It’s more than a hobby…(and a giveaway)

more than a hobbyThis past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Re:Write 2015, a writing conference unlike any other. Where some conferences focus solely on the nuts and bolts of writing well, finding agents, understanding the publishing world, etc., Re:Write touched on all of that (with sessions led by industry leaders like George Barna, Sandi Krakowski, Ted Dekker, Mark Batterson, Esther Fedorkevich, and so many others), but focused instead on the heart of the writer.

If you are called to write, the WRITE, anything less is disobedience. ~Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson)

The heart of the writer can be a scary place. If you are not a writer, let me take you on a little journey.

As you walk up to the edge of the forest, you are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the trees that stand guard. They are strong and mighty, sometimes seemingly impenetrable. You see the scars that have been left, some cut deep through the bark, leaving that place vulnerable for a while until it can heal. The guard can seem intimidating and uninviting, but they serve to protect, not to harm.

As you step past those trees, you step into an open valley that was hidden from the outside. It is bright and welcoming, trusting to all who venture in. The flowers dance to the melody of the breeze, innocently opening to the sunshine above. But there are patches of burnt grasses that contrast to the gentility of the rest of the meadow. Where those burnt patches exist, a tree spouts to serve as a protector. That area will not be hurt again.

Venturing deeper, beyond the guardian trees, and the free-spirit meadow, you come to a ravine. The rocks are jagged and unsteady. A single misstep will guarantee a nasty fall. But despite the danger, you press on, finding a bridge that stretches the length of the ravine, guiding you to safety on the other side.

And once you reach the other side, you step into a place that can only be described as an Eden. The trees here are not so intimidating as they are comforting. The flora throughout isn’t blindly innocent, but rather confident in its beauty and identity. There, at the core, is where the magic of writing exists.

You see, the trees serve as protector against past and future naysayers. They guard the heart and can be perceived as abrasive and off-putting. The innocence of the meadow is the natural joy and childlike faith that is to be a part of every creative. We all have it. But when we get burnt, we try to protect ourselves as to not be hurt again. Then there is the ravine. That is the place of all of our fears and doubts. If we have been burnt enough times, that ravine can overtake the innocence of the meadow. But through trust and faith in Jesus, a bridge is built that connects the meadow to the Eden–the point of creativity and magic.

All writers have their world, and each world looks a little different. But what unites us is the irresistible urge to write and write and write. As Ted Dekker said, “Your writing is mostly your own spiritual practice. It is your healing.” It is how we worship God most purely.

I can make endless excuses not to write:

  • The kids are distracting
  • The house needs to be cleaned
  • Dinner needs to be made
  • It takes too long to get focused and I only have ten minutes
  • I haven’t showered yet and today I have to choose between the two (yes, this was actually a dilemma I have faced and contemplated)
  • and on and on and on…

But it comes back to that ever-so-important question that must be answered before anything else:

Has God called you to write? 

If the answer is yes, THEN WRITE!

I want to encourage any and all of you who are not writers, but are still dreamers. What has God called you to do? What is etched into your DNA like nothing else and you find yourself in a place of actual worship when you do it? Do that. Don’t worry about the details or the reasons not to do it. Step into the identity of who God has made you and own it!

I would love to hear what that is from you. If you don’t want to simply leave a comment below, feel free to email your answer to me at becca@simplylivingthelife.com

I’m going to give away a book to someone who answers, so be sure to respond! 🙂

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Getting Past the Start

It’s coming soon…really soon! I might even give away a signed copy, BUT I need your help. I’m trying to build up my readership (for obvious reasons) and you lovely blog-readers are my starting point. Some of you have followed Simply Living the Life since its inception and for that I am so incredibly grateful. Here is how you can help:

  1. Join my mailing list! There is a link on the sidebar. Super easy, right? (and you’ll get special emails that will alert you to giveaways, let you know about some of my favorite things, and any speaking engagements before anyone else! Awesome right?) —->
  2. If you’re not already, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  3. Finally, let your friends know! Get them on the bandwagon–the more the merrier! Share posts, statuses, and tweets. Get them excited. And then tell them to do the same thing! 🙂

Okay, so here is a sneak peek at the back of Getting Past the Start…(and if you follow my Instagram, you can see my sneak peek of the cover!) 😉

“Do you ever feel so overwhelmed by the idea that God has a purpose for your life that you become immobilized by fear?

Do you wonder, How badly can I mess this life thing up and still fulfill this purpose?

God has a plan for our life. This simple phrase meant to encourage so often scares us into idleness. We don’t know what to do, so instead we do nothing and fear what will happen if we fail. In Getting Past the Start, Becca encourages you to be bold in your faith and run the race that God has placed before you with confidence. Through topics like the gifts of the Spirit and the will of God, you will find that you are more prepared to handle this life than you previously believed.

It’s time to get over the fear of messing up and trust that God has readily equipped you to fulfill your purpose. Starting today, we will move past the start and on toward the glorious finish that awaits.”

Interrupted (review and GIVEAWAY!!!)

interrupted_banner_160x600I’m super excited because this blog includes the first giveaway I’ve ever done! (Are you excited to potentially win? You should be!) I’m also excited because my head is reeling with possible discussion points. You see, last week I finished reading Interrupted: When Jesus wrecks your comfortable Christianity by the incredible Jen Hatmaker. In case you missed it, I mentioned the lead up to this giveaway here.

So I began writing my review as I read through the book. It is separated into 5 phases so I read in that same format. I began by giving detail to each section and then realized that in doing so I was taking away the impact the book will make on the individual. What I mean is that while you read Jen’s journey through this part of her life, you will have the great possibility that God will begin to shift your own heart and focus. If I were to share each perspective of my own journey through the book, I would risk robbing you of your own amazing transformation. So I deleted the entire post and started over.

The amount of amazing quotes that I highlighted throughout the book are massive. Jen has an incredible way of making the reader feel as if you are a friend listening to her tell her story over a cup of coffee. Of course this particular friendship will force you to reckon with your approach to this thing we call Christianity, not in your beliefs as much as how you exercise those beliefs.

We as believers have allowed ourselves to be conformed to all that is easy, convenient, and comfortable. Interrupted creates opportunity to have conversations that we so often life to avoid. It deals with the reality that the church (as it was originally created) was not about production and getting people in the door. It was about us (as believers) going out and sharing the love that Jesus has shown us.

“He is so utterly identified with the afflicted that there is nothing more obedient, more pleasing, more central than serving Him in the marginalized.” (page 109)

Are we as a church sitting comfortably in our pews, never wanting to get our hands dirty? Or are we out in the world that Jesus loves so much He was willing to die for it, serving everyone not just those we can “identify with?”

Even if you don’t win, I hope you will pick up this book and take the time to read it and stew on it a bit. Allow God to work in your heart to give you the inspiration to do the work that He has planned for you. Trust Him to lead you to places you may have never ventured on your own, but know that in doing so, you are serving Jesus himself.

Ok, so now on to the best part: GIVEAWAY!!! All you have to do is complete the entry form (select the link, it will take you to the form) and there will be a random drawing to select the winner of the book! I’m running this from now until 11:59 pm (CST…because I’m in Texas) on Wednesday. You can enter once each day. Tell your friends, neighbors, even enemies (maybe they can benefit from winning this book), but GET ENTERED AND GOOD LUCK!interrupted_page-28

Interrupted Book Review (coming soon!)

I am so ecstatic to announce that I have been selected to receive a copy of Jen Hatmatker‘s newly revised and expanded book: Interrupted.  If you don’t know this amazing author/speaker/blogger, here’s her bio:

Jen Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excessand A Modern Girl’s Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.

 

Seriously, I want to be like her when I grow up.

Why does this matter to you, my dear friends?  Why, because this is going to spark some awesome conversations in the very near future!  It will also result in a review of the book (and there is rumor that there might be my first ever giveaway if you’re lucky!)

So, just wanted to share this awesome news, encourage you to check out Jen’s page (and her books), oh and just because I love you (and because I was given the link), if you want to buy Interrupted for yourself, you can get it for 20% off right here.

Attacks against identity

I am up to my ears in edits and self-doubt.  I want to submit my manuscript next week, but every time I read through it, I find something new to change (shift, reword, delete).  My mind races with all of the possibilities of “what if.”

What if no one buys it?

What if the people that do buy it are disappointed and never want to buy another one of my books again?

What if I fail?

Yesterday was an extremely trying day of doubts.  While trying to take honest critique and improve, I found myself wallowing in my own self pity before any of my writing has even had a chance to garner the negative impact I was subconsciously bracing for.  I want to grow and improve, but I also want people to like me (yes, even I can be a people pleaser in certain areas of my life).

What I was wanting to hear was an assurance of my skills, but what I needed to hear was an assurance of my identity.

Who am I?  Well, I’m a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mom.  I’m an avid Gator fan and a 5th generation Floridian.  I’m a writer and a wannabe foodie.  But more than anything, I am a daughter of the King.

My self-doubt wasn’t because I think I’m a terrible writer.  I think I write jumbled thoughts that often times need to be unraveled, but I think I have good things to say.  If I truly believed I was terrible, I wouldn’t waste my time and money to pursue my dream of being a successful author.  My self-doubt was because in those moments, I forgot that my worth is not built upon my job.  My worth is built upon my identity.

Satan likes to attack us in a number of ways.  Temptation can take the shape of anything.  Desire for money or esteem.  Longing for companionship. Belief that we aren’t pretty enough or smart enough or good enough.  But the real challenge is recognizing that all of those attacks and temptations are rooted in one thing: getting you to forget that you are so incredibly valuable that Jesus took the form of man, lived a perfect life, and then died a horrendous death to pay the penalty for you.

What I do is relative, but who I am is monumentally life changing.

Even if I fail, I am not a failure because God works all things “for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)  The Bible is full of “failings” that God was able to redeem for His glory.  Who am I to doubt what the power of God can do through my own life when I have the faith enough to believe?

Matthew 19:26 says, “With God ALL THINGS are possible.”  I just need to remember and trust that.  I am not working for man.  I am not writing for man.  I am surrendering my hopes and dreams and greatest desires to the will of God, knowing that His will is to bless me.

Who am I?  I am a daughter of the King of the universe, Author of creation, and Savior of my soul.  I am His, and I believe that I am solely who HE says I am.  Forever.

Sanctified–It’s Time to Break Out

Sanctify.

verb. to make holy, set apart as sacred, consecrate.

I’m trying to finish up some editing to submit my book to the publisher but have also begun to look towards my next project(s).  I currently have four ideas bouncing around.  One that fascinates me is this idea of being sanctified.

The whole idea of Israel being a people “set apart” is so incredible to me.  God chose them.  He was active in their lives (whether they were paying attention to him or not).  And he gave them incredible promises because they were his chosen people.

As Christians, we now have the privilege of claiming their history (including the amazing promises) as our own.  But this is where things get a little hairy.  I believe that most believers have yet to take claim to what is rightfully theirs.  I believe that most of us still live as though we are bound and chained to whatever burdens we carry and never adhere to the status that God Himself has given to each and every person who believes.

That’s what I’m hoping to explore.

  • What does it mean to be sanctified?
  • How can we break free from the burdens that enslave us?
  • How can we allow God to then change our status accordingly?

Am I living out a life as one “set apart” and “made holy?”  Are you?

—What does it mean to you to be sanctified?  I would love to hear your thoughts!