Showing Up

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This has been the longest stretch of non-writing I’ve had in I can’t remember how long.

Writing is my soul and my heart and my creative space and when I’m not doing it, I feel empty. And then it becomes a cycle. Empty breeds no-words and no-words turns into empty.

There have been some reasons why. The holidays wrung me out so that by the first of the year, I felt like I’d given my whole self away over and over again. On top of that, the flu stole most of January from me and then as a result I’ve been playing catch up with my life.

Someone once to me said that creativity is a river and those words, when heard, pierced me when I was dry.  And the words I dread, even from soul-giving, well-meaning friends is “Are you writing?” They ask because they know how much I need to do it. But I dread it because it is a shamed “No.”

So here I am, trying to crawl back in bed with the discipline that helps me process my life, helps me define myself and helps to calm my soul. To me, it really is more than a discipline: it is a pathway from God to my heart and from my heart to God.

My fingers are creaky and my heart is even creakier; but I am showing up today. And sometimes showing up is all a girl can do.

Seven Simple Ways

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I’m up on The Art of Simple today sharing 7 simple ways we can make the most important people in our lives feel important. 

If you haven’t checked out the new look over there, please hop on over. Formerly Simple Mom, the website has gotten a brand new look!

Come join me over there today! Click here.

A Couple Little Gifts for YOU!

It is the season of giving and advent and hope, so I had a just a couple little gifts I wanted to share with you.

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I bought these JOYN India stockings a month or so ago and I had no idea how cute they would look by my fireplace. And look, Naomi put an early gift in mine!

JOYN India sells beautiful products handmade by artisans in impoverished communities who do 100 percent of the work. Click here to learn more about them.

Good from now until December 15th, you can get these at 40% off! They come in black, red or green chevrons and you will love them. Available through Dayspring, use code JOYN40 at checkout. Click here to view all of them and purchase. 

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My second little gift for you is another discount code for Lisa Leonard Designs. Good now until the 16th, use code hollyjolly for 15% off of ANYTHING except the charm bracelet! I especially love these adorable ornaments for my girls.

Click here to see her site and the other things she has available. But order soon to get them by Christmas!

Happy Friday!

By Invitation Only

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When I wrote this I had an internal conversation. 

Me: Are you really going there?

Me: Yeah. I think I am.

Me: Really? This one is hard. Maybe too hard.

Me: Why?

Me: Because we are talking about friendships and “alignments”  and groups and cliques. And this could get ugly.

Me: But it HAS to be talked about. 

Please laugh at that. Because honestly that’s how it went one morning last week at about 5:30 am. And then I voxed a friend and had an external conversation (more sane and less insane, I know) about these ideas that lasted all day. Thank God for wise friends.

See, we’ve all been both on the inside and on the outside of groups. No matter how you look at it, we’ve each been both a victim and a perpetrator. So I wrote about it. Cliques. Groups. Closed-groups. The shh-don’t-tell-her-so-her-feelings-won’t-get-hurt crap.

I hope you’ll join me over there.

By Invitation Only on (in)courage

I lived most of my life on the edges of cliques. I walked the borders between groups of friends and I bridged gaps between people. And this, of course, was all unintentional because I always would have rathered to just be IN.

Into the inside jokes

Into the shared experiences

Into the sameness while I stood apart.

Groups.

Cliques.

Circles.

Closed…close…cloistered.

Just the nature of a group implies that it is a closed thing and someone will always be hurt.

I don’t know that there are any of us who haven’t been wounded in some way by being excluded. I have. You have.

Yet I realize I’m a part of a lot of groups myself. I’m a part of closed groups. I’m a part of small, close things that no one on the outside gets. I’m a part of invitation-only, cloistered circles that are quiet and safe and lovely. I’ve also weaseled my way into groups of friends that are large and nebulous and free. Everyone knows everyone and everyone loves everyone and there is a whole lot of back-patting and I’m-praying-for-you’s.

But I also know the pain of being left out. READ MORE

 

Under the Fluorescent Lights

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Sometimes I still doubt the goodness of God.

I wake up in warmth (albeit in the dark) and I lie down in softness. I’m living in October, a month that is the most brilliant of the year perhaps and I’m relishing in the beauty of the afternoons and the coolness of mornings spent walking in my neighborhood. I have healthy children, a husband who comes home every night and everything I need within fingertip reach.

I have work to do and it is good work, meaningful work.

Yet I still ask God if He is good.

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Are you really good? I wonder when I lie down in the evening exhausted from my day.

Do you really want good things for me? I think as I write my long-as-my-arm to-do list.

Maybe it’s like the husband who looks at his aging wife’s body and says

You’re beautiful.

And we don’t believe it. Not one bit. We diet and eat less and less until we shrink to a pre-baby body and we still don’t believe that on our hips {widened through years of holding up babies and laundry} we carry grace and love and beauty instead of extra weight.

He looks at his wife naked and says, “You’re perfect.” But she’ll never trust it.  Never believe it in the night next to him or in the fluorescent lights of a dressing room.

It is in the same way that I don’t fully trust in the goodness of God. He shouts it, it seems, from every corner of my life and even my past and my experience. That He is good. That in His goodness he still loves me.

But it’s hard to trust in His perfection when so many people I know have broken themselves over the rocks of this world. And when I’ve broken my own self too.

And when I’ve given up in believing in perfection from humans it is as if I cannot believe in God’s goodness or perfection either. Or maybe it’s just harder to believe that someone still is truly in His heart good. And that He loves me with all my un-goodness.

So maybe, with all my doubt and wondering and vulnerable questions, I still just need to hope. Hope that at some point in my walk toward Him {my walking with Him} will produce that faith that He is good and that we can walk broken and still be loved.

And I can hope that when He looks at me and says, “I am good” that someday I’ll really believe it.

 What about you? Do you doubt God’s goodness sometimes? Is it an act of faith? 

I’d Rather Hide Behind my Words


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I’ve only had a few times in my life where a photographer made me feel like myself. One of them was years ago when I was photographed by a family friend who’d known me for years. She seemed to be able to bring out the best in me.

But last week I had the privilege to be photographed by Kelly Sauer. We’ve been Internet friends for awhile but we don’t know one another well.

I know I’m the most natural when I’m with people I  know very well and I was nervous I was going to be awkward.

But there is something about Kelly, no, there is something about the way about Kelly. Her presence is calming, quiet and beautiful. Something in her made me feel at ease on that side of the lens and seemed to bring out the best me.

I looked at her photos and actually said, “There’s me.”

In a way it’s embarrassing. I’d rather hide behind my words than let someone find ME in a photo. The real me, anyway. But she was able to do it and I love it.

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So a post like this is hard for me. The one who would rather hide and “expose” herself through words rather than photos. But I wanted you to see what a master Kelly Sauer is.

collage3 collage2 i-6BBx82N-XL i-XFCMmpL-XLSo there you have it.

i-pnnR75f-LYou usually get “me” in words, but now I guess there are photos to back it up.

Ha! Who knew I would have so much fun getting my photos taken?!

If you do one thing today, visit Kelly’s websites. She’s a wedding, portrait and fine art photographer based in Charleston, South Carolina but will travel pretty much anywhere to take pictures of you and yours!

She really is some kind of amazing.

Kelly’s website is here and her blog is here. You can follow her on twitter and on instagram. {Do yourself a favor and at least follow her on instagram. She’s a poet with a camera.}

Do you, like me, hide behind words?

 

An Invitation

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I watched a man walk in the gym this morning. Actually I noticed him because he opened the door for me and men often don’t do that.

He was young, nice looking guy, clean cut and very, very normal looking. He smiled at me and so I smiled back and thanked him for holding the door.

It didn’t register until I was already through the door that he walked with a cane and canes are things that young men don’t usually carry.

He had a physical disability that I hadn’t noticed before. He walked with difficulty and needed the cane to support his weight. Everything else about him was “normal” except for his legs.

I put my things away, got on the treadmill and thought about him.

He doesn’t get a choice about wearing his disability on the outside or the inside. He doesn’t get a choice about whether he has to have a conversation with a curious or rude individual who asks about his legs. He doesn’t get a choice about any of that.

Every day he gets up and his physical limitations are an external reality for him.

I get a choice, however.

My broken parts are something I can easily hide. I can tuck them away in my heart and not share them with the world. My cane is not the same. I can blend in with a crowd, use my hair to shield my face and not look at the uglier parts of my heart nor let you see them.

And by this comparison I am not making the assumption that that man’s struggles are anything like mine or that he is “broken” in any way. I will never understand life in the way that he does. But I can’t help but think about the idea of “inside” and “outside” brokenness.

Inside we are all broken and some of us take out pieces of that once in awhile and share it. We group small communities of safe people around us and hope {Oh God, we hope} that those broken places will be something that others will journey with us through. To the end. That those broken pieces will be loved and mended. We hope that the people will be the bread and the drink and that Jesus through them will seep.

We hope.

But sometimes we’ve been hurt and we hide, we shield those pieces that need an emotional cane and a spiritual crutch and we have the choice whether or not we open ourselves to let others journey next to us.

I love that the young man with the cane didn’t hide his legs. He wore shorts, when he could have worn long pants, and he entered a public place where a person’s physical body is the topic of choice.

He is my hero today.

He let the wide world see the places of his limitations and he didn’t care. So maybe we, with our inside “limitations” should take a lesson to be more open and we with our inside “limitations” should take a care with those who are open and raw.

Maybe we should say “yes” to this invitation.

But in the end it’s all grace.

Full

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been full.

Satisfied, satiated, content.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt brimming-over, to-capacity, bursting-through with life. So full. Full of words and people and laughter. Full of vulnerability and complete with love. It’s been a long time and now here, for whatever short time I am filled, I’m aware at how hungry I’ve been.

When we are full, all the good things boil to the top. All the healthy, beloved things become easier to reach. All the vain things fade. I know who I am. I know what I’m called to do.

When I am hungry, those things are harder to grasp.

Community, true good God-community fills us. It gives us the platform from which to function better and love well. When we spend time with friends and family who love without question and who encircle and cover our brokenness, they become Jesus to us. And it fills us.

Because He is the bread. He says that we don’t have to be hungry any more. That we can be filled.

People are that same sort of bread to one another. They become the Jesus-hands that fill us.

Full. 

This kind of full is better than good food and better than good wine.

It’s as good as it gets.

 

The Gift of Being Together

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So when one person decides to go out on a limb and emails all his friends and says, I’m going to rent a big house and we’re all going to pile in. And I don’t know what it entails or who will really be there but it will be good. And will we have enough beds? Maybe. Maybe someone will sleep on the sofa or the ground, but I know it will be amazing.

When someone does this you say yes.

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And so we bring guitars and the wine and people from all over. {Arkansas crashes against California somewhere in the middle in oh so beautiful ways}. And we bring exhaustion and laughter and fears and we bring hugs that have been way too long in the waiting.

And we bring ideas.

Questions.

Conversations.

ideacamp3So now we are family and I wonder if this is a little what the hereafter looks like. It makes me want the next stage all the more.

This has been more of a gift, more of a blessing than I ever knew I needed {or thought I deserved}.

One of these precious friends says to people,

“You’re a gift.”

And we are. We are gifts to each other. There is a gift in being together. There is a gift in providing a safe, warm place to be. There is a gift in food. There is a gift in wine and in music. There is a gift in serving alongside one another.

How I want to be, for the rest of me, is a gift to the people around me.

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I spent the last week in Austin for Idea Camp with some amazing people from all over the US and the world. Checkout the #ichc hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for a peek. And if you want to come to the next gathering we assemble, check out The Idea Camp on Facebook and on twitter.

The Simplicity {and Significance} of Saying I Love You

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If you want to know where I am today, where my heart is, it’s in the heart of this post I just wrote for Simple Mom. I’m up on there today talking about the significance of words. Our words. Your words. And how words can change a life.

The Simplicity {and Signifcance} of Saying I Love You

I think we underestimate the power our words have.

Over and over again in songs and in blog posts and in People Magazine articles about celebs who call it quits, we see the phrase, “They were only words.”

Only words.

In everything there is a small shred of reality and even in this, there is truth. We can speak words and they can mean nothing. Or we can speak words and they can mean everything.

We can throw around words like they are as light as feathers shed from birds or we can wield them with power and confidence because, I am coming to believe, they can have more significance than we know.

And for our spouses {and the ones closest to us} the words “I love you,” however basic, mean quite a bit…

Read more…