Why I’m Thankful for Writing

This might be the obvious post for today seeing that it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, but bear with me. I’ve been thinking about my reasons for a while and decided I needed to write them down today.

First, I’m thankful for writing because of the faith I follow. I wrote about why God says we should be thankful here. (http://thrivingingrace.com/thanksgiving/), but it’s not just because of what the Bible says that I say this. I found this quote by Anne Frank in Anne Frank’s Diary:The Graphic Adaptation by David Polonsky. “I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.” It’s easy to concentrate on the misery. Anne Frank could have. I do myself more than I should. But, when I go outside and especially when I write outside, I find I focus more on the reasons why I’m here, and the words come easily as I think about what I need to say.

I’m also thankful for writing because of the images that form in my head when I read the words on the page. There are so many lively and delightful words in the English language as E. E. Cummings says in the book E. E. Cummings by Susan Cheever. “I thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of the trees and a blue dream of sky.” For me, the word “greenly” brings immediately to mind a bright, spring day. I’m sure we can all think of words that bring detailed images to our minds.

Another reason I’m thankful for writing is because it is done in solitude–I can see my own words on a page before anyone else can see them. I can reflect on the pain and happiness in my life by writing about it. I can also give thanks and pray as Victor Hugo says in his work Les Miserables. “To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.” It is such a lovely image for someone who needs solitude as I do.

I know this will seem diametrically opposite to what I just said, but I’m also thankful for writing because of my friends. While writing is done in solitude, writers could not make it without the support of their friends. Ralph Waldo Emerson said this in The Portable Emerson. “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and new.” All of you who have supported me with likes and comments on this blog, on Facebook and Twitter, and even in person have made me more aware of the power of words and how they can change people’s lives. I am grateful for your support and for the lessons learned as I’ve continued to move forward on this journey.

Finally, I’m thankful for writing because it does have the power to change the world. The words William Faulkner wrote in The Essential Faulkner about gratitude have helped to reset my mind about the nature of gratitude. “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity; it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I hope we can all remember to be grateful for everything we have, to help where we can, and to not judge others since we all have failed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Seven Years – The Good and the Bad

A lot has changed in the last seven years. My children are grown now. One will be done with college in May, and the other has just started college. They have navigated the beginnings of adulthood well, and I couldn’t be more proud. But, there should be something else now, someone else now. There should be a child running after his or her big brothers. She should be in the first grade starting this journey of an education and learning about life. There’s not though. It wasn’t meant to be.

One year after my miscarriage, I was able to write about my loss here. (https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/reflections-on-the-beginning-of-fall/) I was able to reflect on my loss and talk about all the good that had happened in my life since it had happened. I was able to say I was okay and thought I was moving on.

The grieving process though has been different every year. There have been years I have been overwhelmed with sadness on this day, and there have been years I’ve been reminded of how close Jesus was to me on that day though I hadn’t come back to faith yet. There have also been years when I’ve felt a combination of both sets of feelings. Sadness and peace. I haven’t quite been able to explain it, but I’m pretty sure it’s related to what has changed in my heart–the presence of God in my heart and my life.

I said in the first paragraph a lot had changed in the last seven years. There have been deaths, and there have been births. I’ve become friends with a precious little girl who has the same name my daughter would have had. There have been job changes and hospital stays. I’ve learned and grown from essentially living life, and it’s been good for me.

However, over the last several months, I’ve become convinced I needed to keep my bad feelings stuffed inside, and if I even thought of expressing them, bad things would happen. I’ve thought I had to do this because reflecting my bad feelings would mean I wasn’t reflecting the joy of the faith I’ve come to profess. Essentially, I wasn’t being real.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about, praying about, and trying to get a handle on. How do Christians have real joy and peace while considering such emotions as sadness, anger, and depression? Do we pretend when we’re not at home? Do we put up shields? I would think since God gave us all these emotions, we should use all of them, or we would just be robots, right?

Through my prayers and talks with God, I was reassured that it was okay to be real in my life. God is there when I shake with sadness, and He’s there when I jump with joy. He wants us to be real and to care only about what He thinks not about what others think. And if I needed more proof, I could go back to the first post I ever published on this blog in 2012. I leave it here for you and me to consider as we think about how to integrate all of the parts of our lives–the sadness and the happiness–into our writing.

Until next time, be real!

Inside a Writer’s Soul

Words….words on a page with no feelings or emotions behind them.  Is that what catches your eye when you read something? Or is it the words that have feeling and emotions that catch your eye? I have been writing stories for the last two and a half years and have been told that the best way to reach a person through words is to write what you know.  This is my plan for this blog. Why are we afraid to tell people what we really feel? To let them see inside our hearts? I think it’s because we’re afraid–afraid of rejection, afraid that what we’re writing isn’t popular, afraid of being real. For my first post for this blog, I want to share an experience that was very real to me and one that still resonates deep within my soul.

Almost eight months ago, my family and I had lived in our new town for just about a month. Unemployment had been our watchword for almost a year, but we were now beginning to get back on our feet with my husband’s new job. What I had not told anyone though was the extreme pain I had been in. We had held off on getting health insurance because of the expense, and I was hoping against hope that what I was experiencing was just normal monthly woman’s pain. It was not to be. By the middle of the day, I was bleeding heavily and barely able to get out of the bed because of the pain. My husband was worried and looked up my symptoms on the Internet, and we determined that it was highly probable I was having a miscarriage. It was on the side though of being something a doctor couldn’t do anything about, and we decided it would be better for me to just stay at home and wait things out. Thirty minutes later, I had a strong urge to push and barely made it to the bathroom before something came out. It was very, very small, but was still recognizable as a baby. A baby….I had lost a baby. Tears began pouring down my face.  I managed to get to the bed, and at that point, began my physical recovery.

The mental recovery though is something I would not wish on anyone.  My husband and children were amazing. I can’t tell you the number of laundry loads and meals that were taken care of without my having to worry about it over the next few weeks. The people we had met were pretty good too. I was especially grateful for the home school mom who took my kids for the afternoon a few days later so I could rest, for the manager who let my husband work from home the afternoon I had the miscarriage and for my four special girlfriends who I have a Facebook group with. But, the one thing that was hard was feeling like I couldn’t talk about it—feeling like I couldn’t talk about my pain and anguish— that people just expected me to move on.  There are health issues that are talked about; dare I say that are ‘fashionable’ to talk about.  I’m thinking of such things as breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. When a woman says she has lost a baby though, people don’t know what to say or they say something that wounds her further.  Why? Why is this loss not talked about? Wait, I can’t say it’s not talked about. There are people who are doing wonderful work with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss support–on the Internet and in real life. It’s hard though, not being able to talk about a loss especially a loss that was early like mine was because people don’t consider it to be real. But it was real to me.

It might be a mistake to be real, but I won’t know unless I try. I’m reminded of a quote I saw on Facebook on a photo. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.”  (credited to I fucking love science’s photo that was posted on May 26, 2012)

Until next time, be real!

 

Respect the Creative

Today is the very first day I have ever seen my reasons for writing written in a book. I almost cried. Finally, there was someone who got it. Someone who knew why. I don’t have many people in my life I can talk to about this. And, out of those, most of them are either creatives themselves or married to one. The others don’t get it. So, today, I thought I would write about respecting the creatives in our lives even if we don’t understand them.

First, let me share the quote that touched me to my core. From Jennifer Probst in Write Naked, “Writing helps you find the lost pieces of yourself—those pieces that were misplaced, forgotten, or squashed long, long ago. Through words, we may carve a new path for ourselves or recapture the power to own who we are.” “Recapture the power to own who we are.” I think this is what I’ve been missing as I’ve started on this path of the next phase of my life. I am a creative, and that means I’m different. I think differently, react differently, and look for ideas and things I can translate into words. I always have a story idea rolling around in my head, and I want to talk about things that matter. Trying to fit into a mold I was not meant for is tiring, frustrating, and not what God means for me to do as I live my life.

So, how do I live like this and still live the life God wants me to live among the rest of the world? To answer this question, I think I first need to appropriate a term that the younger generation is using. I need to “find my tribe.” I remember the first time I heard it used. It was a couple of years ago when my older son had first left for college. During my life, I’ve heard it said that people gravitate to the people who are most like them. It’s certainly been true for my son who is in the nerd/geek social club and who now has a girlfriend with similar interests. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried different things. (Jamboree 2018 being a prime example) It just means that he has people he feels comfortable with in sharing the deep things of his life. He has “found his tribe.” While I have a tribe of online friends who are creatives, I think I need to do a better job of finding them in real life. People who won’t roll their eyes or tune me out when I want to talk about the important things in my life.

What about the rest of the world who aren’t creatives? How do I deal with them and have relationships without denying myself or going nuts with the banality of the world? The facetious answer would be to buy my own island and limit the people who I let come onto it. My husband and I have talked about this as a lottery goal when we’ve gotten tired of the world’s nonsense. But, that’s dreaming and not realistic, and we both know it. Back to my question. I think it’s important to realize not every relationship in my life will be a soul nourishing one. There will be conversations that mean little, and people who won’t support me or my goals no matter how much I’d like them to. There will be people who just don’t care despite the one or two things we do have in common.

I entitled this post “Respect the Creative” and promised I would give ideas on respecting the creative people in your lives. This is where those ideas are. 🙂  If you have a creative person in your live and sense them starting to drift away, ask them about their work. Ask them what they’re writing, composing, painting, crocheting, knitting…the list goes on. They want to talk about their work, but they want to be listened to as well. Pretending is something they can see through right away.

If their work is for sale, buy it or share it with someone you know would like it. Not only does it help a creative person eat, they know someone else appreciates their work and that they are leaving a legacy behind.

Finally, creative people need to know they’re loved and cherished by the people in their lives. They’re different, and they know they’re different, but they still need to know they’re loved and cared about. That is one need we all have in common.

Have a great day, everyone!

 

Dancing Better than Myself

Sorry about the lack of an entry last week. Life was…overwhelming. Anyway, back to today. How is dancing anywhere near like writing? Bear with me. All will be made clear.

I get many of my topics for this blog from my writing inspiration book, and today was no different. The entry was about Mikhail Baryshnikov who is recognized as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the twentieth century. I learned snippets about his life in communist Russia and when he danced with the Bolshoi Ballet before defecting to the United States. One thing I was surprised by was that he was not a star dancer for the ballet. He only had secondary roles because of his height. Maybe that was his reasoning behind saying these words. “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” He knew he would need to work hard to get to where he wanted to be so he set goals for himself that reflected his primary goal. His opportunity did come, and I was reminded of the benefits of setting goals.

It’s the same way with writing. We need to set standards for our own writing and work on continually improving our craft. I found it interesting that the author of my inspiration book says this as one of my goals is also publication. “Just as Baryshnikov set out to dance for himself, you must write for yourself. Even if your vision is to have a work published, you must first write a work that’s pleasing to you and that meets the standards you have set for your own writing.” (The Writer’s Daily Companion, Amy Peters)

Dancing better than myself or writing for myself. They both remind me of something that I think can be important for any career or pastime. Having a heart for it and going back to the basics for it. When my sons, who are both in college now, chose their majors, they looked for things they were passionate about. Things they could imagine themselves doing in the long-term. I look back on the process now and can’t imagine them not having a career in either. They have a heart for what they want to do in their lives, and I know it is something that will sustain them.

Then, there’s going back to the basics. Each career has something that’s basic to the heart of it. For the dancer, it’s the ballet barre. For the veterinary technologist, it’s animals and taking care of them. For the sports manager, it’s the love of the game. And, for the writer, it’s the page. Always the page. It’s where I find my heart and where I find my words. I hope as we all set our goals and do our best to meet them, we remember the passion that first brought us to writing and keep going no matter what.

Have a great day, everyone!

Struggles with Writing

When I was thinking of today’s topic, the word struggle came to mind. We all have struggles in our lives whether with writing or anything else. Then, I thought of all the struggles I have had or am having as I seek to chase my dream of becoming a published author. I know those of you who write have had struggles (And if you haven’t, message me. I want to know your secret. 🙂 ) so I thought I would explore my thoughts and feelings on the subject.

I believe the first struggle is finding the time to actually write words on the page. Most of us have other jobs, whether paying or not, that demand our time. Our world has hundreds if not thousands of distractions as well. The desire to write our stories, to write our words down needs to be strong enough to overcome this inertia or anything else the world might throw at us.

When we get to the table with our notebook or our computer, we reach the next struggle. What do we write about? What story idea churning in our brain will be the first to see the light of the computer screen or the notebook page? I also count writer’s block in the middle of a story as part of this category because it’s all the same thing. What words should we put on the page? This can be the place where we’re stopped forever from sharing our stories, or it can be the place where we push through and get our stories out of our brains.

Another struggle we can have is learning how to write well. I’m sure most of us have first attempts at writing stories or books that are stored away in our notebooks or on our computers never to see the light of day. We have these stories to share, but learning how to write them well is our way of making them accessible to the people we hope will read them. It is also our way of showing others we take our craft seriously.

Answering the question of why we write can be another struggle. Do we want the recognition that comes from publishing a book? Are accolades or a big paycheck (or any paycheck at all) part of our reason for going to our writing desks each day and working to make our stories the best they can be? Or is it a need or compulsion to put words on the page? As always, all I need to do to find people’s reasons for writing is to google “why I write” on the Internet. I found some interesting ones today.

From Anne Frank: “I can shake off everything as I write, my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

This quote from Flannery O’Connor is one I’ve seen often. “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

I thought this quote from Joss Whedon was beautiful. Or I might be including it because I loved his TV show, Firefly. Not sure which. 🙂  “I write to give myself strength, be the characters that I am not, explore all the things I am afraid of.”

And finally, from Joanne Harris. “You write because you need to write, or because you hope someone will listen or because writing will mend something broken inside you or bring something back to life.”

All of these quotes resonated with me, and they give me strength as I come to the next struggle of writing. Rejection letters. Yes, I’ve finally had the courage to start submitting my stories to different publications to see if they might be interested. Nothing has happened so far so I’m getting…rejection letters. They’re a badge of honor for me though. They represent the overcoming of a fear–the fear that my writing isn’t worth seeing. Sure, some people might not like it, but I know there is someone out there who eventually will, and that is the most important reason of all to keep trying.

So, with all of these struggles in mind, I thought it would help me to develop my own writing manifesto. My own reasons for writing when the struggle gets to be too much. Maybe, someday, someone will quote me, or, if nothing else, my family will understand why I wrote.

I write because it helps me understand a situation when I am too scared to talk. I write because it helps people to understand me. I write to gain courage to live my life and share my insights with others.

Have a great day, everyone!

 

Writing Quotes

I thought I would take the opportunity today to share some quotes about writing I have come across recently and share what they mean to me. There is wisdom in the people who have come before me, and I want to make sure I take advantage of it.

First is a quote by Maya Angelou. I came upon this yesterday in a Facebook post by Jeff Goins, and all I could think of was how true it was because it gave me the idea for today’s post. Here’s the quote. “When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'” I was working on my latest piece, and nothing was happening. I couldn’t think of anything to write so I just started writing words. Words I knew would come out in editing. And then something in my brain clicked. It was something that would take my story in a direction I’d never thought of. It was good too. I started writing, and before I knew it, I had written several hundred words. Not bad for an afternoon’s work. So, that’s what the muse coming feels like, I thought. I’ll have to remember this the next time I get stuck.

The second quote was just as illuminating as the first. From George Washington Carver, “When you do common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” This quote helped me to know that I need to become comfortable writing in my own voice. Yes, lessons are helpful. Yes, I can gain wisdom from those who have come before me. But, I will be the most successful at this writing craft when I let my voice infuse my words which will turn into stories only I can write.

I especially liked the third quote from nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. I had never thought of dancing as anything but what you do with your feet, but I liked how he related it to writing. Here’s the quote. “Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?” That’s how our words come alive, I would think. Come alive in the reader’s mind; come alive in those who would like to see the change reflected in our words; come alive for humanity. Dancing with my words so that they reflect who I am–this is something I aspire to as a writer.

Finally, there is this quote from Gustave Flaubert. “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” I have found this to be true for me. Writing is the third component to sealing a belief in my heart. I can see something in writing. I can hear someone read something. But, before it goes into my personal belief system, I have to write it down. I have to write my own beliefs in words I can understand before I can say I believe them. It is as important to me as someone else’s creativity is to them. Writing is how I express my heart and soul to the world.

So, there it is. Four writing quotes and how they apply to my life. May we all be willing to glean wisdom from others as we discover our own writing voice!

Hope everyone has a great day!

Dialogue Tags

The prompts and quotes I’ve been reading from my writing book recently have been interesting. They get my mind focused on the writing I want to do on a particular day. The book itself is entitled The Writer’s Daily Companion. Amy Peters is the author, and I recommend it highly to any writer who wants to start their day off with encouragement.

Now, let’s get to the quote itself. From Anne McCaffrey, “James Blish told me I had the worst case of ‘said bookism’ (that is, using every word except said to indicate dialogue). He told me to limit the verbs to said, replied, asked, and answered and only when absolutely necessary.”

“Said bookism.” I had never heard it indicated in quite that way before. But, it is something I struggle with, and probably something all of us have struggled with at one point or another. In fact, it was slightly gratifying for me to read that such a well-known author had the same struggle. We want to spell out everything our characters are saying and doing and not let our readers come to any conclusions on their own. I’ve had to learn that letting readers figure out things for themselves is what can make the difference between a good story and a great story or a good writing piece and a great writing piece. I took some time to look through some of my older stories, and if I ever decide I want to do something with them, going through and replacing or eliminating dialogue tags will be one of the first editing tasks I need to do.

I also liked this quote from the book itself. “Keeping dialogue cues to a minimum lets the true essence of your story shine.” (The Writer’s Daily Companion, Amy Peters) When I’m writing a story, I have certain things I want to communicate through my characters, and I want to make sure I’m communicating clearly so anything that helps me with this is a win in my book. As I continue to write, I plan to become more familiar with common mistakes so I will know what to look for as I start to edit some of my longer works.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Research

Over the past week or so, I’ve been doing things to kick-start the writing I want to do going forward. I’ve written, of course. I’ve written a post for my other blog, and I’ve started working on a new short story. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. It’s an interesting feeling not having a blog post to put up every day like I had when I was working on my 100 Days to Brave series for my other blog. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this week for this blog, but then it came to me. Not all writing is practicing in public. We all have work we would like to eventually have published, and we also need to do research so the work will be the best it can possibly be when it is ready for publication. So, there’s my topic. Research. What goes into preparing to write a book or a story, and my experiences in coming to realize it is necessary for the writing craft.

As I have prepared for this time of being able to write full-time, I have come across many philosophies and methods for getting words down on the page. I know some writers can’t write without having an outline prepared while others are known as “pantsers” or being able to write by the seat of their pants. (without a lot of preparation). There are also people who like to write as quickly as possible and those who can only write a few hundred words once a week. There are those who can write and edit as they go (precious few of us, I would think), and there are those who need to make sure another set of eyes (more than one, most likely) sees their work before they try to submit it somewhere for possible publication. I’m sure we all have many other differences as writers.

During this time of preparation, I have come across one organization I would like to give a shout-out to. NaNoWrimo, or National Novel Writing Month. It happens in November, and the goal is to get a 50,000 word novel finished before the end of the month. I’ve participated a few times, and the files for those books are sitting on my computer. I had fun each time I did it, and my participation proved to me that I did have the capacity to put words on the page and to finish a longer work. I know people who have revised and had their books published from participating in this event, but I don’t think that’s going to happen from what I’ve done so far because one of my entries is a fan-fiction work and because I am still learning about revising, editing, and research.

That brings us to today’s topic. Research. From all of the reading I’ve done, I know there are some authors who put out work very quickly, and there are some who take their time. I’ve always known that research needed to be done, but I wasn’t sure how to do it for a piece of writing I was working on and I thought it was more important to put words of my own on the page. Because I’m a writer, of course. How would people know I’m a writer if I didn’t put words of my own on the page?

I’ve come to realize differently now. I need to do research. Read books in the genre I want to write in and other books to keep my mind sharp. Read books on writing craft which will help with developing my own voice. Participate in events which will sharpen my mind and develop my creativity. And of course, write. Write for my blogs, write my stories, and begin writing my book. These are all parts of the workday for a writer, and they will be things I incorporate into my schedule as I begin writing full-time.

Have a wonderful day!

Jesus Was Brave

I had to read this devotion a couple of times for it to sink in. Then, it made all the sense in the world. Of course, Jesus had to be brave when He was on this earth. He was human as well as divine, and it has added a dimension to my bravery journey I didn’t expect. Let me explain. In recent months, as I’ve written about before, I’ve been making preparations to have an empty nest with the graduation of my younger son from high school. I was losing a role and didn’t know what would replace it. I was feeling like a square peg in a round hole (and still am), and I didn’t know what to do with it. I was not interested in the things Christian women are “supposed” to be interested in so the question of “What comes next?” became even more paramount. The only thing I knew was that I was going to write, but how and in what capacity was yet to be determined. I was in a place where many choices were possible, and I wasn’t sure which direction God wanted me to go in.

Part of me likes to think that maybe Jesus’ human side was facing some of those same uncertainties as He started His ministry. Oh, I know Scripture tells us He went out and started His ministry without any qualms or hesitations, and I know He knew the time was right to go as well. But, what about the human side of Jesus? Did He hesitate about leaving His job or His family? What about His friends? Did He like being a part of a community? We don’t know the answers to these questions. We do know what happened in His hometown after Jesus started His ministry. Mark speaks of it in Chapter 6, Verses 1-6.

“Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. ‘Where did this man get these things?’ they asked. ‘What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (emphasis mine)

They “took offense” at Jesus, y’all. The leaders of His church, His hometown friends, some in His family. The people He was closest to. He expected more from them and didn’t get it. That’s why I know He was brave. I can’t imagine my pastor or the leaders of my church hating me the way they hated Jesus. I can’t imagine my church friends hating me either. Or maybe they do, and I just don’t know it. 🙂 (Please don’t tell me if you do.)

All kidding aside, it gives me courage to know Jesus was brave just like He wants me to be brave. He knows what it takes for me to get out of the bed, and He knows what it takes for me to go out of my comfort zone. But, that’s what He has called me to do as a follower of His, and that is what I’m going to do to the best of my ability.

I end with a quote from the author that I hope we all take to heart as we consider and live out our faith. “The truth of who Jesus is and what He did on earth–the Son of God who came to earth to take on our sins–is the most courageous thing this planet has ever seen.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs)

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

Meeting With God: I Met God On Inverness Parkway

I’m sitting on my bed and listening to Christian music as I begin writing this post. I’ve taken a few minutes to listen to the words, to really listen, and I’ve realized the conclusion I came to the other day is correct. I have been in the wilderness. God has used the last few months to bring me closer to Him, or He’s tried to anyway. 🙂 I’ve come along for the ride, most days, kicking and screaming, because being brought to my lowest is not one of my favorite things. All of the things I don’t like about myself have come out in full force–pride, jealousy, worthlessness, ugliness. But, God is willing to meet me there, within the ugliness. It doesn’t have to be gone before He comes. And I praise Him for it just like I praise Him when I am walking in His creation.

That seems to be when I’m the bravest–when I’m alone and meeting with God in His creation. Like the author says, “His love makes me brave, and there is no place I love to meet with God more than sitting in His creation. Sitting in nature.” (100 Days to Brave, Annie F. Downs) It bring to mind this Scripture from Psalm 96. Verses 11-12 say, “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” I can praise God with abandon when I’m alone with Him, and it brings me so much courage.

But, then I have to be around those pesky beings called people, :-), with the chances to wound, to be cruel, and to not reflect what I want to reflect like Paul says in Romans 7. From Verses 18-19, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” We all can be so cruel to each other even when we don’t want to be.

But when we meet with God though, we’re reminded of what those hard times are supposed to do for us. I’m not sure I would have had the words to verbalize this if I hadn’t read them in my friend’s blog. I’m only going to give you a small sample because I want you to go there and read the whole thing. “That bothersome thing, that circumstance, that person, that difficult time, is your school teacher. When it comes, you’re supposed to recognize it at once and say, ‘By the grace of God, I will pass this test.'” (https://upliftgirl.com/2018/06/15/that-thing-is-your-school-teacher/) Here’s a little more. “I’m going to love. I’m going to trust. I’m going to be patient. I will choose God. I will hold on in faith. I will wait.” (https://upliftgirl.com/2018/06/15/that-thing-is-your-school-teacher/) Ok, that was more than a little, but they were words I needed to hear because I seem to have forgotten them lately. Please go visit her blog anyway. The whole post is just brilliant, and she has a lot of wisdom.

Those words, her words–we all fail at them, me especially. I meet with God; I talk to Him; and then I go back out and do the same cruel things because they have been done to me. Where’s the grace we’re supposed to give each other? I know where it is. It’s in the part of our hearts that says we don’t deserve it. Ok, some of you might not have a problem with unmerited favor and grace, but I know I do, and I’m freely admitting it.

I’m working on it though. Working to root the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9 into my heart. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Because, you see, we don’t just meet with God once, and everything gets settled. No, while we are still here on this earth, we are fighting a battle every day like my friend says in her blog and like it says in Ephesians 6. I’ve not been as well-equipped to fight that battle recently as I should have been, but I know better now. And because I know better, I am starting to feel better.

So, as I end this post, I want to quote Ephesians 6:13 as a goal for myself, and hopefully, a goal for all of us who are believers. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand.” (emphasis mine)

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

An addendum or postscript of sorts:

I Met God On Inverness Parkway!

I usually don’t do this, but something important happened between my writing and typing this post. Like the sub-title says, I met God on Inverness Parkway. I was going to run an errand and put gas in my son’s car when I ran out just before getting to the main highway. I said all the not-so-nice things people usually say when I was trying to start the car again and cars were mounting behind me. Then, I realized what was wrong. The gas had completely run out. I made a call and was told that the person would get there as soon as they could. I got out of the car and started directing people around me. I had a big gulp in the middle of my throat because we have all heard the stories about road rage and how people don’t like to be delayed when they’re going somewhere. I was not in a very safe place on the road.

But, then people surprised me, and my faith in humanity was restored. One man stopped and pushed my car onto a side street so it wouldn’t be in the way. Several people stopped and asked if I was okay. More than a dozen by the time my friends with the gas got there. Someone else I know happened to stop by and was willing to help as well. In fact, we were all ready to have a church meeting by the time the gas got there as my pastor and associate pastor were the ones coming to my rescue. I am so grateful that God showed me I wasn’t alone today because sometimes I don’t think I have anyone besides God. Know what I mean? We all think church is the building we go to, but we are all supposed to be the church in the middle of our communities.

So, thank you to all who stopped and asked if I was okay. Thank you to the man who pushed my car out-of-the-way. And thank you especially to my three friends, Garry, Charlie, and Justin, who showed me God in the middle of Inverness Parkway!