This year I’m participating in the Five Minute Friday Community’s “31 Days of Free Writes.”
Each day, I’ll be writing for five minutes on a one-word prompt. You can find the results on this page, check back each day for an update. <3
There are a million ways I could have gone with this prompt, but instead I’m going with the obvious: WHY I am doing 31 days of free writes.
I am not a Writer. I mean, I know that anyone can be a writer and everyone is a writer in the same way everyone is a singer, everyone is a dancer, etc. But I’m not a Writer VOCATIONALLY, it’s never something I have done for a living, and when it comes to the practice of writing, I just don’t have a tried and true method or system.
And now I’ve got something to say and I’m not quite sure how to go about the process of getting the words out into writing. I’m also a constant self-editor. I’m not much of a Type A perfectionist except when it comes to communication and my instinct to constantly edit and critique everything I ever put down in words is crippling to any efforts I ever make to get any volume of writing done.
So, this practice of writing for five minutes without stopping every day for the entire month of October is designed to pull me out of my comfort zone and start developing the routines, practices, and habits of both body and mind that are going to help me get to a place where I am able to get what is in my head and heart out into the written from without tripping all over myself- or at least REDUCING the amount of tripping to whatever degree I can, as I understand from those who have been writing much longer and better than I have it will always be awkward and always be a battle.
I have always felt like God has given me gifts that he intended me to share with the world. I haven’t always known what they were and I think I still probably don’t. But for some reason I’ve always been convinced that they are there and that He gave them to me because He needed the place in time where he put me to have them.
I’ve always been inherently convinced that this is true of others as well. Even before I knew this had a strong, scriptural basis, it was just one of those things I feel like God taught me as I got to know him in my youth.
What I was not prepared for was that sometimes, these gifts don’t always feel like a blessing. The gifts that God places in us are holy, sacred, and not of this world so they don’t always FIT IN to this world. Our spiritual gifts can feel like a BAD THING sometimes, ways that we are different, don’t quite fit in, because those gifts are not of this world.
Struggles come with our gifts as we try to live into them and learn to embody them in this world we were not created for. It doesn’t always feel like a GOOD THING to be made the way we are.
But we were created this way for a reason and my prayer for myself and for you is that God would:
-Convince and convict you that you are just full of amazing, unique ways that you are you in exactly the way He and His kingdom want you to be
-Help you identify the way your struggles are really connected to your gifts
-give you peace as you learn to be present in this world, engaged with the people around you, using your gifts to further His kingdom, while holding the reassurance in your heart that you are not OF this world, not made for here.
“Empower me to keep getting back up again, recognize progress, and fight discouragement.”
I wrote that in my prayer journal this morning. When faced with a problem of any kind, I find that I tend to be very focused on all that that needs to be done about it, what has yet to be done about it, the ways I’m falling short in doing everything I can about it, that I easily get discouraged.
The thing is, when we face problems, we aren’t meant to tackle them on our own strength. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Our job is to cast it on Him, look to Him, listen to Him, and BELIEVE that He can do it even when we can’t. And then keep getting back up again when we inevitably stumble along the way (because who is perfect and unfailing in this situation? Is it us or God? We, our very own selves, WILL stumble. It’s Him who will not), keep praying to have His eyes of love and grace to see PROGRESS, and choose to cling to our hope in Him and belief that WON’T HE DO IT and refuse to let discouragement weaken us along the way.
Listening to God. Man, that’s not an easy thing. It’s something that gets easier with time, gets easier to discern His voice, learn what practices make us more able to hear Him- but it’s haaaaaaard to get started. And really, it never gets super easy and we are never really “there” in terms of being good enough at listening to and hearing Him. When we are at the end of our earthside journey, standing face to face with Him, THEN we will be able to hear Him perfectly clearly. Until then, it’s a journey we should all be on.
If you don’t feel like you hear Him, don’t feel like you’re failing- it’s not on our strength that we hear Him anyway. Pray that He would teach you to hear His voice, guide you in the ways He made you to communicate with Him. He longs to commune with you and made you for doing just that. Believe that you can and that you WILL learn. It may be quick, it may take awhile, but we can all hear Him when we learn how to listen in our own way.
Oh man, this is a loaded word for me. Because, to be perfectly honest, I think “other” is the most destructive concept in the Kingdom of God, the idea that has God’s children in disunity and discord and allows the enemy to have a hayday.
“Otherizing” is the verb I used to describe what we do to one another when we decide that someone is inherently different than us and so is somehow outside of the need for us to see them as FULL image-bearers.
We do it to those who think differently from us politically, particularly in this polarized climate. We do it to those who believe differently than us, even within the Body of Christ. We do it to those who we feel like are beneath us for one reason or another. We do it to those who look, live, and love differently than we do- and, even more difficult is when we do it to those who discriminate against those who are different.
It’s so hard to remember that there is no “other” in the Kingdom of God. Each and every one of us are image-bearers- and each and every one of THEM are image-bearers. We may feel like we are so completely and totally right about how they are each of them turning to their own way and distorting that image- but are we right? Who knows?
But when we “otherize” people and allow them to become “those people over there,” we are allowing fractures in the body and pushing others away from Christ and now my time is up so I have to stop now but CLEARLY I have a lot to say here. <3
It’s fall in Oregon and the trees are showing up and showing off. Having lived in New England for six falls, I can tell you that the PNW has colors that are just as brilliant, it’s just that we have only a fraction of the deciduous trees so the color is not as prolific and pervasive.
The colors have me noticing trees that I don’t usually pay attention to. For example, there is this giant maple on the corner right by the kids’ school that is voluminous and lush with thousands of leaves, but I had never noticed it until the tips started to turn red at the tips of the branches, fading into orange, then yellow, and into green closer to the trunk.
Changing seasons in life cause us to notice things as well, to see things through a different lens.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
It seems like things are always changing in the world around us. Our kids are always getting bigger, people are getting sick, jobs are lost, relationships crumble, and it the culture at large it seems like there is always something new popping up to wreak hurt, havoc, and discord and/or to uncover old wounds that have remained untreated too long.
It can be so difficult to cling to hope when we are trying to cling to worldly things that can change like shifting sands.
But JESUS CHRIST IS UNCHANGING. GOD IS THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, WHO WAS AND IS AND IS TO COME. The One who created the universe and everything in it, who knit us together in the womb and who holds our whole life in His hands, He never changes. His grace doesn’t ebb and flow, it’s ALWAYS available to us. It’s not like money that could dry up if we have to go too many months between jobs. His forgiveness is PERMANENT and can’t be withdrawn like the friendship of a fickle and broken human. His promises are ALWAYS true, even when we are in the tough parts of the journey to their fulfillment. His victory is ALWAYS assured, even as we come to death and go home rejoicing to something better than we had here in this world.
God is always the SAME no matter what changes, and there is infinite peace in that.
We bought this house six and a half years ago, when we had been married for four years, had an almost one-year-old, and didn’t know for sure whether or not we would have a second child.
Our budget was paltry, mortgage laws meant that we had to qualify for our loan as if we could pay the mortgage on our new house PLUS the condo we were still underwater on and planning to rent out so they could be assured of getting their money, wehther or not we could get the renters in there.
I walked into this house where we live now and it was not a pretty sight. It was 35 years old at the time, still sporting original (or near-original) carpet, powder blue wallpaper galore, kitchen cabinet drawers that did not slide, and CARPET IN THE MASTER BATHROOM EVEN AROUND THE TOILET.
But as I looked at this house, a vision started to take shape: this was a space where we could GATHER. The dining room and living room were one big space so we could turn a table sideways if we needed to fit more people than might fit in a traditonal dining room. There was a family room with a fireplace connected directly to the kitchen- which we could remodel with a big center island for chips, dips, and crock pots. And the basement- oh, the giant daylight basement that could be a dedicated gathering space. Comfy couches and big tv and bam- instant sports watch party. The bedrooms are not large, the master suite, perfectly suitable for 1978 when it was built, is sorely lacking by today’s standards. But this space was designed for us to GATHER.
Time’s up, will definitely finish this later.