When there is no muse…

If our desire is to go from doing what we love when the mood strikes to doing what we love all the time, then we need to find the drivers – the motivators – the encouragers – the desire – the chutzpah! Some of this will have to come from somewhere deep inside of us and some of it will come from people who surround us. 

One of the things that has always stirred me to some of the better things I’ve written has been a particular set of emotions or the need to process through something. When those things are present, writing is easy for me. It’s my muse. One of my favorite quotes from Lang Leav:

a8f5a418de728fa0a71fdaa98428fff6
So what do we write about when we’re not in the midst of a terrible place…?
So what do we write about when we don’t have anything in particular to process through…?
So how do we write when we’re not feeling our way through something major…?

This is where some clarity about the purpose of Unfolding Lovely meets the pavement. This is when my mission – Unfolding Lovely is a community created to encourage people with the love, mercy, and hope of Jesus Christ through our own stories – really has to come to life. And I’ll be honest, I don’t fully know what that looks like just yet.

The really great news about not knowing what it looks like for me is that I’m discovery there are so many of us, not just writers, but all types of creatives, who just don’t know what it looks like right now. Even when we think so&so has figured out all the ins and outs of their hobby turned job, chances are – no. They’re getting better at it every day, but none of us have fully arrived to perfection.

Wherever you are in your journey or your creative process or your calling or your purpose or your why – whatever name you’ve given that thing that gets you out of bed every day – you’re not alone. Find your people. Find those who will not only push you outside of your own comfort zones, but ones who will sit with you while you sort it out – no pushing necessary. Find the people who’ve already done “the thing” and, with an open mind, learn what they have to teach you. Find the people who want to see you be your best self and be successful – and who are also honest with you!

If our desire is to go from doing what we love when the mood strikes to doing what we love all the time, then we need to find the drivers – the motivators – the encouragers – the desire – the chutzpah! Some of this will have to come from somewhere deep inside of us and some of it will come from people who surround us.

If you like to cook, but have no one to cook for right now – cook anyway. Take a class.
If you like to paint, but can’t find any inspiration to paint – paint anyway. Teach a class.
If you like to write, but can’t find anything to write about – write anyway. Read a book.
If you like to sing, but can’t find a place to sing – sing anyway. Find a local choir.
If you like to work out, but don’t have a gym – workout anyway. Create an at-home routine for others.

Friends, we can’t stop doing what we’re called to do cuz we’re feeling unmotivated or unnecessary – we do it anyway. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take everything we have inside us some days – we do it anyway.

Now go — get all your creative juices flowing! ❤

 

Vulnerable

I’ve sat upon the floor of hell. The enemy escorting me there time and again. Each time, climbing out — to what I was never really sure and for reasons I couldn’t comprehend. While seated on that floor, the breaking of my spirit, my confidence, my very essence happened in the most painful ways.

Years later, God gave me the strength to climb out for good and to never fall into that space of unworthiness, shame, doubt, condemnation, judgement, perfection again. He offered a hand that led to a redemption of epic proportions. That’s not to say that I don’t struggle with each of those things from time to time, but now I know to choose not to live in that lie from the enemy any longer. Jesus has created a path of righteousness, lined with His blood, full of His grace, where I’ve been ushered into and made whole. Clean. A new creation.

I don’t take this lightly, friends. In the washing of His blood, He gave me a story. One to be told so that none of us ever feels like we’re walking in this life alone. He’s provided me with a voice that some will hear, but not others. He’s made me palpable for some, but not for everyone.

The good news is that none of us have to carry the weight of the Great Commission all on our own. You’ve been given a story, a voice, a group of people who will only be able to hear the story you tell in the way you tell it. Your experiences will speak to the hearts of people that mine never will. Your life and redemption will usher in people to the Cross who would never hear my voice.

Over the last couple of months, when I’ve tried to think through how I write about what breaks my heart, how I remain vulnerable without floodlighting people, and how to help people with whom I have influence to see the goodness and trueness of a loving God – I continue to come back to being true to the walk He’s called me to walk. Right here. With you.

Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability — the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome – is the only path to more love, belong, and joy. The downside? You’re going to stumble, fall, and get your ass kicked. Worth it? Yes.”

It’s hard to be that vulnerable. Maybe we don’t all do it en masse like this crazy fool *points at self*… but I hope that you have someone(s) who will allow your full vulnerability and that you feel safe and secure in the telling of your story while you’re there.

You were created for this time. This space. This unfolding. I’m praying that your confidence to walk in it is encouraged daily and that you are reminded often that you are a beloved child of a King.

Ephesians 2: 10 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. 52057067_10218550456971100_425165667398844416_n

 

January is for Stretching

Women who walk in their truth with shaky legs, write with a pen that isn’t very steady, and embrace vulnerability with a racing heart are my kind of women. Brave. Bold. Honest. Storytellers and community makers.

William Wordsworth says, “fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” Over the last several years, I’ve worked hard to learn how to be vulnerable and honest, but not in a way that makes me seem whiny or like I’m complaining. Just living a transparent life. I’ve taken cues from authors I find to be revealing and honest and faithful; Brene Brown, Lysa TerKeurst, Deidra Riggs, Ann Voskamp, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Harper, Kim Hyland, Holley Gerth, Michelle DeRusha, and so many other bloggers, social media heroines, and truth-telling mommas!

Women who walk in their truth with shaky legs, write with a pen that isn’t very steady, and embrace vulnerability with a racing heart are my kind of women. Brave. Bold. Honest. Storytellers and community makers. How many times have we been able to read a blog post, part of a book, or a Facebook post and find a piece of commonality, a sense of togetherness, and a reminder that we don’t have to do any of this alone?! We find strength and encouragement from one another – it’s exactly what we need to be able to survive our own day sometimes.
9959c37c980da3ba9fa4b2995cf239f5
Recently I was asked to not share from that place of vulnerability that God has been helping to craft within me over the years as a way to minister to the women in my world. I was asked, essentially to choose; kingdom or not – ministry or not – vulnerability or not – honesty or not – community or not – brave or not – bold or not. I had to decide – shaky legs, unsteady pen, racing heart, or not. Suddenly I was confronted with a choice to either embrace who I’ve been created to be or to push my girl back into the closet where most of her life she had to hide her true self for fear of not being loved, or accepted, or cherished, or worthy enough, or good enough, or any other thing we can throw in there.

My word for the year is Purpose, but my word for January is Stretching. I’ve taken a break from writing, from social media, from all the things that I thought I was supposed to be doing and poured that into seeking God and what He’s asking me to do. I’ve stretched into the Word, into His voice, stretched to hear Him with confidence and clarity. We’re told that when we earnestly seek Him, we will find Him. Y’all, I was on a hunt! From a recent book I read written by Michelle DeRusha called True You, I learned to sit in His presence a little better. She started with 5 minutes a day, and so I did too. Just doing not one thing. Just sitting. Not laying down trying to fall asleep, not reading a book, not praying even. Just soaking in Yahweh. The very name Yahweh is breath – it can’t even be spoken. Sitting in the breath of the Creator was necessary. I’m up to about 15 minutes now since I started this about 6 weeks ago. It’s hard and sometimes I’m really easily distracted, but other times I’m rewarded richly with a clarity unlike anything I’ve ever felt.

From that clarity, the confidence to walk in the Purpose for which I’ve been created is so overwhelmingly clear, I couldn’t deny it if I wanted to deny it. So while I may have to modify some things in order to make all of my world coexist together, I will not back down from the mission He’s given me!

Friends, sometimes we have to make hard choices. I’ve learned that making them in the moment, with all the emotions of it, usually leads me down a path from which I may not be able to recover. However, when we take the time to seek Him and His will, counsel from people whom we trust deeply, and time to sit in His presence – the answers will come. His will for us will be clear. We may not understand it all, but understanding isn’t what we need. We walk in faith and obedience, He makes the way. 

Whatever is in front of you right now, I pray that you step into it with shaky legs and unsteady hands. That you fully embrace who God created you to be and that you remain Kingdom focused when the world around you wants to defeat your God given mission. Walk in the godly confidence which can only come from the Creator of the whole entire everything! Be bold and brave!

 

One word, 12 words

I will have my word for the year, but I also plan to have one for each month. I think one of the things that can sometimes hurt me is being too macro-minded when I haven’t spent enough time being micro-minded. This year, the intent is to do both. Who wants to be on this wacky ride with me? C’mon… you know you wanna! 

Happy New Year, friends!

The other evening I had an idea to come up with 2019 things I’m thankful for throughout the year. That’s 5.5 things per day and 39 things per week. Lucky for you, I’m not going to share of all them with you, but believe me – I thought about it!

I’ll admit that I’ve done the thankfulness journals and I find that I’m normally a pretty grateful person. I know all the ways I’m blessed, but I don’t often document them. However, something has been pressing on my spirit to recall things to my mind more often, and to sit in a place where I’m more often thankful and less often questioning.

This past year has left me with a lot of questioning and I’m just not willing to take that into this new year with me. What are some things you’ve decided not to take into the new year with you? Have you called them out by name and maybe heavily rebuked them in the name of Jesus like this crazy girl might have done?! 😉

As some of you know, I like to choose a word for the year and allow my heart to focus on that word and allow my mind to consistently be pulled back into that train of thought when I start to find it wandering into the unknowns. And I still plan to mostly do that this year, with a twist, though.

I will have my word for the year, but I also plan to have one for each month. I think one of the things that can sometimes hurt me is being too macro-minded when I haven’t spent enough time being micro-minded. This year, the intent is to do both. Who wants to be on this wacky ride with me? C’mon… you know you wanna!

So, the word for the year is… Purpose. That word was given to me for so many reasons. I’m at a fork in the road; this way or that way. Am I going to choose the easy road or the one where my purpose lies? Does my purpose lie down both of them, just a bit differently? In fact, what is my purpose? I’ve thought I’ve known it for a long time, but maybe I don’t know it at all! See why it’s my word, but also why it needs baby words to go with it??

e0a47b2239ed45bd48137744ced32ac6My word for January is stretching. I’m totally stealing it from a message series that was announced last week at church and the first part of the series happened today. I have no shame in this thievery!

February: Revealing – this will be a time to get real with myself and to reveal my weaknesses, failures, brokenness, strengths, desires, etc…

March: Exploration – to be fair, the first 10 days or so of the month, I’ll be on a trip part work and part pleasure. I hope to spend some time exploring the world around me, but also myself inside that world. I’m hoping for a lot of good, quiet moments in March!

April: Energy – where is a natural place for my energy to pour over? When I exude energy that brings me joy, what does that most often look like?

May: Service – this is typically a really busy month for me. Like really busy. So, my service might look like one thing, but God is teaching me something totally different. Also, where else or how else can I be serving amidst my own chaos so that I’m able to focus more on others than on myself.

June: Reflection and Gratefulness – this is my birthday month, and I like to spend some time reflecting anyway, so now I’m doing it with some intent behind it!

July: Growth – as I get closer to understanding my purpose, how am I growing it? Learning it? Mastering it? This is the time to settle into the purpose and allow God to show me where I need to grow in it.

August: Audience – once I know my purpose, and then grow my purpose, who is the audience for it? Where should I be directing the energy and the service and the purpose? August may not give me those exact answers, but I hope to learn more about what my audience might look like in this month.

September: Rooted – I hope that once I know my purpose, grow in it, find my audience for it, God will allow me to find a solid root system to keep me pressing into that purpose. The root system will be the people whom He assigns to this mission with me, I kinda mess the whole people thing up when it’s left up to me.

October: Expectation – this is pretty self explanatory. Prayer and expectation this month.

November: Action – what is God calling me to do exactly? Am I ready to actually put action to it? If being a master gardener is my purpose – what am I doing? By the way, being a master gardener is likely not my purpose. Who knows, though. 😉

December: Rest and Replenish – it’s been a long year by this time. With all the other busyness of this month, I’m going to look forward to resting in my purpose, asking God to replenish me for the upcoming year, and reminding myself that some good progress was made in 2019!

* I reserve the right to move these words around throughout the year! heh.

I also feel like I need to say that I really don’t like the whole “what’s your purpose” terminology/semantics/wording. I’m a much bigger fan of knowing my why… why am I here? why am I the one who can do this? why am I the one whom God called for this particular thing? why do I need to be here to do this? God might wish I didn’t ask so many why questions, but then I figure He made me and knew I’d ask them – He made me still. 😉

Day 8…

Share something you struggle with. 

Share something you struggle with. 

I have lots of struggles… way too many, I think. One of the things that frustrates me about myself is that I can sometimes have difficulty focusing. Even this post has had four different “struggles” already because I can’t focus on which one I want to write about here. (and now we’re on day 3 of it just sitting here because I can’t seem to finish it.)

My focus can either be all-consuming on one thing or it’s completely scattered on several (read hundreds of) things. In either event, there isn’t the balance I’d like to have in order to be and stay productive and efficient and effective.

Sometimes the ideas I have will overwhelm me so much that it’s paralyzing and so, nothing happens even though there are so many good ideas about something. And sometimes I just have overall commitment issues… like this 30 day writing challenge. We’re on Day 8 and I’m totally over it and it’s taken me like 3 weeks just to do 8 days! haha.

Maybe we’ll see Day 9… maybe we won’t. 😉

Day 6…

Five ways to win my heart.

One of the things I’ve noticed since moving to TX is how people “do church” here. Church in the bible belt is much more cultural and/or obligatory and a lot less about a person having a growing, deepening, personal relationship with God.

In the last couple of months, I’ve talked to other people, from other areas, who also noticed the same thing. And, to make me feel like it’s truly legit, my pastor talked about it during his sermon yesterday. Finally, I feel like my theory is supported and has some footing.

All of that doesn’t have anything to do with today’s post, but I think that it’s important to point out how I’m not crazy from time to time. 😉

Five ways to win my heart.

Winning my heart is tricky business. I love really big and I can accept love pretty well, mostly. But, if we get into that whole romantic love thing… well, I’m pretty guarded and messy there. I’m healed. I’m whole. I’m careful.

day-1

 

So, let’s talk about other ways to win my heart and not about “oh, baby, I want to marry you” kinda ways, mkay?

 

 

Coffee, as soon as my eyes pop open – that wins my heart. Well, until I get married… let’s be real, shall we? There just might be something else that pops my eyes open in the morning once I have my hunka man… buuuuut until then – coffee.

Man on man love. I love me a good bromance. When I see men encouraging one another, praying for one another, and supporting one another – all my “I wanna have his baby” sirens start to go off. Mind you, I’m not having anyone’s babies, but the sirens still work, amen? Yes.

Cannolis… let’s just keep things nice and simple. If you wanna win my heart, bring me a cannoli. I didn’t get this voluptuous frame by eating salads all day… 😉

Ridiculous kindness. Like really, we can never overdo it on the kindness front. We need to pour it out of our pores like it’s the most natural thing we’ve ever done. We should be, literally, tripping over one another to beat the other one to the task. Think of a world where people are fighting about who gets to do the next kind thing. That’s my kinda world.

Acceptance… I have fought long, hard, and dirty for the woman I am today. I will accept nothing other than someone who can take me at face value. I can be a crazy, silly nutball or I can be a deep thinking lover, and everything in between. You can challenge me to be a better version of myself, but you must accept who I am today – with all of my wacky-do doodles.

Tell me about things that would win your heart!

Day 5…

List 5 places you want to visit. 

places

List 5 places you want to visit.

1) Zambia. I’m in love with this country and I’m not all together sure why. I know the AIDS epidemic hit that country really hard and the orphan population is massive. I continue to tell myself that God hasn’t allowed this trip to happen yet because I don’t have enough self-control. I can see that I would either come home and try to figure out how to adopt at least 27 children I met while there or I would just stay there and never come back. My heart isn’t ready for it. I know this about myself.

2) New Zealand. Because it’s NZ. All the pictures I’ve seen of NZ are breathtaking and I’d love to see it in person some day. Also the Maori culture is pretty fascinating to me, from the language to the arts to the haka that I love so much. I’m pretty sure if I witnessed a haka in person, I would be a puddly mess for the rest of the day. Click here to see one of the hakas explained; the Tika Tonu. There are many different hakas, and I love them all.

3) The west coast of the US, from northern CA up to the Canadian border (and probably just over because one of my friends lives in Nanaimo!). I’ve never been to that area of the country and it’s on my list of places to visit. Specifically I’d like to visit; Yosemite National Park, San Francisco – both in CA. Warm Springs Indian Reservation and Mt. Hood National Park in Oregon. Then up to WA state – I would spend lots of time here, if possible. First stop in Kennewick because #friends. Then up to Moses Lake because #friends. Then off to Seattle because #friends and #Seattle. Then to Olympic National Park, La Push coastal beaches, and back to Seattle. Before I decided to land in TX, WA state and Zambia were my other two choices of places to live. The lack of sun was literally the only thing that kept me from not choosing WA. I do think I could fall in love with it, though.

4) The northeastern coast of the US; from CT up through ME. This is another section of the country I’ve never visited. When I was a teenager, I was in love with Boston. I’m not entirely sure why, but it may have started with NKOTB and Donnie, specifically. 😉 I even hoped to attend college there one day. Alas, I’ve yet to visit, but in me they will always have a die-hard Pats fan! The entire New England area has me pretty mesmerized with its overall beauty and charm, but I am so.over.snow and would probably never live there… But God.. heh.

5) Somewhere tropical. I don’t even care where because so many places are beautiful. I wanna see blue-green water, walk on fine sandy beaches, see a parrot, eat amazing food and drink amazing drinks. I wanna fall asleep with waves lulling me there.

Where do YOU wanna visit?

Day 4…

Write about someone who inspires you. 

I skipped this day on purpose because I am choosing not to answer… at least not in the way it’s meant to be answered.

Write about someone who inspires you

Too many people inspire me. Some still around. Some are not. Some who have hurt me. Some who have helped save me. I’ve been inspired through their words, actions, inactions, kindness toward others, their drive and motivation, their laziness. I’ve been inspired by both knowledge and ignorance, strength and weakness; anything can propel me toward my own goals by their own means.

So, I can’t write about someone who inspires me when everything around me inspires me in some capacity. Maybe one day I’ll be able to think about this more concisely, but if not, I’m okay gathering inspirations from the stars to the dirt.

Day 3…

Day 3: What are your top three pet peeves?

288e3e6bd1c81aedf722d35ae77fcb80

I wish this day were harder to think up something good… but it’s not. I’m a bit obsessive about things, which means I can get peevey when it’s amiss. I’m workin on it, y’all.

Day 3: What are your top three pet peeves?

And for all of you who know me, number 1 iiiiisss… ? Yes, the chewing. Get.It.All.The.Way.TOGETHER. man! I’ve left the room while my mom eats salad because it’s just something with my mom’s mouth saliva vs the ratio of lettuce/tomato intake mixed with dressing — or something. I don’t know. I have big, fat issues with people and their chewing. I also always feel the need to defend this a little, too. It’s been an issue for 40+ years – since I was a child. It’s not some new cool thing to say makes me crazy, it can literally make me crazy. Please, if you have a chance, ask me about the guy at the movie theater and his popcorn. You will see a visual storytelling that will have you feeling my pain!

I feel like the next two that come to mind are also either chewing related or general sound related, and I’m trying to think of something else. I used to really be obsessive about my pantry but then – kids grow up and make things messy and it’s not that important in the big scheme of things and I had a choice to be angry at my kid all the time for messing up the pantry or to love him despite his less than OCD tendencies. I chose the latter.

Oh! Inconsiderate drivers. Bah. Much like most of the world, a little less selfishness and a little more consideration for others would make so many things better; including the roads. Don’t tailgate. Don’t cut people off. Be a good merger/mergee.

The last one would probably be littering. Ugh. Such a disgusting habit. It amazes me that someone can just open the window to their car and throw things out of it. Blech.

Okay, one more sound one.. remember, I said I have issues. Unnecessarily loud breathing is enough to drive me completely mad sometimes. Trust me, I get mad at myself for a persons breathing being an annoyance to me… but, well, I’ll be perfect in heaven.

There you have it – things that will make me bonkers and probably explain why I’m single at 46. 😉

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more random thoughts.

f758d7b490d02ca22f4d7060a7313c2d286a25da583cd8f2814bdc5c22cac286302ed10a7e6743e7ec298634f971ddaa3145e04804b9a584c091c3c8e586409a6158643efaf8e65c49c94ef6dbe2389a460f003d62f3eda94547ca5d3c3633bd