What is Possible

Some people look at the world and think: What is not possible. Some people see the same world or set of circumstances and see what IS possible.

I have to confess. I’m great at finding the problems in things.

Maybe it’s me being a critic or a cynic. Or maybe it’s a gift. I can see the logistical issues, the why-it-can’t-work and I’m the one who asks the hard questions.

How will you implement this? What is your plan, I ask.

I’ve been accused of being not looking at the macro but focusing on the micro. But the way I see it, at least in relationships and for homework and cooking dinner and delegating chores, focusing on the micro ensures the macro will work.

Haiti-Ferrrier-Village-Lg-001-7865Haiti-Ferrrier-Village-Lg-001-7865And yes, on a bad day, it may be a little dream-dashing. When I ask the hard questions, dreamers like my husband are forced to come face to face with reality.

Sigh.

I know I’m not alone and I’m not sure it is as simple as optimism and pessimism, though. I could take this and put myself in a pessimist camp. But I’m not a pessimist. I’m a big believer in grace and in big impossible things.

But as a daily liver of life, sometimes the details seem bigger than they are.I think I’ve lived a long time looking at the world and seeing what is NOT possible.

Haiti-Ferrrier-Village-Lg-001-7895

I’d rather look at the world and notice what is possible

So how do we, do I, move from a what is NOT possible to what IS possible type of thinking? How do I zoom out and see the macro?

When life has been lived and real dreams and relationships do get broken by life sometimes, and when I see my daughters struggle at school, and I see my husband struggle at work and I see my own struggles. It’s hard to not see the details. The details are the dailies, they are the dishes in the sink and the dirty towels on the floor of the bathroom. The details are my world.

Haiti-Ferrrier-Village-Lg-001-8029

I don’t have an answer.

In just nine days I’m going to board a plane with 5 other friends headed to Port Au Prince, Haiti.

And I have to confess that I’m a little interested in what I’m going to do with Haiti.

Everyone has told me that the problems are  [Read more...]

You Are Magic

We have a friend who didn’t believe in such a thing as a narwhal.

“Sure there’s such a thing.” I told him, “Here.”

I opened up my laptop and looked up a video of a narwhal, a real life “unicorn” on You Tube and an older National Geographic clip came up. Narwhals. Unicorns, sort of.

And I watched too. It was even a bit surreal to me too, even though I had not been newly introduced to the creatures. Wow.

“Amazing.” It is a little magical, I thought.

youaremagic

When I treated myself to this little juice glass from Anthropologie I had no idea it would be the favorite. We would all fight over this little glass when we sat down to dinner and breakfast.

You are magic. Accompanied by a whimsical drawing of a narwhal, as if the artist knew that some people might not believe.

What does it take to believe? A photo? A video?

Our friend believed only after he saw the video and I then remembered how strange and awe-inspiring they were. And I might not have believed either.

What does it take to believe that we, each of us, are truly magic?

I can tell my daughters day after day that they are magical, the stuff of awe, but they might still walk through the next years not really understanding it. I can tell myself that God’s gifted me {all of us} in unique, magical, non-explainable ways but I still live my life with anxiety, discouragement and boredom at times.

What will it take to make us believe?

Maybe we can try to live in continual wonderment at this world. We can be amazed. And we can be amazed regularly.

Children are amazed daily at the most regular of things. I’m remembering my toddlers (now in lanky girl bodies) being astonished by dandelions, ocean waves and seashells.

The entire world was magic.

What would it take for us to believe, like the young explorers of this world, that the simple fact of being alive is a magical and beautiful thing?

Let’s tell our children that they are magic so they don’t forget. Let’s tell our spouses and friends that what they add to our lives is irreplaceable. Let us stop, just for a tiny moment today, and be in awe of this earth.

Because it is magic.

The Hardest Battle

climbingnaoquote

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine asked me, “Where is God at work most in your life?”

Preface this with the notion that we were meeting specifically to talk about goals and plans and futures and dreams, and being the wise, good woman she is, she asked this question.

“I guess, and maybe this isn’t spiritual enough, but I feel God is at work in helping me understand who I am.” I answered her.

She nodded and smiled. “Of course that’s God.”

“I guess my self and my personality is where I feel most settled. And if that’s an indication of where God is working the most, then yes. It’s in who I am.”

It feels almost silly to say this, but that is exactly where God has been working in me in the last year. Finally, at the age I am, I feel like I’m really learning who I am and who I am not. And I have come to find out, I like me.

***

I turned 39 over the holidays, on New Year’s Eve. And I feel like 40 is looming closer and closer and closer.

Every winter-to-spring month that ticks off the calendar just seems one step closer to, I don’t know, the middle of life? I find myself saying things like, “before I turn 40” and “I hope I can do that before I reach 40” as if 40 is some kind of crazy benchmark.

But one thing that I believe I’m doing well in my year-before-forty is making friends with myself.

When we become new friends with someone we spend time together, we laugh, we talk, we discuss, or maybe we simply sit. Getting to know someone is sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, but it always takes time.

On one hand I want to chide myself for not getting to know myself sooner. But on the other hand, I believe I’m right on time. I’m that complex, maybe, that it has taken my almost forty years to figure out who I am. Or maybe that’s how it is intended for all of us — to spend the greater parts of our lives becoming satisfied with how He has made each of us.

 ***

The world tries so hard to make us into something God never intended. The poet e.e. Cummings said, “to be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing it’s best to make you somebody else is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. never stop fighting.”

Getting to know yourself is only half the battle, I wonder. The other part is to hang on to ourselves.

Let’s today resolve to do two things, if we can.

First, let us become friends with ourselves. It is more than just getting to know ourselves. It’s more than understanding our gifts, our personalities, our fears and behaviors, and the ways our experiences have shaped us. It’s also being okay with who it is we are.

And secondly, let us fight to be ourselves. Once we have made friends with ourselves, we need to fight, fight, fight to hang on to what we’ve found. Be loudly you, unabashedly, beautifully you. Because it really is important.

Where is God most at work in my life? In me.

Haiti with Help One Now

helponebloggergraphic

This really isn’t your regular bloggers trip. This is special. 

I have the privilege of traveling with 5 other bloggers and storytellers  to Haiti this spring with Help One Now and I would love for you follow along with us.

Follow along with us as we travel Palm Sunday weekend this year, from April 12-16. Follow us as we tell the stories of the children rescued from trafficking, from poverty and from a life of neglect. Follow us as we tell the stories of their caregivers, the day-to-day warriors who live in the trenches with Jesus and with these children.

And be sure and follow these other amazing storytellers as well.

Sarah Bessey

sarahbessey.com

twitter – @sarahbessey

insta – @sarahbessey

 

Erika Morrison

the-lifeartist.com

twitter – @erikalifeartist

insta – @thelifeartist

 

Amber Haines

theRunaMuck.com

twitter – @amberchaines

insta – @amberchaines

 

Laura Tremaine

hollywoodhousewife.com

twitter – @hollywoodhwife

insta – @hollywoodhwife

 

Krista Smith

The Saturated Canary

insta – @saturatedcanary

 

Sarah Markley

sarahmarkley.com

twitter – @sarahmarkley

insta – @sarahmarkley

 

Check out their websites. You won’t be disappointed! And check out the announcement on the Help One Now blog here.

My Favorite Books, For Now

youaremagic

A couple months ago Jessica Turner asked me to participate in a “best books” series on her blog. I loved being a part of it, but I’ll have to say, it’s not easy picking my 10 best books of all time. The way I see it, I’ve been reading books for 35 years and to find the best 10 out of all of that? Not an easy feat.

So these aren’t my favorites of all of the years, but these are the best ones I like for now. Ask me in 12 months and I might have a different list.

(Originally published on The Mom Creative)

Non Fiction

Bird By Bird – Anne Lamott

I read this book on writing at least once a year and have done so for the last four or five years.  You should too. I promise. It will help your writing and remind you why you write in the first place. If you have ever heard me speak on writing I’m sure I mentioned it once or eleven times.

On Writing – Stephen King

This is actually my current read (as a Christmas gift from a friend) and I’m not finished but including it on this list anyway. I’m convinced it will be a go-to, and a go-back-to for a long time. Plus I’m a big King fan (as you will be able to tell).

 A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Don Miller

Reading this book about 3 years ago gave me the courage to try to live a good story, to push through some fears I’d been wallowing in and to see my future as a grand adventure that I can’t wait to live. I kinda love anything Don Miller writes but this is my favorite of his. 

A Circle of Quiet – Madeline L’Engle

I’m not a huge fan of nonfiction in general, but I do love a good memoir. L’Engle wrote her more famous children’s series including A Wrinkle in Time but this book is simply marvelous. And if you have a chance, pick up the other ones in the Crosswicks Journals series: The Irrational Season, The Summer of the Great Grandmother and The Two-Part Invention.

Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

I’m putting this under non-fiction, but it reads like a novel. Erik Larson does such an amazing job of telling a true story so that you don’t know its non-fiction. It’s two stories, actually, the story of the building of the 1893 Columbian Expostion in Chicago as well as the story of America’s 1st real serial killer, H. H. Holmes. It’s a little chilling in places, but Larson’s descriptions of the World’s Fair makes anyone want to travel back 120 years just to see it. But please if you do, do all that you can to avoid HH. 

 

Fiction 

11/22/63 – Stephen King

I’m a huge fan of Stephen King and on my wish-list-bucket-list would be to have lunch with him someday. I was never allowed to read him growing up (and maybe for good reason) but a few years ago I began moving through his most popular books because I was on a journey to become a better storyteller. And his 11/22/63 (about time travel and the assassination of JFK – right, I know) is brilliant and surprisingly, my favorite of his novels.

My Antonia – Willa Cather

I don’t know how to explain this book or my love of it, but it is simply beauty. One of the best American novels ever written, in my opinion, and now that I flip through it again, I wonder (I really wonder) if Cather influenced me as a writer. Oh I hope she has. I’m going to re-read this very soon.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

You know how a book gets into your soul when you are in your forming years and stays there? That’s this book for me. It may be different for you, but for me it’s Jane Eyre. Even if I wanted to I can’t get it out of my soul.

The Paris Wife – Paula McLain

Loved loved loved this book. I’m a novel girl and when a well-written novel juxtaposes with history and literature both, I’m hooked. It’s the fictionalized story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley.  Summer read. Or winter read. Either. Or both.

The Meaning of Night – Michael Cox

Another Victorian setting (Devil in the White City is too) and it reads a little slow in the beginning. But give it a chance. The author wrote one more book (The Glass of Time) which is loosely tied to the story in Night, but then Cox died. I fell in love with this author and then was devastated to realize that the author would be writing no more.

 

There are so many more that I love: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, Elie Wiesel’s Night are a few and of course the Dark Tower series by King (but that is not for the faint of heart). I’m also pretty much a fan of anything my friends write: Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist rocks. Emily Freeman, Rebekah Lyons, and Tsh Oxenrider have done well lately too, so check them out if you haven’t.

What are a few of your favorites, for now?

How To Find Your Creativity

califsunsetjan

I’m the first to admit I fill my head and my life with noise. It’s deafening sometimes. And when there isn’t noise {like the natural kind that comes with having an active family} I put more noise in my life.

I listen to new Spotify playlists and books on Audible. I listen to Voxer messages and voicemails {who am I kidding, I don’t listen to voicemails.} I flip through Pulse on my iPad and scroll through Instagram on my phone.  I turn on NPR and then when I get home I put on music in the house.

My life, during the normal times of the day when there should be pause — rest — meditation, I fill.

And I wonder why I am having trouble with creativity.

If creativity is a river, which I believe it is, it isn’t always a rushing one. I’m learning that I can either stunt it or I can make space for it. Part of inspiration is my own choice.

I’ve begun to understand that for me to engage in writing to any degree of frequency or quality, I need to have time and space to think.

I need to have that time and space to think that I haven’t filled with other noise, to clear off the proverbial table of all the clutter and make room for new thoughts.

I need to make room for words and ideas to form and flourish.

Years ago I used to run in the mornings without any music, without any phone, and without any distraction at all. And there were very few mornings that I wouldn’t come back from my 45-60 minutes out without a great idea or two.

God spoke to me so much clearer then.

I think some creativity is God-speaking and some is inside-inspiration. Maybe it’s all a mixture of both, but even so, for us to be creative we must create space.

The last month and a half has been pretty much devoid of any creativity with traction in my life. My writing has been, well, invisible and my thoughts have been filled with which emails demand the quickest response. I’ve realized, I have no time to think.

Create space to create creativity.

Make room to think for more thoughts. 

Tune out other words so that new ones will form.

Turn off the music and maybe a new poem can be written.

On Miracles and Grace

horselight

Roald Dahl said that those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

I wonder if we could say the same about

hope

or grace

or wonder

or beauty.

Or even miracles.

Do you believe in miracles? I am pretty sure I used to. But if I’m honest, I can’t say that I do any longer.

But I do believe in grace. I wonder if that’s enough sometimes to make up for the rest.

Dahl also asked us to “watch with glittering eyes the whole world around [us] because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”

Maybe that’s the way to find the miracles. To watch the whole world with intention, with wonder, with openness, and that is when, those of us who lag in our innocent faith, will see a world of grace and miracles.

And maybe this  is faith. Knowing well the miracles and the magic are there, perhaps still not believing fully, but searching for them anyway.

And then grace. On the other side of fear, of unbelief, of long journeys into difficulty is grace. I believe that is where He meets us.

Showing Up

rockbed

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

importantpeople

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.

joynstockings

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. 

hollyjolly

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!