To the Ones I Want to Give the World To,
In just a few days I will have to say goodbye to you. Every time I leave I think it will be easier than the last, but it never is. Just thinking about that parting brings tears to my eyes. I am so used to you being the biggest part of my day. From waking to sleeping, there are so many moments in between in which you need me.
When I am not with you I wonder how I can be apart from someone who feels like an extension of my very being. I can't believe I have only been mother for nearly 7 years and was something else for 28 long years before that. I can't remember what it was like to not be your mom.
These moments of leaving are glimpses into what someday will be more permanent. Right now it is me setting out without you and only for a short time. One day it will be you leaving me for the big world out there and there will be a permanence to your leaving that I can't bear to think of just yet. I hold onto you as long as I can knowing that day will come far sooner than I am prepared for.
As your dad and I get ready to go we talk to you about the places we will visit and show them to you on the map. World travel doesn't seem strange to you as you speak a few words in languages not your own. I laugh at Arabic or Hindi spoken with your little southern American drawls and when you ask if the people in the part of the world we are visiting live in tents like in the Bible.
But I hope you understand more than a couple words of foreign languages or an acceptance of what is outside your own culture. I hope you grasp the reason we do what we do and it seeps deep down into your heart even now. Continue Reading
On Wednesdays guest writers are raising their voices. Julie Dibble writes beautifully both about her entry into and struggle with fitting the mold of the online writing world but also about hearing God's voice. Her piece is a reminder of the power of God's word and the way it breaks into our lives. Please welcome Julie's words in this space. - Nicole
I am full of words. As a young girl, I wanted to be an author. Eagerly, I wrote and illustrated my own fiction. I remember one story about a lion that had no mane that I dreamed of publishing. As I got older, I placed words into poems and began to journal. By the hands that created me, I am blessed with the ability to decorate this life with glorious words.
My surprise was small when God called me to speak and write for Him. Rather, I strongly felt He had prepared me for such a task throughout my life. Humbled, I sought to accurately represent Holy Perfection.
Upon initiating myself into the professional writing world last year, the word requirements seemed low and less than what is comfortable for me. Blog posts are written as if the writer is speaking, so long, lofty sentences are not welcome. Twitter has a cut-off for not only words but also characters, inherently limiting the ability to ramble. Quickly, I realized with the absolute flood of information that exists online, brevity increases a writer’s visibility.
Here I am to state my case in the midst of this fast, busy, changeable world. Despite what we choose to keep to ourselves, God is omniscient. He knows all. Without sharing our thoughts, He hears them. Without baring our emotion, He feels it.
God responded to my mental objection…stumbling in the process of proclaiming His presence with words. God noticed my heart was less than pure. Feeling frustrated, I struggled with the need to cut entire details out of a story written for His glory, in order for it to be accepted.
God told me one night during a one-eye-opening-to-see-what-time-it-is awakening: power of prayer, power of prayer, power of prayer. Not audibly, but clear as day in my sleepy mind, God gave me these three words and repeated them three times. If I posted just those three words on Twitter, one or two people may stop scrolling and wonder about my purpose. Continue Reading
I have become accustomed to doing my writing on the computer but there is still a power that a pen and paper hold over me. I have journaled since I was young, written countless notes to be passed in class, and doodle and jot notes that end up all over my house. After graduating from college continents separated my best friend from me and as she traveled through Europe she sent postcards from every stop.
I remember the joy of seeing those little snatches of words showing up in my mailbox. They were barely a few sentences but it connected me to someone I loved far away and those words were like water to a parched soul. We mostly exchange emails now but every now and then a hand-written note from her will find it's way to my mailbox.
Since I became a mom I have kept journals for and written letters at the end of each year to my kids. I want to remember big and little moments in their lives, things I might forget if I didn't write them down. I want them to know one day what their childhood was like through my eyes, things they'd otherwise only know through photographs or stories forgotten down the years.
As my writing for others online has increased, my time to write for them has decreased. It was the third week of January before I got around to penning my year-end letters for them. I am woefully behind in updating photos I usually commit to a book to have printed for them each year.
Life gets busy with so many things and these important words get pushed aside. The words to the most important people in my life go unsaid.
So, for this month I will be sharing four letters I am writing to some of the most important people in my life. I will be taking some time to remember what I write for to begin with, what is at the core of what I want to say and who I want to say it to. I hope you will see nuggets of truth in these words. Though they are written for special people in my life, I hope they speak into yours.
I start with a letter to the person who needs to hear some hard words and believe them....myself.
There is a knot that has taken up permanent residence in your back, an ache in your arm. Sometimes a tightness comes across your chest and you realize you haven't taken time to breathe deep all day long. There are a thousand thoughts running through your mind. You try to categorize them into manageable to-do lists. You have a place for family, home, work, writing, ministry, that upcoming trip.
Something inevitably falls through the cracks and you feel the weight of guilt fall around you. There is that mom guilt you feel every day. Do you give them enough time? You have to work but you want to be with them more. You are called to write but does it take you away from them too much? You second guess your decisions even after you make them and care so deeply what other people think of you.
You can't keep juggling all these thoughts but still you try. Somehow the people you love get categorized, too. When you have so much going on they fall in with the lists and become nothing more than tasks.
A friend looks at you and says, "You put too much on yourself." You smile and nod but inside you think, "If I don't do it all, who will?" You know she is right but you don't know how to put it all down, all these things you carry in your hands, on your shoulders.
Honey, you can't do it all. You aren't meant to.
Listen to the words of the One Who Sees You, who knows all your neurotic control issues and loves you anyway.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10. 38-42, ESV
You can get so distracted, even by good things. Beautiful things. Things for God. God has a good portion for you though, a light burden He wants you to bear. You know it but can't accept it.
Lots of things need to be done. Absolutely, there is no denying that. But do you have to be the one to do them? Do they have to be done right now?
Please take a step back and open your eyes. There are people all around you that have hands, too. They can carry some of the burden if you will give it to them. They can hold you up when you are weak if you will allow them to. They can rub that knot out of your shoulder when it gets too painful.
There is a reason Jesus left behind a body to be united, to carry the burden together. You can't be the hands, feet, and hands. You can't do it all.
But you know the one who can. So, let Him.
On Wednesdays guest writers are raising their voices. I am thrilled to share these beautiful words with you from Lindsey Hepler on how she heard, and is hearing, God's voice. I hope they challange you to follow, without question, when you hear God speak. - Nicole
"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
- Psalm 95:7-8
A funny thing happened about one year ago.
It is still hard to find the right words to describe the events that unfolded over the days and weeks at the end of January and beginning of February 2015. The simplest and clearest way to describe it is simply to say this:
God spoke to me. I heard His voice.
The first message came, after a period of intense frustration, as a feeling of overwhelming love and security, a deep-rooted sense that everything was and is and would be okay.
Then, a clear statement; a provocation; an invitation.
Next, a serendipitous meeting, followed by advice offered over coffee and heeded, without question. A prayer spoken, asking Jesus to light my path, one step at a time.
Along the way, I moved according to that same deep-rooted feelings of rightness; and my path was revealed, one step at a time. Continue Reading
When I started sharing my writing with the world a little over a year ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don't. I have some bylines under my belt but I am still just figuring this out one day at a time.
When I sat at my first writer's conference, a small event that I had received a scholarship to based on the first piece of writing I sent out into the world last year, I felt so out of place. I sat next to authors who were pitching manuscripts of their books to editors and agents. I leafed through titles at the book table of others who had been writing for most of their lives, who had a plan and a purpose. I was just beginning.
The dreaded question, "What are you working on?" was asked by every person I met. Sometimes I tried to make myself as small as possible, melt into the background, so I wouldn't get asked again. My answer, "I am just trying to find my voice right now" seemed ridiculous. But it was the truth.
I had silenced my voice for so long that I didn't know how to really use it anymore. I just wanted to be in a place with other writers and learn from them. I left that conference with some great tools and ideas to get started on my brand new blog and submitting writing to others, but I still wasn't sure what it was I wanted to say.
My writing, at fist, felt like that timid answer I gave at the writer's conference. I was scared to raise my voice above a whisper, holding back and trying to sound polished and sure. I felt so lost in the sea of amazing writers online and paralyzed by my lack of knowledge. Did I mention I didn't have a clue what I was doing?
An amazing thing happened when I started sharing my voice with others, though. I found real people on the other side of those words I had read and the pedestals I had placed other writers upon. I don't know how I had made them these untouchable superheroes of faith and vulnerability. I guess we do that with anyone who is living the life we want to live. It makes it all seem so unattainable.
I sent a couple pieces out to collaborative blogs I loved. The first month...cue the crickets chirping. I pulled my courage up around me and sent again. I about fell out of my chair when I received an email from a writer I adored saying my piece needed some editing and asked if I would be willing to work on it with her to get it ready for publication. I won't lie. I went all fan girl but then I played it cool and emailed her back. Continue Reading