What I learned this Fall

I decided to join Emily P. Freeman today by listing a few things I learned this Fall. The idea is to share what we’ve learned before we move into a new season. And hopefully we’ll carry the lessons we have learned forward with us, which, in my case, doesn’t always happen like it should. For those who haven’t visited my blog before, my name is Lisa and I’m a mom and a wife from Pennsylvania. In addition to being a writer and a blogger, I’m also a photographer, who mainly focuses on documentary-style photography. You can learn more about me on my About page

1) So, first, this Fall I learned that God has a plan for me – I just  don’t have a clue what that plan is. More and more sermons I’m listening to, or books I’m reading, keep telling me God’s plan is ready for me, I just have to step into it. I’d love to learn, in this next season, just what I’m stepping into!


2) I learned I know what I want to do with the passions God has given me, but not how to get there. As I wrote in my digital diary, the one I keep in my phone because I never seem to find time to write in a real one:  

“There are all these motivational speakers out there who tell you if you put your mind to it you can be successful. And they are right. Often by successful they mean “famous.” But I don’t want to be famous or impact the entire world, I just want to impact and be effective in my world. I want to use photography to document real life for people who respect that the moment is more important than the pose. That the ordinary is extraordinary. That the perfect photograph doesn’t always mean looking into a camera and being given the cue to smile. That the in between moments when someone is caught off guard can be the frozen memory that means the most one day. Sometimes when I think no one really cares about what I do I want to stop snapping the shutter, stop sharing my photography. But then I decide to keep sharing because my art speaks to me and maybe someday it will speak to someone else and inspire them to take their own photos of their own children, parents, family. They may never hire me as a photographer but if I give them an idea of how they want their life documented then I think it’s all worth it.”

3) I learned that the health anxiety (usually called hypochondria, when one isn’t being politically correct) I thought I had a grip on after last winter’s mental breakdown is still there and as strong as ever. The past two weeks I have been deep in the throws of it and for me it is clearly a spiritual attack that I still need to learn how to battle.

I recently heard a sermon by T.D. Jakes and I wrote this quote down in my digital diary to keep as a reminder:

“If I was your enemy and I wanted to render you powerless I would worry you to death with so much on your mind that you lost your creativity, that you lost your passion, that you lost your sense of impact and influence and purpose … I would just worry you to death. I was reading in the dictionary up under the word weary , one of the definitions is to have your sense of pleasure taken away. If I was the enemy I would stop life from being fun. I would make you miserable in all that stuff god gave to you. I couldn’t stop him from giving it to you but I would worry you to death until you had a real nice bed you couldn’t sleep in. And a pool you couldn’t enjoy and a house you look around at it and all that stuff because if I can’t take your stuff. I can take your mind to keep you from enjoying the stuff God gave you. I came this morning to tell you the devil is after your mind.” T.D. Jakes Sermon entitled: “Do not worry” 10.22.17

The quote it in perfectly with a book I started reading even before I came under attack again – Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan to Serious, Specific and Strategic‎ by Priscilla Shirer. In fact, it’s interesting that after I started reading about how to defend a spiritual attack I came under a pretty intense one. I don’t believe that is a coincidence at all and it’s something I just thought of as I was writing this. 

4) I learned I really enjoy lighter British mystery shows and my latest addiction is Father Brown, which I have been binge watching on Netflix. He’s a bit of a nosy priest with an interest in detective work, much to the chagrin of the local police. It doesn’t sit well with the police that he’s so good at investigating either. Much like Murder She Wrote I often find myself wondering 1) why anyone would want to attend Father Brown’s church or even be around him since anyone who meets him seems to die within the hour , 2) how such a small town has such a high violent crime rate and 3) why the police keep rolling their eyes at Father Brown when he always seems more on the ball than they are.


5) I learned that my 3-year old has an amazing memory and despite our best distraction efforts never forgets her love for worms or her desire to bring them in the house to live with her. She actually reached that goal this past week but pretty much forgot the worms existed because they’ve sat in that container on the freezer on the back porch all week.

6) I’ve learned that my black and white photographs are way more popular on my Instagram feed but I have no idea why. Apparently my photos are not very compelling unless they’ve been converted to black and white. I’m not sure that’s a compliment. Hmmmm…..

7). I also learned that my daughter needs to take long breaks from Doc McStuffins because if she doesn’t she starts to become a bit like me in the hypochondria department, worrying about germs and such. More of that story is in a blog post called “Thank you Doc McStufins for making my toddler a germaphobe.” Luckily that phase was short lived.

So how about you? What have you learned this Fall? Let me know in the comments (you should be able to comment as a guest) or by emailing me at lisahoweler@gmail.com


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The worm is not a pet and no, he can’t come inside

The rain clouds had turned the sky dark an hour and a half ago and a shower rushed through and dampened the ground. Still, we soldiered on and decided to plant some seeds in our garden space.

Miss G wasn’t interested in planting, but she did enjoy digging. 

I can still hear the little gasp she made when I found the first worm. She’s already fascinated with ants and roly polies and any insects that makes its way across the sidewalk.

The other day Miss G looked at me and said she saw a roly polie but now he was gone.

“Oh no,” I said. “Where is he?”

Her expression became very serious, but not sad, and in a strict, matter of fact tone she said “he’s dead.”

I said, “dead? Are you sure? Sometimes they just flip over on their backs and can’t get up again.”

“No,” she said, a little firmer this time. “He’s dead.”

My heart ached a little that already at 2 she understands that a bug not moving means he is indeed dead.

But on this day she had a new fascination. Worms.

I started it, I guess. 

“Oh! Look at this worm! He’s huge!” I said that day.

And so we looked at him. And then we put him on her wooden spoon I’d let her use for digging. 

“I want to keep him,” she told me, holding the spoon with the worm on it. “I want to take him inside with me.”

“No. Honey, he would be happier out here in the dirt. The dirt is his home.”

“No. He come inside with me. In the house.”

“Honey, you can’t bring a worm in the house. He needs to stay outside with his family. We have pets. Smokey and Pixel are our pets.”

Smokey and Pixel are our cats. 

I shouldn’t have mentioned the word “pet.”

“He can be my pet.”

“Honey, I’m afraid Pixel will eat him.”

She was indignant and saw right through my attempt.

“Pixel won’t eat him! He huge!”

I tried again.

“But she might think he’s a toy.”

She kept looking at the worm and said, “He not a toy! He a worm!”

In the middle of the conversation “he” becomes a “she” and now she’s mama worm.

“Mama worm happy here.”

“Honey, I don’t think she’s happy on a wooden spoon.”

She places the worm on her plastic slide.

“She happy on the slide. See?”

I point out the worm is crawling off the slide.

“She needs to be in the dirt with her family.”

“She happy on the slide.”

She thoughtfully pauses while laying the worm on the edge of the plastic slide. 

“I worry about her.” She said, her head hanging down a little and her lower lip pushing out.

“I know but she is used to living in the dirt. That’s her home. She can take care of herself there.”

She watched her and moved her a bit. She let out a heavy sigh.

“Bye mama worm.”

“Are you going to leave her here? Maybe we should put her back in the garden?”

She carried her back to the garden, set her in a hole and covered her with dirt.

She looked at the dirt a few seconds “bye, mama worm.”

She walked away, head hanging down. She ran to me and hugged my legs. 

“I hope mama worm okay,” she said.

“She’ll be okay. Do you want a popsicle?I think I have grape.”

“Pospicle! Yeah!”

Inside with her popsicle she says again “I hope mama worm okay.”

She is, honey, but she’s lucky to have someone who cares for her as much as I care for you. 

I used to be a writer. . .

I used to be a writer. I used to be able to string words together and have them make sense. Now my brain is jumbled in my head, mixed with toddler demands and elementary basketball and dinner and karate classes and nap time. I won’t even mention all the rest of the mess Facebook pours in there time and time again, which is one reason I’ve begun enacting long Facebook breaks. 

Once upon a very different time I wrote columns for the paper and they were filled with stories of my son. Mothers and grandmothers loved the stories. Someone didn’t and let me know in black permanent ink scrawled all over my column and shoved in the front mail slot. They didn’t care about my stupid teddy bear and no one cares about my kid they told me. I always thought it was nice of my co-workers to share that with me. I suppose they were subtly letting me know they didn’t care either. After all, one of my bosses let me know no one cares too. We had a closed door meeting about it and it was suggested I find other topics to write about. I suppose if I had rambled about politics it would have been more acceptable. It’s weird, though, years after I stopped writing and left the paper I’d have strangers tell me “I loved your columns. It made me think of my children when they were you .” 

Still, those comments, though they only reflected a few, were enough to finally send me into hiding. I hate to admit that the haters got me but each time I start to write a voice whispers to me, “no one cares.” If I try to ignore it I here “no one cares about your teddy bear and your kids.” Which is sad really, because I care about my kids and someone else cares about their kids and maybe together we can find some common ground, but only if I write something and they see it and they “get it.”

So, I’m trying to write again. Sometimes I’ll write about dumb things that someone out there doesn’t care about. I’ll probably write about my kids. I’ll probably ramble on about my old teddy bear. I doubt I’ll ever write about politics because it stresses me out. Sometimes I’m sure the voices will get the best of me and I won’t share. But sometimes I plan to shove the voices behind a closed, locked door, blast some TobyMac or Needtobreathe, and write even if I feel like no one cares.


“I got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night

Telling me I wasn’t made for the simple life

There’s a light I see, but it’s far in the distance

I’m asking you to show me some forgiveness

It’s all for you in my pursuit of happiness.” 

– needtobreathe