On Writing & Simplicity: Tribute To National Author’s Day

“There is no friend as loyal as a good book.”–Ernest Hemmingway

Revised: Originally written October 2016

(Yesterday was National Author’s Day and I truly meant to post this yesterday but just didn’t feel up to doing anything. So here I am running behind, as it seems is my thing lately, sharing a few of my favorite authors with you!!)

Books have been some of my best friends.  I often get attached to books and the authors who write them.  Books have had a profound impact on my love of writing.  One of my favorite books as a child was my mother’s Webster’s Encyclopedia of Dictionaries and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.  I would just sit with these books for hours and read their words. I was mesmerized by the words.   I go to books when I need comfort from the craziness of the world.  Two of my all time favorite books are; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I truly get lost in time with these two.  I loved reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  They, along with the television series named after them, may have influenced my passion for simplicity just tiny bit.

But as I’ve broadened my reading list a bit, I have found other books that have helped me find a more realistic way of achieving my dream of living simplistically. When I read the above books, I thought the idea of living simplistically was just me romanticizing it.  But it can actually be achieved.

I began my simplicity journey wanting to be closer to God and to learn to rest in His presence and to give to others the same grace and love that He has given me.  And after reading The Rest of God by Mark Buchanon and The Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling I knew God was on this journey with me and He would fulfill this dream of living a simplistic life. He just had a few things to teach me along the way.

In this post, I just wanted to share with you a list of books that have inspired and encouraged me this far on this journey.

From decluttering, organizing, downsizing, to learning to live God’s abundance in the less.  From learning to say no to stuff and learning to keep Sabbath in the midst of busyness.  From struggling with my faith and learning to work it out.  I have found simplicity in almost every aspect of life.  And these are just some of the books that I have gleaned from over the past 6 years. Along with the ones I’ve already listed above:

Abundant Simplicity by Jan Johnson

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

Freefall To Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward A Life Of Meaning by Rebekah Lyons

You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons

7, An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker

Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker

Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker

A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker

Walden & other writings by Henry David Thoreau

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenrieder

Notes From a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us From the Inside Out by Joanna Weaver

Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God by Joanna Weaver

At The Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart by Joanna Weaver

Having a Martha Home the Mary Way by Sarah Mae

Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup

31 Days to a Clutter Free Life by Ruth Soukup

31 Days to Spending Less by Ruth Soukup

Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup

The More Of Less by Joshua Becker

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

The Life Giving Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph

Feeding Your Soul by Jean Fleming

Own Your Life: Live Deep Intention, Bold Faith and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson

The Life Giving Home: Creating a Space of Belonging and Becoming by Sally Clarkson

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst

It’s Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg

Fight Back With Joy by Margaret Feinberg

Love The Home You Have by Melissa Michaels

Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me by Alexandra KuyKendall

Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living by Rhonda Hetzel

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Mueller

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World of Noise by Trich Nhat Hanh

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus

Everything That Remains: A Memoir by The Minimalists

Essential: Essays by The Minimalists

Made Well: Finding Wholeness in the Everyday Sacred Moments by Jenny Simmons

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way by Shauna Niequist

Bread & Wine: A Love Letter To Life by Shauna Niequist

Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are

Perfect Over Presence: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

The Complete Living Room Series Bible Studies by Kelly Minter

Falling Free by Shannan Martin

Ministry Of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin

That’s a pretty lengthy list but most definitely not all of the ones that have helped me over the years, but I just wanted to share with you the ones that have helped me in the past seven years, so just in case you might need some encouragement on whatever journey you may be on or maybe you too, are yearning a more simpler, more soulful way of living.

I’ve adapted from all of these books and appreciate these authors so much for being brave and putting their words out into the world for us to grab ahold of.

I hope you can check out some of these authors!  

Advertisements

ALL THINGS NEW

“He who was seated at the throne said, “I am making all things new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” –Revelation 21:5

Revised- Originally written Fall of 2016

How many times have you made a statement similar to this, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.”? Or, maybe you’ve said something like, “Today is the day I truly start living life with purpose.”. Or, maybe you wish you could have fresh start on life, a clean slate.

Do you ever find yourself wishing that you had done life differently from the way that you have? Do you wish that you had done more things that you were passionate about? Do you wish that you had made more time for the people that you care about?

If you are like me, the answer could be a resounding YES to all!  Everyday!  We get the idea that we can’t do things differently, that we are just stuck and we can’t ever have true happiness or joy because we are bound to our failures or setbacks.

We think things like, “How could I truly have a fresh start, a clean slate when I have made so many mistakes over and over?”  “How can I live with purpose when I am consumed by so much trouble, despair, heartache, doubt and brokenness?”

After a long time of searching for the answer to those questions, I believe I have stumbled upon it.

Scripture says, “Because of the Lord’s great, unfailing steadfast love, a love that never ceases and because His mercies, His compassions are made new every morning. His faithfulness is great.”

So maybe it is as simple as that.  Maybe we just start there.

Every day that we wake up breathing, we are given a fresh start, a clean slate, a do-over. Yesterday is gone. Today is a new day.  The choice is ours what we do with it. If we get up with a negative and downcast attitude on life, start complaining about every little thing that is wrong, all that’s falling apart and all the things that are never going to change, then we are sure to have a pretty gloomy day.

However, if we choose to get up with a thankful heart and spirit, things will look much brighter, even though the world around us hasn’t changed and the circumstances in our lives may not be any different than yesterday but our gratitude will possibly help us get through the day a little easier.

I realize this is not a easy place to get to especially when your life feels so heavy. I’m still learning the art of gratitude myself. But here’s what I’m learning, that as long as I allow my circumstances to dictate my mood, I’m allowing that negativity to rob me of my joy, a gift that Jesus says that He came to give. John 10:10 reminds us of this–Jesus says, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

That is joy!! And it is for now!! It is for while we are walking around on this ugly beautiful earth.

I have made the mistake more than once to allow the thief to come in and rob me blind and to just tear apart my thought life. In doing so, I became depressed, lonely, and lost. And I hated the way it made me feel.

It was then, I came across a book written by Ann Voskamp called, “One Thousand Gifts–A Dare To Live Fully”. The message of this book helped me confront my depression, my grief, and ungrateful heart.

Ann’s words encourages her readers to begin counting gifts daily, like a gratitude journal. She encourages to list every little thing that your eye catches a glimpse of and give thanks for it. For example, this blue pen that I write these words with, this yellow mug that I am drinking my coffee from, the bird singing outside my window, the grey sky, the pain that I feel, because as long as I can still feel the pain, I know that I’m alive and that’s more to give thanks for.

So I began counting and I’ve been counting ever since, but there have been seasons where I have fallen out of the habit/practice of listing the gifts and when I do, that’s when the gloominess comes creeping back in and if I’m not careful I can quickly fall back into a depression. So I have to stay proactive. I have to keep counting gifts.

I have to get up every day and start listing things that I’m grateful for and as I do that each day, I can feel my spirit become new again. I can feel my soul being set free. Free to be me. Free to laugh. Free to be at peace. Even though the world around me has not changed.  But I am actually the one that is changing.  And it’s all made possible by His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

I made a habit of reading that book every month. It has eleven chapters so I read one chapter a day for eleven days, making notes of all the new things God shows me, every single month.  I have now read that book over sixty times.  I suppose I should have it memorized by now or be able to quote it verbatim but I can’t because I don’t think I’m supposed to.  I believe God is teaching me obedience through it and reminding me to give thanks daily.  I can sense His spirit ever so near as I read the words on the pages, and I can feel Him speaking directly to my broken places and healing them with one grateful gift after another.

Every time I read it, I am awakened to new ideas, new visions, new dreams, new purpose and I believe He is continually making things new in my life and He is drawing me into His presence a little more each time.

Ann now has what I like to call the “bookend” to One Thousand Gifts and it’s called, “The Broken Way–A Daring Path Into The Abundant Life”, and in it Ann encourages us to love through our brokenness, to bust free, break molds, break chains, break the measuring sticks, and to break all the bad brokenness with good brokenness.  She says, “You could be one of the Beloved who is broken–and still lets yourself be loved. Because Christ is redeeming everything.”

He is making all things new.

I could write for days about my thoughts on these two books but for now, let’s rest in the fact that each day is a new day and has unlimited possibilities if only we will seek them out.

Let’s be thankful and appreciative of all that makes up our one broken life.

Let’s keep our eyes wide open and be grateful for every tiny gift.

PONDERING, PRAYING, PURSUING

“The comeback is always stronger than the setback.”—author unknown

So listen. I made myself a promise a while ago to learn to love myself more and to take better care of myself. And I feel like I’ve failed miserably because lately I’ve been feeling worse physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Like really, I feel like I’m dying on the inside!

I’ve tried making little changes. Ways to better care for myself. Ways to listen to my body and to react to it with love, the same as I would if someone else asked for my help. Ways to retreat, rest, and restore.

During some alone time recently, I was praying and the Lord showed me some things within me that don’t need to be there. Things that I’ve hung onto for far to long. Things that I thought I had overcome or had let go of but are still there. So I somehow keep getting myself wrangled back back up into enemies lies.

This has got to stop. I’m driving myself crazy. I need to let it all go.

He reminded that I am beautiful and that what He created isn’t to be wasted and destroyed by my disbelief. I need to start believing that I am loved and that it’s okay to love myself. And some days it’s ok not to be ok.

He says that my skills, my gift and talents are unique and they are special and that only I can use them. He says that I need to stop comparing myself to others, especially my body.

He says that I am more than a conqueror and that He is pleased with me, so I need to be pleased with myself. Imperfections and all!!

He says he knows that I will still have bad days but He wants me to put on an attitude of gratitude every morning and wear it like a champion and feel it like it’s the finest linen against my skin….wear it as though it were a super power.

He says to not believe for one second that I cannot accomplish all my hopes and dreams, though they seem small to me. Small things can create big love.

Through my pondering and praying and pursuing, I’ve started a list of things to STOP doing rather than a list to start doing. Because I feel it’s the things that I’m already doing that are keeping me from loving myself.

So here’s to a new year with a “NOT TO DO/STOP DOING LIST”, to help me stay focused. Here’s to a healthier mind, body and soul.

Forty Seven you have got to get me through this! To think if I make it to fifty years old and I’m still this sad in my soul, would be heartbreaking.

I read somewhere, the comeback is always stronger than the setback. No matter how many times you have to start over!!

My physical body may never be what I want it to be on this earth, I may never have the energy that I’d like to have but I know that I can protect everything else, so that it’s easier to cope with my physical setbacks.

I have to remember self-care is not selfish. And it is not a fad. And it’s nothing to feel guilty about. But it is something that I don’t implement into my life and I know that I need it, in various ways. So I need to do it!

I’m hoping as I keep pondering, praying, and pursuing that I will find better ways to care for myself and that my whole being will be better for it.

I want to say, “It is well with my soul” and mean it.

I want my soul to shine!

FEELINGS OF BROKENESS

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.–Vance Havner

Do you ever just feel broken?

I often let my mind, heart and soul get so tangled up in so many thoughts and feelings that I become so overwhelmed and stressed, that I start feeling the worst about life. Feeling loneliness, rejection and so much doubt.

And more times than not, I dive into some sort of pity party for one. Because who else wants to go to a party that is dry and lifeless?

I get so angry with myself when I feel like this because I love life and I love people! I want to express joy and the goodness of Jesus!!

But some days, this despair that I’m feeling, this exhaustion, this loneliness, is as real as the skin on my body.

I can’t seem to fight it and I feel I just want to lay down and wallow in it because it feels as if that’s all I can do.

I just keep screaming at myself, “Alright, enough already! Get up! Clean this mess up! Get rid of all these crap lies you keep telling yourself and believing! Quit being petty, shallow and childlike! You are better than this! You were meant for more than this!” Which all of that is true. However, some days these broken feelings, thoughts, emotions, they still come. And it’s not that I’m faithless. It’s not that I’m weak in my faith. It’s not that I don’t believe in better things. It’s just some days, this is just how I feel.

Ultimately, I know, that I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only one that ever feels this way. Some people feel worse than this. Heck, I’ve had worse days than today.

I think to myself, “This is not the kind of attitude I want to project to the world.” But here’s the truth. If you ever want to reach the broken, they have to see that you are not perfect. That just because you are a follower of Jesus that you can be a person that doesn’t have it all together. That some days you may just have feelings such as these. Some days you may just feel broken!

Ann Voskamp says, “Maybe wholeness is embracing brokenness as part of your life.” Or, “So the power of God can happen in the soul.”

So maybe when we embrace those little broken places and don’t try to sprinkle some kind of sweet stuff over them to make them seem less real, then maybe we can actually help someone else. Just because we are being honest and real.

It’s definitely not a place I want to be or stay forever but for this moment, I’m just being vulnerable and saying, some days, I feel broken.

Any maybe it’s a possibility that we can be broken but be whole at the same time.

GOOD FRIENDS LISTEN & SPEAK TRUTH

“It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak, and another to hear.”–Henry David Thoreau

(Revised-Originally written January 2017)

Remember my friend Shauna? Just kidding! The author I won’t stop referring to; talks about a professor she had, Heather, who was more than just a great professor.  She was her mentor and her friend. Heather was the one that would sit and listen to Shauna’s life happenings and the one who would speak truth into her, about herself and about her life choices.  Heather was a sincere encourager.  She always had Shauna’s best interest at heart.  She brought the best out of Shauna.  When Shauna would make decisions that would bring the worst out of her, it was Heather who would speak truth into her life.  Heather was brave with Shauna when she spoke truth about her and Shauna says she was often brave with Heather as well, as she listened and withstood her disappointment and letting it reach down to the deepest parts of her and draw her up to her better self.

We all need friends like this in our life, especially when they speak sincere and honest truth into our lives. I’ve not always liked to hear hard truth and don’t always listen for it, but when I do and adhere to it and allow it to soak deep into my soul, I am better for it.

At my worst, I’m doubtful. I’m insecure. I’m afraid. I’m self condemning. I have fears of failing and disappointing all those I love and those I want to serve.

At my best, I’m more confident.  I’m more patient. I’m more loving.

We all need those people in our lives who are brave enough to speak truth, no matter how much it hurts at the moment. I’m fortunate to have a few that does this really well and will call me out when I’m allowing my worst to lead me in life, they encourage me even when I am bit of a hot mess and they could easily just walk away.

If we could just remember what the Lord says–you know all those Holy Validations He speaks to us through His Word–and adhere to them…..these truth telling friends might not have to be so blunt as often.  But then again, I believe truth telling is a gift and we need them in our lives, so when God has blessed you with one, don’t take that person or persons for granted.

So the next time you have a sincere friend who is telling you something about yourself that you might not totally agree with……don’t get offended so fast…..stop and listen….listen for the Lord especially if this is a brother or a sister in Christ, because chances are He is speaking to you through them.  Allow them to help bring the best out of you. And even if they are not a Christian, I believe God can still speak through them, so pay attention.

How are you at your best and worst? Do you have someone that can bring the best out of you and help encourage you to stir away from the worst? Whether it be a teacher, professor, a pastor, a spiritual mentor, a best friend, a cashier, your waitress, etc..

Are you brave enough to be that kind of person for someone else?

HOLY VALIDATION

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6: 33

(Revised-originally written January 2017)

{SIDE-NOTE: I failed at seeking this Holy Validation daily in 2017 and actually what happened was that I listened to the lies of the enemy AGAIN, and ended up slipping into a mild depression and I’m just now starting to see the light again! But every word I posted here is true and I truly do long for them to be written on my heart so that I no longer have to fight this battle with depression.}

I wanted to start the new year out with my focus scripture, in which I’ve chosen Psalm 37: 3-6  “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your ways to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noon day.

I love how “The Message” words verses 5 & 6 “Open up before God, keep nothing back; He’ll do whatever needs to be done; He’ll validate your life in the clear light of the day and stamp you with approval at high noon.”

I think I love it because I’m always seeking validation in places and from other people that sometimes can become dangerous territory.  I mean, if I truly want to believe my worth and value shouldn’t I be asking and believing the One that created me rather than others who’s opinions vary?  And trust me, meeting other’s expectations of me is hard. I’d much seek the One that says I don’t need to worry about a thing because He has already taken care of everything.   But let’s dig into this shall we?  Just so we can get a better look at how to accept this approval and live a life holy and pleasing to Him.

He will validate me and stamp me with His approval.  I don’t need to work for that of others because He is ready and willing to do it and ultimately His is all that matters.    Easy, right?  Well, it should be but if you are like me you struggle with this.  I struggle with surrendering my all to Him and I’m not even sure why.  I’d like to think that He is God Almighty and will do nothing to hurt me.  Scripture confirms that but somewhere in my head I’ve believed a lie that says that He will.   Foolish I know.  But am I alone?

I recently read an article over at http://www.connectedtogether.org about the topic of validation and this is what they say about it.  “To validate something is to “give official sanction, confirmation, or approval to it.”

“What makes you feel like you have value and worth? We are designed to want validation, the feeling of significance. The problem is that we try to get validation from what we think we can control or manage. We avoid mystery and things we can’t control. We seek validation from people, work, friends, accomplishments or our spouse.  They become the barometer of our feelings and worth. The treadmill of acceptance can wear us out. Always trying to please people or control situations. The solution is that we kill our heart or hyper control our world. We stop believing that we have value or significance in the world.  This will kill your heart, “the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4: 23)  Or we control the people in our world by killing them with kindness or managing everything ourselves. This will flat wear you out.  The problem is we keep God at arms length and try to appease Him with church attendance and trying to be nice.  God’s love and acceptance is key to value and significance. The journey of believing brings freedom and renewed energy.”

So how does God validate you?

He made you in His image and delights in you and sings over you while you sleep. (Genesis 1:27 ; Zephaniah 3:17)

He stubbornly loves you even when you are unlovable. (John 3:16)

God is for you not against you. (Romans 8:31)

His plans for you are good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

He has given you unique gifts, talents and strengths. (Romans 12:6)

This is validation. God really truly does love you and is crazy about you.  You really are the apple of His eye.  (Psalm 17: 8)

These verses are just the beginning of how God validates you.  There are more like them all throughout scripture and I believe the more we read them, meditate on them, memorize them, write them upon on our hearts, the more we will begin to believe them and the less will seek elsewhere for approval.  We will begin to believe and understand this validation more, the more we understand who God is and who we are in Him.  The more we seek Him the more He will validate us, but it’s in that divine communion or koinonia as one author puts it that we will be connected to Him.  He’s just waiting for us to come and surrender and lay it all down.  All our insecurities, all our fears, all our worries, our stressors, our doubts, our health issues, our burdens.  EVERYTHING.

And then He will show us in the light of the noon day who we truly are.  Doesn’t that sound exciting? Don’t you want to know?  I know I do. It’s why I’ve chosen to seek Holy Validation this year and to dive into intimacy with Him because I know it but I truly want to believe it and live it.  I want to be free of all the things that bind me and keep me in bondage.   So I have to get these words of His in my head and written on my heart!

I have to remember:

I am the clay, and He is the Potter. (Jeremiah 18: 1-6 ; Isaiah 64:8)

I am the vine and He is the Branch. (John 15: 1-11)

I am His sheep and He is the Shepherd. (John 10: 1-18)

I am His child. (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:6)

I am His friend. (John 15:15)

I am his bride, and He is the Bridegroom. (John 3:29)

True validation comes from knowing our identity in Him.

So I’d like to be stamped with His approval today and everyday forward.  I am going to search for more scriptures like these and I’m going to write them in journals, on sticky notes, on the mirrors, anywhere that I can look and be reminded who I am in Him.  And I’m going to try very hard to trust that He will take care of all those things I’ve listed.

I have burdens that weigh me down but I do have to surrender them to Him to get any peace from them.

I’m going to delight in Him. I’m going to do good and be the gift to others. I’m going to befriend faithfulness. I am going to commit my ways, work, life to Him and trust Him. I do have to be willing to stop putting myself behind imaginary bars of a prison and allowing these self condemnations to keep me prisoner of my free life.  I want to know and believe my validation in Him and I want to be free of all the other!!

SAVORING THE SACRED

“Let’s savor this day, the beauty of the world God made, the richness of family and friendship, the good gifts of creativity and work. All the things that populate our days are worth savoring. Let’s walk together.”–Shauna Niequist

(Revised-Originally written January 2017)

{Side-note: I didn’t make it writing 365 days in 2017, nor did I make it through the year seeking the Holy Validation that I talk about. I actually fell into a mild depression over the course of the year and just now finally seeing the light again. As I write now, I’m coming up on my 47th birthday and January will be here before you know it, that means I’ve been in this lull for almost a year and a half. And I know the key for me is to get back to counting gifts and savoring every little sacred thing and moment. }

Over the past several years I’ve developed a love for good authentic Christian writers. I’ve bought their books, raved to all my friends about them and push the books on them like a relentless crazy woman.  I have several authors and their books that I’m quite fond of and that have made huge impacts on my life. But I don’t think there has been one author that has made more of an impact on my life than Shauna Niequist.

Shauna, as I will refer to her from here on, as if we are best friends, has been a little blessing God plopped in front of me a few books ago. I’ve kind of kept quiet about her because I kind of felt she was a gift that I didn’t have to share.  Her heart echoes mine when it comes to simplicity and savoring life.  And lately God has been nudging me to share what I’ve learned through the reading of her books.

Shauna, is a blogger and speaker with Belong Tour and has written these books; Cold Tangerines: Celebrating The Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life; Bittersweet: Thoughts On Change, Grace and Learning The Hard Way; Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around The Table; Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living; and last but not least and the one you will see me refer to often; Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are.

Each one of these books have touched the depth of my heart and soul. God has been teaching me something very important using Shauna’s words.  They compel me to Scripture and then Scripture compels me to dig deeper, more intently into this life I’m living.  The life I’m not just to live in, but to truly engage into His creativity and be aware of every little thing sacred.

I tend to run away from this.  Every time He tells me to slow down and to look around, I start running away on my own, doing my own thing and jumping hoops to keep up with everything and everyone around me.  I get so exhausted so fast. And then I lose focus. And then I call it ‘burn out’ or something. When in fact its nothing but plain disobedience.

I’ve always been a thinker.  I tend to analyze things to death to get the answer I want. At times, I have so many thoughts rolling around in my head I actually think I might go insane if one more thing enters my mind.  I’m learning that our minds weren’t meant to hold that much information.  And we weren’t meant to do every little thing.  Some people were meant to do kingdom work on a grand scale and be loud about it.  Others were meant to do things on a more smaller, simpler scale and be a little less loud about it.  Reaching out to a smaller audience and trusting that God is going to do the great work that will bring Him the glory He deserves.

I’m one of the second group.

I’ve had to learn this the very hard way. I’ve expressed to you over and over how much I love to write. That’s because I am a writer. He has instilled that within me.  I’ve known from a very young age.  I’ve always loved to write. And so therefore is why I dove into the blogging world, because I wanted to use my writing to benefit others.  And I have aspired to make it look professional and make it look like other blogger’s blogs. However, just over the past few weeks, as I’ve been blessed with getting to know other bloggers/faith writers, (tons of them I might add), I’ve realized my blog is not supposed to look like any one else’s and it’s not supposed to fit the mold of any other blog.

This is the space that God has asked me to just write.   So, I’m stepping away from the “how to grow your blog”, “how to brand your blog”, “how to create more traffic on your blog”, “how to monetize your blog”, “how to turn your blog into a book”,  “how to make your blog more alluring”, kind of stuff and I’m going to focus on writing.

Many writers practice writing using books with writing prompts.  I did this sort of thing in Creative Writing back in high school.  I remember how fun it was and how once I got started it seemed the words would flow from me like ink from a pen.  I remember the joy I found in it.  And that’s what I want again.  Just the joy of writing.  And to do that I’ve chosen Shauna’s book, Savor for this practice.

Savor is 365 days of devotions, that help focus on the simple life and the slowing and savoring of all the sacred things in life that we often pass by in our busy-ness of striving to be like others and keeping up.

So what I intend to do is use it as journaling tool/writing practice and write/journal/blog each day this year.

Each of Shauna’s devotions begin with Scripture and ends with a question to prompt you to journal your thoughts and that’s what I will be doing from here this year.  I believe with all my heart and have received some holy confirmation through Scripture and little occurrence’s over these first 11 days of 2017, that this is exactly how God wants me to write this year.

In the introduction to Savor, Shauna writes these words and I wonder if anyone else is like me and could learn to do more of this savoring that she speaks about.

“What I want to do is savor this life–my life, my children, my community, this gorgeous world God created. That’s what we all want, right? To soak up the goodness all around us, to be aware of holy fingerprints everywhere, to walk through each day expecting and noticing those glints and shimmers of the divine right in the daily–in a hug, a tomato sandwich, a quiet moment, a text from someone we love.

That’s what I want, and so often I miss it. I lay in bed at night frustrated with myself that I allowed the minor annoyances of life to obscure the rich melody underneath it. I rush and push and don’t even see the beauty all around me. I let my fear about the unknowns in our future or my desire to control everything and everyone around me cover over the deep beauty and grace and peace that are playing like a drumbeat under everything.

This collection is my attempt of paying attention, at clearing away space and noise, and inviting you to hear the drumbeat, too. God’s always speaking, always. He’s always moving, always present, always creating, always healing. The trick, at least for me, is paying attention. The trick is savoring.

I tend to live in my head-analyzing every word of that last conversation, regretting what I did, anticipating what’s coming, worrying about what could go wrong. Whole plot lines unfold–beginning, middle, end– in the time it takes me to brush my teeth or for the toast to pop up out of the toaster. I’m trying to get out of my head. And I’m trying to get right down into the raw soil of my own life. Because it’s happening whether I decide to notice or not.

Things will not always be as they are now–there will be new things, other things, good things. But I don’t want to miss this, this right now, this sacred everyday. And I don’t want to only see the surface. I want to see the depths–the work of God all around me, in conversations and prayer and silence and music. I want to connect with the God who made me from dust, on purpose and for a purpose. I want to walk through my days in a warm conversation through prayer, aware as I walk that He walks with me, that as I speak, He hears me, that as I rest, He carries me.

I forget so easily that there’s a bigger picture. I’m easily seduced by the bustle of the day–lunch and laundry, deadlines and dinnertime. I forget it’s all being held together by a holy, loving God, and that we get to be His partners in restoration and healing. I forget that there’s more than I can dream.”

Shauna finishes up the introduction by saying, “Let’s remember these things together. Let’s clear away space together, trusting what we’ll find in even small moments of prayer and silence will transform us. When I begin the day in prayer, I find that it’s easier to continue that way. When I begin the day with God’s word, with silence, with a grounding sense of His love for me, then I find it’s easier to bring those things with me throughout the day, and it’s harder for me to locate them if I didn’t pause with them at the start.”

So today It begins.  Today, I will begin to savor life’s sacred moments and write about them here every day.

I promise to try not to plagiarize Shauna’s book, I just felt that the introduction was a must to share so that you could see what kind of journey I am stepping into for 2017.

And I will share some other words and quotes of hers along the way, along with some of her questions as they will be an importance for this practice.  Please know my heart and intent.  And join me in this year of savoring the sacred moments and as I also seek His Holy Validation in all that I am and do.