Because maybe you are too.

20140406-095702.jpg

At fourteen, I wanted to create art. Not because it was cool, or to impress anyone, but because I had, inside of me, something that needed to come out. I had a darkness that pushed on my flesh from the inside and never let me rest.

 

It’s sad to say, that someone so young could feel that broken. But, it’s true. Yet, telling you the truth is the last thing I want to do. And even though, quite frankly, I’m awfully tired of lying—it wears on me—it’s heavy; exhausting—I am afraid, still.

 

I’m afraid you’ll see me and leave. Not just see me, but really…see me.

 

In the last several years I’ve been on this journey. Sometimes, it looks like words on paper, sometimes, some thing else. And I have kept focused on the road with very few detours. Oh, okay, I had some detours. Who doesn’t? Mostly though, I tried to keep my eyes ahead, to not look back.

 

But something called out. When they said, “Be honest.” When they told me to be myself.

 

What if I don’t want to, I thought. What if I don’t know who that is?

 

But, that’s a lie. And I know the truth.

 

I am an artist.

 

I didn’t not know this. But yesterday I heard someone speaking about who an artist is, and I saw myself. I didn’t really want to. But I did. And art can take on all forms; writing is art. Certain forms of it more so than others. But to paint a picture–whether with acrylics or adjectives—is still rendering a view. There is something created, something new in the universe that wasn’t there before.

 

That is art.

 

And you know I always find it interesting how God speaks, and when, and through whom. This morning it was through my seventh grade art teacher, Sara Pitts. Her written words that have transcended time to speak to me now, some three decades after they were penned.

 

It was Christmas, 1984. The day before break she caught me as I was leaving the building, quickly stuffed a small envelope in my hands and smiled warmly. Her eyes were always dancing, but this time they were more solemn. I don’t remember, but I wonder if they were glassy, if she fought tears. Or did she even know the impact she would forever have in my life all because she saw me, she really saw me.

IMG_5749

“Thanks,” I offered, acting adolescently casual. I shoved the envelope in my bag and pushed through the doors into the December cold. That evening I read them, held the crisp $10 bill she gave me. The money intended for me to purchase a cassette disc. I loved music, always. I still do.

IMG_5755

I know I read the words then. I know they impacted me, especially because no one else in my struggling teenaged life seemed to give a rats. Her gesture of genuine kindness has always stuck with me. That letter has set in a box of things too precious for me to dispose of for over thirty years. Today, however, I read it differently. I saw it as if for the first time.

 

 

The meaning of the letter as a whole was to encourage me to follow my heart, to see myself for who I truly was, the way others saw me as well—as an artist.

 

 

She knew it would be hard, so she told me to have courage.

photo (1)

Be patient with myself.

photo (4)

But, ultimately, it whispered what she knew about my soul; it would thirst after art. Creating. Living the creation. And maybe, even having a career in art.

 

She said I was special. And I am. And, so are you. You artists. You creators. You dreamers and doers.

 

You who follow the beat of a different drum. You who see beauty in the places others miss.

 

I see this in my daughter, Holly. I see her finding so much true joy in creating art, and I pray that the world doesn’t steal that from her. Because I know it will try. It will tell her she isn’t good enough. It will say art is not acceptable as a career. It’s not honorable work. How can you survive doing art? Where will you live? What will you eat?

 

And while money is important in it’s own right, in its proper place, it is not an end in its self. It is simply a means. And a means will not fulfill. And those who try to stuff their square pegs into round holes will tell you this; no matter how you fold in on yourself, those rough edges just won’t fit. The world can press down, and pound away, but you will never be what you truly are not.

 

If you are an artist, you will never be satisfied until you are creating art.

 

You were made by a creator. The Grand Creator. And if you are knit together with threads of art and beauty, and the desire to recognize and create that, you will not ever be what you were made to be until you fully accept it.

 

So maybe you are an artist. And maybe you’re not. But if you are, listen to your heart. Stop fighting what your soul is so clearly thirsting for. Be yourself. Be real.

photo (3)

Live the art you were made to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Because sometimes I’d rather hide than live my purpose.

IMG_3812

 

There was time in my life when I believed I was ready for all God had called me to do. My vision was clear, the goal was in sight, and I felt like my toolbox was full with all I’d need to reach my purpose and live my destiny.

And then, I woke up.

Since that day, I’ve come to realize that when I think I know what God has in mind, I better get my face on the floor and start repenting of my ignorance. You just can’t give God your message, it has to be the other way around. And although I know He works with us and through us to achieve His plans here on earth, I know we are virtually almost blind to these plans until He is ready to reveal them. In other words, when I think I have a handle on things, I better step back because He’s about to blow the doors off.

Quite frankly, that scares me to death. And, to the extent I was willing and ready in the beginning, the closer I get to (what I believe) are His true purposes for me, the more terrified I become. I believe that’s a good thing.

“You will NOT succeed by your own strength or power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6 NCV)

 

In other words, if you can reach what you believe is Gods plan for you on your own, then you don’t get it yet. His plans are bigger. Harder. Longer.

You’ll need more coffee. More sleep. More prayer. Got those? Good, now you’ll need more of a hundred other things you don’t have. Things you can’t get on your own. Things only He can provide. And when you come to that realization, you’ll be at the starting line of what He really wants you to do, what He really meant when he called you.

Frightening isn’t it?

So, I wrote this book. And you’ve all heard me ramble a little about it here and there. I thought it held such purpose for me, which is ironic because I titled it, appropriately, Held. When I began I had no writing experience. I’d always been a reader. But at that point in my life, fiction was a distant dream. The words I was ingesting then consisted of medical journals, cancer related stories, government finances. Words far from the life of a young woman in a small Colorado town, a girl torn between the pain of her past and pain of her present. A girl hiding behind walls of self protection, painting herself brave–an island. Far from who I was, and where I was.

Or, so I thought.

But, now it’s finished. And a wonderful editor uses the talents and time God has given her to examine my words and to give them meaning, value, and direction. She is making my words better, making the story better, and weaving Gods purpose through both our lives with this act. And more and more, as I think about Maggie’s story, the one I tell in Held, I realize the parallels to my own life, ones I couldn’t see before this point. I also see my purpose shifting, sands moving beneath my feet and sending me towards higher ground.

At this stage of the game, I want to hold on to my book. I want to clench my little fists around it and protect it. But, as God continues to reveal, His purposes are bigger for this story, and bigger for me. I thought writing fiction was big enough. Hard enough. A long enough wait. Now, I see He was only building me up for a new thing, another step into uncharted territory.

It’s frightening, yes, but this time, it’s exciting as well. And some days I want to camp out with my Keurig and hide in my house. But He won’t let me. He walks with me. He calls me forward. He takes my hand and leads me out of the comfort of the same and into the bigger place He has planned. I’m scared, but ultimately, I know I’m held, I’m safe.

My story–the one I wrote–and the story God wrote through my life (is writing) isn’t through yet. It’s only beginning. And I just know, it’s going to be a lovely ride. So I’m embracing the fear and watching as He reveals it, a little more everyday. I’m rejoicing with every new relationship–every person He brings to ride along beside me, with me on this journey.

But most of all, I’m glad I didn’t give up all the times I thought I could do this and failed, all the times when I thought I had reached the goal line and it moved, all the times when I felt the weight of something that would take more than I had.

I will never have all the answers. I will never have everything I need to accomplish His purposes on my own. It’s going to take me, you, and thousands of others–some of whom I know–and some of whom I will never know, or see, or learn of until I get home to Heaven. Grasping that has changed the game for me. It’s made me more grateful, more receptive to His gifts, and brought me closer to my actual purpose.

What a great place to start.

 

5 Ways to Fight Depression

Thanks Seth for presenting truth in such a palatable manner. Great reminders.

Seth Adam Smith

Fighting Depression As someone who struggles with chronic depression, I have had to develop a number of techniques to fight it. Before I share some of them with you there is one thing that must be said: In order to fight depression you must first believe that you can fight it. You have to shed the idea that “it’s hopeless,” or “I can’t do this,” or “I’m stuck.” You cannot fight something if you’ve already accepted defeat. I can’t give you advice if you already believe that nothing can help you. As author James A. Owen says, “If you really want to do something, no one can stop you – but if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you.”

That being said, I will repeat the fact that I have chronic, genetic depression. It would be easy (and acceptable) for me to say that I am a victim of…

View original post 912 more words

Who says?

What is the truth about you and who gets to say?

Is it your sister, your mother, or your spouse? Is it the amount of followers you have on Twitter or the friends you have on Facebook? Maybe it’s the person who neglected the friendship with you, or that kid in fifth grade who called you dumb. There are voices coming at you from all different directions. But which are valid? Which ones are speaking the truth?

What if I told you you are valued, loved, and cherished beyond belief? What if I spoke into your fear and told you are equipped for every good work which the God of the universe set you apart to do from before the beginning of time? Could you believe it? Would you?

The world will lie to you. Your value is in your career, money, or fame, it says. Your worth is in physical beauty–perfection. It’s the clothes you wear or the car you drive that makes you important. Are you clever or funny? Cynical or sad? Then that gives you worth, it whispers.

But when is it enough? How good do you have to be and what level wealth or success will give you peace? How high is the bar, and who set it?

I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but the truth is, you may never reach it.

Or maybe you will.

And then what?

God set eternity in the hearts of men. You and I, we have a built in longing for a relationship with the God who created the universe and everything in it. We can chase other gods. We can run after other things–money, power, acclaim–but they will never fill us, fulfill us.

Oh, they may be a temporary fix. Does it feel good to win? Of course. Do power and success touch our deep places making us feel awake and alive? I’d be lying if I said they didn’t. Admiration tastes sweet. And when we ache, when we hurt, popularity and fame are like a salve–a healing balm–covering over (even if only temporarily) that nagging void in all of us.

But they will never be the puzzle piece that fits the empty place in our hearts, the place that was made for and by the God of the universe. And I bet you know that. You know it’s never enough.

You know, because you’ve tried, haven’t you? I know I have. Addictions and desires, I’ve let them carry me. I’ve made people my god, their approval my sustenance. So many times I’ve been in that place, over and over. You know that place. Face down broken. Heart dead. Empty.

Again.

Because, here’s the deal–this is truth; whatever you’re chasing–whatever it is you’re running hard after–if it’s not God–it will never be enough. It will never fix you.

There is no pill for your sick heart. There is no cure for this poison you’ve swallowed. There is no repair for your broken. None.

I hate to be the one to tell you, but there is only way out. Death. That one first death and then a million other tiny moments of dying to yourself–your own selfish weakness–is the only way out of this mess we’re in. Letting go and letting God burn you down to ashes is the only true path to beauty.

It won’t be fun, and maybe it won’t look pretty. But it is the answer. It is the cure. It is because He is and always will be the only way to wholeness, to healing, to help.

What are you holding onto, or withholding from God, that is keeping you from being beautifully broken? Be made new today. Die to what you think you need and let God give you what He alone knows will satisfy your heart~

The buck stops here.

IMG_1402

 

So. I just wrote that last post and not ten minutes later God pretty much stormed down my door and called me on my B.S.

That’s BRAVE? That’s what I told you to say? That’s how I moved in your heart?

Whatever. Get over yourself and tell them MY words. The words I gave YOU to speak.

None of us wants to do that. Do we? We’re all thinking one thing, and saying another.

Or, saying nothing.

And I want to be cleaning my front yard, or folding some laundry. Okay, maybe want isn’t the right word here. But I have plenty of things to do. My plate is full. So is yours. I have my agenda, you have yours.

But here’s the deal. See, I’m taking this course over at Tribe Writers written by this guy named Jeff. He’s pretty cool. He is good at calling people out, encouraging writers, building influencers; people who want to tell the truth–their truth–but they need help. Inspiration. A kick in the pants. People, like me.

The thing is, I go over there and I’m all encouraging, and supportive (well, mostly) and I keep telling people “Be BRAVE!”, “Use your words!”, “Speak Up!” When really, it’s just a bunch of hypocritical horse-pucky, because I won’t do it myself. I won’t open my own mouth and tell you what I believe.

Because…I’m afraid. Afraid of peoples opinions. Their judgement.

It’s ridiculous.

I’m ridiculous. I have been more afraid of what people think of me than I was of the God of the universe. I think I need to lie down…

But I’m not going to. I’m done wasting God’s time. He doesn’t need another pretty face. He doesn’t need another person to hold up and protect. I’m not going to let Him waste His love on me. He wants me, wants my soul, all of it.

I am special. I was chosen for a reason. God’s not going to walk out on me, He’s faithful. He wants to be all I need and for me to see His heart.

I can’t let another minute go to waste because God was crazy for wanting me. The truth is, He was crazy for wanting all of us. But, here’s the most insane thing: those of us who know that, aren’t living like it.

Where is grace? Do we even understand it? Grace.

You know, people everywhere are talking about how the church is broken. In some ways, maybe even useless. They are walking away. People like Donald Miller, and Barbara Brown Taylor. People in the church, and those outside of it. But The Church is not a place, or a denomination, it’s a people. It’s us. You and me, we are THE CHURCH.

“It is impossible that the church should do anything that individuals do not do”

A.W. Tozer

Hello? The church is people. It’s us people! We are asleep folks. We’re like the walking dead. We’ve become zombies for crying out loud! Just like the new testament church in 1 Corinthians 10, and the Israelites in Deuteronomy 1, we we’ve stayed long enough at this mountain. Much, much too long.

It’s time to possess some promised land.

Do you want it? Because I do.

Because I’m sick to death of the culture war. It makes me gag. I’m tired of us chasing our tails while the world burns down. We want to save the world, just not, you know, all those sinners.We pick our little darlings and parade them around; homosexuality being target Numero Uno.

Am I lying? Really? Prove me wrong.

So, when was the last time you talked to a homosexual? Never? Well, I have. Lots of them. I call them friends. I love them. And when I see them, I have to hold back because what I really want to do is run to them and hold them. I want to weep. I want to tell them I’m sorry.

I’m sorry you are the scapegoat of our generation. I’m sorry you are our pet sin. I’m sorry we–the church–would rather shoot the hostage than kill the kidnapper.

Do we have to agree with their choices? NO. I probably don’t agree with all your choices either. I don’t agree with all my own. In fact, I’m pretty ashamed at my own choices on a daily basis. I have plenty of opportunity to regret.

How would things change if, this Sunday, when you walked into church they gave you a piece of paper at the door, a pen or pencil, and a safety pin.

“Please write down all your sins for this week so we can all see them and judge you accordingly.”

 

Would you do it? What would it say?

Liar? Thief? Adulterer? Glutton? Idolater?

Feeling convicted yet? Or, did you need me to SHOW YOU your sin before you felt convicted? This is a blog for pete’s sake–I can’t see you. But you feel it don’t you. That gnawing, aching feeling in your chest? That? Oh, that’s the Holy Spirit. Yeah. And you know what? He doesn’t need my help–or anyone else’s–to act. He’s pretty good on His own.

Do you think we could maybe give Him a chance to work…all on His own. For once?

Huh, Church? Are you listening yet? Are we awake yet? Or is God going to have to kick start us a little harder. You think He won’t? Because I know He will. Keep ignoring Him and He will just have to start talking louder.

Does this post offend you? Does it make you angry? You know what I wish it would do? I wish it would break your heart. I wish the church really was broken. Broken enough to be what it was meant to be.

I wish this post would make you want to go find the first person you can that needs Gods Love, Mercy, and Grace and hug them. I wish you’d love them and accept them the way God loved and accepted you–with all your flaws. The flaws you have now, still today. Oh you’re forgiven, that’s right. But you aren’t perfect yet. And I’ll bet you know that.

God loved me right in the middle of my sin. He loved me before I sinned. He knew I was going to screw up, and keep on screwing up. Even when I want to get it right. Even when I think I have it right, even now, this second–when I feel like I’m right where He wants me– saying exactly the words He wants me to say–I could be wrong.

But if I’m going to err, I’d rather err on the side of love, than caution.

I’m done playing it safe.

 

 

When God speaks

IMG_4275

 

God is not some harsh task master. Instead, He often invites us quietly to

 

Come dream with me~

 

 

He calls us with purpose and kindles the fire in our hearts to move into the plans He has for us.

Often, this voice has come to me softly, gently. But other times it’s been sudden, immediate, and fierce. When God speaks to your heart, He has a reason. Maybe it’s because you are the person to accomplish something in His will. Or maybe, you need to pray for someone else, or lead them, or give them a word from Him. The ways God can move are limitless and never fail to astound me.

In my own life, I have found that the more I listen for–and respond to–Gods voice and nudging in my spirit, the more He moves. He speaks louder, and more clearly, the more I listen and obey. And sometimes it’s just been little things; say a kind word, apologize, forgive. Other times, it’s been in big things; surrender, give…go to Africa.

Yeah. I know, right? Scary stuff when God speaks like that.

Yet, going to Africa was the single biggest act of faith I’ve experienced. And mainly, because after that, everything else felt small. I learned who I was, and who I’m not, in Africa. Now, when God speaks, I know, and believe, what He says–He means. I trust Him.

I want to partner with Him. I don’t just want God riding shotgun, I want Him driving.

And I don’t even have to see the road anymore. As long as He is taking me, I want to go.

So, this morning, during my devotional time, He gave me one of those sudden insights of purpose. It kind of knocked me off-guard at first. I was all like “Who?” and “What?” And “Are you kidding me?? How am I supposed to do THAT!?”

But it isn’t about me. He let me know that right away. It’s not about what I can (or can’t) do. It’s about what He has already done. My only responsibility is to use my words, and to walk the path He has already made for me to walk.

When the time comes, I will share what that means. But, for now, I need your prayers. I need prayers for clarity, favor, and vision. I’d love miraculous guidance. And really that depends on my listening for His voice so I can respond quickly and accurately.

How can I pray for you and the purpose God has planned for your life?

Painted in Waterlogue

 

I wrote you a post. Last week. Way last week. But in the crazy middle of all that’s been happening I forgot to share it. So, today I reread it, and was getting ready to hit send, when it occurred to me to–instead–be honest.

Some days, that is the last place I want to be; ownership. Transparency. REAL.

I run. When it’s hard, I hide. Escape is my default mode and, until people get to really know me, they are often perplexed as to my strange behavior. One day I’m all in-your-face friendly and talkative. Then, with-in a weeks time, I disappear.

When I first met my friend Shannon, I was elated. She was like a breath of fresh air in my stale little-town world. She was cool, and funny, and she was from Colorado (my happy place) so how could I not love her? We talked for hours and I have the phone bills to prove it. Our kids loved each other, we drank coffee like hyper-addicted caffeinated fools. We bared our hearts and shared our dreams. It was divine.

But then…I fell into a funk. It’s called fear. Or depression. Or, writers block. Or, personality block… It hits me every once in awhile. Or, you know, every other day…but I hadn’t ever broached it with her. So, instead of whining and risking the potential of ruining a perfectly wonderful new relationship, I ran.

I know she wondered. Because she told me. When I finally got over myself and gave her a call. She was understanding. But more over, she was supportive. And she has since become a rock to me. She is someone who speaks blessing over my life when all I see is failure and death. And, when I need it, she’s not afraid to call me on all my B.S.

I really need that.

Everyone needs someone who can build you up–and tear you down–without destroying or degrading you. You need truth. You need REAL. You won’t grow or bloom without it.

So, this week has been hard. Oh, and last week too. Not to be pessimistic, but I’m thinking it may be that way for awhile. I mean, really, when isn’t life hard? But, instead of hiding in my shell and rotting in here, I’m moving forward.

I’m going to stand here and face the words. Face the REAL. BE BRAVE.

How can I help you BE BRAVE as well?