Bare Bones Creativity

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Today I come to you with an unusual style and a not-so-graceful technique. Let’s call it a bare-bones moment of complete honesty. The stuff I normally write about- parenting lessons, hope after loss, motivational messages for women– are all important topics to me. Actually, they are what make me “me.” Every single word is penned out of a personal experience that I feel will benefit someone else from reading it. So I write it and allow you into a small corner of my world to see life through my eyes for 500 – 800 words.

But I’m not writing about those important things right now. I’m writing about writing and how this artistic extension of myself has created something new in me just as much as I have created something new with it. Think about that for a second. While I’m creating, I’m being re-created. I get to recycle my stories, some good and some bad, by sharing them with you. All the while, I’m being made new as I allow my heart to pour out onto the page.

Creation is a wonderful mystery!

In honor of this revelation, I’ve decided to throw out the idea that I must have a mainstream topic in order to have an audience and just write for the sake of writing. Call it an act of defiance or a rebellion against pop culture.I don’t care. I’m not here for popularity. I’m here to create. For me and for you.

I’m learning that this process only works if vulnerability is expressed.  Even though many of you have gone through similar things as I have, our stories are still different. I’m different. Which makes it extremely difficult to share my perspective sometimes. Because similar isn’t the same. And different isn’t always welcomed with open arms.

But it’s important to speak the truth. And my truth starts with broken and ends with beautiful. Every day I’m changing, transforming, becoming something different than I was the day before. All you have to do is look back at one of my old posts and compare it to one from the present to see that process unfold.

My brokenness stems from my inability to open up to you for so long. Too long. I didn’t start writing until I had no other choice. I had held my stories hostage inside my heart like the clouds hold back the heavy rain. And then the blessed time came for me to choose: write them down or be a victim of drowning in the flood that was welling up inside of me. I chose to open up the floodgates and share my stories with you.

And an unmistakable change has taken place. Beauty has come out of my letting go of what I thought I desperately needed to hold on to. The words flowed out of me so effortlessly as the dam of seclusion that I had built around my heart broke.

I’m no longer afraid to be real with you, no matter what that looks like. My opinions on things don’t depend on whether or not you like what I have to say. And that’s plain huge.

Galatians 1:10 – “You can see that I am not trying to please you by sweet talk and flattery; no, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please men I could not be Christ’s servant.”

I write what God tells me to write. And that may not sit well with you. But, at the end of the day, when I’ve written raw and real about my life, I can sleep soundly knowing I have created something beautiful. There may be cracks in my story that separate you and me but there is always, without a doubt, the same storyline every time: My ugly, imperfect mess becomes His stunning, perfect message.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

 

Photo Credit: Clay Banks

 

And One More Thing Before You Vote

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Women,

I appeal to you to discover who you really are in Christ. Read the word of God and find out what He says about you. It is critical to your overrall health as a human being. And it is critical to the health of this nation. Yes. That’s right.

Your knowledge of your God ordained identity is the key to a healthy nation.

Did you know that Satan hates women? He literally detests us. So much so that he came to us FIRST in the garden of Eden. He wanted to use Eve to manipulate the man that God gave her. This was the first instance of deception in the Scriptures. The devil is still using his lying ways to rule women today. And those of us who don’t know who we are in Christ are allowing him to do it. (Read Genesis 3.)


The primary thing we Christian women should stand for is truth. Not experiential truth (which is temporal). Not circumstantial truth (which is ever-changing). The truth of who God is and what He says about our role in the earth. Let’s take a look at this truth that stands the test of time.

Acts 10:34- Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.”

Women and men are equal in God’s eyes. There is nothing, eternally speaking, that can elevate the status of a man over a woman (and vice-versa). Believing that in order for a woman to succeed she has to climb over a man to get there is a lie. Believing that God favors men over women because she has been used and abused by a man is a lie. God loves women. And He doesn’t try to convince us of this love through a skewed perspective based upon limited pleasure or pain that this world has inevitably forced upon us.

He convinces us of His unconditional, unbiased love through His words of truth which speak for themselves. In no way ever, does God put women down or speak less of the feminine sex. He also never says that women should use their femininity to wield power around like a magic wand. Both men and women are equally and inherently valuable.

When we know that there is nothing that we can do to make God love us more than a man and there is nothing that we can do to make God love us less than a man, we are untouchable by the enemy of our souls. Ultimately, that’s the point of this whole living on earth thing, right? To submit to God, resist the devil, and then watch him flee? (James 4:7) Shouldn’t our focus be more on submitting and resisting and less on competing and cheating? With other women? With other men? With ourselves?

What if we turned this nation upside down by grabbing hold of who we really are and never letting go of that truth- not even to the highest or most charming bidder? Chaos follows lies. Peace follows truth.

I implore you, before you go to the polls and choose our great country’s next leader, to vote for the person who values truth more than popularity and peace more than likability. Don’t vote based on gender because you feel like it’s high time a woman’s voice is heard. (By the way, women are speaking up in many places and many ways- influence has nothing to do with the size of your platform in the Kingdom of God.) Don’t vote based on your own hurts that have yet to heal in regards to what someone of the opposite sex may have done to you. Open up the good Book and ask God to reveal His healing, comforting love to you so that you can live a life of freedom. The truth sets you free!


Your ability as a woman of God to walk confidently in who He made you hinges on one thing alone: Jesus died for you. He also died for men, too. Let’s see eachother through the lens of Jesus’ sacrifice and let go of offense that is dividing the church (and this country) in two. America is at a crossroads and the only way to choose rightly is to choose truth.

Hebrews 4:12- “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Photo Credit: Ben White

The Reason I Write

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It’s simple, really. I do this writing thing for a reason. This blog is not a haphazard journal of random thoughts or a disheveled version of my personal life. Writing is a purposeful activity that brings me joy.

Yet I don’t write for me. I just get to benefit from my words. You may think that sounds cocky or irreverent, like I’m worshiping my own work. But, really, it’s a humble expression of the God’s-honest truth.

I write so that you will know you’re not alone in your struggles. I write so that you will know love and hope in a tangible way. I write so that you will know the truth of the goodness of God. Not for applause or acclaim. I simply want you to experience one minute, heck, even one second, of God’s grace. Believe me, I couldn’t write a single word without it. Thankfully, I don’t ever have to.

I have a message that can’t be contained. It has to be shared. And after I share it, I am blessed because I didn’t keep it all to myself. However, if I don’t share the truth nestled down deep inside of me, then I am not fully living. The truth sets us free, right? So, if I don’t offer you a taste of the free life, then I’m just hoarding my own freedom. How could I live with myself?

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As we all know, freedom doesn’t come without sacrifice. My pain on a page for the world to read, that’s sacrifice. But the glory that God gets through just one person finding hope through my struggles is worth the cost. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Sure, I experience healing from getting my thoughts onto paper. Sometimes, I can’t even talk about my hurt, but strangely, I can always seem to write about it. Once my authentic work is out there, peace follows in the knowing that someone will hopefully identify with it.

The thing is, even when my writing might seem a bit too vulnerable, my heart feels freer once I let the scary feelings out. Fear of judgement is quickly overshadowed by the undeniable presence of God’s love and faithfulness found in my story. These truths never fail to jump up from the page and surprise me. Closing my eyes in fear doesn’t remove His light of love.  

That, dear friends, is my reason for writing. To share the messy, unconventional, irrational grace that God has woven into my very ordinary and completely flawed life. To remind myself as I remind you that God has never left me and He never, ever will.

Why do you write?

Photo credit: Priscilla Westra

Breast Cancer Stole My Sister

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Hey friends! It’s been a week or two since I’ve been on here. Life has been pretty busy! Fall is officially upon us- school activities are in full swing. As we celebrate the cooler temps and prettier colors, I have also been mindful of what October represents: Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many of you know about my story of losing my sister to this awful disease. (Check it out here!)

While reflecting on this loss, I was compelled to write something in honor of her that brings awareness on the effects of breast cancer as well. Please hop over to Her View From Home and give it a read. It wasn’t easy for me to write but it was necessary for my healing journey. I encourage you to give it a try: writing brings healing in a very tangible way.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation says, “One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.” That’s like one gal in your mama tribe or one neighbor in your running club. One in eight means that every single one of us is already or will be eventually affected by this monster of a disease.

Do you know someone fighting this battle? Are you walking through it? Remember: you are never alone. Thanks for reading my personal story- there are so many other stories out there that deserve our attention as well. Go find one and read it today. Better yet, go write one. Your story matters.

Click here: Breast Cancer Stole My Sister

Finding Hope in the Mundane

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace. “

Helen Howarth Lemmel

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I love this hymn. It’s probably my favorite one. It addresses the questions and uncertainties of this life with an answer of hope.

The Answer is Hope.

This Wednesday, this mid-week slump of a day, has me all caught up in the mundane. I need some renewed hope. How about you? So, here’s my rendition of this timeless hymn. I pray it brings you newness of spirit, soul, and body.


I slightly see you Jesus. But I choose to turn, to redirect the position of my body so that I am facing in a different direction, to change my course if it is not in line with Your perfect will.

I really see you Jesus. I desire to look, to use my sight or vision in seeking, searching, examining, watching, to gaze upon Your beauty more than I stare at my ugly circumstances. 

I only see you Jesus. The darkness of this temporary place can’t overwhelm my soul. It has to fade away, disappear, vanish without a trace of existence in your presence.

I live to see you Jesus. Your love shines on every part of my life causing me to run wild and free because of your beaming favor that welcomes me into fields of grace.


Whatever you’re facing today, just look to the Jesus. the source of all HOPE, the answer to every problem. He will meet you where you are. And always guide you home.

Walk For Freedom

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Hi friends. I have the privilege of guest posting over at one of my favorite places: Write Tribe. On the last Saturday of every month, Write Tribe posts an inspiring story with a link up for others to engage in a project bigger than themselves. This month, I got to write the inspirational post and I chose to talk about The A21 Campaign’s Walk for Freedom.

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Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

This organization, The A21 Campaign, is fighting for the rights of men, women, and children all around the world who aren’t able to fight for themselves. I believe in the life-changing work that this group of amazing people is doing with all of my heart. This is why I wrote about their fight against injustice. To play a part, even if only a little one, in doing something to end this horrific oppression.

Please hop over to the Write Tribe blog and read the post. Awareness is the foundation to freedom. If we don’t know about it, how are we ever going to help? Thank you for spreading the word! Let’s be an army of world-changers!

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Judge Suggests Rape Victim Should Have “Just Kept Her Knees Together”

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Enough is enough. I’m done reading about sexist judges and intoxicated men that can’t keep their body parts to themselves. This is what ran across my news-feed today:

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I gasped in disgust at the comments of pure evil shoveled on top of this rape victim. So, I wrote about it. And I hope that this enrages you to write about it too. Or speak. Even better- PRAY. So, please check out my words over at Her View From Home when you get a chance and let me know what you think about this sad and very unjust story.

Pregnant at 35: The Good, the Bad,& the Wet Pants (mine- not the kids)

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So, I guess this is my official social media announcement: We are expecting baby number 5! Are we excited? Yes! Are we a bit overwhelmed at the thought of another baby in our already bustling household? Yes. But we are blessed and that is that. 🙂 In honor of our news, I wrote a piece for Her View From Home about how my body is reacting to baby this time around- at 35. Here’s a snippet:

“When we first found out that I am pregnant, some crazy emotions crept in. The big one that took over my thoughts and caused me some anxiety was my age. I am 35 years old. I know, I know…I’m not old. BUT I’m not young either. My first three children were born in my twenties and when number four came along I was 32. Let me tell you something- the whole experience was different. Like, more aches and pains, more weird hormones, more emotional breakdowns, more binge-eating. Seriously, getting pregnant over 30 is not for the faint of heart.”

If you want a little mid-week chuckle then continue reading about my journey so far HERE.  I promise, you won’t get bored. Thanks! Happy Wednesday!

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The 5 People You NEED in Your Life

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I don’t know about you but as I’ve gotten older (rounding 40 in a few), I have come to realize that my life is much better with certain people in it. Of course, we can all relate to the opposite of this fact as well : Life is much better without certain people in it, too. 🙂

Here’s a list of the five types of people you need in your life right now. This very minute.

1. The Encourager 

This radiant girl is joyful and thoughtful. She doesn’t give in to negativity when the storms of life come her way. She doesn’t let you give in to negativity either. She blesses your life because of the thought she puts into what she says. She lives a life of purpose that is intentionally focused on lifting others up. It’s not fake happiness that she exhibits but rather true joy because of her glass half-full mentality.

2. The REAL DEAL

This gal knows how tough life can be. She’s been through the fire and the rain. She doesn’t sugar coat shi* but lets you know exactly what she thinks. She knows the value of authenticity and vulnerability causing her to be open about her struggles. This is not to bring you down but to help you from making her mistakes. She brings out the raw side of you and it makes you feel free. Her influence on you always prompts you to be your best self.

3. The Warrior 

I love this woman. She is strength and grace personified in a beauty so inspiring that the right words to describe her are hard to find. She fights her battles with wisdom and defends others that are losing theirs. No challenge is too great for her to war against because no matter what she has HOPE. Her passion for justice fuels your inner truth seeker. You can’t be around her and not want to take up a cause or help the hurting.

4. The Mentor  

This is usually someone who’s a bit older than you are and has seen more than you have. She is a walking testimony of God’s faithfulness and speaks of it often. She is also well-read and loves to share her knowledge with others in hopes of helping them navigate life well. She has a desire to nurture, teach and walk beside those that need a boost or just some accountability. Her choices represent strong leadership skills and you know you can go to her for advice on pretty much anything.

5. The Dreamer

This lovely lady has her head in the clouds for all the right reasons. She not only dreams BIG but she writes them down and puts her hand to the plow. Her determination to go all in causes you to  take a good hard look at your own dreaming ability. She does the things that most see as impossible and regards setbacks as set ups to greater opportunities. There’s no being around the dreamer without being motivated to set some serious goals. She believes in miracles and because of her, you do too.


So, I say, do an assessment of the women in your inner circle. Are they all benefiting your life in some way? Even more important to ask of yourself: Are you benefiting their life? How can you display qualities of the Encourager, the Real Deal, the Warrior, the Mentor and the Dreamer to those in your world? Who represents these descriptions to you? Sometimes, if you’re lucky like me, you can find one amazing sister that actually displays all of these attributes well. When you do, never let her go. ❤

#MondayMusings
I’m linking up with #mondaymusings from EverydayGyann.

My Addiction to Fear

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I’m learning that I can’t be the mom who saves my kids. From a lot of things. 

I have operated out of fear, in the name of protection, for too long. And it has taken from me. My sanity, my ability to trust, my peace.

More importantly, my fear has taken from my kids. Their love of new things, their desire for adventure, their confidence in their decisions. Yeah, I did that. (Or rather, I allowed my fear to do that!)

I couldn’t see it before because I was happily living in a padded room of my own making. Quite like the rooms you see on t.v. in the haunted mental institutions. This was my brain on fear. I was safe but isolated, left to deal with my tormenting thoughts all on my own.

What sobered me up was my gut-wrenching decision to put my kids in public school this year after only homeschooling them for the past 6 years. Just making the choice to do it felt like death hovering over me as I shook from fear withdrawals.

I felt sick at the thought of letting them go when all I (and they) had ever known was our home, our rules, our ways. But then, after the waves of nausea started to decrease, I felt something new and, honestly, it scared me.

Freedom.

Not in the sense that freedom is only delegated to the school-going families. No, freedom in the sense that I could actually walk away from something that was no longer working for our family. It was keeping me bound in despair as I wrestled every day with watching my kids cling more and more to me and less to their own amazing personalities.

You know when you just get to that point when enough is enough? You are afraid of the new thing staring you in the face but you know that the old thing has just been done way too long? That’s where I was when my husband came to me and introduced the idea of putting them in school. I had a choice to make, albeit painful.

I decided that I was not going to be a fear-addict any longer.

So, we did it. And it’s been great! It’s also been hard some days. But better all around. They are standing on their own two feet and learning to take responsibility for their choices without me there to prompt them. They are embarking on new friendships and engaging in activities that they would have not had the chance to do otherwise. Most importantly, my fear of them not needing me anymore was proven totally unfathomable. They get to take care of themselves when not at home but the evenings are my time with them. Time for snuggles and homework help and bedtime prayers.

They say fear is an illusion. I say fear is also a drug. It incapacitates you and leaves you wanting more and more of it until it’s all you can think about. Thank God I have a husband who listens to God’s voice and calls me higher when I’m living beneath the level of freedom God has for me.

Thank God, the taste of freedom is way more satisfying then the taste of fear.