Thursday, September 26, 2019

Breakout Louisville

Last week I was able to check something off my bucket list.

Escape rooms.

My friend arranged an escape room experience at Breakout Louisville. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about it all. It was something I had never done before and I tend to get nervous about new things. Thankfully we had a couple girls who had attempted an escape room before. Plus, there was six of us.

We were"locked" in a room. (Thank goodness for safety reasons they don't actually lock us in... This in itself was a small comfort.) The game began with an hour on the clock and a few directions. We quickly set to finding clues and unlocking a series of locks that allowed us entry into another part of the room's puzzle. Reading. Codes. Math. Chess. Clocks. It's was thrilling.

We could ask for hints when we needed and the game masters gave vague enough hints that we still had to do a lit of thinking to figure out the next steps. The countdown clock ticked on a screen in the room, changing colors several times and sounding a faint alarm to warn us that time was running out. Time flew by and adrenaline was high. The last few minutes were insane. Our hands were shaking with excitement. We were running around, laughing, frantically trying to finish before time was out.

And yes, we made it. With two short minutes to spare, we made it.

It was so much fun and we laughed a lot. The hour was a great bonding experience and it was cool to see how everyone used their strengths to help get the job done. It is be a great memory I will cherish forever!

If you haven't tried an escape room, I highly recommend it. Get your friends together. Take your family along. Make it a co-worker bonding experience. It's a creative way to spend time with friends, work your brain, have a blast, and try something new!

Friday, August 2, 2019

Resting in Jesus

This morning did not start as I had envisioned it would. It was supposed to be a relaxing morning with a trip to the local coffee shop, a casual hour or two working on my manuscript, maybe a few laughs, and then back home in time for a healthy lunch. I still when to coffee and I still worked on my manuscript, but in the back of my mind I was distracted, my heart was heavy, and I was overwhelmed by possibilities. My future's possibilities. 

I am currently in a stage of life where it seems that's all there is, possibilities. But which ones do I act on? Which ones are realistic? Which ones do I want? Should I go to college? Or I get a job? Should I continue to pursue the road to publication? Or do I simply continue to live life as I currently am?

I know what I want in life: a husband, a few kids, a writing career, and opportunities to travel. I have told Jesus my desires and He knows my heart. I'm trusting Jesus, but it hasn't been easy. Most of the time it's hard. Really hard. Waiting is tiring, but I know it is necessary. I try to be optimistic, at peace, and fully rely on Jesus through the ups and downs of it all. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.

To be honest, I'm discouraged. I had a battle with doubt and fear this afternoon. Questions kept rolling around in my brain. What if I made a mistake by not going to college right out of high school? What if I actually followed my own desire to become a writer? What if I never get married? What if...

I cried. I felt so small. So lost. I researched colleges and looked into writing programs. The uneasy feeling inside just kept building. I searched for jobs I thought I could live with and it only stressed me out. It was too much. I had to shut my computer off and turn away. This wasn't a feeling from God.

Overwhelmed, I whispered to Jesus, "Lord, when I am discouraged can you keep my chin from falling?"

Jesus is the only one that could keep me from sinking to a pit of defeat. And He did. Jesus kept my chin up. He told me I would be okay. He gave me peace in my calling to be a writer. Jesus reassured me that He had my life in His hands. Jesus reminded me that He does not need me to make it happen. All He wants is for me to rest in Him. I am where Jesus wants me to be.

So I'm resting in Jesus. I'm surrendering my feelings. I'm abandoning my fear. I want Jesus and nothing else. I believe he called me to write. I'm trusting Him to prepare a godly man for me. I will wait for His timing in all things.

Jesus loves us so much. He wants what is best for us. His timing is good and perfect. He is good and perfect. In Him all things are possible. Jesus will hold you, walk beside you, carry you, comfort you. He has us in the palm of His hand and He is doing wonderful things. Jesus is working in our lives even when we can't see it, feel it, or understand it.

Let's rest in Jesus.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Just Another Day of a Writer's Life

Franz Kafka said, “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." How true that is! I am the kind of writer that has to write. It isn't just a hobby or occupation, it's a necessity. Just as we need air to breathe, I need to write to live. It is something that burns inside me and has to be expressed through written words. When I don't write, it gnaws at me, begs to be set free. 

I had been focusing time on the first few rounds of editing for my second orphan train novel so I could begin deep edits with my father. As a result, the actual writing part of my current novel become nearly non existent and painfully slow. My creative juices were squelched. Plus, fear and doubt decided to come calling and I became a non-writing writer.

I finished the rounds of edits and proceeded to let my father to have a look. When I tried to keep at my newest novel, I failed. Miserably. Nothing came. I tried forcing it. I tried jumping scenes. I tried character exercises. Even taking a break and writing something else was useless. I re-read what I had written and was happily surprised that it wasn't as terrible as I thought it was and that I had written more than I thought I had. But still, the words would not come. 

So I courted insanity. A few dates with some excellent books by talented authors kept me just sane enough to look over at my own writing and have curiosity bring me a few inches closer to picking up a pen. Family vacation, beautiful scenery, crazy imaginative children, and nostalgic bookstores may be what pushed me back into the writer's chair because today...

I wrote. 

Simply typing a few words made me feel as if I took a breath of fresh, sweet air. I'm saying goodbye to the non-writing writer and breaking up with insanity. It's time to create. It's time to be confident.

So, moral of the story? Write. Create. Be confident. And don't stop trying. 

God bless y'all.

Friday, May 17, 2019

A Reason for Restless Nights

If you are like me, you hate it when you can't fall asleep; the constant turning from side to side, the exhausted yet fully awake feeling, the defeated urge for morning to just come already.

Last night was such a night. Sleep would not come. So I had the opportunity to comforted a friend late into the night. Later still I couldn't fall asleep. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Still no sleep. I don't know exactly how late it was when I finally fell asleep but it was starting to get a touch of light outside. 

I woke up feeling awful and desperate for coffee. Complaints started forming in my mind and then I had a sobering thought... What if those restless nights happened for a reason? 

What if the reason I couldn't sleep was because my friend needed me? What if the reason I couldn't sleep was because God wanted me to sit in His presence and pray, intentional and undistracted. 

As I thought this, I realized how much more important it was than one night's full sleep. I became even more grateful I could be there for a friend in need. I rejoiced that I spent time with my Heavenly Father. 

I might feel tired right now but God's strength will carry me through my day. May He carry you through your day too. God bless you all and have a wonderful day.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Walking, Waiting, and Writing with God

A few years ago, I sat at the dining table with my laptop, scribbled notes, dozens of typed pages from a manuscript, and several pens scattered before me. There was a moment where I felt completely at peace. It was like a warm blanket wrapping around me. In that moment there was no doubt in my being that I was doing what I was called to do. It was God's peace gently assuring me that I was on the path He called me on. So I stepped out in faith and wrote.

But the feeling faded. I struggle with doubt and fear. I looked at all the things that came with being a writer: rejection, critiques, pitching to agents, editors, publishers, marketing, platforms; and became overwhelmed. In my mind, it took a strong person to put themselves out there, their precious work out there. It took a confident person to be rejected but stay the course. I felt it took a person so secure with themselves that nothing could sway them. That person was not me. I'm insecure. I'm highly introverted. I'm really sensitive. Or so I thought. Two weekends ago, God showed me a whole new me.

I was blessed to attend the 50th Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Not only did I come home with a mind expanded with writing knowledge but knowledge of how God sees me. I can not tell you how many times I looked at myself in a mirror that weekend and said, "Who is this new woman? I kind of like her.". Not once during the conference did I feel self-conscious of my looks. Not once did I feel inadequate. Not once did I feel lost. God showed me who I really was, why I was there, and confirmed I was where He wanted me. He used other people to speak into my life and encourage me. He opened up the door to conversations that inspired and taught me. It was incredible. His peace surpassed all my understanding that weekend. The whole experience made me even more excited to keep write with God.

I'm so thankful and blessed. God took care of the big and the little things. He took my hand and guided me through the things I thought would overwhelm me. God brought people into my life to encourage, push me, and teach me. I'm still in awe of all that happened and God's amazing faithfulness. I pray you all have the courage to stay the course God has set before you. May you feel His strength inside you as I did. May you feel His love flow through you like I did. May you feel His amazing blessing rain down.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sometimes You Just Can't Do It All

It's as the title says, sometimes you just can't do it all.

What do I mean by all? I mean saying yes to everyone who needs help, saying yes to every opportunity, saying yes to everyone's wants. Maybe you have no problem saying no to over-committing. Maybe you have no problem stopping to take a moment for yourself, treating yourself, and making sure you have enough in the tank to do the things you need to do. Maybe you do have a hard time saying no, even when you are drowning in your own life. Well, I believe there should be a balance of helping out, being responsible, and yet taking care of yourself--that means giving yourself a break and recharging. Yes, we should be helping others, sacrificing time for others, loving one another with action, however, we also need to make sure we can do so healthily.

You are important too. It isn't selfish or self centered to do something for yourself every once in a while. It's called self-care. As I mentioned before, there is a balance that is needed when giving of yourself and giving to yourself. Carve out time to read a book, go on a walk, take a nap, journal--something that you love to do. If you are super busy, maybe it's just a playlist that makes you happy and listen to it when you drive or an audio book you enjoy listening to while you're cleaning. Look at your responsibilities, what you want to do, and what others ask of you. Figure out what is mandatory and what is optional, what is important and what isn't as important, what is healthy to keep and what is unhealthy that needs to go. We all have to do things we don't want to, but what is it that is making us not want to do it? Are we not wanting to do it out of selfishness? Anger? Hate? Immaturity? These are not good reasons not to do something. Or is it because doing it will break our limitations? Will saying yes have unhealthy consequences? Find the balance and know your limits. Our reasoning behind why we say yes or no can help indicate whether or not it should go or stay.

Yes, I just depicted an idealistic lifestyle... and in case you're wondering, no I don't have it balanced. I struggle with saying no. In fact, I find it really hard to say no. It's difficult for me to say no even when I absolutely don't want to do whatever it is. (I'm talking about the optional things not my personal responsibilities.) I hate saying no. My mind scrambles to make up a plan so that I can do it all and still manage to have enough left in me to make it through the day. I can guilt myself into doing things. I can ignore my limitations. But let me tell you, it doesn't work. I can maybe fake it a few days, maybe a week, but there is always a breaking point. I'm human. I have limitations.

I love helping people and I'm a highly empathetic person. God gifted me with this personality. It's a big gift to have and I'll be honest, sometimes I wish I didn't have it. Being empathetic makes me want to help ease other people's hurt, stress, or crazy schedules. I want to be able to listen to people at any moments notice, or chip in where I can, or simply be present with them. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day and I need at least 8 of those hours to sleep to properly function. But God made me who I am and I am learning to use it for His glory. I'm not perfect. I struggle. But God is good and perfect. With His guidance, I can find the balance of pouring myself out but being filled as well. 

We should be kind and extend a helping hand where we can, when we can. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made and choices have to be made. Key word, sometimes. We are all different. We have different abilities and different limitations. But we can't do it all, all the time. I pray that you are able to find a balance in your life. I hope you discover what is healthy to say yes to and what is unhealthy that you can say no to. Remember, it isn't going to happen over night. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Give grace to others and have grace for yourself. I wish you all the best and encourage you to join me on this journey.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Expand Your Horizons

I love travel. Especially flying.

I find it exhilarating being up so high, soaring in the endless sky, and among the cotton candy clouds. I love the intensity of take off. The sudden burst of speed. The surge in power of the engines. The sinking feeling in my stomach as the wheels leave the runway. It is so fascinating to see the buildings, the cars, and the land become smaller as the plane ascends into the sky. One's perspective changes after seeing something that was once big shrink into a tiny dot beneath oneself. Our homes are a small portion of a vast world. I love gazing out of the airplane window and seeing God's beautiful creation. I am in wonder at His magnificent artistry. How amazing God's view of the world must be from the heavenlies.

As much as I love flying, it is not as simple as walking onto a plane. In order to fly, I have to go through an airport. Airports used to scare me to death. Security in particular is a nightmare. I do not enjoy being in loud, crowded places. If airports were crowded with happy, quiet, relaxed humans than it would be a piece of cake. Let's be real, who wants to be surrounded by people who are in a hurry because they miscalculated time, did not get enough sleep, have not had their hundredth cup of coffee, or think that they are the only person with somewhere to be. Oh yeah, sign me up for that.

It took some time for me to adjust to it all. Like most things, the more one does something the more comfortable one become with it. When I settled into the hustle and bustle of airports, I found they are quite entertaining places to be. Recently my trips have been mostly red-eye flights, which are fantastic because there are fewer people and they are so sleepy they move a whole lot slower. I also discovered I am a people watcher. Perhaps it stems from my writer's curiosity-always looking for new material to work with. Or perhaps it is because of my introvert tendencies that it is normal for me to be watching and listening. Whatever the reason, airports are no longer overwhelming but exciting.

If you ever have the chance to fly. Do it. Try to not only enjoy the experience yourself but also be the sweet person you would want to be standing next to in line. Try to be the helping hand to the mother trying to wrangle three little kids. Try to be the kind one who helps the elderly traveler put their bag in the overhead bin. New environments are chances to be a light in the world, to share Jesus' love with others, to offer someone a smile, to give someone hope that there are still decent people. It is a perfect opportunities to appreciate God's detailed design and minister to others. Expand your horizons. Spread God's love. Enjoy new places.