11 Quotes from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Learning, reading, and writing are three of my favorite things in the world. Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird combined all three in a way that often left me laughing and filled with the constant desire to put the book down and write my own words.

Whether you are a writer or not, it is my hope the following quotes encourage and motivate you to use your gifts and do your thing—that thing that gets your blood pumping, brain firing, and soul soaring—at the highest possible level to love others in the greatest way possible.

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February + March Reads

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“Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs though, so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads.” -John Trapp

The following books have filled my soul’s tastebuds over the past couple months. I recommend feasting on pretty much all of them.

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Romania Week Two Photos

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Adventures abound.

The last week was filled with one-on-one (or two-on-one) meetings with students, hanging out and doing life, and planting seeds and sharing the Gospel. It was my favorite.

I love these people. I love what God is doing in and through them. I love redemption.

Here are approximately 97 million photos from the last week.

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Romania Week One Photos

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Romania is one of my favorite places in the world.

I love the people, the culture, the scenery, the food—all of it. It’s a gift to be in Iasi again, this time spending two weeks helping Cru with an English Club for university students.

Here are some a lot of photos from the first week.

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Disobedience, Relationships, and the Idol of Self-Protection

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Admitting I need or want people is terrifyingly hard.

Accepting, much less confessing to someone that I need or want them in my life automatically gives them an incredible amount of power, and I’m scared of being manipulated.

No one wants to be taken advantage of. No one wants to feel used. No one wants to hold out their heart only to have it shattered by broken trust or the selfishness of others.

But it happens. And I’m learning that, even if it does, I still need people, and God-honoring relationships are worth having your heart shattered for. Just ask Jesus.

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Waffles, Authority, and the Color Pink

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It was a typical morning. 

The 2 year old with wild blonde bedhead was in her booster seat, the 8 month old played happily in his high chair, and I was cutting up strawberries and waffles.

On the days I nanny, this is the normal 7 a.m. scene and I love it.

It’s time for food. It’s time for talking. It’s time for theology.

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Singing in the Fire

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As previously mentioned, Susannah Spurgeon is my new bff. 

Here’s a snippet from her biography Free Grace and Dying Love (which I cannot recommend more highly). It’s long but one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever read. Wherever you are and whatever season you’re in, I hope it ministers to you too.

At the close of a very dark and gloomy day I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on, and though all was bright within my cosy little room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the hand which I knew held mine and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked, ‘Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’ These fretful questions were quickly answered, and though in a strange language, no interpreter was needed for the conscious whisper of my own heart.

For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of an oak log burning on the hearth. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window. ‘What can it be?’ I said to my companion, who was dozing in the firelight; ‘surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night!’ We listened, and again heard the faint plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke for a moment our undisguised wonder. Presently my friend exclaimed, ‘It comes from the log on the fire!!’ and we soon ascertained that her surprised assertion was correct. The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart. Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all went well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold; but he had grown old since then and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness and the vehement heat of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice.

Oh! thought I, when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed are we purified and our God is glorified! Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log–cold, hard and insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds were it not for the fire which kindles round us, and releases tender notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will. As I mused the fire burned and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set before me. Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard, apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.

-Susannah Spurgeon

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January Reads

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Books are an escape, therapy, and education for me.

And January was apparently the month for escape, therapy, and education. I’ve never read as much in 31 days as those that have just passed. We had a small blizzard over one weekend that canceled all plans and I read 7.5 books in three days. What. Is that insane? Yes. The answer is a firm yes.

Here’s my list (in no particular order).

I would love to hear what you’ve been reading!

“We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, ‘Bring the books’ — join in the cry.” -Charles Spurgeon

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Finding Beauty in the Winter

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My sister loves winter.

She loves the snow, the cold, the way your lungs freeze up and give out when you try to breathe, all of it. (Okay, fine, I embellished the breathing one, though she does like breathing cold air.)

I’m not a fan.

I love sunshine and warmth and the smell of dirt and trees. I love being outside and hiking and adventures and going barefoot and being at and in the lake (that isn’t frozen). I love outdoor sports and Enoing (is that a verb? Let’s go with yes) and picnics and grilling and barbecues and, as you can see, pretty much anything that includes eating outside.

On the other hand, it’s unnatural how much I hate jackets and coats. I would rather risk pneumonia than put on a jacket. You know what else I could go the rest of my life without? Socks. And short days and having to start your car 20 minutes before you go anywhere so your hands don’t permanently freeze to the steering wheel.

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How to Suffer Missionally

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Broken relationships.
Cancer.
Sickness.
Death.
Loss.
Tragedy.
Grief.
Loneliness.

What if Scripture tells us God is a divine multitasker and that this hurt doesn’t only affect us? What if we aren’t suffering because God is cruel but because He’s equipping us to help others in ways we couldn’t without it?

We all suffer. What separates Christ-followers from the world is the way we respond. And with hearts and ears anchored in the Gospel, we can hear the sermon suffering preaches.

Suffering tells us we’re all groaning for full redemption and that we’re not alone because no life is untouched by difficulty. The poison of sin has slithered into the DNA of every human and with it comes suffering—the proof of our brokenness.

Perhaps God walks us down roads filled with potholes and trials and grief so we can learn the streets and one day drive others down them, helping them to navigate the curves to get to the finish line.

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