Tag Archives: dreams

Sometimes You Don’t Want Advice

Sometimes you don’t want advice. Perhaps that’s why I’ve pulled back the last couple of years. This blog has been barely touched. No new books written. I’ve even been more quiet in “real” life–with most of my face-to-face community.

I’m trying to figure things out. And well, frankly that’s exhausting. The thing is, I really don’t want a plethora of other voices adding to my confusion in a particular area of my life. I want to learn to rest in the hope of the One Voice who leads. Trust in the One who knows the end from the beginning. But it’s been a long two years around this issue–and I do need prayer support. But I’m not ready to talk about that yet–I promise I will. At the end of this post.

The whole fear of advice thing is not all that’s  going on.  Life has simply taken a lot of energy and left little for blogging. After Jerry’s heart attack almost two years ago, we began a health journey that required our focus. Much of the last two years was about doctor’s appointments, diet change, and adjusting. (I talked a little about that here.) The exciting update is that Jerry is healing!!

But even though I think of the last two years as hard, not all has been hard. Some of it has been incredibly good, wondrously good, gloriously good!

My son Sam married the beautiful Ariel!

I spoke at retreats and a writer’s conference and gave a keynote at the Whole and Free Women’s Conference.

 

I traveled to NYC (which I actually told you about) and then to Afghanistan to serve with an NGO (non-governmental agency). Maybe someday I can dig deep enough to write of the great impact of that experience. Today I’ll share only one quote from a brave, female health care worker in Afghanistan. Through an interpreter she thanked me and said, “We know that you come from a place that is safe and traveled to a place that is not safe to encourage us.”

Yes, I cried.

A bonus for this huge life event was that I was part of an all-women’s service team–and my daughter was one of the team leaders! So I got to experience this humbling, beautiful, painful place with her.

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I came home from these trips and couldn’t rest until I found a way to connect with an Afghan woman nearby. I’d simply fallen in love with these beautiful, courageous, resilient women. I found my place as an in-home English tutor for an Afghan refugee. What precious, precious moments this woman and I have shared! We don’t know much of each other’s story–we don’t have enough words in common to tell our stories. But we share each other’s hearts. We are women. We are mothers.  We want to love, grow, and expand.

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Back to the home front–Jerry and I celebrated 30 years of marriage with a week in the mountains!

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And  . . . Drum roll please . . .

Jerry and I became grandparents! Oh the joy!

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There’s more. So much more I could write of God’s blessings. Our small group. The women’s Bible study. Faithful friends. It’s good to stop and remember. Any time. But maybe especially when you start a post with the words, “sometimes I don’t want advice” and admit that you’ve pulled in.

So let’s loop back to my “more on that later” promise.

The thing that has been the most draining for me (except of course for the emotion you feel when you almost lose a spouse and then watch them fight their way back to living over a two-year period) is that I was totally unprepared to be the primary wage earner for our family.

Jerry and I have always lived on a small, one-income (his!) budget. It wasn’t easy raising four children this way. But we believed I was called to some primary things–being a writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother (not necessarily in that order). So we limped along to allow me to do the things I’m passionate about. Making an income through books, speaking, and the occasional article was/is feast or famine. (Well, to be honest it’s more like a normal meal or famine. Never really a feast.)

God was incredibly gracious to me right after Jerry had his heart attack and was unable to work. Our Lord miraculously paid every single bill for six months. I’m so thankful. I really didn’t have it in me to figure out how to make more money on top of all we were dealing with. God is good. Faithful. Steady.

Next God provided me with a ghost writing job with the potential to support us for a while. The work started more slowly than expected, which freaked me out. (You can think you’ve been tried and tested and grown in faith–and I had–but then comes something that draws your faith in a whole new way and though you truly thought you were done with freaking out (because you know your God is good) you find yourself there again.)

Eventually the work became somewhat steady. I loved being able to bring in more consistent income while holding onto the flexible schedule that allowed me to drive Jerry to the doctor, occasionally babysit my granddaughter, and continue tutoring my friend. (And take the occasional speaking engagement, service trip, etc.)

But it was a huge learning curve. This trying to become the primary provider.

(Okay, not was. Is.)

For too many months I stressed over every penny I thought I needed to make. It was hard to balance my schedule, much less my checkbook. Finally, I learned to trust, to believe God was providing, and lean into the work without freaking out.  (To date I’ve sold 78 stories to this company.)

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But not long after I was able to wrestle my fears, questions, and stress to the ground–Not long after I was doing better at leaning on God–Not long after I could work without freaking, the project began winding down. Which meant the work slowed down. Which meant the paychecks did too.

The project is almost completed. I may have enough work to get us through October.

Now what?

(I know I just asked, but . . . um . . . please don’t give me advice.)

Last night I lay awake freaking again.

It’s so not how I thought I’d learned to live with Him. It’s so not how God wants me to live. It so not how I want to live.

I know I am a capable, educated, talented woman. I have skills. Marketable skills. I also have dreams. Whether or not they are marketable remains to be seen. And then there are the hopes I treasure . . . .

I’m not sure where all of those intersect. I’m not sure if they will anymore. I’m not sure how to move forward.

And I am so very sad. And tired. And afraid.

Please pray for me.

Earlier today I did part of what I love. I wrestled with a new spiritual truth that excited me. And I wrote it out to share with others. (I’ll post it here tomorrow–and on my author/speaker page on Facebook.) I have a feeling this new understanding of a Bible passage I’ve previously misunderstood relates to the struggle. Not because it is a direct correlation, but because–as you can read tomorrow–what we see in the mirror matters. (What I wrote talks about what we can see.) But I have a feeling I’m barely beginning to understand the vast applications of that view. Maybe instead of worrying as I climb into bed tonight, I’ll ponder that.

Meanwhile, here in Colorado, I’m just a grandma looking for Jesus. Believing He’s hanging onto me and being grateful for that, because my hang-er-on-er strength feels faint. Sometimes I don’t get that. How God can be so good, so faithful, so kind–and still I feel things that don’t match who I know Him to be. Tonight I may feel overwhelmed, scared, a bunch of things that don’t speak to the truth of the power of my God, but I promise you this. I still seek Him. I still love Him. I still reach for Him.

He IS my all in all.

Until next time,

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My 2015 Christmas Miracle (Part 3)

 

10460208_10206246840584989_5981055260819918600_nResting and healing last spring and summer sometimes felt unproductive and selfish, but the Lord reminded me my self-esteem is based in His perspective of Who I am, not on my ability to perform. My precious husband never pushed me to be productive. In fact, he prayed for me to rest Eventually I relaxed into the healing season and was able to thank God for it.

As fall came the Lord released me to work again. It shouldn’t have surprised me that the insights gained as I rested in God for the previous six month began flowing onto the computer screen as devotions. The fact that I no longer found it painful to write about the hard stuff is a beautiful testament to the healing the Lord gave as I laid down my dreams and looked to Him instead of forcing myself forward.

Striving and stress was non-existent in this work on the devotional book. Since there was no way it could release for 2016, there was no deadline. No inner push. Just writing with God about the great things He showed me.

Then one day the plan changed. And God did it without ramping up the stress levels. It started on a Saturday morning as I jabbered happily to my husband about how I now had almost a year’s worth of devotions in various drafts.

“Wait a minute,” my husband said. “What’s the word count on this book?”

I paused and did the math.

“Oh.”

 

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Because I was using a new program which allowed me to work in small chunks with multiple folders, there wasn’t a word count at the bottom of my screen that reflected the whole project.

“It’s too big for people to hold,” he said.

It dawned then. I had a year-long collection of quarterly volumes, not a single book.

A tiny thought pranced into my mind, “The first book in the series needs very little work.”

But it was November. Too late to follow my dream to release a devotional book for January 1st. Right?

I’d already decided this was not a book I wanted to hand over to traditional publishers, so its journey was just between the Lord, Jerry, and me (and anyone else the Lord invited into the process).

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That day a very talented friend, Lisa-Joy, happened in for a visit. It was a rare treat because I hadn’t seen her in years. She was visiting Colorado, and we reconnected. As we drank our tea she asked what I was writing. When I told her about Soul Scents she offered to do the artwork! Lisa is not only one of the most gifted novelists I’ve read (her books are published under the name Lisa Samson), but her artwork is amazing, and she has recently started her own business offering coloring pages for adults.

Thanks to Lisa’s offer for artwork the niggling thought from the morning stood up tall. I had most of the components in place for a team who could publish a book–and not just a any team. This team was passionate, professional, and gifted.

By Monday, November 30th, Carmen (I told the Carmen story yesterday) and I decided we were going to trust God for a December launch of Awaken, the first book in the Soul Scents devotional series. By the end of the day we had the rest of the team in place!

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The artwork which inspired the cover designs is what you’ve been enjoying throughout this post.

Pay attention to the progression of the design. Note the details–the color choice, the buds, flowers, leaves, the birds. Can’t you feel the maturing of the soul?

Lisa-Joy captured the heart of the Soul Scents message. When God plopped her into my lap He opened the way for a dream I thought was unattainable to become a reality.

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As you dream your own dreams, remember there is ONE who is the Dream-Giver. He not only plants the dreams; He matures and births them. Nineteen years ago, heavy with baby number three growing inside, I surrendered my dream of writing to the One who asked me to slow down and focus on my children.

Over the years He’s slowly shaped the dream, allowing pieces of it to happen as well as asking me to hit pause periodically. But even when I was ready to toss the dream, He didn’t let me.

He keeps seeing my dream through, and He will do the same for you. After all, HE is the Dream-Giver.

Blessings,

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PS Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the rest of the team and show you my amazing collection of all FOUR book covers!

San Diego II – The Beach

Some sidewalks led to more exotic spaces than others.

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Not that I don’t like strolling through my neighborhood, but there was an extra excitement bubbling forth as Sarah and David urged me down the sidewalk in San Diego leading to the beach. I couldn’t resist stopping to capture pictures of sea lions

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and several of the dipping sun.

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But Sarah and David ran ahead, calling that I must hurry if I was going to watch the sunset from the sand.

So I rushed ahead only to pause and snap more shots, then revel in the fact that I could run barefoot across the lawn of a green park and catch up to them. A year, and almost 60 pounds ago, I couldn’t have done it. I’m still shocked than I can now.

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Once across the little park we rushed down some stairs to a beach so we could feel sand beneath our feet

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and dip our toes in the ocean

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as the sun took her own stroll on the horizon.

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While she journeyed, we played her glow.

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Once the sun disappeared

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into the ocean

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all that was left was a faint fragment of light reminding us of where she’d been. It was hard to see anything but shadowed outlines.

Sarah urged me to walk a little closer to a big rock. Trusting soul that I am, I did. Not making any new discoveries I questioned the quest, and she urged me on. I stepped closer. Suddenly the big rock arched it’s back, and I realized I was just across the space of my living room from a sea lion!

Delightful! (But too dark to capture on film.)

Sharing the moment with Sarah and David, knowing we were there for work, but playing together as family, was surreal. A hunger grew within to share this type of thing with Jerry and all the kids. To work and travel together, seeing the world, experiencing sunsets on horizons all across this great planet. And I was reminded of that day on the mountain last July when God told me it was okay to dream of such things.

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Some sidewalks lead to more exotic beaches than others.