For the Love of Introverts

This post is part of a series, sharing my favourite products and discoveries from this last year. (You can find the first post here.) If you have any favourite ideas to contribute, please feel free to comment. Anyone who comments during this series over the next two weeks will have their name entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card. Let us know what you’re loving!

Today’s favourites are related to the post I shared yesterday on personality types. As I mentioned, I’m an introvert and I love my alone time!! But as a homeschooling mom of three kids, it can be hard to recharge, so today I’m going to share three things which have been really helpful this year. If you’re an extrovert, take notes, because you’re bound to have an introvert in your life who could benefit from these things, too!! (affiliate links included)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

This book has been showing up everywhere, and for good reason – it is AMAZING!! It’s such a good read for anyone, extrovert or introvert. It’s been crazy for me to read the ways in which our culture is built for extroverts. I’ve actually needed to read this book slowly, because I need to give my mind time to keep up with all the shifts that happen as I read it! I’m constantly recognizing ways in which I give in to pressures around me, or how I’m parenting my own little introvert in ways that aren’t helpful or healthy, but it’s just the way things have always been done.

Susan Cain has done a phenomenal job researching this book, and it is so well written. Her interviews are fascinating, and she questions many things we consider normal, but are really geared for extroverts, and make introverts miserable and uncomfortable. I keep realizing how much I’ve come to accept being uncomfortable! It’s hard for me to be honest and stand up for myself, and say no to things which don’t work well for my personality type. No, I’d rather not shake hands with complete strangers in church. (No offense!) No, I’d rather not answer my phone…like, ever. (I bet an introvert invented texting!) No, I’d rather not work with a group of people on anything I could just do it by myself.

As I shared in yesterday’s post, I truly love people, and I don’t like to be alone all the time. But there are certain interactions (small talk, gossip, strained conversation, etc.) that drain me quickly, while deeper conversations about topics which interest and inspire me are life-giving. It’s interesting to think of ways to recover from energy-sucking interactions, and add in more of the life-giving ones.

This book is great for introverts who want to find out what’s awesome about being an introvert, and for extroverts who need to grow in their appreciation for all that introverts are capable of, and why we need them to keep things balanced.

Headphones

Best purchase of the year. All of my kids looooooove listening to music, but most of the time, I just want it to be quiet and peaceful. I don’t like multi-tasking, so my favourite time to listen to music is when no one else is around, and I don’t have to listen to people talking to me and listen to music.

We’ve struggled with my low noise threshold for years, but finally figured out that headphones would save the day for everybody. It’s been the best thing ever – I have my peace and quiet, and my kids take turns listening to as much music as their little hearts desire. They think it’s far more fun to listen to music with headphones than without, so it’s suddenly become a special treat, and great entertainment.

Podcast Episode: How Personality Types Manage Energy

I used to think being alone was enough to recharge me, but listening to this podcast episode was very eye-opening. There are 16 different personality types (take the test here), and each type recharges in a different way. Each one has it’s greatest area of strength, and when we utilize that strength, we are recharged. For me, that strength is thinking! Specifically, it’s thinking about how my day is going, noticing patterns in my kids’ behaviour, trying to think up solutions to make our home run better and keep everybody in a healthier place. When I have the chance to be alone, I make myself set aside the phone or the book or whatever would distract me, and I just think. At first it felt weird and like I should be doing something more productive, but it’s been amazing for me! I could think for hours. However, there are also times when I need to get out of my head, and so the best way for my type (INFJ) to balance out is to do something that physically connects me to the moment of enjoyment, like yoga, a walk, or a hot shower.

But that’s just my type. There’s a type that recharges by going back to a familiar book or movie, and a type that feels most rested when they’re learning, so listening to a podcast feels very restful. Extroverts feel energized and refreshed by different types of social interactions. There are many different ways to recharge, and it makes a lot of sense to get intentional about it. When we just blindly stumble along and do whatever feels good, we could be wasting valuable down time that’s not leaving us recharged. This episode is definitely worth listening to, for all personality types!!

Alright, let me hear it – what are your favourite ways to recharge? What gives you energy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What I Learned From Staring at a Tree

When I think of the term “meditation”, one of the first pictures that pops into my head is of Rafiki the monkey in The Lion King, sitting cross-legged in a tree, humming with his eyes closed, and pressing his middle finger and thumb together in each hand. It’s a big stretch to get from Rafiki the monkey, to meaningful meditation as a spiritual discipline.

Meditation is a spiritual discipline that sounds a lot more mystical and intimidating than it actually is. Chances are good that most Christians who spend extended time praying have actually “meditated” without intentionally trying to do so.

Here’s how I found that out:

A few weeks ago, Ben wanted to do something special for me on one of his days off, so he offered to take care of the girls so that I could go down to the lake for an hour or two. He knows how much I love to do that – it’s my peaceful spot. I have spent hours and hours down there, enjoying the view, thinking, praying.

It was kind of a cold and windy day, and none of my usual spots were very comfortable, so I did something totally different, and went to sit by one of the cabins. I couldn’t see the lake quite as well from where I was sitting because of all the trees in the way, but everything is so beautiful here at camp that it doesn’t really matter what direction you look in, you’ll get a good view.

But something unexpected happened to me as I sat there.

I sat there for a long time, just unwinding. The day had been busy, and I had many, many thoughts crowded into my head. For about half an hour, I just kept releasing things, one at a time. A worry or concern would pop into my mind, and I would take it, pray it over, and surrender it to God. I would sit there for a moment, and then another thought would come, and I would do the same thing. After a long time of doing this, over and over, I felt much quieter, more at rest.

I sat there for a while, not really thinking about anything in particular, staring off at nothing. After a while, it started to register that I had been staring at a tree that was right in front of me. I started to study it more closely – I thought about the roughness of the bark, the patterns, the colors, and just let it sink in how beautiful bark is. I don’t ever really notice bark. But something about it got my attention that day. I can’t really put into words how impacted I was just by God’s creation of… bark.

photo © 2005 Mikhail Esteves | more info(via: Wylio)

Then I started to think about the other trees surrounding me. There were so many, all so beautiful. I started to think about how old they were, how long they had been growing there, part of camp for much longer than I have been. I started to feel very small – not in a bad way, just in a way that made me feel very much a part of all of God’s creation. So much has come before me, much will come after, and all of it with the purpose of glorifying God in whatever way He intended it to, all of it created by His hand, for His glory.

It was just me and the trees out there.

It’s really quite difficult to describe my thought process in all of this, or even to explain why it was all so meaningful. But it all come together in my mind to create this amazing experience of worshiping God, and enjoying His creation. Becoming aware again of how I’m just a small part of this huge, amazing plan in this beautiful world.

I sat there in the quiet, and the verse that kept coming to me was, “Be still and know that I am God.

Be still. Everything was so still. The trees were still and I was still. I kept wanting to be productive. I kept wanting to think up new things to write about. I kept wanting God to inspire me so that I could keep DOING. And yet I kept being reminded to be still. Don’t do anything, don’t accomplish anything, stop working, stop planning, stop writing blog posts in my head, and just be still. It can be so hard to just be in God’s presence. I know that I don’t need to earn His love, and I don’t need to keep trying to be good enough, but my actions would suggest otherwise. I need many more afternoons of meditating on the bark of a tree, remember to just be still.

I came back so refreshed, feeling like my thoughts had gone on a good wandering.

And then a few days later I read what Richard Foster had to say about meditation. And it turns out that all of what I had been thinking about had been….meditating. I wasn’t trying to. It just kind of happened.

I learned that meditating is basically emptying your mind of all the clutter of this world, and allowing God to fill it with Himself. It is possible to meditate in a way that isn’t specifically spiritual – it just ends at the emptying part. But because of my relationship with Jesus, the experience goes one step further, to the point where I am filled with the things of Christ.

God “speaks” to us in so many different ways – through His Word, through creation, through experiences, etc. This time, it happened to be the bark on a tree, but each time, He teaches me something new and different. Meditation happens whenever I quiet my thoughts and my heart, and allow God to fill me with Himself. Meditation happens when I sit there, “chewing” on His words – allowing it to soak in, really letting it rest in my mind, not just reading straight through a passage of the Bible without stopping to take it all in.

I realize that there are a lot of different opinions about meditation. There is a lot of information out there about how meditation is New Age, and that emptying your mind is dangerous, because Satan can disguise himself and control a person’s thoughts when they are in this vulnerable position.

But I don’t feel like meditation is something to be afraid of. I think that we should always be careful to “test” our thoughts – bring them to God and ask Him to convict us of anything that doesn’t come from Him, and hold them up against what the Bible has to say.

And if we do those things, then I think it’s okay to rest in God – to trust that He will guide and direct our thoughts, and bring us to a place where our perspective is put back in it’s proper place.

So those are my thoughts on meditation. Go find some verses or a great sunset, and do some meditating!

My new favorite quote on meditating : Muddy water becomes clear if you only let it sit still for a while. (No idea where Ben got it from, but when I heard him say it, the visual image stuck with me!)

 

Sanctuary

What is a sanctuary?

Anika was asking me this last week when we were getting ready to visit the goose sanctuary near camp. She’s been there many times before, but this time she had a lot more questions about the purpose of it, and wanting to know why geese need a sanctuary.

Trying to explain it to her got me thinking a lot about the word “sanctuary” in a different context than one for geese.  A few years ago, I read a book called Soul Sanctuary (which I can’t find on Amazon, and can’t remember the author – too bad, it was so good!) It was about creating space in your life for your soul to “breathe” – for peace, quiet, worship, and rest.

What would it mean for your soul to rest?

I got out my dictionary to dig deeper into the meaning of “sanctuary”, and I found words like refuge, protection, haven, harbour, port.

I like that – the thought of a safe port for my soul to sail to.

Life gets so noisy sometimes, and I don’t even think about whether my soul needs some rest.

As I stood there at the goose sanctuary, looking out over the peaceful lake surrounded with beautiful rocks and trees, I was thinking about how lucky those geese are.

Maybe I need to get away to the goose sanctuary and join the geese a little more often! I need a sanctuary, too.