Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I can tell you by living it.

I’m 30,000 feet above the sprawled out landscape of low-ridged mountains, mocha land covered in winding tan veins of deep ravines. Somewhere over southern New Mexico, I think. Somewhere in between my journey from Greenville, South Carolina back home to Glendora, California.

I look out the oval window next to my F27 seat, watching wispy white clouds stretched like cotton, and I wonder…

Where do I start in telling the story of how God used one evening of dish washing procrastination to set in motion a four-day adventure on the other side of the country that would stir my heart and change my life in ways I had dared not dream?

How do I fully describe the wonder of God’s incredible provision of finances and childcare and prayers that followed his miracle of a ticket to a sold-out conference?

How can I completely capture the beauty and splendor of being in a room of 450 women who follow hard after God even when it’s hard because they are captivated by their Maker, compelled to love their Creator and all whom He created?

How can I craft the right word pictures so that you can see the God-glory of hands held high in praise, the God-grace of hearts bowed low in surrender, the God-gratitude of faces shining Jesus-light in overflowing joy?


How can I convey the thrill of hearing the humble yet radiant Ann Voskamp speak live words of poetry and passion, power and truth? Or the delight of a divine encounter in the hotel lobby where Sarah Markley went from my writer’s inspiration on a page to a gracious friend in real life? Or the blessing of having God’s women pray over me, women like Rici, Shelly, and Laura, who started out as strangers and ended up as soul-sisters I wish I could hug and live life with every day?

How can I impart to you the impact of Allume?

The answer is, I can’t. Not fully. Not the way my heart is bursting to.

But I can tell you this:

I went to Allume to learn more about blogging. To be encouraged in my craft. To be equipped to execute. To be around like-hearted women who use their love of words to fulfill their Kingdom call.

And God was gracious to accomplish those things.

But what I really learned is that it’s not about growing my readership, it’s about growing my relationship with the Holy God.

It’s not about increasing my blog traffic, it’s about increasing my trust in Him.

It’s not about perfecting my writing, it’s about pursuing the only perfect Writer.

Scheduling my next post means nothing if I don’t first seek His face.

How can I tell you what Allume meant to me?

It will take time. Time to live it. 

Live real life while seeking His face so that I can shine His light.

So that's what I’ll do. And as I do, I’ll continue to share and celebrate the moments that make up the journey.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Creating Beauty

Last night I had planned to joyfully do laundry and worshipfully wash dishes...but then I saw this free printable at A Holy Experience and instead was stirred to create something beautiful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 has been a theme verse for my life for the past year, plus with Autumn now upon us and all things pumpkin spice and thankful grace compelling my senses to savor this season, I knew right when I saw this beautiful sign I had to display it in my home as a beacon for continuing to count each moment as a gift.

So I was inspired to do a Fall mantle makeover!

This is what it looked like before...

Now, since my creative stirring came at 9 pm last night with my husband out of town and a house full of sleeping boys, a trip to Target or Michael's was not going to be possible. So I decided to "shop" my own home, scavenging cupboards and collecting decor from different rooms in the house.

And this is what I came up with...

I got out the tall ladder in the garage and retrieved this lovely leaf wreath from the rafters. (I store it with my Christmas decorations and every year I kick myself for not remembering to get it out in the fall...and this year I remembered. Yah!!)

Then I put the Give Thanks print in an old picture frame I found in a forgotten cabinet, repositioned the Give Thanks and Blessings Abound blocks (my favorite!), and snagged this sweet birdie tea light holder from the sill above my kitchen sink. Swapped the little framed mirror from the original look with this pretty amber star from another spot in my house. 

And wha-la!!

I think the whole thing came together great. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and full of thanks to sit on my couch and look at this little collection of beauty.

I love to create. I love beauty. I love to create beauty. 

As I was debating whether or not to share this little joy moment in my life as a post or not, I initially hesisitated at the thought. I mean, a mantle makeover is not spiritually deep or profound...it's just decorating. And is there meaning in that?

And then I heard it. Heard it in a whisper to my heart.

Your love is a reflection of my love. That is who I AM. The Creator of All Things Beautiful. 

And there is always meaning in reflecting ME. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Laundry

What if I stopped complaining about it?

What if I stopped feeling overwhelmed by it?

What if I stopped being bitter towards it, beat down by it, and bemoaning every time I had to do it?

What if instead...I started to be blessed by it?

Blessed by the never-ending piles and socks without a match and I just want to relax while the kiddos sleep and not have to fold and fold and fold some more?

Yes. Blessed by all of that.

What if I praised God that I have access to hot water and 900 choices of softeners and detergents lining Target's walls?

What is I praised God that I'm not stooping down at a river's edge rubbing fabric between rocks because he's given me a machine in my garage that does the washing for me?

What if every time I folded a little boy's dinosaur t-shirt or knee-worn jeans I thanked God for the strong heart that t-shirt covered, the strong legs that run and crawl and jump and climb each moment of each day in that thinning denim?

What if I took off the shackles of duty and responsibility and put on the garment of thankfulness, gratitude, and all-things-are-grace? 

Whites and darks and towels and sheets and mismatched piles overflowing out of my closet and every  basket in the house. Yep, that's where I'm at today with my laundry.

But instead of begrudging the chore, may I embrace the challenge of choosing to be blessed.

*   *   *

Love me my Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo! Blessed to be a part of this amazing community of writers who gather each week to write for the love of writing, and then encourage one another for the bravery to do it. You don't have to have a blog to participate! So come check it out!

Five Minute Friday

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

Nothing feels glamorous about searching on your hands and knees for soggy Cheerios trapped in the looped rug beneath the dining room table.

Nothing feels spectacular about setting your timer to go off every 15 minutes so you can take your toddler (who may or may not be screaming) to the potty...again.

Nothing feels paramount about performing another rendition of the Alphabet Song in a new accent to keep your kids entertained so you can quickly slap on some makeup to cover the new wrinkles creeping in each day and the dark eye circles that never go away.

Nothing feels significant about making another peanut butter sandwich or quesadilla or blueberry waffle with extra cinnamon sugar sprinkled in the "dragon caves."

Nothing feels impactful about kissing another booboo or breaking up another fight, about singing the same bedtime song 12 times in one night or helping rebuilding that block tower until it's just right.

Nothing feels important about changing diapers, brushing teeth, buckling seat belts, or wiping tears, bottoms, and noses.

Nothing feels life-changing about soothing middle-of-the-night bad dreams or satisfying pleas for just one more drink of water please. Or reminding for the thousandth time DO NOT put toys in the light socket or lock you brother in the bathroom or pick up the baby or pick your nose.

Nothing about mud and boogers and pee and poop and vomit and who-knows-what is caked on your shirt and stuck under you nails feels marvelously magnificent or remotely meaningful in the big picture of life. 

But that's the magic.

How we feel doesn't dictate what actually is.

And the thing is...all this seemingly ordinary stuff makes being a mother anything but.

*     *     *
Come on over to Five Minute Friday to see what others are writing about "ordinary."
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Write

I've known since I was seven years old. I want to be a writer.

It was Mrs. Barber's poetry club that did it. I remember the pastel drawing of my favorite stuffed monkey my mom drew for the front cover of my laminated poetry collection. I remember my rhyming poem about a fuddy duddy muddy buddy, my concrete poem about a rainbow, and my haiku about wind.

Even as a scrawny second grader with ragged pigtails and a freckled nose, I knew. Knew that words had power and emotion and life. Knew that stories lived inside me, and that words were the key to unlocking them.

Imagine. Believe. Write.

From second grade to my senior year of college, my answer to the recurrent, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question remained the same. I want to be a writer.

And there have been several mile markers along the journey that have affirmed I was headed in the right direction.

Mrs. Lunsford, my eighth grade language arts teacher, told my mom at a parent-teacher conference that I was the most talented young writer she had ever taught.

Mr. Allison, my favorite high school English teacher, wrote in my junior yearbook that I could be the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald, or whomever I wanted to be!

So my choice of college majors: Creative Writing, naturally. I declared it before even starting my first class at Cal State Long Beach and stayed true to my writer's dream my entire college career (unlike one of my roommates who fell into the typical majority and changed her major at least five times.)

And yet...

Here I am...all grown up, and I spend  a little time writing, journaling, blogging, but I often feel unworthy to call myself a "writer." I don't have a picture book with glowing illustrations displayed in the brightly colored nooks of Barnes and Noble. A collection of poetry with my name embossed on a book jacket is nowhere to be found. No novel or devotional or New York Times Bestseller.

Just a handful of rejection letters from a feeble attempt half a decade ago.

So how could I be a writer? I  haven't lived up to the dream.

...and then these words from her precious heart resonate in mine:

"Sometimes I think we over glamorize writing.
We make it something that must reek of Hemingway, Lewis, or Lamott before we’re brave enough to share it.
Who says?
You see I think the quiet secret is that you can be a writer and no one needs to recognize your name to make that any more or less true. I think your story matters. The one you write at midnight in 600 word blog posts. The one you scrapbook. The one you piece together for your kids as you fill them in on what grandpa and grandma were like.
You are a writer.
You actually already are."
It was as if Lisa-Jo wrote them just for me. These words that I have pasted in my Mother's Notebook, a place where I write.

Yes, I write.

So I'm learning, accepting, that it's not a dream or a degree, it's not praise or publication that makes me a writer.

I am a writer...because I write. 

*   *   *

Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for Five Minute Fridays where you write brave and bold each week while encouraging and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. I'm so thankful for your voice.

Five Minute Friday