So there was this time when I had a blog that I wrote on three times a week for years.  I was a really fun time most of the time.  I had friends from all over the world that came to my own little space in the Interwebs just so they could read what I had to say.  Which is kind of ridiculous, but it still happened for one reason or another.

And then I think I lost my words.

Or maybe I’d lived them all.  Whatever the case, I needed to take some time off to live some life so I could feel like writing again.  I know that may sound a little bit weird, but I was just tired. I was tired of trying to think about things and speak about things that I had only minimal experience with.  This last year or so has been really fun, though, and I’ve got some plans for us.

I’ve decided to shut down my other blog, Run With The Big Girls.  Everything that I did over there can be done over here.  And we’re going to do it?  5K to help raise funds for an adoption?  Absolutely.  Fun ideas to help raise money for mission trips?  Check.  If we can dream it up here, we can do it.

I hope you’re going to want to hang out with me again, because I think we’re going to make some good changes here.

I’m game if you are, friends.

For The Love

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I’ve talked a few times on here about this really cool opportunity I’ve had to be a part of a book launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For The Love.  I even had this crazy chance to write an endorsement for the front of there book.  And they published it.  This has been a really fun last few months.  If you haven’t checked out the book yet, you can go here to check it out!

But for you guys it’s just getting ready to start.  See, I’ve read all of the goodness wrapped up inside this book.  And when I say goodness, I mean one minute you’re going to be crying, and then the next minute your husband or friend or coworker is going to be looking at you funny because you’re laughing out loud.

Jen just has this way of speaking to you, regardless of who and where you are.  And regardless of how you see yourself, you can’t read one of her books and not feel loved.  It just oozes out of her words.

You need to read this book.

You don’t need to read it because I’m telling you to.  You don’t need to read it because something I’ve written is in the front of the book (although that’s an excellent reason).  You need to read this book because there is something in there just for you.  Maybe it’s the chapter about wearing leggings as pants and how it’s just not right.  Maybe it’s the chapter on dealing with difficult people.  Maybe it’s her thank you note section.  But I promise there is something in there for you.

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So that’s why I’m giving away two copies.  Fresh off the press.  Hardback.  Just for you.  All you have to do is share this post and leave a comment here on the blog telling me why you need this book.  I’ll pick a winner at random Wednesday evening and announce it Thursday morning!  I like a quick turnaround.  So quick!  Tell me why you need this book!  And don’t say it’s just because I’m telling you so. 😉

Brave

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brave

Over the years my definition of bravery has changed.  Bravery used to mean riding up on a white horse, killing the villain and saving the damsel in distress.  Today, though, I’m more of the persuasion that most of the time bravery is just showing up.

You don’t have the words to say to make things better, but you show up anyway?  Brave.

Your friend has been through hell and back, and there is not one thing you can do.  But you show up anyway.  Brave.

You go sit in silence with your people as they mourn.  Brave.

You sit and allow yourself to feel ALL THE FEELINGS that somehow seem to take your breath away from out of nowhere.  You could distract yourself, but yet you enable yourself to feel and be vulnerable.  Brave.

I think for a long time I thought bravery was the absence of fear.  But now I don’t think you can be brave without feeling fear at the exact same moment.  If there were no fear or uncomfortableness to overcome, there would be brave.  There is no bravery without fear.

So let’s be brave together.  Let’s show up and be there for our people.  Let’s not ignore the feelings just because they’re uncomfortable or not always awesome.

Because when we’re vulnerable and willing to admit that we don’t have control over a situation or we have no words to say, and we just show up?  God moves.  He moves in our stillness.  He moves in our loneliness. He moves when all the feelings just come from out of nowhere.  He moves in our vulnerability and makes us brave.  He moves in our uncertainty and makes us brave.

“You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made
You make me brave
You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves”

Man, it’s been a while. Last time I wrote a post for here there was snow on the ground. Right now it’s 84 degrees. Oops.

One thing I’ve learned over the last few months? God has a funny way of reminding you that he’s still in the background working even when we don’t see it sometimes.

So in early March Jen Hatmaker put out a post on her blog asking for people to sign up if they wanted to be part of her book launch team.  I hadn’t been part of one before, so I thought, Why not.  Go for it.

So I did.

Turns out so did 5,000 other people from around the Internets.  I don’t even remember now how I found out, but somehow I found out I had made the team.  500 out of 5,000 were picked, so I felt pretty honored to be a part of the team.  There was a private Facebook page started and all kind of fun stuff.  We all got an early digital copy of the book, so I dug in.

Let me tell you, this book is so good.  For The Love: Fighting For Grace in a World of Impossible Standards.

But I’ll be talking more about that later, closer to the time of the release in August.  Keep watching for it.

But once they announce to the group of 500 of us, they also had another fun surprise.  As it turns out, Jen didn’t want famous people to write her endorsements in the front of her book.  That turned out to be part of our job for the book launch team.  So after reading the book, I sat down to write.  I mean, you’ve read my stuff here.  How do you fit ALL THE FEELINGS into 4-5 sentences about a truly great book?

Another couple months went by, and I found out last week that my endorsement go picked to be in the front cover of the book along with 24 of the other launch team.

I may have screamed a little bit.

You guys.  If all goes according to plan, I will be officially published.  Nope.  It’s not my book.  But I can’t imagine anyone else’s book I would rather my name be in.

I can’t even…

snowThere is just something about snow that just makes everything a little bit quieter.  The road seems a bit softer as you’re driving along.  There are usually fewer cars and the normal sound of the road is replaced by a soft crunching sound.

When you’re standing out in it, the snow swirling all around you, there’s just this sense of reverence, I think.  People tend to stay in more than they run around.  Families get all bundled up and go out and play together while the snow.  It just kind of lets us off the hook from some things we were going to do and gives us some incentive to relax and have a little fun.

It’s Lent now, so the quiet seems to just fit.  I hadn’t really put much thought into what I was going to do to celebrate it.  And then it snowed. And there was quiet.

I need more quiet in my life.  Yes.  I live alone.  But when I’m home, there is always noise.  I just need to make room for more silence.  So I’ve been turning off my television by 8:30 every night.  And the first week I found myself in bed or asleep in my recliner by 9:00 every evening.

The noise is just a filler, a distraction to keep my soul tied up in knots with no room to breathe.  The silence is a place where I can just exist.  There are no expectations on me.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Maybe I’ll read a little more of Bird by Bird.  Maybe I’ll finally go through this stack of magazines.  And maybe I’ll finish cleaning out my closet.  And then, of course, bed is always pulling me in after a long day at work.  And any of that works.

Quiet is healing for wounds we never knew we had.

Honey for our souls.

I hope you have some time to go out and enjoy the snow.  But while you’re out there, I hope you have a moment where all you can notice is the quietness of it all and be reminded at what a gift it is to you.

Speaking of Less

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Can I tell you how much I hate cleaning and clearing and organizing?  I’m just not good at it.  But this week I’ve been making a conscious effort to go through one of my extra bedrooms that has just been a store room for things I didn’t know what to do with.  I started with the closet.  I figured that if I could clear some of the junk out of the closet in there, that would leave me some extra space to hide some of the stuff that’s been sitting out in the middle of the room for a while.  I would have room to put an extra bed in there for nieces and nephews and guests.  It’s been too messy for far too long.

But it was sitting behind closed doors.  I didn’t have to look at it unless I needed to get my vacuum or mop or extra toilet paper.  My home is seriously lacking on storage space, so I just used a whole room that I hadn’t been previously using for storage.  It was really ridiculous.  Last night I found a whole Rubbermaid storage container filled with empty CD cases.  I had transferred all the CDs to a holder and put them on the computer, but I think I thought for some reason I might like to keep the cases and the booklets.  So I threw all of them in…and DVD cases into this container, and it’s been sitting in my closet taking up room for three years.

Why does it take me so long to clear out the mess?  I sit back and watch it pile up until I just can’t handle it anymore and then just start throwing everything away.  Things that three years ago were priceless mementos of which I couldn’t let go are now just things that are in my way of moving forward.

See what I did there?

It’s annoying.  It can sometimes be a bit painful, but it’s necessary.  These things I’m holding onto were part of who I was.  Some of them will move forward with me, but most of them will remain in the past…and the burn pile.

So this week has been a little productive.  I’m a few cans of paint and a lot of sewing projects getting organized away from getting this room ready to be a place to welcome friends and family into.  Or to turn it into a great big huge storage closet for all my projects.

Or both.

I think the past plays a huge part in our future…as long as it stays in the past and we’ve learned from it.  And because I sometimes (read always) tend to hang on a bit longer than necessary, it can slow progress a bit.  But moving forward is so good.

I’ve been reading a book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.  Sigh.  It is shaking things up within me quite a bit.  The premise is she does a sort of fast for 7 months.  Each month is a different thing.  For the first month she only ate 7 different foods.  The second month she only wore 7 articles of clothing.  The third month she gave away 7 items a day.  The fourth month is all media, and is the month I’m currently reading.  It is all quite fascinating.  We’re so inundated with everything around us telling us we need more stuff and we need to do more stuff and eat more, it’s overwhelming.  Sometimes it takes going without for a little bit to realize that we really aren’t without.  Just with Less.  And Less is good.

Anyway, when I’m finished with the book, I will let you all know what I think of it for sure.  It is definitely making me think about things in a new way.  Which is why I love to read and learn.  I hate staying stuck in the same mindset when things around me are changing.  It’s a good way to become out of touch with the world around me.

So tonight I’m cleaning.  Tomorrow I’m cleaning.  And soon I’ll have a place set up to keep moving forward.

I can’t wait.

Less

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I haven’t written anything on here since July 24.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried.  I’ve sat down on average about once a week or so with the best of intentions, but the words haven’t come.  At least not ones I wanted to share with you.  2014 was hard.  And good.  And really hard.  And really good.

I chose the word “beloved” last year to focus on.  Just to rest in the fact that Christ calls me beloved.  Some days it was the easiest thing in the world to believe.  Some days it was the furthest thing I felt to be true.  But one thing I’ve learned over the years?  Just because I feel it, doesn’t mean it’s true.

2014 was hard.  And good.  And really hard.  And really good.  And it’s okay.  I think some years are just that way.  I think a lot of times the really good come with the really hard.  I think it’s part of the journey.

So when I sat down to come up with a word to embody 2015, I took a lot into account.  I have some things I’d like to accomplish this year.  I usually sit down and think about what kind of word I would want to personify the year.  This year it found me.

Less.

I was talking to my friend, Tracee, about it when she asked me to explain a little further.  At that point I hadn’t put much thought into it at all, but I just said this:  “Just less junk.  Less spending.  Less debt.  Less weight.  Less pride.  Less drama.  In order to receive more.  More freedom.  More love.  More community., etc.”

And it has stuck with me.  I can’t shake it.

So far in 2015 less has meant better budgeting.  Less has meant, just today, saying no and canceling my trip to Austin, TX to go to the IF Gathering in February.  And it makes me sad.  But after two months of struggling with whether or not to go to the conference, I finally feel 100% at peace with the decision.  I feel sad, but at peace.  It was just the right thing to do with all the circumstances.

I have a feeling less is going to mean saying no to good things in order to make way for better things.  And I do believe that.  I believe there are incredible things going on with IF Gathering, and I would love to be there with every fiber of my being.  However, with my circumstances and my circle of influence, will it make a greater impact for me to go to Austin and experience the conference first-hand or will it be better for me to stream it from home and have some friends over to experience it with me?  One thing I’ve found is that just about everything is better with your friends and community.

So I’m saying less.

And I’m hoping for so much more this year than I ever have.  

Overflow

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So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Some days…some days are hard.  Just that.  Just plain hard.  And there are a million little reasons and a couple big why they’re so hard.  There are just times that I would just much rather stay in bed than to get up and feel like I fighting the same battles that I have been fighting for years.

I told my friend tonight that I’m just tired.

And I am most definitely not overflowing with thankfulness these days.  I don’t really know why.  It’s not a bad season.  It’s just a bit dry as of late.

Good things are happening and good changes coming around the bend, and I let the wind blow me whichever direction it chooses.

…Continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him…overflowing with thankfulness…

Sigh.

I get it more wrong than right most of the time.  I fight daily hourly with all the don’ts that were part of my youth that I miss all of the go and dos.

Overflowing with thankfulness.

I think I’m going to start heading that direction now.  Go and do.  Love and be thankful.   I just kinda feel like that’s what it’s more about than do not.

So today is a new day of thankfulness.  It’s going to overflow.  Thankful in the good, bad and just plain frustrating things.  And it will probably be harder than I’d hoped and take longer than I want, but I can choose to be thankful, so that’s what I’m going to do.

There are few things out there that just make me feel alive.  Sometimes I don’t even realize it until the drive home and I’m just buzzing.  Or there are times when right in the midst of things I have to step back and make a mental note to myself to make sure I realize that these are the things that a good life is made up of.

Give me a good conversation any day of the week.  I don’t care if we agree or disagree, but as long as we can have a civil conversation about things that matter and go below the surface, I love it.

Give me a good book I can share with a friend.  We can have conversations about how it should have ended.  We can talk about how cute we think the hero in the book is.  We can talk about how the movie is never going to live up to it.

Give me a chance to be able to introduce two friends to each other and watch them hit it off just like I knew they would.  I love connecting people.

Give me an opportunity to sit and talk and brainstorm with you about how you want to run your business or how you want to improve in an area of your life.  I think this is my love language.

Give me a rainy day away from people and noise and a good book or an Internet connection.  I know it goes against  the rest of them.  I am most definitely an extrovert.  But I also have some introverted tendencies, and those tendencies usually lead me to a day or so a week by myself reading a book or doing some writing or just going to bed early.  Sometimes my recharging comes with good conversation and sometimes it comes with quiet.  I’m learning to embrace both.

Give me something to create.  Tell me what you want, and I”ll go about trying to create it.

Give me Jesus.  Yeah.  I know this one is a bit cheesy.  But the more I’m walking through this season the more I’m learning that He is really all I want or need these days.  My life, His will.  And I am loving the process of walking that out.  It’s most definitely not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I do love it.

So what are some things that you are loving on these days?

What just makes your insides buzz with excitement? 

A Bit Muddy

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My heart longs for different places than these.  I can’t help it.  It’s this restless wandering spirit that takes over at times.  And because of decisions, good and bad, from my past, here is where I feel stuck.  It’s like my legs are knee-deep in the mud, and I’m fighting a losing battle.  You know how it is when you’re walking through mud.  The further you go, the more the mud cakes around you until it keeps you down.  You fee like you just can’t move any longer.

But still somehow you break free.  The mud dries and starts to break off, and you leave clumps of your journey all along the way.  I leave a little bit of me in the mud, but the rest is scattered all along my path.  The parts that are left in the mess are the parts that weren’t strong enough to break free.  Those were the parts that had to be torn from me because maybe I was a little too scared to let go.  But now they’re gone, and I feel lighter now.

I know that there are still things I’m holding on to. 

My shoes are more than little muddy.  It’s a process, this cleansing.  Some days you’re walking along just fine on the path before you, and other days you’re thigh deep in the mud and have no clue how to escape.

It seems on the days that I most want to run, I feel stuck.  But I don’t think I want to run because it’s the right thing for me.  I think I want to run because it will take me away from the tearing away of the things that are holding me down.  I’d rather run away and hold tightly to the good than be stuck for a bit, fighting my way through while I let go and run for the best.

It’s a painful journey, this one.  But it’s full of joy.  And hope.  And tomorrow I will see the sun again.  Some of the fruit will be pruned, and some will continue to grow for the time being.  So I keep trudging through the muck because I know I’m gaining strength in the mud and I know there will be some times that it will be a bit harder to walk.  I will need that strength.  And I continue to walk because I know that at some point it will be easier.  The mud may never change, but I will be stronger.

And I will leave a piece of me everywhere I go in this journey.  

It’s nice to know that God will never waste an experience if we give it all to Him.  It’s not my strength anyway that keeps me going.  And He chooses the places where my story stays behind me, and He chooses the places for me to stick.  So for this Type A, controlling personality, this is a lesson I have to keep learning.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Just keep walking.  Even when you feel like you can’t take another step.  I think it’s the strength you gain through the effort that is more important than the progress.

As for me, I think I’m supposed to stick a little while longer.  And if you’ll have me, I think I’ll start writing back here a little more through the sticking and trudging and through the journey.  I’ve missed you, friends.