Seasons: Why You Might Be Overcommitted, Stressed Out and Irritable

There’s Beauty in Every Season

Somewhere, some-when, in the last several months, I’ve lost my “edge”. Suddenly, the blank page intimidates me again. I have nothing to say. Nothing seems original or worthy of the time and effort to put fingers on keys, nor does anything seem worthy of being read–it’s all been said before, right?

In fact, when I look back at the thousands of posts I’ve written–I’ve probably said it all before.

God’s Word is emphatically clear when it tells us that our tongues can get carried away. They can set an entire forest on fire! So, at what point does a writer say, “Enough?”

I’m wondering if that’s where God has me … I know many authors and writers take full lifetimes to express all God has laid on their hearts. But, I’ve turned a corner in my own vocation, finding greater joy and ease in reading others’ work than crafting my own. So that’s where I’ve been–reading, refining and relishing the work of other writers who call on the One True God. What a joy it is!

We’ve talked about seasons here before. I truly believe one of the hardest things in life is letting go of a lovely season. Think of autumn, always seemingly the shortest season of all. A few crisp days and then suddenly, they bleed into frigid temps and good reasons to stay cozy indoors. Or, summer clings to its very limits, refusing to release those long, hot days to the reprieve of fall.

In life, think of the things God’s given you to do that you absolutely loved! You found your niche–others could tell, too. For a time, you were successful, happy, predictable, comfortable and then … something interrupted your flow. Suddenly, you found yourself starting over, asking God, “What do you want me to do?” At the very least, you found yourself doing something you never expected.

I think that’s why I love the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon says over and over, “There is a season for … “. The interesting thing about seasons though, is one can’t begin until the other ends.

Maybe that’s how we find ourselves overcommitted, stressed out and irritable–we’ve launched into a new season with out telling the last one “goodbye”. 

What season do you find yourself in? Is one fading and another dawning? Are you afraid to say goodbye?

Even as He quiets my mind, heart and fingers, God still speaks. So, for the next season, I hope to share the little things He’s teaching me–the daily wonders, the calls to thankfulness, the stern rebukes, the steadfast love. These posts may be shorter, concise or questioning and even less than profound. But I hope you’ll enjoy this next season with me. After all, there’s beauty in every season.

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Change is Good

Hello Friends,

I want to let you know about a small, but good change coming to Predatory Lies. For a while now, I have felt God tugging me toward the realm of editing.

I am passionate about this. I love reading the work of other Christians. I’m enthralled by the breadth and depth of creativity that God has gifted to us, His children. When I think I’ve exhausted ideas, I read someone else’s work and marvel, “How did they come up with that?”

Already, I have been serving as senior editor of My Daily Armor. Recently, I assumed that same role at The Bottom Line and I’m working very part time as an editor for FaithWriters. 

Alas, there are still only 24 hours in my day and to explore these new opportunities, I have to do a little bit less in some other areas of my life. To that end, I will be posting LASTing Peace every Monday and a written article on Thursdays; so our schedule is changing slightly.

I would love your feedback about this change. Please let me know in the comments what you’d like to talk about either in the videos or here in written form.

May God Bless and Keep You!

Unidentified Calling

How many times have I told you God? I’m not cut out for  this! It almost feels like you’re that parent with pie-in-the-sky dreams for his kid, ambitions for Jonny to be a star baseball player when all Jonny wants to do is learn the guitar. 

I am a self-aware people pleaser. I’m not an entrepreneur or a risk taker in any capacity. I don’t like failure or rejection and I can’t handle large uninsured investments of my time, money or emotional energy. Yet, here I am, holding the second rejection of my manuscript in as many days. What makes you think I’m supposed to be a writer? 

If I didn’t know myself so well, I’d assume that I’m just fool hardy, a glutton for punishment, cocky and pretentious to think I have a story to tell and a ministry to fulfill through the written word. But I know I heard you. I know you put me up to this. 

Just the other day, I was thanking you for finally revealing “my calling”. But now, as I evaluate the outcome of my obedience, I think you’ve got me all wrong. It’s so hard, Lord! I really don’t want to sit in this uncomfortable space of waiting for and listening to you, of pressing on and stepping out in faith again and again. Can’t I just do something cut and dry, trudge along in a rut carved by some previous, daring saint? Is there just a “good Christian” to-do list I can follow?

I prayed this prayer under my breath, not too sure that I want God to hear me. I mean, I don’t want Him to give up on me, to relinquish His great plans for me, but I’m so tired of living in limbo. It feels like none of my projects find any closure. I’m still waiting for feedback from publishers, waiting for the answer to prayers about our family’s future, waiting for that phone call to be returned, waiting for the support group I lead to grow, waiting for the magazine editor’s response, waiting for some affirmation that my life is bearing any fruit for my Father, that I’m on the right path, that I’m doing something right!

God?

Except for this uncanny pressure, like His thumb between my shoulder blades gently propping me up and pressing me forward, I wonder if God really doesn’t hear my whispered prayer. He’s been mysteriously quiet today. But He didn’t chide me for my fears or mock my frustration. He only lay upon my heart one thing: “[Do not] get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time [you] will reap a harvest of blessing if [you] don’t give up.”*

I’m pressing on.

I am blessed to work with, write for and count as friends, dozens of other authors. So, I take great comfort in their humble stories of rejection letters and their gutsy determination to press on.

Here are a few links that have bolstered my spirit:

Chad Allen, by means of Mary Demuth and her humble honesty about failure even after you’ve “made it”. Here’s a priceless one, a cup of tea for the weary creative’s soul. I shared it once before and I’ve Pinned it so I can find it over and over, but just so you don’t miss it: In the Ditch.  And here’s board where I keep scraps of possibilities. Hopefully you’ll find brain stimulation there too. And one more, By Anne R. Allen, with enough wit to put some saucy back in your key strokes and determination to defy discouragement.

In the next several posts I’m going to be “going deeper”. That’s something the Holy Spirit  has been etching on my heart lately. I’m not completely sure what it means, but the more that I explore it, I’m finding it applies to nearly every aspect of my life.

I have a tendency to cast a wide net. I reach farther, do more and often give up quickly on the things that seem to have the least potential. Then it’s off to the next interest, praying this ambition is more promising (honestly, praying that maybe I found God’s sweet spot for me). Anxiety wells the longer it takes for an effort to blossom. Pure fear takes over when God seems to tie my hands behind my back. Wait He says, kneel here until your knees wear a deep indentation in the carpet.

What are the things that make you question whether you’ve heard God? What were you completely sure of yesterday, that you’re less than convinced of today? How do you know if you’re on the right track? What if you’re not?

*Galatians 6:9

But why do I ev…

But why do I even worry about every moment having to contribute to productivity? We love going there. Our lives are hectic and stressed, and we’re often too ill to take advantage of small breaks. When our son is well enough and we can carve out the time … Why ever not?

For days afterwards, I don’t turn on the noisy radio, or stay up too late surfing on the internet til my eyes turn red and my brain numb. I am able to dwell with silence.

Dry land produces very little, the seed starved of moisture dies, or waits, dormant.

Physical places like these are the luminous corners of my life, the green ditches fermenting wonder.

I don’t visit them nearly often enough.

Comfort food for the creator’s soul…In the Ditch, by Anne-Marie Heckt 

read the rest of this delicious piece here

Because He Lives, Generational Blessings

In the late 1960s, Gloria and Bill Gaither wondered if it was irresponsible to bring new life into the world. Newspaper headlines dripped with despair. The Vietnam War raged and by the end of 1968, over 22,000 American soldiers had died. John F. Kennedy was assassinated that same year, the cost of living rose. Rock and roll music was gaining popularity, eclipsing the wholesome songs of their youth. “Love” and “peace” were being paraded through the streets on rainbow-colored banners and in hazy smoke circles, irrespective of their true source. Peace was expected to follow, “whatever makes you happy”.

A little over a decade later, my own mother fretted about the wisdom of starting a family as morality seemed to decline and the world seemed headed to hell in a hand basket. Did God really mean to bear with His creation much longer? It seemed as though the days of Noah, when “all the thoughts of mens’ hearts was always evil continually”, were replaying on an erie global screen.

In March 1980, the month of my birth year, stories of riots, murders and natural disasters landed in the driveway with every thump of the daily paper. American politics grew steadily more liberal beneath the Carter administration. God was systematically evicted from public education.

Fast forward a little more than 30 years…

On a sunny, delicious day in Dallas, TX, three generations of my family crowded around a circular table in my sister’s kitchen. Rays of warmth poured through open windows and drew geometric patterns across the crumbs of our bagel breakfast; a light breeze stirred the ribbons of steam rising from mix-matched coffee cups.

“Why do I deserve to be here?” the thought was half prayer and joined my heart’s whispers of thankfulness to heaven. Why, in the midst of a crumbling economy, school shootings, talk of death panels, government shut downs, broken homes, starving countries, racism and deception, am I allowed to bask here in the love of family, the promise of life, the comfort of fellowship and full bellies?

Across the table, I saw my dad’s eyes shimmer. They always do that when he’s thrilled to bursting with the blessings of our High King. Next to him, my mother cradled her newest grandchild, gulping air into tiny lungs less than a month exposed to oxygen outside his mother’s womb. Each of my three sisters pushed back from the table, one teetering on the back legs of her chair just as we were warned not to do as little girls. “Baby Hay”, so nicknamed by the squirming toddler in my lap rested quietly on the floor nearby. And I leaned forward to press my cheek to the soft pigtails of my niece. At her behest, I sang, Jesus Loves Me, to her, “again”, hushed so as not to interrupt the ebb and flow of conversation, like a peaceful tide unchecked by second thoughts.

Daddy pulled an envelope from his lap under the table and reached across, placing it in my hands. Mom produced a large shoebox at the same time.

“These are for you,” she said.

I must have looked surprised. None of their new or expected grandchildren were mine, so there was no occasion to shower me with gifts. Christmas was fast approaching, but none of us were ready to admit that, let alone begin shopping for gifts. My birthday had come and gone this year.

“You’ll understand when you open it,” Dad said.

I peeled the paper from the box and lifted the lid. Folded back and forth upon itself lay a blue and white, latch hook banner. Immediately, I remembered it. Now my own eyes shimmered, and I pulled it out, stretching it to the full length.

“Because He Lives”.

About a year ago, I began signing most of my letters and emails with that closing phrase. I did it mostly because “Sincerely”, “In Him”, “Love”, “Yours Truly” and “Blessings”, seemed over done. But I had no idea why this particular line came to me, or why it filled me with pure pleasure to place my name beneath the assurance. “Because He Lives”. It just seemed so…me.

As my parents’ first born, the latch hook banner once hung in my nursery. I claimed it as my own, even though it hung in each subsequent nursery as my sisters arrived. But as an adult, I accepted the fact that it would most likely hang in one of my sisters’ nurseries. Without children of my own, I hardly expected to be given the handmade treasure.

“Open the envelope.” My mom gestured.

Still wordless, I placed the banner in my lap and began to read.

“The lyrics to this song have held true, are true and will continue to hold true. As you have heard many times before, God placed this song on my heart when I was fearful of ever having a family. He showed himself faithful time and time again in raising our family. He took two broken people who love Him and brought four beautiful girls into the world. And now through His faithfulness He has started four more wonderful families. Families that He will continue to do His work in, “because He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…”.

Suddenly, I knew why God had given me this precious phrase, “Because He Lives”. Every generation has grown up in the darkness of their own age, in the particular ills that beset those years. Personally, I was accosted by the worldly demands to have a perfect body, be self-sufficient, brutally self-disciplined and in control. I fell beneath the blows of an eating disorder and many nights I wondered if God would simply relieve my pain through death. He refused.

After each wave of fierce battle, as I lay panting and still stubbornly broken by sin, Father God breathed hope into my spirit. My journal is replete with the question, “What makes life worth living for those who do not know Jesus?”

For 15 years, God held my frail spirit in His hands; He must have exhaled the breath of life into my lungs over and over again. In time, I drank that breath deep. Because He lives, I saw purpose lingering in front of me like light filtering through a dust storm. Slowly, I regained my health. The only reason I have for finding life worth living is “Because He Lives”.

We live in a fallen world. Christians are full aware of the of spirit of anti-Christ in their own age. (1 John 4:3) Even the apostle John identified it in the fledgling years of the early church. But, we also live in a redeemed world. For those who believe in Christ’s substitutionary payment on the cross, there is reason to bring new life into the world. Indeed, it is God’s great glory to push new generations through human oneness into the world of His creation – The world, so loved by God that He sent His one and only Son that everyone who believes may have eternal life through Jesus Christ. (John 3:16)

I remember a small plaque that perched on the shelves of my parents’ headboard when I was young. It read:

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on. ~ Anonymous”

Bill and Gloria Gaither grasped that truth and memorialized it in song. The sweet melody etched itself into my mother’s heart one morning in church as she agonized fearfully about the future of her children. And then, that same truth preserved my life when I too wondered at the purpose for living in a hurtful, difficult world. The truth remains, “Because He Lives”.

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;

He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Chorus

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Chorus

Why I Create

They called it re:Write. As I sat my bum in a chair pinched between two other wannabe writers, (or perhaps they’ve already arrived and confidently call themselves “scribes”, as such) tears welled in my eyes.

Apparently, not enough of my life is “re:Writing” to make blip on a publisher’s radar. Apparently, the spontaneous energy that itches at the tips of my fingers and prickles my mind when there’s no paper in sight, isn’t really what good books are made of. Apparently, almost nobody reads anymore. Apparently, the mysterious romance of author and pen, discovery and syntax, melody and imagination just isn’t enough. And apparently, even a message from God, a testimony of redemption, this welling glory in my chest, a conviction to share Gospel through story, to wrap my story up in His story, just may not be newsworthy.

Between masters of market analysis and prestigious publishers, an author was sandwiched. Ted Dekker took the stage in artsy array, as if he’d clothed himself from the quirky Austin shops on his way to the conference. His message entranced me and coaxed even more tears through the rivulets already marring my makeup.

It was almost as if he implored me not to be there. His call to my artist-heart was that sweet-sorrowful voice of Create, wooing me to endure. I wept, fearful that in twelve more hours of facts and figures, the voice would be drowned out. Back in my room last night, I sobbed.

I picked up the program, willing myself to will to go back, to face the cold, hard truth of the dismal potential of publishing.

re:Write. This call to make something of my words is almost the same as what propelled my earlier years of an eating disorder – an effort to prove I’m exceptional at something. I imagine if someone would just validate my words, pluck my story from the slush pile and be astonished at its merit, then, then, I will be someone. My life re:Me, re:MyWriting will define me.

I’m sure dozens of people are spurred on by such messages. I know that their SMART goals drive them to succeed; I know they know what success looks like. I know they will beat me in this race for literary recognition. But, I’m also sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, trapped, shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of others pressing to realize the same dream, haunted by the fact that only a few of us can possess it.

You see, I can’t write regarding writing. I can’t think regarding writing. When I do, I find myself tangled in the concepts I’m trying to convey, confused by my own story, caught up between the needs of a reader, the demands of a publishers and the Reason. THE reason. That’s it. I have to write for a reason, and that reason has to be beyond myself, beyond numbers and platforms and pie charts. I write re:Jesus.

I first sat down to write because I had a story. I had a powerful tale of a damsel in distress rescued by her one true Love, a Love who had pursued her before she ever knew His name. But it was more than a powerful story, it was a pervading story, oozing through my pores, from the inside out, shimmering on my skin, transforming me. And as long as I wrote from that place at my Redeemer’s side, staring up at Him in awe and gratitude, the words flowed. He is my Reason.

Sitting in the conference, I felt as if I was trying to write from a distance; squinting to see a becoming profile of my Lover, attempting to place Him in the best light, then pausing to evaluate myself and impose one story on top of the other. But I can’t see the real story from there. It’s clearest when I’m standing right next to Him, when He illumines, when I am focused so intently and intimately on Him that I can scarcely see the distinction between us.

So, I left the conference. For myself, pressing my story into palms, seeing my story in another woman’s eyes, holding her shaking shoulders and angling her just enough that she can see Jesus, sharing my story over coffee and in long letters, declaring my redemption on parchment that may never have spine or cover art or rave reviews – it is enough. It is more than enough. It is who I was meant to be and how my story was meant to be told.

My life re:Jesus.

Finding and Recognizing Truth

Just today I “met” Amy Hunt through Emily Wierenga.  I am so ecstatic, thrilled, elated, warmed, touched – HUGELY HAPPY – to find my heart interpreted in her words!

There is no other way to share what I have read with you, than to allow you to read it for yourself. No paraphrase. Enjoy the pulse of Father’s heart in the words she shares.

This truth is hard to admit, yet I’m believing my obedience to telling is a must for me. Worship to Him. 

I’m a writer. I have a lot of work to do yet to improve this craft, but at the core of who I am is a writer. I also have a passion to encourage people. If I were to get paid for what I feel called to do, it might be different. Though, I fear it might feel awkward and expectation-like. I don’t write to meet deadlines and I don’t follow the steps on self-marketing to increase an audience. I write because it’s a must do for me. A living obedience. Writing is my worship.

The image, as well as the quotes, are a  re-post from Amy’s blog: A Rock 4 Him