What sparks inspiration …

Do you know what sparks inspiration for my writing? Word prompts. Photos. Deadlines. Rhythms.

When life is ideal and I’m focused and not procrastinating, I write with a pen in my journal in the morning, and I pull out my keyboard and type before I go to bed. Rhythms help me write. When @HopeWriters has an Instagram writing challenge, I pull out my iPad and keyboard and try to find inspiration, even if it’s right before I fall into bed (deadlines).

The fall season was very dry for me in writing… and I realized that I had not taken the time to stop, take notice of my #onceamonthspot, and to wax eloquent on the Artist’s paintbrush sometime in the middle of every month. So I took notice this month (3 times in fact) but it wasn’t until I was given a word prompt that I was “inspired.”

My front door view (#juliesmonthlyspot) sparks a whirlwind of emotion for me these days. It’s grounding for me to look out and see the tall strong pine tree, never swaying, always there anchoring my photo. The sky is sometimes a radiant blue, some days a shallow gray, some days a rainbow of sunsets colors, often filled with fluffy clouds, and always a reminder that my God is never-changing and at the same time He delights in giving me a variety of good gifts.

The trees change with the seasons and show me the beauty of new life in spring, the depth of color in the summer, the goodness of letting things go in the fall, and the crispness of hibernation in the winter. It reminds me that my life is seasonal and each season has its gifts to notice and appreciate. The season of teenagers is so hard and so delightful. The season of working almost full-time means less time baking for the fun of it. The season of processing past hurts and digging deep for the fruit of a healthier self. The season of giving myself grace. The season of sitting in the Psalms.

I don’t know how much longer I will have this front door view, and more this year than in years past, I look out the window and wonder if this is the last January sky I will see from this perspective. I wonder, and then I rest in the confidence I have in Jesus, in a God who gives good gifts and delights in abundant life. And I know the next season and the next front door view will have its own delights and beauty.

And there is a spark of anticipation in me.

#hopewriterlife #spark #justwrite #amwriting #chasingoutthedark #theministryofpayingattention

Renew Gratitude

His mercies are new every morning.

And His gifts are abundant with every sunset.

I used to hate autumn because I was so busy dreading that coming winter. But I have discovered that autumn is actually my favorite when I take the time to enjoy it, when I live in the present instead of worrying about the coming dark, cold, dreary winter. And lately I’ve noticed how much I enjoy the glorious beauty of a winter sunset, even though I long for more daylight. When I focus on the moment and just enjoy the glorious sky as it changes minute by minute, often glowing more radiant just before the sun sets, my heart and soul is renewed.

Paying attention is renewing. When I pay attention, it renews gratitude in my heart. My perspective shifts and I focus on what has me grounded right here, right now. I see what God is gifting me in the little things and the big things.

I am thankful for…
the morning cup of coffee and the man who makes it for me.
My girls who keep me up past my bedtime.
the beauty of the sky and the Creator who paints it different each night.
chocolate.
the Psalms.
My dishwasher.
Pay raises
Pillows and blankets
Tea
Sisters
Counseling
Writing

What are you paying attention to today? What renews you? What are you thankful for?

#hopewriterlife #bestill #renew #chasingoutthedark #Psalms #theministryofpayingattention #gratitude #1000gifts

Rest in Hope

If I don’t write about it, does that mean it didn’t happen? Or does it just mean that I didn’t take the time to process it and learn from it. I received a forced rest last week. The dreaded rest nobody wants, the one where you are holed up in a room all by yourself for a week or so. The one where (if you’re like me) you fret about work and home and everybody that “NEEDS” you. But when you are sick there isn’t much you can do about it, but try to rest.

I’m having a hard time pulling myself out of the slump the last 10 days put me in. It wasn’t a refreshing rest. It wasn’t soul-filling, body-healing, mind-renewing. Well, I suppose there was some body-healing or I’d still be in the sick room.

But this object at rest is having a hard time getting moving again. The brain is slow to connect the dots and return to what needs to be done. There is a place for grace and there is a place for a kick in the pants. And perhaps, I need to give myself a little more grace this week. So as I often do when my brain and body are weak, I stumble my way to the Psalms again and again. And I find His promises in David’s example in Psalm 16.

“I will bless the Lord, who has given me counsel, even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”

“Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices, my flesh also shall rest in hope.”

Rest in hope.

Rest and hope all tied up in the presence of Jesus. When school goes virtual. When you get sick. When the friendship goes sour. When thoughts overwhelm. When you experience great loss. When you lose your job. When your child is a prodigal. Whatever your circumstance, whatever is causing your thoughts to trouble you, whatever you have no control over, take it to the Lord. Sit in the presence of Jesus. Put your confidence in Him.

Be still and rest.

#hopewriterlife #bestill #Rest #chasingoutthedark #Psalms

H O P E

How can I stretch myself, I asked?
One whole week of free write poetry
Practice and play
Explore and attempt

Happy little poems
Or awkward stunted phrases
Poetry is what you make it
Endless possibilities

Have a little faith
Open the door of your heart
Pray for inspiration
Express your creativity

His blood
Our redemption
Poured out Grace
Everything according to His will

How deep his love lavished
On us with wisdom
Purposed in Christ
Enlightened to know His calling

Hallelujah!
Our God’s
Power
Exercised in resurrection

#HopeWriterLife #Hope #Writing #Poetry #amwriting #acrostic #writingcommunity #writingchallenge

In the middle of the messy story

The story is this… I thought I wanted to be a writer. I think I may still want to be a writer. But some days I can’t figure out what my story is, I can’t figure out why I want to share it, how, where, and when I want to share it. I can’t even figure out who needs to hear it.

When we tell our stories—humbly, authentically, with the intent to glorify God—it can encourage others. I always want my story to have a happy ending, I like it when it wraps up neatly with a bow. But tonight, I’m smack dab in the middle of messiness. And that’s not usually the best time to share. But here is what I do know.

Always, I want my story to remind myself, my kids, my circle of influence, that God is good, God is love, and God is in control . I know that when I have a breakdown, I can respond like David and go to the loving arms of my Father. Sometimes I ask Him, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?”  Or “why do the heathen prosper?” Or “why is my soul cast down?”

And I ask these questions until He reminds me, that … “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul” and I can experience peace because “You LORD, make me dwell in safety” and “He rescued me because He delights in me.”

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭13:5-6‬ ‭‬‬

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭‬‬

What story are you telling? How do you combat the questions and doubts with truth? What encouraging truth in your story can you share with us today?

#HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingchallenge #faithwriters #Psalms #JesusOnlyJesus

Speak truth, speak life, speak hope, speak Jesus.

We all have a voice. We’ve been given a circle of influence, our family, our community, our social media following, our church or neighborhood. How are we using our voice in that circle of influence? Are we speaking life into those with whom we come in contact? Are we using our voice for good or for evil? To build up or tear down? To encourage or cause harm?

I don’t think many would say they are intentional in being harsh and critical, in causing heaviness or anxiety to those around them, but out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What do your words, your actions, your social media posts promote?

Sometimes I go silent on my blog and social media because I don’t know what to say, I’m too busy to sort out thoughts, or I just need a break. But sometimes, it gets quiet because I’ve been taught—“if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Often it’s my heart that needs a readjustment, some hope, the truth of God’s Word, a good dose of Jesus.

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” 
Proverbs‬ ‭12:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The grass grows where it’s watered, the plants that are fed are the ones that prosper, and the thoughts you rehearse in your head are the ones that take root and grow and repeat. So when I feel the negativity taking over, when I find myself easily irritated by the little things, when I can’t seem to find the beauty in my everyday, I go back to the Psalms, I go back to the words of Jesus, I write the words of encouragement that I need to hear and I share it with others in hopes that I’m not the only one.

I plant my feet in the grass. I look at God’s creation. I beg Him to show me His daily presence. I give thanks for the wildflowers, I find beauty in the sunrises and sunsets, I marvel at the cardinals and bluebirds in my yard. I immerse myself in the Psalms and Proverbs, processing my emotions like David and seeking wisdom like Solomon. And then I use my voice to praise my Creator. I give thanks for the way He carries me. I believe and shout like Peter… “where else would I go? You, Jesus, have the words of Life.”

Speak truth, speak life, speak hope, speak Jesus.

How does being grounded in truth help you find your voice?

What good word can you share with others today?

#HopeWriterLife #Voice #JesusOnlyJesus #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingchallenge #faithwriters #YourWordsMatter

How we Perceive the Love of God

What does it take for one to perceive the love of God? How do we truly understand the magnitude of His love for us, that He laid down his life for us? What is it about the faith of a mustard seed—so tiny, so strong? Do you live your life aware of God’s never-ending, unconditional, love? Maybe you have never seen His love or been told about His gift for you.

I grew up in church and although I heard the message regularly, it didn’t sink in until I was a teenager. Even now, I’m prone to wander, prone to forget. Some days I am more aware of it than others. My focus isn’t always on Things Above, and in my finite mind it’s easy to forget the loving kindness of the Lord. But then I am reminded once again of His sacrifice for me, for you. He laid down his life for us.

He laid down His life for us.

When I think of my tendencies toward sin, selfishness, anger, impatience, it’s hurtful. It hurts God, it hurts those around me. My sin and your sin is ugly. It’s easy for me to see what my kids are doing wrong, or the sins scattered in the news of those in the spotlight. But sometimes I need to be reminded that it was MY sin that He died for. He paid the penalty for MY sin.

And when I perceive this, am made truly aware of this and understand the unfathomable gift of His sacrifice, it should draw me to live devoted to the kingdom of God. We should be ready and willing to lay down our lives for others, to love one another, to serve one another. This can only be done as we walk in the Spirit.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ‭‭

Galatians‬ ‭5:13-14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 

As I think on Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love, I understand that I must walk in step with the Spirit. How can I love my neighbor this week? How can I reach out in my community to show the love of Christ to strangers? How can I live for Jesus while at work? How can I serve my church family? How can I exemplify the fruit of the Spirit in my interactions with my children this week? How can I live in such a way that others see Jesus?

#Write28Days #Perceive #serve #loveoneanother #amwriting #writeitgirl #community #JesusOnlyJesus #HopeWriterLife #writeyourheartout #writingchallenge #soulstruggle #chasingoutthedark #Scripture

We were Not Made to Hibernate

Multiple times over that last few months I have told friends that I would like to hibernate until May. January and February were kinda hard. The never ending snow caused me much anxiety, because even though I grew up in Buffalo, driving in snow is never something I look forward to. I felt cooped up and claustrophobic, even though home is where I most wanted to be. I dreaded everything but work (it’s nice to have a job you enjoy).

Because my hand is still tender from the break I gave it in the fall, there was no interest in walking outside, getting in my once-a-year-sledding, or even helping with the shoveling. Even if I could have met a friend for coffee, I couldn’t motivate myself to leave the house once I was home from work. I dreaded phone calls and zoom meetings more than usual. Even if I had wanted to bake sugary treats and comfort foods, my broken oven prevented that joy. I was basically going through the motions, picking up my feet for just the next step.

But guess what? The sun still shines, the snow has begun to melt. I wrote EVERY SINGLE DAY in February. There is already hope of spring. And God didn’t make us to hibernate. This year with the pandemic has been hard, because we are meant to live in community, to be active, to be outside in creation, to hug people, to share smiles and have conversation. Hibernation is not what we were created for.

It’s something I have to tell myself every single day. I was made for relationship. It’s not always easy. It takes effort. It takes sacrifice. It takes dying to self, because self would be fine to hibernate. It takes trusting Jesus and listening to his prompting. It takes looking for opportunity to connect with others.

Introvert or Extrovert? Do you love winter or hate it? Prefer crowds or one-on-one? Indoors or Outdoors? We are all different, but we need each other. So hibernate for a day if you need to, but then reach out and connect with someone. You were made for community.

#Write28Days #Hibernate #amwriting #writeitgirl #seasonalaffectdisorder #community

God’s Divine Power Enables Me

I had a Mondayish Friday today. And I don’t like to say that because Mondays are a day that the Lord hath made and we should rejoice in it, just like any other day. What I mean to say is that I was/am in a slump. I am dragging, craving all the junk food, having the hardest time focusing on the tasks at work, and quickly losing my cool with my kids’ sassiness and selfishness. And experiencing a low-grade headache that is just persistent enough to let me know it’s there without completely knocking me out of commission. I was being short-tempered, sassy, and selfish myself.

But I made a choice. I knew that spending the evening slumped in front of the tv was not going to help my mood. Even if it was Friday family movie night. We ate dinner together, watched an episode of Wanda Vision, and then I excused myself to refocus and readjust my attitude. And through devotional and bible reading, I was quickly reminded that the devil wants me stuck in the dark, focused on the negative, believing the lies.

But God has enabled me to be free from sin, and that includes my own temper and selfish desires. The power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of me and has enabled me to raise from the pit of despair I sometimes let myself wallow in. Yes, I have divine power.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

I don’t get it right every day, and I will probably snap at my kids again before bedtime, and I will have to apologize for being self-focused at least 3 more times this weekend. But I know that time spent in God’s Word and an intentional effort to be thankful will change my negative thought patterns.

“For all the promises of God in him are “Yes”, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:20‬

Yes, He has promised eternal life and he has promised abundant life, and he has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. So I run to Jesus and ask him again for the wisdom and grace to face the refiner’s fire. And I give Him all the thanks and all the glory.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”‭‭ Psalm 103:1-5‬

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is Enable. Stop by and encourage a few more writers.

#Write28Days #FiveMinuteFriday #HopeWriterLife #enable #writeyourheartout #writingchallenge #soulstruggle #chasingoutthedark #Scripture #JesusOnlyJesus

Patience — Waiting without whining

Sometimes I have a hard time waiting on God. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I need the reminder that God works outside of time. He is never late. When I look at life situations that don’t look like I think they should, or when I am asking God for answers or change or rescue or victory, I am always in a rush. I want to see progress, results, clear direction.

I keep wondering if there is something more I should be doing, something different. I struggle between the line of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” How can it be both/and?

I struggle between the line of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” How can it be both/and? (#patience)

I have seen him be faithful. I have seen the benefit of His timing. I know that He has not forgotten me (or my friends and family) and the struggles we face. I just have a hard time waiting… patiently, without anxiety.

God doesn’t want me and you to be lazy. He’s not asking me to do nothing. But He does ask us to trust Him. Patience doesn’t mean doing nothing. It is facing the wait without complaint, being steadfast despite adversity. It is trusting His guidance as to when to move forward and when to stand still. It is praying and seeking counsel on how to support others without enabling sin. It is being content where I am but also looking for future opportunities God has prepared for me. It is waiting in faith for God’s miracle in the lives of those I cannot change. How can I remain strong when it feels like things are crumbling around me?

In the New Testament, patience is often listed or linked closely with hope and love. Living out an example of patience means holding on to hope, walking in love, trusting Jesus. And the only way I know how to do that is to return to the truths of His word whenever I am tempted to think that we’ve reached the end of the line and there is no hope.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭27:14‬‬‬

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”‭‭ Psalm 37:7‬‬‬

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬‬‬

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:25‬‬‬

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”‭‭ Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23, 25‬ ‬‬

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬‬‬ (#patience #write28days)

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #Scripture #Hope #Patience #writeyourheartout #soulstruggle