Thursday, September 27, 2012

Searching For God's Will

Exciting things have happened the last two weeks, as I was able to attend a writer's conference and get an appointment with a book agent.  As I arrived home, I have been met by excitement and questions from others.  Those close to me know that this has been on my heart for a long time; it has been a dream that I never really thought would come true.  Although nothing has technically happened, I finally feel that I am taking small steps forward in the realization of these goals.

Yet something keeps weighing heavy on my heart.  I hear comments about this "dream finally coming true," that I'm "moving forward in God's will for my life," and that God has been "preparing me for this moment."  The problem is, I disagree with all of those things.

You see, when I was younger (in Bible college), I was taught and believed that God had a specific will for my life that was going to be amazing.  He was going to use me mightily.  His had a calling on my life that was powerful.  I believed these things and looked forward to them. I prayed every day about this perfect will that was supposed to be coming my way.  I sought opportunities that lined up with all of these words of affirmation. But nothing BIG seemed to happen.  Then I got disappointed. I felt like God forgot about me.  Year after year I struggled with this - this feeling like I had a call on my life that had not yet materialized.

And so now that supposedly BIG things are happening in my life; does that mean that this is it?  It's finally here?  I'm finally entering into God's will that had been talked about for so long?

No.  I say no.  You know what I've learned?  Every single day that I have lived up until this moment has been just as much a part of God's will for me as any big moment that might happen (or not).  Every single day!  Every boring day, where nothing seemed to happen, was just as crucial to my heart and my relationship with God as the realization of some dream.   Every moment where I held my children close to me and wondered if God forgot about me, and if I'd ever get to do the things I dreamed about or I would be stuck in my house forever and ever - all of those moments were His will and His plan for me. Those moments were important to my heart, my character, and my relationship with Him.  Was He preparing me for bigger things?  No, not bigger. He was preparing me for other things.  I was already doing the big things but just didn't know it.

You know what else I've learned?  So much of those dreams are really about us. We feel that if we accomplish something big, our lives will mean something more.  If we get that book deal, if we get that job, if we get our degree, if we just, if we just, if we just.  And life becomes more and more about ME instead of about HIM.   Now, I don't disagree with having dreams - please don't misunderstand.  I just disagree with the thinking that those dreams being realized are more important than where you are at on the way.

I know that disappointment of hearing good news from a friend and wishing it was you.  I know those thoughts that say, "When will my time come?"  But I have realized that time is already here, and we are missing it.  If I could give advice to myself 5 years ago, I would say, "Stop waiting for something grandeous to happen, that is really about you, and recognize that God's hand is on your life right now! You are in His will.  He has called you by name, and He does have a calling on your life - and it is right where you are.  Whatever happens next is also a part of His will for you, but it is no more important than the average day you have before you right in this moment."

Those average days involved staying home with my 2 kids. They involved doing the dishes, washing the clothes, taking endless walks to the park, planning the meals, and repeating the same cycle over and over.  Yet THAT was God's will for me at that time.  And this now, this is just the next thing.  I don't want my life to be dependent on my circumstances to find joy.  I want to find my joy in Him, no matter the season, because it's all part of His calling.

What about you? Are you waiting for the next big things, or do you see God's will as right where you are?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"Just Write"- The Re:Write Experience

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Re:Write Conference in San Diego.  As a blogger for over 6 years, I have always written as a hobby and it was literally my "therapy" as a stay-at-home mom, but I never really took it more serious than that. Blogging has connected me with so many amazing women, and I truly believe it has been a ministry for me to reach out to others.

It wasn't until last year that I started taking writing more seriously and felt like God was calling me into a season where I needed to actually focus and refine my words.  I was in a season where nothing seemed to be happening around me, doors were closing, and I felt discouraged, yet something very deep was happening inside of me.  That season led me to refining what I felt called to write about, and it was towards the end of last year that I heard about the Re:Write Conference.  I thought it would be neat to attend, but didn't think it would be a reality for me financially.

Through a series of God-events, I ended up there this weekend.  Immediately I was struck by the humility of each of the attendees. I have been to many conferences over the years and have always felt an "air of comparison."  I remember going to a church conference 3 years ago, and feeling like I didn't fit in because I wasn't dressed cool enough, and I just wasn't cool enough. Sad - right?  At a church conference.  But this one - the Re:Write Conference - was just so different.  The speakers were mulling around, meeting every attendee and genuinely interested in who we were and what we wanted to write about. They gave out their personal cell phone numbers, they encouraged us, and on the last day they HUGGED all of us like we were old friends.  Seriously?!!  These were people like George Barna, Mark Batterson, Paul Young (author of The Shack), Peter Strople, Julie Barnhill, Mary DeMuth - and the list goes on and on.  We were all just amazed at their humility and kindness to us.

Another thing that struck me was the theme of worship - almost every speaker touched on how our writing is worship to God.  Glory was being given to God over and over, and we were reminded to not find our value in our work, in whether or not we get published, but to find our value in Christ alone.  We were encouraged to write for an audience of one, to not give up, and over and over I heard the phrase "Just Write."  Do you remember my blog post where I said those were the 2 words God had spoken to my heart last year?  Just Write.  Tears came to my eyes every time I heard those words; it was as though God was reminding me "you are supposed to be here!"

I cannot even count the number of amazing people I met who have awesome books in the works. I went to the conference alone, not knowing anyone, and left with 200 new friends.  I'm not joking - these people are my friends now!  You can check out some of their blogs below.

I will write another post with the details of what the speakers talked about, but just wanted to give a quick synopsis for those who have asked about the conference.  I left more inspired than ever to continue writing and finish my book, and I'm so excited!

The next Re:Write Conference will be held in the Fall of 2013 in Austin, Texas. Start saving now and plan to go!  I hope to see you there!!

Be sure to check out these amazing writers and my new friends!

Ruth Rutherford:
Lori McClure:
Kirsten Strawn:
Jen Sandbulte:
Dr. Angie Welikala:
Jenn Hoskins:
Tim and Samantha Keller:
Sarah Markley:
Jeannie Burlowski:
Renee Fisher:
Maria Keckler:
Erin Ulrich:
Kurt Bubna:
Julianna Morlet:
Marie Osborne:
Nathan Magnuson:
Savannah Hartman:

(If you were at Re:Write and I missed mentioning you, please leave me a comment so I can add your blog!) :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

A New Normal

Everything so far has been leading up to THIS.  This = the week that both of my boys are in school full-time. For 7 years I stayed at home with my boys, devoting all of my time and energy to them, and they have just flown from my nest and settled in at school.  (Excuse me while I get some tissue).

Last week Jaden started Kindergarten, and he was excited to go. It was a relatively easy transition because he only had to be in school until noon - enough time for me to run one or two errands and rush back to pick him up. But today- today it begins. Today we dropped him off and he will be there for LUNCH, and picked up at 2pm.  I don't know - the thought of my baby boy eating lunch without me there to watch him just gets me every time.  I cry just thinking about it.  I can't put my finger on it - am I afraid he'll choke on something? Am I afraid he won't be able to open his crackers?  Am I afraid he won't have someone to sit with?  I admit, all of these things have passed through my mind.  But mostly, I will miss my little buddy.

Micah started 2nd grade, and although that is a big moment as well, he has had 2 years of full-time school to prepare for that.  He has his friends, he's adjusted, and he looks forward to going (for the most part).  I had a hard time leaving him for Kindergarten too, but still had Jaden at home with me to keep my mind busy from thinking about it too much.

 (He would not let me take any pictures of him on his first day, so I snuck this one really quick) :)

Now the house is eerily silent - and it's only been 28 minutes since I dropped them off.  I hear thoughts like "Go to the beach!" or "Go visit that new store that just opened!" or "Finally you can get some work done!"  but really, I want to go spy on them through binoculars at the park above the school.  (You didn't hear me say that).

So, what will I do with myself ALL DAY?  Well, for starters I will thank God that He brought me through one of the toughest seasons of my entire life - staying home full-time with my boys for the past 7 years.  In that time, he shaped me and molded me and sharpened me and disciplined me and changed me.  Now He wants to do something new in me.  I will need to make time to spend with God and allow Him to speak to me.  It was easy to let that go before - the kids were always interrupting - but now I have a wide open space for Him to speak.

What else will I do?  For starters, I'll be able to complete all of my work while the boys are at school. It is not easy working from home and having kids at home full time, so now I'll be able to get it all done so that I can be un-distracted when they get home.  That is something I've been waiting for a long time. There is a heavy guilt that many moms feel for having to work from home while their kids are running around and pulling on them for attention.  That pressure will be taken off, which is nice.

You won't find me watching daytime TV, eating bon-bons, or taking leisurely strolls on the beach.  I might be able to fit those things in here or there, but for the most part my days will be full. 

It has all come down to this - this new season...and I'm ready for it - just as soon as I blow my nose and re-apply my makeup.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

God Surprises

I've never been one for surprises - in fact, I've been known to find out about a few surprises that were planned for me because of my controlling inquisitive nature.  Like the time a big surprise party was planned for me at my favorite restaurant many years ago.  I had plans for that night with a friend, but my husband kept telling me I couldn't do it.  "But it's my birthday! I can do what I want to!" I exclaimed.  But he was adamant that I could not do what I wanted to that night (although he seemingly had nothing else planned for me in it's place).  Well, after much hoo-hah, I found out about the party.  I walked in to 15 of my closest friends yelling "surprise" and, of course, felt like a fool for ever making a big deal out of it.

Fast forward to today...I still don't like surprises, but mainly when I know something is up - but just don't know what it is.

And yet this week I found myself surprised by God.  This week was like a bunch of little surprise parties that He was throwing me.  I know that in life, there are seasons of great disappointment and heartache, and then there are the times when God surprises you out of the blue, just to remind you that He sees you and He loves you.

The first one was our trip to Yosemite.  Our car broke down last week and we had no air conditioner.  We did not want to travel through 100 degree days with no air.  I looked into renting a vehicle, without the intent to rent, but got an amazing deal on a rental car.  When we got there to pick it up, they upgraded us for free, and we drove away in a brand new GMC Acadia with this air conditioner that automatically detected the temp in the car and kept it steady the entire time.  I tell you, we felt like we were riding in style.  It was such a fun surprise!

We had little surprises all throughout that trip, like seeing old friends and spending time with them.  Upon returning from our trip, we got 2 suprise packages in the mail. One from the friend we got to visit on our trip - she sent me this awesome book!

Order Here.
Later in the day we got another package, and inside was UNO Attack - the game we played in Yosemite with our hosts at the cabin. The boys were in love with this game, so they decided to surprise us and send it to us when we returned home!

Order Here.

This week also brought the surprise that another friend's adopted baby was born.  They have waited a long time for this, through much heartache and pain (including a failed adoption last year). They were chosen a few months ago to be the birth parents of this baby, but the birth mother went into labor sooner than expected, and they are returning home today with their new baby boy!  The biggest surprise was that they were cleared to bring the baby home only 8 days later (unheard of for an out-of-state adoption)!

Lastly, earlier this year there was a conference that I was going to that I was greatly looking forward to. However, when the conference dates were moved, it fell on my wedding anniversary weekend.  I informed them I would not be attending, and disappointment settled inside.  But this week my husband asked me if I still wanted to go, since we had to change our anniversary plans.  When I emailed to find out if I could still attend the conference, they said YES, and I will get to go after all! This is a writer's conference that will help to inspire writers, and I'm praying God will give me more direction with writing as I attend.  I'm so excited!

I know sometimes it is hard to hear about surprises like these, when you are so desperately needing one of your own.  Maybe you're discouraged and just need to know God understands.  I have so been there. I have found myself jealous of other people's surprises.  I just want to encourage you today that maybe God is surprising you in small ways - be careful not to overlook even the slightest blessings in your day.  I really believe that He loves surprising His children!  And we can find delight in other's surprises too (like my friend's adoption), because He wants to encourage us through those things too.  He has not forgotten YOU today, too!  :)