And then BOOM! A Mack truck flies through the room.

I’ve never mentioned it here. And, the truth is, I don’t mention it often. I try not to think of it, quite frankly, if I don’t have to.

 

But I was doing some cleaning yesterday and found my journal from last year.

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Lots of people journal. My Mom has kept one for years. She writes her ups and downs, her dreams and thoughts, answers to prayer and the ways God moves in her life.

I’ve never read it. But, I think of it often and wonder what it will be like when I read it. How will it feel to look into her head and her heart. To peruse through her life from her perspective, to see myself through her eyes.

And so, I don’t talk it about it much, that my oldest daughter has Multiple Sclerosis. Diagnosed at age sixteen, after suffering through it for at least two years, she battles like a champ. She has always been a champ. At everything.

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That’s why it was such a shock. A sucker punch. Yes, God, have my oldest daughter–the National Champion Gymnast. The one with I.Q. of 143 at age eleven. Take her brain, her body, use it how you will for your glory.

Did you ever have to say that? Has it ever occurred to you what it takes to say that? Do you know how...hard, it is to say that?

And so, maybe, letting you peruse my head–and my heart–from the private words I wrote in my journal last year, maybe that will help you see how it feels to say that. At least how it felt for me.

June 14, 2013

I do not want Erin to die.

And I hope no one reads this.

And I wonder why I have to step over throw pillows to find the couch. And where is the switch for the lamp???

And, as much as everything in my life is a story, I do not want this to be my story–my daughter is sick. My perfect, amazing, super-cala-fragil-istic over-achieving ninja daughter is sick.

And I understand what it means to be mad at God. But I wonder how long a person can stay mad at God? And is it really a sin not to trust God with all the bad stuff? When the bad stuff is gone, over and done with, maybe it’s easier to let go of it. When it’s going on, maybe it’s harder?

Does everyone’s life feel like a soap opera, or a bad mellow-drama?! It’s like, “What will happen next? Tune in tomorrow when Pam will say…’Oh, No!’…”

For real.

And even as bad as it seems, sometimes it seems not that bad.

And some days, I even forget the bad things.

And then BOOM! It’s like a Mack truck flies through the room.

 

Words can take us back. But they can also bring us forward. And a lot can happen in a year.

My daughter still has MS. And I am still trusting God. And some days it is easy. And some days…it’s not as easy.

But, I am still doing it. I’m holding His hand as I walk through this life. And, in that, there is life.

 

What are you walking through?

How is He holding your hand?

Leave me a comment so we can walk together.

 

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Get real or go home.

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Music has always moved me. There’s not a day that goes by that music is not part of my life. And although I’m mostly a sing-in-the-shower, and sing-in-the car, and you know, sing-where-ever-else kind of girl, I have also sung in public. Not professionally or anything that crazy, but I used to sing solos in church and at funerals for hire. So, more than just for myself or my husband, kids, and dogs.

 

It’s one thing to have a desire to perform, and something entirely different to actually do it.

 

The more I blog, and grow in my own skin, the more I realize that singing is a lot like writing. Of course they’re both creative endeavors that require you to stand up and speak your own brand of truth. But, even more than that, I’m finding similarities that go further and deeper into what it means to let your heart out in notes, or, well…notes.

 

You have to open your mouth.

 

Although it seems obvious, this really isn’t. And as I’ve aged I’ve had to practice this more and more. Last Christmas I mentioned to our children’s pastor that I might be able to sing a solo in the Christmas Pageant. (Okay, never, ever, say you might be able to do something unless you are fully willing to do it. That’s just the way it is.) Once I got over the “Oh Lord I haven’t sang publicly in years” drama I downloaded an accompaniment track and went to work.

 

And it was work. I hadn’t used my voice in so long it had grown older, deeper, and less attractive. I also lacked the lung capacity to give me the vocal range I’d once had. As disheartening as this was, it also taught me a lesson. As I practiced, singing the song over and over, I realized that the wider I opened my mouth the better I sounded. In fact, with my mouth open really wide, in a strange kind of expression where my eyes were closed tight and my cheeks pulled back, I could reach a higher, more clear second soprano.

 

It felt real and it felt raw. It felt natural to sing that way. It wouldn’t look cute, calm, or reserved, but it would allow me to sing my heart out. In private I belted the song to my bathroom walls, and I’d like to say when the time came I nailed it. But, I didn’t. Unable to get past how I might look, nervousness got the best of me and I was barely able to stay on key.

 

I failed to rock the world, and glorify God fully, because I wouldn’t open my mouth enough.

 

It’s the same way in writing. As a novelist I can feel when I’m and rocking the story, and when I’m not. What’s the difference? Opening my heart and opening my mouth. When I let the words out from a wide open place inside I always score, I always touch others. If I’m too guarded to let you in I won’t ever reach you. I have to risk.

 

You can’t expect to reach deep places of others with the shallow parts of yourself. (Tweet that!)

 

Music, like writing, is about belief. Belief in your story, belief in your song, belief in your art. But mostly, belief in yourself. I’ve found that creating and releasing is both the most terrifying and the most  liberating experience in the universe. It’s so many conflicting emotions all at once. It’s being insanely brave and accepting death. It’s surrender. And it has to be.

 

Because without surrender I won’t buy what you’re selling. (Tweet that!)

 

Let me say that again. If you aren’t sold out I won’t be buying. If you don’t believe it, neither will I. And neither will they—the millions of everyday people out there who are being bombarded constantly with ideas, images, and art. Let me tell you this: don’t throw your art at the world until you are prepared to take it all the way.

 

You can’t kind of like it. You can’t just be messing around. You can’t whisper, or banter, you have to shout. You have to be willing to shout it from the rooftops. You have to be so sold out on it that no one, no where, no how, will ever be able to pry it from your cold dead fingers.

 

Yes. You have to believe in that much. And you have to want it that bad. And more.

 

Because here’s the deal, someone else does. And the world can tell the difference. The good thing about the new freedom of the internet is that we get real now. We get it full-time. All day, every day, every hour, minute-by-minute. Real is crawling all over us and oozing through our fingertips. We eat real for breakfast. Don’t come at us with your half-hearted wanna-be crap. We don’t have time for that. Sorry, but we are getting real shoved down our throats 24-7. You better have something even better.

 

So how do you do that?

 

Easy. Believe it. Write it. Paint it. Sing it. Create from the part of you that can’t be tamed. Tell the world to step off and stop being afraid.

 

Stop being afraid we won’t like you enough and do your thing. Because really, it’s the only thing you’ve got baby. (Tweet That)

 

That part of you. That real part. The part that you can’t put down, or shut up. That part that sings. Yes, that part!Thats what we want. It’s what we need. For crying out loud!

 

Let us see you!

 

Open up your mouth and Tell.Us.The.Truth!!!!

We are waiting. So you better hurry. Do it.

Sing to us.

NOW!

 

And while you’re at it, go check out one of my new favorite groups who is selling us real and giving it away for free! PAPER LIGHTS

 

Trust me. They’re the real thing.

Your art sucks.

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Alrighty then, let’s just get it out in the open why don’t we?

 

Your art sucks.

 

Your writing sucks, your singing, your poetry, your portraits and perspective are off. They’re just…bad. Anything creative you’ve done is worthless. You have no talent. No one, but no one, will ever appreciate your work.

 

All that time you’ve spent pursuing your dream? Wasted.

 

You should probably face facts now—you’re never going to make it in this world.

 

Give up.

Go home.

Quit.

 

Did I miss anything? Because I think we should cover all the bases. Let’s just make sure we’ve done all we can to kill your dream. Leave no stone unturned, no insult left unsaid. I don’t want to give you any hope. None.

 

Surrendered yet? You sure?

 

Good. Now we can move on. Now you have no excuse to fear failure. Because you just had it. Right there. You failed to impress me. I saw you, saw what you had to offer, and I turned it down flat.

 

And guess what? You survived. It didn’t kill you. Your world didn’t end because I didn’t LIKE what you do. That art you made? That little piece of your soul that you somehow managed to let outside your body, out of your hands, into this big wide world all by itself—it survived.

 

Your art didn’t spontaneously combust when it faced rejection.

And do you know what? Neither will you. (Tweet that)

 

Oh, I know it feels like it will. And I know you think you might just die from the pain of not pleasing Every. Single. Person. But the truth is, you won’t. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

 

See, here’s the thing about failure that no one else will tell you—are you ready? It’s important. Essential. You need it. Not just need—want! Trust me, you do! You may not see it yet, but oh do you ever need some rejection.

 

Because rejection teaches you something that a thousand adoring voices will not.

 

Trust.

 

Listen to me, rejection teaches you to believe the good. It helps you have faith in the one the reason you really did this in the first place; because you loved it.

 

That’s right. You didn’t think I knew that did you? You thought you could be coy. As if you could just take this art, or leave it. As if it doesn’t matter. You’re cool. You’re fine. Whatever. Accolades? Who needs em’. Cheers? Applause? That stuff’s trivial. You just did it to pass the time. Yeah…Right.

 

Don’t feed me that line of Bull. (And stop rolling your eyes. No ones buying that either.)

 

The truth is, you’re dying for this art. Aren’t you? You’re down right bleeding it out. And some days, it feels as if everything inside of you might just be sitting out on that page, or that canvas, and man does that hurt. And at the same time, it feels so good. In fact, I bet if you’re really doing the art you were made to do, it feels like Heaven. As if God himself is smiling on you. Holding your hand. It’s divine, isn’t it?

 

And that’s where the fear comes in.

 

Fear will lie to you. It will tell you that you need the fans. You need the followers. But the truth is—you need the art. (Tweet that!)

 

You need the art because that’s where you find the sweet spot. Doing the art is where you feel alive. Who cares if ANYONE likes it? EVER?

The question is, do you? Do you love the art you you’re doing? Is it the best you’ve got? Are you really showing us the truth? The truth about you and the truth about your beauty. The real beauty deep, deep inside you, the beauty that’s dying to come out.

 

Because if you’re showing us that, how can we not love it.

 

But you’ve got to go there. You’ve got to get to the good stuff. That lost part of you, that place you keep covered so no one can see. Yes, that. We need to see that. We are waiting. We are waiting and hoping you will let us see you, the real you, the true you. And man, are we praying that you figure out who the heck that is. Soon.

 

This pandering, and playing around, that’s not who you are. Stop that. Just stop it. Right now. Let us in.

 

Let us see you. Show us your art.

 

Show us your heART.

 

Stop hiding. The world is waiting.

 

Now that you’ve faced rejection, you have no excuse. Go make your art and let us love it, or not. But please, by all means, make the art.

 

Live the art.

Be the art.

We need it.

 

 

Starbucks must not think this painting of mine sucks…they let me hang it in their shop.

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What do you think?

Anyone smell smoke?

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You care about something. I know you do. Something more than what you had for breakfast, or the car you drove to work. Even more than a job that pays the bills, or the people you pass in the halls each day. There’s something, something else, something deeper inside that is calling.

 

Late at night, when you can’t sleep, when the walls become a blank canvas, what picture do you see? Or better yet, what one do you paint? When there are no boundaries, no fences, no limits, what do you do? When you’re lying there awake in the black recesses of night…

 

What do you dream?

 

I know it’s bigger. It is. Bigger than bills, and braces, and car repairs and old couches, it’s bigger. It’s more. More than that summer vacation you’re planning, or the Cheerios on your kitchen floor. There is something, something bigger inside of you, inside your heart. It’s there.

 

Oh, you can pretend you don’t hear me. Or it. You can continue on your merry little way whistling your little tune. No one will stop you. Nothing will happen. No major catastrophes will occur if you ignore that something. Maybe. Or maybe not. I don’t know what that something is for you, so I really can’t say.

 

All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

 

There is plenty of nothing to be done. PLENTY. And without a doubt, plenty of people to do it. Plenty doing it right now, and plenty to keep on doing it. Plenty to keep on spending and wasting, keeping up with the Jones. Plenty to keep plastering materialism over a hole that can’t be filled. Plenty—literally billions—of people who will ignore that something, that ONE THING, that still small voice whispering to their soul.

 

Will you?

 

Because here’s the deal: you can. No one will fault you. If you just keep plugging away, being good, taking care of your own, no one would blame you. After all, you have a mortgage to pay, mouths to feed, a house to decorate (better head to Target!) Those are decent things, respectable pursuits. But are they enough? Are they enough to squelch the voice? The voice of your soul crying out for that something, that better thing, that…more. Only you can say.

 

I don’t know what your one thing is. And, if you don’t find out, the world may never know. That still small voice may, eventually, be quieted. You might be able, one day, to shove enough stuff over it, around it, under it, through it, and in it, to make it stop. I’m sure it happens all the time. That vast hole in our hearts is pretty large though, and it’s there for a reason.

 

Don’t you ever wonder what that is…?

 

In case you do, I’ll tell you. It’s no secret. And the fact that I know is no indicator of genius in me.

 

It’s purpose. YOUR purpose. MY purpose. That’s the sound. That thing that keeps you awake. The itch, that nagging ache, that thing that won’t go away no matter how hard you try; it’s purpose. And I can tell you one thing, if you stop ignoring it, it will get bigger. That’s right, it will grow. All it takes is a tiny kindling. Fan it just a tad, just a hair, and it will blaze. Pretty soon, before you know, it will set your heart to flame!

 

And when that blaze is good and fueled, it will spread…like wildfire.

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Because that’s why we were made. That’s why you’re here. Yep. Despite what you’ve been told, or whats been so subliminally weaved into your psyche, you are not here to acquire more crap. That’s not it. God did not set you on this planet, in this season, with your gifts and talents and desire, with your past and present and people, with all the things that so uniquely make you YOU, He did not randomly do that so you could waste it all. There is a plan. He has a plan. And guess what, you are part of it.

 

I know, I know. That’s a lot of pressure. It is. I feel it too. But here’s the deal, once you start listening to that voice—the voice in your soul—and stop listening to the world, the blaring, blasting, poisonous, penetrating scream of the world, when you stop listening to that, you’ll hear something else. Something better. Something real. You’ll hear…

the truth.

 

And the truth is this; You are art. ART! You were created with a destiny and purpose all your own. There is no one–NO ONE–like you. And your destiny is unique, planned by God, painted by Him, purposed for a bigger truth, an eternal truth. And time is short. So you need to move.

 

NOW.

 

The clock is ticking, the calendar is fading. And you are aging. How many more birthdays have to pass before you get this? You only get so many on this side of the grave. And that’s the truth. No one is promised any set amount of days, purpose or no. And the Spirit? He is a gentleman. He will not force you, or beg you, or coerce you. He simply calls. He built you into this house; walls that won’t be shaken, foundation for you to stand on, a covering over your head. What more do you want???

 

Stop being afraid! There is no time for fear. Oh, you can feel that fear, that’s human. But you can’t let it control you. It can’t stop you. It can’t douse this fire that’s started, this flame about to take over the world. You’ve got to light the match and throw on more logs, many more logs.

 

Burn baby, burn.

Set the world on fire.

Now, while you still can.

I’m waking up to my purpose. And some of it looks like this:

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And I can’t wait to tell you more.

 

What are you doing…on purpose?

Is this art?

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Sometimes, my heart hurts. Do you ever feel that? Heart pain, heart break? It’s been building in me for over a month now (maybe longer…) and it was sneaky. It didn’t come every day, but instead it would rear it’s head every once-in-a-while, just enough to catch me off-guard–enough to make me nervous.

As someone who’s battled depression off and on most of my adult life, I know how this works. I keep my eyes open. And when I feel like sadness may be starting to take an unwelcome hold on me, I do what has to be done–I withdraw from stress, relax, spend some quality time alone, and regroup. Often, this is a time when I become quiet and just need to clarify how I’m truly feeling and why. If I’m doing too much, or dealing with too much from outside sources, I will evaluate what I can let go. Sometimes, it’s nothing, other times I can find a reasonable way to lighten the caseload.

Yesterday I took some time to work on a project for my daughters room. It’s something I’ve been promising her for…quite a while. It’s a storage necessity that would make both our lives a little easier, and get  rid of some of her “floor-drobe” issues. What I didn’t realize was how bad I needed to actually do it. To do something creative. To make art.

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And I’m still figuring all this out–what is art, what is not. And maybe, as I’m learning from Seth Godin–maybe it’s all art. This writing and connecting, creating and joining, these things I’ve done all my life that have brought me joy and success–it’s all art. I am art.

  I AM ART.

In The Icarus Deception, Seth says, “Art isn’t a result; its a journey.”   It’s the way God paints beauty in my life. It’s the people He brings to walk this road with me. It’s the way I’m nurtured by words and images, and creating them both as well as consuming them. It’s everything. All of it! All of my crazy, messed-up, mixed-up life. All the things I say and do and read and write and eat and see and want and love and leave and become and know. ALL OF IT! All. Of. It.

  The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of our heart and soul. ~Seth Godin

Knowing you’re on a journey is half the battle. You still have to take that first step. Then, another, and another, and another. And that is hard. Some days, it’s damn near impossible. Today was one of those days where it’s feeling impossible. Until, sipping at my coffee, weeping over my keyboard, I read this:

“Maybe you’re in a season in which you feel like what you’re doing is all for naught, that you’re doing all this work and nobody’s paying attention. But maybe that’s not the whole story.

Maybe you’re being prepared for a season that hasn’t come yet. If that’s the case, may I encourage you to do one thing?

Show up

Even when the fruit isn’t there… show up.

Even when the critics tell you to quit… show up.

Even when you’re tired and tempted to throw in the towel… show up.

If this is a time of preparation for you (and not a time to start), do the work. Show up. Because what you are doing is sowing — that’s planting seeds, for you non-farmer folk — and though you may not reap them for some time, the work you’re doing is not pointless.

Stay the course, be brave, and your season will come.”

Jeff Goins

I know this is a season. And it seems long. But someday, I know I will look back and see how much I needed it. I know, because I can look back at the road I’ve traveled so far and see progress. I see where I’ve been and how it affected me, how I grew, even through rain and storms, the seeds were sown, and many have grown now. Waiting is good. Hard, but good.

The journey I’m on is worth it. I know that. And that makes it worth the hard days. So, if you’re feeling down, your road seems long, take a day–or two–and just relax. Get alone with God and nurture your creative soul.

And remember; spray paint is better than Prozac.

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So, is this art? Or is it the cardboard I used underneath the pieces I was spray painting…what do you think?

I’m thinking of framing it.

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

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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.

 

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?