Staying True to Your Voice & Calling

Last week I shared my blogging woes and how I wasn’t quite sure where I fit. I didn’t expect many people to read it and hoped it didn’t come off as “woe is me” drivel. While waiting for my husband to get home from a meeting, I had been scrolling the internets (as we call it in our house) pinning ‘pinnable’ posts on improving my blog when I noticed a familiar feeling.

As I looked at the brightly colored icons and perfectly proportioned layouts, I slowly realized reading all these posts on how to brand myself and make my blog better was also shortening my breath and sending a small wave of panic through my body. And I just started writing.

After reading your comments, I thought,

What would it be if we all let our words be our words?

If we let that still, small voice we carry within us roar?

How free would our souls feel if we quit doubting ourselves and just stayed in that small, steady place Jesus has called us to? What freedom, what beauty and contentment we’d have!

Instead, time after time I’ve let strangers with their bland advice suck me in with their promises. “You too can be just like me! How to…” Lists and have-to’s and metrics they all ring like law in these {recovering} perfectionists ears. Because isn’t that what a perfectionist wants? I want a list to tell me how to do it right, to tell me how to be made perfect, to be liked and loved. I want a step-by-step guide on penning the perfect words and how to make the big, wide world of blogging love me.

At least I think I want it. But what I really want is to be happy. And the law, these blogging “rules”…they don’t make me happy. It turns Isaiah 61, a proclamation of freedom and restoration, into the Israelites walking in chains to Babylon.

Oh, how they thought they were getting what they wanted. They were sure a king was a good idea. It would make them more like their neighbors and we all want to be like our neighbors, right? We all want, in some way, to be like the cool kids. So they got their kings and their wars and their murders and finally their exile.

We don’t want the exile. No, not at all. But sometimes it’d be nice to tell God to do things our way and have them work out. But He knows…he knows.

Your comments encouraged me and reminded me over and over that it is okay to be a (I shudder at the term) “small blogger.” And so, if you’re one of those who, like me, find the allure of fame a little too alluring, this is for you.

To the one who’s unsure if their voice makes a difference,

To the one who’s ready to close the laptop and quit,

To the one who’s trying with every fiber of your being to do it “right,”

Stay True.

Be the fresh air in the loud city.

Be the small voice resounding Truth.

Be the one who stays faithful to your calling.

You have encouraged and reminded me even though there are times I desire the allure and opportunities of fame that is not why I write. It is not why I was called to write. God is bigger and His plans are greater than what the internet has to offer.

I was called to be obedient. To be a light in the dark, to give grace to those who hear, to share words and truth impressed on this sojourner’s heart.

I still don’t have the complete answer of why I write or how it should look. I do know I will only be happy, I will only thoroughly enjoy what I do, when I release my success and pleasure from the world’s law and into Jesus’ hands.

It’s not easy, but it’s good.

 

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When You Don’t Know Your Place in this {blogging} World

I feel like I’m coming out of a blogging coma. I’m not sure what I’m doing or even if I want to be here. I look around and everyone’s got it together–their mission statement, their purpose, the bubble chart showing where their blog will go (stats included). And I’m just sitting in front of a computer, desperately wanting to be a part of it. To have something to say. To know the reason I come here and write words. But right now, I don’t know.

If you’d ask me why I write I might just say, “Because I always have. I love to write.” And that’s true. But the more I come here and find the words harder to flow…I just don’t know. I still love to write.

As 8 years of blogging have passed me by, I feel like the quaint house in The Little House. I’ve been here before there was a bustling town, before the suburbs became the city, and the rolling green hills turned to sidewalks and skyscrapers. I crane to look around, but this space has grown so tight and I wonder if there’s room left for me.

I print out Blog Branding 101 and draw a blank. I don’t even know. Everything is business now. Everyone has a project, a shop, a something. Then there’s mastermind groups and tribes and niches. {of which I have none} And I can’t even describe what I want my blog to be. {what does that even mean?} I need a brand these days. {how do I boil a whole person down to 3 words and wrap it in a package?} It all feels so alluring in it’s 5-Easy Steps packaging and I’ve fallen out of step as I’ve birthed babies and moved cross-country while still trying to figure this whole motherhood thing out.

What happened to the fun of blogging? There’s always another new eBook, new post, new conference, new passive-aggressive throwdown. I’m having a hard time keeping up and I wonder, ‘How do these women do it all!?’ I was telling a friend, just today, that the internet feels so loud. That era of information overload people are talking about, I feel it.

And my blog? What is it adding to that cacophony anyways? I don’t feel ready to leave, but I don’t know what to say. I flip through those first posts from that first December I logged onto blogspot.com and remember the wide-eyed wonder of what it felt like to write on the internet. Funny thing is I didn’t care who read it. There were no 10 Tips to a Better Blog or 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your About Page. It was just writing. Dipping my toes into bravery and for the first time being open to someone stumbling across my words.

Now I have an invisible panel of bloggers and people voting and offering their 2-cents on every word, idea, or tweet I write. I fear their presence, their screening. I feel the space around me shrinking as the buildings and bloggers, communities and ladders climb higher and higher. I’m lost in the midst of so much growth. I feel a bit like a chipped vintage charm set in the back of a jewelry box. Something to save, but not quite sure how to make it useful.

So I sit and wait.

I wait for that young twentysomething to awaken. The one who wrote about hope,

Hope holds out until even the darkness covers it,
And even then,
it’s always looking for that ray of light
to ride in.

And saw the possibility of dreams fulfilled fully in the Creator,

The one who saw this great, big, wide Internet as an opportunity. I’m waiting for her to stop as she walks by and say, “I know you. The setting’s changed, but under the dust and broken shutters it’s you.”

And she’ll lead with familiar hands to the place where grass runs rampant over green hills and flowers bloom without fear of crushing and all the earth shines.

Maybe it’s time to move to the country.

 

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For When You Say, “I Can’t Do This.”

Press on.

Preach it to yourself. Over and over until your feet are taking tiny gospel steps. Press on. Mutter a hundred times “Jesus, have mercy!” Take that deep breath. Take 3 or 5. But press on.

Amid the screaming, the snotty noses wiped on the couch, deadlines looming, {press on}, the “I need this by…” and the “Oh, you’re cooking that again?” and “I don’t want to share!” {breathe deep} When you just need a cup of coffee to keep your eyes open and you have to step over laundry to make lunch (umm…what’s for lunch?) When it all comes storming down your back, pulling tight across your chest, the in and out of breathing becoming heavier and heavier.

Step back and breathe this deep:

The Lord is with you.

Whisper His name,

Emmanuel.

He’s standing there. Right now.

“Jesus, hold me now.”

Take his peace, let those burdens go…whisper every “I can’t…” into his ear.

Every pressure, every failing and fear, every insecurity…let it go in His presence.

Trembling heart, cling fast to Truth {he’s steady & secure} and press on. Press on toward Christ.

Press on to glory, press on to resurrection living. There’s an inheritance waiting for you.

When all the cheesy sayings won’t hold you up, breathe deep—remember His love! He’s great and deep and beautiful love! Breathe in, open those nostrils wide, until the softening of Calvary love eases the muscles stretched tight.

And this crazy, life-altering moment {because isn’t each chance to trust Him is life-altering?} will pass, but here—now, breathe deep and press on.

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Here I am. Writing.

I’m hot, sweaty, nose closed tight with the season’s sickness. Olivia’s resting (or rather wiggling) on my shoulder. I told myself 500 words yesterday, but I didn’t. By nightfall my eyes were straining to see. Tomorrow, I said.

Today is tomorrow and I open my journal. Flip to the page with “Day 3″ at the top and ask myself the question I wrote down a year and a half ago, “What is holding me back?”

I rock her in the bathroom. Mother and daughter look back at us, I ask myself again, “What is holding me back?”

Last night I printed a workbook book on pursuing and accomplishing your dreams. “Let’s make 2013 the best year ever!” I didn’t bother to print the pages reflecting on 2012. I didn’t have answers. {at least not any good ones} I wanted to doodle and plan and say, “Yes!” on that paper. But I felt embarrassed, even ashamed. Good Christian girls don’t doodle dreams? Wouldn’t act on them?

She’s fisted my shirt in her tiny hand and I’m hoping she’ll go to sleep. “Why am I afraid?”

Why? I’m afraid people will laugh at me and not just think, but tell me my words are silly and worthless, that they’re not good enough.

There it is. 

The crux of my life, the unholy thorn in my flesh, the lie I’ve believed for decades.

I’m not good enough.

And still, for this recovering perfectionist, not good enough, is a prescription for inaction. Maybe that’s why when people ask me about my writing I mumble. I’m afraid they’ll read it and laugh and question why I call myself a writer.

{why is fear such a long working out in my life}

Isn’t this what I purposed? To write unafraid? Working it out day by day.

Here I am. It is today.

What’s that saying on courage? Courage isn’t the absent of fear, but acting in spite of fear. For some of us we’ve believed so long that courage is fearless and it’s the acting in spite of fear that scares. But here I am. Raising my sword and writing down words.

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Purpose. {#oneword365}

My main regret in life is I’ve spent too much time stalling, waiting, or pausing for no good reason. I’ve built grand dreams and ambitions, painted them in airy pastels with a dusting of glitter, but what was it Thoureau said?

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

I’m an air-builder. When it comes to the foundation, I pull my tools together, make a detailed plan, and begin laying bricks. But with feeble beginnings, I stand back, brick and trowel in hand, “Hmm…I don’t know if that really should go there.” A few more moments later and I’ve busied myself with a hundred other things, that are immediate but not so important, as I tell myself, “Now’s not the time. I’m not that good. I’ll do it tomorrow. Well…if I just had a month, all to myself, then I could do it.”

I regret I rarely finish those things I’ve said are important to me. The goals I’ve hung before me. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve written children’s stories, plays, half a screenplay, and my “hold dear to my heart” novel has been a work-in-progress for nearly 9 years.

I’ve named fear and perfection and time as my enemies, but now…now I’m tired of another year of “I wish I had…” I think of all the time wasted, all the other endeavors, and projects that distracted. I’m done.

I want to be a finished writer, not a willowing writer.

Published or not, I want to be able to say, “Complete.”

Purpose.

The reason for which something is done, created, or exists.

I had dreams of motherhood. Free, full of laughter and peace, crafts and games, faith passed down. I end most days thinking I’m not a good mom. I’ve yelled more than I should’ve, I’ve ignored requests to play with “I’m busy.” I demand behavior past their age and development. I just want them to be quiet and self-sufficient. I’m not proud of it. I don’t like it, but it’s the truth.

I long ago realized my ideal of motherhood is nonexistent and the hope I have of Jesus-loving kids, warm memories, and deep relationships is a lot of work. It’s beyond me, and so I step back once again and say, “I just need to get the house organized first, then I can be a good mom. I’ll do it when it’s warmer or the baby’s older or we start school again.”

It’s always then, not now.

This motherhood thing is no joke. With, quite literally, hundreds of questions a day, requests for book after book to be read, Lego towers to build and bad guys to fight; then there are diapers and nursing and meals (these kids want to be fed?!?). Even just the basic necessities often pull the life out of me so that any fun or loving or gracious thing feels impossible, but by the grace {which I’m often not leaning on} of God.

Purpose.

The reason for which something is done, created, or exists.

A few months ago I was talking with a friend about how our mutual season, more often than not, is just surviving. But it’s so easy for surviving to become the norm instead of the exception. I’m at the place where if I willingly continue in survival mode I’ll quickly find myself 10 years down the road with an organized house, mediocre relationships with my kids, and a hope chest full of regrets.

“Should’ve” and “could’ve” with my writing is one thing, but with my children? They are precious living, breathing souls, not words on a page.

This year…

I purpose to write, to complete, to be unafraid.

I purpose to mother in love and grace, in play and learning.

I purpose to build foundations. 

 

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