A Visit to Abundance

We live in a world of have and have-nots. 

I wish I could say it’s different in the Christian realm, but if anything it seems more pronounced.  It might not be a competition for wealth but the struggle for power seems to rise in the absence of financial incentive.

When I tell people I am a Christian writer they want to know if I’m legitimate or a hack. When Tim and I share we planted a church, “how big?” is inevitably the next question, and when I mention the young ladies I speak to and encourage, people seem disappointed that it’s the broken teen mom crowd I address and not the momentous “Women of Faith” tribe.

If I look to find my approval by the world’s standards of more, more, more…I will always be left wanting. 

But I don’t think Jesus would use the same measuring stick.

Typically, when I attend a Christian conference there are unspoken but tangible lines between the attendees and the speakers.  It’s like the hip bar in town and you only get to cross the rope if you are a serious VIP.  The egos are big, the fans are in awe and the competitive, “scarcity mentality” reigns supreme. 

Everyone is angling and ogling –playing the image management game and jockeying from their perceived position into the next strata of awesomeness.

I’m not a good player in this game.  Maybe I’m a bit too rebellious?  Or maybe I just care way more about what God thinks of me then the crowd.

But this last weekend I encountered something radically different – Christian superstars who were willing to pour into the peons with freedom and abandonment.

Now maybe it was the setting –a small conference over three days with serious heavy hitters and a group of writers enthralled and willing to absorb every minutia of wisdom shared, but despite the unique setting, I was amazed at the willingness of these twenty million plus best-selling authors to engage and love lavishly.

It was surreal.

When Paul Young, author of The Shack, entered the room, tears ensued.  I’m not kidding.  I witnessed it on more than one occasion.  Paul will describe an insight or a way God has revealed himself to him and bamm…someone in the crowd or at the breakfast table breaks down in big gulpy sobs of release.

Love changes the game.

Peter Strople, the most “connected man in America” is also the most humble man in the world.  When God looks to and fro for a worthy man, I imagine he sighs in satisfaction and claps with glee at Peter. 

Humility trumps power.

I could go on and on.  Mary DeMuth, George Barna, Ken Blanchard, Joel Clark, Mark Batterson, Jim Henderson, and literary agent Esther Fedorkevich…all willingly moved towards relationship despite the normal barriers of celebrity and power.

Relationship changes people.

I learned an invaluable lesson this weekend.  When someone believes in you, maybe someone further down the road you are traveling (maybe a few global best-selling authors perhaps?) and they tell you they loved reading your book proposal and they gave it their vote, paradigms change. 

Actually, my paradigm exploded.  And I want these fireworks to never end.

I am so tired of living in a world of scarcity.  My new home is in ABUNDANCE. 

I know why these authors give and give and give some more…and why their generosity flows like an endless stream.  It’s because they are connected to the river of all creativity from the author of life itself.  God’s river is lavish and deep and wide and these authors recognize the source of the river will never run dry.

Where are you living –in scarcity or abundance? 

 

Photo Credit: http://pinterest.com/themodstitch/

All Fleeced Up

Check out my beret...

For the last twenty-one months I have been hustling –writing early in the morning, at lunch, during baby’s nap and at all sorts of odd times.  I have been jotting down notes in the car, at church, on scraps of paper and sometimes even tapping away on my iPhone to pen some fabulous tale of awesome I might otherwise forget.

And it’s all been for this day. 

Today, I am officially a full-time freelance writer.

I wrote a while back about a big decision we were praying over and how Tim asked for fleece from God and God provided the fleece by miraculously placing a white van on the freeway with a “Got Fleece?” license plate right in front of my car.

God is so stinking creative!

Well, this was the big decision –to go all-out for my dream or stick with the safe and secure route.  In all honesty, moving from a full-time steady pay-check to a life of an eccentric beret wearing writer/artist just scraping by didn’t sound too appealing to my husband. 

But God provided the fleece.

I secured a couple of steady writing gigs and negotiated a deal to do a little contract work for my tech job.

We won’t starve, although I still may wear the beret and start mumbling in French, and read all of the works by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway and maybe 50 Shades of Gray (if they offer a PG version).

I am pinching myself this morning and blown away by the grace of God and his mercy. 

Sometimes our dreams do come true with plenty of hard work and spit and gumption.

And a loving God who provides the fleece and doors of opportunity no man can shut.

What is your dream job?  What can you do today to move towards a career that resonates in your spirit and makes you feel alive?

9 Blogs Worth Reading

About a month ago I got tagged in a favorite blogger dealio and now it’s time to return the link love.  So here is my shout out and THANK YOU to my nine favorite bloggers who inspire me every day.  Please check out their very unique sites and I hope you enjoy them every bit as much as I do.

9 Blogs Worth Reading

These Bones Cry Out  This young lady –Katelyn Beth reposted one of my purity blogs and I stumbled upon her website.  I was instantly hooked!  Like Starbucks, Pinterest and for the love of Target hooked.  Katelyn is an untraditional blogger, more of an idea catcher really, but this gal ignites the internet with her flow of thoughts.  She is raw, passionate about Christ, and whimsical.  Katelyn posts pictures, articles and quotes throughout the day and I can’t wait to open up my RSS feed for more. 

Donald Miller  This dude is one of my favorite writers and I love the dialogue on his blog. The community and buzz following him is entertaining in and of itself.  Miller’s site is geared for smart people who love Jesus, those who fight against religious mumbo-jumbo and strive for artistic excellence within the Christian paradigm. 

The Very Worst Missionary Jaime Wright is an unconventional and ridiculously funny writer who resides in Costa Rica with her missionary husband El Chupacabra.  Jaime is passionate about Jesus, promoting redemptive ministry that actually leads people to Christ, and uses colorful words (like douche and dumbass) that I so get into trouble for.  Jaime is a riot and she will steal your heart and force you to consider what it means to REALLY reach people with the love of Christ.

The Bloggess  This blog is my secret little habit.  Jenny is irreverent, slightly deranged, and so stinking loveable.  Warning: This site is not for the kiddos mainly because of foul language and references to colons.  If you have any sense of humor: you will die laughing, but be careful reading this while at the office.  I have had co-workers ask me what’s wrong as I’ve been gasping for air and snorting like a pig at the feeding trough.

Stuff Christians Like  Another satire blog.  I know, I know…but I do love to laugh.  This site is snarky and clever and the author –Jon Acuff, has branded the concept of self-deprecation towards the uptight and religious spirit.  I love the guest bloggers he showcases and it’s always worth a peek to see what he is up to.

The Blah Blah Blahger I met JJ at a blogging conference and out of the myriad of bloggers I eagerly checked out as soon as I got home, this is the one I keep going back to.  JJ has a unique ability to illustrate the ups and downs of single life with transparency, humor and perseverance.  I love hearing about her relationships, the trials of dating, and the joys of fixing up her home.  JJ and I don’t hang out (other than an email here and there) and yet I honestly feel like she is my girlfriend.  (That sounds so cheesy and groupy but its true)

The Cute Conservative  Dani Nichols tells it like it and dishes conservative political rhetoric with grace and pizzazz.  You can almost hear her sassy voice when you read and I can just picture Dani shaking her dark blond curls and stomping her cowboy boots over the political goons in Washington.  Dani keeps me up to date on real issues and her insight is smart, spot-on and always hits home.

A Fine Day for an Epiphany– Gretchen O’Donnell went to the University of Oregon with my hubby Tim and ministered alongside him through Campus Crusade.  Somehow through the realms of social media and Face Book we became bloggy friends.  I really enjoy this woman’s heart.  I don’t know if it’s because she doesn’t live in corrupt southern CA or what, but Gretchen from Minnesota comes across as a refreshing breath of serenity.  Her blog is encouraging, engaging and feminine and I am constantly drawn back for refreshment.

Rage Against the Minvan:  This minivan swaggering mama of four munchkins is my idol.  Kristen is the queen of the mommy-blogs because she breaks all the rules and redefines them.  Kristen is a gifted writer, an advocate and mother for adoption (specifically Haiti) and a witty satirist.  I love getting lost in her blog and reading and chuckling as a few minutes’ slip into an hour.  It’s that good!

Please check out these tremendous writers and enjoy!

 

 

Picture: Source: piccsy.com via Samantha on Pinterest

My super-power is…

A woman came up to me last week at my son’s football game and said all in a rush, “I just discovered your blog and I’m like totally addicted and I had no idea you were so hysterical because in real life, you’re just, you know, the pastor’s wife. And, I’m not saying you’re dull or anything, but you’re not like all-out there in your face funny. And I really love your writing. I really do.”

“Uhhh, thanks,” I replied sheepishly.

I stood there with a dumb smile on my face not sure whether I should be flattered or insulted. And while I appreciate that she thinks I’m a funny writer, there’s this part of me, some striving little girl in legwarmers from the 1980’s that wants to be funny in public too (even though I’m most decidedly not).

I’m the girl who’s a bit socially awkward. I can fake twinkly gaiety and confidence around crowds for a set period of time, but I’m generally exhausted afterward (unlike my extroverted husband who’s like the energizer bunny).

I’d rather get to know a few people well at social occasions. I like deep probing discourse and intellectual stimulation. Smalltalk is death to me and what’s with the church hug? (I never know what’s appropriate) Either go in for the bear hug or go home-just don’t go in halfway and awkwardly hit my boob.

I am deeply envious of those quick witted folks who are stand-up comics on the fly. My friend-pastor Jeff Maguire is like that.  His body language alone makes me snort and blow corn out of my nose. I can laugh just thinking about him.

One time at a wedding, Jeff was out on the dance floor showing off his Rico Suave moves, when this little old lady inquired about him. “Is that young man a professional dancer or a comedienne?”

“Actually,” I replied. “He’s a pastor.”

Which has to be the least funny job of all time, right? It’s like we lay down our right to be a sarcastic on the altar of religion.

I love it when people find out I’m the pastor’s wife and this look of horror comes over their face. “Oh no, I just had a beer in front of you (or said a bad word, or talked about sex).”

Once the cat’s out of the bag, people stand up straighter, tell me how they should go to church more often, and then tell me how they are more spiritual than religious. It’s like we have to get the confessions out of the way and I have to make the sign of the cross over them before we can really get to know each other.

I met a unique young woman at a blogging conference recently who struggles with bi-polar tendencies. She was transparent and funny and I found her irresistible. She named her blog “Crazy is my super-power.”  I love it when people take their weakness and turn it around (with God’s grace) to be a force of strength and encouragement.

So I guess I’m a bit like Clark Kent-really, and my alter-ego is cooler than my regular gal aura.

And might I suggest that my super-power is funny and maybe that’s good enough. (Because even though Superman is awesome, Clark Kent isn’t cool, but we love him anyway)

But if I make you laugh hard enough to pee or snort corn, please let me know…comments make me deleriously happy.

What’s your Super-Power?

Boots and Blog Sugar

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

So I went to a conference this last Sunday for mostly female bloggers with my writer friend/hero Dani called Blog Sugar. Strangely enough, one solo dude braved the dainty pink estrogen laden gala…not sure why???

But I had to erase my speculations because they weren’t uplifting or good and true and noble.  (They were snarky and bitchy and bad) and one of the things I learned was to be very careful what you put on the internet cloud.

(This is more difficult for some of us)

 Regardless, it was fun to network and scope out the ladies who were dressed to the nines and tens and maybe even elevens.  Seriously, I was in awe of their high fashion ensembles; the blown out hair, sparkly shoes and va va voom accessories. 

I had a small moment where I realized how little I think about fashion and maybe that’s bad and I should care more about my attire because I look rather dreadful a good fifty percent of the time. But caring requires effort, that maybe I’m not willing to give, except for an occasional party when I can pull my crap together.

 

Source: None via Samantha on Pinterest

 

I wore my new riding boots (not that I ride anything except for…right, hit delete now) which I was very excited about and a bright yellow necklace from Egypt my husband bought me on our honeymoon that can only be called a conversation piece.

So, I felt cute and confidant and for being a slightly socially awkward person, I fared as well as could be expected.  I learned some cool blogging tricks, made some new she-buddies, and ate way too many sweeties and got a tummy-ache.  It was awesome– in a girly, Princess of Genovia, Annie Banks sort of way. 

Source: None via Samantha on Pinterest

 

When I got home late in the evening, I spilled over with excitement to my husband and oldest son(who should have been in bed), about all the pretty women and the cotton candy and the decorations and how my new boots got many compliments.

My teenage son looked at me with a frown, “So let me get this straight, the conference was pretty and they liked your boots, but did they like your writing mom?”

 I glared back, steam rising from my nostrils. “Yes, no…it wasn’t like that.”

My husband and son fell over laughing.

 

And while I love my boys, they just don’t understand.  Blog Sugar was an experience different from the serious writing conferences I have attended in the past.  It was lovely and nurturing to the female soul and mostly, it just made me happy.

And someday, I aspire to have gazillions of readers and give motivating messages about just being yourself and using your blog for the greater good.  (Ok, what does that really mean people?  Not the good part, I grasped that despite my blonde hair, but all of the really successful writers say, “just be yourself” and the rest of us all scratch our heads dumbfounded because we are ourselves, it’s just they like you better)

Someday, when I am a famous novelist/blogger, I will give clarity to this statement. I’ll say, “Don’t suck, work hard, watch more Pink Panther, find your funny bone, take long walks and talk to Jesus…” Super clear, right? Actually what I think they mean when they say this is to find yourself, because many of us are still trying out and learning our voice and sometimes it takes us a while to figure it out.

In the mean-time, I think blogging rocks because it tells the unfolding story of people and we all need encouragement in our faith, an occasional slap in the face, and to our pee our pants laughing on a regular basis.

And that’s why I blog ♥

Nonsense

I was a journalism major in college, and then a theatre major, moved to political science, and  finally graduated with a degree in history.  My BA should have an MA in ADD.  Summing up all my skills, I think this qualifies me to write a little about a lot or maybe a lot of nonsense.  I found out the other day nonsense is actually a language and you don’t need Rosetta Stone to become proficient at it.  My daughter and her friend were in the back of the car arguing about whether it was a real language or not.  So we looked it up on  Wikipedia.  Turns out my daughter was right.  Nonsense is  real as much as reality sometimes seems like nonsense.

Nonsense is a verbal communication or written text that is spoken or written in a human language or other symbolic system but lacks any coherent meaning. Many poets, novelists and songwriters have used nonsense in their works, often creating entire works using it.

An example of nonsense: when you are just on the verge of falling asleep and you say random things to your spouse with absolutely no context for the current conversation. Our subconscious mind on the edge of slumber can turn the most articulate person into a babbling fool.  Oh, if only we had tape recorders in those moments. I love it when my husband snuggles into the pillow, then blurts out, “What did the guy in green the car say?”

I think he said, “You’re out of gas, Mr. Over-tired!”

Literary nonsense takes it one step further and for a writer is a cornucopia of delicious words to play with.  In its essence, literary nonsense is contradiction using correct grammar that results in any lack of meaning. The saying, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”  penned by Noam Chomsky is an example of nonsense.

So in honor of fall, autumn and the pure love of spooky words , here is a stab at some Jabberwocky(a poem of nonsense).

The jack-o-lanterns menacing grin lulled the small child into a state of tranquility.

The sweet comfort of terror filling the night with peace.

Snickers and candy corn creating a cacophony of song

And blackest  midnight dancing a jig with dawn.

Hurling Darts into Jello…

Strawberry/Raspberry Jell-O Ring

Image by pirate johnny via Flickr

As a writer, I often wonder if my words connect with my audience.  Am I making a point, eliciting an emotion or provoking a response, that changes one’s paradigm, even momentarily?

As a follower of Christ, this question becomes even more pronounced… because in the art of losing myself to glorify Christ, I write to tell His stories, but then secretly wonder if anyone listens???

Often when I write I feel as if I am inspired by the Spirit.  Words flow like water.  My fingers tingle, I am in my element because I am operating within the giftedness I was created for.  Other times, I am at an impasse, relying on my own cleverness, or lack thereof, trying to find words when there are none.

Some might call it a writer’s block and try to push through it. I tend to file these articles away for another day when my eye is fresh.

Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way,  “The torpid artist seeks inspiration at any cost, by virtue or by vice, by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine.”

While wine sounds attractive, prayer must be my muse, or I am tempted to think of my art, writing in this case, as a gift in and of itself, versus an offering to the Giver of all good gifts.

If humility is recognizing who we are in light of God, neither overestimating or undermining our worth, then writing with humility allows us to release our work and give credit where credit is due.  We can let go of the insecurity of penning a masterpiece that may or may not be universally well received.

If our pen has been moved by the Spirit of God, and we write for an audience of one, have we not in all reality hit the mark?

But if we are merely trying to stroke our ego or gain a following to prove our prowess with the pen, then our words are vain folly.

In all honesty, much of my writing attempts are like hurling darts into Jello.  I aim, I throw, and then comes the distinctive sound of jello– blu..blu…blump.

Maybe no one cares or takes interest in something I thought was riveting.  Other times, I aim and hit dead center.  I am praised and feel loveable for my contribution.

Once again, the achievement ladder has stealthy crept into my sincere desire to create.

I…we… must constantly surrender to the Spirit–allowing God to take both the triumphs and the catastrophes, freeing me up to simply use the gifts and talents he has given me for His glory, and hopefully, someone else’s benefit.

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