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?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Storm Clouds {Day 20}

Today I'm joining up with the folks over at Inspire Me Mondays where we post something positive to start off our work week. Since Monday is my least favorite day of the week, it's easy for me to be negative. But I've chosen for over a year now to find the good, the beautiful, the positive on Mondays. I hope you'll join me in doing the same!

This morning started off looking like it was going to be a nice day. The sunrise was beautiful, the sky a lovely light pink as the sun rose over the hills. (Not that I was up to see the sunrise, but I did see the effects it left.)

But soon those pink skies let way to dark storm clouds. The rain came off and on throughout the day. Not a downpour but a steady, drizzly rain. It disappeared for a while, giving way to a clear night sky with a few storm clouds on the horizon.

This evening on my drive home, the skies lit up with lightning, indicating another storm was on it's way. Along with the lightning I witnessed the brightest, most beautiful falling star!

It's days like today that remind me that there is still joy to be found in the midst of the storm.

For the past 20 days I've been writing every single day for the #write31days challenge. My posts always hold a hint of what I'm going through in life, but never do they divulge the whole story. Maybe one day. But for now, it's enough to know that life is stormy.

But there's joy in the middle of it all.

There's hope and peace and light and love.

Whatever life throws, it's going to be OK. Like the quote says below, "it may be stormy now, but it never rains forever."

Photo credit: My Dear Valentine

When your life is stormy, what gives you hope to keep going?

This is Day 20 of my 31 Days of Simply Writing series. If you're just joining me, feel free to go back and read from the beginning! Also, if you like what you read and don't want to miss another post, please subscribe to my blog to have them delivered straight to your inbox. Thanks for reading! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sanctuary {Day 19}

Church has been a part of my life since my mom started going when I was 10. I'd been to church before that, but it wasn't an important part of my life. It was an occasional thing, like for Christmas or Easter or a weekend spent at Nana's. 

But from the time I was 10, that all changed. My family was in church twice on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings. Anytime there was a special service or event, we'd be there. Basically whenever the doors were open, we were in a seat (or serving.)

Church has been a huge part of my life for many, many years. I grew up in the church. It molded me and shaped me into who I am today, and it continues to do so. 

But for many, the church hasn't been such a wonderful place. It's been a place of hurt. Of broken promises. Of deceit, hypocrisy, and hate. 

This morning as I was driving home from church, an old church song popped into my head that really spoke to me:

Lord, prepare me
To be a sanctuary.
Pure and holy,
Tried and true.
With thanksgiving,
I'll be a living 
Lord, for you. 

This, friends, is what the church should be. A sanctuary. A safe place for people on the midst of the brokenness. A refuge which offers healing. 

There are some folks who have been so hurt, so battered by the church that they'll never step back into a church building. Folks who want nothing to do with Christians. 

As followers of Jesus, we have a long way to go to repair and restore the church's image. 

The church - you & me - are to be a living sanctuary. A place of hope for our family and friends. 

I don't know about you, but my prayer this morning is that I can be a sanctuary for those around me. I want to be a safe place for my family and friends. I want to be able to offer hope and healing to those who are in need of it. My heart longs to be a follower of Jesus who helps bring about mending broken hearts and restoring broken lives. 

If you're reading this and have been hurt by the church, I'm so sorry. My heart grieves for you and hopes you will find a safe place where you can heal. That Jesus will mend those broken pieces of your life. 

I hope you will find sanctuary here. 

Have you found sanctuary? Are you a sanctuary for people in your life?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Like Mother, Like Daughter {Day 18}

One of my all-time favorite TV shows is Gilmore Girls. Thanks to Netflix I have been binge-watching the show most of the day. Well, the early afternoon and now late evening. 

If you've never watched the show, it's about a mother-daughter relationship. Lorelei and Rory have more of a friendship than your typical mother-daughter relationship. They share a love of movies, tv, music, junk food, and coffee. They're quick-witted and super-intelligent. 

There's so much about this show that I love. But the one thing is that it reminds me of my own relationship with my mom. Growing up my mom and I had our issues. We fought about stuff like any mother and daughter would. I had a terrible problem of back talking. 

At the same time, my mom was (and still is) my best friend. She and I have always been able to talk about anything and everything, even if we don't agree. We both love to read and often share books. We also both love music, though I'm more of a rock-n-roll kind of girl and she loves contemporary Christian. (We do share a love of worship music, though.) She's a coffee drinker and I'm not. And she loves to watch the news and I could care less. 

The one most important thing we have in common, besides each other, is our relationship with Jesus. My mom was instrumental in my coming to believe in God. At the age of 10, mom started taking my brothers and I to church. It was there that I heard the gospel, but it was at home where I saw it lived out. Mom taught me what it was to have faith. She taught me to pray and believe and to love unconditionally. 

Through the years, mom and I have had our ups and downs. But I'm thankful for every moment we've shared, good or bad. Because each moment has still been filled with grace and forgiveness and love. So much love. 

(Love you, Mom!)

Have you seen Gilmore Girls? What is your relationship like with your mom?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Longing {Day 17}

It's Friday which means I'm joining up with the Five Minute Friday community. Every Friday we write for five minutes on a specific topic. No editing. No backtracking. No worrying if things are perfect. Here we go...

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness. Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons— Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. (Psalms 107:1-14 NKJV)

A year ago life was more than hard. So many nights I went to bed in tears, praying for God to make things easier. To do something, anything, to make things better. 

Prayers that have still gone answered. Life is still hard. But there's a peace in the midst of these circumstances. 

My heart knows that He is good. 

My souls knows that He satisfies. 

He is bringing beauty from these ashes. 

In the midst of the unanswered prayers, He has let me know He hears every prayer. He has seen every tear. 

In my trouble, He has heard and answered my cry. He has saved me from distress by giving me peace. 

Have you ever prayed for something that has gone unanswered but still had peace?