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! 🙂

The life of a rose

my sister and I cutting roses with Mama Ruthie (my great grandmother)

my sister and I cutting roses with Mama Ruthie (my great grandmother)

I realize that I have gained quite a few new followers as of late. I’m ecstatic to grow that “following” (I don’t actually know what to call it. Fan base is the other phrasing but it’s weird to think of having fans.) But as the readership grows, I recognize that many of you know little to nothing about me. Of course, I recommend going to my about page, but I want to share a little of my heart with all of you.

My dream is to be an author and speaker. While my first book is in it’s final design phase (SUPER exciting BTW), the speaker thing is still in it’s infancy. As a mother of two young girls, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There is a lot going on but I will welcome the opportunities when they do come to fruition. Within both of those realms, one thing that I never want to loose is the genuine sincerity that I feel toward the things that I write about and the topics I speak on. When I write and when I speak, I ask God to reveal himself through my words. That’s the goal. In everything I say, whether through the written word or spoken, I want to bring God glory.

So I view my life kind of like a rose bush. You see, when you first come upon a rose bush it is–for all intensive purposes–a thorn bush. People are put off by it. No one particularly goes out of their way to buy, let alone plant a thorn bush in their yards and gardens. But then as it begins to mature, buds begin to develop. When they first reveal themselves, they are often muted in color but precious and beautiful. They can be perceived as innocent and untouched. Then the excitement really sets in as they open up into a mature rose. Colors radiate and astonish, varying in degrees of pinks, reds, purples, oranges, yellows, and white. The smells are unique to the variety and almost intoxicating. But I especially love as they continue in their maturity, just before they begin to wilt.

My great-grandmother loved roses. She had a rose garden on the side of her home, in full view from the Florida room so they could be enjoyed no matter the weather. Because of this, she often had roses in different vases and dishes throughout her home. A few were still just buds, but what I remember seeing the most were the ones who had been cut and initially displayed at the peak of their maturity. Though, as time passed, they continued to mature and open to that point just before wilting and eventually browning. The color wasn’t as vibrant as it once was. You can see where insects or frost have damaged some of the petals. But in that state, open to the world, there is a genuine peace that is displayed. The rose has grown, matured and fully blossomed. It’s as if it is saying, I’ve fulfilled my purpose and I am completely satisfied in the life I’ve lived.

This is how I understand my life. When I was born, I was born into a world of thorn bushes. We all were (are) a little rough around the edges and if handled incorrectly, we won’t hesitate to prick you. But when I accepted Jesus as my Savior and began to mature, innocent and precious buds began to form. They brought excitement and energy–there’s hope for her after all! But what I am so excited about is that while I am no longer a rose bud, I know that I still have yet to show the true brilliance of colors that God has designed for me. The unique fragrance of my passions and dreams. They splendor that is shown when opened up to the world at just the right moment. Even beyond that, what I look forward to is in the years to come, long after that splendor fades. I look forward to those moments, like my great-grandmother’s roses, when I have matured and allowed God to utilize me for His glory. I look forward to resting peacefully in that satisfaction that while I may have some bruises and signs of wear and tear, I have done what God has called me to do to the very best of my ability.

So as I continue on this journey, and as I invite you to come along with me, know that my desire is to be real, genuine, and sincere. Sometimes that shows itself through my thorns and for that I apologize up front (kind of–depends on what it’s about). But I want you to know that I am so grateful to have people to journey with.

Investing blood, sweat, and tears

Today, I sold a little piece of my soul.  Yup, I joined a gym.  Though it’s the YMCA, so I feel better about that part of it.  But every 15th of the month until I tell them otherwise (with at least a 5 day notice), my bank account will take a hit.  Up side, that hit to my bank account also covers childcare so I’m able to go and workout while my kiddos go share germs and toys with other kiddos, learning important social behaviors (hopefully more positive than negative).

This morning that meant 1 hour to myself, feeling completely overwhelmed by the equipment (even though I have used it before, though I am horrible as establishing a good routine of which ones to use on what days), and comically amused at the old men exercising in slacks and a button down shirt.  Really.

But in the effort to better myself, my husband, and our family, we made the decision to make the investment.

I know, tons of people have a gym membership, so what?

It’s all about investment.  I have shared my dream of having an organization that serves as a faith resource to teenage girls and the first of the 4 areas of focus is “yourself.”  This is all about young ladies recognizing that Jesus said that the greatest command was to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength (Mat. 22:38). To do this means investing in the relationship.  I hope to inspire a love for the word of God in young ladies that will then influence the rest of their lives.  This is done in two parts: daily devotions and a question forum.   Getting in the Word of God and growing in knowledge of who he is.

The second area is “friends.”  Jesus continued that the second greatest command is to love others as you love yourself (Mat 22:39).  Once you yourself are on a solid path, the next circle of influence is the people you hang out with.  Your friends.  I hope to provide small group materials to empower young ladies to reach out to their friends, who hopefully will jump in at the first step and have a relationship with God.

The third area is “community.”  This is where “faith in action” comes in to play.  Whether they need volunteer hours or they are looking for a service opportunity to do with their small group (see the second area of focus), we would provide a list of organizations/companies that have already said “yes, I would be happy to have some teenagers volunteer.”  Including a contact name and phone number.

The fourth area is the “world.”  We as believers are called to share Jesus

“And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)

My prayer within this section is that other mission agencies that travel around the world on short term trips will be willing to partner with us to allow students to travel and serve worldwide.  They would officially be serving through that organization (their requirements and expenses, etc.), however, we would act as a liaison and help the students coordinate all of the details that they need for the trip.

The idea behind the organization I am dreaming of is all about investing in the lives of young ladies.  It’s about meeting them where they are at in this moment, and helping to give them the resources to move forward in their faith.  Just as my family decided to invest our time and money into a gym membership for our physical and mental well being, this organization invests in teenage girl’s lives for their eternal well being.

Some areas that you can be praying for me in this:

  • Website.  Obviously this is all done through a well organized website that is easily accessible and easy upkeep.
  • Finances to be able to afford the bare necessities (the website cost and development, as well as continual upkeep, trademarking names, someday down the road a salary for myself, other writers, IT, and finance  and marketing departments)
  • Connections.  Deep down, I’m an introvert and so stepping out and initiating connections is somewhat of a challenge for me.  BUT, I need to work within the community to have options available for volunteering as well as initiating the conversation about possible partnership for overseas mission opportunities.
  • Wisdom for material to write (to get everything up and running, I need devotions pre-written to get them posted daily and curriculum for at least several small group topics)
  • Time.  Right now, I am a full time mom and wife.  My career is my children.  I would like to find that good balance between working toward this dream as well as my other writing dreams, and taking care of my home and kiddos (who are usually napping when I’m blogging).