Losing Brain Cells

Let’s talk about growth mindset. Raise your had if you were taught that if you lose brain cells, you can’t get more. I know I was when I was a kid–part of the “don’t watch too much TV” campaign. Growth mindset is the opposite. It’s the idea that your brain can create new neural pathways, that you can get smarter.

I’ve been doing growth mindset printouts and videos with my kids the past couple of weeks. Class dojo has some great videos on the subject! Very digestible 🙂 And MissWinter’sBliss has a bunch of free printouts.

One of the printouts we did was one that compares fixed and growth mindset. It was so helpful, I’m going to give you the list. As you read through them, ask yourself which characteristics fit you.

Fixed Mindset…

  • is jealous when other kids do well.
  • believes it doesn’t help to work hard.
  • won’t try new and hard things.
  • avoids challenges.
  • believes if they don’t try they won’t make a mistake.
  • gives up easily.

Growth mindset…

  • is inspired when others do well.
  • believes effort helps them learn.
  • likes to try new things.
  • loves a challenge.
  • can learn from their mistakes.
  • keeps trying until they can do it.

I have to admit, reading through the list was a little painful. There are times when I’m firmly in fixed mindset–jealous of the people who are succeeding at the things I want to do, believing hard work never gets me anywhere, afraid to try new things, challenges, or mistakes, and giving up easily.

Sometimes it’s hard not to get caught up in circumstances. I get cranky and overwhelmed with the distance between where I want to be and where I am. And sometimes I don’t do the work because it feels too hard (impossible). I just found myself procrastinating on facebook instead of moving forward on a project.

So what about you? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

This is such a vital issue! As Christians, the essence of sanctification is to keep growing and changing. I LOVE that God created us with room to make mistakes and learn. We see this so clearly with children, but I think we forget to give ourselves (and others) the same grace as adults. And sometimes we just plain forget to grow–we get stuck doing the same things in the same ways because it’s comfortable and familiar. But following God’s call requires stepping out of our comfort zone. It requires doing different things or doing the same thing a different way. It requires change (I know that’s a four letter word to some people).

One amazing thing about growth mindset is that if you’re in a fixed mindset, you don’t have to stay there–you can become someone with growth mindset. This is something I’m working on. When I hear myself say, “I don’t know how to do this,” I add “yet” onto the end of that sentence. I’ve also been stepping out of my comfort zone a little more. Developing a growth mindset is a challenge, but it’s one well-worth doing.

As I’ve switched up my thinking, I’ve definitely seen benefits! For example, I’m much more willing to give myself grace. I used to beat myself up for mistakes. Now, I can tell myself that it’s okay to make a mistake and that mistakes are the stepping stones to success. It’s definitely lowered my stress level not having that negativity hanging over me! And I can cheer other people on because their success shows success is possible–it’s an encouragement that I too can get there.

So what about you? Where did you fit on the list, and what are you going to do about it?

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Tales from a Spacious Place excerpt (fish in water)

“Some restrictions can free you,” I began, like a bored student parroting back a set of half-grasped words. Then understanding came in a blinding flash. I sat stock-still, amazed. “You’re talking about things like music lessons or physical training, aren’t You? If you restrict yourself by practicing or training, it actually opens up new possibilities. It creates freedom to do things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to accomplish.”[i]


“But then not all restrictions free you,” I added, thinking back to injustices, like slavery, which were often within the realm of legality.

“Right. Think about physical training. Suppose a person trained to fly like a bird, using only his body. He could spend his life strengthening his muscles and studying birds, but would those restrictions help him achieve his goal?”

“No.” I snickered, then realized I’d done things that were likely just as foolish.

“And would his life be fulfilling, or would it be wasted?”


“Do you see that this person is less himself? The wrong restrictions dehumanize you. So, as you were saying, not all of them are freeing—”

I ground my teeth. “And now, I suppose, we’re back to how to determine which ones are freeing and which will suck the life out of you.” I didn’t want to talk about it!

Jesus smiled at me. “There are fish in this pond.”

I blinked at Him a few times, then decided to just go with it. “Yes, yes there are,” I said, noting the many ripples disturbing the water’s surface. The fish were in a feeding frenzy.

“Do you suppose the fish know they need water?” He asked, idly slipping His fingers into the pond.

“I have no idea.”

He stood up and held out a hand. “Let’s go find out.”

I gulped. “Um, okay, sure.” I took His hand.


I began to shrivel and shrink. It was an unpleasant sensation, like being squished into a box much too small. Then all at once, I was a fish, out of water. It was exceedingly uncomfortable.

I flopped about, my gills gasping for water until Jesus unceremoniously plopped me into the pond. I gulped deep breaths of water. Much better! What in the world was all that near-suffocation about? I swam a bit and was delighted to discover how well my new fins and tail worked.

Jesus dove in after me, now a fish Himself. “So what do you think?”

“If I’m going to be a fish, I prefer to be a fish in the water rather than out,” I said primly.

“Why’s that?”

“Fish are not designed to breathe air!” I slashed a fin downward, trying to emphasize my point, but mostly just flailing.


“They can’t function well without water. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of fish can’t survive outside it.”

“Aha, I see you’ve found another freedom-enhancing restriction.”

I didn’t have anything to say to that. I floated there, my mouth opening and closing repeatedly as I cast about for a suitable reply. None came to mind. My only hope was that I just looked fishy, not ridiculous.

Jesus waited a few moments, then asked, “Shall we go find a fish to chat with?”

I tried to nod, and off we swam with Him leading the way. Here, flecks of something glimmered in the sunlight and the water was comfortably warm. Though it was murky, I found that I could see clearly enough. In fact, near the surface a plethora of bugs lingered. I thought hungrily of dinner, then brought myself up short. I may have looked like a fish, but I refused to eat like one.

The farther down we went, the gloomier and chillier it became. After a bit, we found a large fish swimming purposefully along with an air of self-importance.

“Excuse me, sir, could you spare a moment?” Jesus asked.

The fish looked us over and apparently decided we were worthy of his attention. “I suppose so. You are not denizens of our fair country. You must be from the other side,” he said, as though uttering a shrewd pronouncement.

I wished I’d had a fish-sized monocle to hand—or flipper?—him. It would have perfectly completed the picture of his pomposity. I stifled giggles lest I offend his self-importance.

“You’re right, we aren’t from around here. Would you tell us about your country?” Jesus asked pleasantly.

The fish bobbed up and down in the water. “Of course. It is always wise to familiarize oneself with the locality one is visiting. Our country is a delightful place, almost magnetic. Obviously, you must be aware of this fact since you, too, have been drawn here. Food is plentiful and so are neighbors. There are plenty of the right sorts of fish who make their homes here.” He seemed to swell ever so slightly. “I, myself, am a fish of some standing in the community and can recommend a hostelry, if you so desire.”

“Actually, we were wondering if you could tell us more about your country. Where are its borders?”

The fish stared at Jesus for a moment, as though trying to ascertain if his intelligence was being insulted. Apparently he decided that we must be applying to his magnificent wisdom, or perhaps were merely impaired in some way. In any event, he answered the question kindly. “The borders are, of course, the murk and the standing stones.”

“And what exactly is the murk?”

“The murk is part of the shallows, where the world is smaller.”

“Where the shallow water is?”

“Water? What is that?” he asked.

“Water. The liquid medium we’re moving through. Separate from the air.”

The fish’s eyes bulged out even more. “You’ve been talking to those frogs, haven’t you? Well, I’ve no time to waste on nonsense. I should have pegged you for that sort of fish immediately!” And with that, he harrumphed away, muttering something about troublemakers.

“I think that should be enough. Would you like to stay here, or shall we find somewhere warmer to talk?” Jesus asked me.

“I think I’m ready to be a human again, preferably one on dry land,” I said, thinking longingly of sunshine. The water was mostly dark now and getting cold as the sun continued to sink.

“Okay, let’s go somewhere more comfortable.”

Jesus swam toward a pile of large rocks in the middle of the lake. I wondered if these were said standing stones. He headed for a small tunnel in their midst, and I hurried after Him. The tunnel abruptly darkened, then I found myself standing, once more human, in a narrow hallway with Him. He opened a door in front of us and invited me in.

[i]       Keller, “Absolutism.”


Changing Tribes

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been a few weeks. Illness and computer glitches are not my friends.

Anyway, I think I’ve told y’all that I’ve been taking a couple classes about money–specifically about changing the way you think about money. I’ve definitely seen a big difference. It’s amazing how much of how you handle money as an adult is dependent on what you learned as a child (at least, if you were taught/shown anything about money by the adults around you). In Tapping into Wealth, Margaret Lynch talks about tribal mores. She argues that our families are like tribes and we take on the rules of that tribe. It’s a survival instinct–if you get kicked out of your family as a child (or even as an adult), life gets a lot harder.

One of the exercises she has you go through is to figure out what those tribal mores are for your specific family in the area of finances: how much money you’re allowed to have, how you should feel about rich people, how hard you have to work in order to get that money, etc. There’s a psychological script that we all run based on how we were raised, a “people like us” do x, y, z.

It was illuminating to do that exercise. I realized I have some very limiting beliefs in that area. For example, I discovered that I believe I would have to work more than 120 hours/week in order to have more than enough money to pay the bills–which would be why I’ve never wanted to do it 🙂 I rebelled against that tribal more by deciding my family is more important to me but I didn’t change the belief. Loads of people have money for saving, vacations, and other luxuries without working 120+ hours per week. It’s because they work smarter rather than harder.

As I’ve been doing EFT/Tapping to work through some of these beliefs, I’ve been thinking about how the issue isn’t the beliefs themselves. I mean, they are still a problem. But the root issue has to do with what tribe I belong to. As we become adults, we build our own families and sometimes keep or get rid of tribal mores that our parents instilled. But more than that, as Christians, we belong to God’s family. His tribal mores are what we should be living our lives according to.

So, for instance, God doesn’t tell us to work 120+ hours per week. He tells us that we’re His precious children and that He is our Provider (Matt. 6:25-34; 7:9-11). He tells us to have weekly Sabbath and set up a schedule of yearly “vacations” where His people took a week off of work a few times per year (Ex. 31:14-16; Deut. 16:16). He tells us that in vain do we burn the candle at both ends because we’re designed for sleep–He gives sleep to His beloved (Ps. 127:2).

Another piece of the working that hard bit is this value on pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. But that’s another thing that isn’t part of God’s values. He values us having faith in Him and going to Him with our problems rather than working day and night to solve our own issues.

I was reminded of a scene in Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce where the main character moves to a different country but continues to dress according to the cultural values of her home country. When someone suggests she switch from heavy skirts to breeches, she’s taken aback. It was shameful and immodest for a woman to wear breeches where she was from, and she has to think about it. She talks about what the priests would say. But then she realizes that she doesn’t live there anymore. She truly can change her behavior without feeling shame, and she enthusiastically does so.

So often that’s me. I’ve changed tribes but I live like I haven’t. I have a new allegiance but I keep the old tribe’s rules. But it doesn’t have to be that way; I belong to God’s family now.

So what about you? What areas in your life are you keeping the tribal mores of your family or culture when God has a different set of rules?



True Positivity

Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive, isn’t it? I’ve been thinking about that this past week–partly because I’ve had high pain levels but partly because of an appointment I had with my doctor.

It was just my yearly check in with her. Get my letters of medical necessity signed. Update her on how my health is going. The usual. But it really underscored again that nobody has answers for me in the health department. The type of auto-immune I’ve got is a category of illness–one that can have hundreds of causes. Therefore, there’s no one way to treat it.

Sometimes I get really cranky being told that doctors can’t solve my health problems. I get tired of being told that they don’t know why certain treatments aren’t working, that they have no idea what to try next. I just want someone to swoop in with some perfect treatment, some magical pill that takes away the pain and exhaustion.

I was reminded though that God is our healer. I firmly believe that when we align with the way God designed our bodies to work, we get healthier. We’re designed to need sleep and enough calories to run our bodies and the right sort of nutrients and to have good probiotics in our guts and to not live under chronic stress. The Bible says a lot about health.

I particularly like Proverbs 3–there’s a lot in there about how to stay healthy. Verse eight says, “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (NIV). I recently heard a sermon where the speaker glossed over how awesome the bones bit is. I have to admit I did the same thing until I got an auto-immune disease; a huge part of our immune system is in our bones. For example, white blood cells (the guys who fight off infection and disease–basically any foreign thing in our bodies) are produced in our bones. We want healthy bones for way more than just not breaking them.

Anyway! When you have a chronic illness, it’s way too easy to get caught up in trying to find the right information on how to treat it. I believe that God could heal me in an instant–I mean just look at Ps. 103:3 or any of the healings in the New Testament. But I’ve also learned that I didn’t know the first thing about taking care of my own body. I’ve learned a lot since I got sick and have seen how God has used my illness for my benefit.

Last week, when I was stewing over the lack of information my doctor provided, I was reminded of all the times when God has given me the right information at the right time–99% of the time it hasn’t been through a healthcare professional. So I don’t need to stew. I don’t need to fret over whether I know the right things. I just have to trust that God is my healer. He knows how to get me healthy. He knows the cause of my illness. And He knows what information I need and when I need it. That’s where true positivity comes from–knowing who God is and that He’s going to work in my life–not from having great circumstances.

Christian Living, Uncategorized

Peace in 2017

Wow! Last week of the year. I can’t believe that it’s the end of 2016. I love getting to the end of a year and getting to start fresh–I know we get a fresh start every day but there’s something special about starting a brand new year. If you haven’t done the work of organizing your year, it really, really helps! One new thing I’m doing is to write down my top five goals for the year and read them out loud every day. It’s definitely helped me to stay focused on what I want to accomplish instead of getting sidetracked by the day-to-day junk.

Anyway! This week I was struck by what an amazing thing peace is. We hear a lot about peace at Christmas–how Jesus came to bring us peace with God–but I wonder if we’re so used to hearing it that we don’t really listen anymore. I know I get that way. I happened to be doing Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself study on the fruit of the Spirit, specifically on peace, this past week.

She defines peace in several ways but one that I really liked was “the absence of fear and turmoil” (p.107). Thinking about 2016, we had some pretty stressful bits. I love this idea that even during the crazy–because of Jesus’ birth, life, and death–we can have true peace. I love that we can move through anything life throws at us without fear and turmoil.

I think it’s easy to forget how really awesome that is–especially if you’ve grown up in the Church or spent a lot of time around other Christians. I’ve been reading a lot of secular books lately and found myself grieving for the authors… there’s just such a tangible lack of peace. One of the vloggers my husband follows has talked about how he’s perpetually busy on purpose because he falls into depression anytime he has time to think.

It’s a sad state of affairs if you have to cram your life full to hide the fact that you don’t have peace. Why do so many people not have peace? I really liked this section where Beth Moore talked about the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-15) and how there are prerequisites to having peace(p. 103).

Just like the boy brought all he had (five loaves and two fish), we have to surrender all we have, even when it seems inadequate for the situation at hand. Also, like Jesus had the people to sit down, we have to put ourselves in a position of trust and rest. This one is really hard for me. I tend to ask for God to intervene and then keep checking on/trying to intervene myself when I feel like He’s taking too long or not doing it the way I want it done.

As we move into 2017, we all have a choice: are we going to do the work of surrender and trust or not? It may not even make any difference in our circumstances on the outside but it’ll definitely change how we handle those circumstances.



Christian Living, Uncategorized

Unwavering Faith

I can’t believe it’s DECEMBER–as in the last month of 2016! Crazy how fast this year went. I’m trying to wrap up some various projects by the end of the year so I’ve been making lists of what needs done and what needs put on my list for next year. It’s good but also a little overwhelming. There were a lot of goals I had for this year that didn’t happen for various reasons.

In the middle of this, I found myself in Romans 4. If you’ve never read that chapter, it’s pretty amazing. I’d like to focus in on verses 18-22: Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” (NIV)

After spending the past few months in James, my brain immediately threw neon lights around that phrase “waver through unbelief.” In case you’re not familiar with that section of James, James says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (1:5-8, NIV). There’s this idea that wavering in your faith gets you even less than you started with.

I am blown away by Abraham’s faith. I can’t even imagine the way he could walk that line–to acknowledge the truth vs. falling into denial but to still hang onto his faith. It’s incredible to me that he could take an honest assessment of things. So often I feel like faith is portrayed as this ability to lie to yourself–to ignore the reality of whatever the situation is. But that’s not faith at all. Faith is living in the truth of whatever is going on–regardless of how overwhelming or impossible it seems–and then trusting God to work it out for your good, for my good (Rom. 8:28).

As we are smack dab in the midst of the crazy stress that often constitutes the holidays, trying to finish out the year well, trying to figure out how to start next year well, I need the reminder that God can work all that out. I hope you can hang onto that too. It doesn’t matter how huge the situation is–after all, Abraham and Sarah were both impotent but God still worked things out for them to conceive–God can do something amazing in and through it!


Seasonal Relationships

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately: seasonal relationships. No, not the relationships you have with family you only see during the holidays—although I’m sure there will be plenty of blog posts written across the internet about that particular topic; I’m talking about the temporary nature of people in our lives.

Growing up as a military brat gave me a unique perspective on friendships. Sometimes I feel like a total weirdo—mainly because most people around here have lived here for their entire lives, sometimes for generations of the same family. I’ve found people with this kind of locational permanence tend to see friendships/family as forever. I have to admit that when I was a kid I went through a phase where I just gave up on having friendships: what was the point of getting attached when we were just going to move again?

It was—difficult to convince myself of the benefits of having a temporary closeness. But somewhere along the way, I realized that all our relationships are temporary: People move away. You might move away. People stop wanting a relationship or get too busy to have friends (by the way, that last one really should be a blaring alarm in your life—if you’re too busy to have friends, you’re too busy to grow). People move on with their lives without you. They grow and change in ways that can cause relationships to fall apart or fade away. Hopefully, you’re growing and changing and that can sometimes put strain on relationships. Even if someone remains faithfully involved in your life the whole time they’re alive, they’ll still stop being around when they die until (if you both know Jesus) you die too.

Relationships here on earth are temporary so why invest?

The picture that came to me years ago was the idea of seasons. God puts people in our lives for seasons. Lord willing, you have some people who are in it for the long haul—your spouse, a close friend, other family, etc., etc., etc. But not everyone is going to stay forever. Every person you come into contact with can change you though. And the closer their relationship with you, the greater their ability to affect you is.

I have this picture of playing pool: if all the balls represent different people, your trajectory in life can change because of someone else. It’s a double-edged sword. The people we’re closest to are the ones who change us the most and hurt us the most.

Avoiding relationships can keep us from growing and make us pretty lonely. But expecting them to last forever can create some other problems—relying on people instead of God, for example. For me, I’ve found that the balance lies in reveling in the relationships I have when I have them—being open enough that they can change me and I can change them—but also being able to let go when the relationship changes for whatever reason. It can be a little scary because there’s no guarantee of how long the relationship will last and I choose to be aware of that fact and accept it. But no matter how the relationship goes, if I stay surrendered to God and let Him use it in my life, it’s never a waste. I’m always someone different because of who I interact with.

What about you? Have you noticed that people come into your life for seasons? Is that idea a comforting one?