’t wear new clothes to school because she wore them all last week and I haven’t done their laundry yet.  Oh, and somewhere under the blue sparkly toothpaste blobs, I have a bathroom sink.

Sound familiar?

But here’s my true confession of the new year:

They went back to school today and for the first time since I started this motherhood journey, I wanted to have more time.

You see, despite all that unproductivity, all that fumbling around I do to make things better, all those piles of laundry and dishes and toys all over my floor, I have finally unlocked a secret to being a better mom to my kids.

Delight.  I delight in them, in their silly stories and gapped teeth and ridiculous tantrums.

Oh, they still drive me crazy.  Sometimes I still want to run away.  But this year, this year I feel awake.  I feel alive.  I feel awed by who they are and who they are becoming.  I truly, finally, feel the blessing that motherhood can be.

It only took me eight years to get here.

So if you’re just beginning this journey of mothering, or if you’re stuck in the middle and stumbling around like me, or even if you’ve finally made it to the other side of the little years, I hope you find some encouragement here.

This year I’m going to focus on growing this blog and I’d love to have you help me.  So, please, share it, tweet it, pin it if my words meant something to you!

Blessings for 2013!

reflections · resolutions

What I Really Need

Sometimes on Monday I like to link up with Carissa over at lowercase letters.  But today is Tuesday.  Monday passed me by in a blur of strep throat and dishes and wrinkled shirts.

So I’m linking her to me today because I love this post.  And it’s so timely for me right now.  Joshua will be starting a new job in a couple of weeks, yay!  He’ll be working closer to home which means more time and less gasoline charges.  Hopefully we’ll go from sinking financially to treading water.

Which should be enough blessing.  Like Carissa said, I’m not promised a savings account.

But too often I want to focus on my wants.  Which I often mistake as needs.

As in, I need a bigger house.  With a wrap-around porch and gorgeous views.

And doesn’t baby Gus need a nursery and a nice crib and some decor that Amelia likes too?

Or how about I need this outfit for next fall.  It says “I may have 4 kids but I’m still cool and put together”, right?

But do I really need any of that to be happy?  And if that item is intrinsically tied to my happiness, won’t I crumble when it falls apart?

Everyday of living within my means is a struggle for me spiritually, emotionally, physically.  I think I make it harder than it needs to be.  No, we don’t have any discretionary income.

But we do have Family Friday Night Pizza.

No, I can’t hire an awesome cake decorator for Amelia’s birthday.

But I can bake out of love.  I’m thinking a version of this….

As we end a month of resolutions and resets, a month that seems to give permission to start over, and approach a month devoted to those people we love the most and those causes that touch us all, I pray I will be reminded that my sins are white as snow and He will clothe me more beautifully than any lily in the field.

reflections · resolutions

Savoring in 2012

I rocked my baby today
all heavy arms and warm body
tucked in close to mine.
Usually she just asks for her bed
and climbs in and there’s no snuggles with mommy
but today she wanted me to hold her
and kiss those sweet curls 
that topple all down her 
almost two year old head.
She won’t be the baby much longer
and she won’t want to rock
for many more afternoons.
But today we savored.
Each other.
The quiet.
The wind in the trees outside her window
and the warmth of soft blankets and 
old glider rockers.
Savor
is my resolution
my only commitment
for this New Year.
The chance to revel in every moment
every full plate
and torn pair of jeans
 every
small blessing in disguise.
project 52 · reflections · resolutions

Project 52.Something

Yeah, I did good for the first month.  But apparently after January was over, so was my discipline. 

So here’s my attempt at reclaiming my weekly project of documenting the random days of our lives.

We’ve had a pretty down week.  It’s been busy with Joshua working late hours as the bank transitions to its new holding company and the girls and I are getting ready for the spring play at my school.

But this weekend, I was hit hard in the heart with a reminder that no matter how much I may hate the idea of my life changing because of his job, I am so blessed to be able to pack up my stuff…all that nonsense knick-knack brick-a-brack that makes our house our home.

Not that we’re packing just yet. But as I visited with our friends tonight who lost their entire home and both vehicles in a horrific fire yesterday morning, I’m definitely more grateful for my van with its chipping paint, my crooked kitchen cabinets, my sagging couch.  And I’m amazed by how quickly people will work to show others love and support when the physical structure of a life is gone.

Thank you, Lord, though, that it is never the physical structure that gives us our life, but rather the friends and family who are still standing no matter where you are.

Wow, long post for Project 52!  Here’s pics as promised!

Happy Birthday (again) to Amelia and Granddaddy.  We finally had her party this weekend.

That’s right, she’s eating more cake.

Where’s Amelia?

This girl loves her some birthday!

Amelia has seven aunts.  Aunt Calley and Aunt Alaina are the only ones who showed…we see how it is!

Playing with old friends.  I remember when these four used to all fit in the same bathtub!

motherhood · resolutions

2010 Whirlwind

I really can’t believe it’s New Year’s already.  I have a ten month old baby, a little girl who just lost her first tooth, and a middle child who’s lately having trouble adjusting.

I wish I could say 2010 was a great year and I’m sorry to see it go. Certainly it was life changing and more than I ever expected, but it was also incredibly difficult at times. 

We are, however, blessed beyond measure and the only New Year’s Resolution I’m making is to remember that. 

When the dishes are overflowing and the laundry is all clean but has no hope of being folded.

When the floor is grimy and the toys are an obstacle course between the den and the bedroom.

When the children are crying and Mommy is exhausted and dinner is still frozen.

When the babies are cuddling and Daddy is home early.

When it’s quiet because the girls are painting their fingernails while sitting on their beds.

When my baby makes a beeline through the crumbs under the kitchen table just so she can get to me faster.

I hope I can pause to breathe and pause to remember our many blessings. 

Happy New Year!