Grace Beyond the Lines

Recently, at a writing conference, the speaker talked about how we as children learn these beliefs about ourselves and  then we carry them into our adult lives.

As he spoke, an experience from third grade popped back in my mind. I had completed a worksheet for English. The content was absolutely one hundred percent correct; however, I had not stayed within the lines. My freshly learned cursive writing had extended beyond the given lines. I was required to stay inside from recess and fix my “mistake.” For a quiet, shy young someone who already aimed to do the right thing, this only fed into my drive for perfection.

This perfectionism has been a constant companion into adult life. It drives my performance, my anxiety, and my fears.

Last fall, God really began unravelling some of this root of the need for perfection. It has been a slow unravelling, but I no longer believe that perfection is the goal.

At work, we talk about redefining success as progress not perfection. I may not like mistakes, but I can embrace them as part of my growth.

Today, I am grateful for the grace of second chances. I am grateful for the freedom to not be perfect. When we walk in His strength, His grace is sufficient.

Sometimes, following a God given dream involves taking a risk. You may just have to look, write, or walk beyond those “safe” lines. What the world views as a mistake may just be the very path He has set before you. Pray, listen, and trust.

Advertisements

The Gift of Grace 

When my daughter was about 7, we took a snowy road trip to the huge library in the nearby city. I wanted to hear three authors present on writing, and my husband and daughter decided to use the time to explore the city Library.

I left that presentation encouraged to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference that next year. My husband, always one for adventure, agreed, and our family boarded a plane in September for Dallas, Texas. While he and our daughter explored the city, I attended the conference. I’m not sure if I would advise having your very first writing conference be one of such enormity. I remember feeling so very overwhelmed. I learned how little I actually knew about the craft of writing.

Fast forward several years…I have been to several writing conferences. I have a piece published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul collection, a devotional published in a quarterly church publication, and several news articles in our local newspaper. Still no book of my very own, though.

It’s okay, though.

I am grateful that by the grace of God, I am where I am today and that by the grace of God, those early writings that I thought were so good never were published!!

Writing is not a sprint but a marathon. Yes, I need to set attainable writing goals. I need to write. I have realized that the goal of my writing is so much less about being published and so much more about my obedience in sharing what God has laid on heart. 

I am grateful for His grace in helping me nurture my gift over time. His timing is perfect.

Where have you experienced the gift of His grace in your life this week?

31 Days of Grace…just breathe

Breathe.

It seems like such a fitting name for where I am today. I really needed to step back and catch my breath. I am attending the Breathe Christian writing conference this weekend. 

I’m still not feeling well. I have never done well with antibiotics. If there are side effects, I experience them. My tooth hurts so eating is a challenge because well, quite frankly, it hurts to chew.

But, I am here. My best friend who I actually met at this conference two years ago is attending with me. My husband is supportive of my writing. For two days I have the opportunity to be surrounded by people who get this writing thing.

I am grateful to be with a friend who extends grace to me and accepts me as I am. Over caffeinated and talking a mile a minute on the way to the conference…but she is the one who bought me the coffee 😉. She recognized that I was not feeling well and was willing to drive to find a restaurant to accommodate my crazy food sensitivities coupled with my now chewing difficulties.

I am grateful for the grace she extends me. 

Sometimes, a writing conference is less about writing and more about life lessons God has for me.

It’s all part of the story. Just breathe.

Solitude

Solitude. 

Sometimes, I just need stillness.

Silence. Do you find it comforting or does it make you uncomfortable?

At my writing group the other day, my friend captured the essence of why I must write.

She said… I find writing a time of solitude to connect with my inner self.

Sometimes,  I feel as though I will emotionally burst if I do not write. I keep a prayer journal. I write poetry. I blog. I write devotionals.

Writing is sweet release. It is also my sacred time of quiet solitude.

As my friends and I talked about solitude and silence, one of them made the comment that some people can’t handle long commutes because of the solitude. I look forward to the quiet of my commute. I pray. I listen to music. I think. I calm my thoughts.

Connection with others is a great thing, but sometimes you need solitude to reconnect with yourself first. In these quiet moments, I can pray. I can calmly breathe. I can put things in perspective. I remember Who is in control. 

This morning as I prepare for a whirlwind of a day, I take these few moments of solitude to refocus. Everything will be okay.

In what ways do you find your own place of solitude?

31 Days of Gratitude: Writing Connections

What I love about stepping out in faith, is it often leads to completely unexpected blessings that flow from a simple yes to God.

I wrote about unexpected blessings a week or so ago, but I wanted to share a little more about this in the context of writing.

I have attended a few different writing conferences and from these conferences, from stepping out in faith in a scary way, I have made some amazing connections. I want to share about my experience at the Breathe Christian Writing conference a few years ago. During the conference, I met a woman named Linda. We sat together at a few sessions. At the closing session, the speaker encouraged us to find a writing partner. I leaned over and asked her if she had one. She did not, and she agreed, although she did not share my ambitious desire to wake up at 4 am to write!!

Fast forward…our writing partner connection has become friend connection to best friend connection. We write, we laugh, we travel together, and we both just attended the Breathe conference again this year. She just started her blog. I would love for you to stop by and take a moment to read her musings on life.  Linda’s Blog

Today, I am grateful for connections.

listen-and-connect

 

31 Days of Gratitude: Unexpected Blessings 

Life does not always go as we plan and definitely not as we wish.

Sometimes, our prayers are answered seemingly right away with a definite yes. Sometimes, it appears as though God is saying NO. Sometimes, though, the answer is actually a wait… 

Not a no, but a wait and Trust Me I have something far better in store for you.

That little hand in the picture belongs to my son. As my husband and I had prayed for a baby and month after month, no answer, no pregnancy, just an empty womb…

God wasn’t saying no, but wait.

At the same time of our prayers, our son was born halfway around the world. Five years later, I was blessed when a beautiful, loving orphanage worker placed my son in my arms for the first time.

So many blessings have poured from this one. Our daughter discovered the beginning of a growing love for mission work and since our trip to the Philippines, she has been on three mission trips. Another amazing blessing…a family reached out to us.. their son from the same orphanage. Every year for the past seven years, we have spent precious time together. Not only have our sons enjoyed their yearly reunion, but our families have become closely connected.

Some of the greatest gifts in my life have been completely unexpected.

Another great example of God’s work in my life…I attended a writing conference two years ago and met a writing partner. She is now my treasured best friend to walk with me not only on my writing journey but the journey of life as well.

Sometimes, the answer to prayer may be yes. Sometimes, no… perhaps God is protecting us from something or maybe He is really saying wait, My child, something better is in store. And, sometimes, He pours blessings out when we least expect it.

Today, I am grateful for unexpected blessings.

31 Days of Gratitude: Story

I have just spent two wonderful days at the Breathe Christian writing conference. The theme this year? Celebrate story.

Everyone has a story. 

Ask any waitress, any counselor, any teacher, anyone who works in long term care… everyone has a story.

I spend my days working with elders. Each elder brings a life story when they enter our community. My days are busy, but the best days, the days that I feel most fulfilled by my work, are the days I have taken time to listen to someone’s story.

I also have the opportunity to freelance write for our community’s local newspaper. My assignments are always feature stories. Again, I have the opportunity to listen to story.

Story matters.

Story shapes us and in turn shapes others. 

God is writing the story of our lives. I am learning to trust Him as the author of my life. Only He knows the chapters, the plot twists, the ending. 

Our story is who we are. We learn, we live, we grow, we relate, we interact, we listen. 

I love story. I love to read stories. I love to listen to the stories of the elders I work with. 

I am grateful God is the author of my story. I just need to listen and obey and trust Him to write it.

Can you trust Him with your story?

Generation after generation stands in awe of Your work; each one tells stories of Your mighty acts. I compose songs on Your wonders. I could write a book full of the details of Your greatness. Psalms 145:4-6 The Message