When Your Dream Becomes Too Heavy

If I’m honest, there are times when I wish this writing dream would die.

When I began blogging several years ago, I dove in with both feet. I had no idea what I was doing or how many people would read what I wrote. All I knew was how good it felt to get the words out there. There was no middle man, editor or someone who deemed whether the syllables I strung together were good enough to print. It was just me, the laptop and the reader.

And I liked that.

But to pursue dreams and goals, we can’t remain in one place. We have to keep challenging ourselves to step outside what’s comfortable.

So I looked into the publishing world. I bought a writer’s market guide, took online classes and talked to successful writers. I learned what it took to get a publishing house to notice you, and I got my first taste of disillusionment with the industry.

Platform. Numbers. Followers and email subscribers. At first it seemed easy enough, until I heard numbers far exceeding anything I’d imagined.

I looked at other writers around me and thought I had to keep their rhythm and pace. Then I wondered why I was frustrated. I wondered why something I used to love felt heavy and burdensome.

I wanted my dream to go away, but it wouldn’t.

Every time I was tempted to close my computer and never see that cursor flashing again, a message would pop into my inbox. Or a comment would show up on my blog. A note of encouragement. A reader saying the words reached her at just the right time.

I knew this dream was so much bigger than me. I realized it wasn’t about me at all, really.

It was about the One who placed it in my heart. It was about the readers He brought here. Some close, and some in continents I may never step foot in.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched an Amazon original show that follows the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. Or as he called her, “Z.” She was his muse, his inspiration, and the woman who kept him going when he was temped to give up.

In one of the opening episodes, Zelda’s father, who is a well-to-do judge in Alabama, drills Fitzgerald about his writing, asserting that it is not a viable career. Fitzgerald fights back, saying Mark Twain was a millionaire.

Zelda’s father laughs.

“So you’re going to be the next Mark Twain?” he jokes.

“No,” Fitzgerald says. “I’m going to be the next F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

And he was. He was a writer in his own right, with his own voice. He didn’t have to be anyone else, because his message was recognized as unique. It stood on its own.

Now, I’ll be completely honest. I am not an F. Scott Fitzgerald or The Great Gatsby fan. (astonishing, I know) But I have a fascination with these classic, early 20th century writers. I’m captivated by the fact that they would pursue something most people thought was completely absurd. That they were willing to go against the status quo and take a risk.

As I reflected on the scene from “Z,” what I felt like God was saying to me was this:

“You don’t have to be like anyone else. Just be Abby. Just be the writer I created you to be.”

My job is to put the words to the keyboard. God’s is to do what only he can do.

So to you, dear reader, I deliver this message:

  • When you’re tempted to look in the other lane, remember only you can run your race.
  • When you’re tempted to give up, remember your pace may not look like the person to your right or your left.
  • When you’re rejected, remember He can use each “no” to lead you to the perfect “yes.”

Your journey won’t look like anyone else’s. Because your journey was assigned by a limitless Creator.

 

Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #RechargeWednesday

When You’re Afraid You’ll Never Reach Your Goals

afraid-youll-never-reach-your-goals

I listened to the interview with the popular Christian writer, my mind reeling with questions. But the one that kept repeating itself over and over was, “How?”

This woman had a slew of kids running around, and she homeschooled all of them. Her writing was not shoddy. Each syllable sang with an effortless harmony as you read.

So how? How were there enough hours in the day? Did she have on a superwoman cape I couldn’t see as I listened to the podcast?

At the time I had two kids. Now I have three, the last one two months young. There are days I barely get the laundry done and the food made, much less worry about doing anything creative.

I see women on social media who, in all the bright lights and glow of the computer screen, are pursuing their goals and dreams. They are achieving milestones I dare to think about as I’m nursing my sweet babe at night.

Before daybreak, the fear takes over and says, “You’ll never get there.”

Comparison is such a lonely place to live.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at PurposefulFaith.com. God met me in my place of discouragement, and I’d love to share what he showed me. You can read the rest of my post here.

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

When You Think You’ve Missed the Boat

When You Think You've Missed the Boat

Last night I talked to a friend who told me she turned off Messenger notifications on her phone. After I asked about a message I’d sent several weeks ago, she realized it had gotten buried under piles of other messages and she’d never seen it.

I completely understood. If she’s anything like me, she’s familiar with the epidemic of “now.”

I have severe anxiety over that little “1” which shows up on your phone. And since the notification is showing now, I have to respond now and have an answer now. Sometimes I’m not even sure how to respond, but I figure if I type something they’ll at least see those little dots moving…

Those dots mean you’re thinking, right? Or do they mean you’re typing? In any case, they mean a response is coming and that you haven’t forgotten about the urgent message which needs an immediate response.

Or does it?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about priorities. And many of the things I consider a priority should be nowhere near the top of my list. Like those little “1”s that show up on my phone and drive me crazy.

I get so wrapped up in the “now,” I forget there is also a “later.” I forget this season is not the season for every project, pursuit or endeavor. I forget how God-given dreams don’t have an expiration date.

A couple of years ago, I sensed God calling me to go on a grand adventure with Him. I knew he wanted me to write and share with others, to step out of my comfort zone and walk with Him into unknown waters.

Every step along the journey has been beautiful. Even the missteps where I’ve fallen and needed grace to stand have molded and shaped me into the woman I am today.

But you know what? Not every piece of the grander vision is meant to be attained right now.

Sometimes, God gives us a glimpse of the future to give us endurance in the present. (Tweet that!)

did you miss the boat?

He desires to keep us moving forward. He wants to let us know our labor is not in vain, and that he has plans and promises which stretch further than our imagination can take us.

But now is not the only season. And everything can’t be accomplished in one day. So why do I stress myself out, thinking I’ve missed the invisible boat?

We’ve all heard the saying. “Don’t miss the boat.”

We think this boat holds all of our hopes and dreams, and sets sail for some far off land, never to be seen again if we’re not on it.

Let me get a little southern here and tell you something. It’s hogwash. It’s a made up figment of some person’s imagination, and it serves no purpose other than to cause anxiety over God’s timing, which can’t be controlled.

Paul says it right here in Romans:

For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

Romans 11:29 NIV

God did not call you, purpose you and place his gifts within you to simply throw them away. He who called you is more than able to see his plans through. And what do we do? Take the next step of obedience. Not ten steps or twenty, but the next one.

If the mistakes of humanity could revoke God’s plan, He would not be sovereign. (Tweet that!)

So take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and wave farewell to the invisible boat. If you were meant to be on it, you would be.

 

Linking up with these communities: #LiveFreeThursday, #ThankfulThursdays, #IntentionalTuesday

Chasing Someone Else’s Dream

life unstuck intro

Two nights ago, my oldest son turned our kitchen into a dance floor. With moves I’d never seen or knew he had, he moved around our little rancher with joy.

It turns out, he’d been learning dances like the Sid Shuffle and the Cha Cha at school during what his teacher calls, “brain breaks.” My husband and I could not contain our laughter and smiles as we asked each other, “Where did he get this?”

My hubby and I are not known for our dance moves. Chris affectionately refers to my dancing persona as Elaine from Seinfeld. And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, Google it to give yourself a good laugh.

Turns out, coordination is not one of the gifts God gave me. Marching in the school band and playing instruments is more in my wheelhouse, although I happily move around the floor with my son and join the fun.

What struck me as I watched my son strut around our kitchen is this: he was being himself, complete and unwavering. And if he can carry that carefree abandon with him for the rest of his life, I will be a content Mama.

As a girl, I remember watching a live production of the Nutcracker. Dancers glided across the stage with perfect grace and poise and my soul drank it in like parched soil in need of water.

And as much as I loved every minute of the performance, what filled me most was a sense of longing. A sense that these performers had something deep within them that I lacked.

What I didn’t realize at the time was I didn’t lack anything. I was simply chasing after the wrong dream.

chase

God apportions each one of us with gifts and grace to reflect his glory. When we chase someone else’s gift, our souls darken a light created to shine.

When I pursue someone else’s gift or talent, I become stuck because I can’t see I already have. We are each unique creations made to tell a story of God’s love, but when we compare and are jealous, we turn his story into a competition.

Do you know what our gifts are supposed to create? Unity. Not envy or clamoring for what someone else has, but a complete, full and functioning church working together to spread his love to the ends of the earth.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:16 NIV

God, help us. Helps us to see the grace and good gifts you’ve given to each one of us according to your plan and the story began weaving before the foundation of the earth.

May we work together instead of against each other. May we be a reflection of your glory and not a stumbling stone for others.

GIVEAWAY

Congratulations Patsy! You are the winner of one copy of The Key to Everything by Matt Keller. Thank you for participating.

 

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

*Linking up these communities: Grace & Truth, #LiveFreeThursday

Is There a Key to Why Some Succeed? {Book Review and Giveaway}

life unstuck intro

My first reaction when I heard about the increasingly popular app called Periscope was, “Oh great. Another web tool I have to learn how to use.”

I’ve since grown to like the app and enjoy being able to interact with an audience of readers and fellow bloggers on a more personal level. But if I’d listened to my initial reaction, I never would have tried it.

Our world is making advances in technology at an intense speed, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up, isn’t it? What determined success decades ago does not necessarily mean success today.

According to Matt Keller’s new book, The Key to Everything, there is one element which dictates success in life. And it isn’t wealth, having the right connections, or a even hard work. Yes, all of these elements will help, but according to Keller they aren’t the key.

The key to moving forward in today’s world is teachability.

And like Keller, my computer just highlighted that word as though it’s not in the dictionary. But the author insists it’s an actual word so I’m not going to argue.

Now, you may be asking what a review on a book about teachability is doing in the middle of a 31-Day series about becoming unstuck. Let me assure you, I did consider this when creating my editorial calendar. There is a connection.

Here’s the thing. When we aren’t teachable, we become stuck in life and in our walk with Christ. Throughout the book, the author not only defines what teachability is, but identifies potential pitfalls, highlights characteristics of teachable people, and shows the reader how to redefine success.

The Key to Everything divided into three sections: The Roadblocks to Teachability, The Characteristics of Teachability, and Developing a Teachable Lifestyle. In the Roadblocks section, Keller digs into the life of King Saul from the Old Testament, who had all of the markings of a potential leader but fell into traps like fear, pride, and insecurity.

Even though King Saul had all the potential for a successful leader, he lacked teachability, and the absence of this trait contributed to his downfall.

Keller contrasts King Saul of the Old Testament with the Saul of the New Testament, who later became the Apostle Paul. Although he lacked teachability during the years following the death of Christ, his encounter on the road to Damascus changed him, and he went on to become one of the most teachable and influential Christians in history. Keller says, “One of the greatest threats to our teachability is success,” but Paul remained humble and understood the danger of becoming prideful and arrogant.

key to everything graphic

What I love about Keller’s book is it shows me not only what teachability is, but how to attain it. This characteristic is not some pie-in-the-sky myth but a behavior I can learn and apply to my life.

According to the author, anyone can become teachable. It simply takes desire and willingness to do so.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to move forward in all areas of life. Keller’s sense of humor and fun style make The Key to Everything a joy to read, and the short chapters make it easy to get through them in one sitting.

If you’re looking for a change in your life but not sure how to get there, pick up a copy of this book. I promise you will not be disappointed.


key to everything book cover

 Giveaway: 

To celebrate the launch of this thought provoking and truly life-changing book, I’m giving away a copy to one reader. To enter the drawing, submit a comment below. You can be entered a second time by sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. If you shared this post, please let me know in your comment. I will announce the winner on Friday, October 9th.

*Two copies of this book were provided to me by The Blythe Daniel Agency in exchange for this review. I was not required to give a positive review.

*Linking up with Holley Gerth

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.

Giving God Your Wish List Life {A Guest Post}

life unstuck intro

Today I’m thrilled to welcome my dear friend Meredith back to the blog. I met Meredith via an online writing class and was instantly drawn to her welcoming spirit and authentic words. I had the pleasure of meeting her on person at the She Speaks conference in 2014, and hope to connect again in the near future. One of the things I love about this woman of God is her willingness to lay it all out there- the messiness and the truth- for the sake of drawing others to his Truth.

Meet Meredith-2

Meredith is a perfectly imperfect Daughter of the King, wife to her cattle man and “Mama” to two Littles ages 4 and 7. She spends her days chasing kids and cows on their farm and she shares an authentic glimpse into her heart and life online through her Lens and her Pen. She can also be found encouraging women to THE WAY at thepointedlife.com. For a few tears, laughs and raw inspiration, follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Giving God Your Wish List Life

Mama always said I would wish my life away. Seemed like every day I was wishing for something I didn’t have and something someone else did. Seems like I still find myself in the same pattern – except the wishes I have today are more soul-deep than superficial.

I wish I had skin as tough as my head is often perceived to be.

I wish I was more of a “stand-up” girl, than forever feeling like a “pushed-down” girl.

I wish I could run as free as a river in what I know is mine in Christ, instead of constantly facing the dam of regret that gets me stuck – again and again.

I knew a lot in my head that has a hard time making a home in my heart.

Maybe you’ve been there?

Maybe you are the one who sees only the good in people and then when the bad in people comes out and hits you from behind, you don’t have the strength to pull yourself back up to give love and trust another chance.

Maybe you are a “people-pleasing-good-girl” that has found her way into bad decisions and maybe they happened yesterday or maybe they happened twenty years ago, but the scab stays bloody fresh, because you can’t get past the shame.

Here’s the thing. God can handle our wish-list-life. All of it. The wishing we were not who He made us. The wishing we could just live in the Image He did make us in.

God can handle every bit of it and that’s exactly what He wants to do – take our wish-list life and replace it with His-list of forgiveness, grace, love and truth.

When we give Him our doubts, pain, shame, regret, fear, frustration and failings, He becomes the bridge over the dam keeping us from living in the freedom-flow only He can give.

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He didn’t come for us to live stuck, but to live full and abundant in His truth.

The enemy has one goal- that we would stay mired in the lies he feeds us. The only sure-fire defense against a lie is Truth. The only sure way to distinguish darkness in our lives is to let Christ shine His light in the places we would rather cover and hide, realizing nothing is hidden from Him in the first place.

This living unstuck is a process. There’s no quick fix for a life-time of habits and failings that have gotten us stuck in the first place. But God can handle that, too. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He’s not asking for us to come perfect, He’s just asking us to come.

 

*Linking up with Kelly Balarie to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.

*This post is part of the #Write31Days challenge. You can find all posts for this series here.