Day 23: Common #write31days2018

In the interest of honesty, I am not setting a timer for this post, and it will likely take me more than five minutes to write. But the word “common” prompted me to think of my somewhat neglected commonplace notebook…so I’m going to talk a little bit about “commonplacing” because I don’t think I have written about it here before. It fits within the themes of contemplation and creativity, too!

This week’s prompt brought to my mind my all too oft neglected commonplace book. I keep meaning to dig it out of the drawer next to my favorite reading spot and make a better habit of jotting things down in it. But I may be getting ahead of myself because I realize that some of you may have never heard of a commonplace book and don’t know what I’m talking about! Well, don’t feel too out of the loop. Until I started reading Charlotte Mason homeschool mom blogs a few years ago, I’d never heard the term before, either. 

A commonplace book is, in its simplest form, a place in which you write down favorite quotes and passages as you read so that you can come back to them again later. You can google “commonplace book” and find all sorts of examples, but each person keeps their commonplace a little differently. I don’t use mine as much as I perhaps should, but when I do take the time to write quotes, poems, sayings or meaningful passages from books (or articles, or even blog posts), I find I remember them better later on. And I do enjoy flipping through the notebook and seeing them again, sort of like looking at snapshots of good times with old friends. (Because I do think of really excellent books as my friends, don’t you?)

The first examples of commonplace books I’ve read about are from medieval and renaissance scholars. They used them as a way to keep and organize ideas and facts as they studied, and looking at some of these artifacts is truly a peek into the mind of the great thinkers of that time period! I don’t have any such grand visions of my own commonplace as being anything so intriguing to generations to come, but perhaps some day my children might find them and enjoy reading what I found a comfort or an inspiration. 

One little fact I found enlightening is the etymology of the word “commonplace” in reference to these keeping books. It made little sense to me that a word that now means ordinary or trite would be used to denote a place in which we record that which we find extraordinary and worth noting. But I discovered that the term originally was two words, “common place” and was translated from the Latin, locus communis, which was in itself a translation from the Greek words that meant “general theme.”

mid 16th century (originally common place ): translation of Latin locus communis, rendering Greek koinos topos ‘general theme.

Now that made sense to me, since many people did and still do organize their commonplaces according to theme or subjects. But I think a good many more of us are less structured than that and just write down whatever strikes our fancy. I like the idea of my commonplace being a spot where all the books I read come out and play together! As I read through the many quotes I have gathered over the years, I am sometimes surpised at how much the science of relations is at work as I find connections between the various books and quotes I might not have seen otherwise.

Writing all this has certainly inspired me to start writing in my own commonplace book more often, and I hope that it might inspire you, as well! If you want to read (or hear) more about commonplacing from some of my favorite people online, here are a few links you can chase:

  • The Scholé Sisters Podcast, Ep. 42: Carpe Librum–the whole podcast is actually about book recommendations, but they open with a short discussion about commonplacing that I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Sarah Mackenzie’s “What I Keep in My Commonplace Book
  • Celeste at Joyous Lessons has started a whole online community around the theme of Keeping Company, sharing our commonplace entries with others! She and her children add a lot of illustrations and such to their notebooks, and they are simple beautiful. (GOALS!)

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 22: Help #write31days2018

I think in our current culture, we as American’s are not always willing to admit when we need help with things, at least I see that in moms. We want to appear to have it all together and to be capable of caring for our families and other responsibilities on our own. 

But this is not historically how mothers have done things. (The exception, perhaps, was in the extreme frontier days when pioneer women often went months without seeing their neighbors and had no contact with the families they left back east but occasional letters.)  In times gone by, women helped each other with childcare, household chores and outdoor work. They washed clothes together at the stream. They brought in the harvest and put up canned goods together. They trained their older daughters to look after the younger children while the women did work that needed free hands. 

Sadly, we have lost this type of close community help as our lives have become more automated and fast-paced. We have the semblance of community online, but we lack real hands-on help in our daily lives. We would not say that our ancestors were weak in giving help to and taking help from other women in their communities, would we? No. I think, rather, we should say that it is strong and brave to admit that we sometimes need each other, that we need help. And we need to be used by God to help others also. 

In what area of life could you use some “in the flesh” help today? How could you help a member of your local community this week? Let us pray for God to bring friends and mentors who can support us. Let us pray for God to bring us people we can serve. Let us pray for true community. Then be open to being the one to start building it as the Lord leads.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 21: Start #write31days2018

For a procrastinator like me, the word “start” is sometimes a hard one to face. Starting can be the hardest part of a new project, or even an old one that has been set aside. When embarking on a new venture, I have a hard time facing my fears of imperfection or failure. So I procrastinate. I put off beginning the journey into the unknown. This can apply to creative projects, but it also affects areas of spiritual growth. And it definitely comes into play when facing tasks that I find mundane or distasteful.

The fact is, however, when I choose to start, whatever the activity may be, I almost always find my tasks less difficult, my obedience more rewarding and my projects more fulfilling that I thought they would be. My fears are unfounded. My distaste is overcome. And my reluctance is released when I just take the first step of faith.

Starting is active. Starting is strong. Starting is hopeful. Starting is energizing.

My hope for you today is that you will start that thing that you know you should do but have been putting off. I think you will be glad you did.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 20: Audience #write31days2018

The concept of “audience” has been on my mind lately, especially since leaving Facebook and Instagram for the month. Even before that, however, I had grown disillusioned with the ideas of growing an audience via social media and all that the “experts” say you are supposed to do these days to build a platform. I am tired of the constant push to hustle and the pressure to be a certain type of person in order to market myself.

The thing is, I don’t actually feel called to create a big audience for myself as much as I feel called to use words to communicate God’s truth and encouragement to others. If he wants me to have a small audience, but I actually do make a little bit of a difference to those few people, then so be it. As long as I can be obedient and faithful, I am pleased to be used by God in whatever capacity that may be.

Of course, I want to reach more people. In my humanity, I would love to speak into many people’s lives and have my words go far and wide. Who wouldn’t want to be recognized for saying something worthwhile? But if that isn’t what God has for me, then I am content to just keep writing for the pleasure of the process. In the end, my audience is really an audience of One, and He is the only One whose opinion matters.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 19: Who #write31days2018 #fiveminutefriday

Who am I? I have been doing a lot of contemplation of the concept of identity lately, especially as it relates to my identity in Christ. The relationship I have to the King of kings is truly life-altering when I live in that reality. I am a daughter of the Creator of the universe, and no one can ever take away my rights as an heir to the kingdom of God. Wow. It leaves me speechless and in awe.

How does my identity in Christ shape me in my roles as a wife, mother, friend? That is what I am working out now in the day to day. If I am secure in my position before God, then I should behave differently. My value does not come from my earthly relationships, but blessing does flow from cultivating those relationships. I should be self-less and loving, faithful and honest, not moved by fear of the future or waves of cultural shifts. When I find my security and value in God alone, I am free to fully love others as He would love them. 

I can’t say I am there yet….far, far from it! But the goal is there. And the Holy Spirit is in me, changing me little by little, as I allow Him to work in my heart and life. Praise be to God that He knows who I am and still loves me!

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

 

I am also linking up with the Five Minute Friday community today. To read more posts by bloggers on this prompt “praise” visit the link-up.