You Find What You Look For

Five-Minute Friday: Find. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

Sometimes I find myself shaking my fist at the circumstances of my life, which sometimes leads to my shaking my fist at God. As if what’s happening to me or my family is His fault. I know in my heart and in my soul that this isn’t true, but sometimes, in the moment, it makes me feel better.

what church often looks like with Asperger's

  what church often looks like with Asperger’s

But, only briefly.

Then, I find myself wrestling guilt rather than God.

And that’s worse, isn’t it? Because while God is big enough for my BIG feelings and my anger and my tantrums when life is serving me more than I can bear, guilt is all-consuming. It consumes me and my joy and my ability to respond in hope or faith or with any sense of rational logic.

Then, I find myself back to shaking my fist at life and the circumstances. And usually, this is when the tears come.

Because of course my anger isn’t really anger. It’s a safe place to hide hurt and pain and the grief of unmet expectations, expectations that haven’t lived up to what I planned.

So often, this is the case when I deal with my seven year old’s Asperger’s. And we’ve had some rough life patches lately. Nothing has gone according to any of our expectations, and there have been meltdowns and there have been hurt feelings for a seven year old who doesn’t know why she’s disappointed or why life isn’t going the way she thought.

And, in all of that mix, I fall apart in the late hours, after everyone else is asleep and I’m safe in the darkness.

Cast CaresBecause even the darkness is like light to my Father. I know He will find me here. He will meet me here, in the midst of my life and my pain.

And so it’s there, in the darkness, with my tears and my fears swirling around me, that He is provides me what I need more than anything: His presence. His presence that brings His assurance and hope and comfort and peace.

He is there.

He’s been there in every tear and every upset that’s led me to that moment and He’s there in the darkness when I needed to find a place to pour out my pain. He was there to catch every tear and to whisper hope, His hope, to my weary mama’s heart.

He is my refuge and my strength and I know that I don’t have to figure it out or have all the answers.

He is what I was looking for and hoping to find. And He is there. Again. Always.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Find)

In Pursuit of Words

I wrote 525 words tonight. It was a bit of a way to decompress after a rough day (okay, a few rough days). They weren’t great words. They weren’t even good words. In fact, they’ll probably end up as throw-away words.

But, they were words.

Writing is about the process and the showing up.

laptopWriting is about letting yourself write not-so-good words or stories so that you can clear out the clutter of words and stuff (like bad days and navigating Asperger’s and related meltdowns with your seven year old) and junk (like that internal voice that says, “You can’t do this” and then points you to the unfinished To Do list you started three days ago) and fear to get to the better words, ideas and stories.

Writing is about writing out words that sometimes make you cringe even as you type them. But you write anyway because you’re searching for ideas even when you know that an idea is still eluding you. But you know it’s not too far and you have to write your way there to find it; bad words and all.

Writing is about not quitting when you have to work for that next word, that next story, that next idea.

Heck, let me just say it: writing is hard. Sometimes it even sucks, like when you’re lured to the keyboard believing that something awesome is about to happen and then it’s nothing more than a series of clunks. Loud, obnoxious clunks.

Writing happens on the mountaintop and it happens in the valley. It happens early and late. It happens in the in-between and it happens in the midst of parenting and Asperger’s and life.

Writing is what you do because you are a writer. It’s okay. Say it again, if you have to: I am a writer even when my words aren’t the sparkling prose the muse promised to provide.

Keep writing, friends.

Keep writing and find that story you’ve been writing to find.

Redesign and Realign

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller/Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Have you ever had one of those moments when you seem to blink and find yourself in an unfamiliar place. You wonder how you ended up here in light of where you were planning to land way back when you made your plans.

Life happens. It’s fluid and if we’re not careful with our days, they pass too quickly and we stand in a place we weren’t planning to visit let alone spend our days.

silly girlsAs a mother of two little girls who are five and seven, I’ve been told often to cherish every moment because time will go by quickly. These little girls will suddenly be grown and heading off to college.

But, as a mother of two little girls who are five and seven, I question this advice often. Because, honestly, the days are long and there are times it seems we are stuck in these days.

Even so, life happens and days pass, and even though they feel like Groundhog Day (wherein Bill Murray’s character lives the same day over and over and over again), I realize that the plans I made a year ago, several weeks ago, yesterday, remain unfulfilled.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

When I face these moments I tend to panic.

And these moments aren’t just related to parenting. They show up in managing finances and budgeting, in living out my marriage vows and expectations, in living out my God-given purpose, in pursuing my writing, and in any number of big and small aspects of life.

I look around and realize that few of these things looks anything like what I saw way back then, when I started down this path.

In some ways, they are better. And in other ways, they are disappointing, to say the least.

IMG_6750But, life is fluid and, fortunately, God is unchanging and He has a better handle on any of this than I do. And He remains a God of second chances and redemption and redesign.

And I’m ready for a major redesign of my life, my heart life, my attitude life, my spirit life. I’m ready to realign all of me with who He is. I’m ready for surrender: genuine, absolute, nothing-held-back surrender. Again.

I’ve been holding too tightly to the way-back-then ideas and plans.

But, God is calling me to more. He’s calling me to abundance.

The irony of receiving this abundance is that first there needs to be less. Less of me. So much less of me: less of my will, less of my control, less of my me-centric focus.

There is so much promise in His calling and when I take hold of it, and Him, I receive a deep sense of hope that sweeps out the fear that clutters up the corners of my life. He provides glimpses of His vision to me, but when I try to create that vision in my strength alone, it leads me to this place: the end of me.

But it is here, at the end of me, where God can redeem His plan in me and He can redesign my days and my life.

This end of me is where everything truly begins.

Beauty Beyond the Darkness

Five-Minute Friday: Here. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

IMG_6083It’s the middle of a heat wave and the central air system in our rental house has been down for two days and tonight, there seems no relief from the stifling stuffiness despite opening the windows and running the three fans we have. They are hoping to replace the system, but for tonight, this is where we are.

I have changed up our routines: dinners are easy-to-make foods that require little cooking and bedtime for our two girls has been pushed back in hopes that their room will seem less overwhelming.

It takes them a little longer than normal, but still they are able to fall asleep.

Even so, tonight, they are both awake long past bedtime and well after they fell asleep the first time.

IMG_0006

My five year old was whimpering and restless and tearful and so I sit in the darkness and in the oppressive heat. “It’s okay,” I tell her, “Mama’s here. I’m right here.”

She sighs, not completely awake, but aware enough of my presence, that I am near. She knows that I am here and it is enough for her to find comfort and fall back to sleep.

Soon, both girls are sleeping again and I sit watching them, fighting back my own tears.Here, in this darkness and this discomfort and sweaty hairline, I see a beautiful glimpse of God; it is a gift and I cherish it.

Here, in this darkness, I sense in my spirit just how God looks at me in my weak and teary moments. I know that His truth is real and that He is faithful, because I know that He is here.

Here in the stillness of this room and in my heart I hear His voice. “It’s okay,” He tells me, “Papa’s here. I’m right here and I’ve got you.”

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Here)

Creating Life in the Midst

forest 3Life and writing are not meshing for me right now.

It’s 8:30 and I’m exhausted and I haven’t written a word, I haven’t edited any words and honestly, I don’t have the mental energy to do either one.

Honestly, that’s probably because I’m angry as well as tired – not a good combination for writing or for living my life. And I’m feeling like this because I feel like I *need* to make something happen in my life.

Do you ever feel like that? Like if you don’t do the thing you’ve been dreaming about, if you don’t do that thing that makes you feel like you and that you strongly believe God gave you to do *right now,* you’re going to blow it?

And so I grit my teeth and I snarl at my computer because programs aren’t working correctly and I feel the tension of all this missed opportunity coursing through my veins. And I can feel it there – in the anger and the tears and the fear.

The fear. It’s pulsing through me and it’s chasing my thoughts around; it’s trying to convince me that I’m lost and that this is all there is to my life. Fear wants me to believe that it’s too late and it doesn’t matter and that I’m destined for nothing more than mediocrity and just getting by.

This warped view comes from living in the midst and losing sight of hope and truth.

You see, my days are long, so long and so filled with meeting needs and it’s a constant wrestling match in my heart and my mind, or maybe it’s a wrestling match *between* my heart and my mind.

There’s the side of my heart that knows that pouring into the lives of these two little girls is important, Kingdom-building work. But then there’s the writer and dreamer side of me, or maybe it’s the selfish me, or maybe it’s just the worn out me who feels like I’m missing the mark somehow.

And anger is easy, you know?

If I get angry, I don’t have to address what’s happening here in the midst. I don’t have to address the tension that builds between living and living well; between seeking God’s will and living in God’s will; between creating with words and creating a life.

And there it is: I am wrestling with creating with words and creating a life when, in fact, these two creative pursuits are intimately linked for me. Neither is more important. Neither is more worthy.

Even so, they are not ever on equal footing nor do they hold equal weight at any given moment. These two creative pursuits ebb and flow and tug at me and sometimes, like now, one must be set aside or pursued in the in-between.

Pursued in the midst.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like. But I know that I won’t find the answer with anger and it won’t be something simple; life is too complicated right now for that and the days much too long.

What I do know is that I can only discover it as I draw near to the heart of the One who gave me both creative pursuits. He who created me knows me and I believe He will direct my steps if I let Him.

Only if I let Him.

So, I’m breathing deep and breathing out prayers, prayers spilling over with desperate need for His presence because, yes, I am desperate for what only He can provide.

God Help Me Not Help Them

Five-Minute Friday: Try. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

I am a fixer. Perhaps it is more honest to say that I am someone who likes to be in control (okay, I’m a control freak). But, really, I am a recovering control freak. Please, God, help me not help them today.

Nothing, not even that prayer, changes the fact that I cannot help myself: I want to help them (read: I want to control them, or at least try to).

IMG_4824When someone in my family is trying to do something and it’s not going as smoothly as I think it ought: opening a jar, zipping up a jacket, tying a shoe, replacing batteries; really, it doesn’t matter. Whatever someone in my family is trying to do, I want to help. And by help, I mean, I want to do it for them.

But I mean it in the best possible way when I reach in and take over.

I mean it in the best possible way when they look at me with that look.

I mean it in the best possible way when I step in and don’t allow them to figure it out for themselves, when I don’t allow them to try.

In some ways, I think this is what I want God to do for me.

I want Him to step in; I want Him to intercede and to take over before I have the chance to screw things up. Again.

Yes. I want to try. I want to do it myself. I want to figure it out. Because that’s who He created me to be in some ways. But I know my track record. And I know He does, too, you know? We both know I’m probably making the wrong choice, not doing it right, making a mess of things.

I want Him to stop me.

I want Him to protect me from myself. I don’t want to learn. I just want to be able to do it right the first time.

So I want Him to be more like, well, more like me. To be a fixer. To be the One who steps in and stops me before I make such a mess that the clean up will take far longer than either of us can anticipate.

But, that’s not how God works. He’s the God of free will and choices.

And, slowly, oh-so-slowly, that’s what He’s teaching me.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not a slow learner.

IMG_4450God doesn’t work that way – stepping in and taking over – and He doesn’t want me to, either.

And so I take deep breaths and let my husband be the one to handle the task at hand and let my seven year old try and try and try until she gets things the way she wants them. I stand by and let my five year old try to measure the flour or the salt or the vanilla; I let her try and break the egg; I let her try.

I try to let them try when I want to do.

But instead, I wait. I watch. I itch to step in, but I let them try.

And when I step in too soon? God gives me another chance to try again.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Try)

Writing Sprint: Portals

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Portals

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it. 

To this prompt, I would add that perhaps the Portal is an object – like a ring or a medallion or a pair of glasses that your character finds and puts on or touches (as in Tomorrowland). Be creative & have fun.

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

The Book of Poems & Legends

“Mia, have you seen the Book of Poems and Legends?” Henry called from the small extra room they both referred to as the library. He began looking over the shelves one more time. “Mia? Mia? Where in the world did she go?” Their apartment was what realtors described as cozy, which translated in Henry’s mind into the square footage of a postage stamp, so the fact that Mia hadn’t answered him meant she must have left without telling him and that’s not how they tended to operate. Henry wandered outside to see if perhaps his sister had taken up her usual garden spot in the hammock, but there were only the growing shadows of dusk.

“Mia, is that you,” Sophia called when she heard the sliding door open next door. She laughed to herself because it was really Henry that she hoped to see, but she almost always asked for Mia rather than Henry. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy Mia’s company. In fact the two had become quite close in the two years that they’d lived next door to each other. But she felt such a deep connection to Henry that she couldn’t quite explain, and she was going to miss him terribly.

“It’s Henry,” he called over. He peeked his head over the fence. “You haven’t seen Mia have you? Maybe heard her go out?”

Sophia shook her head. “But I’ve only been out here for about five minutes or so,” she said.

“So unlike her,” Henry said.

“I can keep you company while you wait for her,” Sophia offered and Henry smiled at her.

“Absolutely,” he said.

“Where do you suppose she is,” Sophia asked once the two were nestled in the cushions of the garden swing. Henry shrugged. With Sophia so near, his worry about where Mia had disappeared to was overshadowed by the anticipated loss of this closeness and connection he shared with Sophia.

***

In the library, on the shelf where Henry kept his favorite books, Mia stood, hands on hips and just half the size of the spine of the worn out NIV translation of The Bible. She knew she’d left the Book of Poems and Legends on the back of the shelf behind the line of Henry’s most-read books because she knew it was the one place that he wouldn’t look for it. Other than The Bible, Henry has cycled through each of these books recently and had moved on to some newer selections from the public library. Still, she couldn’t imagine where the heavy volume had gotten to in the short time she’d been gone. And why was Henry looking for the book anyway, she wondered. But that wasn’t nearly as important right now because without the book, she was stuck as she was, the size of a pen and a great distance from the floor without some ingenuity and perhaps some assistance. She walked the length of the shelf once more, acknowledging the gap where she’d removed the volume and moved behind the line of books that stacked like steps from tallest to shortest until they reached The Bible laid upon its side.

A shadow passed through the room and Mia hugged her arms around herself against a strange and sudden chill that started in her bones and moved up through her spine. She crouched behind the copy of the old worn Bible and held her breath for with Henry and Sophia swinging in the garden, and no other way into the apartment, there was only one other being she could imagine in the library at this moment. One being who could pass through time and space and realms and visions as he pleased and without detections or opposition. She whispered a familiar chant of verse for strength and protection and waited in silence.

The shadow grew darker and closer to the shelves and she was certain she felt the cold air of his breath and fought against trembling that he might not detect her presence. Further along the shelf came a thump and then a sliding and shifting of books and then the shadow lightened and seemed to evaporate. Even so, Mia stayed crouched behind the NIV Bible for several minutes before venturing back along the shelf toward the row of Henry’s favorite stories. Sure enough, just as she had suspected, the thump and the rearranging of books was the returning of The Book of Poems and Legends. Although she hadn’t seen him, Mia felt sure that the One had taken the old volume, but for what reason, she wondered, if he could pass through visions and dreams and time without the help of a portal?

As she pondered this, she wrestled the old, thick volume from its hiding place upon the shelf and let it fall open to the story about the Legend of the Faerie of the Isle and then, as quickly as she was able, she jumped into the painted print of a meadow that bordered a shadowy wood on one side and a cozy cottage on the other. In the cottage the illustrator had drawn with painstaking detail a woman at a piano looking out at the meadow while the blue and gold lights of several faeries danced and played under the falling dusk. As her toe touched the feathery grass, sketched with such vivid strokes, Mia disappeared.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Portals

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it.

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!