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Archive for the tag “work”

walking in the fight

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so that you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”  [James 1:2-4]

Awake my soul. You are living. You were created, one spinning thread of molecules at a time, by the Great Creator. Awake. You were chosen to live. Your purpose is to bring life. The act of each day is your fight. It is your test. It is the step by step that will harden your muscles and make you ready for the next fight.

Practice living:

Wake. Say good morning over brewing coffee and pull out Bible and pages. Release the unseeing truth. Ingest His always-good, wise, perspective. It is the real truth. It will heal. It will give strength.

Draft the day’s bits and pieces. There is a war to be fought. It will be done one hour at a time.

Shower. My body is yours. I honor you as I honor me. Sit at the desk with a fresh face and a lighted candle. It is my reminder. It is a prayer. Work with built in hard stops for air, for walks, for stretches or strengthening, for prayer. It is the five minutes that will fuel the many hours.

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My fight is to live. To do what I was born to do. What I dream of. To use my hands, my head, my heart without letting fear grip me, paralyze me.

What’s your fight? Has God given you the steps to work through the fight?

[This picture will lead you to Ann Voskamp’s Grace Plan. God chose to speak to me about living my life through this. I share it with you. It’s not a must, merely a thought or potentially an inspiration. ]

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Finding the Worship in Laundry and Deadlines

I search through New Year quotes looking for my toe-hold of meaning, something I can use to dig into this first month of the year. But instead I see, running rampant through pages of ‘inspiration’, tired reruns, hopeless striving.

So I ask God, where do you want me, and then I try to shift my focus.

So thankful for God-With-Us. So thankful for new beginnings… this year, this month, this week, this day, this hour, this minute, this second… because my life is lived moment to moment and if I am honest, I truly need HIM in each moment.

As I work out what it means to do the dailies of life—laundry, manuscripts, lawn care, deadlines, supper on the table—with Him, I see this isn’t a list of To Do’s but actions of worship and faith.

In caring for myself and others I honor Him. And in being faithful with the ‘little’ and ‘much’ I have been given, from the jar of flour on my counter to job I hold, the work is not in vain. He placed all these things in my path and I am thankful.

I acknowledge my broken humanity. I see what needs to be done in my soul and in my life, but I lay down my To Do’s. I ask Him to come into my moments. This New Year I draw a line between acts of faithfulness and acts of striving.

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.

Lamentations 3:22-23

What’s been hovering in your mind as you step into the New Year?

When You Look a Gift Horse…

SamI have a hard time accepting gifts from people. I’ve learned to say thank you over the years, but inside, I still feel weird. Unsettled. Even a little guilty. I didn’t do anything to deserve this gift, so it’s probably an error of sorts that it came to me.

Which leads me to this weekend. I went to a conference, and I had some prayer time in my car before walking in. I asked God what I needed to do, what I needed to know, before stepping into conference world. His response was simple. Receive. All He wanted me to do this weekend was receive.

This might have seemed like simple direction, but I found it super complicated. What did I need to do in order to receive? What was the action step before this receiving would take place? How could I work at receiving?

Clearly, I like to do something. I feel better when I do something. Comfortable. It stokes my pride, and I can keep on feeling good about myself. But receiving… Receiving has nothing to do with my capabilities. I’m just the one standing there, and the giver is the one in action.

I can approach my art like this. I want to do, do, do. I like action and movement and the “feel good” factor that accompanies this busyness. But I’m learning that I am overlooking a critical aspect of the artist’s life when I employ this mindset. Artists have to receive.

Ray Bradbury says it like this, “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Receiving. Filling. It can still sound passive to me, but I’m learning it’s anything but. It’s an active decision to still myself in a whirling world.  It’s a deliberate rest from doing, striving, working, trying to do better and better. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” God tells me. And this is only found by receiving, and creating out of that gush of gift.

So what do you think of all this receiving talk? How do you reconcile the idea of receiving with the actual production of art? How are the two related?

the romance of boundaries

heather“God respects our boundaries in many ways.  First, he leaves work for us to do that only we can do.  And he allows us to experience the painful consequences of our behavior so that we will change…It hurts him deeply when we don’t.  But at the same time, he does not rescue us; he wants us to work it our for our own good.  He will not violate our wish to be left alone, although he will plead with us to come back to him.

Second, he respects our no.  He tries neither to control nor nag us.  He allows us to say no and go our way…When people say no, he allows it and keeps on loving them.  He is a giver.  And one of the things he always gives is a choice…He respects boundaries.”  [Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend]

God loves me so much that he gave me a role to fill in life, one that I am perfectly tailored to do.  There were many years in my past when I believed I was worth nothing and had no work to do.  It was incredibly dehumanizing.  But then, as I came to realize that God had given me a purpose, I became afraid.  What if I couldn’t do the job?  What if I wasn’t doing it fast enough, or perfect enough?  When would I screw up so bad that God would have no choice but to abandon me?

I have screwed up.  Many times.  Many ways.  And I have effectively told God I would not be a writer.  And he respected my no.  And by doing so he gave me the chance to explore what I can do as a human and as an artist.  He’s allowed me to explore my boundaries so that I can take ownership of what he’s given me.

They say the best thing you can do is set the one you love free.  Let them come back to you.  God set me free.  And now, by choice, I’ve come back to him and back to my calling as a writer.  Lately, as I have begun to slowly embrace the idea of boundaries in my life, I’ve come to realize that God wants to use them to heal me and redefine my relationship with writing.  He wants to eradicate my fears and reignite my passions.  He wants to restore me.

God is not scared by my no, my confusion, fear or failure.  He is not surprised or thrown off.  He isn’t in a panicked rush to fix my mistakes.  He is steady, constant.  He is God.  The pressure is off me to produce perfect work.  I do not have to prove my worth.  I can simply be a human.  But what I think is so amazing is that in the moment I let go – be human, explore my boundaries, show God my pain – at that very moment my work is the best it can be and I am the person I want to be.  I think I’ve said this before, but God is as romantic as he is practical.  So now my question; how have boundaries helped you?

Give us this day our daily bread…

I ignore the words because I am not in need of bread.  What do I need?  I need time.  I need someone to help me balance the five hats I’m wearing daily.  I need resources.  I need peace.  I need inspiration.  I need time to play.  I need time to sleep.  I need energy.  Bread is the least of my concerns.  Samantha Bennett said a few things recently that I haven’t been able to shake out of my head.  She inspired this post.

The mere word Christian does not encompass the amazing complexity of my relationship with God.  But suffice it to say a few years ago I happily gave up all plans, goals and hopes I had for my future and told God I would do whatever He wanted me to do.  In the middle of Malawi I’d had a taste of what God had planned for me and I realized it was infinitely better than anything I could ever cook up.

So I set out on trying to live a new way, asking Him to give me the plans for my life.  And then Life crept in.  And I ended up wearing a monument length of hats on my head and I forgot to ask God what He had planned for me.  And the amount of what I was doing was throwing out my back.

This week in two minutes flat, Sammie is sitting cross-legged on the floor, explains how God will literally give me what I need every day for the work He planned out for me that day.  My daily bread.  And she says that she’s found God’s plan for the day typically is a shorter to do list than what she would have written out.

What?  My knotted, aching back eased for a moment.  He’ll give me all that I need. He knows what I need to do today.  That includes my art, my marriage, and my mundane (i.e. groceries, laundry, cleaning toilets).  The Bible says He is a good God.  His yoke is easy, his burden is light.  He is a God of order.  He is not the author of confusion.  He is Love.  If the God who created lions, tigers and bears and the galaxy that extends beyond the border of our skies…then can I trust Him to guide me through my days, through my art, through my needs?

Do you trust Him?  I mean really trust.  When push comes to shove?  And then in the quiet, in the absolute happy times, are you willing, do you crave asking Him to give you your daily work and your daily bread?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  I think you can tell I’m really processing this and seeking to work it out.

The Little Bits

I am a big-picture gal. All those details that make up that picture? Well, those are a wee bit more blurry to my mind’s eye than the end-game creation. In fact, the small, daily steps along the way can often feel mundane and ordinary and just straight-up boring.

Give me work that is adventure and color and depth and all that is big and beautiful, and well, I feel purposeful. I feel joyful. Mostly, I feel recognized, and for many, many years I have lived for such recognition. But this is a cycle that never quite ends–because you’ve never quite earned enough–and my do your legs ache from all that circular running.

I am learning that God is adventure and color and depth. And He is most certainly big and more beautiful than my human mind can swallow. So, in theory, a day lived with Him, however seemingly ordinary, is far from mundane. A day with Him is purposeful. Joyful. And isn’t that the elusive prize? Joy. In the midst of ordinary. And busyness. And pain and sorrow and shadows. Joy.

God is teaching me this in my art. That He can infuse the joy I crave into the grunt, detail work of actually making art. Because that’s the thing: creating is work. And, for me, it’s all the little bits, the daily bits, of this work that tug at my joy. And then I’m drained.

But I am understanding what it looks like to work alongside the One. To roll up my sleeves, look over, and see His rolled up too. This is so beautiful and so, so much to grasp. I’m still working on that. But there is joy in that kind of work too.

What about you? How do you feel about the little bits of work involved in creating? How do you stay inspired?

What do you choose to value?

For the past two years I have thought more about what I value and why than ever before in my entire life. After a while, I realized that my downward spiral of inner struggles was directly related to a few concepts, one of those being my lack of valuing and feeling valued. I had to face the fact that I valued work too much. More accurately, I looked to work for affirmation because I had disregarded other interests. Also, I did not outline boundaries for work, family, friends or anything. Because of the imbalance, I had lost finding pleasure in pretty much everything.

But guess what? I sought help and the Great Helper answered me. Gradually, He drew me back to my first loves in life (a.k.a. writing and acting) and is still helping me rediscover my inner child. I feel peace, love, thankfulness and a hope that I never had before. He showed me how to value all things new again. I value the near-three-mile run that my sister and I just conquered; I value my parents—who they are and all that they are doing to help me with Harrison right now; I value the time I make to read at night; I value my writing; I value my courage to try new things; I value a sound mind. The list could go on and on.

By becoming more aware of what we value and expressing it genuinely, we will be freer as artists. We must reject any belief that tells us “Why is this happening to me?” and “Well, this is just how life is”. We have the choice to take action and live out what we truly value. He gives us the courage to do it. But the choice is ours.

What do you value through specific action in your life right now?

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