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

 

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They’re Always Better Together

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Courage. A word typically reserved for a person who noticeably goes out of her way to do something brave on behalf of others.

Compassion. A word generally attached to a person who selflessly helps others without even being seen or known.

To me, these two words go hand in hand. Like bread and butter, courage and compassion add something significant to one another.

The sweet spot of life is found in a combination of the two through private acts of kindness and public displays of bravery. Both are essential to making an impact on the world.

Now, before all the haters get up in my grill about my viewpoint on these two beautiful terms, let me be the first to say that each characteristic is important all by itself. But, like so many other things, when put together, they bring out the best parts of each other.

Let’s look at it this way: I can be the kindest person in the world to MY family in the comfort of MY own home. Behind closed doors. But when I go out and mingle with humanity, I keep to myself and never go out of my way to help someone else. To do that requires a different level of compassion. It requires some nerve. A willingness to be noticed if need be in order to lift someone else out of a pit that they may not be able to get out of on their own.

Our time here on earth is short as many of us know (including myself.) While good people die every single day, bad people keep on living. We can’t just sit by and watch it happen anymore. We need more good men and women to grow a pair, leave their comfortable existence of my family of four and no more, and love the heck out of people. (Yeah, I said it.) All people. Everywhere. Despite differences and opinions and cultures and baggage. This is where compassion and courage collide. An intersection of guts and glory if you will.

It’s so very necessary, don’t you think? The people who died too young would tell us to live each day with wild and crazy abandon sold out to a cause greater than ourselves. Can you imagine them saying that we should live a safe existence that only benefits us personally? Surely not. It’s in the giving away that we get so much given back to us.

How can you be daring in your efforts to help others on both the hidden back roads and in the bright lights of the city? It can be done. There are people waiting for you to overcome your fear of being seen so they can be seen. Being noticed for a courageous act doesn’t make you proud or egotistical. Humility is a trait easily noticed and hardly forgotten. When someone sees your hand outstretched towards another,they consider doing the same thing in their own magnificent way.

We can honor the ones who have gone before us by honoring the ones who are still here with us. Be kind to your families. Be gracious with your coworkers. Be fearless in your pursuit of the downcast, overlooked, and forgotten.

Then love them when noone is watching AND when everyone is looking. Let’s gloriously practice courage and compassion.

An Unexpected Lesson While on Vacation

I’m on vacation this week so my blog posts are going to be few and far between. That being said, I did want to share something that I have learned while enjoying this extra time with my family. Ready for it?

laughter really does make everything better.

It’s a simple principle but one that we overlook during the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. I’ve been desperately needing a time out from my responsibilities so that I could take some time to really enjoy the moment. I don’t know about you but, for me,  this is not an easy thing to do.

I know we can’t take a vacation every single month but we CAN make a point to set aside time just to be present.

Some easy ways to laugh this week are:

Really pay attention to your kids when they ask you to watch them while playing on the playground. (Cue “Look at me, Mommy!)

Turn off the television, get outside, and go for a walk around the neighborhood with your hubby. (He might make ya smile like he did in the olden days! ) 🙂

Take the day off and go do something you haven’t done since you were a kid. (Like roller skating!)

Read a funny book just for the sake of entertainment. (I love the Gemma Halliday High Heels Mystery books!)

What I am saying is:

position yourself for happinessHappy people aren’t happy on accident. They go out looking for it. It’s not going to just come and knock on your door while you’re laying on the couch watching a Netflix marathon. You have to pursue it.

And if all else fails, DANCE!

How to Find Your Life’s Purpose

 

I made a list of twelve books that I want to read this year here. The January selection was “Chazown” by Craig Groeschel.

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Why YOU should read it:

Ever wonder what your purpose is? Do you question what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? Feel like you’re not really living up to your God-given potential? Then this book is definitely for you! “Chazown” will teach you how to discover your passion through a series of personalized activities that take you on a journey of self-discovery. Chazown literally means “vision.”

My Take:  

I couldn’t put this book down. First of all, the chapters are super short. Second of all, Craig Groeschel is a very witty writer who uses a ton of personal stories alongside humor to keep the reader interested. Lastly, the exercises that he encourages you to do really open your eyes to what you’ve overlooked about yourself or your experiences.

He breaks it down into three categories: Core Values, Spiritual Gifts, and Past Experiences. From these categories, you discover your giftings, beliefs, and personal timeline. Next, Groeschel leads you through the five spokes of your Chazown, which basically give you a plan of action. The five spokes are 1) Your relationship with God, 2) Your relationship with people, 3) Your financial health, 4) Your physical health, and 5) Your life’s work.

After you’ve completed these steps, you are guided through a process of writing your own purpose statement. Goals are outlined and resources are highlighted.

Personal Life 

Did this book help me refine my focus and get me on the track to fulfilling my dreams? YES! I have a list of things that I can clearly say I feel called to do with my life now because of this amazing book.

I couldn’t recommend this book more! It’s great for small groups and if you go to this link, there are video teachings and online tests that you can take to help you on your Chazown journey as well!

Proverbs 29:18 – ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

 

 

The “Busy-ness” Trap

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It’s okay to say yes ALOT. It really is. Being busy is only bad when it’s not fulfilling or purposeful. When there is no greater purpose to the “busy-ness” it becomes draining and tedious. Doesn’t it?

But when we are busy because of a goal, vision, or shared interest, then it becomes life-giving.

Take my week. This is what is has looked like for the past 5 days:  Morning runs, home-schooling with the kids, online college classes, a lunch meeting with other women about leadership, an all day workshop with other worship leaders, dinner with girlfriends, blogging, practicing the piano, snuggle time on the couch with my husband, and a trip to the grocery store.

None of the above things are a waste of my time. They are all important.

Have I had a very exhausting week? Yes. Do I feel enriched, fulfilled, motivated and inspired despite the exhaustion? A resounding yes!

Why? Because I said yes to the important things. So, let’s keep the whole “being busy is a bad thing” in perspective, shall we?

The trick to this mindset is simple. Prioritize the exhausting stuff alongside the energizing stuff in order to maintain a sense of balance in your life. And make sure there is a reason behind what you’re doing. Doing something for someone else is fine and dandy as long as it doesn’t take the place of you taking care of you. (Obviously I don’t mean quit your job because you’d rather be at home binge-watching Netflix!)

Balance is really not as elusive as everyone makes it out to be. I promise anyone can find a personal rhythm that drives them to say the right yeses and no’s.

And when you do, your spirit, soul, and body will thank you for it!

 

 

 

Trust the Wind

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Gale-force gusts on my face.

I push through the pounding air.

Tempest blasts at my back.

I struggle with the next step.

A typhoon of contradiction all around me.

But this is how I get anywhere. 


 

Energize me, breezy Friend.

Blow away the dust in my tired eyes.

Carry me over the mountain in my way.

Your airy kindness lifts me up

and puts me right where I belong.


 

So I will trust the Wind. 

 

 

 

 

 

Rise Up

This past week has been full of tears as I have reflected on the 34 years of memories that I have with my dear sister, Melody. She fought a 3 year battle with breast cancer and it took her life last Sunday.Who she was as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend speaks volumes to the brave and beautiful warrior spirit that God had placed within her.

As I was watching television with my husband last Friday night, the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day began playing at the end of one of our favorite shows. I had never heard it before but something in me needed to hear it. I did not know what was to come within the next two days but it’s like God gave me an opportunity to be prepared through this song.

I listened to it non stop before I found out about my sister, on the flight home as I let the sad news sink deeply into my heart, and throughout the following week as funeral plans were made. And I can’t get past the meaning of the words.

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry-go-round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
For you

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to it’s feet
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you

All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
We will rise
We will rise
We’ll rise, ohh ohhh
We’ll rise

Melody has risen up PERMANENTLY. She is alive and well in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ. No more falling down for my sweet sister ever again. How grateful I am for this truth. The lyrics are also a call to action for the rest of us here on this very lost and desolate place called earth. We have a mandate to rise up against all odds and testify to the goodness of God no matter what. We have an opportunity in the middle of pain and loss to stand tall on the foundation of God’s unfailing love. To speak out above the noise of chaos in a voice that resonates with hope.

So, I write this from a place of honor for my sister and the legacy of faith she left for others to follow. There is no other option than to rise up. I will not let earthly sorrow keep me from having a heavenly perspective.

Until we meet again, my lovely sister… #riseup

(photo credit: Sunrise Yabucoa, Puerto Rico via photopin (license))

There is Hope

Life has come crashing down. And your life has flown away.

I don’t have the words but my heart knows what to say.

I don’t have the words but my voice knows what to sing.

I don’t have the words but my soul knows what to feel.

Despite the pain, this is what I do have:

HOPE. Always. Because of you, sister, I will never question it again.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

#thereishope

For the Teen Mom

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/38991082@N05/3596275884">pregnant silhouette</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

 

The wind whistles as I wake

to the light of the morning sun.

The rays shine through my window

And I reflect on who I’ve become.

 

In all my years of womanhood

I’ve never felt so scared

I don’t know quite what to do

with my current state of affairs.

 

To say I’m lost for words

is to speak the pregnant truth.

I couldn’t have seen this coming

even if I had read it in the news.

 

My body argues the facts

whether I want to believe them or not.

I guess I’ll have to get used to this.

I guess I’m officially caught.

 

The birds chirp away a song

that soothes my tired soul.

And I lay there beneath the covers

trying hard to forget it all.

 

I sigh and get up out of bed.

My head is foggy from little rest.

The darkness of my past mistakes

is trying to swallow me up yet.

 

Another day is beckoning

But I can’t seem to let anyone in.

What if they knew my secret shame?

What if they can’t see past my condition?

 

My hands start to shake

as I reach for the phone.

If I don’t dial it now

then I’ll be doing this alone.

 

A kind voice gently answers

with a simple “Hello?”

And my words fumble out

In a mesh of unintelligible groans.

 

“I’ll be right over” she says

as the phone drops to the floor.

And I lay there crying until

I hear a knock on the door.

 

“Come in” I feebly call

from my crumpled position.

She sees me in my weakness

and hugs me in contrition.

 

There’s no more hiding for me

as she sees my size.

I can’t ignore her glances down,

her questioning eyes.

 

Before I can utter a defense

for the situation I’m in,

she calmly smiles and says to me,

“I’m so glad that you’re my friend.”

 

We sit there in that moment

letting the silence speak the truth

and for the first time in my little life

I was surprised at what I knew:

 

The days behind me offer a glimpse

Into a life of wandering

But the days I’ve yet to see

Offer me the chance to be set free.

 

I may have made a mistake

I may have gone the wrong way

but the pure love of another

Has awakened me to change.  

 

If fear and condemnation

could make me lay it down

I would’ve left my sin long ago

I wouldn’t have been the talk of the town.

 

But here in this place

where honesty and grace collide

I can see that I’ve been given a gift

I can love the new life growing deep inside.