This Writing Life

 

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Currently, my writing garden is mostly clumps of dirt. Wet, heavy, soggy, bogged down clumps of dirt.  (Trying to insert a garden metaphor to this post – seeds and all that)

People talk about their muse, and only being able to write when she shows up.  Is the muse always a she? Other’s talk about writing whether she shows up or not.  They say writing is a discipline so make it a daily habit.  I see the argument on both sides, however, I tend to lean more toward the needing to be inspired category of writing. If I try to write when there is no inspiration it feels flat (much like what I’m writing now, but I will muddle through because you have a right to know if I’ve stopped writing or not).  I’d like to know the answer to that as well.

I hope I’ve not stopped writing, but the truth is that for a long while the words have been scant (like a garden without flowers. Sorry).  I mentioned it several months ago.

I love words and how they interact; I love aligning words to paint a picture (or arrange them into a lovely bouquet. again, sorry).  The writing of words is in my blood.  I can’t imagine a life without writing.

The truth is I’m struggling with words and life and fatigue.  I feel as if I’ve lost my passion for all the things that make my heart go pitty-pat.  I’ve been so consumed with caregiving and managing my own self-care that frankly, I’ve become depleted.  I’m not complaining, just trying to put the absence of words in perspective.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and wondering lately if maybe this season of life does not include writing.  Is it possible that I’m to put the pen and paper on the shelf for a time so I can concentrate on other priorities?  I don’t have any clear answers.

What I do know is that my husband needs my support; my parent’s health needs require our help and my own health needs dictate that I must have proper rest in order to not deplete my energy or cause a flare. Most days that is all I can manage.  So, I don’t write.

I also know that social media hogs more of my free time than I’d like to admit.  Because it’s easy and doesn’t require much effort or brain power.  The time would be better spent reading which is a necessary thing for writers to be doing.

I miss the not writing.  I think a few of you might too, based on some things  others have said.  I don’t want to neglect the gift of writing and I don’t want to take it for granted. I don’t want to be presumptuous and assume that people can’t live without my words, but I also don’t want to let down the handful of people who tell me my writing is meaningful to them.

So, I’ve plucked the petals one by one, to write, not to write, to write….  Do I shut down the blog, keep it open without writing, or make an effort to write at least once a week or….. on and on.  What about social media? Reading? You get the picture.  I’m really not clear at this point.

So, what does all this mean?

  1.  For now, the blog will stay open (you can go back to the beginning and read all the posts if you’d like).
  2. There will not be a regular posting schedule (nothing new about that). In all honesty, I wouldn’t expect much until Fall ish.
  3. I will write when I can and if you subscribe you will get an email when I do.
  4. I may participate in the 31 Days of writing this October.
  5. I have already done away with my blog Facebook page and will be spending less time on my personal Facebook page.
  6. I’m rarely on twitter and will consider dumping it entirely
  7. I really don’t understand google + and never go there so will dump that account if it’s not necessary for my gmail.
  8. I don’t have Instagram (wrong phone) but would love an account. Because pictures. I enjoy taking pictures and sometimes they speak when words can’t or won’t.
  9. I will attempt to read more for spiritual growth and for writing growth.
  10. I will be spending time praying about the direction of my writing. I appreciate your prayers too.
  11. This fall I will be attending a writers workshop which will help give some clarity.
  12. I will update you when I have more insight. Please be patient I don’t know how long it will take.
  13. Comments are useful and welcome as I would love to know your thoughts.

In conclusion – I am a writer.  Who is not writing much these days. Rather than stringing words together in a passionate fevered pitch and seeing them bloom on the page, it has been more like standing in a downpour turning clods of dirt. While I’m being drenched by the deluge, I will continue to plant seeds in hopes that they will not wash away and in due time will produce a harvest.  (How’s that for a garden metaphor).

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Digging in grace,

Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things 2015 Wanted Me To Know

100_4469.21. NOD TO THE NOT (it’s ok to pause)

It’s ok NOT to choose a word for the year.  I had chosen a word in previous years but at the beginning of 2015 it just wasn’t a priority.  I survived the year without a special focus word.

Taking a blogging break is ok.  I trusted that my loyal readers, those that are my community, would not forget about me and would be waiting to encourage me when I came back.  They didn’t, and they were.

2. THE WORDS WILL COME, GIVE THEM TIME (After all, you are a writer)

I rediscovered the joy of using a pencil on paper.  Nothing can compare to that sweet, scratchy sound.  I need to practice this art more often.

Even though the writing was meager in 2015 and not writing scared me a little, I learned to trust that, in God’s time, the words would flow again. Because I have to write.

I want my writing to make people feel as if they have come home.

Hope*ologie was great, but Hope*writers is even better. I need a writer(ly) community that says what I do matters.

3. PRACTICE CONSISTENCY AND OBEDIENCE (how hard can it be)

I’m not a morning person, and there is no shame in that.  Not being a morning person may sometimes mean that I do better with my quiet time in the evening rather than the morning.  One thing I’m learning about quiet time is that consistency is key.  Regular time in the word is beneficial no matter what time of day you engage.

Sacrificing for Lent is not the point.  Sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

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4. EMBRACE  THERAPY, ACCEPTANCE, AND RESTORATION  (God is your buckler)

Binge watching 7th Heaven preached to me in lots of ways; it was my therapy for a large chunk of time during the first half of 2015.  One of my favorite posts in 2015 was What I Learned From Watching 7th Heaven.

Y’all, I fell in love with Southwestern Virginia.  We spent some lovely days visiting a friend and explored the back roads near her hometown.  It was restorative and gave me much Joy In My Father’s World. And, lots of pictures.

Back in 2013, I realized that I need to make peace with My mom having Alzheimer’s, but it wasn’t until sometime in 2015 that I was able to accept that it is what it is, and only God has all the answers.  Instead of wasting time grieving over what we’ve lost, I’m starting to embrace the path we are on and I’m beginning to realize that you can never truly lose someone, you just adjust to a new normal.

More than ever in 2015 the truth in Psalm 18:2 sustained me:

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I  also relied on Psalm 91 and knowing that he covers me with his feathers; He is my buckler which according to Merriam-Webster means “one that shields and protects.”  I have discovered that I love the word buckler.

I also found strength from the support of my husband. He takes care of me and loves me well. I love doing life with him.

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5. ENJOY A SEASON OF STRENGTH AND QUIET (embrace the real you)

I’ve always loved Autumn, but this year I realized that the way I describe Autumn also describes me.  Makes perfect sense.

I see Fall as both a little bit spicy and practical.  It is no-nonsense, but serendipitous all at the same time.  It is a warm hug as well as a brusque nod in passing. It is a steadfast heart that loves without condition, but won’t be trampled.  It is chaotic and fragile, but stands strong in the storm.  It is a little rough around the edges, as well as gloriously beautiful in spirit.  Like me.

2015 taught me that by God’s grace I am stronger than I think.

October loves me – she sent me several postcards this year during the 31 Days Writing Challenge

November is a melancholy month when the skies are gray and somber, and the first real chill is in the air.  Lights come on earlier, and we settle in for quieter evenings. I’m ok with that. Because I’m a little bit melancholy.

Advent is a time of waiting for “Emmanuel, God with us“, or as my mother says, “I’m so happy, God is in the house.”  A welcome note of praise to celebrate the arrival of the Christ Child…

and then, we slipped quietly from one year into the next.

Growing in grace,

Teresa

Linking up with Emily for What I Learned in 2015

Ponder

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Indigo hues splash riotously across the melancholy twilight sky;

an artist gone mad amidst the shades of dusk.

A fitting departure to the bittersweet time before the dark settles in.

Lights glimmer from humble abodes, sharing the comfort of the night.

I too shall settle in and savor memories of Indigo. (teresalhardymon)

November brings a touch more gray to the skies; the night settles in earlier and lights shine out from neighborhood windows like little beacons of hope guiding us through the dark, promising that all will be well.

This time of year is a little melancholy, inviting us to sip a hot drink while we ponder deeper things and dream of promises yet to be fulfilled.  We wrap a warm throw about our shoulders, sigh deeply and realize that a slow down is just what we needed.

Slowing in grace,

Teresa

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PS I’ve shared Shades of Indigo before, but thought it ok to share again, since it was inspired by a November sky and the way November makes me feel.

Joy In My Fathers World

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Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.  Psalm 96: 11-12

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This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

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This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

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This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forgetThat though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

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This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.I ope’ my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

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We recently had the privilege of driving around the back roads of Southern Virginia with a dear friend we met in Florida years ago.  She is originally from Virginia and we spent a few days in her neck of the woods.  She took us around the surrounding area, down lanes and across creeks and up wooded roads.  We saw barns, cattle, fence posts, cemeteries, abandoned houses and mountains rising majestically in the near distance.  It was a gloriously clear, blue sky day.  We stopped for lots of pictures.

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I shared a few pictures with you earlier in the week, but wanted to share some more.  In thinking of the beauty captured in the photos, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs based on words written by Maltbie Davenport BabcockThis Is My Father’s World . You can go here to listen to a video production of this song by Fountainview Academy in British Columbia, Canada. 100_4358 100_4361It is so easy to become focused on the negative and all the ills of this world, but truly, this is our Father’s world and beauty abounds if we just open our eyes.  He has promised to be faithful to us even to the end of the age.  Instead of focusing on the evil and all that is wrong in the world, I want to focus on God and how he makes all things right in his time.  I want to see the good, the beautiful.  I want to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.”  (Romans 12:12)100_4405As Christians, I believe we have to accept that there is evil, we have to abhor it and shun it.  We need to pray for good to win. We don’t need to live in denial, but, we don’t need to wallow in the gutter of despair as if we have lost all hope either. We need to see with eyes that see Jesus,  hearts that love others, arms that reach out to help, feet that walk alongside.  We must delight in the beauty in our Father’s world.100_4428 100_4432“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”  That gives me great comfort and hope. Let us open our eyes and see.100_4427.2 100_4370

Seeing in grace,

Teresa

Standing In Grace

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Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access through faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 NIV

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May we find God’s peace today for all our needs.  The world may be swirling around us in all directions, but he is still our hope and his grace is sufficient for all that we need. He stands ready to pour all his love into our hearts.

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Thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your Grace.  We rely on you today to meet our needs and to sustain us.  You are our hope of glory.

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Standing in Grace,

Teresa

Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus

We must focus our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2

Last year I decided to give up some things for Lent.  I even came up with a graphic to post on my refrigerator based on a suggestion from an online post I had read.  This was my formula: water instead of cola, gratitude instead of complaining, prayer instead of worry, 1 x 6 = encourage, which meant I should encourage at least one person each week of Lent.

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They were worthy goals. However. . . .

You already know what the however means, don’t you?  Of course, I didn’t last through Lent.  When a friend suggested that I could probably take weekends off, I gave myself permission to have a cola on weekends which led to a cola at other times.  I am still struggling to give cola up completely.  I still struggle with the whole gratitude thing, but I think I’m getting better.  Worry? Me? The answer to that is for another reflection.  I don’t know if I was encouraging to anyone during that time or not.  I hope so, but I didn’t keep track.

I failed to succeed because I failed to prepare my heart for the true purpose of Lent, which is “to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.”  I got on the bandwagon on a whim; so, I was doomed to failure from the beginning. As with most things in life, there was a lesson to be gleaned from my failure.

I learned that sacrifice is nothing without obedience.  Obedience is a daily submission to God’s will for my life.  Godly obedience is not the kind of obedience that sounds like a bunch of rules.  Rather, it is a willingness to give Him complete control; it is an acknowledgment of His sovereignty.  Obedience sometimes requires sacrificing and changing plans.  It is 365 days a year, including the forty days of Lent.

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If I need to stretch and grow in my walk with the Lord (and I do), Lent is a good place to start because it puts the focus on Christ and His ultimate sacrifice.  He was obedient to the will of the Father because He knew it would be our salvation.

During this Lenten season, whether you have a list of things you are sacrificing or not, I hope you will “turn your eyes upon Jesus [and] look full in His wonderful face, and [allow] the things of earth [to] grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  My prayer is that you will surrender your life to Him in total submission during Lent and beyond.

Looking to Grace,

Teresa

This Lenton reflection was originally shared with my congregation at First Baptist in Morehead, KY as part of their Lenten Season Reflections on Sunday March 22, 2015.

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Rearranging Furniture

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I have come to the conclusion that rearranging furniture  is probably a metaphor for life. We have played musical furniture so many times over the past year and are probably not done yet.  I’m starting to realize that shifting furniture around and making the pieces fit can teach us much about life.  We have to look at our available resources and determine how they can work together to create the space that we need in order to be at our most productive.  This is true of living life to our fullest potential as well as having a home with well-balanced furniture and accessories. Sometimes we have to accept that it might be time for something to go in order to make room.

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This has been a year of accepting that God sometimes rearranges our plans.  My husband has been without an official, includes benefits, job for a while now.  Doors have been slamming all over the place.  I finally changed the way I was praying.  I started asking God to send my husband the work he had for him to do rather than asking God to send him the job we thought he needed. I also asked God to give us enough. It’s not the way we thought we’d be living at this point in our lives, but our needs are being met in the space we’ve been given. God is faithful and he does answer prayer.

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I have  been looking hard at what I’m supposed to be writing. For a long time I resisted writing about my mom’s Alzheimer’s and how it was rearranging all our lives. I didn’t want that to be my story. But, it is part of my story and it shapes  my voice. To leave it out would not be authentic, so I’ve been rearranging and making space to explore the journey in my writing.

One of the highlights of this past year was when I went to a Writers Barn event and soaked in what Emily Freeman and Christa Wells had to say about our writing voice. Emily said, “Learn to respect the story that’s within you”.  She’s right.  Going forward, that is a lesson I will continue to embrace.

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A year is made up of many moments that define our living.  If we can look at those moments and see how the story was written, then we can take the truth from those moments and let them shape the story that is to come.

Rearranging in grace,

Teresa

What lessons have you learned this year?  To read what others have been learning hop on over to Chatting at the Sky.