Friday, April 26, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Friend

Joining with other writers at Lisa-Jo's today to talk about...

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother... 

I called to talk about her wedding plans, but she let me cry instead. Separated by miles and bound by memories, she's seen me at my worst and my best and loves me in spite of myself. I don't feel the need to sugar coat. I tell her exactly how I've been stupid. But I don't feel the need to be strong either. I can just be me. We finally talk about the wedding details, and my tears are now tears of joy that she found this amazing man, that she is incredible, that their wedding will honor the Lord, and that she asked me to be a small part of it.

I text her in my weak moments and when I am incredibly excited, this friend who knows my heart. She reminds me to be strong, that God's got this. This friend also separated by miles and bound by a summer of concerts and mountain climbs and late nights giggling and talking about some day. She's my backbone, the one who throws the red flags, the one who knows me, loves me, and speaks truth. She is a ray of sunshine, and the inspiration for one of my characters in my book.

Still another friend, a heart friend. College rivals and childhood friends, she is my chill buddy. We share memories marked in joy, friendship, laughter, tears, and music. Even when she isn't close by, a conversation over the phone or text closes the gap. She is constant. Honest yet gentle, she knows my heart and my history.

How precious are these who never leave, who allow me to invest in their lives, all the while investing in mine. They define the word FRIEND.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Problem with Fear

I'm learning really random lessons in a crazy season. I'm ready for this season to be over with, but I'm thankful for what the Lord is teaching me and how He is molding me through the struggle.

In the past two months, I have learned a lot about fear and a lot about faith. In fact, they are direct opposites of one another, something I knew but never really identified.

      - demonstrates a lack of trust in God's sovereignty
      - is an emotional response
      - makes us say things we don't mean
      - causes us to react in a way that results in consequences
      - hurts those we love
      - is selfishly motivated
      - is our attempt to control our circumstances
      - consumes and paralyzes us

However, the Lord creates masterpieces from our messes and our fear. The only time fear is used in a healthy sense in the Bible is to call us to fear God - He is holy, just, righteous, pure, and great. We have to learn to TRUST Him. Ralph Waldo Emerson said,  "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." Fear is walking by sight and immediacy. Faith is walking in obedience, trusting God will show us what's next, even when we don't understand.

     - causes us to bear fruit
     - allows God to control the circumstance and result
     - breeds peace
     - fosters relationships
     - is an act of obedience (therefore God-centered)
     - helps us focus on the needs of others
     - demonstrates our trust in the One we claim to follow
     - frees us to act

In the past few months, I've seen and experienced the results of fear and the results of faith. Fear is painful. Faith is life and peace and freedom. I haven't mastered this yet, but I am committed to mastering my fear through fostering my faith. The One I follow is so sovereign over my circumstances and intimately knows my heart. If I truly trust that, whom/what should I fear?

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18a

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Jump

It's easier said than done. That moment you are standing at the edge, looking over, knowing that once your feet leave the ground, your life will forever change. It takes courage and possibly a little craziness.

The jump is rarely safe. It's a lot like falling in love or moving states or letting go of something you've held onto for years. Total release. Total loss of control. Knowledge that you could get hurt, this may not work, something could go wrong.

But you jump anyway, because the idea of staying where you've always been is worse than the unknown. It's stale and predictable, and we are called to live lives of adventure.

So much in life is changing. A book deal, friendships, job responsibilities. I'd love to climb from the platform and run back the other way where it's safe. But back-tracking never benefited anyone. And I have people at my back holding me in place. They won't let me run.

So I stand with my toes clinging to the edge, heart racing, and hands shaking, knowing that the jump changes everything.

To jump or not to jump...I'm still hanging on.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homeless in Dallas

Street Level

You press your face to the office glass,
Street level, street clothes
Outside looking in.

You comb greasy hair,
Eyes wild, unfocused,
Familiar stranger.

Downtown Dallas is your home
Shop doorway, underpass
Restless slumber

I should invite you in
Warm coffee, cozy seat
Hear your story

Do you have family near?
Fatherless children, lonely wife
Life out of control

I wish I could fix it all
Reconciliation, comfort
A roof and bed

Inside out, you’re just like me
Flesh and blood,
A man with needs

I watch you turn away
And I remember the command
To love the least of these.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Five Minute Friday - After

On Friday's, I join with others over at Lisa-Jo's to write purely for the love of the craft. Today's word?


There are only a few times in my life where I have wondered, "What comes next?"

I don't want to wish my life away. My word for this year is SAVOR, and I truly want to savor every moment. But somehow, I am swept away, wondering.

What comes AFTER this?

It's the taste of the unknown. Once this crazy work season is over, once the edits are finished, once I can breathe...then what?

And I just don't know.

And I don't know that I need to. After is an unwrapped gift, beautiful, new, and bursting with possibilities. And somehow it's mine. The Lord has wrapped it just for me. I can't open it yet, but I wonder and I wait with anticipation. His gifts are never shoddy, never second hand. They are tailor made for the recipient.

After is my world of possibilities - a white water rafting trip, my best friend's wedding, summer days at the pool, a new book, new people to meet.

There's something new about spring. There's something crazy about this season. And there's something exciting about the unknown of AFTER. Here's to this adventure and the one to come...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Crazy Lesson 6: My Best is my Version of Perfection

I'm learning lessons in a crazy season...

Lesson 6: Rough seasons and decisions are mountains to climb, not hills to die on.

I have often read the quote, "It's not a bad life, just a bad day." Well my life isn't a bad anything. Some days are more frustrating than others. Some days are incredibly sweet and fulfilling. It is a choice to find joy in both, and that is an ongoing challenge for me.

With this busy season at work, with responsibilities, friends and family, and my book deadline looming, it is so easy to lose sight of the blessings. It is also easy to strive so hard for perfection that the details become tiny hills I live or die by instead of mountains I climb over and move past.

I will often look at my work and be disappointed, not because it isn't done well, but because I feel like I didn't do enough. Man, is this a lie that I have to move past. I can't and never will be perfect. I also can't and never need to EXPECT perfection.

I wrote a lot of short stories in college, and to this day, when I go to reread them, I STILL find typos. I've probably read them 20 times. Epic fail. I've wondered why my professors didn't fail me, but they looked past the tiny mistakes to the heart of the story. That was where I poured my effort and my soul. That's what they chose to grade and reward, which I greatly appreciate. There is something to be said for the area where I need to improve, but there is much more to be said for doing my absolute best, being satisfied with that, and then continually striving to grow and improve.

Application: Perfection isn't an option, but my best can be my own version of perfection. And that's good enough for me...for now.