3 Truths to Remember When God Asks You to Wait

3 truths to remember when God asks you to wait

I wish I was a morning person. In hundreds of little ways, it would make life easier. But until I’ve had my first or sometimes third cup of coffee, my words during those early hours are few.

There is one thing other than school schedules and kids’ activities that will get me out of bed before the sun, though. Even on a vacation when my boys are still sleeping, I will roll out of the covers, tip toe across the floor and slip on my flip-flops. It’s a sunrise. More specifically, a sunrise over the ocean. My love for photography and nature makes me ignore the tug of the warm mattress, yawning all the way to the boardwalk.

Last year in early summer, I knew we only had a couple of days left on our beach trip. I snuck outside in the wee hours, toting my Nikon and wide-angle lens with me. As soon as my feet hit the sand, the humid air hit me like a wet cloak and gnats greeted my face. The comfy bed beckoned me back.

I walked down the shoreline and realized it was already noticeably bright out. Had I missed the sun?

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing 3 truths I hold onto when God asks me to wait. You can find me over at iBelieve. Click here to read the rest of my post.

3 truths to remember when God asks you to wait

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday

The Wordsmiths’ Cafe: Edition 3

wordsmiths' cafe 3

Welcome to edition 3 of the Wordsmiths’ Cafe! Each quarter on the 15th of the month, I will be offering writing tips, resources and links I hope will help you in your writing journey. This newsletter is part of the Ladder to Rooftop Blogging academy started by my dear friend, Jami Amerine. You can find more info about the academy here.

3 Questions to Help You Self-Edit Before You Hit “Publish”

Have you ever wished you had a personal editor? I can’t count the number of times I have. As many times as I review, delete and reword the articles and blog posts that are published each week, I still find things to change. But since freelance writing doesn’t pay the bills and I haven’t written a bestseller, I’ve come up with several questions to ask myself each time my finger hovers over the “publish” button.

This list is not all-inclusive, but it helps me know whether my writing needs tightening or perhaps needs to be saved for a later season in life. If you’re looking for ways to help you self-edit, I hope you find this list a good place to start.

  1. Is the message of my post clear? Many times, I start one place and end in another. And that is okay as long as there is a clear message to the post, but often the reason I end up some place else is because I went down a rabbit trail. And then another and another. If your reader can’t pick out one or two main points to take away with them after they leave your site, they are probably not going to remember your post. “Sticky Statements” are a great way to highlight these points, but you can also communicate the main point with repetition, questions and bullet points. The possibilities are endless; just make sure your takeaway is clear.

wordsmiths' cafe 3

  1. Is this something that belongs in my journal instead of a blog post? Often, I read a post and it is though the person vomited all over the page. Whether the emotion is anger, pain or bitterness, it is obvious that the conflict is still raw and they haven’t had a chance to digest it or learn from the experience. Posts like this often come across as whiny or ranting and leave the reader feeling like they’ve just been slapped in the face rather than given encouragement or hope. While every post may not be encouraging, our goal as writers should be to propel our readers to do something other than bury their heads in the sand.
  1. Can this piece be tightened? The more I review things I’ve written, the more I see I have a habit of repeating myself. And while some repetition is good to get your point across, there is no need to say the same thing twenty different ways. When a reader hops over to your site to read a blog post, they typically want to be done within a few minutes. We live in a world where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and if you are rambling on and on, your reader will get bored. Ask yourself if there are any unnecessary words, repetitive phrases or sentences that have nothing to do with your main focus. If so, you are probably safe to remove them. Also check to see of there are areas where you use the past perfect tense.
  • For example, this sentence is written in the past perfect tense. “I had wondered if it was possible to keep going.” If I change it to active voice, my writing stays moving and keeps the reader more engaged: “I wondered if it was possible to keep going.”

While everyone has their own style and ways to communicate their message, I’ve found most successful writers incorporate these steps in one way or another. Never compromise your voice or try to sound like someone else. God gave you a unique voice, and the more you use it, the more it will begin to fit you like a glove.

Write on, and remember to support others along the way by sharing what you learn.

 

*You can find edition 2 of the Wordsmiths’ Cafe here.

Why I Never Want to Let the Title of “Mom” Define Me

being a mom doesn't define me

I remember the first time our eight-year-old realized I had a name other than “Mama.” And his dad had a name other than “Dadda.” We were sitting at the dinner table and my parents were visiting. Of course, they do not call us “Mama” and “Dadda.”

It was as though a light bulb went off in his growing brain. The fact that we were people before we became parents was new territory to be explored. Questions came pouring faster than he could formulate words.

I smiled, but made sure he knew that to him, my name would always be “Mama.” Or “Mom.” Or some variation of it. But never “Abby.”

I wear the title proudly like a badge because motherhood changes us, doesn’t it? And yet at the same time, I don’t ever want to let it define me.

There are times when I have to remind myself that my identity exists outside of the roles of wife, mother and friend. These different roles shape me and mold me, but they don’t determine who I am.

Some of you reading this might be puzzled so let me explain. My search to discover who I was at a core level began after I became a mom. I remember those first days when I couldn’t get my newborn to stop crying, and I would cry right along with him.

Everything about my supposed birth plan had failed. Instead of forgoing the epidural, excruciating back labor made me decide to take one in the early stages. Instead of delivering naturally, I had an emergency c-section.

I clung to breastfeeding like a lifeline, but when the nurse thought I had a pulmonary embolism a few days after leaving the hospital, I almost had to give it up too.

In the days after family left and my new baby and I were alone, I tried to cling to something stable. I had always clung to labels, but they were eluding me.

Student, worker, daughter, wife, and now mom.

being a mom

I felt like I was failing miserably at the last two, which were both new to me. And because I felt unsuccessful in my roles, I didn’t think my life was worth anything.

To be quite honest, there were times when I thought my new child and husband would be better off without me.

Somewhere in my darkness I sent up a simple prayer: “Help.” And because God doesn’t care about the eloquence of our words but the heart behind them, I got my answer. Not in one lightning bolt of truth but in a slow, constant rhythm.

Although I couldn’t see them at the time, his answers were like fingerprints on the story of my life.

Over time, He showed me I would never know who I was until I learned who He was. And the more I learned about Him, his love and unchanging character, the more I discovered my own unique identity.

I learned these different hats I wore- mom, wife, friend, employee- were meant to enhance the person I already was, but never define me.

Because if you hang your identity on a finite role, you will never discover who you are as an eternal being.

He created each one of us to leave an eternal mark. And while our families are a huge part of that, they are only one part. It is up to us to discover the distinct gifts he gave each of us, every one given to reflect his glory.

Do I love being a mom? Yes. Over time, I’ve grown to love it more and more.

But when my children are grown and it’s just me and my hubby, I will still be me. And if it takes me a lifetime to discover who that person is, it will be worth it.

 

Linking up with these communities: #ThoughtProvokingThursday

An Open Letter to My Daughter (In Utero)

an open letter to my daugher

Sweet baby Elise,

I had your name picked when I was pregnant with your brother, Gabriel. And although I wouldn’t trade him and his silly antics, endless energy and confidence for the world, my heart leapt when I heard God was giving us a girl. You were a hope deferred and nearly lost for a time, but the Lord turned that hope into a tree of life, growing and becoming stronger with each day that passes.

Since the day I heard you were here I’ve sent up countless prayers to your heavenly Father. I pray for your health, your development and delivery, but I also send up pleas which go beyond those first few days into your future.

Here are a few of the things I desire for you, my girl. When I feel anxious about your future or overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility, I come before Jesus and ask these in his name.

I pray you will be a woman who knows who you are. That you will see how your Creator formed you and planned you before you were ever a plus sign on piece of plastic, and he has a unique purpose only you can fulfill.

I pray you see at a young age that it’s okay to be different. God does not create clones. He creates unique masterpieces. Each one made to reflect his glory in a special way that can’t be imitated or bought or sold. If he wanted you to be someone else, he would have created someone else. Embrace your one-of-a-kind identity. And if you’re not sure what your niches or gifts are, ask Him to show you. He will answer you with grace and patience.

a letter to elise

I pray you know He sees you. Even when no one else does. Even when it feels like you’re invisible and no one appreciates what you have to offer, your Father sees you and loves you with an everlasting love. He cares about each aspect of your life and knows when you rise and lie down. When you feel unseen, remember there is only one person who fully sees us and can fill the deepest desires of our hearts. His name is Jesus. Call on his name.

I pray you love selflessly and fearlessly. I know there will be times when you will be heartbroken, and I will always be here to offer a hug, and shoulder to cry on, and a listening ear. But I pray you keep reaching out and being vulnerable. I hope you look to our Savior, who risked it all and was promised nothing, and follow Him as the ultimate example of fearless love.

Elise Skylar, I can’t wait to meet you. I imagine what you will look like, what unique personality God will give you and can nearly hear your first cries within me. As you grow and change, I’ll keep praying. I’ll never stop. Because your Daddy and I believe prayer changes things. It makes a difference.

And you, my child, were made to make a difference in this world. Never stop dreaming or reaching for the stars your Creator put into place.

We love you to the moon and back,

Mom

When Grief is Great and Words Are Weak

the one thing to remember when grief is great

Today we’re saying goodbye to one of the oldest members of our family. She doesn’t wear human skin or express herself in many syllables, but she’s loved just the same.

She’s the four-legged kind. A blondie. A dear friend named Coco.

She and our other mutt brought my husband and I together thirteen years ago with their mutual love for walks and chasing furry creatures. And as they say, well, the rest is history.

Since I’m pregnant and rather hormonal the realization that our companion is dying hit me rather hard. But I believe during those hard seasons God often speaks the loudest, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

As my husband wrapped his arms around me and my round belly this morning, I said,

“It’s amazing how God speaks to us through our animals.”

I’d been observing our two girls over the past couple of days. Our other dog, Zoe, knew something was up and her disposition had changed. She’d become more affectionate, more calm, wanting to be near us often.

One day I let both of them out on our back porch while I cleaned. After about a half hour, I peeked through the window.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Purposeful Faith about grief and how often words are weak. You can read the rest of my post here.

when grief is great and words are weak

Linking up with these communities: #ThoughtProvokingThursday

Drawing a Line with People Who Suck the Oxygen Out of Your Tank

drawing a line with people who deflate us

“Almost buddy! Try again. There you go!”

I watched other parents coach my eight-year-old through his first time in a batting cage and a smile crept across my face. They saw the areas where he was struggling, and they each worked together to help him improve.

“Put your right arm up a little bit. Spread your legs out more. There, nice hit!”

With each shout of encouragement, my son got better. His confidence grew, and within a few minutes he was hitting the ball with more often.

On the way home later that evening, he gave a coy little smile and asked Daddy, “So, did you like watching me hit the ball in that batting cage?”

He already knew the answer. But he loved hearing it.

Watching him reminded me how those little pushes from the people who surround us can change the trajectory of our whole lives. Although I know my son will discover his gifts lie in certain areas as he gets older, I never want to discourage him from trying new things.

I never want him to look back on his life and say, “If only I had tried this…”

Recently I shared with some friends how it was their encouragement, accountability and reinforcement that helped me reach new goals in my writing. They rallied behind me as I strove for things I never would have dreamed possible five or six years ago and never once said, “Don’t get your hopes up,” or “Do you think you’re being unrealistic?”

People who speak life make us seize life with both hands. They make us attempt to do what we never thought we would, not because we’re able, but because God is.

But there’s a flip-side to those life-giving words and people, isn’t there? There’s that person we hesitate to share the good news with or discuss dreams with because we know as soon as we do, our hopes will deflate.

limit the negativity 2

Like a balloon getting stuffed into a freezer, the enthusiasm that filled us instantly shrinks. Instead of reaching for the moon, we suddenly feel the need to defend ourselves.

Now, I don’t know who, as my eight-year-old likes to say, has “sucked the oxygen out of your tank” today (thank you, Lego Movie). But I do know a few truths that have helped me face those situations. We will always have some naysayers in our lives, but can I speak a little truth to you? The next time you’re feeling deflated, remember:

  1. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. If God gave you a dream to pursue, he is able to see it through. There isn’t a person on this planet who can stand in his way.
  1. You can limit the negative in your life. If there is a certain person who speaks discouragement every time you share good news, it may be time to find someone else to share your victories with.
  1. You can choose the people you do life with. Like I stated before, I don’t think I would be where I can without the positive influence of friends who have pushed me beyond the limits I placed on myself. When we hear people saying, “I believe in you,” it makes us believe in ourselves.

Always remember to extend grace. You never know what someone who speaks discouragement may be going through. But choose your tribe wisely.

Surround yourself with others who believe the same God who spoke the stars into existence can sustain you as you reach for them. Shine on, and give our Creator all the glory.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory

The Dream Killer Called Perfection (And What to Do About It)

the dream killer called perfection

There are words that will never make it to this blog.

Often they get typed, retyped and then deleted. Sometimes they spin around my head for a while only to get lost in some black hole of writer’s abyss. Others wind up in my journal, which is where they belong.

The truth is, my writing will follow the same pattern as other areas of my life if I let it. I will try with all my human strength to perfect it, only to realize what seemed “perfect” an hour ago in fact wasn’t. It’s a vicious cycle. And although it’s taken a lot of heartache and unclenching of fists, God is showing me it isn’t worth it.

For months, a fear of failure prevented me from taking a major step in my writing. I knew the project wasn’t perfect. There were areas of my resume which could be improved. And then improved some more.

Every time I poised myself to hit the “send” button, thousands of what-ifs ran through my head like a freight train. Until one day I sensed God saying to me, “Are you going to trust me?”

It was  valid question and one I didn’t know if I could answer. I wanted to sink into the whiny voice of my kids when they don’t get their way and say, “But God….”

With a simple question from a loving Father, I realized this leap of faith wasn’t about being perfect. It was about trusting the only Perfect One. I had to click the “send” button and believe that if God wanted the mountain to move, he would provide a way.

As my pastor likes to say, my job was to take the natural step. His job was to do the supernatural.

dream killer

Friend, if you’re in a place where God is asking you to do something that seems beyond logic or your own ability, you are exactly where he wants you to be. The Maker of the universe is in the business of using ordinary, everyday people like you and me to accomplish mighty things. But the key is this: We have to take the step that seems illogical.

We have to move past the imperfections, the procrastination and the endless excuses and trust that if he’s asking us to do something, there is a reason.

That email I sent? It wasn’t perfect. But a few days ago I got an answer. And in an instant, I moved one huge step closer to a dream God placed in my heart many years ago.

Thanks be to God, I have a literary agent!

I know there are still a lot of what-ifs ahead of me. I know there will be days when my fingers are poised to hit the “send” button and a million questions flood my head.

And when they do, I will remember that still, small voice of my Father, pushing me to take the natural step.

“Do you trust me?”

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory