what i've learned + what i'm into

[It has been awhile, but March was a prettybig month, so here goes nothing.]

In no particular order, here are some important things I learned during the month of March:

1. I love worshipping in the car. I spend a lot of time driving from county to county for work, and it has become a real source of joy and comfort to tune into The Fish and sing to the Lord.

2. I am a Type Six blogger. Who knew that they actually had established types of bloggers? This profile seriously fits me perfectly, and I'm finding more and more as I grow and mature that it is nice to be able to have these kinds of mirrors.

3. I am a highly sensitive person. I guess in March I just got really into personality-style stuff. This one was seriously revolutionary to me, because I had never been able to put words to my struggle for energy. I had given into the idea that low energy equals low passion and let that lie make me feel incredibly guilty. I  wrote more about that here.

4. There will always be people who make fun of me. When I was doing foster care training, we did an activity where we compared personality traits we wanted and ones we tolerated in a mate at sixteen versus ones we looked for and tolerated at whatever age we are now. When I landed on disrespectful, I told them that I could never have tolerated someone being disrespectful to me, even at the impressionable age of sixteen. The trainer was shocked, and made a point to call me out.

5. I feel more secure in who I am at this point in my life than maybe ever before. When the trainer decided to call me out, I could have easily gone back to my hotel room and spent the entire evening wondering what was wrong with me. But I didn't do that. And while I am constantly reminded that I have room to grow, I am really satisfied with my life and who I am right now -- regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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And here are some things I'm into:

The music:

[spotify id="https://play.spotify.com/user/1227646053/playlist/5h9sUTUsRWFRQsCDbqlRkJ" width="300" height="350" /]

 

and of course, my constantly growing worship playlist

The viewing: 

Idiot Abroad. The husband and I literally devoured this.

Salinger. Netflix biography. Still angry about that girl ditching JD for Charlie Chaplain.

Undercover Boss. Always a tear jerker.

The favorited blogs:

Sarah Sandel's post on being a highly sensitive person.

Leigh Kramer's The Enneagram and Blogging: Type Six.

Crystal Styne's guest post at The Art of Simple about how making friends is really hard.

Hannah Brencher's words on being brave.

Ann's letter to her Hope-girl.

Literally everything over at The Nester's place.

In print:

[Confession: I love reading, but it often takes me awhile to finish books.]

"A Million Little Ways," by Emily Freeman.

"Packing Light," by Allison Vesterfelt.

 

 

Linking up with Emily Freeman & Leigh Kramer to share what I've learned lately and some of my favorite things. What have YOU learned and what are YOU into lately? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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a letter to my fifteen year old self.

Dear fifteen-year-old Erin, 315_40079260820_2003_nIts me, twenty-three year-old Erin. It may seem impossible to you in this moment, but believe it, girl, because we are here, and here is sticky sweet like all the sweat and honey.

Let's be honest, though: you're feeling like your life just fell apart.  Mom decided that she enjoyed the idea of freedom more than she enjoyed being married to Dad. She'll choose other men over her husband and children, and your friends at school will tell you that divorce is normal -- fun, even, because you get two of everything now. And even though it might be normal in 2005, you are painfully aware that there's nothing fun about it.

Your friends will end up ditching you because you feel too much. And it isn't really that you feel too much, its more like you don't know where to put your thoughts and feelings, so they're kinda mashed up right now.

Those angsty poems you've been writing lately? Yikes, girl. I'll let you in on a crazy good secret: someday, your blog will be read in thirty-three countries.

You might not feel like it right now, but you are important.

Not because of how many countries your blog will be read in someday, or in that shallow, "I only wear A&F and Hollister and date the cutest guy in school" kind of way, though. You might think you want that, but trust me, deep down, you really want more than that.

I know that you used to get made fun of a lot when you transitioned from homeschooling to public school a few years ago, and it seems like that has worn off a little. But there's this one girl who just has it in for you, and you have no idea what you did to ignite such a hateful blaze.

I've learned that they naysayers are everywhere. There are a few every now and then with skin on, but most of them live in your head, and they're much harder to get rid of. Stick to your guns, girl. You possess a strength beyond what you can even comprehend.

You'll fight hard with depression, even before your mom decides out of the clear blue sky to call it a day and wash her hands of eighteen years of marriage. It won't make sense and it will be scary, and you'll feel like hiding all day long. And I still have days like that, but they are much fewer and far between. We are making it, one day at a time. And that's okay.

People will tell you that your standards are too high. It happened to me, just the other day. I was doing an activity for job training (by the way, you're going to be a social worker someday) where we talked about personality traits that we sought out, or at least tolerated in a mate at sixteen versus the ones we looked for and tolerated at thirty. The instructor will be shocked when you tell him that you would in no way tolerate someone being disrespectful to you at sixteen. He'll make fun of you, and you'll feel sad, but only for a nanosecond. Then you'll brush it off and pat yourself on the back for the fact that even at the flighty, impressionable age of sixteen,  you never settled for less than what you deserved.

Speaking of dating and finding a mate -- that guy in the yearbook you thought you would end up marrying? You don't marry him. Instead, you'll go off to college and find out that the man of your dreams was living just three hours away the whole time, and you'll think its hilarious how God does it. And let me tell you, he is cute and sweet and quirky and all the things you wrote down in your journal that you want to find someday.

The Lord has a plan. I know that sounds super vacation Bible school, even to you, but its true. Hard things will happen to the people you love, and you'll question. You'll shake your fists at a God you've believed in all your life, and you won't know it at the time, but He uses those things to take you to places you have never been. Your faith will grow in ways you never thought possible, and you will learn that all is, indeed, grace.

You'll realize that you're important, not because of what anyone else thinks of you, but because He loves you. And your soul will fall in love with life in a thousand and one beautiful ways. Your heart will overflow. You will find joy in the most unexpected places.

In the meantime, keep going to football games with Dad and screaming your head out for the Panthers. Keep believing that in spite of everything, these are the best days of your life. Eventually, you'll realize that everyday is the best day of your life because everyday is an opportunity to grow.

You are awesome, and I think about you all the time.

-- Me

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Contributing to the beautiful Emily Freeman's collection of letters and shamelessly plugging her amazing book for young women. You can check out Graceful here on Amazon.

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What I've Learned and What I'm Into: December

What I've learned:

1. Time flies. More specifically, six months of marriage flies. I think this is a realization that can only come with age, and the relentless pursuit and collection of people and moments that make your soul feel full. Craig and I have laughed and shared more in the last six months than ever before. I would marry him again in a minute.

2. I am more prepared for my job than I originally thought. After two weeks of training on the keys to child welfare, there was so much I found that I already knew how to do, which is really exciting given that I recently asked my boss if I was qualified to send a fax to a doctor's office for a child's medical records.

3. Confidence comes with experience. With number two in mind, no amount of book knowledge can really prepare you for this kind of work. You have to go out and be willing to go out and get some dirt under your nails. So far, I have driven out to several home visits with my supervisors or coworkers, and sat in a court room to watch a case unfold that would have been appropriate for Law & Order. Also, I stayed by myself in a hotel for two weeks for training. The longest I had ever been away from home and my husband.

4. I love my coworkers. There is just something about this office and the people in it. Typically, the turn around rate in social work is through the roof -- but most of my coworkers have been here going on ten years. They are some of the most encouraging people I have ever met. One might also get the impression that social workers are incredibly serious, but the whole building is full of jokers, and a day does not go by that we don't laugh about something together.

5. Generally, things are much less scary than I make them out to be. Like staying in a hotel by myself for two weeks, or  my first solo visit with a foster child who is, shall we say, not low risk.  Everything anxious in me leads me to believe that things are going to turn out horribly, when time and time again, I am reminded that the Lord is in control.

6. My bank is super on top of things. Like security breaches after I shopped at Target. It had barely reached the news that Target's database was hacked when I received a phone call from our bank saying that my information had potentially been compromised and that they were going to cancel my current debit card and send me a new one.

7. Don't put too much emphasis on the blog statistics page. Numbers are not everything.

What I'm reading:

Blogs:

"How I've Taught People to Treat Me Differently," by Allison Vesterfelt.

"When Christmas Stretches You," by Ann Voskamp.

"I Know Close to Nothing, but I Believe in These Things," by Hannah Brencher.

Books:

"Grace for the Good Girl," and "A Million Little Ways," by Emily Freeman. [Sidenote: I fly through most fiction, but when it comes to books that really challenge me, it could take forever to finish. Especially recently, I have tried to be much more intentional about reading slowly and prayerfully.]

What I'm laughing at:

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What I'm watching:

Craig and I don't actually have cable, but during my two-week hotel stay, I managed to catch The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood. I generally don't have a problem with Carrie or her music, though I'm not an avid fan of the country genre. I only have this to say: if Julie Andrews did it right the first time, there's no sense in trying to do it over again.

and finally...

What I'm listening to:

https://play.spotify.com/user/1227646053/playlist/4XLlhfnhbipR5tkypmIi7f

Top posts of 2013:

Dear Church, I'm Still Here.

Note to Self, but also to You.

This is not an open letter.

Linking up with Emily Freeman for "What I Learned," and Leigh Kramer for "What I'm Into."