What I Learned, What I am Into, and Live Small, Love Big (or all the things to link to Friday)

I am so excited that I am almost finished with getting the new blog space ready. I have almost read everything I’ve ever published for the Internet, and folks, that is a lot – I deleted some things because some of it was a lot of junk that had no business on the Internet, and I learned a lot about myself that I had forgotten. I have a lot left to do with the site in order to make it user-friendly, but if you want to take a peek, you can click over to jamiesampieriharper.com, which is where eventually this webpage will link to – hope you will stick around. My blog had taken a serious turn, what with writing about ontology and reforming church and whatnot, so today, I am linking up with some fun end of the month link-ups, because… fun, hello, even if I am still semi serious. Luckily some of the stuff overlaps for each link-up. First some photos from February:

what I learned, what I am into, and live small, love big

First on the list – what I learned for Emily Freeman’s link-up:

  • Emily’s post taught me a lot about how to know what I learned. So if you’ve never thought about what your month has taught you, she gives great tips on how to start.
  • I love to sit in a circle and teach preschoolers bible stories about love and their memory verse, and how to teach Ephesians 3:18 with hand motions to remember it by. Hello joy!
  • I am a slow reader if the book is non-fiction, even if I enjoy it.
  • I learned a whole lot about homeschool, from the different cover schools around town, types of curriculum’s, co-ops, support groups, and even the various ways people I know do it. I don’t yet know if I will use any of this knowledge, but we are prayerfully considering it for one of the kids.
  • Even though I have a house full of books to read, I will still find a plethora of books to check out at the library, and that if I so happened to resolve at the beginning of the year to read only my house books, I will fail at that resolution pretty quickly.
  • I am learning how important routine is and how to stick with a routine, and even how comforting it can be at times.
  • I need to break the blogging rules in order to love blogging.
  • The idea of homeschool, even if it is something I’ve wanted to do, scares me and energizes me at the same time.
  • Wen hair products do not work for me.
  • Buttermilk is dreamy in a cake.
  • Jesus really knew the Scriptures really well – that most of everything He says in Matthew alludes to an Old Testament passage, and that when he talked about the bridegroom and the old and new wine, it seems like He wanted His listeners to think about Hosea – that in fact He was calling Himself a better, more complete, version of the God the Israelites believed in. I keep falling in love with Him in the Scriptures, even when the Scripture does not appear to answer my life circumstantial questions, I meet Him when I read.
  • The most surprising thing I learned that is although sometimes I wonder if I am really a Southern Baptist (the denomination I belong to), I learned that maybe I still am, based on the notion of soul competency in the quote below:

“The central theme of this book is soul competency – the notion of a free soul that stands alone before God and is therefore competent and responsible for its own decisions without the need for any other mediator – and how this Baptist distinctiveness shapes (consciously and unconsciously) the identities of Southern Baptist women. These women are more complex, more thoughtful, kinder, and usually more rebellious than outside observers might think. This book reveals that complexity and suggests that even in the midst of patriarchy (in which they are often willing participants), Southern Baptist women create ways to claim their own identity and to act independently because they are, in their own eyes, competent before God.” – Susan M. Shaw, God Speaks to Us, Too, Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home, and Society

Next on the list – what I am into for Leigh Kramer:

  • I have been reading Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. It is the first one of her books I have read. The blogosphere is enamored with her stuff, so I thought I would try it, although it seems very non Southern Baptist of me to read it. She was an Episcopal priest and ended up leaving her role as priest, so some of what she believes is very different from Southern Baptist me. At the end, I could not decide if she became an universalist, which I don’t believe in. However, what we seem to have in common is the way to commune with God in nature and in every day acknowledgement of His nearness. I will read her works again.
  • The other book I have been reading is the one I mentioned above – God Speaks to Us Too by Susan M. Shaw. It called to me on a shelf at the library, from a section I had never ventured down. If you are a Southern Baptist woman, you might like reading it, even if like me, you may not be a feminist.
  • Other books I’ve glanced at include homeschooling and puberty because yes, one day I will have to deal with puberty.
  • Downton Abbey – Who done it? Will Tom leave? Will Mary ever marry again?
  • Castle – from serious to silly, how could you not love Beckett and Castle and their crime solving antics?
  • Daniel is into Survivor, which just restarted. As a stay at home mom, am I a “no collar” now? From white-collar to no collar, I have found this is an eternal struggle for me as a former professional who may never re-enter the workforce in the same way again, but that could be its own blog series that I will spare you.
  • Favorite blog reads, although let the world know that even though I subscribe, I do not read every post they write:
    • I like to read Modern Mrs. Darcy because she writes about books and highly sensitive people and her just everyday ordinary things are fascinating to me.
    • My new favorite is GraceTable, which is a contributor blog about biblical hospitality.
    • I now added a man’s writing to the mix – Timothy Willard. I wish I could write half as good as many of those I read, especially Tim.
    • Emily Freeman, Ann Voskamp, Kayse Pratt, Dana Butler, Erika Morrison, and Soul Stops are my regular reads.
  • Southern Living recipes
  • meal planning
  • The Best Yes bible study

And finally, Live Small, Love Big with Lori Harris:

I don’t have a lovely story to share like Lori shares on her blog because I’ve taken most of the time just being a person and recounting every day average things instead of writing a story. However, I recently discovered Lori’s writing, and the way she shares is so relatable and relevant to me, so I cannot wait to read more from her. I love to bake – cakes, cookies, breads, cheesecakes, pies. If you can bake it, I love to make it.

Unfortunately, the sugar does not always like me. I have been thinking about starting a little business where I bake homemade treats for others on demand and then use the monies to save for mission trips or charitable giving or a the kids college funds. Except, I am not a business woman.

So what I have been doing occasionally is baking and giving it away because I love it so – I even just give goodies away on fb sometimes. This month, I baked a cake and shared it for Valentine’s day with my family and my mom and in-laws, and it was intentionally baked for them.

This week, my husband really wanted some homemade bread, so I made some honey-wheat bread. I ended up with three loaves. We gobbled up the first loaf quickly, but I decided to give one away to whoever the Lord showed me to give it to. To me, this feels very small. To bake and love others with baked goods, but honestly, I am learning that it is these very ordinary, but very joy-filling things are where my calling lies. In today’s fast paced busy world, this is definitely how I am living small and loving big. :)

How was your month?

Also, linking up with Truth and Grace.

One Simple Way to Find Your Elusive Calling

Sunday night finds me watching a few clips and pieces from the If:Gathering 2015. When I saw that Shauna Niequist was interviewing her mom, Lynne Hybels, I wanted to watch. I had seen Shauna speak on what her mom taught her about calling on the web sometime last fall, and it encouraged me. But it stirred up all. the. many. questions. about. my calling. The more I thought about it, I happened upon one simple way to find your elusive calling.

Monday morning, I am tired, and I want to snuggle in bed longer, to linger. But instead I get up and take a shower. In the shower, I think about life and motherhood and this thing called calling and how I wake up some days wishing I was a Beth Moore or one of the beautiful ladies who spoke at the If:Gathering, not because of their fame, but because they have found their calling. They know who the Lord has designed them to be, and they run after it passionately. I envy their knowing. Instead, I feel as though I am approaching 40 wondering if I my writing is beautiful or good and why in the heavens, do I still feel like I am looking for this thing called, “calling,” not to mention that life and being a wife and momma seems to conflict all. the. darn. time.

Since October, I have been working on a new Internet home for this blog. One that is more thoughtful of you and more focused on serving you as readers, but since December, I have not written a thing. It is the first time since I’ve started blogging in 2008 that I’ve been silent and simultaneously peaceful. Often, I need to write to quiet myself, but how can I write in service to you if I am serving myself?

I thought about that – about how I am finding home and finding peace outside of what feels like my calling, and I realize that in the quiet and still, I am able to bring myself before the Lord, and lay my writing and dreams upon the altar and ask Him to do as He wills in a very honest way. This week my soul, however, began nudging me to come back to writing.

one simple way to find the elusive calling

I think about calling like I have come to think about a soul mate. A soul mate is the world’s romanticized version of true love. That’s not to say that soul mates do not exist – it’s to say that even the most unlikeliest of peoples can marry, and with God in the midst, He can take and make them into soul mates over the course of a life time. Being a single woman and looking for a mate, I married based on a dream, but even a dream does not make a marriage. A marriage comes together with God first, love, sweat, and tears, hope, faith, and continually working. Marriage is hard work – the best and hardest thing I’ve done.

Sometimes the doors of opportunity and calling don’t swing wide. Maybe some people like Beth Moore are made for specific callings, and they are so gifted in what they do that the door swings wide and opens easily, but even Beth testifies to a lengthy process of finding her calling (if perchance Beth ever reads this – I love you dearly, it’s just that looking at well accomplished ladies is hard for us “average” ladies). What if, like soul mates, maybe most of us are made for many callings, and as we do something, we become something. The problem when searching for the elusive calling is that we often give up while looking for it. We want it to be easily found. This is how we get stuck.

While I don’t know much, this is what I know. Calling is something active you do, but it feels easy and provides rest for your soul most of the time, but it is still work.

The easiest way to find the elusive calling, however, is simple. Stop looking for your calling. You can read all the books out there, and I am not saying those books are not helpful or important in finding your calling, but if you are like me, you’ve read them all, along with every blog post, even gone so far as to take how to classes on it, and still you wonder, what the heck, where is my calling? Instead of seeking calling, do this one simple thing.

Follow Jesus. You know He said, “Come, follow me.”

Later the same day I was asking my girlie friends, “How do you know the difference between dying to self and living abundantly?” as if they were mutually exclusive, because let’s get real, dying does not seem like living.

But I was careful in how I worded it because one of those girlies has a special needs son, whom she homeschools right now, and for her, looking for an elusive calling is not so much a choice. That’s when I realized something. Looking for a calling is not actually a biblical thing, and it’s kinda a first world problem, not to be harsh, because again I have spent hours, many hours, thinking about my giftedness, both naturally and spiritually; I have thought about my personality type, my experiences, and I’ve been through every thing known to man to find out how to really live happily, abundantly. All those things can be very important for finding the calling, but honestly, there is one way.

When we approach calling as if we’ve been made to do this one important thing, we’ve made the calling the treasure. Jesus is always the one important thing, and when we follow Him, before we’ve even noticed it, we’ve found this thing called calling. Maybe it looks small and undistinguished. Maybe finding your calling looks more like dying and cross bearing than abundant living. Maybe it is simply falling in love with a Savior and saying, “wherever He leads I will follow.” For me, it looks like persistent persevering and seeking the Savior.

“Come.” He says. I come running, simultaneously dying to dreams, dying to self, and living an amazing, abundant life of loving Him. How does that looks specifically for me? It changes every day. Sometimes it looks a lot like cleaning house, other days it looks like I am a writer, sometimes, it looks like a mom who loves her husband and kids. Sometimes, it is all very ordinary.

“Come.” He calls. This is the calling. And in Him, I find home. I am found and called.

When Christmas does not feel Magical

when christmas does not feel magical

As a child, Christmas to me was pure magic. There was nothing like opening a million packages and the anticipation and joy of Christmas. As an adult, childhood seems a utopia of abundant living. What happens when Christmas does not feel magical? and joy is hard to find? I grew up and lost the magic […]

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Blessed are the Chaos Calmers


“Blessed are the chaos calmers for they will be the children of God.” As a mom, I have seen my kids do a lot of things. They have broken my heart a few times in only 9 short years. Sometimes they forget I am a person, but sometimes, I have forgotten that they are people […]

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Why I am not going to finish the series

favorite things

So, perhaps, you may have noticed that I have not been posting the rest of the series as I said I would. Well, I went out of town for a blog conference, and I tell you, I stopped everything to get ready, to leave, and to be present at the conference. I am not giving […]

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Should we give a child a self-image?

I realize I am hardly blogging by the outline or by the 31 day schedule. Confession: sometimes writing can overtake real life, and I just needed to attempt to put back in order some of my life chaos. It is tempting to just quit and stop writing the series altogether because of that, but I’m […]

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Image Anomalies

I was in the fifth grade when I started taking piano lessons. Fifth grade was the year I started middle school, and probably the year that I started looking in all the mirrors, so piano became this amazing thing for me, as it was the only way in which I remember being encouraged creatively. Ms. […]

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Looking in the True Mirror


I missed Monday because I was visiting my sister for my niece’s birthday. I was snuggling my 3 month old nephew and had a thought to share with you. I missed yesterday because I was exhausted, and I almost missed today because…first world problems. Good thing I had already started this one.  ///// As I […]

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Pinnable Bible Verse


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Downton Abbey quote on image


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