Friday, October 31, 2014

The End (or is it?) {Day 31}

Today is the final day of the #write31days challenge hosted by The Nester. The challenge was simple - write every day for 31 days. I joined up with thousands of others and wrote. I missed a couple of days, but that's OK.

I still wrote. 

I didn't give up when I missed a day. I just picked up where I left off and wrote. 

Like a couple of years ago when I started working out but didn't see the results on the scale. I felt better physically and mentally, but wasn't looking pounds. So I gave up. I stopped working out. Even though I loved Zumba, I quit going to class. 

Also a couple of years ago I started writing a book with my husband and beat friend. We wrote and wrote and wrote. Then life got busy and crazy and just in the way. So the writing slacked off. Then eventually stopped. Though I loved colloborating and creating something with my favorite people, I quit. 

But this time was different. I could have given up after I missed a day, but I didn't. I kept going. 

I gave myself grace. 

This afternoon I was thinking about how sometimes we're our harshest critic. It is easier for most people to forgive others but so hard for us to forgive ourselves. We can give grace but think we don't deserve it. 

Yet we need to accept grace when it's offered. And we need to extend it to ourselves sometimes. 

So as the 31 days of simply writing series comes to a close, I challenge you to give yourself grace. This challenge may be ending, but the real challenge is just beginning: taking what we've learned these past 31 days and applying it to our lives. For me, that means to keep writing. To not give up when I get off track. To give myself grace even though it is super hard sometimes. 

What have you learned these past 31 days? 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Little Things {Day 28-29}

This week has been (and will continue to be) extremely busy. Three days this week have (or will) keep me away from home until late in the evening. Though they're all good things, it makes for an exhausting week.

Today was one of the days in which I was able to come straight home from work. The biggest portion of dinner was in the crock pot, so all I had to do was put together a couple of sides. Then the hubs and I sat down for a nice meal together. 

As I was cleaning up the kitchen mess, I noticed a bag of mail on the counter. Most mail is junk mail at our house, but I thumbed through it just in case there was something important. And I'm so glad I did as there was a letter from my sweet girl in the pile!

My sweet girl, Mounika, is my Compassion child. She's a sweet 10 year old girl from India. It is an absolute joy to get a letter from her. She writes of her love for Jesus, her family, friends, and school. Her birthday was earlier this year and we were able to send her a little extra $ so she could get something special. She wrote that she was able to get a couple of dresses and make-up which makes her feel beautiful. 

Her letter this time was much longer than usual, and it simply blessed my heart. Her previous letters were much shorter. But this letter shows that she is growing and learning and being loved on by the Compassion staff. 

It's a small thing, this sponsoring a child. Some wonder if if makes any difference, sponsoring a child. Spending $36 each month and writing letters to a child. Maybe it does or maybe it doesn't, but from what I can tell, it does.

Mothers Teresa says that "little things done with great love can change the world." 

She's right, you know. 

Many of us have grand ideas of changing the world. But we become overwhelmed. We think changing the world is too big a job. Especially for one person. But one person can change the world, if they focus on the world around them. Each of us have our own sphere of influence. And we can do little things each day to influence change in our part of the world. 

For me, one of those little things is giving up $36 a month for my sweet girl. Compassion makes it super easy to become a sponsor. If you're interested, click here for more information

What other ways do you do little things to change the world around you?

This is day 28-29 of the 31 days of simply writing series. Click here to read from the beginning. And thanks for stopping by! Feel free to subscribe to receive my posts directly in your inbox. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hands {Day 27}

Photo credit: aussiegall

One of my roles in life is Outreach Coordinator at Centerpoint Church. 

I love everything about this role. From planning various projects to leading teams to seeing people get excited about showing #crazylove in little (and sometimes big) ways! 

This is the kind of stuff I was made for. 

Tonight just reinforced the love I have for my role. And for my church. 

This week our church is doing a unique outreach we've dubbed "Trick or Treat with Bob." (Bob is our kid's ministry mascot. He's an orange tiger, and kids love him.) Unlike most churches, we're not doing an alternative Halloween event. No trunk-or-treat, Hallelujah Night, or Harvest party for us. Instead of staying within our four walls on Halloween and inviting folks to come to us, we are going to them! We have 10 different host homes throughout various locations in our community who are just gonna pass out special gift bags full of candy, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc. And, at one location, kids will get to meet Bob. It's going to be a great night!

In preparation for the event, we had a "packing party" tonight as we plan to hand out 2500 candy bags! We carved out 4 hours to pack all the bags based on info from another group who'd packaged 3000 care bags in the past. We anticipated 20-30 people would come help put the bags together. 

Guess what happened?!

Over 40 people showed up and rocked it out by packaging 2500 bags in an hour and a half!!!

And that's one of the many reasons I love my church! They GET IT. They recognize that sometimes being the hands and feet of Jesus means showing up and packaging candy bags. Sometimes it means going outside the box and stepping outside the four walls to show a little bit of crazy love. 

This week I've heard the phrase "many hands make light work" several times, and it's so true. Tonight proved that to me. 

Tonight also proved that crazy love isn't just an event, but a lifestyle. (More on that later...)

What's your favorite way to show crazy love?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

When Dark & Light Collide {Day 26}

Photo credit: descar66

For the past seven years or so, my drive to work or church or wherever I was going in the morning would take me north, south, or west. Never east. But if you've been following along during this 31 day challenge, you'll remember I moved recently. In fact, I've only been living in the new house for a few days. And now when I drive to work or church or wherever in the morning, I drive east. 

This morning as I found myself driving east towards church, I drove towards a gorgeous sunrise. I'm nowhere near a morning person, so I'm usually never up when the sun rises. This morning was a rate treat! (Thank you Centerpoint cafe for scheduling me as a brewer this morning, otherwise I may have missed it!)

Anyway, as I was driving to church, gazing at the sun rising over the top of the cornfields and over the hills of southern Ohio, this realization dawned on me:

There is something beautiful created when dark and light collide. 

After a while of driving, the sun became so bright it was all I could do to see the road. It was magnificent, brilliant in all it's glory. 

I wondered if this sunrise was similar to that at creation. As the Spirit hovered over the deep waters, and God spoke light into existence, did the darkness suddenly become overwhelmed with shades of pink, red, orange, and yellow? Did the sun in all it's glory drive the darkness out?

As children, often times we fear the dark. We can't see what's in front of us or worry about what's hiding in the shadows. This fear follows is into adulthood, though it manifests in different ways. We're afraid of the unknown. We are afraid that the darkness will overtake us, suffocating us.

For me, the sunrise this morning reminded me that the dark times in my life will one day collide with the light, and something beautiful will be created. I don't have to be afraid of the dark for the light is coming, right over the hills. 

Was there a time in your life when dark and light collided? What happened?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Oops! {Day 23-25}

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Commons

For 22 days I wrote. Every single day. I even bragged about it in day 22. Said how I hate to lose a challenge. It's true. I hate losing. 

Then life decided to get in the way. Thursday night the hubs and I got into a fight. A big sucky fight. Exhausted from no sleep on Wednesday combined with the fight left me asleep on the couch right in the middle of my favorite tv show. 

Then came Friday which was no better. So I decided to make things better by hanging out with my best friend. I hunted her down at work and told her we needed to hang out. So we did. We went to the bowling alley, ate nachos, and shot some pool. Even invited my brother and his girlfriend to come play. They didn't, but they did come and hang out. 

Here's the thing: I'm not going to beat myself up for not writing every day. Life happens. When it does, it's OK to make adjustments. 

For me, this challenge was to motivate myself to start writing again. To start a new habit. To create. 

And for 22 days, I did. And today I continue. I've picked up where I left off and kept going. 

For those of you who've stressed out about giving up on this challenge, extend yourself a little grace. It's OK. This challenge isn't the end all, be all. It's a springboard. These 31 days are just the beginning of something new. 

I, for one, am excited to see where it all goes. 

Whether you've written all 25 days or just 2, what have you learned along the way? What are you most excited for when this challenge is over?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Live, Dream, Learn {Day 22}

Today has been a long day of work then unpacking/organizing a few rooms in my new home. Yes, I moved! (Sorry if you're just leanrning of this exciting new adventure... I didn't tell many people.)

To be honest, I wasn't sure what I was going to write today. I thought about just skipping because I'm so exhausted. But the challenge is to write something every single day. And I hate to lose a challenge. :)

Thank goodness for cable tv and Ghosthunters! Yes, friends, tonight's post is inspired by none other than something I saw on a tv show. 

The Ghosthunters crew is investigating the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. A few minutes ago a few minutes of the team passed by a sign that read:

When I saw this, it reminded me that life is all about balance. Far too often I can be stuck in the past, dwelling on all the things that I used to do or all the bad things that happened. Or I spend so much time thinking and planning about what I'm gonna buy when I get X amount of money or where I'm gonna go on vacation. Sometimes I'm so engrossed in the past or focused on the future that I forget to live in the present. 

If life is all about balance, then it's OK to dream about the future and learn from the mistakes of the past. But I also have to live in the here and now. 

Right now, I'm living in the present. My here and now is chilling out on my new-to-me couch and watching Ghosthunters. What are you doing? ;)

If you're joining me for the first time, this is Day 22 of the 31 days of Simply Writing series. I'm just one of thousands of other bloggers who linking up for the #write31days challenge. Feel free to browse my other posts and leave a comment to say "hi!"

Just Being Real {Day 21}

My husband and I are in the middle of a big life changing situation -- we are moving! So I'm a little more than exhausted at the moment. But I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about something I've been thinking about for the past couple of days. Especially this evening as I was in a meeting with a couple of folks talking about this exact topic: being real. 

The buzzword these days is authenticity. 

Whether you're in a church or leadership or business or marketing, that's what people are talking about these days. The idea is that this generation is all about being real, authentic. If it's anything other than authentic, forget about it. 

What's the big deal about authenticity? For many, especially those who identify as Christian or a part of the church, being authentic is being able to be who you are with fear of judgement. It is coming to church just as you are with whatever baggage you have, whatever hurts and misconceptions you might have, questions and doubts, you name it. It's OK not to have your stuff together. 

For me, authenticity allows me to say I struggle to trust God even though I've been walking this faith journey for more than 20 years. That I struggle being a wife, often getting angry rather than giving grace. That I struggle with showing emotion because I'd rather feel physical pain instead of emotional pain. 

And even as I type this post on authenticity, there's still a wall up to guard against judgement. 

Just being real.

Be real with me: what do you think about authenticity and the church?