Complaints about being shy

I am easily terrified while in social situations. Someone I don’t know approaches and I panic. I begin frantically looking for my social butterfly husband who can talk to anyone–literally, anyone–with ease. His ability to ask questions of strangers and his outgoing personality make him a perfect BBQ-goer, party date, awkward situation fixer, new friend, and (thankfully, for me) husband.

So, with our recent life change, moving, lots of moments with strangers have been thrust upon me. Going to a new church always feels painful, but it seems to be especially so when your husband is known by practically everyone. After you’re introduced as wife, the wonderful person you’re meeting says, “Oh my gosh, I have known Eric since (insert moment at least two decades ago)”. And you awkwardly laugh and smile while wracking your brain for something to say.

And then it gets worse.

They smile at you then begin talking to social superstar husband while you’re left to stand there with a dorky smile on your face.

They finally remember that you’re there and ask how you like Washington. You smile and say you’ve really enjoyed your time there so far and that it’s been a great summer. But then your mind goes blank while you desperately try to think up a question to ask said kind person who saw your husband wear diapers.  And it’s not their fault.  They are kind and wonderful, but it can be hard to talk to a blank wall.  (And, yes, I realize that is really self-disparaging, but I don’t really mean for it to be.  I completely understand that I am shy and my awkwardness can make it seem like I’ve got nothing going on behind that face of mine.  I’m really thankful for the people who keep trying and help me hobble past my fears.)

It’s not that I don’t want to be there. I really do. I can’t even begin to describe how three weeks in, we’ve made some friends and have been welcomed so graciously. I just wish my brain would process faster when I was in a social situation. It would make meeting new people so much easier!

Also, exciting news in a blog post to come in the near future…I overcame my fears and made a friend! We even hung out outside of church! Woo hoo!

If nothing else, being shy has helped me to keep my social calendar empty to read books! I’m fully embracing my introvertedness…

Thankful

Tonight was a good night. We recently moved 12 hours north of all my family and most of our friends. I hadn’t realized the toll it had taken on me until tonight.

We went to our friends’ house for dinner. But it wasn’t just for dinner, it was for friendship. For laughter. For playfulness. For God to remind me how much he loves me.

I’ve always thought I was an introvert. Still think I am. But tonight I was reminded that I also need to have (and crave) time with people. People other than my wonderful in-laws and grandparents-in-law. Even people other than my husband. As much as I’ve loved this past five weeks with just the six of us (plus one crazy dog), my soul was craving time with friends.

I’m thankful, for friends, for delicious dinner, for not so delicious dessert, for love, for an opportunity to be reminded of the importance of community.

Sometimes I find myself in a funk. In a cyclical, weird, lonely state of mind that causes me to further isolate myself from people. I hate that about myself, but it’s such a hard habit to break. When I do break it though, when I allow myself to be freed from the insecurities and fears that bind me to home, I see opportunities to grow and change and love. I find new friendships. I am amazed by how God uses other people to show me love.

How do you find yourself hiding from others? When you break free, what do you find? Am I just crazy?

Quick, funny Christian chick lit (Restless in Carolina – Tamara Leigh)

Bridget Pickwick Buchanan is on a mission and not much is going to stand in her way!  I loved reading Tamara Leigh’s Restless in Carolina.  I have read the two other books in the Southern Discomfort series, but if you haven’t, it wouldn’t matter.  All three books are good stand alone books.  I really liked the first two, and this one definitely did not disappoint!

Bridget is a widow and is slowly shedding the pain that has plagued her since her husband died and left her in alone in her hometown.  Her family has been through great upheaval as family secrets have come to the surface and Bridget’s wonderful Uncle Obe has worked to make amends.  And he needs money to make the amends he is set on…which means his estate needs to be sold.  And not just to anyone, at least not while Bridget has some say in it!  Enter JC Dirk, the man with money and green intentions, and an interest in the Pickwick property.  But there are secrets that are hidden and other people with different intentions.

I laughed aloud as I read this novel over the course of a few hours.  Even though it was a quick read, there was a depth that I find and appreciate in all of Tamara Leigh’s novels.  Bridget’s fears and her confusion and her steps toward faith were all understandable and seemingly realistic.  I love when I can find myself overcoming my own real life fears as I walk with a character through their fears.

 

Thank you, Waterbrook Multnomah, for the review copy of Restless in Carolina.  My opinions are my own, honest ramblings.

Engaging, well-written, funny novel (Reinventing Leona – Lynne Gentry)

I’ve read quite a few novels featuring a pastor’s wife as the main character. But what about a novel telling the story of a pastor’s wife…with no pastor?  Enter Reinventing Leona by Lynne Gentry.

Leona is on her own. Her beloved husband has kicked the bucket and she’s a wife, no longer a pastor’s wife. What will become of her as the world continues turning? Her mother and her kids are in conflicts–with her or with God or with others. The evil elder Howard is up to no good as he seeks a new pastor.

Though I felt some of the conflicts were slightly contrived and silly, I really enjoyed Gentry’s debut novel. I was captivated while reading it (went to bed one night way too late because of it), and I really enjoyed the writing style.  I felt like I was a part of Leona overcoming her fears and finding herself as she stood up to her mom, dealt with hard issues, and got herself a job…all the while remaining polite and charming.   Engaging, funny, real; Gentry hit this novel out of the ballpark!

Thank you, Tyndale, for providing an electronic copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest opinion.

Light-hearted, fun read (My Foolish Heart – Susan May Warren)

>I’ve been in desperate need of a good book lately. I am a teacher and 15 hours from now, I will be on summer break. In my excitement for the impending summer, I started dreaming about all of the wonderful books I was going to read. And in that excitement, I couldn’t help but get started a bit earlier than I probably should have. I was so lucky to start my summer reading off with Susan May Warren’s My Foolish Heart. While this books is part of a series, it does not need to be read in order to understand what is going on. (Turns out I had read one book in the series…didn’t even realize it until partway through!)

I love a good story with good guys and bad guys, but I love it even more when you’re not really sure who is good and who is bad. I loved that about this book. There is one character in particular who you just want to not like, but you can’t help it, and you can’t decide if he’s “good” or “bad”.
In the end though, it is not just a quick, fun read. Yes, it’s quick, yes, it’s fun, but there’s a lot more to My Foolish Heart than is seen from the back cover. There are issues of faith and issues that have great depth. I appreciated going on the journey with Issy, Caleb, Lucy, and Seb and discovering my own areas of crippling fear along with them.
Thank you to Tyndale for the review copy of this book. My opinions are entirely my own.

Hope was here.

On Wednesday a student in my class was severely embarrassed.  It was a really awkward situation that could only happen in middle school to the shyest girl in the whole class.  It was horrible.

I cried for her that evening and just felt so weighed down by the whole situation.  The worst part, what kept haunting me, was the reaction of her peers.  Giggles, points (really?  I was shocked at this.  I felt like we were being Punk’d.  Who points at an embarrassed student while they’re standing up front, mortified?).

My husband, then the ladies in our small group too, helped me to brainstorm how I would deal with this on Thursday.  I was embarrassed (and let’s be honest here, I’m pretty awkward) and I knew I hadn’t handled it as well as I could have when it happened.  Since they were all laughing and she was in the middle of her presentation, I told the class to be mature and respectful, and I told her to finish sharing.  Not the best way to deal with it, I know.

Anyway, Thursday morning, 3rd period rolled around.  I sat on my stool just watching them and I waited until they were all seated and the bell rang.

I don’t remember what I said, but I know that they were just as uncomfortable as I was.  They watched me with wide eyes, embarrassed that I was talking about internet safety and stranger danger and gossip.  I told them that I was disappointed in their reactions.  That I expected more from them.  They looked guilty and lowered their eyes from my gaze.

I finished.  Told them I hate lecturing.  Sorry.  But did they have any questions or comments?

And then the most beautiful thing happened.

Hands went up.  And 12 year olds redeemed their fellow peer.

“I’m sorry I gossiped about what happened to you.  If it had been me, I would have been so embarrassed.  If I hear anyone talking about it again, I’m going to tell them to stop.”

“I am embarrassed by how I acted.  I’m going to find everyone I told and tell them I take it back and was a jerk.”

The most amazing part, I think, was that when these students were apologizing, they weren’t looking at me at all.  They looked at her, the ashamed student, and they looked at each other.  Their apologies weren’t for me.  They were for her, and for each other.

The words flowed from sincere pre-teen hearts and I saw hope and redemption firsthand.

Interesting, enjoyable, thought-provoking novel (Lady in Waiting – Susan Meissner)

>I have had my review copy (thank you, Waterbrook Multnomah!) of Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner for the last week and a half. Every evening, I look at the book then look at the clock. I typically finish most books that I start before I fall asleep that night, and with teaching the next day most days, it’s hard to find time to start a book early enough in the evening. I know that’s weird, but it’s how I do things because I get so invested in the characters.

Anyway, FINALLY, tonight was the night. And I am so thankful I waited and gave myself a full evening to read, stop, process, read, enjoy, read, etc. this book. What an incredible story Susan Meissner weaves!
Jane and Jane are two women, centuries apart but similar in many ways. I was amazed as Meissner brought each Jane story to a semi-climax then moved on to the other Jane just when I couldn’t stop reading! I must admit that I contemplated skipping ahead to find the next section of the Jane I was devouring.
Jane Lindsay, Jane Grey, and Lucy Day are complex women but Meissner writes their stories with beauty and grace. I was impressed with the attention to detail, as well as, simply put, the good storytelling.
I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and Christian fiction. While it wasn’t too overtly pushed, I felt like I grew and was challenged in my own faith as I read this book. Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for the review copy of this great book. I was not asked to write a positive review…it’s positive due to Meissner’s lovely story.

fear (Resurrection in May – Lisa Samson)

A few months back during the summer, I received a free book from Thomas Nelson Publishing. It was a book by one of my favorite authors, Lisa Samson, and I was amazed at the power in its pages. I read it quickly, something I typically do with all books, and hadn’t thought too much about it until recently. Last week, my husband was at work for two days one with a late shift, the next with an early shift. Since we live quite a distance from his work, it made sense that he should sleep there. During the evening while he was gone, I really enjoyed the alone time. I had dinner with a good friend (leftovers — so I didn’t even have to cook!), and after she left I wrote some more of my thesis, graded some papers, tried to bring myself to read a book that was just so hard to focus on, ate cookies and popcorn, and sang along to some of my favorite music. As it started getting dark, I closed the curtains and holed myself in, trying not to think about the darkness outside. I finally forced myself into bed far later than usual, and laid in fear for quite some time.


While I was laying there awake with my heart pounding and fear filling me, I thought of the book by Lisa Samson, Resurrection in May. I was scared, while alone in my home in Pleasantville, USA with locked doors (and even a garbage can hidden behind the door so I’d know if someone was breaking in) and windows. I said “Jesus” aloud to remind myself of the power of his name, then began to thank him. The fear I have is ridiculous. The likelihood of something “bad” happening to me was tiny.

All over the world, people live in honest fear. They are fearful of militias waiting outside their door in Darfur, of imprisonment if their government disagrees with something they say in China. They fear attacks on their lives in Mogadishu, attacks by people who are terrorizing a city to regain political control.

Our world is a place of fear, but it doesn’t have to be. I know I can say this and it might not mean much because of the situation I am in: the city I live in, in the country I call home. But I believe that the paralyzing fear that I often feel can be and will be overcome by God, my God, the one who faithfully carries me (us/all) through all things.

Fantastic memoir…a great story (Same Kind of Different as Me – Ron Hall & Denver Moore)

>Wow. The stories told in Same Kind of Different as Me amazed me. These stories of the lives of Hall and Moore were honest, heartbreaking, real, and oh so beautiful.


Denver is essentially born into slavery in Louisiana and, after running away, lives on the streets. Ron, on the other hand, is a privileged art dealer from a totally different walk of life. As their paths cross, and through their relationship, both men gain a new understanding of life, faith, friendship, the world.

Their experiences and relationship really invites Jesus lovers and followers to live honestly and with intentionality. As a reviewer for Thomas Nelson, I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for my opinions; however, I would have purchased this book, and intend to do so as gifts for family and friends who I think will appreciate the honest, real, stories of these two men. This is a life-changing book.

Challenging, but good read (Plan B – Pete Wilson)

>I am not typically a fan of what I perceive to be “self-help” books…I find them somewhat cheesy, and I always feel they are “talking down” to the reader. I was somewhat hesitant to review Plan B by Pete Wilson because of this; however, I am so thankful I did. I was impressed by Wilson’s insight into hard times. He did not minimize any challenging situation — instead, he took the time to connect a story from the Bible to the pain and suffering we feel in this life.


I appreciated his candor and his own questioning. It led me to feel as if he was actually searching with me for the answers. I did not feel he was talking down to his audience, shedding his wisdom on his poor, helpless readers, but rather, felt as if he was honestly sharing the information he felt led to.

As a teacher in California in the age of rampant pink-slipping, I have felt confused and misled…had I been hearing God wrong? To borrow the tagline from the book, what do I do when God doesn’t show up the way I thought he would? This book, while I wouldn’t necessarily call it “life-changing,” provided a new way for me to experience God and his plan for me, through a plan B that God has, in all honesty, really been preparing me for. Thank you, Pete Wilson (and Thomas Nelson Publishing) for this book with incredible insights into human nature, and more importantly, the faithfulness of God’s nature.