Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Power in Praise {CELEBRATE This Week: 126}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******

I'm not sure how this post is going to end up, I just know I need to sit here and allow what's in my heart to come out my fingers.

I'm so grateful to you. You show up and you celebrate. You leave encouragement for me in the form of comments and tweets and emails. You make me feel like my words matter. You've made me realize celebration matters.

A lot.

Sometimes, when we're in a storm, it's easy for darkness to cloud our vision. Things are a little stormy in my corner of the world. Rather than being caught in the darkness, I've turned to praise.

There is power in praise.

So this week I wake up and begin a list of gratitudes. I say thank you for --
  • A deep breath
  • Electricity
  • A warm cup of sweet coffee
  • Unwritten words
  • A text from a friend
I spend all of my energy on praise. I don't let clouds taint my thoughts. I don't get caught in the darkness. I don't focus on the storm.

Instead, I claim victory over darkness and I face light. I face light through celebration. So I say thank you for --
  • A note in the mail
  • Toes that wiggle
  • A steaming casserole
When I fill my head with gratitude, there is no space for darkness. I say thank you more, thank you for --
  • Crisp blue skies
  • Warm water
  • A full gas tank
  • Morning hugs
My mind has no space for worry. My mind has no place for hopelessness. My mind has no capacity for darkness. All day long, moment by moment, I find the celebration.

There is power in praise. Thank you for teaching me this by joining me each week to celebrate.





My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
Teach & Celebrate Writers (#TandCwriters) Twitter Chat -- Sunday, Feb. 14 at 8:00 pm EST
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Friday, February 5, 2016

Praise Proceeds Progress {CELEBRATE This Week: 125}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
I wish I could remember where I heard this phrase, praise proceeds progress, but I don't. I just know it's not my own and that it keeps wrapping itself around my faith, challenging me to put it to the test. The point is why would God give me more if I'm not grateful for what I already have?

Even at the end of a rocky week, I'm determined to discover and document the celebrations. I've found when I'm most overwhelmed it is best to look for the tiniest celebrations; they often mean the most to a weary soul.

Here we go...a list of raw, unabashed, celebrations.
  1. Andy cooked dinner tonight. 
  2. I braided Stephanie's hair before she went to bed. I plaited two thick braids down her back and she giggled as Andy and Kate kept us company.
  3. Sam ran into the house after school and made a beeline for me. Then he jumped on the couch next to me and hugged me. "I've been thinking about doing that all day," he said before jumping off of the couch and heading to the basement to play trains.
  4. Jay laughed this contagious belly laugh throughout the Minions movie.
  5. I realized I'm not too old to have besties. 
  6. I started a new book that I love and hate and makes me laugh and cry.
  7. My house is tidy. The dishes are done. The laundry is contained.
  8. Hannah has finally learned to hug real and tight. She has a gentle spirit that is real strength. Both offer hope to me.
  9. Writing allows me to make sense of the unimaginable. Writing allows me to see a stronger story.
  10. My capacity for love and faith can increase and I pray for this to happen. This prayer is answered in ways I do not expect. I'm still thankful.
  11. I really love my glasses and my typewriter shirt and my fuzzy socks.
  12. There is an abundance of love in my life.
This is the praise that proceeds progress...there is an abundance of love in my life. Instead of lingering on the rough patches, I will embrace the abundance of love. Again and again and again -- however long it takes for love to win.


An InLinkz Link-up

I hope you'll join Christy Rush-Levine and me on Sunday as we talk about teaching & celebrating writers. 8:00 EST on Twitter. Follow #TandCwriters.

Friday, January 29, 2016

It is Good {CELEBRATE This Week: 124}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
I meant to only think it, but I said it aloud. It went a little like this, "I wish I would have figured it out sooner, that way there wouldn't have been a big blow up since it went so long unnoticed." 

Sam said, "It's not your fault, Mom. We each make our own choices and sometimes people make a poor choice. You can't stop other people's choices."

I bit my bottom lip and did a little thinking before I spoke. I want him to grow up responsible for his own choices. I don't ever want him to take responsibility for the choice another person makes.

We learn best from watching others. I wanted to argue with him, explain that I'm the parent and parents are supposed to help their kids make good choices. I wanted to explain to him that it's my responsibility to make sure everyone does the right thing.

It's a good thing I'm learning to control my tongue. I clamped my mouth shut so nothing could get out.

Hannah said, "I should have stopped it. I suspected it was going on. It's my fault."

There are moments when we see everything clearly. 
"No!" I said a little too boldly. "It is not any of your fault. The only person responsible is the person who made the choice."

"That means it's not your fault either, Mom," Sam hammered the point home.

"You're right," I relented and released myself from the guilt I was trying to claim.

I used to think one day I'd arrive at this point in life when I'd get everything right.
I wouldn't forget to put things in the mail.
I'd never hurt another person's feelings.
I'd always respond to email in a timely manner.
I wouldn't be offended.
I'd stop getting worked up about things.
The house would be clean.
The car would have gas.
The leftovers would make it to the fridge.
This wasn't the week when I reached the point of getting it all right.
More often than not it felt like I did it all wrong. I'm reminded that this is good.

It is good to be in the middle of  a mess. Faith deepens. Relationships strengthen.  Love swells. And I am molded into a better version of who I was created to be.

Today, I'm going to celebrate being in the middle of a mess, not knowing how to respond, learning to shake off guilt, and trusting, always trusting in the shield of faith.


Friday, January 22, 2016

{CELEBRATE This Week: 123}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
Link-up and I hope to join you tomorrow -- hugs!


My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
Teach & Celebrate Writers (#TandCwriters) Twitter Chat -- Sunday, Feb. 7 at 8:00 pm EST
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Monday, January 18, 2016

Is Writing Essential?




Writing makes my life better. I'm better when I write and I'm better when others write and I read their stories.

When I have an audience, I'm clear. I'm better at being focused and unfolding my meaning with thoughtful intention. My words pack a punch because I craft for power, making sure my spelling and conventions back up my meaning. An audience offers feedback and nudges my thinking, making me a better writer, forcing me to live a better story.

When I write between the covers of my notebook, I'm raw. I'm better at being fearless in my notebook. Things don't have to be thought-out, scoured through for what might be right and what might be wrong. My notebook doesn't judge me when I'm in the process of sorting things out. My notebook doesn't judge me when I'm learning a new craft move. My notebook doesn't judge me when my content and craft take over my spelling and conventions. My notebook offers me a place to be vulnerable, making me a better writer, forcing me to live a better story.

My notebook is all kinds of comfort and an audience makes my palms sweaty. If I'm not careful, I could hole up in my notebook. I don't have to risk embarrassment or getting something wrong. I don't have to risk hurting feelings or feeling stupid.

So I wonder why share my story? Why encourage others to share their stories? Does it matter? Would the world be a better place if we just holed up in our notebooks and never shared our words.

I don't think so.

Story changes the world. The only way our story is shared is if we are brave enough to give it, to offer it, to believe it will make the world a better place.

Do we have to write to share our stories?

Nope. The simple answer is no, no we do not. As Tom Romano shares in Write What Matters, "Writing is not essential to a well-lived life."

I have to admit, these words sting a bit. Sometimes the truth hurts. Writing is not essential to a well-lived life. Andy doesn't write, and yet I know of no one who lives life better.

Writing isn't essential for a well-lived life.

I supposed this same case could be made for reading and math, too. They aren't essential for a well-lived life. Although it makes me cringe as much as the thought of writing being inessential for a well-lived life. I'm still not sure I believe it, that these things aren't essential for a well-lived life.

If I boil it down to the bones, I find I'm left with story. It's not fair to keep it hidden. It's not enough to hold it and never share it. Whether we talk or draw or write our stories, the important thing is we share them with an audience.


We've gotta share our stories with a real, live, genuine audience. Because what I know for sure is when we take our stories out, with our hearts pounding and our palms sweaty, we become alive and the world becomes better. We understand one another in new ways and we gain grace. Story will only change the world if we share them.



This is why writing workshop is an essential part of education. We must learn to share our stories because they are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Piles & Editors {CELEBRATE This Week: 122}


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******


I'm celebrating this book stack. Take a close look at it. I'm in love because it's such an eclectic mix of books.  I've set an aggressive deadline schedule to finish drafting my latest professional book. It's necessary so it will be real this Fall.
It will also take a miracle.

Earlier this week, I decided I needed to allow some research to guide me. I always love coming across quotes from other books when I read professional texts. If I love it, then I should write it.
With looming deadlines, it takes a remarkable amount of self-control to stay unhurried. I've committed to not rushing. After all, rushing is for amateurs. So I decided to linger in books and articles.

A small prayer and a short perusal of my favorites bookshelf and I landed with this pile. Here's the miracle:
It is spot-on.

This eclectic stack is giving just what I need...and more.

It provided a handful of quotes I shared to inspire my friend whose teaching heart was running on empty.

It unlocked some thinking I'm doing about happiness and joy.

It gave me a plethora of quotes for Part II (Empowered to Entice All Writers).

And it gave me this sustenance, from Jane Yolen's book, Take Joy: A Writers Guide to Loving the Craft

Linda [Yolen's editor] gave me permission to breathe, to take time in my books, to look about the landscape -- both outer and inner -- and finally to trust the reader would follow, even at a leisurely pace, where I led.

Why was that advice so important? Because there is more to any story than a cathedral, than a concentration camp, than a stolen sphinx. Take a deep breath, and when you blow it out slowly, you will see your story take on its own life. Not the life that you impose upon it, but the life the story itself tells you it needs.
Which brings me to my next celebration. Bill. He's my editor and has wrapped strong arms around this project. I've needed someone to cheer me on and rein me in. Bill is doing both. He keeps telling me, "Go slowly," and yet, at the same time, he's nudging me to finish soon.

It takes a sophisticated art to do both.
Am I a lucky writer, or what?


An InLinkz Link-up

My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
Teach & Celebrate Writers (#TandCwriters) Twitter Chat -- Sunday, February 7 at 8:00 pm EST
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Saturday, January 9, 2016

CELEBRATE This Week {121}


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
 I'm planning to write my celebration on Saturday morning. I hope you'll check bak later Thanks for joining the celebration.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Treasure {CELEBRATE This Week: 120}




I debated whether to link celebrations during these holiday weekends, but I decided we must claim celebrations on the ordinary days and the holidays. I hope you carve out a few moments to document your celebrations.Happy New Year!
 *******

Since 2006 I've selected a word to live by for the year. Last year I chronicled my decade of One Little Words with this little video.


Today I say hello to a new little word. I remind myself that it's not about letting go of unhurried, a word that I will forever be grateful to -- it saved me from the rat race of life -- rather, I'm inviting something new into my life.

Unhurried was a game-changer for me. I quit rushing and began to savor. I learned to do my best and let God do the rest. I learned about rest, too. Unhurried, more than any other word altered the course I was on. I kind of feel sorry for the word that has to follow it.

I've been making lists of words for the last six weeks, waiting for one to find me. I thought one did until another word lassoed me this morning.



Treasure. I like that it's both a noun and a verb. Since it just caught me today, I don't have much more to say about it. I'm sure I'm in for a treat.

I love living with intention around a single word. I can't wait for the celebrations to treasure this year. Thanks for celebrating alongside of me each week.


 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Messy Christmas {CELEBRATE This Week: 113}




I debated whether to link celebrations during these holiday weekends, but I decided we must claim celebrations on the ordinary days and the holidays. I hope you carve out a few moments to document your celebrations. Merry Christmas & next week we'll celebrate Happy New Year!



It's pretty at Christmas time (even without the snow), and I think some of the prettiest decorations are nativity scenes. This season, I've been struck how our portrayal of the Christmas story is a prettied-up version of what happened that night. It was not a picture-perfect holiday card.

Mary was a teen mom who just gave birth in a dank barn. Joseph was clueless about how to be a dad. The cows, they stomped. The dirt, it stirred. Mary and Joseph tried to figure out what to do next. There was stress, little rest, and a big mess.

They didn't try to pretty things up. Rather, they leaned into the mess and chose to believe God to be who He said He would be. For it is written, "And blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

Mary didn't need a camera filter to make the moment memorable. She didn't try to control this story line. Mary didn't manipulate, didn't run, didn't pretty things up. When everything was ugly she chose to believe God in the middle of the mess.

It's been a reminder for me this Christmas.

I post this family photo on social media and people like it and comment about our beautiful family. And I wonder if I'm a bit of a fraud. 

This picture was taken in the midst of hard. The parents -- Andy and me -- we were making some tough parenting decisions. And the kids -- they were battling grief and anger and selfishness. They were questioning if family is forever and if they really belong in this family. They were reaching out to birthmothers and grieving birthmothers and trying not to despise birthmothers...all while trying to accept unconditional love from a forever momma who doesn't look one bit like they thought their momma should look. Meanwhile the glue of love was tested with a push and pull that would make concrete crack.

Yet we are a beautiful family -- a beautiful mess of a family. We aren't so different from every family, even the holy family, who started in a dirty stable in the middle of a mess.  If you're looking for a reason to lean into the ugly this season, then let it be this. That baby, Jesus, He came to live next to the mess. He doesn't need things prettied up; He wants an act of radical trust.

In this favorite week leading up to Christmas, I could have given up on the hope that we are a beautiful family. Or I could have believed the lie that it's unfair to be a momma to kids who have experienced the ugliest this world has to offer. Or I could have allowed my joy to be stolen and my peace to perish.

Instead, I stood firmly in my belief that God is good and He works things for the good of those who love him and are working according to his purposes. It isn't always easy to believe in the goodness of God. The middle of the mess makes it easy to believe the ugly of things.

It's a battle I'm willing to fight, because ultimately I know, the messier my story, the more I can give God the glory.

This is my celebration -- I have a messy story that every now and then lives up to the pretty pictures. Today was one of those days. It was the best day ever for our little forever family. The. Best. Day. Ever. I can think of no better day, than the day we celebrate the Savior who saves us from the ugly, to claim as the best day ever.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 18, 2015

I Don't Sugarcoat {CELEBRATE This Week: 112}



I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
My phone rang as I pulled into the school parking lot. I looked at the incoming call and reminded myself not to be annoyed. The morning was not pleasant and I didn't really want to talk to the child who said, "It's not like you really care what you get me for Christmas. I just get whatever you grab at the last minute. You don't care whether I will like it or not. You don't even care what I say, because there you go off to work."

I hugged her and said, "I love you, even when you speak unkind and untrue words." Then I went off to work.

I took a deep breath and answered the phone. Sniffles greeted me from the other end. "Mom?" Sniff. Sniff.

I didn't sigh.

Sniff. "I feel really horrible about what I said today. I don't know why I said those things. I didn't even mean them."

"It's okay." It's okay. It's okay.

December is a stressful month, so it's a good time to extend an extra dollop of grace. I've been learning the power of silence. Listening tends to be more powerful than speaking.

Later that night, at bedtime, she says, "I need to talk to you."

I wish I didn't sigh. "It's bedtime," I said.

"I know, but there's something I need to tell you and I shouldn't wait any longer."

I wish I didn't sigh again. "Please tell me it's not about boys and lying."

She said, "If you don't want me to talk to you about it, I can go to bed."

I would think the third time I could control my sigh. I still sighed.

I sit in my favorite place, next to the Christmas tree, with my freshly brewed coffee and my laptop. She sat across from me in her favorite chair. "Were you going to write?" she asked.

"I was, but now we're going to talk." I tell myself to be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

She tells me the story that is hard to tell. Tears fall and I'm reminded to be kind.

"I keep doing the same wrong thing over and over," she said. "It must just be the way I'm made. There's nothing I can do about it."

I look at her and speak profound truth. "Stop it." I'm curt and she winces at the sharp words.

The tears let loose and she whines, "There's nothing I can do to stop making one bad choice after another it."

"I'm not joking," I say. "Stop it. You are a child of God, a beautiful and worthy and important person created for good works."

She stares at me and for a moment I feel sorry that she has me for a mom. I'm not very good at sugarcoating anything, and I'm intolerant of self-pity. I remind myself that it's hard to be fourteen and it's even harder to overcome a hard history. I pray for a soft heart.

"It's true," she says, "I keep doing the same dumb thing."

I lift her chin to face me and I lean in. "The truth is you will always fight to do the right thing. It's also true that you are never going to be perfect. It's why Jesus died for you. We're not going for perfection, sweetie, we're going for a speedy recovery. You recognized what was happening way faster than last time. You came to me. You're talking it through. You've come up with a plan."

"I did realize it sooner, this time." She smiled, then rolled her eyes. "I still feel stupid."

"Don't." I said. "Instead, smile and live in the freedom that you are forgiven. You'll mess up again, but hopefully you'll notice it sooner and overcome this temptation. Then you'll have a new lesson to learn. It's a lifelong cycle. Still, in the grand scheme of life, this really isn't a big deal. Nothing is damaged and you're learning."

It's best when we can learn big lessons from little mistakes.

"It's so hard," she said.

I look at her and think about everything she has overcome. "Is it the hardest thing you've ever done?" I ask.

She snorted a laugh. Her hand flew to her mouth and she giggled about the snort. She rolled her eyes, "This isn't anywhere close to the hardest thing I've ever done," she said.

"Then don't make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be. Learn from it and move on."

I celebrate not making things into a bigger deal than they need to be. I celebrate learning that a mistake is not the end of the world. And I celebrate victory in overcoming hard things to become who God made us to be.

Connect your celebrations here!




My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
Teach & Celebrate Writers (#TandCwriters) Twitter Chat -- Sunday, January 3 at 8:00 pm EST
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Friday, December 11, 2015

{Celebrate This Week 111}



I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
I can't wait to read your celebrations!

An InLinkz Link-up

My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
Teach & Celebrate Writers (#TandCwriters) Twitter Chat -- Sunday, December 6 at 8:00 pm EST; Importance of Audience
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Friday, December 4, 2015

How FUN Changed Me {CELEBRATE This Week: 110}



I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
******
In 2014, Andy chose the word FUN for his One Little Word. When 2015 rolled around and it was time to choose a new OLW, Andy decided to stick with FUN. (He might have mentioned that in order to live his word with integrity, he would have to keep it for another year since it wasn't fun to choose a OLW. He's a real funNY guy.)

Like many of Andy's decisions, it seemed silly at first, but it turned into something powerful.

FUN matters.

I'm naturally a lighthearted person. Then we adopted older children and I went from being a momma to one toddler to a momma of three, ages 2, 4, and 6. Many of you remember this because you've been a long time reader.

It was a tough adjustment and a dark time.

I remember standing at my kitchen window, watching them play on the swing set, and thinking, I should smile right now.

The pressure to figure out what our new daughters needed and to get it right squelched my light heart. They were scared and sad and angry and hopeful and the extreme emotions smothered my laughter.

The more I tried to get everything under control, the less I laughed.

Life isn't supposed to go like this. I'd tell myself that. Life isn't supposed to go like this. Yet, that's how it was going.

And then, standing at the kitchen window, telling myself to smile, I realized something that snapped me right out of darkness and turned me toward light.

God never intended for me to be unhappy.

The fog lifted and I smiled. Little did I know it was the start of my own healing process.

It turns out fun heals.

I think it's because fun has little to do with perfection. Often, the bigger the mess, the more potential there is for fun. Kids make messes. So do adults. It's part of life.

I was taking everything so seriously. I had a plan to survive each day. And somehow I started believing in the plan more than I did in the One who designed our family. I trusted the plan more than I trusted the goodness of God.

The first thing fun does is ditches seriousness. I didn't miss it.

When I wasn't so serious the laughter wasn't corralled. It was free to roam. The sound surprised me. Imagine, surprised by my own laughter. It was at the dinner table and Stephanie decided she should sing the National Anthem before grace. So she stood on her chair, placed her hand on her heart and belted out, "Oh they say you can flee by the dog's flashliiiiiiiiiiiiight..."

I laughed. The day before I wasn't laughing when she was signing the same song at nap time. I was serious then. I gave her my serious look and a serious talk and a serious "get-back-in-bed-now." I was so serious I didn't hear the words.

She stopped. Stephanie never stopped doing what she wanted to do. Andy chuckled, too.

"What?" she asked, putting her hands on her hips.

I laughed again. I liked the way it sounded. "Those aren't the words," I said.

"Yes! They! Are!" She stomped as she said each word.

I laughed again.

She stared.
Then sat down.
Took our hands for grace.
Closed her eyes and bowed her head.

Andy lifted an eyebrow. I giggled.

I'm learning the more fun I'm having, the better momma I am.

I think it is a lesson that will serve me well as we move into our adolescent years...

I'm looking forward to your celebrations. Share them below!



My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar.
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
Teach & Celebrate Writers (#TandCwriters) Twitter Chat -- Sunday, December 6 at 8:00 pm EST; Importance of Audience
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Saturday, November 28, 2015

UNhurried {Celebrate This Week: 109}



I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
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I've been living with words for a decade. They refine me. This year, I've been learning to live unhurried. This is what I've found: As I've stopped hurrying, more gets accomplished.

No joke.

I've been surprised to find that learning to live unhurried is more about learning to live by faith rather than a practice of mindfulness. The moments I start to hurry are the moments I quit trusting God. They are the moments when I think I need to get things done, stay in control, and have it all my way.

Life doesn't work best this way.

In the past few weeks, things have not been going how I expect. My time keeps getting usurped. Random things have happened: lost car keys, a barely-there rash on one of the kids, forgotten dinner plans, getting stuck behind tractors and being rerouted for road work. Big things have happened: funerals, babies, and holidays.

Still ,with deadlines looming and friends calling and family missing me, I've tried to live unhurried. On Wednesday afternoon, it was all piling up, much like water ready to break through a dam. My internet was slow, a friend wanted to walk, and I still needed to go to the grocery store so I could make 3 dishes for Thanksgiving dinner at 5:30 pm and prepare to host another Thanksgiving dinner at our home the next day.

It was in this moment that I realized living unhurried has little to do with my own discipline and everything to do with faith. I listened to a Joyce Meyer podcast on my way to the grocery store. She shared a mantra: Do your best and let God do the rest.

It glued itself right to my inner being. My smile turned from weary to genuine and I did my best (and let God do the rest) in the grocery store. I didn't have to backtrack a single time (and I always have to backtrack) and a new lane opened for me so there was no waiting.

I've struggled to learn about Sabbath, a time to abstain from work. I've pulled strings of understanding about rest. I've tried to mold unhurried into the bigger picture of rest and Sabbath.

It hasn't fit.

I believe we are created to fill needs, we are made for good works, and the work we have to do is too big to do without faith. We are never enough on our own. I kept praying for a bigger understanding of Sabbath.

This is how unhurried has become a matter of faith. Because what I learned from Joyce Meyer is God allows rest within work. This mantra, I do my best and let God do the rest, has a double meaning with the word rest.

This is an act of trust. I know I'm incapable of completing the work before me, but I live knowing it will be completed. There is freedom in this truth and this freedom leads to rest. We had less than 90 minutes to make our 3 dishes, put away all of the groceries, shower and become presentable for Thanksgiving dinner.

I did my best and let God do the rest. Not only were the 3 dishes complete and groceries put away, but we started prepping dishes for the next day. We had fun. Laughter spilled out of our kitchen.

This may seem insignificant.
It's not.

In times of stress, I've learned to force a state of calm, but my spirit is still twisted. I'm worried about things getting done. I'm focused on the next thing and the next thing. I don't pause to listen or to laugh. I just plow through the tasks with an eerie calmness that forces people out of my way.

When I trusted that I could do my best and let God do the rest, my spirit was at peace. This is living a life unhurried. This is a life well-rested. This is Sabbath at its finest.

And this peace, this life unhurried, is a reason to celebrate.

If you want to see my decade of words, check out my video documentary.


My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...
My brand new online course for Choice Literacy: Writing Workshop Basics is open for registration. It's all about molding writing workshop to be a well-oiled machine. This is one of my very favorite topics and I'm excited for the opportunity to get to share, inspire, and interact with an online class.
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{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar. 
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
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Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Celebrate here!

Friday, November 20, 2015

CELEBRATE This Week {109}



I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
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 I'm glad you are here to celebrate. I posted earlier about gritty joy. I hope you'll read it.

Meanwhile, I'm squeezing every drop out of #NCTE15 until I leave to drive home this afternoon. I'm celebrating the way joy and grief and celebration and hard live shoulder to shoulder.

I hope you'll celebrate this weekend too.

My offerings to encourage writers (and their teachers), because I'm smitten by the way writers work...

My brand new online course for Choice Literacy: Writing Workshop Basics is open for registration. It's all about molding writing workshop to be a well-oiled machine. This is one of my very favorite topics and I'm excited for the opportunity to get to share, inspire, and interact with an online class.
***
{Discover. Play. Build.} Website. It's designed to be my offering to writing teachers. 
You'll find video minilessons and a link to the {Discover. Play. Build.} YouTube Channel where they are all housed.
{Discover. Play. Build.} Newsletter. They come each month. Register in the sidebar. 
( For more information on these resources (and others), check out this post.)
 ***** 
Places you can find me celebrating throughout the week:
Instagram:  @ruth_ayres
Twitter: @ruth_ayres

Celebrate here!