I’m In A Season of Slow

If you slow things down, you notice things you hadn’t seen before.  Robert Wilson

Recently I asked for some feedback on my Facebook page concerning topics for Write 31 Days. I’ve participated in the online writing challenge every October since 2012.  If you click on Write 31 Days on the navigation bar at the top you will be able to see those series.

I was given great feedback from those of you that participated in my informal survey.  In fact I discovered that our hearts were pretty much aligned as your top two topics were also my top two.  I chose the one about all the houses that built me.

I started gathering pictures and interviewed my dad about the early homes.  I started a folder in my documents to house my collection.  Then, I finally listened to the still small voice that was telling me NOT to do the 31 days this year.  Every time I sat down to my computer to write I wasn’t able to pull my thoughts together.  I kept feeling the nudge and finally had to accept that this is not my year to participate.

quote

I’m in a season of slow right now.  There is no use fighting the reality.  Some things are not negotiable.  My mom and dad need my support right now.  I have to take care of my health.  Many days that is all I accomplish.  My husband is my biggest support and he takes up a lot of the slack.  We all need margin in our lives and tackling this challenge right now would not leave enough margin.

So, what does that mean?  I am still committed to the series and will be preparing to launch it on the blog, hopefully sometime after the New Year.  I think it will make a cozy winter series that you can read while curled up by the fire with a warm cup of something to savor. 

If you want to make sure you don’t miss content when I start the series, you can subscribe up at the top right where it says follow blog via email – just put your email address in the box.  No one will have access to your email but me and I do not share email addresses with anyone. Ever.  You will only receive an email when a new post is written.  Some of you are already subscribers and I thank you very much.

Slowing in grace,

Teresa

 

Advertisements

Why You Will Want to Read All The Pretty Things

all-the-pretty-things

Edie Rudder Wadsworth writes words that burn deep into your soul. Her book, All The Pretty Things launches today. It needs to be on your must read list.

Here’s Why:

  1.  You will Love the chapter titles
  2.  You will experience all the emotions
  3.  You will see grace in action
  4.  You will find redemption
  5.  You will not be able to put the book down
  6.  You will recognize yourself
  7.  You will find hope
  8.  You will cry and sometimes laugh
  9.  You will forget to breathe, finally letting out a sigh of relief
  10.   You will be changed

It’s the story of a young girl’s journey into womanhood and how through everything  love, grace, forgiveness and redemption were the threads that held it all together resulting in a beautiful tapestry only God could weave.

It’s the first book in a long time that I couldn’t put down until every last word was savored. Edie’s voice draws you in and compels you to stay.  You will come away with your heart full and a new resolve to embrace your life and live it with grace.

all-the-pretty-things-church

 

Reading in grace,

Teresa

book

This Writing Life

 

100_5008..2

 

mary.mary.2

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).

100_4994.2.jpg

 

matthew.13.32

Digging in grace,

Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

And I Pray Hard

This post has been hard for me to write and I’ve struggled with whether or not I even need to share. I’ve embarked on a health journey that will be an ongoing part of my story. Writing about it helps me see how I am processing and will hopefully give me perspective. Since you sometimes read what I write, you too are part of my story, so I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind if I shared with you.  The original post was too long, so I have broken it down. Today’s part is more general and reflective after living a  year of discovery that led to a diagnosis of a chronic autoimmune disease. The main take away is that God is faithful, even when I have questions; especially when I have questions.

And I Pray Hard

God is good, even when life is not.  I know that.  But yet, sometimes I wonder why he allows me to suffer.  I find myself wondering why I’m being punished.  I know that is not Biblically sound, so I try to banish that kind of thinking immediately.  Even though I know better,  I wait for the other shoe to drop.

I remind myself of all the good that God has bestowed on me and remember the times he has restored my health, but I still find myself wavering on a shaky tightrope between faith that he will heal and fretting that maybe I’ve run out of get-well tickets.  Again, I know that is faulty thinking.  I know better.  And I pray hard because I don’t want to give in to such fear.

Because it is fear brought on by attacks of the enemy who is constantly trying to defeat our walk of faith.   If he can convince us that God is out to get us then he can render us useless and a quivering heap on the floor, bound by fear, unable to fulfill God’s purpose for our life.

Even in those times when we need healing, and God chooses otherwise, he is still good, and we can still have faith in his promises.  He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.  He is faithful.  I know that, and I cling to that and do my best to head in the direction of hope.  And I pray hard, thanking God for his goodness even in the midst of my bad. 

Life for me last year was a very up and down journey that ranged from despair and depression to faith and hope and back again.  I’m sure over time I will be able to unwrap some beautiful gifts from the journey.  I do believe that in all that is hard, God works on our behalf and teaches us great truths.  When bad things happen to us, he doesn’t leave us to stumble in the dark.  He is right beside us, holding us under his feathers.  He knows life can be scary and uncertain, but he also knows that he is our only certainty.  I know that too.

The truth is we live in a fallen world that is rampant with sin and disease.  Sometimes, for reasons we may never know or understand, we fall prey to the fallen.  We know that bad things do happen to good people.  But God, in his great merciful love for us, holds us tight in those times and works on our behalf. We don’t always get the answer we are hoping for, but we always have the hope of our father.  In his time, he will make all things right.  Some of us may suffer this side of heaven, but he knows all about suffering, and he knows how to comfort.  And I pray hard because I need his mercy and comfort as I live in a fallen world.

NewMercies

Praying hard for 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.

100_4427.2

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.

quote

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

That Which We Will Not Give Up

65c25-blogtemberbutton
click the picture for more info about Blog-tember. click the heading below to see all of today’s entries.

Friday, Sept. 4: What are you passionate about?

100_3643.puspose.passion

This one is not as easy as it sounds.  I tend to rule with my emotions, so on any given day I could be passionate about any given thing, depending on my mood.  Hence, the need to filter through all those emotions to land on my true passions.  As I have gotten older, things have shifted and I’ve been learning to curb the emotional tide that can overpower reason from time to time. I truly believe that our passions our woven together with God’s purpose for our lives, and as such, require careful curating.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Maybe the real passion comes from those things that emerge as the non-negotiables.  Sometimes, we waste our energies and passions on causes that aren’t ours to bear.  It’s rather like the overuse of the word love (guilty here, too!).  We use love to describe everything from the latest trendy socks, to food, to our job and the people we’d do anything for.  Sometimes in all that love, it’s hard to know what love really is.  It’s more than a word to describe a feeling.  It’s an action that springs up from our very depths and will not be squashed.

For example, I love Pizza, but I could survive without it.  I love my husband and I don’t even want to think about surviving without him.  Obviously, the word love here is used to mean more than one kind of love.  I think it’s the same with passion.  Some things on our passionate list may have more priority than others and listing them together may seem shallow.  But, as long as we understand the difference, then I think everything I”m passionate about from the mundane to the world changing can make peace with being on the same list.  From that list, I can then narrow my focus to those that are non-negotiable. Those that I will hold onto for dear life. Those that most define my God-given purpose.

Some of my current passions, in no particular order, are: Alzheimer’s, my husband, my family, chocolate, Italian food, Writing, decorating and organizing my home, napping, watching Blue Bloods, the current political and moral climate, enjoying a girls day out, taking drives, snapping pictures of everything, day dreaming and my faith in God and the gift of salvation.

I must add here, that I think the things we are passionate about don’t necessarily mean that we love all of them.  Sometimes, our passionate focus on something can stem from our desire to fight back against that which we we truly hate.  I also think that some passions are for a season and some are for life.

A prime example of this is the fact that my mother has Alzheimer’s.  I’m very passionate about Alzheimer’s during this season of life.  Not because I love the disease ( I truly hate all that it represents), but because I love my mother. I’m passionate about protecting her and helping her, not because I want to make decisions for her, but because she needs me to and I love her, so I want what is best for her.

Alzheimer’s was not on my passion radar until it knocked on my door. Whether or  not it continues to be a passion hinges on a lot of variables, one of which could mean that I too may one day stare this ugly disease in the face.  I passionately hope and trust not, but it is not mine to decide.

100_3644.2

Another current passion that made my list is Blue Bloods.  It’s just a TV show people.  No big deal.  Really, could I be any more shallow.  Is it a true, fight to the death, passion? No, of course not.  But, during this season of life it represents a lot of things to me: time spent with my husband, a chance to unwind from the real world, a glimpse into a family dynamic that speaks of love, service, trust and passion.  All the things I think are important for family to cling to in times of distress.

Especially in times of distress.  Those are the times we most clearly need to be passionate.  Much of life requires us to fight for our needs to be met, to fight for what we believe in, to fight for what feeds our soul. It is during these times that we need to know what we will not give up.  

I can give up Blue Bloods, I can even (hope I don’t have to) give up chocolate, or a lot of other passions, but there are a few that I will fight for such as my faith, my husband, my family my friends, and the need to be creative.

Writing is a gift from God and I know it is woven into the very fiber of my being.  Even in those times when the well seems to be dry, or I am frozen to publish anything  I still know that writing is a part of me.  I still know that my survival hinges on being able to express my thoughts in words; being able to paint you a picture with my words.  That is why I keep writing, even the mundane, so that I don’t lose touch with the passion of laying down words, because I don’t want to miss the day when the purpose in the passion shines through in the most brilliant of ways and my soul sighs in blissful contentment. 

100_3643

Finding purpose and passion in grace,

Teresa

Checking In

100_3822.1

Just checking in with an update.  Change is still happening around here. Due to both our computers being in the shop for two weeks my tweaking was interrupted.

I want to carve out some time over the next couple of weeks to finish the new look of the blog (note:  nothing is written in stone so the tweaking may take awhile).

Also, I’m hoping to finally get back on a somewhat regular writing schedule. More on that as thoughts develop.  I know I don’t want to obsess over the “rules of blogging” whatever they may be.  I don’t want to worry about statistics and who may or may not be reading my blog.  I figure that God sends the people that need to read what I have to say.

Writing is not a competition.  It is a conversation between like minded individuals. There is room for my voice, your voice and all the writing voices to be heard.  My blog won’t be for all readers, but it will be exactly the spot that others will need to be.  So, I trust that those who need me and those I need will find their way here and become part of a community. If you are already a “regular”, thanks for sticking by me in the lean times.

I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and encouragement.  I know the latest trends say that blogging is dying.  I know a lot of people don’t engage in conversation.  I just want you to know that I value your conversation and try my best to respond to all comments.   I also value your right to remain silent, so I never want anyone to feel pressured to leave comments.

I pray you will find the  conversation here uplifting and insightful.  My hope is that all who enter here will feel at home and find a sense of place.

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2 NIV

Writing in Grace,

Teresa