Tag Archives: surrender

Pondering With a Coloring Book 2

So yesterday I posted about how unhappy I was with my color choices as I started a new page in Lisa Joy Samson’s Colors of Hope (on sale today on CBD). I mentioned that as I colored the  Lord revealed to me  thoughts about being creative and brave and willing to try new things in life.

Following is what I pondered as I continued coloring that particular page:

I’m still not done with this coloring page or its accompanying verse (When you call out to me and come to me and pray to me, I’ll hear you), but I gotta say, I’m loving how this is coming together–even the yellow and blue I didn’t like at first.

Today three things went through my head as I colored and chatted with Jesus. The first was simply joy. I think the happy colors brought that out! I worshiped, with little praise songs freely bouncing around in my head. I wanted to celebrate His creativity, love, power, and beauty. This mixed with the ponderings I posted yesterday led me to think about what it looks like to be a follower who surrenders fully, like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, without forgetting that life has other gardens, too. Beautiful Eden gardens where we enjoy bounty and beauty and walk in intimacy with our creator.

I want to understand how to live as one who walks in surrender when called to hardship or a season of sacrifice–or even to live without getting angry at God when life sends me a curve ball.

AND I want to be a joyful woman who is adventurous and lifts her face to the breeze. Free. Focused on the glory of the life God desires for us. Believing in His goodness.

The second line of thought was about perspective. As I worked around the edges of my coloring page, I saw previous work differently. I was able to see little flaws I hadn’t noticed and fix them. They didn’t bother me. At this stage of the process I was far enough along to simply handle them. No stress. And as more spaces were colored I started getting a sense of the joy of the whole picture and how it fit together, not just the unfinished parts that made no sense at first. I don’t think I have to explain either of the metaphors popping out there!

20170311_082302

The third pondering was simple joy in God’s provision for play and refreshment as I color. In this season of my son’s upcoming wedding, my other son’s graduation, and my efforts to meet a May 1st book deadline, I’m incredibly grateful to the Lord for leading me to play through this devotional coloring book. What delight to see the happy colors, to be creative without need for perfection or plan, to just hang out with him.

The last many years He’s often pulled me out of my more serious approach to time with just the two of us. I’m learning to rest in His wisdom in leading our relationship. There are seasons for all kinds of relating with the Lord, and I love the deeper study times as well as the intensive prayer and journaling times, but He knows I can be too serious, too responsible, so He pulls me out for long walks or gives me a coloring book and asks me just to be in His presence.

To chat or not.

To play.

Isn’t our God good?!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three blog series about the joys of coloring and the things Lisa and I learned while interacting with Colors of Hope. Next week I’ll be talking about navigating empty nest as I interview Vicki Caruana, who wrote, “The Joy of Letting Go.” This book releases April 1, no foolin’! Receiving an advanced copy of her book in the mail the week my oldest son married his beautiful bride was quite timely. (I hope to also blog about the wedding soon. It was a glorious day full of joy and peace! There is joy in letting go. 😉 )

Until Tomorrow,

paula-another-test-401x192-2 - Copy

PS If you’re interested in hearing more about my journey out of the “quiet time” box of my past and into more freedom to be playful with the LORD, you can read about it at the end of my book, Soul Scents: Bloom, available now on Amazon.

Epiphany #4

IMAG2583That whole conflicting with my desires thought from my last post should have prepared me. But it didn’t. I ran off in my merry little sanguine way expecting sunshine and roses. Only what grew along with the roses were tomatoes.

Never saw that one coming.

I started figuring out that things weren’t as easy as I expected when I went to one of my favorite places: A writer’s conference where I was reminded that my new epiphany was really a curve ball.

See, ever since 3rd grade when I wrote a story about a pencil and an eraser, I wanted to be an author. (Oh brother. The tears still spring to my eyes, and honestly I’m tired of crying about this.) Somewhere during high school speech competition I realized I also wanted to be a speaker. For the last 25 years I’ve lived my other childhood dreams–to be a teacher and a mommy, and as the years have ticked away toward cheering on my last high school graduate, I’ve eagerly awaited greater freedom for that dream of becoming an author and a speaker.

Sure, I am those things already. I have two published fiction books, have published over 300 non-fiction pieces, and have spoken for homeschool groups, writer’s groups, and mom’s groups, as well as having taught at writer’s conferences. But that was all in my spare time. Now I was ready to enter full-time into the world of writing and speaking–to take the whole gig to another level. To write the deeper, more complex stories of my heart. To up my speaking opportunities.

I’d waited for so long for this moment.

Then God gives me this curve ball and tells me to learn to be a business woman. I need to mention here that up until this point everything I’ve done in life was connected to a dream. Teacher. Mommy. Writer. Speaker.

Never once did I dream of becoming a business woman.

I spent a lot of the writer’s conference in tears. Not because it wasn’t fun. It was actually amazingly wonderful. Except for the increasing understanding that my next season wasn’t going to be all about my dreams and except for the fact that the keynote speaker said we had to be obedient when God sent us curve balls on our writing journey.

By the time I left I’d convinced myself that God wasn’t going to let me write books for a while. And I was heart-broken.

Thankfully, He then gave me Epiphany #4. I did get to write books. Just not the deeper books of my heart–yet. He wanted me to do what my agent, Rachelle Gardner, had suggested right before that second car accident that left me unable to write books for a year. He wanted me to write genre romance.

The good news is I like romance–both in books and in real life. And evidently I’m pretty good at it because I’ve helped a non-romantic male learn to be at least a little romantic, and my first romance story was a finalist for a prestigious Christian fiction award.

More good news is that genre romance is the kind of thing I can usually write while living with a lot of chaos in my life. It also is light-hearted enough to keep me happy and sane when I write it (unlike women’s fiction, which can bring me into the doldrums as I dig deep).

So it really is the perfect solution to my quandary of how to continue my writing career while learning to be a business woman. And I’m super happy about it except when I’m not. (I’m a girl, ok?)

My agent put me on a deadline to have that next book to her, and I added up word counts. I need to write 1700 words/day, six days a week. The good news is so far I’ve written 5,175 of the 55,000 words I plan to complete by Thanksgiving.

The bad news is I haven’t written any today because I’ve been too busy writing blog posts.

But I will get it done.

And so I’m learning how to swing at this latest curve. Letting go of how I thought this next season would look and embracing a new plan. Most of the time I’m good with it, but then there are those days . . . and I’ll tell you about one of them tomorrow.

Kisses in the Curve Balls

Kiss me and smile for me. Tell me that you’ll wait for me. Hold me like you’ll never let me go . . .

It was one of those moments. It happens periodically when I’m in the early morning sleep state, between quiet and reality. A song fragment awakens me and flows through my heart and thoughts. These are rare, breathless moments. Moments when He sings over me. I’ve learned to listen.

Yes, Lord?

Remember your speech?Carol_Award_Gold_-_no_base_transparent_background

The one I didn’t get to give. The one I’d already posted to my blog before I know whether or not I’d get to give it.

The one where I said to survive being a writer I had to hold onto God for all I was worth.

I’d fallen asleep  a few hours before with eyes squeezed hard in the darkened hotel room, eyelashes hot with wet that cooled to icky cold on my cheeks. I was okay. After all, it’s normal to be bummed in times like this. But I hadn’t only hidden sadness from the world. Anger smoldered, too, tinging the purity of disappointment.

Anger for the long path of a writer. Grief that only that week He’d again asked me to do something different than I wanted as a writer. To put the projects of my heart on hold again–after they’d been on hold for that last 5 years. Just when I thought maybe He’d let me move forward He again said, “no.”

The speech, remember? Live what you wrote. Hold onto Me for all you’re worth.

Yes, Lord.

I felt it, then–His kindness, His reassurance, His tenderness. Without words He spoke, “Smile for me, beloved. Don’t be angry I didn’t give you the win this time. Wait for Me. For My plan. Love me, dear one. Live in my joy. Don’t let the disappointment steal it away.”

Trust Me.

The anger dissipated.

Smile for Me?

The pain lessened.

Kiss me?

“I love you, Lord. Even when I don’t get my way.”

I thought back to all He’d taught me this summer. The preparation for the new twists of His plan.

And I knew this moment was about another surrender to another “wait.”

In His goodness He didn’t ask me to obey without also sharing His presence, His heart. Like the times Jerry has had to disappointment me for a greater good, He grieved, too. Was sad He couldn’t give what I wanted right then. Wished He could simply make me happy.

Desired, maybe even needed, my smile. My kisses.

Unbroken relationship.

I’ll write about His new plan soon. It’s a curve ball I never desired, but got excited about when He asked it of me. And then freaked out about and got mad about later, only to surrender once again.

Baseball_diamond_marines

photo from wikipedia

It’s a curve ball that will eventually allow a home run hit or two, but that in the short term means turning (yet another time) from my long-term dreams and resting in short-term preparation.

Learning to swing at this curve ball means another season of stretching, learning, allowing Him undo thinking patterns that hold me back. Another round of stepping out of my comfort zone and swinging on a new field.

I’ll let you know all about that soon, my friends. Until then, I covet your prayers for me in this new place where I stretch.

A Guest Post – Sweetly Broken

yellow rosesWhen I read this Joyvotion from my friend Robbie Iobst, I knew you had to see it to. I get her Joyvotions delivered to my inbox. You can too. Just follow the link.

Be blessed!

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.” Psalm 94:12-13

Sunday at church we sang a song by Jeremy Riddle called “Sweetly Broken.” The chorus:

At the cross you beckon me

You draw me gently to my knees, and I am

Lost for words, so lost in love

I am sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.

You can hear it here.

I sat in worship and cried. Sometimes I do that. I wish I cried pretty and sniffed gently. I’m more like a loud Louis Armstrong blowfish, red and puffy and blowing a trumpet. But we are what we are and the Spirit was all over me.

Sweetly Broken.

Ever feel that way? I have. Lately, it feels like it will never end. And it won’t. Not ‘til I see Him face to face.

The adventure of living for Christ is full of epiphanies if we decide to keep growing and not just remain stagnant. This past week it occurred to me that as the fourth of four children I often got my way. (My siblings may cough loudly and obnoxiously at this point.) I wouldn’t call myself spoiled but I do believe I have lived my life getting my way most of the time.

At age 23, I met someone I thought I would marry. He didn’t want to marry me. I didn’t get my way and I remember very clearly turning to food. I could have my way with food. So began a pattern that has been deeply engrained in my life for 27 years.

Now, at 50, I have surrendered. I’ve thrown in the white flag and said “God, not my way with food anymore. Your way.”

Ergo, I am being sweetly broken.

Ouch.

In the last ten months I’ve lost 70 pounds and several dress sizes and a lot of inches.

But I’ve also lost a part of me that was extremely used to being in control. That part of me has stood in the way of going deeper with the Father. That part of me that still rears its ugly head and cries out, “This is too difficult.”

I am sweetly broken.

The breaking hurts, but there is a sweet side.

Physically I look and feel better.

Emotionally I find myself clinging to Christ in desperation and gratitude. And my compassion for other folks going through similar battles has quadrupled.

Mentally I am discovering that I have more room to think about other people or challenges where in the past, that space in my brain would have been crowded with “What am I going to eat later?”

Robbie

Beautiful, passionate Robbie Iobst. 70 pounds down and counting!

Spiritually I know I am tasting freedom. Last weekend I climbed a mountain. I kept thinking I would fall because it was steep, but the freedom to keep going, even if I fell, was exhilarating.

Sweetly broken. Wholly surrendered.

Christ did it first. He showed us the Way, the Truth and the Life that we can have simply by yielding our wills to God.

Today, join me and quit stomping your feet trying to get your way. Pray with me, “Your will, not mine, be done Lord.”

Note from Paula: Robbie’s first novel, Cecilia Jackson’s Last Chance, releases soon. It’s been a long time since I connected this deeply with a book’s characters. A long time since I’ve seen real, difficult issues tackled without making the reader wallow in the pain at the same time. It captured my heart, taught me about life and God, made me think about real stuff, but didn’t drag me down. I felt empowered and joyful at the end of the story. Watch for it!

Sweetly broken