Christmas was just last week. Have you ever watched or read Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas? It's been one of my favorite since I was a child. The Grinch comes in and attempts to "steal" Christmas. Hmmm? I'm pretty sure there is another person that often attempts to "steal" but I'll come back to that. In the story, the Grinch steals everything that has to do with Christmas. He takes away the toys, decorations, and food. He's so proud of himself for finally ridding Whoville and himself of all this Christmas nonsense. But to his surprise, the next morning, the Whos down in Whoville wake up and begin singing Christmas songs. This leads the Grinch to ponder that maybe Christmas is more than what he thought it was.
Do you ever find yourself drowning in an unforgiving sea of questions that are slamming down on you like tsunami sized waves? Ugh, I hate these moments. The moments were everything swirls and whirls and doesn't always make sense. Why are these moments even happening? Isn't Christianity supposed to be a golden ticket to a good life?
If that is what you've been told, you've been lied to. If that is what you believe, then you're lying to yourself. But don't count yourself a failure, I've been there too. And I still have my moments when I just want everything to go well. I'm pretty sure it's a defect of simply being human. You know...with all those imperfections and such. The whole instinct to survive, fight for life, fight for comfort, etc.
All my life, I have grown up in church or around church people. All my life I have heard about the blessings, and blessings, and blessings of God. Sure, I've heard about the trials of Job and Joseph. The shortcomings and doubts of Moses and Abraham and every other person listed in the Bible. But for some reason, my mind often gets caught up on those blessings. So much so that I forget about the God who provides them.
Where is God when we cry? Where is God when we can't pay the bills? When a loved one leaves this earth? When our children are fighting? When we're creeping to the edge of giving up? When life just isn't going the way we had hoped or planned?
God is still God. He didn't and doesn't go away. He's not on vacation. And he hasn't pulled an us and said, "Forget all this, I need some ME time." God remains God.
So why do we cry? Why do we have heartache and pain? Why do we suffer? That is the age old question, the first and only question to be asked when someone doubts the very existence of God, right?
The Bible warns us that we have a Grinch attempting to ruin our lives. Satan sneaks around trying to 'steal' all those so called blessings to see how we'll react.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
A lot of times, I hear Christians focus on verse 8. "Remember, that devil is sneaking about be on the lookout." Be on the lookout for what? I don't know about you but living my life always watching over my shoulder for an attack from the devil doesn't sound like freedom. The Whos weren't waiting around for the Grinch to steal all their Christmas.
"You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does." 1 Peter 5:9-11 MSG
The next verse is where our focus really needs to be, "It's the same with Christians all over the world." Wait, you mean, my neighbors might be struggling? You mean, my friends might be having a hard time living out their faith? You mean sometimes they don't have the answers to the hard questions either but they still choose to follow God simply because they choose to follow God.
Faith doesn't come from a building. Faith doesn't come from our parents or grandparents. Faith is something between us and God. It is something each one of us has to seek for our own lives. A trust in God that will not waiver no matter what is taken away or given in our lifetime. God didn't ask Noah to sacrifice his son, he asked him to build an ark. He didn't ask Daniel to speak to a leader, he asked him to continue praying to him each day no matter what. Faith is a narrow road between one individual and God. An intimate journey through their lifetime. God knows each of our hearts intimately, he knows what will bring us closer to him.
At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves what could make us lose our faith? That is what the enemy is walking about trying to figure out. If I touch their money will that touch their faith? What about their family? Their children? Their job security? Their health? The story of the Grinch and Whos isn't a new story. It played out in the book of Job when the Satan said, "Yeah, of course Job is a good servant, you give him everything he could ever want. Take it all away and see what happens."
I'll be the first to stand up and say, "I do not wish to lose everything." Who in their right mind would? Not even Job wished this upon himself. However, the convictions of my heart in the very next breathe would cause a whisper of a prayer, "But God, if I must choose between everything and You, take it away because there's no comparison."
It is with this mindset, this position of the heart, that Christians can say, "God is real. Whether there is war or peace, whether death or life, whether sickness or health, He is real and He is God. I will serve him no matter what happens in this lifetime."
With this kind of lifestyle the devil, and the world, might find themselves saying, "Maybe faith is something a little more."
August 14, 2018- I started this blog with the intent of being transparent on this journey. Being a woman has it's challenges. Being a wife has it's challenges. Be a mom has it's challenges. Being a Christian has it's challenges. Being a writer has it's challenges. Let's just be honest, simply being a human being has challenges. My hope was to be honest during those challenges and encourage some people along the way.
I don't really like throwing thoughts out there (onto a blog) because it offers it's own set of challenges. There are times when people say, "I read your blog." And I immediately think, "Oh boy, which one? What kind of mood was in it that day? Was I excited? Was I cranky? Did I feel enlightened or was I simply ranting? It's all good in the end because we all have these moments whether we want to own them or not.
Today, I am going back to the book which started it all "Goodbye, Christian Whore". In the book, I talk about starting out as a bowl of vanilla ice cream. In the book, the bowl of vanilla ice cream represents my faith. Simple. The bowl with all the toppings represents all the things I picked up along the way that clouded my vision of how simple faith could and should be.
Today I want to take the bowl to a new level. Today, the bowl represents our lives. I came into the world a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream. Little by little toppings get added to my bowl. Someone tells me I am good at something and here comes some sprinkles. Someone tells me I'm not so good at something else, maybe some chocolate syrup puts me in a sticky situation. Topping after topping gets dumped until eventually I'm not quite sure what's me and what's the opinion of others.
Man , I hate self-doubt.
What's a person to do? If you are like me and you find yourself on a journey to find that simple bowl of vanilla there is hope. It's not a simple journey. Sometimes you have to pick each sprinkle off one by one. It can be time-consuming. Sometimes you'll have to scrap the chocolate syrup off. Wait, did I lose a little of the ice cream when I did. It can be painful.
But the beauty is that God helps us through the entire process when we allow Him to.
God, some days I feel like a mess. I feel a bit overwhelmed from everything that has been thrown at me and on me. Whether it is what's going on in the world in general or stuff that is thrown directly at me to attack my character or self-worth. Today, I need you to remind me of who YOU created. Remind me of the five year old me who didn't have a single care in the world. What did I like most? What didn't I like? Where have I compromised who I am to please others? Where have a compromised who I am to satisfy my own goals? Help me today to take steps towards the person you created me to be. Help me to set aside filters, images, and ideas of what I believe the world expects me to be and pick up who you have created me to be. Amen.
Today I read a Howard Thurman quote. It wasn't the one above but it was equally as good,
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman
As I was searching google for the quote to share, (you know in some pretty image) I came across the above quote about "the sound of the genuine in you". Man, I needed to read that today. I just got done talking and texting multiple people today that I trust and respect saying (in the short version) I'm just not feeling it.
I feel like I'm not quite sure what I want in life, I feel like I'm not quite sure who I am. I can look back in my journals and see that this is a common slump for me. I have good times and I have blah times. I have moments where I very much feel confidant and sure of what I'm doing and then I have moments like today where I feel like I'm an imposter in my own life. How is that possible? I am me.
I'm not sharing this with a "here's your five steps to get out of this slump". I'm not sharing it with a fix or a cure. I'm simply sharing it because deep down inside I know that I'm probably not the only one. I'm not the only one who has ups and downs. I'm not the only one who has a talent that people acknowledge but I myself often doubt. (Seriously, I had someone message me this morning asking when Annabelle's Boots 2 is coming out. It was supposed to be this summer but...)
I'm probably not the only one who feels like I'm totally messing up being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a Christian. I mean the list can go on.
So I go back to the blog title to say...
When You Have to be Somebody...Choose to be You
What does that mean? All too often I get caught up in what I THINK is expected of me when I say I am_______________(insert whatever I am in that moment here.) Mom? Wife? Writer? Author? Christian? The list goes on and on. I'm sure you probably fall into the same at times. Today, I choose to be me. I have my ups and downs, I have my moments of doubt. But I really want to be better at choosing to be me. My hope is that this transparency inspires you to look at who you are and give you confidence to choose to be you.
I posted on Facebook today for anyone to comment and throw me a topic to write about. And so it begins...
When I first read "Excuses, Excuses: Which One is Yours?" it was in Florida during a life group at a church we attended with Peter and his wife, Sorines. People had excuses in all shapes and sizes and they joined the life group to go through the book and apply ways to overcome those excuses that were holding them back from reaching their goals.
My excuse I wrote down for that class sadly remains the same, "There are areas that I am afraid to step out in faith, the biggest of those being writing, not because I think that I'll fall but because I believe that God will do something so incredibly amazing. That is my 'super lame excuse'.
You might read that and think, "That's a weird excuse." I got tears in my eyes just writing it again because it is that real and that terrifying to me. The ironic thing is that after I shared that excuse I was pushed into working with other authors through ghostwriting and developmental editing. I loved it. The authors enjoyed working with me, everything was going well until my self-doubt got the best of me and I shied away from writing once again.
Here I am today, back into helping other authors achieve their dreams. Things are going well and that self-doubt is once again clawing at the back of my mind. So what's going to keep me from retreating to my corner and shying away? God!
God didn't create me to shy away, He created me with a boldness to create and inspire others. My boldness and creativity often make me feel like the oddball out so I tend to back down. But...with this challenge today to write about excuses (thank you, Peter) it has ignited a new flame.
In the words of Johnny Cash, "No, I won't back down!"
God, you want to do something super incredibly awesome with my life? You want to write a story upon me that has others saying, "What in the world? How in the world?"?
Go for it! No more excuses!
My prayer today is that whomever takes the time to read this blog would take a moment to evaluate the excuses in their own life. Not just the simple excuses but the deep 'going to take some time to sort through' excuses. The ones that are hindering them from embracing all that you created them to be.
You read about my excuses, now it's time to be real, what's yours?
Often times as a Christian I feel myself struggling, feeling ‘less than’ because I’m not a pastor or missionary- something “big” in the faith. I find myself belittling the very gifts that God has given me. I tell myself that I’m failing because I just haven’t quite figured out “my calling”. While Jesus clearly states in the Bible that there are only two ‘callings’ 1) Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and soul and 2) Love your neighbor.
So, when I’m painting with my sons? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling. When I’m doing laundry? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling. When I’m arguing plots and grammar and story at writing club? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling. When I’m patiently helping customers instead of losing my cool? Yes, I’m fulfilling my calling.
My “calling” is to embrace who God made- me. To accept that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My quirks are not mistakes, they are the unique threads that sew together the fabric of who I am.
I read a devotional on YouVersion tonight “Called to Create” (yes, all the days cause I needed it) that broke down something inside me. I’m not sure what tomorrow looks like after this moment but I know that I cannot be the only one feeling this way.
And I want you to know, you that’s constantly feeling like there’s something more, something you must be missing- God is the only thing that we are missing. To embrace him fully is our calling. To embrace the passions and desires that he has engrained inside of us will bless his heart and minister to the hearts of those around us.
Do what you love for the glory of God and see what he does with your offering.
Wow, November was the last time that I blogged. It's amazing how easy it is to get into a funk and neglect things. Maybe I should reclassify myself from blogger to slogger (Slacker that poses as a blogger). I get overwhelmed sometimes by these bloggers that seem to have it all together. They are posting all the time about everything. I think it'd be easy to sign up for a reality TV show. At least them I don't have to worry about editing, posting, content, or anything of the such. I'd just spout stuff off as it comes to me and the cameras would always be rolling. Ha, awkward!
Well, this post is to simply let you know that I am alive. I survived my pity party of having to return to the 'normal' workforce and I am determined to complete a middle grade level novel this year for my son.
Last month, I started a part time job. It has the usual challenges that exist at most jobs- complaining, grumbling, and “that’s” not my job” comments.
When I started the job I wasn’t really in a “yeah I’m so excited to get this job” mindset. My husband and I decided to start saving for a house so the job was simply a means to an end. I’d much rather focus on writing. But, book sales are inconsistent so having a specific-ish amount of money going into savings each money seemed like a wiser plan.
One of the hardest things to remember when dealing with customers is that they too are people. They have crappy days, they have family issues, they have life outside of their shopping experience. And the same goes for my co-workers.
Which is why I’m so thankful I stumbled upon this YouVersion devotional that reminded me the simple truth, “It’s better to give than receive.” Work is not a place for me to be filled, it’s a place for me to pour out, to serve others.
Last night, I was able to train a new cashier. He asked me what I thought the best way to handle an angry shopper would be. In short, I told him to treat them like a person and how he would like to be treated.
In my experience, people don’t act ugly towards others because that is their goal in life. They act ugly toward others because they are hurting, broken, or struggling. Sometimes all they need is to be reminded that they are not the only ones living life. When we serve others despite their attitude or gratitude it may not instantly change their mood, but it will plant a seed. When we take time to plant rather than destroy we allow the world to become a more beautiful place.
Do I always want to go to work? No. Do I always want to serve others with a smile on my face? No. Is it in my job description to clean dirt off the floor? Not that I know of. Is it in my job description to restock a shelf? No.
But when I do these things without complaining it puts me in a better mood. It also puts those around me in a better mood and it changes the atmosphere around me.
Let’s take time to be the change we want to see. If you are tired of all the negativity in your life, make adjustments to be positive. Serve others.
I’ll kick off the transparency and maybe some people will get brave. Yesterday, I had this nudge that I needed to stop what I was doing and help somebody out. I regret to say that I didn’t. I disregarded it as just a silly thought when deep down I know the voice of my Creator.
Today, I contacted that person to apologize. Not because I wanted a reaction or reassurance but because I knew that I had disobeyed God’s prompting and I needed to be honest with myself and my friend.
I don’t know if God had something specific in mind. But I do believe that it doesn’t matter. If God wants to see a result He honestly doesn’t need me to accomplish it. My reaction to His prompting has nothing to do with what He wants to see done. It has everything to do with where my heart is at. There are so many stories in the Bible that talk about always being ready. One that comes to mind is the virgins waiting for the bridegroom. I’ve always heard these talked about in reference to Christ’s return but what if they are actually stories for us to recognize the hour and time are not determined. He could come to us at any time of day and say, “Hey, are you ready to represent me or have you put all your energy into your own efforts and now find yourself lacking?”
This afternoon, I'll be meeting with the writing club at Shaw Elementary. It consists of eight to ten children in grades second to fourth. I first met them two weeks ago. We talked about my experiences as a writer/author and what advice I could offer them.Then I walked around as they worked on ideas and outlines for their stories.
Meeting with other writers, no matter their age, is always a fun experience. Often times, I can see myself, at various stages of my writing experience, through what they say. What do I see...
There are so many others but these are probably some of the biggest that I've combated especially over this past year.
What does it take to tell a story?
Whether it's a short story, a picture book, a novel, a biography, an article, etc. The most important thing for me as a writer to remember is that if I don't believe the story is worth telling, the reader will never believe it's worth reading.
I've been writing for the majority of my life. Whether it be diaries, journals, picture books, scripts, poems, chapter books, short stories, parodies, song lyrics, instruction guides...there's a lot of avenues to write in. However, I have not been involved with other writers very much.
I joined a children's writing course when I was seventeen or eighteen but I never completed the course. I didn't value the insight that they provided. I saw the tasks as 'hindering my creativity'. I couldn't be prompted on what to write, I was an artist (thought my teenage self). So, I discarded that useful information and never completed the course. Man, did I have a few things to learn!
Then I went to a writer's workshop and learned how to self-publish. That was a great experience. I was finally able to get my stories into the hands of readers. I was able to easily pick up on the mechanics of the process (formatting and publishing) but the marketing and promoting eluded me. So I had to turn my attention elsewhere (pretty much get a 'normal' job to pay the bills).
I also received an opportunity to work as a ghostwriter with a small ghostwriting company. I was nervous because I didn't (and still don't) have any professional schooling, awards, or anything like that for writing. I worked on a few projects and had a really good time. It pushed my limits as a writer. I found myself writing on different topics and writing in different styles to accommodate the voice of the 'author'. But because the unknown freaks me out a bit, I backed off and settled into a corporate job with a steady income rather than pursuing commission work with ghostwriting.
This past year, I joined a writer's critique group that started at my local library. After a few meetings I wasn't sure if I would make it. I felt like these writers were way out of my league. They were all educated in writing industry lingo that months later I'm still attempting to figure out. Most of them know all the ways that manuscripts can be submitted and rejected. They know all these English terms. It boggles my mind.
But despite all the ups and downs, the lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, lack of substantial income, one thing remains- I love to write.
If you are a writer and, like me, you can't seem to get away from it, I encourage you TO WRITE! And keep these things in mind along your journey:
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
Better with age...
Choose a Topic