Day 31: Surprise (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsWell, I survived.

I must confess, when I started this 31 days writing challenge, I didn’t entirely expect to finish it. I definitely expected to miss some days.

It’s nice to surprise yourself. It’s nice to rediscover a level of grit and perseverance you’d forgotten about.

Maybe there is space in this crazy, uncertain life of mine for a little more creativity and a lot more dreaming. Maybe there’s space in yours too.

What have you given up on? It might be time to start surprising yourself.

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Day 30: The Beauty of Stories (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image: Death to the Stock Photo

Image: Death to the Stock Photo

I believe in the beauty of stories more than I ever have.

This morning, we woke up to a chill in the air and steady rain falling. It felt like it should be a holiday. Even though there was school and work and other things to be done, the kids and I snuggled up on the sofa with a pile of books and read them all before we did anything else. It was magical.

Since mid-August, life has been hectic with moving and all the other chaos that comes with transition. Our reading rituals have been interrupted, and we’ve all missed it. I’ve been fighting for that time again this week, both reading to my kids and my own favorite winding down ritual of reading before bed.

Stories always move us beyond ourselves, even if they are also revealing our hearts. If I listen—truly listen to understand—I cannot help but be changed, shaped and softened by your story. If I find myself becoming cynical or discouraged or frustrated, I know I haven’t been listening to enough stories. Even the hard and unpleasant stories have the power to bring transformation, compassion, insight, righteous indignation, and so on.

The moment I narrowly focus on my own immediate story, I begin to lose connection and empathy with the world at large.

We need stories—good ones, bad ones, make-believe ones, challenging ones, hard ones, romantic ones, impossible ones—all of them. We need your story.

Goodness, I think if everyone resolved to make space to absorb even one story very different than their own, the world would be a much better place.

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Day 29: Powering Through (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Can I tell you how many times I’ve wanted to quit this 31 days of writing challenge? Well, actually I couldn’t tell because I’ve lost count.

Some days I had something I really wanted to say, but other days involved a lot of staring at the blank screen before any words would form. Some days I was fine with writing for me whether anyone read it or not, but other days my brain was saying, “For the love, is anyone out there? Why am I doing this just for me? Don’t we have journals for that?”

31daysOfSimpleTruthsBut this was really important for me, largely because I’ve allowed all the writing I do at work to overshadow the writing I do for me. I haven’t been investing in my own words, and my creative soul pays dearly for that neglect. It even negatively impacts my work because I end up resentful of the time I need to focus there.

More importantly though, I am trying to unravel myself from the sticky trap of perfectionism. I always feel the need to have all my ducks in a row before really tackling any project. Which means I’ve been accomplishing a whole lot of nothing when it comes to many of my personal goals and ambitions, especially the creative ones.

Next month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for those unfamiliar); it’s an attempt at utter insanity, I mean, an attempt to write 50,000 words in a single month. There’s no time for overanalyzing yourself or making everything perfect. It’s about getting the words out. And I have a book idea (a few actually), but I’ve allowed everything else under the sun to block me from making it happen. But I need to get it out, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can.

A feat like that requires consistently writing in big chunks, but it also requires consistently writing in smaller chunks—adding something every single day. I have no excuses now, because I have spent all of October stripping them away. No excuses, because now I know, tired or not, blank screen or not, burst of brilliant ideas or not, I can find the words, even if it’s only 200 of them at a time. I can write something, regardless of what else the day throws at me.

So if for no other reason, it was worth powering through October and reaching for the truth in each day. And now, I think I’ll try to write that book.

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Day 28: Embrace the Wondering (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Copy-of-DSC_0677-1024x681Over the past two years, my spiritual journey has taken me to unexpected places—deep into the heart of my own questions, doubts, and frustrations.

It scared me. I’ve watched people “wrestle with theology,” until suddenly, they didn’t want anything to do with God or church or Christianity. I thought I’d made peace with my own questions; I didn’t expect them to re-surface. What had I missed?

I didn’t want to lose my faith, but I couldn’t stop the unraveling. I grabbed hold of familiar truths only to find them crumbling in my hands. Many things I had been taught, had wholeheartedly believed, simply didn’t hold up against the reality I faced.

Several months ago, I wept my way through worship once again. I felt incredibly lost, when I sensed the breath of the Spirit on my heart: Don’t you remember who I am? I’m the One who guides you into all truth. And how do you find truth? You ask questions. I’m guiding your questions. It’s Me.

I can’t describe the burden lifted from me in that moment.

The Holy Spirit guides our questions. Have you ever pondered that? It’s a breathtaking reality. Doubt is not always a bad thing. Sometimes He wants us to doubt that thing we’ve clung to because it’s become entangled with something He never meant for us to be anchored to. Sometimes He wants to unravel our foundations, so He can build better ones.

Today, I’m over at The Art of Fear Not with Tammy Hendricksmeyer, writing about leaning into the questions and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Join  me over there for the rest!

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Day 27: The Hardest Grace (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsThere is no one in the world more difficult to show grace to than myself.

I can make allowances for your weaknesses, cover your flaws, forgive your mistakes. I can believe the best in you and speak to the good God sees in you again and again and again. I can tell you to not be so hard on yourself, to give yourself space to learn and grow and fail and try again.

It’s hard to show that same grace to me. But I’m learning.

Today I took deep breaths in the hard moments. I made space for reading stories even when it was inconvenient. I left some chores undone. I adjusted the hours I could spend working and the hours I needed to spent on homeschool.

It wasn’t a perfect day. There were definitely some rough patches. But it was mostly peaceful, and I was mostly not overwhelmed. And that is progress.

Here’s to showing ourselves more grace tomorrow.

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Day 26: When Plans Change (31 Days of Simple Truths)

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was so proud of myself this morning.

Mondays can be rough, and I knew today was going to be especially full for me. I realized that come dinnertime I was going to be worn out, so I thought ahead and put a roast in the crock pot.

We got home around 6pm, but when we walked into the house, instead of being greeted with the wonderful, warm scent of dinner, there was the scent of . . . nothing. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I turned the crock pot on this morning, but somehow, by some freak incident, it turned off at some point.

I nearly burst into tears.

Of course there was no plan B. And no leftovers because it’s only Monday. The budget is pretty tight right now, so the thought of eating out was painful. I kind of just wanted to tell everyone to go to bed, they’d survive without dinner for one night, and we’d try again tomorrow.

But I quickly realized that was a horrible idea. Fortunately, I remembered a pizza coupon in the drawer—miracles!

And even though I was enormously frustrated, the evening turned around. We ended up having a good time as a family, eating pizza and watching the new Supergirl TV show. My kids never get to watch “grown up” TV at night, so it was a big kid treat for them. Not so bad after all.

It’s hard when plans change—big or small. But I’m learning to not let those moments derail me and to go a step further by making something special out of them. It was nice to treat Monday night like Friday night, even if that wasn’t the original plan. Maybe it was exactly what we needed.

Well, my roast is cooking now, so we’ll eat good tomorrow. And next time I grocery shop, maybe I’ll remember to buy an emergency back up dinner . . . just in case.

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Day 25: Baking Bread (31 Days of Simple Truths)

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve tried giving up bread a few times. It’s not a problem if it’s for a limited amount of time, like during a Whole30 or some kind of cleanse. I miss it, but I can manage.

But I’ve tried it on a more prolonged scale, primarily seeing if a more Paleo-compatible diet works for me. And while there’s no question that my body feels better without white flour and basically all store-bought bread items, it turns out my soul needs bread. Specifically homemade bread.

Something about the process of mixing the ingredients, taking the time to knead the dough, waiting for it to rise, smelling the comforting scent that fills the house, and eating that first slice fresh from the oven—it’s sacred. It’s life-giving.

Yes, the main purpose of food is to feed our bodies, and the fuel you put in matters. But I think feeding our souls matters too.  Everything in balance and moderation, right?

So I think I will keep making bread and eating bread and sharing bread with others. It’s an act of love, a creative offering, and I’d rather not live without it.

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