Friday, September 22, 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grace in the Storm

I'm sitting inside a warm, dry house. We never lost power, but thanks to Hurricane Irma, yesterday was the windiest day I have ever experienced. As far as I can tell, the worst thing that has happened to us is that we lost one tree in the backyard . . . and the stray cat that adopted us a year or so ago might think she is an indoor/outdoor cat now after we brought her inside to protect her from falling debris. 

But all you have to do is turn the TV on and you can see that there is so much devastation all around us. Storms of different kinds are all over the place. Harvey in Texas. Irma all over the Caribbean and the Southeast. Western states are on fire and have been for months but it isn't making national news. They are losing homes and acres and acres of precious natural lands. Earthquakes in Mexico. And that's just some of what's happening in North America. There's a whole big world out there, and we aren't the only ones being hit and hit hard.

Your storm may not have anything to do with the weather or natural disasters. It may be the illness of a loved one, a marriage in crisis. A child on a devastating path. Financial woes that never let up. 

If you feel like you have nothing left, I want to share something with you that God showed me this week as I watched the hurricane coverage.

Have you seen the videos/images of the water being sucked out of the bays and away from islands? The first one I saw was video from the Bahamas and when it first popped up on my Facebook feed, I couldn't figure out what I was seeing. But then it happened again and again as Irma made her way to the US. The Tampa Bay event received quite a bit of news coverage. 

In case you didn't see it, it turns out that as the storm comes by, it literally sucks the ocean away from the shore. People can walk around on ground that used to be the bay because the water is g-o-n-e. It's absolutely fascinating and awe-inspiring to think of the natural phenomenon that is taking place.

As the storm passes, the water will return and things will return to “normal” - but during the storm Tampa Bay was empty. Dry. The reporters and people they interviewed kept going on about how they’d never seen anything like it. I certainly hadn't. 

It turns out that it takes a very big and powerful storm to do this.

I watched, completely fascinated, but then as He so often does, I felt that stirring in my spirit and God showed me something.

He isn't surprised by this at all. He knows this happens in nature and He knows this happens in our lives. 

We all have a certain tolerance for a “reasonable” amount of storm activity. We all get up and go about our day with various small storms - maybe even tropical force or Category 1 storms - brewing around us.

But the BIG storms quite literally suck us dry. We have nothing left to give because all our energy has been taken up by this powerful storm. 

And yet we beat ourselves up over it. We say horrible things to ourselves and feel extraordinary amounts of guilt because we’re so tired and so empty, but God is not seeing it that way. 

He sees our dry bays. He sees the empty shorelines. He knows the category 5 level storms we are facing and He is not sitting there wondering why we can’t get our act together and deal with it because *HE KNOWS* what has happened.

Others may not see it. They may not understand it. 

But God knows. God sees. He is still 100% in control. 

If you're walking around every day like those crazy reporters, hunched over in the wind just trying not to get blown away, my prayer for you (and for me) is that we will relax in the grace God has shown us. That we will rest in the knowledge that He is not expecting more of us that we can give. 

In his time, the water will return to the bay. The waves will again lap along the shore. The storm will pass. 

Be kind to yourselves friends. Give yourself and those going through huge storms around you the same grace He gives. 

Grace and peace,

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Every Writer Needs a Team

Last month, I shared what I learned from the book Grit—The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Dr. Angela Duckworth and how it applies to the writing life. If you haven’t read that one, you might want to pop over there first and read the post, A Book to Help Writers Persevere. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Glad you’re back. :)

That post was already way too long, so I saved something to share with you this month.

In Grit, there are multiple anecdotes about elite swimmers—what makes them so good, what separates the champions from the talented, that kind of thing.

Near the end of the book the author shares an interview with a man who has studied elite swimmers for three decades. After affirming the author’s thoughts on how important grit is he said, “But I left out the most important thing. The real way to become a great swimmer is to join a great team.”

When I read that line I stopped and took a picture of the paragraph so I’d have it in my phone. Because while I don’t doubt it’s true for elite swimmers, I know from first-hand experience—it’s true for writers, too.


It's the first Thursday of the month so I'm over at The Write Conversation. I'd love for you to pop over and read the rest of the post. :) 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What I Learned in August

It’s been too long since I did a “What I Learned” post, so this month it’s really more of a “What I’ve Learned in 2017” rather than just in August. :) 

1. I need to be in a Bible study, even if it means doing it on my own. When I started homeschooling both boys I had to give up my Bible study group at church and I’ve missed it. I did a study on the book of Jonah this summer and it rocked my world. I didn’t make it to a single meeting of the group that was doing it, but it was still life changing and I need to do that kind of thing more often. I haven’t nailed down what I’m doing this fall because my FB feed was full of suggestions! But I’ll be choosing something soon. 

2. Apple watches are A.MAZ.ING. I was the biggest skeptic when they came out. Why on earth does anyone need to check their email on their wrist? But then I discovered how handy it is to be able to glance at it and decide if a text or call is worth stopping what I’m doing. Now, I can leave my phone on the kitchen counter all day and not be worried about missing an important call from Emma’s school. I’ve worn it every day since I got it. It actually helps me NOT have my phone in my hands all the time, and that’s a big deal to me.

3. Teaching is fun. It’s exhausting, too. This applies to homeschooling, but I’m talking about teaching adults about writing. :) I’ve had the opportunity to teach at a couple of conferences this year, as well as an all-day Scrivener workshop. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it. I get to co-teach a workshop at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference later this month and then another Scrivener class later in the fall. I’m really looking forward to both. 

4. “Out with the old, in with the new” is something I should try more often. After fifteen years of looking at the same bedding, we bit the bullet and got a new bed, furniture, and bedding for our bedroom. I know for some of you this is something that happens every few years and you cannot imagine looking at the same stuff for a decade and a half, but I naturally resist change of any kind and it shows up in weird places—like re-doing rooms. My husband resists spending money, which also shows up in weird places like re-doing rooms. Between the two of us, we can shut down a room makeover in a hurry. :) 

We still need to paint and get curtains, a few pictures, etc. But the difference is amazing. It reflects our style and our sensibilities and is a restful place to be. Which is what bedrooms are supposed to be like, right? 

It was a lot of work—a lot of hours spent shopping, re-organizing, and using Allen wrenches on furniture that came in boxes. And there were a few times when I wondered if it would be worth it. But it totally was. 

5. Early morning exercise is awesome. I claim I hate it. Because I do. Except I don’t. I’m coming to terms with the fact that the 5:30 a.m. class is the best one for me. My entire day goes better when I get it knocked out first thing. Also, I workout at a CrossFit box with no A/C. It’s summertime in the south so it’s already hot and muggy at 5:30 a.m. By 4 p.m. no one in their right mind should be doing burpees and box jumps. I have lots of friends who do, but for me it’s worth the 5 a.m. wakeup call to get it over with before the sun comes up. 

I’d love to know what you’ve learned lately. Are there any fun “life hacks” you’ve recently discovered? Let’s talk about them in the comments.