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Monday, October 29, 2018

Better Together

So, we've talked about moments within the story and the soundtrack of our lives. We've talked about changes in plot and unexpected events.

Every main character has to have a sidekick... or a tribe.

We weren't made to live life alone.

We were made for relationship, and that is evident in everyone's story.

Try to do things alone, and you may be ok for a little while...

but in Ecclesiastes we are told that two are better than one, so that we can help each other up.

It's an old cliché, but we are better together.

That means that when I am weak, you may be strong... and vice versa. Just like that old song "Lean on Me".

I struggle with this concept because I'm so socially awkward. I want friends, y'all. Really I do. I get some of that envy going when I see people post pictures on social media of them with all their tribe going to the movies or out to dinner or just hanging out...

because even though I have tons of friends on Facebook, and lots of social acquaintances who I speak to and smile at, I don't have a tribe.

I do have a collection of friends from over the years who I am fairly certain I could call if I needed them and they would help me out. They know my story and have played key parts throughout... but I struggle with needing people.

And I don't always know what to say. For crying out loud, I'll see someone I've known for years and not have a clue how to strike up a conversation.

That's one of the things I say every year when I make new years resolutions... I'm going to make friends... and then I quickly get busy in my own life.

Being together means you are just that... invested in each other.

It's no longer about your story... but about theirs, too.

How they are interconnected... but how you can help theirs be a bestseller.

This is a post in write 31 days, using free write prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt is together.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A New Song... or An Old One

Every movie has a soundtrack. That soundtrack often provides clues for what is coming next... the crescendos during the scary, suspenseful, dramatic parts. Upbeat music as the protagonist wins. Violins as the tragedy occurs.

If our lives are our stories, then our stories are much like movies. Perhaps we don't have a soundtrack that clues us in on what is to come, but more than likely your story is associated with some type of music.

Music has been an integral part of my life story. I can hear a certain song and it brings back memories... of me dancing in Mom's kitchen, of sunning in the backyard on a blanket covered in baby oil, of cheering at high school football games, of riding around in my cousin Jen's vehicle...

I loved to sing from an early age. Chorus was one of my favorite classes, perhaps because it provided a respite from Calculus and Chemistry. Also because Mrs. DeHoag was so spectacular.

Songs are often associated with sad times and happy times... but there's always music.

Music moves us. It often changes how we react to certain situations. It can make us melancholy or exuberant.

I think God made us that way. After all, central in His Word is the Psalms, a collection of songs. One such song said," He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise..."

May I sing Your song all day long, Father.

This post is part of write 31 days using free write prompts from Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is song.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Whole

We are all broken. The beauty of our stories is within those broken areas, where God has pieced us together. We may just barely be hanging on, but He is much stronger than superglue.

He takes the parts that are shattered, the parts that even look like they are missing pieces, and magically crafts them together again...

Whole.

Being whole doesn't mean we have it all together. I'd wager to bet that we all still feel broken, because scars remind us of our cracks. Being whole just means that we know that we are broken, and are thankful that God put us together.

Being whole isn't always easy, either... because we must keep working. We are all works in progress. We won't be completely perfected until Heaven, but we are told that He is faithful to finish His work. He is faithful to piece together what is broken until it is perfected and whole and near like before...

except different.

Being whole means that we are changed. The Heaven-shaped hole in our heart has been filled with God's Spirit, and it changes everything.

This post is written as a part of a series for write 31 days using free write prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt was whole.

Friday, October 26, 2018

This Present Moment

My story is my own...

except it's not.

It's a tapestry of threads from other people...

a musical medley of highs and lows and crescendos and decrescendos as other people's stories intertwine.

My story cannot be told accurately without telling someone else's... but that's their story to tell.

We are all like that... as we go through our days here on earth, minute by minute, each moment building on the previous, until before we know it ten years have passed and we find ourselves wondering where it all went to.

They say that at the end of life, it'll flash before your eyes.

All of those important moments.

Me bouncing down Picnic Hill, balled up in the floorboard of the driver's door. I don't really remember it, but I can't help but think that integral moment will be one that I'll see. I'm pretty sure I'll see an angel covering me with wings, because there's no other explanation for how I came out unscathed.

Me standing on the red carpet at Kragon Free Pentecostal Church promising to love and cherish through the good times and bad... and haven't we had both of those... and I've not always loved or cherished...

A tiny wrinkly face squinting up at me, red-cheeked, squalling, probably a little angry that he had to face those bright lights. Love at first sight...

Standing behind the pulpit speaking about my Mamaw...and my Uncle Dennis... and my Papaws.

But also the small moments, too...

like visiting Bybee Pottery the morning after 9/11 with my Mom... the hush of  the world.

And laughing with Melody.

And seeing Kami graduate from college, my baby grown up.

Watching Riggins chase his tail in the living room.

Listening to my Dad sleep in his recliner.

Hearing Holly's belly laugh.

Watching Wheel of Fortune with Mamaw Bert.

Our infamous Clemons Clan pictures at Christmas time, even though I am probably the only cousin who enjoys them.

Memories of playing detective with Brandon and then later riding around in his truck when I couldn't yet drive but he could. 

Walking with Nana and watching Papaw William sit on the front porch.

Crossing the stage after that long and arduous journey to get my DNP.

All of the students... so many students... seeing them in ER and on Med-Surg and watching the beauty that happens when they go from being scared, knowing nothing, to literally saving lives.

The ocean and the hills and the sunrises and the sunsets...

Moment after moment...

And so many of them I take for granted.

Lord, as I write my story, help me not be so busy wondering what the next chapter will consist of that I take for granted this present moment.

This post is part of the write31 day series using Five Minute Friday free writes. Today's prompt was moment.For more posts in this series, visit this link.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

LIfe's Brief

Telling our story often means revealing to others what make us tick. There are some things we hide, guarding those elements of our story tightly. There are other parts of the story that are like movie trailers... anyone who knows anything about us know those familiar lines.

One such part of my story is my love for reading. Ask anyone who knows me very well, and they'll be able to assure you that part of my world revolves around a good book.

Or even a not so good book.

I read them all. Any kind of genre. Old or new. Fiction or nonfiction. More than one book at a time.

Some books, I love to savor. It takes me a while to read them because they are thought provoking and deep.

Sometimes, though, I just need something light-hearted. Easy to read. Something that I don't have to think about.

The size of the book really doesn't matter... because sometimes even the longest book can be brief...

If it's a story you're really interested in.

It's like the old saying. "Time flies when you're having fun.". That's what our lives are like, here on earth. Some weeks seem to drag by, as we punch the time clock and cross the to do list off, going through the motions. Other weeks fly by... because they are full of life and adventure and laughter.

Regardless of how we perceive the time, though, ultimately our time on earth is brief. We have to make the most of it. Get the most bang for our buck.

And pack as much in our storyline as we can...

because we only have a set number of pages.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Common to Man

We like to think we are special. We're even told that in the Bible, kind of. We are His masterpiece, and He has plans for us that were established before the world was established.

So that's pretty unique, right?

Each of our stories are different... our paths in life, different.

And that's a beautiful thing, because the world would be a boring place if we were all the same.

However, too often when we face difficulties, we tend to think we're alone. We're the only one goingt through it.  Nobody can understand, right? And I can't help but think that the enemy wants us to feel that way, because if we believe that people won't understand, we won't reach out for help. And when we are isolated, we become self-centered. And when we are self-centered, we stop looking to God.

Even though we all face unique challenges, and our stories are different, troubles are common. We're told in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[ beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

No temptation... except what is common to man.

Those difficulties you're facing? You're not alone. Somebody has walked the path before you. And He is faithful. He will provide a way out...

And those who endure to the end shall be safe.

This post is a part of a series for write31 days using free write prompts from Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt was common.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Help!

I am an introvert, unashamedly so.

I never liked group work in school. I would much rather be given a project and be allowed to procrastinate until I figured out how to muddle my own way through it.

I'm not sure what it is, and maybe it's only me, but I don't want people to think I'm stupid, so I very rarely ask questions. I'm learning to just bite the bullet and remembering that nobody knows everything they need to know, and the only way you'll learn is to ask questions...

I don't like to ask for help...

but we were made for relationships, and that means being willing to help others... but also to allow others to help us.

And they can't help if they don't know we need it. When we put up our walls and don't let others see, we may be robbing them of a blessing.

Our stories will not just be composed of the grand and magical times when we were the heroes... it will also include stories of those who served as heroes for us, by offering us a hand up when we needed it...

even if we were reluctant to reach out.

This post is a part of a series for #write31days, using free write prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt was help.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Starting Again

Today I got a text from a friend about a personal best in a 5K. I was happy for her, genuinely, because I know she's worked hard.

I got the text as I was walking, trying to force myself to put one foot in front of the other. I had logged onto my C25K app for the first time in a few weeks... and not because I had been using my C210K app instead.

I struggle with motivation. I am great at envisioning things, but not so much in carrying them out. I get excited, and do ok, but then sizzle out. And let's face it, when it's cold outside it's so much easier just to snuggle up on the couch and lose myself in Facebook. I'm usually not even doing anything productive, just numbing myself by scrolling down my newsfeed.

I started to write today I did what I'm good at, starting the app...

but realized that's not being completely honest, either. Part of my procrastination is sometimes linked to a hesitancy to start, because of fear or uncertainty or just downright laziness.

I sometimes start, but I don't finish well.

I don't like that about myself. I wish I had more motivation. I'm not sure how to get it...

but tomorrow is another day and I'll start over. We have to just keep starting, every day, sometimes, every hour... knowing that He promises that if we'll be faithful, He'll do His part. We have to start, but then endure to the end. Those who endure to the end shall be saved.

Sometimes endurance looks like a straight line, bulldozing ahead...

but sometimes it looks like a series of starts and stops and starting again...

This is a part of the write 31 days series, using free write prompts from Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt was start.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Audience of One

Yesterday my Dad and I were trying to have a conversation and Mel Belle just wasn't having it.

"Talk to me, Lauren. Lauren. Look at me. I'm talking."

Kind of reminded me of stories I've heard of me...

My favorite present every Christmas for three or four years was a homemade microphone with stand that my Papaw Paul would make me in his woodshop in the basement. I would stand in the kitchen and belt out songs, fully expecting my parents and grandparents and aunt and uncle and cousin Brandon to listen to me endlessly.

I was also the kid who got a tip from a waitress for singing "Tomorrow" at Disney World.

You could say I loved an audience...

but as I got older, not so much.

Only in this selfie generation, where everything is about what we post on social media, it seems we live for an audience. I'm just as guilty as the next person, thinking of how I'll frame my posts.

There's good and there's bad in that kind of life.

Lately, I've been thinking about what I posted and trying to make sure it holds up to a Philippians 4:8 philosophy. I'm not saying that life should always be great on social media, because that definitely isn't true life. I think it is important for us to be vulnerable and to allow others to see our weaknesses, especially if it is something we can use to encourage others.

I just think that we should think of how what we post affects others...and also how it affects our witness... because ultimately we should be about an audience of One.

This post is a part of a series for write 31 days (even though I missed yesterday...grace!) using free write prompts from Five MInute Fridays. Today's prompt? Audience.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Search Me, Lord, Because I'm Tired of Searching

This month-long series is all about telling my story. Sharing who I am.

It'd be nice if I knew the answer to that, right?

Our whole life is made up of a search....

a search for who we are.

A search for Who He Is.

A search for the right path, for what is expected, for where we belong.

Just when we get comfortable, something changes, and we are off on another journey, often without knowing where the path is.

Faith is taking the next step even when you can't see it.

Tonight, as I'm penning these words, though, I'm reminded once again that I don't have to have it all figured out. I will never know all of the answers, and that's ok, because He tells us that some mysteries are meant to be just that... mysteries.

Because there are no mysteries with God, and perhaps in order to find the answers to what we are seeking we should cling to what the Psalmist suggests. "Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting."- Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, Lord. 

Know my heart, and reveal it to me, especially the dark and ugly so I can allow You to take care of it. 
Test me... and give me strength to pass. 
Know my anxious thoughts, and help me not focus on them.
If there is something offensive, remove it, please. 

Lead me in Your way, to the eternal, to what matters here, to what will be everlasting. 


This is a part of a write 31 days challenge, using free write prompts from Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is search.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

In the Pause

I'll admit. I'm a procrastinator. If I'm honestly telling you my story, it has to come out. One of my favorite movies as a child was Annie, probably because of the song "Tomorrow". My favorite line from Gone with the Wind? "I'll think about that tomorrow. I just can't deal with it today."

That procrastination, though, can get me in trouble, sometimes. I wish I had a dollar for every last minute paper I've had to write, project I've had to complete, email I've had to send...

where I write furiously until my hand cramps (because I still have to write papers free-hand and then type them).

And at times like those... or times like today when I have a student in my office and emails to answer and a lecture to develop and a poster to present in 15 minutes that I start to smother down.

That little voice starts whispering "You're not good enough. What are you even trying to do? You can't juggle it all."

And sometimes, a lot of the time, I succumb to it. I listen and allow myself to become even more overwhelmed.

This evening, as I was driving home, I thought about the last 90 days challenge I'm half-heartedly participating in... (half-heartedly because one of the things to do is to drink 1/2 your weight in ounces of water and I'm pretty much floating through the day, and another part is to get up early and we all know how that goes because there is nothing like sleeping after the snooze button... see? I even procrastinate getting out of bed! ) Part of that is being intentional and figuring out your priorities in life...which I have been trying to do for all of my adulthood unsuccessfully. I mean, I know what my priorities are, but I don't always act on them.

And I thought of how in the hustle and bustle of the mundane... as one writer called it, the tyranny of the urgent, that occurs as we are writing our stories every day, so often that feeling of being overwhelmed can be solved with one act.

When I was working on my DNP, and I was feeling that time crunch in finishing papers, I would often get overwhelmed and get writer's block. I'd rewrite the same paragraph over and over, scratching through and rewording...

until I got up and took a break. Took a walk. laughed with Caleb. Read a little.

Because in the pause, that's where we breath in new life.

In the pause, we can become refreshed, ready for the next chapter of the story.

Writing using a prompt from Five Minute Fridays (although this one took longer than five minutes) for the write31 day challenge. Today's prompt? Pause...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pray It Out

Every story has an author.

A cast of characters.

Interaction between those characters, or at least intrapersonal interaction within the main character.

Our stories are no different. As Donne said, "No man is an island."

We were created for relationship, even though some of us have to be dragged kicking and screaming.

Relationship with one another... and relationship with God.

A post earlier in this series was about communication... inadequate or inappropriate or whatever other negative connotation it can take.

For any relationship to be successful, communication has to be open.

The ultimate form of communication is with the author of our story, and through this communication we can know which direction we are headed. Yet too often we fail to reach out.

I'm just as guilty. I often plan and plot and complain and worry and obsess before I do the one thing that is the most effective...

Pray.

Prayer changes things. Prayer gives us the ability to feel His presence. Prayer enables us to pour out our hearts and get rid of our burdens. Prayer humbles us, reminding us that God is in control... which can be a comfort if so many of us weren't control freaks.

As I write my story every day, day in and day, full of mundane events, may I remember to seek You first, Father. To pray without ceasing and allow You to take the pen.

This post is a part of the write31 days series using prompts from Five Minute Fridays, where we free write, unedited, for five minutes on a one word prompt. Todays prompt? Pray

Monday, October 15, 2018

In the When

It's funny, these stories of ours.

How our lives can change in a minute.

How so often we can be seen as a victim of circumstance, if you believe in that...

Or if you believe in destiny or in God's will.

We like to think we are in control, but there are so few things which we actually control.

For example, my life would be different if I had been born 50 years earlier... or 50 years later.

Our lives are framed by the times in which we are raised.

Journalists are often encouraged to ask questions... who? What? Where? How? Why?

When?

We ask when a lot, too, as we wait for things to happen.

When is it going to be my turn, Lord?
When will I get my heart's desire?
When will I find peace?
When will I understand?

And the answer isn't always clear.

When can seem like a long time...

Endless, especially if you are in the wait.

The glorious thing that we have to realize, though, is that our story is never over as long as when is important. As long as we are drawing breath, our story is still being written. We are being made into God's image, being perfected, here in the when...

And there is coming a time when our story will be perfected, when the last I will be dotted and the last t crossed.

The when won't be as important, because it won't have an end.

"When we've been there, 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun... we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we've first begun."

Writing today on the free prompt from Five Minute Friday provided for write31days. Today's prompt is when.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's OK to Ask

Just this evening I was reading my devotion and one of my favorite verses was the key verse. From Proverbs, "Commit your way to the Lord...."

I'm not always good at doing that. I tend to make all kinds of plans and then jump in feet first, only to get frustrated when I'm too gungho and waste all my energy.

I'm not great at asking what I'm supposed to do. I'm not the best at asking for help...

Part of telling our story is telling the past... where we came from and what brought us to where we are...

but it's also a means to help us know where we're going. What's next?

I've been asking that a lot lately... where do we go from here? What am I supposed to be doing? What's Your purpose in all of this, God?

This summer I participated in a Bible study with some other ladies in my county, where we worked through The Quest by Beth Moore. She's one of my favorites, and I find that I always learn something.

This study was different, though. It was centered around the questions in the Bible...

how many times have you been told not to question God? Beth actually encouraged it...

One of the key verses was 'Ask and you shall receive."

Ask...

when you don't understand. When you don't know where you're going. When you feel like you need something. When you feel all alone.

Ask... and you shall receive.

Not you may receive. Not you should receive...

you will. 

Because when we commit our ways to the Lord and acknowledge Him, giving Him the reigns to lead us and guide us, and when we seek His will for our lives, He will give us the desires of our heart...

because we will be in tune with His desires, and they will become the same.

Not sure where you're going? Oh, friend... I can relate...

but He has gone before us and He is behind us and He covers us.

Ask Him, and He'll answer.

This post is a part of a write31 days series about telling my story, featuring free write prompts from Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt- ask...

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Too Much Talk

When I can force myself to walk/jog, I like to listen to the music on my phone on shuffle. The other day, a song came on that really made me think. It was Civil War by Guns n Roses, and the first line before they even started singing caught my attention.

"What we have here is... failure to communicate."

How appropriate.

In today's society, we do a lot of talking and not enough listening. I know this series is all about sharing my story, and this is my blog and my facebook page is my facebook page...

but we've become a little bit too much about sharing our individual stories.

We listen not to hear what the other person is saying... rather, we are thinking about what we are going to say in response.

I get it, totally. As a socially awkward introvert who struggles to make conversation, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I'm going to say.

I'm pretty sure that when I was a kid my Mom and Dad wouldn't have believed this, but I don't like to talk...

but I sure do like to use my fingers to talk sometimes.

Talking about things I shouldn't.

Sometimes, talking about people that I shouldn't.

Talking in response to others, even when it's none of my business.

Talking is important. Communication is important. Telling our story is important, too, because so often it's important for others to know that we can relate. We aren't the perfect people you see on your newsfeed. We are all living, breathing, hot messes...

But if we are going to talk, we need to be sure that what we say is worth saying. There's a verse in the Bible that terrifies me on days when I truly sit down and think about it. In His Word, it says we will stand judgment for every idle word we say.

Every single one, y'all.  No wonder eternity is eternity, because I've said a lot of idle words...

So tonight, as I'm finishing up this post and thinking of how poor our communication skills are  in this "selfie" world, I'm thinking of another verse. "Let no corrupt talk come out of you rmouth, only that which is edifying."

May we build each other up, and ultimately build Him up.

That's why we're here, after all.

This is a part of a series using free write prompts provided by Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt? Talk.

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Doxology of Praise

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...

all of them. every good and perfect gift comes from above.

Praise Him all creatures here below...

every creature on earth praises Him in their own way. The trees sway in the wind. The blue skies reflect the sun and the birds swoop through the clouds. The flowers, fragrant with their unique smells, turn their face to the sun. Every creature...

Praise Him all ye Heavenly Host...

even though we can't see them, there's a heavenly host praising God right now. Singing songs. "Holy, holy,holy, Lord God Almighty..."

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost...

Father who loves us enough to send His Son, Jesus who is our Savior, the Holy Ghost who is our Comforter... The trinity...

AMEN.

This post is a Five Minute Friday free write, where we write for five minutes unedited on one prompt. This week's word is Praise. This is also a part of the write 31 days series about telling my story. May my story be one of praise, even in the difficult times, because He is worthy.

For more posts in this series, visit here

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Revolving Door

I love fancy hotels... the kind with big tall beds and soft pillows and comforters that are so heavy you can't hardly sleep under them. (Not that I get to stay in them much... I can count on one hand the times I've stayed in a "fancy" hotel.  But my dream job just may be 1. to review hotels and 2. to review books and get paid and 3. to review chocolate cake while reading books in those hotels).

Anyway, every fancy hotel has a bellhop... if that's the right term. You know, to open the door and help you with your luggage and to make sure you get your car back from valet parking (again, not that I use valet parking much... if ever...)

I like it when the bellhop holds open the door because generally most fancy hotels have those revolving doors...

and y'all. I'm terrified of them.

I mean, I'll use them if I have to...

but I'm always afraid I'll get stuck in one. They make me slightly claustrophobic, especially when it's in a certain light and you can see yourself in the revolving door. You know, that shadow you get in a glass window where everything is distorted and even the skinniest part of your body looks like it has triple chins?

I mean, can you imagine being stuck staring at yourself like that, unable to push the door forward or to go backward?

Life feels kind of like that, sometimes. The door is heavy, and you feel stuck, even if you aren't.

We gotta just keep pushing, folks.

And pray there's a doorhop that can help us out.

This post is a part of a free write series about my story using prompts from Five Minute Friday. We write on one word for five minutes, unedited. Today's prompt? Door.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I Don't Know How but I Know Who

Sometimes I pause and take a look around and ask myself one question.

How did I get here?

Here, not in the physical sense of the word, but in this season of life. Sometimes I feel comfortable in my own skin, and sometimes I feel like the biggest fake on the earth.

There never seems to be any in between.

Either I'm completely sure of myself or I feel like a raging idiot.

Unsure of how...

How to be a better mom... wife... daughter...sister...aunt...teacher...nurse...friend...

How to fit it all in, all that I want to do and see vs. what I "need" to do to fulfill all of my roles.

How to balance...

How to be kind in an unkind world.

How to look past the hurts and frustrations and choose to love.

How do we do it, in today's upside down world?

By remembering that With man, it's impossible, but with God all things are possible.

And I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I might not know the how, but I know the Who...

And He's working in me everyday.

This post is part of a 31 day series using prompts from Five Minute Friday to tell my story. Today's prompt is "How".

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Inspire

Sometimes, a lot of the time, actually, living this story we are writing is hard.

We face difficulties. Dark days. Days when things don't make sense.

Too often we go from one thing to another, and then another, and another...

mediocre at best. Living through the mundane. As one writer said, giving into the tyranny of the urgent instead of making time for what is most important.

Because urgent isn't emergent...

And some things have to be taken care of first and foremost. Just like a person who has a trauma can die if they are allowed to hemorrhage, if we allow our soul to hemorrhage, to empty without refilling, we too, will die. Maybe not physically, but definitely emotionally.

And as we go through this mundane, it is easy to keep our eyes in front of us. It's easy to get accustomed to the scenery around us and not even see the spectacular.

In this story we are writing, we have to learn to look up... to find something to inspire.

Just tonight I looked up at they sky around sunset. The sun was peeking through the clouds, sunbeams from Heaven. There are no words that can describe it adequately, but I felt my soul smile.

We can find inspiration in lots of places. I find it often in my students who struggle to achieve their dream. I find inspiration in the ocean, in the mountains when I hike, when I see an older couple holding hands, when I hear an uplifting song.

Inspiration is all around us. When you find yourself staring at that blank page of life, trying to put the next word down, look up and around. Breathe deep. You'll find it may be a little hidden, but it's there for the taking.

This free write as a part of write 31 days is using a prompt from Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt was inspire.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Yoga Pants and Heaven- It's All About Comfort

Comfort...

We all love it. Being comfortable is an innate human desire...

but what's that quote? Life begins outside of your comfort zone.

How true that can be.

If you know anything about me at all you know I don't like change. I don't like stepping out of my space.

I like comfort, and not just in the form of the yoga pants and tee-shirts I wear all summer or the fuzzy blanket I like to nap under on Sunday afternoons.

I'm talking about feeling safe, protected, sure of myself in whatever situation I am in.

I don't like not knowing what I'm doing.

I fear what other people will say about me.

I wish part of my story could be about being brave, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm not.

However, I'm slowly realizing that when I'm not comfortable, God is working.

When I'm most afraid and unsure, He is there, settling.

I'm starting to learn that life on the edge isn't always so bad, because He is my safety net.

That doesn't mean that I don't spend the majority of the time inching toward the edge, shaking at the knees... but I think He honors every little step.

And y'all. We've got all of eternity to be comfortable.

I'm pretty sure Heaven won't be full of yoga pants and fuzzy blankets, but there'll be no pain or sorrow...

And even introverts like me will like people.

Don't get too comfortable down here... because it's only temporary. 

Thank goodness!

This has been part of a series for #write31days using Five Minute Friday free writes- today's prompt is comfort.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Name of Hope

Any good story is full of valleys and peaks.

Conflict and resolution.

Well-developed characters.

Every story has moments where the main character feels a little hopeless... but as they face the conflict and work toward the resolution, as they are tested and tried, their character is developed...

And usually hope shines bright as the plot is tied up in a pretty little bow.

Not always the case for real-life. In real-life, we often feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is a fast-moving train, and the bows that tie up the story slowly unravel.

Hope is a small word... one syllable... but it has a huge meaning.

If you've ever felt hopeless, you can relate to what I'm trying to say, because when you are standing at the bottom of the pit with no way to dig yourself out, hope can seem impossible.

The great thing, though, is that as long as we are breathing, we are living our story, and if we are still living that story, we have hope.

Even if we don't feel it.

Hope is the realization that one of the greatest words in the English language (when used appropriately) is one of the shortest.

BUT.

Not as we like to use it, to make excuses, but preceding another three letter word...

BUT God.

Because with God, we have the hope of salvation.

Of redemption.

We were hopeless in our sin, hopeless to save ourselves, hopeless to reconcile...

But God.

In His great love, He demonstrated... acted... sacrificed.

And now, we have hope.

His name is Jesus.

This post is part of a series for Write 31 Days using Free Write prompts provided by Five Minute Fridays. Today's prompt is hope...

And what a beautiful thing it is.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Where You Belong

One of my favorite songs right now is Lauren Daigle's "You Say". It's all about who God says I am, which goes perfectly with the theme of this #write31days storyline.

One line says, "When I don't belong, You say I am Yours."

I get that line, from the bottom of my heart.

I'm an introvert. I'm socially awkward. I have learned to deal with it because I work in a field where you have to make conversation, but I still struggle sometimes.

So many times I feel like a fake.

And surely everyone knows I'm faking.

I recently listened to a news story that was talking about research about social media. I love social media like the next person, but I totally understand where this research was coming from. Basically, the findings said that despite all of our "connectiveness", we are more lonely that we have ever been.

Let's face it. Sometimes it's easy to look around and see how everyone else fits into the puzzle... and feel like a square peg in a round hole.

That loneliness that we feel can be expected, because we were made for community. We were made to belong. We were made to be in relationship.

And we do belong... to an awesome God who loves us more than anyone can describe.

He knows every piece of our story, and loves us anyway.

He has a place for us... a safe haven. A home.

Where we will always belong.

Participating in #write31days using Free Write prompts from Five Minute Fridays. These free write prompts are written in five minutes on one subject. Today's prompt... belong.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Share Your Story

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What, you too? I thought I was the only one!'" - CS Lewis

"No man is an island."- I think John Donne, but I'm too lazy to look it up. I'm not taking credit for the quote and I used to know in high school...

Our stories are meant for sharing. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

In the Bible, there's a verse that reminds us that we can use our troubles to help encourage others. If we don't talk about our troubles, how can that serve as an encouragement?

So often in this society we have measures to live up to that seem impossible. How can we share our story when it makes us look so bad?

Simply because, if we choose to be vulnerable, it may enable someone else to.

If they see what a mess we are, they may realize it's ok to admit their flaws.

I'm not saying that we don't try to do better...
just that it's ok not to be ok sometimes.

And it's also ok to share our successes. When we humbly express our achievements in a way that points to the Father, it encourages others to try.

Being willing to share our stories is hard. It's uncomfortable. And so often we wonder what we even have to offer someone else.

Here's the thing, though. That person standing in line behind you at Walmart? They may need a little encouragement. I'm not saying you tell them your life story, but by choosing to look them in the eye and look them in the eye, choosing to exchange a little pleasantry with them, we are sharing the human experience. In our day of technological connection, that little bit of human interaction can make a huge difference.

Small amounts of sharing can lead to big results- in the lives of others and in your own! So start sharing!

This post is a part of #write31days, with a prompt from Five Minute Fridays focusing on the word share. Five Minute Fridays is a community where individuals write for five minutes, unedited, on one topic. We're doing this all month instead of just Fridays! For more Five Minute Friday posts, click here.  For more posts in my series about Telling My Tale, click here.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

I May Not Know Why

We are often told that we shouldn't ask God why... but I'm getting pretty comfortable with it.

As I think about my story, and the various components of it, I realize that it is really a series of "whys" and "why not".

Everything has a reason, but so often we don't see it down here. I can't help but think that at the end of our life, we'll be allowed to see it all like a slideshow, but we'll see the "whys" and "why nots" and they will make sense...

but by then, they really won't matter.

In the meantime, we have to keep living, even if we struggle from day to day. Even if we don't understand, we have to keep putting each foot in front of the other. We have to keep breathing and looking for the beauty and choosing to embrace joy even if we feel as though we have no reason to do so...

In the absence of understanding the big "why", we have to embrace the small "why". We each have a purpose. We each have a calling.

Today I talked about self-concept in class... identity and how it develops and how it changes over time as we have new life experiences. When I asked them, "If I were to say to you, who are you?" one student said, "I would say I really don't know."

And I get that, because somedays I'm not sure who I am. A lot of the time, actually. I'm still trying to reconcile my expectations and my desires and my dreams and my reality...

and I think that will always be the case, as long as we are breathing, because each day brings something new. We are dynamic, and that's a good thing, because otherwise if we are stagnant we die. Maybe not physically, but on the inside.

So, we may not know who we are... but we can know whose we are.

And we may not know why here on earth... but we can know the One who does.

This post has been a reflection for #write31days, using the prompt "why" from Five Minute Fridays.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What's Worth Believing?

One of my favorite quotes by Audrey Hepburn (and this is a paraphrase) says, "I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls." The entire quote is pretty lengthy, with Hepburn telling several things that she believes. I like it because so much of what she says seems simple...

But often what we believe is not simple at all. It's a complex makeup of what we've been taught and what we've personally experienced and what we perceive about the others around us.

In order to tell our stories, we have to know what we believe. What we believe can help us combat those things we are afraid of, as well.

Often, as I think I've mentioned before, we don't really know what we believe, which means we don't really know who we are. I'm still in the process of figuring that out, and since we are dynamic individuals that adapt and grow and learn every day, I think it's impossible to know exactly who we are, because essentially it may change. Who am I today is not who I was when I was 16, nor will it be who I am when I am 80 (should the good Lord decide to allow me to live my story that long. If not, I'll fly away and will definitely not be who am I now because I'll be in a glorified body...)

With that being said, as I'm trying to figure out who I am in this moment, I've been thinking a lot about what I believe. Here's a short summary:

I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that He loves me even though I am a huge mess. 

I believe that the Bible is God's Holy Word, inspired by God, and applicable to my life even when I'm not sure how.

I believe that being blessed to be Caleb's Mama is the greatest job on earth.

I believe that nature is healing to the soul, and that I am no closer to God than when I sit on a cliff facing in the Gorge or at the Oceanside.

I believe that books are always better than movies.

I believe that laughter truly is the best medicine.

I believe that compassion is a lost art, but one that I should seek to practice every day.

I believe that there is a purpose for my life, even when I'm unsure of what it is.

I believe that love is stronger than hate, but hate is sometimes easier... so we have to keep choosing love.

I believe that planners are awesome, even though I don't always get everything checked off in mine.

I believe that ice cream and sunshine makes any day better.

I believe that summertime is the best time, but that every season has its purpose.

I believe that there is always good... sometimes we just have to look harder. And we have to ask God to give us eyes to see the good.

This is where I'm at today. Each of those statements have reasoning behind them, and they make up a little piece of who I am.

Don't stop believing, people...

Thanks to Five Minute Friday for the prompt of "Believe". Today I wrote a little bit longer than 5 minutes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What Am I Afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

Big question, really.

There are so many THINGS we can be afraid of...

snakes. being alone. being unwanted. failure. the dark. driving on interstates.

Endings.

Telling our story means looking in the mirror and knowing full well who is staring back at you... and that can be scary sometimes.

Most of the time, actually.

So often we don't feel like facing those fears. I am guilty of wanting to be an ostrich with my head in the sand with more than just politics.

In order to share our stories, we have to know what is true and what isn't...

The difference between the fiction and the non-fiction...

And that means recognizing who we are, even with our flaws.

As that line goes from that famous movie (I can't remember which one... A Few Good Men, maybe?) "You can't handle the truth."

And because we're afraid we can't truly handle the truth of who we are, we fake it till we make it... one of my favorite mottos.

We paint smiles on our faces and keep on keepin' on... afraid to admit that we aren't "fine".

Afraid to discover who we are because we may not like what we see... or we may not be what others expect of us.

It's taken me a little less than 39 years to figure out it's ok to be afraid...

and I'm writing about that this month.

(Thanks to Five Minute Fridays for the daily prompts. Today's five minute write was on the word AFRAID).

Monday, October 1, 2018

My Tale that is Told... #Write31Days

"...we spend our years as a tale that is told."- Psalm 90:9

I have always loved reading.

Words on a page, forming a story that allows me to escape reality for a few minutes... or helps me to expand on reality and think about how I can make my reality better.

Doesn't really matter what kind of story. Doesn't matter what the setting, or the time period.

I just love stories.

The greatest storybook of all times is a true story- The Bible.

It's full of adventure and love and action.

Full of infallible men and women... men and women that did mighty things for God.

Despite their weaknesses.

As I looked back over the past few months and looked ahead to this writing challenge, one month about one topic...

I was intimidated, because I don't feel like I know enough about anything interesting enough to write consistently for a month.

And then I stumbled upon Five Minute Fridays, a website I have frequented often over the past few years when I needed inspiration.

This month, they are focusing on the story...

of each individual writer.

Again, this is intimidating, because who am I to think that my story could be inspirational?

And then I thought of the Psalmist, who asked, "Who am I?"

Who am I, Lord?

This month, I'll be  using this space and prompts from Five Minute Friday to explore that. It's really an exercise for me, this figuring out of my tale that is being told...

but if you're visiting, welcome. I'd be happy to hear about your story, too. Please share in the comments. Let's use our stories for His glory!

Day 1- My Tale
Day 2- What Am I Afraid of?
Day 3- What's Worth Believing?
Day 4- I May Not Know Why
Day 5- SharYour Story
Day 6-Where You Belong
Day 7-The Name of Hope
Day 8-Yoga Pants and Heaven
Day 9-Inspire
Day 10-I don't know How but I know Who
Day 11-The Revolving Door
Day 12 The Doxology of Praise
Day 13Too Much Talk
Day 14It's Ok to Ask
Day 15In the When
Day 16Pray It Out
Day 17In the Pause
Day 18Search Me
Day 19 Grace, please... no writing today
Day 20Audience of One
Day 21Starting Again
Day 22Help!
Day 23Common To Man
Day 24Life Is Brief
Day 25 Grace, please... no writing today
Day 26 This Present Moment