Oh Write Thirty

Is it just me, or is time kind of stampeding on? From the moment I turned forty, I feel like I’m constantly sprinting after time and yelling, “Slow DOWN, for the love!”

As soon as I saw that clock tick over to 12:01 a.m., January first, I was struck by one thought: I haven’t been diligent about focusing on my dream this past year.

Opportunity is knocking.

I am not fully prepared.

One doesn’t simply crack open the door for Opportunity.

Amiright?

It’s in the still quiet moments when I hear The Dream Giver whispering into my ear and heart. He seems to have to whisper the same word time and again: “Focus, child.”

I’m hanging onto that word and letting it drive me for 2015.

Over and over again, no matter how well-intentioned I am, I find myself running down rabbit trails. Some, are necessary. The project that my Autism Spectrum Disordered child has looming over his head becomes too big for him and begs further breaking down before we all break down. Those kind of unforeseen circumstances are the unavoidable trails.

But, then, there are the ones I step down willingly. The research for a pending trip become fodder for vacation dreaming. And poof! A week’s worth of days are spent using my writing time for Internet Surfing time.

That’s not even the kind of ten I like to hang!

I would never have described myself as one who needs help with direction, in the past. My life as a Second Grade Teacher, before children, dictated a routine. It demanded organization. It fostered creativity within the bounds of structure.

This past decade-and-a-half, though, God has shifted my life. It has been more about living moment-by-moment, based on the ever-changing needs of the ones I care for.

Looking back on the year of preparation that I had in 2014, I realize that the rabbit holes were awfully dark. It’s hard to write or create in the dark.

And, I’m not a rabbit.

Zeroing in on a word that will drive me, in this new year, isn’t something I intended to do. After all, I was all about being intentional in 2013. And I wasn’t all that…intentional. Then, in 2014, I thought much about pursue. But, rabbit holes!

So, here I sit, staring at the number2-0-1-5 and thinking, “Isn’t it time I get serious and focus?”

I can almost hear God doing the exasperated parent sigh. Almost. Although, I’m sure He would never. even.

One of the most beautiful things to come out of taking on the Write 31 Days Challenge last October was seeing how I thrive on routine. I knew that about myself, at one point in time. But, I’d forgotten. Being forced to write some every single day burst open the creative gates. It also kept me honest. Saying I was going to write every day, and then having to show up on Day Whatever without a thing in hand, was a mammoth motivator to stick to it.

Back to the whole idea of focus, I know what I have to do. I work well with a schedule. If it’s looming, I’m moving. That’s where I can start. I’ll choose an Oh Write Thirty time during each day and set my trusty time and just do it! Oh those smart Nike people!

And then, hopefully, the next time I hear Opportunity knocking, I can fling wide that door and welcome It in!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to close out of approximately four vacation destination tabs.

Yes indeedy.

When to Act on What You Hear

Elvis had it right.

Or, he was definitely on the right track, when he admonished us to provide a “little less conversation, a little more action.”

Now, I know Elvis had his own ideas about what that meant, but I’ve always been a fan of the old adage that “actions speak louder than words.”

Growing up, I had a father that modeled getting out there and making his dreams a reality.  That’s part of my DNA, much like the ocean is.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that I’ve always been inspired by this verse in the Bible:

Do what God’s teaching says; when you only listen and do nothing, you are fooling yourselves. ”   James 1:22 (NCV)

Another version of this verse urges the reader to “Act on what your hear!” (The Message)

I love that!

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One word that friends often use to describe me, is “doer”. And, usually, it is an accurate depiction. Somehow, someway, I will get in there and just get. it. done.

Not lately.

Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in my talking.

There’s too much of it!

I feel like I’m fast becoming a “hearer” only, and I don’t like it one bit! The label, alone, smacks of inaction. A quality that everything in me dislikes.

Busyness could be blamed.  So, too, could the season of life that I find myself in.

Whatever the reason for my recent lack of action, it grates at my heart.

That heart-irritation has led me down a dark path. I’ve traveled down this path once or twenty times, before. Questions about my abilities pepper my every thought like new leaves in June. “Can you really?”  “Will you ever?”  “What makes you think…”

I detest those questions.

And the Asker.

So, I’ve been spending some extra time in the presence of The One who knows the Truth of me.

The Answerer.

And He’s been telling me something that I’ve never been able to  hear before.

“Let MY actions speak through your words.”

And God’s actions will speak louder than any words I could think about uttering.

With that, He speaks Light into the darkness of my path.  He guides me in Truth and hurries me past those questions.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am.

I’m reminded, once again, that anything “I’ve” ever done is because He has provided what I needed to get it done! Anything that God has allowed me the honor of doing, for His glory, has come about because I’ve been able to hear Him.

Stepping lightly down the last of that dark path, I’ve finally burst into The Light.

It’s there that I’m able to see that my inaction wasn’t due to the foolishness of hearing only.

No.

I’ve been listening pretty intently, of late.

My inaction is more because God hasn’t finished talking to me about where He wants me to step next.

One small Word at a time, I will act on what I hear.

And, I’ll become a hearer and a doer.

Yes indeedy.

When It Isn’t About Failing

I’m listening intently as writer friends spill their hearts about why they haven’t yet pursued their dreams of writing more fully.  And, as I listen, I’m trying to piece together my own reasons.

Slowly, and clearly, mine are emerging.

They aren’t pretty.

Each one feels as though it reveals a deep character flaw.

And, although I’ve never been one to shy away from writing about the hard things, I’ve also never reveled in shining a spotlight on my deepest cracks, either.

As I ask myself what plays a part in the hindrance of my dream of writing, I’m realizing that failing isn’t what worries me. A writer has to accept a certain level of failure with every push of the publishing button.

If, as Flannery O’Connor said, “I write to discover what I know”, then that is surely one of my strongest inhibitors.

My dream of writing is often stifled by my understanding that I don’t know much. I’m not writing, necessarily, for an audience that will “get it”. Although, it is such a beautiful feeling of community and camaraderie when that happens. I’m writing so that, eventually, hopefully, I’ll get it!

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Putting words to feelings and ideas is a deeply personal thing, yes. Writing, and then discovering that I haven’t really got the foggiest idea of this concept I’m trying desperately to type my fingers around, stings.

Pride.

How often my pride has indeed gone before my fall!

Thank you, God, for your grace!

And, while I’m being brutally honest, I’m also learning that a well written piece of writing takes painstaking effort.

And time.

Even if the germ of an idea seems to sprout and easily grow a life of its own, I am still left with the daunting task of fleshing it out. And worse, editing it! And this sometimes takes an immense amount of effort. I’ve often wondered if those moments when the seed of an idea takes root in my mind, but I don’t pursue it on paper are simply laziness on my part.

I am so very thankful for the grace to try again.

I do believe that Ernest Hemingway had it exactly right when he wrote that “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

Indeed. It’s true. Not a one of us will ever arrive at that perfectly crafted body of work. When I leave this earth, it will be for a place that is ruled by The Master Creator, of All Words, Ever.

That means that I don’t have to cling to the hope of getting it right every time I make the time and effort to put pen to paper or type word to screen.  And, there is such freedom in the knowing of that!

For me, it’s not about failing.

It’s about The Grace in the trying.

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This post was written in response to a prompt from my Writers
(In)couraging Writers community group. Visit here to learn more.

Rip It Off

“Only God knows how many dreams have been killed at the altar of fear.”

-Derwin Gray, Limitless Life

Fear is no respecter of circumstance.  It just isn’t. It will have its way no matter how well prepared one thinks they are.

Like, when I wax my upper lip.  (Yep. I’m going there. Just for a minute.)  I can ice that area.  I can repeat my mantra, “I’ve birthed two babies. I can DO THIS!”.  I can do everything I can do to prepare myself for that rip.

Until it comes time to do it.

And then, it sometimes takes a knock at the front door by the UPS man to get me to just do it, for crying out loud!

There are other things in my life that I let fear keep me from doing.

The author of Limitless Life, Derwin Gray, goes on from the quote I used up there to say, “It must break His [God’s] heart to see dreams He has placed in so many people’s hearts go unrealized because we have more faith in fear than in Him.” 

Ouch.

That quote couldn’t cut deeper into the heart of the fear issue in my life, if it had been written only for me.

But it wasn’t written just for me. This book is a powerful tool written for any of us that are looking for ways to live life unbound by the labels that have no place in our lives, anymore. And maybe, they never had any place in our lives, at all!

This book is helping me to see that I still, after all my blustering on about following dreams and being redeemed, I still haven’t ripped that “Afraid” label fully off!

It’s like that tender little bit of upper lip that’s right under my nose. I’ve already gone and done the whole blasted thing, except that one last area.  But, I can’t make myself rip that last bit off.

And, why not?

Fear.

It is time to rip off that last bit of the old label of “Afraid” and be willing to let God replace it with ones that He deems worthy.

Because He has redeemed me!

He has declared me worthy of a new label!

And I am, finally, fully aware that I need new labels stitched into my heart.

True labels.

I’ve written before about the power that I think words have to help someone sort out the messes in life.  I’ve also talked a lot about the importance of following the dreams that seem to have been planted within our hearts.

And I’ve slacked off of doing either one of those, lately.

Seeing those dreams start to push through the hard crusty fear that took up residence for too long in my heart is a gift. I want to claim the labels of “Worthy” and “Able”. I want to let them propel me toward more of living the life that God has given me to live.

For me, that means that I want to keep writing my story.

For some of us Writerly types, courage comes not in the knowledge that our words will end up out in public, but in the knowing that we finally got them out.  Somewhere. Out of the shrunken heart-shaped prison that held them there. Enslaved.

But I am free.

It’s high time I let my words prove it!

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Yes, indeedy.  I do believe I will.

How about you?  Do you need to move from Afraid to Courageous?  If you’d like some more inspiration to do just that, consider joining in with the newly begun Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study of Limitless Life, by Derwin Gray.  Click the button below to see what others thought about the labels we wear and the community we share!

OBSBlogHop

The Worst Enemy of Creativity

What (or who) do you consider to be the worst enemy of your creativity?

And, if you’re a parent, get the word “children” right off your lips.  Yes, we can claim to have lost lots of things due to all of their cuteness and activity and whatnot; but not this.

Worst_Enemy_Creativity_MissindeedyNow, don’t you dare tune out on me and and whisper-shout that you aren’t creative! Creativity swirls within each of us.  And it’s our job to figure out how it most wants to come out and help it do so.

How, exactly, is one supposed to do that?

Start by asking the people in your life that love you and get you to tell you what they see you doing.  My friend Kim asks people all the time, “What could you just not help but do?”.  Give advice? Doodle? Dream? Write? Plan?  Whatever it is, that’s a good clue, right there.

And when that rotten ole’ self-doubt comes creeping around, you have permission to give it a good swift kick to the backside.  There is no room for that Nuisance.  You, creative one, were made to be a reflection of the very Creator.

Creator. 

That He chose to create a… me.  A you.  A him and a her.  Oh, what is man that He would consider us?

God, You slay me with your creativity.

May I never stop wondering at it and marveling at it and being awestruck by it.

So, shall I lend you my boots?  They’re great for kicking things to the curb.

Yes indeedy.

Just A…

Aside from the Strep Throat running rampant in this house, I’ve acquired another, much nicer gift this week.

I’ve been digging into chapter 8 of “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope over on the P31 Online Bible Study blog. And this chapter?  This is The One I’ve been dreading since I first scanned through the chapter titles a few months ago: ‘When Doubt Whispers “I Don’t Have Anything Special To Offer”‘.

Did you wince just a little?

I did.

How long, Lord?  How long until I finally accept, once and for all time, that I am not only forgiven, redeemed, and loved, but also gifted to be used by You?

There is one phrase I hear thrown around like so much confetti. I hear it coming from my mouth, as well as others. Only, there is no party going on when I hear it.  It often starts with a conversation that goes a little something like this:

“What do you do?”

“Oh, I’m just a _________.” (insert whatever word or words you usually end that statement with.)

That gift I spoke of receiving this week? It was the gift of confirmation.

Confirmation that I’m not “just a” anything.

And, neither are you.

I’m not just a stay-at-home mom, just a blogger, or just a graphic design wannabe. I don’t just manage my son’s many needs, or just chauffeur my family around, or just lead a women’s small group . I’m not just a wife, just a student, or just a writer.

No, I’m not.

This week, when that tape started playing, I started to hear the message for what it was.  A lie.  It’s meant to be an arrow of hurt sent straight into my heart. That lie is meant to wound me and keep me from moving forward in all that I am.

You know it’s a lie, too, don’t you?

Renee speaks to the importance of thinking on those things that bring you great pleasure to do and resting in the fact that, “The desires of your heart indicate your God-given passion to make a difference somewhere.” (pg. 142)

Because, we all long to, don’t we?

Make a difference?

Somewhere?

Somehow?

And when Doubt starts whispering and hissing that you have nothing special to offer because you are just a…

Please! Turn around and face Doubt squarely and say out loud, “Yes I Do!”.  Do it for yourself.  Do it to honor the things that God has called you to in this season of life, whether seemingly insignificant or not.

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We’ll hold hands and shout it out together. Yes indeedy!

I’m joining up with the lovely community of hearts over at the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study Blog Hop today.  We are all reading through “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  Please click the button below to read from a treasure trove of encouragement.

OBSBlogHop

SheSpeaks and I Listen

Last week, I had the immense pleasure of taking part in a conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries called, She Speaks“.

It was The Awesome Sauce.

I have much to process.

I know many of you have attended blogging or writing or speaking conferences.  Some of you may even have attended She Speaks.  But this conference exceeded every expectation that I had built up in my head. I find myself overwhelmed, even now,  with the attention given to each individual woman that was there, to the amount of time the speakers and presenters clearly put into crafting messages that were valuable and encouraging, and to the amount of sweet fellowship and care that would go on throughout.

Many affirmations were spoken over the direction that I would like my writing to go. Prayers were offered.  Selfless advice was given when requested. Love was poured out. Questions were answered.  More prayers were prayed.  Songs were sung.  Hugs were handed out like candy.  And new friends, sweet friendships grounded in the Truth of Christ, were made.

My heart is full to overflowing with all that took place over the 4 days that I was in North Carolina at this conference.  I took a few pictures to share with y’all.  And I am sure that there will be many posts to come that prove that as they spoke, I was listening.

But most of all?

God was there.

And He, most definitely, was speaking.

And I am learning to always listen when He speaks.

And then say, “Yes!”.

Yes to being a wise woman.

Yes to being a Writer with a speaker’s heart.  (I’m still unpacking that one, friends!)

Yes to taking part in an amazing Online Bible Study with more 22,000 women from over 120 countries!

Yes to walking alongside those who need to know they are not alone.

And Yes to heeding the call to keep writing for His glory.

Yes indeedy!

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The decor` may have been gorgeous, but the worshiping that went on… OH! And the prayer room with each person’s name placed beside a name of God… Oh. My. Stars!

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A lovely roommate (far left), some shoes, wide smiles and inspiring devotionals and keynote… I have MUCH to ponder.

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Hugging necks and putting voices to the devotionals (and books) that I read from these ladies over at P31 Ministries was a joyful experience!

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I was STARSTRUCK to meet some of the beautiful and willing hearts that take part in P31’s Online Bible Study. Melissa Taylor (on the far right) is the fearless leader and has such a genuine desire to see ladies digging in the Word! Star. Struck.

I do believe that She Speaks was a gift of epic proportions. Thank you so much to the team at Proverbs 31 Ministries for all that they did to make this conference so phenomenal.

I only wish some of you, who wanted to, could have come along for the journey.  

Maybe next year?