Truth, Love and Praying Hard

And I Pray Hard

 

I’m in a mood today. Not even gonna lie or pretend it’s not so.  So many things in this crazy world boggle my mind and make me angry.  Why can’t we just all get along.  That is a rhetorical question so no need to answer unless of course, you have the final answer. Which I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist seeing as how we are all people with opinions.

As my husband often says, opinions are like belly buttons everybody has one. But, you know what?  God’s opinion is the only one that matters and we better be paying attention to what he says.  

Bombs sent in the mail, a shooting at one of our local Krogers, Politicians trying to out-yell each other, unborn babies being killed, people changing who God created them to be, and whatever else you want to add to the list.  I usually go about my day acknowledging that these things exist and that we live in an imperfect world and I understand that we will not see perfection this side of heaven.  I am thankful that I don’t have to school the world, that is God’s job.  And he will in his time make all things right.  I hope we are ready.

So, most days I take it in stride, trust and carry on, knowing that God is in control. But somedays, like today I’m just not in the mood to keep it to myself.  So, you dear friend, are getting to see the flip side.

I know this thirty-one days of writing is about grief, specifically the grief of losing my mother.  But, in the midst of grieving my loss, living in the world does go on and I can tell you that this world certainly causes me grief too.  I hope it sometimes causes you grief as well. That’s how we know we care. That’s how we know we need to search for God’s truth and stand on it. That’s how we know that sometimes we must speak even if it’s not popular.

One thing I remember well about my Mama.  She would not tolerate injustice. She did not make excuses for sin And she would tell you the truth and put you in your place quicker than you could scat out of her way. Ask me how I know.

She always told the truth and she didn’t pat you on the back and tell you everything was ok if it wasn’t. If you were setting yourself up for consequences she would tell you to build a bigger barn for all that you were about to reap. But, she did it in Love.  Oh, she might be heated in the moment; she might be in a mood and she might rant a little and cause you to roll your eyes and sigh real deep, but she always made sure you knew you were loved. That’s how we knew she cared.  She cared enough to tell us the truth and raise us right. And we better honor that teaching and make her proud.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.      3 John 1:4 NIV

So, today in the spirit of my dearly beloved Mama I come to you in a mood. I am telling you that it is time to get your house in order and get your priorities straight. It is time to quit making excuses for the injustices of this world and our own sin because if we keep making excuses we are going to need a barn the likes of which we have never seen before. 

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 1 John 1:6 NIV

I hope you read between the lines and know that it comes from a deep place of passion for people to see the truth from God’s viewpoint.  I do have opinions; it is more than possible that my opinions are not always right. But I do know that God is sovereign, he makes many things crystal clear in his word and I think it’s time we wake up and listen to what he says.

It is also possible that all I’ve been through the past couple of months has made me realize that life is too short to hide behind weak excuses for making wrong choices and eye winks of acceptance at things that are clearly out of sync with God’s precepts. If we are Christians like so many of us say we are on social media, then it’s time we step up to the plate and do it God’s way.  It’s time we ask him what comes next and then listen for him to tell us. That is how my Mama lived; she spent a lot of time on her knees crying out to God.  She wasn’t perfect, but she was his and she lived her life standing on truth.

And by all means, Love should always be the foundation.  We can have our mood moments, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure those we are in contact with know that Love is the foundation it is all built on. Not a love that waters down the truth but a love that comes along beside and walks together in the right direction. A love that does not shrink from standing on the truth.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18 NV

Grace for the journey,

Teresa

 

Postscript:

I have not slept well the past few nights and that sometimes puts me on the dark side.  Also, in the spirit of confession, I was quite put out today because my mail person stuffed a book in my PO box so tight I couldn’t get it out.  It made me angrier than it should have considering the circumstances and in light of so many other things that are more important.  Thankfully, I have put that in perspective and am ok.  Tomorrow all will be made right on that count and I’ll have my book. At least I hope.

In the spirit of further confession, after reading this post I waffle between posting or not because it might come off a little harsh and preachy.  But, I think I’ll let it stand as it is; raw, authentic emotion that erupted in the middle of my grief journey.

Two things: one, after reading it back I realize I need this sermon as much as anyone else, so maybe it is God’s message to me to not be complacent. Two, I am not meaning to offend anyone because “as much as possible I try to live peaceably with all men” (women too).  I apologize if  my words offend you, but if they do, I would ask that you ask why? Maybe I have hit a nerve that requires further examination.  I know I have hit some of my nerves.

As always thank you for reading.  I love all of you and wish you well.

One more thing.  Today’s post is not exactly pretty, so I thought maybe the words don’t need a picture.  Then I remembered the picture of a graveyard I took and the graphic I made that says And I Pray Hard.  I decided that picture or at least the message was just the reminder we all need. To pray hard.

 

Come back tomorrow for more of the journey?  Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!

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Rearranging Furniture

chair collage 2

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.

Liviing Room collage

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.

Music room collage

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.

Emily P. Freeman quote

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.

Day 31 – The End!

Day 31 – The End!  The past thirty-on days have sped by.  I am of course late in the day with this post.  How do you wrap up a thirty-one day series?  It should be profound, right?  For me, I decided that review was in order since from the beginning I have looked at this as somewhat of a self-discovery journey.  It is only fitting, then, that I should see what I discovered.  So, I went back and read all my posts to see if there were any nuggets that jumped out at me.  I decided to list an excerpt from each post that I felt highlighted the main message for that day.

1.  I do have a jumbled ball of yarn rolling around in my head waiting to be untangled…

2.  Since we’re going to be unraveling … I thought procrastination was a good place to start.  After all, that’s kind of why we’re on a 31 Day trip.

3.  The truth is that depression rears its ugly head and…. is really the root of the procrastination.  This journey…is all about…living even though my heart feels trampled; trusting, even when my soul feels crushed… weaving beautiful words from truth.

4.  “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deut.32:2.    My words descend; I want them to be dew worthy.

5.  Whatever genre you write, it has to be authentically yours – your voice, coming from your experiences and grounded in your truth.

6-7. No matter how unacceptable the truth is to me I have to trod the path I’ve been given…Today that is my truth.  God can weave the words much more beautifully than I can.

8.  As writers we need time to reflect in order to process all that we’ve seen and heard…time to organize our words so they are ready to be used…time to sift through the phrases and rearrange them just so.

9.  The words always have a mission. As the keeper of the words it is our obligation to send them forth prepared and ready to engage.

10. Sometimes life is interrupted by the mundane.  Sometimes even in the mundane we can find inspiration.  “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Cor. 10:31

11. The tip today for writers, or anyone else who is listening: Live life and make memories.  You can write about them later….

12-15. I learned something about myself.  1.) I really have control issues. 2.) I find it really hard to let go of things. 3.) I allow things that aren’t in my control to derail me.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart  and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”    Proverbs 3:5-6

16. No matter how beautifully the words are arranged if I haven’t addressed the condition I haven’t moved the reader.

17. Sometimes you find yourself in a place wondering what your purpose is.  In those times looking back at the journey of how you got there can be helpful.

18. When I see beautiful art or photographs, it can inspire words…the opposite is also true…As I read I can see the scenes in my mind’s eye…the words and images are linked together.  I have always wished that I could paint beautiful scenes, but then I remind myself that when the written word stirs my soul, that too is art.

19.  The good writing is harder to let go of because it is the writing that tears your soul apart.  When you are willing to face the hard stuff and put your good writing out there it won’t matter to you if it’s read by one or one million all that will matter is that you wrote the good.

20-21. I am currently in a relationship with at least 13-15 books and am considering a couple more…Reading feeds the mind and the soul, and it inspires me…Writers should be reading.  Always.

22. We need to be careful that the beautiful writing is a vehicle for the message, not a mask to hide the truth.

23. It was more important today to encourage you to pray than it was to write about writing.

24.  I love lists as you may have guessed from this post.

25.  I dare you to write for five, even if you think you have nothing to say.

26-28. Doing this 31 Day challenge has been challenging, but also rewarding.  One of the rewards is in discovering new blogs to read.

29. He can be our strength, our very present help in trouble.  He can give us freedom from fear. Will you join me in prayer and in learning to cast all our cares on him? “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness.”   Lamentations 3:22-23

30. …sadly there are many times spiritually when I stay in the dark.  I know I need the light, but I stay in the shadows ignoring the truth…Thankfully, I have a loving savior who doesn’t give up on me.  He tenderly woos me back to the light… I stand in his embrace, cross light flooding my soul, and wonder that I was ever afraid of the light.

31.  See all of the above

So did the ball of yarn untangle?  Not completely, but it is a work in progress.  If I had to narrow the journey down to the main message it is simply this.  Truth.  It all hinges on truth.   Thanks for taking this journey with me.  And stay tuned.  There will be more.  But not every day.

Discovering Truth in Grace,

Sadie

PS – I also learned by doing this list that a lot of words can be removed and the message is still there, only better.  So I guess I learned that little nugget of truth too.  Edit. Edit. Edit.

PSS – I also learned that it’s ok not to have pictures with every post, which is why this one doesn’t have any.  I know people like pictures and I try to oblige, but the words should be able to speak for themselves some of the time.

31:22 The Danger of Beautiful Words

I don’t consider words dangerous in theory.  I love words.  I do however think that in practice words can be dangerous.  And not just in those situations where you dash off a quick reply to someone and say something you shouldn’t before you think.

I’m talking about a more subtle danger.  The danger of hiding behind beautiful words.  Sometimes as writers we have something to say but we are afraid of how it will be perceived so we manipulate the words until they sound acceptable and in the process we lose the message.

I love those lyrical, roll off the tongue phrases that seep into your bones and become part of you.  A well placed phrase can stir just the right emotion. There can be something quite poetic in our writing, even when writing about something as mundane as doing dishes or as serious as our relationship with God.

We just need to be careful that the beautiful writing is a vehicle for the message not a mask to hide the truth.

writing in grace,

sadie

You can find other 31 Day writers here.  Go check them out, you may find some new friends.

Days 6 and 7 – Sheltered In His Truth

“I feel the touch of hands so kind and tender, they’re leading me in paths that I must trod; I have no fear, when Jesus walks beside me, for I’m sheltered in the arms of God.”  –Dottie Rambo

In Friday’s post, I said Our writing must come from truth. Truth can only rise to the surface when we get down in the trenches of our life and own it. Sometimes I like to look the other way as if by doing so I can somehow re-write the truth into a more acceptable story.  

I was reminded recently that no matter how unacceptable the truth is to me I have to trod the path I’ve been given.  I won’t go into details of the specific situation as it is not entirely my story to tell and it is only secondary to the lesson learned, but it threw me into a tailspin of doubt, second guessing and much wailing.

I went for a walk to help gain perspective and thankfully, I had the walking trail pretty much to myself, because a grown woman walking, wailing and talking out loud would probably have been a cause for concern.

What I realized is that I had to step back and look at my path objectively.  In other words, get myself out of the way.  I had to give up all control; I had to be willing to totally change direction if that was what God asked of me.  I had to face the truth of the situation and my role.  Honestly, I’m still not clear of my exact role.

What I am clear about is this:  I have to Rest in Him, wait on Him, trust Him and listen for His truth.   Even though the path ahead may be hard and there is much that is uncertain, I know that Jesus walks beside me. 

He knows all things.  All I need to know is to listen to him.  Today that is my truth.  He can weave the words much more beautifully than I can.

“He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall by thy shield and buckler.”  Psalm 91:4

Sheltered in Grace,

Sadie

PS – You have figured out by now haven’t  you, that even though this is a 31 Day journey of writing about writing, it is also a journey of self-discovery.  Because, only when we are willing to discover can we truly write.  Stay with me?

Join other 31 Day Writers here.

Day 5 – In Which Bolognese Sauce Becomes a Metaphor for Authentic Writing

au·then·tic/ôˈTHentik/ (thanks to google)  Adjective:                                                  Of undisputed origin; genuine: “authentic 14th-century furniture”.  Made or done in the traditional or original way: “authentic Italian meals”.

I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday.  As much as I love discovering new blogs through this 31 Days challenge and as much as I love writing, my husband was in dire need of a good home cooked meal.  You can only go so far with rice and beans, or sandwiches.

This led me to a new recipe for Bolognese sauce that I wanted to try.  Which in turn lead to an affirmation about me – I like things to be authentic.

While the Bolognese was still simmering on the stove, I could tell it was going to be quite tasty; however, it basically looked like spaghetti sauce, so I wondered what made it specifically a Bolognese sauce.  Like any avid researcher, I googled and this  is what I discovered.  Quite the history, and I read it all.

After reading, I came to the conclusion that what I made is not really an authentic Bolognese.  The sentence that clinched the deal for me:  “Serving spaghetti with Bolognese sauce is actually a sign of mediocrity in the understanding of Italian cuisine.” And then this one: “In the United States, the term ‘Bolognese”‘ is sometimes applied to a tomato-and-ground-beef sauce that bears little resemblance to the ragù served in Bologna.”   I had already decided to use Penne which is on the approved list of pastas, so, I felt somewhat validated.  Thank you very much.

I have decided that I want to discover the most authentic recipe I can find and try again. This one seems pretty close.  In the meantime, the sauce I made was quite tasty and it received Mr Piano’s seal of approval.

You may be wondering how discourse on Bolognese sauce relates to word weaving, commonly referred to as writing.  If you have ever read any books written by writers about writing, then you already know the answer.

Our writing must come from truth.  You’ve heard it before – write about what you know. Be authentic. Just like the sauce was a modified version of the original, if we’re not careful, our writing can become a modified version of the truth.  Whatever genre you write, it has to be authentically yours – your voice, coming from your experiences and grounded in your truth.

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.Tennessee Williams

In grace,

Sadie

Are you following the 31 Days – you can find other participants over at Nesting Place

Day 3 – Living in Truth

I want my writing to come from truth, therefore, I have to be willing to dig deep to the root of my recent reluctance to write .  I can only weave the words into meaningful beauty if they have a foundation of truth to stand on.

The truth is that depression rears its ugly head and leads to inertia and feeling overwhelmed, which is really the root of the procrastination I talked about yesterday.

I have had a history of what I would call mild to moderate depression most of my life.     Sometimes, change, like our recent move, can trigger an episode.  The time of year (late summer into early fall) can also trigger deeper depression.  In my case the season followed on the heels of the move.

Once the movers left and the boxes were unpacked, I finally sat down to rest and realized that once again, I was in a bluesy funk.  So, I just slowed way down and sank into it.  I did need rest –  the move followed an 18 month period in my life that was fraught with illness and recuperation, which also probably contributed to the depression

I have accepted the fact that I cycle through depression, but I don’t have to accept it as a condemnation.  I can trust God in spite of it; I can choose to wallow in it or learn from it.  Sometimes, in our darkest hours our faith grows the strongest.

This journey I’ve invited you to take with me is all about doing something positive in spite of the funk.  It’s living even though my heart feels trampled; trusting, even when my soul feels crushed.  It’s giving voice to the dream; weaving beautiful words from truth.

Living in Grace,

Sadie

There are over 1000 joining in the 31 Days of Change  challenge over at Nesting Place  – they’d love for you to join them