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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Monday, November 24, 2014

Stories for Advent



For the past few years I have intentionally written less during the season of advent. I’ve shifted my writing habits to focus on the meaning of Christmas, to thicken my faith, and strengthen my family. Just because something has become a habit, doesn’t mean that it continues to be the right choice.

This advent season I will be writing daily. I will celebrate advent with stories. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. This year it will begin November 30 and end on Christmas Eve. Along with opening the advent calendar door each day, I will also be piling words on the page.


We use our advent calendar as inspiration to make life pleasant. Behind each door we find things like: Make fudge and give some to a friend…Drink a cup of something warm and listen to Christmas music…Go sledding…Take a picture of your favorite holiday sight…Put on your jammies, get your quilt, and get in the car – we’re going to look at Christmas lights!

This advent season, much like Lent 2014, I feel compelled to collect stories. Rather than giving up writing to rest and celebrate a favorite season, I will be giving stories as a means of celebration.

I’m excited for what will come from this act of obedience. I hope we will all be blessed in sweet, unexpected ways.



Friday, November 21, 2014

CELEBRATE This Week: LVIII


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, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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One.
I spent time with my best friend from high school. It was bittersweet. She's home because her mom is fighting a battle with cancer and awaiting remission and a transplant. We've been out of touch, but when I found out about her mom, I sent her an email that began, Let's skip the catching up and so sorry for not being in touch and skip to the part where we know once best friends, always best friends.
I was anchored just by sitting in the same room with her. It's been years, decades really, since we've done this. It was a gift, getting to talk freely, completely unfiltered, praying and crying and laughing together.

I didn't have to worry about saying the wrong thing. I didn't have to worry about filtering the story of my kids' histories. I didn't have to worry about whether she would like me. I learned a long time ago that when it's just Jodi and me everything is okay.

And she gave me this gift -- right there in the midst of the very hard that life is handing her -- she said, "I'm glad you are sharing your stories on Facebook because  now I get to know you and your kids, but I also get to know myself. Your story helps me understand my own story and faith."

Jodi doesn't know that right then, in that moment, God breathed through her and filled me with fresh resolve, confirming this writing life isn't a pipe dream, it isn't a waste of time. My prayer is I wouldn't only write my truth, but I would write universal truth, and it would be anchored in the Truth.
I celebrate this answered pray and fresh resolve to keep writing.
Two.
I was in a car accident on my way home from school Friday night. Everyone was okay.  Slowing down for a car in front of me to turn, I didn't even notice anyone behind me until he hit me. He didn't see me, didn't slow down. It hurt. It still hurts.

And I'm left with the reminder that life is not guaranteed. Just because I'm healthy and busy today does not mean I'm promised tomorrow.

Mary Oliver said, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

On a day when you hug your dear friend's mom on one of her darkest days, and share the hard stories life has handed you, and then are rammed by a too fast car, this question catches your breath in your throat.

Woven through the hard stories Jodi and I shared were specks of glitter, celebrations and laughter and even a few baby giggles, reminding me that life is precious...and wild...and singular.

We only get one chance.

It gives me resolve for gritty celebration and bold, radical faith.

Please link your celebrations below.




Notice {Five Minute Friday}


Go.

The world notices Jesus. Even when we're busy, doing things that make us happy, taking care of all the things that need done, making the most of life, finding ourselves, posting on Facebook, tweeting that, instagraming this, the world still notices Light.

It is a shine that cannot be hidden, cannot be covered, cannot be dimmed.

I've wrestled with learning to live with rapid obedience and radical faith, while trying to stay out of the shine. It's impossible. People will always notice the lights of the world.

Humility is not about living in the shadows, but living bold and radical. The world will notice. I  check if pride is festering in my heart by whether the world notices me or the good work of Jesus. When the One who gives Light and makes us shine is glorified, then I know my heart is pure and my work is good.


Stop.

Join Five Minute Friday here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

CELEBRATE This Week: LVII


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, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

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One.
Dennis is home! It is remarkable the way good news keeps pouring onto Andy's dad. One week after being buried by thousands of pounds of dirt and airlifted to the hospital, Dennis returned home without surgeries. He has a long road of recovery ahead, but remains blessed by God. Prayer is powerful.

Two.

Last week we celebrated Kendall's baby with a little shower. Kendall and Jasmine are in the photo and the one thing that pink frame matches is the pink bow on the baby's ultrasound picture (taken the day before the shower). You may remember the story of how Kendall, Jasmine, & I became unlikely friends. Now, seven months later, I am experiencing the freedom of friendship and the truth that God often knows better than I do about what I need.

Three.
I like this month of gratitude. Since we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I've found myself slowing down and focusing on the season of gratitude instead of rolling it all up in with Christmas joy. I keep reminding myself not to be envious of those who already have out their Christmas decorations. I'm trusting that the wait will be blessed and Decorating Day will be very sweet.

Four.
Colby and I talked about teaching writers today via Skype. This is a worthy celebration.

Five.
Grocery shopping. I cannot even believe that grocery shopping made my celebration list. Even more amazing is that this celebration isn't how Andy does our grocery shopping (because he does and I love this very much about him). Rather, it is actually grocery shopping that I did (and will do). Monday Jay and I traipsed down the aisles together. We had fun. Tomorrow, armed with a Thanksgiving dinner shopping list, I will be hitting the aisles again. I'm looking forward to this time of preparation.

Can't wait to see how you are finding joy in your ordinary days.

Still {Five Minute Friday}

Go.

He still comes into my room every morning before school and waits for me to finish getting ready. He used to sit in my lap in front of that tall mirror while I put on my make-up. Today he came in, arms wide, and hugged me. "It's going to be a good day," he said.

I hugged him back, forcing myself to be still. It doesn't matter that I'm running late or I want to brew a cup of coffee or my bag isn't packed. It doesn't matter that I have a meeting or still need to put on lipstick and mascara or haven't eaten breakfast.

What matters is he still waits for me. He still hugs me. He still loves to start the day. There is something special about a day in and day out lifetime history together.

He's hugging and I'm slowing down when he says, "We should take a picture." I don't have time, but I remind myself that these days may be numbered, so I swipe open the camera on my phone, hold it out, and he says, "Right there, Mom. That's perfect."

I take the shot. He hugs me tighter. And this moment is caught in time -- forever still.

Stop.


Join Five Minute Friday here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Too Much



It's too much. Sometimes life gets to be too much. Then someone, well-intentioned, trying to offer encouragement and support says, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." If it were true, I might be comforted.

But it's not truth.

Life is too much to handle. And this is okay.

Totally okay.

Now the world doesn't want me to think it's okay. The world wants me to think I'm a big failure because I can't handle everything that comes my way. The world tells me I'm not good enough if I can't keep up with the laundry and pickup the kids on time and have a home cook meal steaming on the table at dinner time and get through showers without someone (maybe me) having a major meltdown.

There are all these things I'm supposed to be able to do to be counted as a good mom, a good educator, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, a good sister. I can't keep up with it all. It is too much.

I've been reading and rereading about the time in Gethsemane before Jesus was betrayed and started on the journey to crucifixion. Jesus was in agony there in the garden. He did not want to do what he was called to do. He asked for a way out. It was too much -- way too much.

We are not promised that life will not be too much to handle. (The scripture that tends to be misunderstood refers to temptation -- there will always be a way to run away from temptation. Suffering and the circumstances of life, though, that's another story.) We are not promised easy and comfortable.

This week I'm wiped out. It's the time of year when things get hard -- super hard -- for a couple of our kids. Their emotions are close to the surface, ready to burst at any moment (many moments, in fact). The work at school is more than I can handle. I keep dropping the ball. I have too many unanswered emails waiting in my inbox. Andy has been with his dad (who is a very blessed man and was able to come home today).

It's too much, but it doesn't mean God made a mistake.


Isn't it when things get to be too much that we see the power of Jesus?

I wish there wasn't a need for adoption. Unfortunately we live in a world where children are hurt by the people who are supposed to care for them. God calls us to stand in the gap, to take care of orphans. To make families for the fatherless.

It's too much for anyone to do. It's too much for me, it's too much for you -- but we hang in there because we turn to God, who is mighty and strong -- and we learn what it means to be part of the body of Christ, serving and loving and encouraging one another as we walk a journey that is too hard. 
Too much and too hard are indicators of a life well-lived. They are indicators of radical faith. I'm coming to believe that when we are in the will of God, life is too much to handle.

And this is okay. Because it is here, in the midst of too hard, that we find too much joy and too much peace and too much grace and too much love.

It is the love of a great big God that is too much to handle.

 
Today I'm linking up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart. It's a link-up where you pour a little encouragement out with your words and then share it with the rest of the community. Even if you don't try it, hop over and enjoy a little encouragement for your soul.

Friday, November 7, 2014

CELEBRATE This Week: LVI


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, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.


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My celebration is coming...