Happy 70th!

Party Streamers

Party Streamers (Photo credit: imedagoze)

I don’t know why this seems significant to me, but it does. This marks my 70th post in this space since I started blogging back in January of this year.

Seventy seems like a lot in certain contexts. For instance, 70 seems like a lot of birthdays and it really seems like a lot of wedding anniversaries. Seventy miles per hour seems like a high rate of speed. Seventy dollars seems like a lot of money for a pair of shoes or a sweater. Seventy cats or dogs would seem to be a lot of pets and 70 acres seems like a lot of land. And if there were 70 states in the USA, well that’s a lot more than 50.

But in other contexts seventy seems low or small. A 70 on a test seems like a low number. Seventy dollars also seems low for a car payment or better yet a mortgage payment. Seventy cents isn’t even enough to buy a candy bar.  Seventy square feet would seem like a very small amount of space for a house.

I am not sure what 70 means in terms of blog posts, but I will tell you what it means to me. It means that 70 times I sat down to a blank screen and words came. And enough words came to form a thought and communicate a message. Sometimes that message was more clear than others. Sometimes it was like giving birth and sometimes it flowed out like water from a fountain. Sometimes it happened at 3:45 a.m. (like this one) and sometimes it happened at 3:45 p.m. just as everyone walked in the door from school. Sometimes it came one single, solitary word at a time and sometimes it was like a flood and I couldn’t write fast enough. Sometimes I was the only one who “got it” and sometimes people “got” things I didn’t even intend.

I promised myself two things when I started this and I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I have now written enough posts that I officially can’t remember everything I have and have not shared…and this bears repeating anyway:

  1. I promised myself that once I hit Publish on each post I wasn’t going to stress myself out and correct mistakes if I later found (or anyone graciously or even ungraciously pointed out) any spelling or grammar errors. I decided that part of this grace journey is being myself and being transparent, including my mistakes. So as long as a typo didn’t grossly alter the meaning of what I intended to say,  I have let them all stand as published. This is my little way of choosing to no longer live such a highly edited version of life in order to give the illusion of having it all together.  Of course there was the time I accidentally hit Publish and the post was literally only half-way written. I considered that more of an incomplete than a mistake, though.  Three hundred missing words is a little more than a typo!
  2. I also promised myself that I wouldn’t beat myself up over maintaining strict writing deadlines.  My 3D life and the people in it are more important than this space and there are just times when the speed of life crowds out words.  And that’s ok. I’ve done away with internal deadlines for myself. I don’t want to Publish just to hear myself talk (although on occasion it may sound that way). So while I like the rhythm of hitting Publish two or three times a week, it’s ok when that doesn’t happen. I don’t want this to be a formula. I want this to flow out of my life journey, not drive it.

I realize that people who are comfortable in their own skin and embrace the unique way God created them will ask themselves why I needed to promise myself these two things…well because for most of my life I haven’t been comfortable in my own skin and I had no clue about my uniqueness, let alone how to embrace it and live it.  So for this girl, both of these things have been a huge sign of freedom for me.

So here’s to 70! I celebrate all that you are. I am not worried about what you are not and I am not concerned about what you will be. I am grateful for this moment!  And I am grateful for those journeying with me.  To those who have read and endured all 70 posts and the continuing transformation, all I can say is that I am humbled that you would hang in there (I know some of it has been rough).  And to those who have only read one, I am also humbled that you would grace me with your time, and I invite you to join the conversation.

What are you celebrating in this season?  What are you grateful for?

Two Things I Thought I Would Never Say (or Write)

English: A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Win...

English: A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Winter Springs, Florida. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continuing with the theme of enjoying things…vacationing with teenagers, trying on yellow tube top dresses, and summer in general, I would like to share two things I have discovered I enjoy, but never thought I would:

1)  I LOVE The Neighborhood Market by Walmart that opened near our home.  Close friends and family are probably picking their jaws up off the floor after reading that first one.  My husband has to practically beg me (or trick me or drug me or force me at gun point :)) to get me to cross the threshold of a Walmart.  So when this store opened in February I was skeptical to say the least, but something or Someone kept whispering in the back of my mind, “Try it.”

I ignored that little voice for five months until one Saturday afternoon I put on my big girl pants and said, “Let’s do this!”  I also told myself I was free to run straight back to my car at any point I felt overwhelmed.

This is the part I can’t believe I am saying, but I have been there probably four times in the last three weeks and each time (different days, different times of day) has been a PLEASURE!  The staff is VERY friendly, the store is clean, it is well organized, well stocked, the aisles are clear, they have a good variety of foods (I forgot to mention it is Walmart’s version of a grocery store), and the prices are amazing.  The only thing I was unable to find was alfalfa sprouts, but really, those are not something to base such a life altering decision on.

I always knew I was missing out on low food prices by not shopping at our Walmart Super Center, but I figured that I was saving money on the medication I would need to do that on a regular basis by shopping at a more expensive store closer to home.

Now I have the best of both worlds – cheap food and my sanity.  Thank you Walmart!

2)  Kale Salad is my new favorite food.  My close friends and family are again stunned because vegetables, particularly greens have never been high on my list of priorities.  But this stuff is AMAZING!  I’ve eaten every day this week.

Just think, if I hadn’t tried on the yellow tube top dress at the beginning of the summer I wouldn’t have starting thinking about all the possibilities and being open to whatever comes my way.  And I would still be spending too much money on food and not enjoying this best thing I’ve eaten in a long time.

A New Adventure

The week before New Year’s my husband and I went out to dinner one night.  I talked to him about writing and how I have always wanted to write a book.  I don’t remember exactly how the conversation went, but I am sure I shared all the reasons I have come up with not to write (e.g. Do I have anything worth saying?  Do I have anything to say that someone else hasn’t already said or said better? I don’t know what I am doing.  Would anyone read it?).  Finally, he said, “Well, why don’t you just go ahead and write the book?”

That one question was all I needed to propel me to start this blog a few days later (a special thank you to my husband).  A blog seemed a natural first step.  It gives me the opportunity to practice the discipline of writing on a regular basis.  Knowing that even a few others will actually read what I publish adds an extra layer of tension, good tension, that makes me work harder at it.

Early on in this leg of my journey I shared here how writing has been a life long dream for me (see Living the Dream).  While writing in this space is definitely part of a fulfillment of that dream, if I really get down to it, writing a book has been the heart of my dream.

Last weekend as I was perusing some posts by other bloggers that I follow, I came across an intriguing piece of information.  A writing conference in October (that I haven’t even decided to attend or even talked to my husband about come to think of it…hhhmmmm) is hosting a contest for aspiring non-fiction authors.  The winner will receive a contract with a well-known publisher.  A light went on in the back of my mind.  Even if my idea doesn’t win the contest, having a specific deadline and knowing professionals would read my work really piqued my interest.

But then I thought, “I don’t know about this, maybe it’s just my flesh.”  So I said what all good Christian women say when asking themselves if it’s the Holy Spirit or their flesh, “I’ll take it to the Lord.”  So I took it to Him and walked away with more questions than answers, like, “Lord, when would I even have time to write a book proposal? ” and “Lord, where would I start?”  In other words, I tried to tell God why it’s not really a great idea.

Fast forward to Monday morning…I woke up with a lot on my heart, but nothing on my computer screen ready to publish  (I am trying to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so that I get into a regular rhythm of writing).  So I poured out my heart on my laptop (no kidding, I really cried writing that entire post about the woman with the hair and the tears and I still have more to say about that) and then I hit Publish.  Immediately my heart dropped to my stomach because I had published without giving it a title.  I made a MISTAKE!!!!

The next evening, Tuesday, I decided to write my post for Wednesday.  I tried to prevent another hasty title-less posting accident by writing it in advance and scheduling it to publish at a pre-determined day and time.  However, when I went to Preview it I hit Publish instead (they both have P’s, right???).  My second MISTAKE in two days!  It was immediately confirmed, I have no idea what I am doing.  By the end of the week I was really asking myself why on earth I thought I could possibly write a book if I can’t even manage to publish a blog the right way?

But God…on Wednesday, while blow drying my hair and talking to Him (that’s about the extent of my multitasking abilities), He gave me my starting point, the basic layout of the book.  I could clearly see it in my mind’s eye.  On Friday, He answered my other big question, “When would I have time to write?” by freeing up a couple of blocks of time in my weekly schedule.  But then the lies started to creep in and the insecurities of my mistakes that week rose up and began to taunt me.

So I did the next thing Christian women sometimes do when they are feeling overwhelmed, insecure and lost…I hopped online and looked for a conference where I could go and gather with others who already know what they are doing and learn how they did it!  I could learn from them how to do it the right way, with no mistakes.  Two particular conferences (they shall remain nameless to protect the innocent) seemed ideal in terms of content and speakers, but the more I read about them the more anxious I became.  I heard the Lord whisper to me, “If I gave you the idea, the outline and the time, don’t you think I can give you the whole thing?”

He let me know right then and there this journey is about me and Him.  It’s about our relationship, not about a finished product.  My journey is unique and to try to do it the same way as anyone else would be fraudulent, fake, without substance.  It wouldn’t be a true representation of what He is doing in my life.

The bottom line is the Lord and I will be spending the next month working on a book proposal.  I don’t like not knowing what I am doing.  I don’t like being uncertain of the outcome.  But I love this journey of learning to depend on God; of pursuing a relationship without worrying about producing content; of  learning to abide in Him and bear fruit instead of being independent and trying to manufacture my own.

John 15:4-5 – “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Disclaimer

I am about a week and a half into this blogging journey and I want you to know how scary this is for me. On a cold, Friday afternoon, after two extra cups of coffee, I sat on my new, big, red couch (more on this later) feeling really brave and decided to create my blog. So I did. It took me until Monday to work up the courage to write my first post. Once I had written it, it took me a couple of more hours to work up the courage to hit the Publish button. When I did hit Publish I closed my eyes and winced as if someone were yanking a band aid off of the most sensitive part of my body. (Fyi…the Publish button is bullying me around a bit. It taunts me every time I sit down to write. Staring at me from the right hand side of the screen as if daring me to touch it. You can pray for me. In fact, please do, I have no idea what I am doing technically speaking.)

My second day of blogging I figured out how to link my blog to my Facebook page. It took me several more days to actually link it and share a post there. To me that was scarier than hitting the Publish button. I had a mild panic attack afterwards. My hands were shaking, my breathing became irregular, my legs felt rubbery and I got nauseous. I felt like I had just invited the whole world (well 124 of them, Facebook friends) into my bedroom to go through my underwear drawer or worse to see me naked. In fact, my heart is racing this very minute just thinking about it again. I have issues with naked.

All that said, it is becoming more and more apparent that I struggle with letting people in. With letting them see the real me. To allow them to know me, all of me – the good, the bad and the ugly. So that’s part of what this space is about. Sharing myself, an image bearer of God, and my journey with others. Something of a personal travel journal.

For those of you who know and love me and might be concerned that I am probably working out some issues I am wrestling with right here on my blog, in public, let me just say upfront, you are probably exactly right! I think that if I am wrestling then others are too. Also, you know how frugal I am, this is free and I can do it from home. Counseling is expensive and I have to get dressed and go out for it.

I will leave you with a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that the Lord used to encourage me during my panic attack:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Welcome

Hello. I have waited a long time for this day. For my first official blog post. Honestly, I have waited probably two years. I’ve had the name for months, I’ve had the desire for a LONG time, but I’ve waited. Why?

The short answer is fear. Fear that I will say the wrong thing. Fear that I won’t have anything to say. Fear that no one will like me. Fear that I won’t be able to figure out the technology. Fear that I might offend with my theology. Fear that I don’t understand my own theology or that I don’t have the right one. Fear it won’t be pleasing to the eye or laid out well. Fear of criticism. Fear that if I finally, actually say what I am thinking it won’t matter.

BUT…love and faith finally won out (thank You Lord!) and I am finally ready to begin.

I sort of feel like the Fellowship of the Ring as they began their journey and set out from Rivendell: nervous, a little afraid but excited at the idea of adventure into the wild unknown. Here at the beginning I admit upfront (to myself mostly) that I will make mistakes. I may not post as often as I would like. I may not figure out the lingo. I may not figure out how to increase blog traffic. Shoot! I may not figure out how to get ANY blog traffic. I won’t always use proper grammar. And yes, it may get messy.

But I have a desire to share my journey of grace and to invite you to share yours. To unravel the mystery of it and share how it has unraveled me: the good, the bad and the ugly.