And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hearing in the Silence

I have been praying a dangerous prayer. A prayer that is always shaking things up, and always throwing me for a loop.  Unravel me.  Take my broken places, my darkest bits and unravel them.  Turn them into what you want God!   (Be warned, things will change if you step down this path!)  So, unraveling is happening, and has been for a long time, but this winter a whole new space unraveled, and together God and I have been rebuilding it. .

God changed the way he speaks to me this winter.  We had a rhythm, God and I.  We spent time together everyday, and for the most part, the time was a little give, and a little take, a lot of talking, a lot of reading, a lot of writing.  I write my heart to God and write what I am hearing from him.  I am a writer at heart.  I might not write anything for anyone else, I may never be published.  I am certainly not Jane Austen, but I write.  A lot.  

This winter the writing stopped.  The words dried up, and there was silence.  I resisted of course, sitting in front of my journal and filling it with questions, writing down God's word and waiting for more to come, but it never did.  The out pouring of words that had once been the normal rhythm was gone.  Not only did my journal sit empty but I was silent.  I wasn't writing at all... not blog post, a poem a song, a novel....nothing.  I was left staring at blank pages.

I still felt God,  He wasn't gone.  He was reaching out in a totally different way.   I felt his prompting and I heard the things he was saying to me...

Be still.
Listen.
I am here,
Just be.

My heart protested.  My brain froze.  I questioned.  I don't want to just sit here I thought.  I have dishes to do, and lunches to make and I haven't slept the night through since I had children!  I want to spend time with you God!  You created me to write God, and now there is nothing!  What gives?  Where did all the words go?

Be steadfast.
Be still.
Breathe.
Listen.
Be steadfast. 

And so I read my bible, and I sat.  I sat and listened.   I sat and soaked in his presence.  I set my journal to the side and we sat together God and I.  I shut out the noise, and the distractions, I let the dishes go.  I sat.  To say it was easy would be a complete lie, but as I read and sat God revealed himself to me in in a whole new way.

He led me to Isaiah 26:3 over and over again.  "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."  Really if you get a chance the entire chapter is great, but verse three became my focus.  Keep steadfast, Listen, I trust you God.  Ok, I am here.  I am sitting.  I am still.

Slowly, after months of this new way of spending time with God the words started to come back again.   I dipped my toe into the writing pool and the pages began to fill up again.  And yet, as much as I loved the rhythm I found I had experienced change in my heart.  Some mornings when I sit down in the quiet to spend time with God I find I don't want to pick up my journal.  I want to sit in the silence and focus.  I just want to be still, and listen.

I unraveled, and He took those small broken pieces and built me back together.  Stronger, more peaceful, and more focused.  It is a journey and not everyday is perfect, but I am in perfect peace knowing that as those pieces come unraveled I can trust that God is rebuilding, remaking, and filling me with love and grace.   I don't have to have the strength as I unravel, I don't have to have the answers, and I don't have to know what happens next.  God has that all covered.  I just need to keep turning to him.

Monday, January 16, 2017

On Failing and #familypray30

I have a confession.  We as a family are failing #familypray30.  We are already a few days behind, and might not catch up within the 30 days allotted for this challenge.  I hesitate to type this out because I am basically admitting that we couldn't find the five minutes to pray through the book each day.   I love this prayer challenge, and I am going to finish it.  It just might take us longer than 30 days!

As intentional as I am as a parent, and as intentional as we are about praying with our kids, life happens.  Things get messy.  We have had a full week of late nights and places to go with kids who were tired and overly busy.    I forgot to bring the book with us on late nights.  Then when we got home it was much easier to snuggle in bed and pray with each child than it was to gather them all sleepy eyed and frazzled to go through the book.

We could just throw in the towel, but I am still going to consider this week a win. I don't have to be perfect as a parent. I don't have to.  No where is it dictated that we have to be perfect.  No where.  No where does it say we have to earn our way into anything.  We are loved.  We are created in His image.  We are His.   I am going to rest in that identity, and hopefully reflect that to my daughters as we imperfectly make our way through this challenge.

It is true, we didn't finish the book everyday, but here is why I think we won this week:

-We prayed every day.  Together.
-We belted out praise and worship in the car.
-We read, and told bible stories.
-We laughed together.
-We thanked God for our blessings.
-When Bill and I were not home for the evening, our oldest led the younger two in bedtime prayers.
-When a firetruck drove by, sirens blaring, my youngest reminded me to pray for wherever it was going.
-When my middle daughter was feeling uncertain she came to me and we talked through it, prayed and offered it up to God.

These messy moments are moments of growth.  These are the moments where faith is stretched, and lessons are learned.  Messy and broken life moments are where my daughters are learning we don't just schedule time to be with God, we make Him a part of every moment.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Dear Daughter, A note about adversity

If there is one thing in life I can guarantee everyone will face it is adversity.  I have faced a lot of adversity in my life.  I have had days, months and years where the weight of the world presses down upon me, and I feel as if I cannot breathe my next breath without falling to my knees.   But I am faced with an entirely new kind of adversity right now.  The kind of adversity that is affecting my daughter.  The kind of adversity where I have tucked her in to bed at night shaking with anxiety, fear. and incomprehension.  Big tears flowing into her pillow as she asks me "Why?  Why me?  Why is my life so tough right now?"

I struggle over my response.  I have an answer, but the answer is complicated.  The answer is developed from years of practice and leaning into a God who is bigger than I am.  A God who has carried me through.  My answer has been cultivated.  It has ebbed and flowed.  It is not perfect, but my answer has been formed on to my heart.   

Dear Daughter, 

If I stumble on my words right now it is because I am struggling to find the right thing to say.  I am struggling to explain how to face this adversity, while balancing wanting to take it all away from you.   As your mom, I have the right to want to take away everything you are going through.  Let me start off by saying; You don't deserve this.  You did nothing to make any of this happen, and I am so sorry.   I have watched you face a lot of turmoil in your years, and each and every time with God's help you have overcome.  I am so proud of you for that.  So proud.

You ask me, “why”.  I don't have an entire answer for you.  I don't know why.  I don't know what is going to happen.  What I do know is that Jesus never promised that we wouldn't face adversity.  "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33).  Jesus tells us that bad things are going to happen.   That sucks.  It just does.  It is going to hurt while we go through it sometimes extremely so.  But I have learned while Jesus hasn't delivered you from your adversity, He will deliver you as you go through it.  (And in the end he HAS overcome!)

We have this incredible opportunity when we face adversity.  We can cry, and lament, we can lean in to Jesus.  We can fall to our knees, and give in to all our weaknesses.  We can offer our brokenness and our pain, and our uncertainty.  We can let God pick up the pieces, and we can trust that His goodness, His strength, and His love will get us through.   As I type those words they seem powerful and I know them to be true, and yet at the same time trusting isn’t always easy to do.   I can hear you saying "yeah mom, I have tried that."  I get it. I really do.  It hurts. It's hard.  It sucks. Sometimes the pain, and the fear, and the uncertainty are so raw that I have cried myself to sleep.   I have wanted to give up on more than one occasion.  Sometimes even though I have been praying, and leaning in... God can feel far away.   For me, that last part is the hardest.

But in going through all that, here is what I have learned.  God always, ALWAYS gets me through.  He always has a plan.  He always covers me.  We feel like we have to overcome, but God has already overcome.  He has already fought the battle.  He knows how it all will end.  In fact, God tells us "Not to fear" 365 times in the bible.  That is one verse for every single day, all year long.   I love that!  

In fact, when we lean in and we allow God to cover our weaknesses.  He becomes our strength.  "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  I don't want to sugar coat it.  This isn't always easy.  I have had to come back time and again on my knees, humbled.  I am not perfect, and I won't ever be.  But I do know that it works.  Have faith.

So darling, lean in to God.  Cry out, and tell him why you are struggling.  Trust, and have faith that He has you covered no matter what this world brings.  Live your life in the assurance of His love for you.  Live out of His goodness, and His ablility to take care of you.  He will be your strength.  He will see you through.  He will always be there no matter how much you are hurting, or how far away He may at times feel.   You can do this!  You are covered.

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

I love you, You are strong.  You are beautiful.  You can do this.

Love,

Mom

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Is it worth it?

I get up every single morning to read my bible and spend time with God, and people often say to me:  I could never get up early. How do you do that?  Why would you want to do that?  Aren't you just reading the same things over and over again?  Is it worth it?

Here are my thoughts:

I love reading my bible, or if you want to get fancy you could say "I love spending time in the word." I am really not super fancy, but if you are then rock it out! There is nothing quite like starting my morning off in the quiet stillness, with a cup of coffee, my journal, and my bible.   It is oftentimes, in those waking moments, I can feel my day coming together.  I know I can face whatever God has called me to do, and be who God has called me to be because I began my day in His presence.  I have surrounded my heart, and my soul with His words,  I have prayed, I have lamented.  I have laid it all at His feet.

But my mornings are not perfect.  There are mornings I feel restless, and tired. The sound of my alarm waking me too early.   I stumble out of bed my mind jumbled with problems, words, to-do lists, and calendars.  My children wake early and crawl into my lap, spilling my coffee, or stealing my journal to write their own words down.   I still sit down on those mornings, and I read.  Even if I am just reading a few passages.  Even if I only have a moment.

On some mornings the words are tired, they are worn like me.  It feels like the same words that I have read a hundred times before, and the luster is not there.  (And also, I mean really, who gets the warm fuzzies after reading 4 chapters of genealogy?)  I know in those moments it is not God that has changed, but my focus.  I know that on those mornings I NEED to spend time in the quiet.  I know that even if the words have lost their luster in the moment, at some point during the day it will make a difference.

Surrender.  God has called me to surrender every single morning.  No matter what is going on.  No matter where my head is, or where my heart is.  I need to surrender. every. single. day.   And it is through this practice of surrender that my faith has grown.   By surrendering my mornings I have learned to surrender more of  my life.  God has crawled into the messiest places in my life and asked me to dig deep.  He has called me.  He has challenged me.  He has healed, loved, cared, nudged, prompted, and changed who I am.  He has strengthened my heart as I have walked through things I could never have done without Him.   He has been my constant, and my rock.  

So when people ask me if it is worth it.....I have to say yes.  Surrender.  Surrender everything you are, give up your mornings, your evenings, your everything.  Because what God has planned for your life is bigger.  It is better.  It is perfect.



Saturday, February 6, 2016

I stepped out to look at the stars, because....

I love writing prompts.  Anything to get my creative juices flowing!  Recently, a friend of mine has started an incredible workshop for writers in the Grand Rapids area.  You can check out the website here:  http://www.voiceandvessel.com/   She offers really great opportunities to write either in studio or online!

This week the writing prompt that she sent out was "I stepped out to look at the stars, because..."  (Side note: For my friends who might read this and worry.  This is written from the perspective of one of the characters in my  books.)

The challenge is ten minutes of writing using the prompt.  Here it is folks, unedited, ten minutes:

I stepped out to look at the stars, because I am suffocating, defeated, and trapped inside my own body.  It doesn't matter that the sky is cloudy, or that the air is so crisp that it cuts right through my clothes. The farther I walk out into the moonlight the easier I begin breathe, the easier I began to feel like myself again.    I could tell you the moment it happened, the moment that everything changed, that moment is so far away now and yet....  I still have to get up everyday.  I still have to call on all my bravery to go out and lead.  Tonight, that thought weighs heavy on my heart.  I feel weak, and I feel unequipped.  Someone else should have been called to do what I am doing right now.  Someone else should have been asked to lead this life.   I don't have much time tonight.  They will notice I am gone before long, and for one fleeting moment I am tempted to run.  I am tempted to leave this life and never come back, to escape among the stars where no one knows who I am.   I hear footsteps in the distance, they are coming for me now shouting my name.  I don't know how long I will have to pay for this escapade.  The footsteps grow closer as I wrap my arms around myself trying to warm myself in the night air. I sigh, glancing up at the stars one more time watching them flicker in the distance and walk back the way I came.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

In case you were wondering: It means everything

My voice is hoarse, and my arm is tired from holding up the same book for the last fifteen minutes.    The girls are warm and limp as they sink into me listening to the words I bring to life off of the page.  I am surprised as I read, because it is not me I hear, but my parents.

It was my mom tonight.  It is her voice that comes out of my mouth telling the tales of Frog and Toad, and Charlie and Lola.  Calm and soothing.  Never impatient, always soft.   Other nights, it is my dad soft and warm, but with an excitement to it.  I never knew when he would make me laugh with Dindercella and her Gairy Fodmother, or Green Eggs and Ham.  I feel the same electricity with my daughters as the giggles rise to just below the surface slowly bubbling up until they are shaking with giggles.

I wonder sometimes if these moments mean as much to my daughters as they do to me.  But they don't at least, not yet.... I know that they are not hanging on to every moment.  I know they don't have the same urgency that I do.  I know that they are not counting the days left until high school, or prom, until they drive, until they move out.  But, in case you were wondering I do know this:  The moments mean everything.

When my kids are sick, and I am pushing the hair out of their eyes, taking their temperature, and nursing them back to health I see my mom in me.  It is her hands, her eyes, her gentleness, her prayers that I am bringing.   I am passing on the comfort that only my mom can bring.

When they come home from school crying because their little hearts are broken it is my dads arms that I wrap around them surrounding them in safety, and comfort ensuring them that everything will be ok.  I am giving them a place they can always turn to.  No matter what the issue, no matter what the problem.  They will have a place to turn.  I am passing on the love my dad has given me.

When we dance around the kitchen dancing, and singing, and praising I am bringing a sense of fun.  The same fun that my mom used to cheer me up no matter what the circumstances.  The same sense of fun that meant that mistakes were forgiven, and that being yourself is always better than being someone else.

When we play a game of family hide and seek in the dark, or all snuggle on the couch watching a family movie I am bringing a sense of belonging.   I am giving them a sense of family.  The sense of family that my dad always taught me was so important.

Most importantly, these moments brought me an understanding of a God that loves unconditionally,  a God that provides, a God that walks alongside me, a God that is steadfast and a God that is so full of grace and love!  This lesson is invaluable.  This lesson is irreplaceable.

In case you were wondering: These moments mean everything.  The feeling of my hand in my dads, so strong and sure.   My moms hands as they softly wiped the tears from my face.  The sound of their voices and they guided me, read to me, and urged me to be who God called me to be.  The sense of belonging that has extended from me to my husband, and to my daughters.

It may not seem important to them now, but my daughters will remember just like I do. They won't forget.  And one day, hopefully, as they sit reading to their children it will be my voice that pours from their mouths.


Monday, November 2, 2015

A day in the life

It is funny how much I thought I was ready for Nano (National novel writing month www.nanowrimo.org) this year.  I think this is the first year since I started, seven years ago, that I actually thought to myself "hey I got this."   I know what I want to write about.  I have my characters names.  I have a notebook full of scene ideas, and little details I want to include.  I know, having done it before, that I can in fact write 50,000 words in one month.  I have never been this prepared to start a novel before.   Never.   Everything was great until I sat down at the computer, fingers poised, ready to write.   And....crickets.  Where are all the words?  Where are all the complete thoughts and the hilarious scenes bursting to get out of my brain and on to the page?   Again, crickets.

Perhaps it is the constant distraction of voices.  Thank you dear daughters for always interrupting when I am just about to hit a pivotal plot point because you have an imaginary cut on your finger.  There is nothing more important to me than that imaginary cut, but since it is not real can it wait?  Once we deal with said cut and your irrational fear of bandaids you need water, or you need me to feed you.  Yes, I haven't forgotten!  There is a stale cheerio on the floor upstairs. Help yourself!  (Kidding, I feed my kids!)

Perhaps it is the glow of social media. Thank you facebook, pinterest, twitter and instagram for always allowing me to be distracted from what I actually want to be doing.  I am incredibly thankful that I can always rely on you to be a total time suck wherein I will wake from a social media slumber to realize I have gotten nothing done, and I have nothing to show for my time.

Perhaps it is my actual life that gets in the way.  Working 3 jobs and running laundry, helping with homework, and running everyone to all their after school activities.  You know what I am talking about.  The daily grind, man.  Don't you hate it when your real life gets in the way and you cannot just read and write all day?  

The bottom line is, I met my word count goal for the last two days. Yay! I fed my kids (the dog ate the cheerio), and now I have the next four hours until they go to bed to engage and play and be present with them.  It is important to me that my girls see that I do things for myself.   I want them to know that dreams are important.  I want them to know that you can have passions and balance your life.  I want them to see me writing.  I want them to know that even if I never get published or recognized that it doesn't matter.  I am a writer at heart, and I write for me.