My Word of the Week: Settle

settle – verb| set·tle | \ˈse-təl\

: to end (something, such as an argument) by reaching an agreement
: to make a final decision about (something)
: to move to a place and make it your home

On Saturday evening, we packed sweatshirts, lawn chairs, and the boys in the van, and headed over to church for an End-of-Summer Bash.

On the way, we stopped and picked up two bags of kettle chips and an over-priced fruit tray. Earlier in the day I remarked confidently how I didn’t need to prove myself with a homemade dish. I had worked all day, and there was barely time. “I feel liberated,” I boasted to my husband after making the easy decision. On the way, I became sheepish. “Maybe I should take an empty bowl and dump baked beans from the deli in it,” I said.

“Or just buy baked beans from the deli and taken them in the container they come in,” Steve challenged.

“Okay, I’ll stick with chips and fruit.”

When we arrived, a bonfire was blazing, and the buffet line was bulging. There were no fewer than ten casserole dishes of baked beans. I held out my chips to the ladies organizing. “I decided not to feel bad for bringing chips and a fruit tray,” I said, feeling bad anyway. “This is the best I could do today.” I noticed there were no other bags of kettle chips, and my fruit tray was the only healthy alternative among the desserts. I felt better.

Eventually, we set up our folding chairs with everyone else’s around the fire. After giving thanks, and filling plates, we settled in for a meal and eventually singing around the fire. Throughout the evening, we scooted our chairs closer and closer to the warm flames as the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped.

Our oldest son was at work and missed the event entirely. Our youngest son was off playing with friends most of the evening after being first in line for a hotdog and chips. Our middle son stayed close, growing colder by the minute despite assuring us earlier he wouldn’t need a jacket. Eventually, Steve shed his sweatshirt and wrapped it around Caleb.

The event didn’t last long with the unseasonable cold front whipping around us. I was secretly happy to be leaving; it had been a tiring day. Through some clever middle school negotiating, we ended up with an extra boy coming home with us and staying the night. And though what I really wanted to do was change into my pajamas and watch a few episodes of Call the Midwife on Netflix, instead I suggested a second campfire in the comfort of our own backyard. “I’ve got stuff for s’mores if anyone’s interested!” I called as the boys were heading in to play computer games.

Our fenced-in yard became a vortex of smoke rising from the wood Steve was lighting with newspaper, kindling, and our disposable Bic torch lighter. As the first started to catch, the boys came out to begin roasting marshmallows, constantly moving around the metal fire pit to avoid the smoke. Everyone had eaten their s’mores and gone back in to wash the sticky off, and Steve was still working on the blaze. I was now rotating our chairs around the fire, trying to avoid the smoke and attempting to keep Tilly’s tail from getting scorched by the flames.


At one point, I nearly gave up. It had been my idea; I should be the one to call the thing off if it wasn’t working. But then, the wind began to die down; the flames relaxed; and our chairs ended up within comfortable talking distance. Steve and I settled into a conversation like we hadn’t had in days.

Of course we all smelled like smoke, including Tilly, who remained surprisingly free of singed tail hair. But I was reminded how most of the best things in life take a little time. And if we quit too soon, we’ll never reap the rewards that come when we settle in. It takes a lot of being unsettled to achieve those few quiet moments when all feels well.

Most of the time, it’s worth it.

What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.

Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.


Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • Laura Brown ,

    Over the summer, people kept posting pictures of their beach vacations, and I envied. Then this weekend, all on the same night, four or five people posted fire pit photos, and I envied.

    This fills in the story outside the frame of that photo, the busy day that preceded it, the work of getting it going. When you got to the part about settling into conversation (and even the flames relaxed!), I felt myself physically relax. You brought me to your fire pit. Thank you.

    Even more than that, what you said about being unsettled — thanks for that, too. I’ll be thinking about that.

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      Charity Singleton Craig ,

      Thanks, Laura. You know, I’ll be there’s a background story like this for nearly every pretty picture on Facebook or Pinterest. It’s easier to post the picture and not tell the story. The stories are complicated. But it’s also fun to imagine the story, to imagine that every beautiful sunset was preceded by a storm or followed by an argument or captured by someone sitting alone and wishing they were anywhere but right where they are. Of course, some of the stories are just as beautiful as the photos. It’s fun to imagine those too, I suppose.

    • Jeanne Felty ,

      I love you adventure! I felt I was right there fighting the fire with you and the family! I kept moving my chair too 😉 beautifully written…You go girl! and don’t ever feel bad about taking something from the store…It will be your turn in life to take something you cooked at home ..when things calm down….

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        Charity Singleton Craig ,

        Thanks, Jeanne! It was a fun evening. There were many little details I didn’t fit in, but I think this captured the essence of the experience. I realized after I wrote it that the word “settle” could apply to so many aspects of this little story, even though I wasn’t intentional about all of those. Sometimes we do have to settle for doing things in a simpler way in order to accomplish what’s most important.