31 That’s a wrap!

Whew! I took up the challenge to write 31 days.  By no means did I blog each day for those 31 days.  However, I choose to not quit.

This week’s silence has much to do with the unexpected stressors of life. But in a still moment this weekend, I realize that this gives me life.

This space shared with you is a wonderful adventure.

This empty canvas to paint upon is where my heart is free to express.

If there is one thing I have learned through this challenge it is that I am wired to write.  Some days I would sigh looking at the academic paper I knew I had to write before I allowed myself to write in this place.  Why?

Because my heart was yearning to share with you. It was desiring to create something authentic.

We must feed the artist within, otherwise he slumbers and dies with lost potential.  Between the work hours, the obligations, the housework, the meetings, the school work we must fight to keep the artist alive in us.

IMG_1806.jpg

There is a message stored up in each of us.  And listening ears are waiting to hear.  Seeing eyes are waiting to gaze upon the beautiful expression.

What is the message you carry?  What is the artful expression about to explode out of you?

May your unique expression stir so violently in you that you cannot ignore it any longer.  May we be brave to let loose the artist within. And may we take the time to encourage others to not look like anyone but who they were meant to be.

May we reflect the image engraved on our hearts.

Day 28-29:: Simply impactful

I said with obligation, “Hey. How’s it going?”

-Hesitation- And no true answer.

“You’re doing alright?” I say, as if to cue him.

He gives me an honest answer. And I sympathize.

I do not feel much like talking.  Honestly I am only an inch above defeated.  I feel discouraged, not bubbly.

As Benjamin is scanning my grocery items he looks up, “Sorry if this sounds weird, but you seem like a cool person.”

What?! Me?! Does he know who he is talking to?  I had a million reasons up until that point I felt incredibly uncool.  In fact I was feeling lonely and burned out.

Totally uncool like I questioned, “what do you mean? Like calm?” People tell me I am calm all the time.  So if he tells me oh yea that is what I meant, then I have permission to go back to my hole of discouraging thinking.

“No. Cool.”

I was speechless.  Permission denied.  He was so sure.

I walked out of the store, after also not so cool-like asking for the stream of coupons he had behind the counter.  I wanted to cry as soon as the night air hit my face.

He made my night and he’ll never know it.

I had no more reason to wallow in woe-is-me’s because his words pulled me up by my bootstraps in the most unusual of ways.

I was deemed cool.  But it was not that which made tears come to my eyes.  It was because I was seen and encouraged in a moment when I felt unseen and discouraged.

IMG_1112.JPG

This happened over a few weeks ago, but it has stuck with me.  His words popped my bubble of stinking thinking.  And for that I was very grateful.

May we choose to rethink how we are thinking this week.  And may we challenge other people to do the same by saying “weird sounding” encouraging statements.  May we reach out, going beyond the norm and hug people with our words.

Day 26-27:: Fiery boots

Summer seems to be in a war with fall to gain a few more minutes of glory here in the South.  Being a warm sun loving babe, I do not mind one bit.

Well, except for the fact that I am ready for bonfires and boots.

Bonfires means an excuse to get together with others. For some reason, fire makes conversation easier.  There is not so much focus on what to discuss, but rather all those gathered can focus on being in the moment around the warmth.  Wine. Fire. S’mores. Its common place where we can be at ease.

IMG_1998.jpg

And well as for boots, they just make you feel powerful.  Well at least for me.  I feel like I stand taller and more confident.  I am ready to conquer whatever the day may bring.  I have something to offer, and here I go putting it out there for the world to see.

To be more open.  To be more sure.  A fire.  Some boots.

Its funny how we associate things with some of our inner desires.

As you begin this week, may you find the time to be self-aware of what it is you are desiring.  Then with confidence and openness may you pull on your boots to take up the challenge to go after those things you desire, want, or need.

Maybe the first step is simply acknowledging your need or your desire.

May we all find the courage this week to partner with a Good Father who desires to give us good gifts and provide for those things we need.

 

 

Day 21-22:: The unruly discipline

Black Balsam’s Knob- Pisgah Forest

Did you know that solitude has been considered a spiritual discipline for quite some time now? 

And to think most of us consider solitude to be a priced possession. One minute without the kids at your heels. A whole hour when the phone is not ringing with business. An uninterrupted lunch break. You name it and claim those in between moments. 

I’ve been hiding away for the past few days.  I was uneasy about making this trip alone.  I was torn because I was desiring some companionship.  Not only desiring it but feeling like it may be something I was needing. 

However I was craving adventure, the kind that I semi plan and semi just fall into. Needless to say, much of my time has been spent in solitude.  

I’ve been watching Holy Spirit fill gaps that need filling and leaving space for some breathing room.  

What I’ve found is solitude feeds the discipline of prayer.  Prayer being both listening and speaking. 

Solitude enhances my hearing. And hearing makes me hungry for more. 

It’s hard to fit solitude into our busy fast paced culture. 

I believe there is a gate to solitude that many people never make it in through, even though they set out to. 

At the gate of solitude there are travelers’ packs, weapons, walking sticks, and even some shoes.  At the gate of solitude we are invited to take off our armor and for the brave, our self-sufficiency.  Many turn and walk away clinging to their possessions broken-hearted they could not enter without them. It’s a shedding of pride and defensiveness at the gate. But for those who leave their belongings, accepting the invitation to enter, they themselves are sending out their own invitation.  “Come do what you want to do. Here I am.  Listening. Waiting.”

Day 19-20:: Break for fall

Yesterday the final script for me was my eyes batting off sleep as my head was a bit achy from the weekly overload.

Some days my head gets so full that it literally feels like built up pressure.  I look in the mirror waiting for the stem to spit out of my ears.

But it never does.

At moments, I want to be able to tilt my head over and shake some of the memos, thoughts, to-dos, expectations out of my head.

Still, it does not work.

Maybe my brain will become so full that it’ll start oozing out my ears. Tragic I am sure. But the pressure will be released.

Debunked. Only in my craziest imagination.

FullSizeRender.jpg

This week I gave myself a break from some things that have become tedious and tasked for this season.

Besides some scribbled in appointments and a very rough check list, the pages of my planner stayed blank.  Its wonderful to have this tool in this season.  But it is just that, a tool, necessary for sanity.  Im not the cutesy planner chick.  Im the spur-of-the-moment afraid-of-committing-free-flowing kind of girl.

I gave myself permission not to plan out my days to a T this week.

I’ll admit it…I wore the same outfits a couple times this week. Outfit planning did not take my time.  I looked nice, not like I slept in a stable or anything.

I gave myself permission to be simple.

Seeing that the surf was going to be above par, I set the alarm the night before for early o’clock.  I woke reluctantly but soon excitement stirred.  The sunrise was breath-taking. Absolutely worth waking to see the rays kissing the waves.  A friend and I hung in the water until the world woke up.

I gave myself permission to be spontaneous and do something I love.

IMG_2205.JPG

I know this will not be my new norm.  My planner will be full of colorful markings and check lists.  Not all mornings will allow a spontaneous sunrise surf.

But I am still gleaning from a valuable perspective because I gave myself permission to do some things a bit differently this week.

I can appreciate certain disciplines more. Some disciplines even have become second nature. I saw where adjustments need to be made to take care of myself better.

Maybe your soul could use the break from a couple of tasks in your life.

Are you willing to give yourself permission to step away for a couple days from the to-do list, the planning, or whatever may be needing to air out a bit?

This is not time to have this big introspective ahh ha moment.  It is literally permission for a break.  The ahh ha moment may come and it may not, but do not force it.

Just break for fall.

Day 17-18:: Lowcountry Lights

The time of year where the sun shines different and the moon makes an early appearance.

Mountains with their orange, yellows, and ambers whisper a subtle invite of get-a-way adventure.

Tea time comes earlier in the evenin’ under orange sky and brisk air.

Kitchens smell of cinnamon and spice as the oven toasts the baker’s cheeks.5FF40FEC-DF68-45B2-A051-B4230D397017.JPG

Mornings clothe the jogger in a jacket, yet noon day reminds him of summer’s end.

Rows of pumpkins strewn out for the picking, artists awaiting their canvas.

Sea breeze feels crisp as the shoreline runs with a promising break.

Farmers take their last pick and make their beds for another prize.

Leaves crunch under stout young men’s feet as they wrestle to the ground.

Rains pause for a brief moment, suspended in clouds until looming frigid months.

Chocolate covered sticky hands are wiped on levi’s before mom can wipe up the mess.

IMG_0539.JPGTired eyes fall asleep as embers fade, smokey perfume lingering ’til mornin’

Neighbors huddled around picnic tables shuckin’ and sharing a beer.

Pecans fought for as squirrels scamper and grandmas whisk.

Porches fill with friendly faces, hammocks hang from palms with bundled beans swinging.

Poured over with gravy shrimp lay on fluff, served morning and night.

‘Tis the time of year the light hits the Lowcountry on her softer side.

 

 

 

Day 15-16:: A mirror like no other

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.

-Albus Dumbledore

One of my favorite quotes of all Harry Potter history.  And yet, not one of my favorite realities.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, let me fill you in on this golden bit of it.  I believe we can learn something from the encounter that unfolds.

In the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, roaming around school at night, Harry comes across a mirror like no other.

The Mirror of Erised curiously startles him at first as figures are shown in the mirror that in real life are not standing beside him.  He becomes enamored by the mirror as he recognizes the other figures to be his deceased family who he never got to meet.  In the reflection he sees his mother and father, of whom he has always longed for their affection.

On night, Harry plops on the floor in front of the mirror with all intent of remaining there for the night staring at the reflection of his parents. Dumbledore appears interrupting these plans.  He comes to sit with Harry to explain the mirror’s mystery.

Dumbledore explains that it is a mirror that shows the deepest desires of the beholder’s heart.  And he warns that many have wasted away before the mirror staring into the reflection, not knowing if what it reflects is real or possible.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”

Somedays all I would like more is to sit on that floor in front of my own Mirror of Erised, staring at dreams and desires.

I am a dreamer.  A creative.  A thinker.  My imagination has color.

FullSizeRender.jpg

But then there is the nitty-gritty of the process in fulfilling dreams.  And sometimes I just frown at the process.  But the process is where the living happens.

I heard someone say that God is not so caught up in our destination as much as he is concerned about our journey.

There is a tension between dreaming and walking towards those dreams.  Walking towards the dreams requires tenacity, hard work, support, and feeling uncomfortable.

We get nowhere by sitting in front of our mirrors.  It may feel like the safest place, but we will surely waste away there.

It takes bravery and sometimes risk to walk towards our dreams.  It’s scary at times.  It seems impossible, especially when insecurity comes creeping.

But it is living.

It is worth it.

There in the journey of working out our dreams and desires, is where we experience life.  The good news is we do not have to journey alone. Holy Spirit joins us every step of the way, and we can lean into that reality.IMG_1289.JPG

May we bravely step forward trusting He is for us, and that the desires of our hearts will be realized as we walk day by day.

Day 14:: Sunday’s Loop

So maybe you are like me and every once in a while you desire to wander in the pages other people are reading, videos others are watching, musings people are writing.

Maybe you are in search of something to wander into and get a bite of insight, a laugh, or an inspirational insight to chew on.  Here is a list of a few things I’ve been getting into lately.

  • With a paint brush as a bookmark–why I don’t know, but finding it rather fitting–I am very slowly, oh so slowly, reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  Today’s take away:

To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ. William Blake tells us that our task in life is to learn to bear God’s “beams of love.”  How often we fashion cloaks of evasion–beam-proof shelters–in order to elude our Eternal Lover.  But when we pray God slowly and graciously reveals to us our hiding place, and sets us free from them.

  • Ran across this treasure today.  It was a sweet convicting reminder that it is worth it to continue on to feel better.  Some days require music and movement in order to shake the blues and remain present.  Check it out:

A Two-Step Formula for Feeling Better When I’m Down by Aimee Kollmansberger

  • Master’s student who loves to read multiple books at a time, none of which are textbooks…welcome the invention of audiobooks!  You’d think I’d have caught on to this by now. Nope.My current listen: Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.  But as of today, I have a list waiting for these ears 🙂

IMG_2190.JPG

    • This next post got me.  It stuck with me this week, almost as if it was an invitation into the scene.  Thankful for this friend and writer.  If you are looking for wit, humor, raw honesty, and the moments we overlook in life, I dare you to explore more on this blog.  Read slowly and enjoy.Haiku by Septemberwisteria
    • Need some music to move to this week?  I am so looking forward to digging into Johnnyswim’s new album “Georgia Pond”.  I saw them last year here in the Holy City and they teased us with this song.  So happy it made the cut:

Here’s to a new week! May you face it boldly, with every intention of tackling moments with passion and inspiration.

Peace.

Day 12-13:: Dimly

Its been a battle to keep my head above the stinkin’ thinkin’ water line the past couple of days.

Did you see what I just wrote there?  That has a lot to do with the issue at hand.  Maybe you did not catch the subtle implied meaning.  It’s been my battle to keep my head above…

A sinking person trying to save themselves…hmm…something just does not add up.

The Lord extends his hand willingly to pull me up out of the water, I just must recognize that he does so.

We can get so wrapped up in making things happening, taking control, putting out fires, planning.  Before we know it we are in over our heads, desperately needing a break from the hustle, the anxiety, the competing, the demands.

See his hand?

He sees it all.

He sees beyond our current situation.  We feel like it is the biggest deal in the world.  But to Him it is a pinpoint in our story.  A moment he desires to be present with us.

IMG_1968.JPG

He sees it all.  But we see dimly.

We cannot make out the future, we cannot control it neither.  Our present we only speculate about.

I love how in the book of John, the author says that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was speaking about until after his resurrection.  The disciples could not even grasp what was going on in the current moment.  It was not until much later that they understood the significance of Jesus’ words.

I’ve been there.  I’ve not understood why things look a certain way only to see later how God was moving in me and around me.

He sees it all.  And there He is reaching out his hand.

This weekend, may we find His hand being extended to us as one that is trustworthy, stable, and strong.

Day 11:: The middle, man!

“The middle is messy”, Brené Brown speaks of the grit of our processes, “but it’s also where the magic happens.”

Honestly for me the middle is often times frustrating.

As I sat on the dock tonight, drinking a beer, and brain dumping on to my journal pages, I noticed the dock needed some work.  My mind wandered over thoughts of pressure washing it, building a new bench table, staining the dock.  Of course, I realistically reeled my thoughts in.  I am just a renter.  Then I recalled shamelessly, the countless other projects I have yet to finish.

Once upon a time, that dock was not there.  All there was in that space was marsh and open water.  No rusty worn out bench, no place to tie off a crab pot, no lights, no piles to hammock from.  The dock did not appear out of nowhere.  One day nonexistent, then next inviting to be ventured out on.

There was a middle.

IMG_2177.JPG

Building a dock is quite the undertaking.  You are placing piles into ewwy gooey pluff mud.  This alone takes the right machinery and for most people, the right skilled technician. Then there is the carpentry behind each and every board, the electrical behind the switches and the lights, and the list goes on.  Even before any of this, there has to be approval from the “gods of the local tidal ways”.

Sounds perfectly straight forward.  Easy. One days planning, one days work. Absolutely not!

Sounds a lot like most of my seasons.  There is work.  There are zigzag patterns I walk.  I hit obstacles.  I want to give up, but the vision keeps pushing me forward.

As you and I wrestle in this season, may we remember the middle is messy. May we take a step outside our situation for just long enough to see that there were other seasons.  We entered and left those seasons, but between the beginning and the end there was an emotionally charged middle.

If we can get that perspective the frustration, the negativity, or whatever else we may be experiencing is transformed into forward moving hope.

May we have the strength and courage to walk out the middle with confidence, faith, and security.

He is good.  He is for us.  He will deliver us.  He is waiting for us to ask: “God what are you doing right here in this moment”.