Every Day

Being with and talking to people is one of my favorite things to do. I am in my element and at my happiest when I get to engage others. Not only that, but talking with people is one of the ways I process my thoughts and feelings. It is not unusual for me to walk away from a conversation with a better understanding of my own mind. Often God works through my conversations by speaking encouragement or conviction through people.

In the last 3.5 months I’ve had many of those energizing, perspective-shifting conversations. I am genuinely amazed at the number of people God chose to invest into my life and how much their investment made an impact on me.

A friend encouraged me to change how I approached life by focusing on the strength of the Holy Spirit and to remember that every day is an opportunity to become more like Christ.

Two of my mentors challenged me to accept my identity in Christ, and to trust that He is using me as long as I choose to trust him.

A cousin forced me to confront fears and worries that were causing me to doubt God’s ability to use me.

A couple encouraged me to have an open heart about going wherever it might be that God calls me, be it here in San Diego, or somewhere else in the world.

My coach reminded me to pursue my vision of encouraging and inspiring others to dig deep into their personal relationships with God.

Multiple couples advised me to continually and purposefully invest time into being in the Word of God, hiding it away in my heart.

After each of those conversations I tried for hours (literally) to write about it, to share what it was that God had done in my heart through those people. Every writing session ended with me frustrated and hitting “delete” a billion times. I didn’t get it.

Well, now I do.

Two weeks ago my parents and a friend convinced me to apply for a two month Marketing Content internship with my school. I was excited to give it a shot, but honestly, I did not expect anything to come from it, but I had an interview. Then I had a second interview. Tuesday afternoon, they offered me the position. I’ll be temporarily moving to Texas in a little over one week.

3.5 months ago I would not have been emotionally or spiritually ready to move out of state to write and study full time. Today I am ready, because God used the people in my life to reveal things about both Him and me that I needed to see, to understand, to act upon.

This opportunity showed me that while those seemingly random conversations with random friends and family did not have an obvious pattern, they did build on one another and served an even greater purpose of preparing me for the next step. The reason I couldn’t write about each of those individual conversations was because the story wasn’t ready to be told yet.

The really cool thing is that I only just realized this in the last two days. Imagine how this will all piece together when I get back to San Diego in November, or in two years from now when I have walked farther and grown more!?

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 

1 Peter 1:13-16

He has given us an adventure that we get to live…every day.

Comfort ≠ Quality

I am currently sitting on my bedroom floor (which is in desperate need of a vacuum) leaning against my sister’s bed in a rather uncomfortable position. I usually end up here, with my back against a metal bed frame, after I have failed to write anything even remotely close to intelligent while sitting comfortably. 

This is the place of last resort—where I sit after I have tried to write on every topic I can possibly think of. So, I have no option but to work in such a way that is physically tiresome, force myself to write something “good” and not move until I have finished. The odd thing is that this is the place that I have written some of my best blog posts (yeah, no, this is definitely not one of them)! 

The moral of the story: comfort does not equal quality. 

You should really read Donald Miller’s post. He inspired me to be uncomfortable when I write. 😉 

English Major

The question I was asked most during my senior year of high school was, “what college are you going to?” I got good at answering that question (along with the why and how), right around the time I went and graduated.

Well, now people are curious about what my major is. I’ve got the answer to this one down—English. HAHA! *fist pump* But then they hit me with the follow up, “what are you planing on doing with that?” 

Aaaaaaaaaah!!! I don’t know!!! Leave me alone!!!!

<<<<>>>>

An English major has stereotypically become the description for the kid who says “I don’t know what I English-majorwant to do with my life, but I like to read and write (and I hate math), so what the heck! I’ll major in English!” For some English Majors this is not true at all, but in the spirit of full disclosure I will be honest and say that this is partially true for me.

When it came time for me to declare a major, I was completely distraught. Torn between Biblical Studies, Journalism, and English, I sat down with my dad just crying about what to do. In fact, I was so confused that I thought about ditching all four of those ideas and going with a BS in Business because it would be practical.

My dad, knowing me very well, promptly discounted that idea and gave me the best advice I could possibly ask for: “Pick the major that has the most number of classes that you will enjoy.” My stressed shoulders came down from my ears. It was so freeing. He gave me the permission that I wouldn’t give myself—to learn what I wanted to learn.

A few days later I walked into my dad’s office, gleefully smacked a degree fact sheet on his desk and declared myself an English major. He started laughing hysterically. I asked “What?!” Between laughs he said, “Oh, it’s just that that is the worst major you could choose for getting a job right now.” Before I could start crying again, he stood up and gave me a big hug, “But it’s what I want you to do. I don’t want you to be stuck doing something you hate. This is good.” 

<<<<>>>>

English-Major-2My dream job is to eventually be a wife and a homeschooling mother who writes on the side. The first two parts of that career (wife and mother) are not things that I can really plan for; however, I can make plans for writing…hence the English major.  

While God is the only one who knows what my vocation will be, I have hopes to expand this blog, write books, freelance, as well as teach and tutor in writing. It is around these hopes that I am choosing my classes, my reading, and my mentorships.

Currently, I am beginning the process of writing my first children’s book. This story, inspired by real life events and relationships, has been in the back of my mind for the last 6 years and I believe that now is the time to start working on it. My ultimate goal is to have this book ready for publication by the end of 2014. So all I have to do is write the book, get an artist to illustrate the book, and a publisher to publish the book. Easy, right?

While this project might not seem typical of an English student, it is something that I am passionate about. More importantly, the story that I am writing is fulfilling a greater vision that I have of encouraging and inspiring others to draw closer to the Lord.

I guess we’ll see what happens!

 “I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.” ~ Charlotte Brontë

Afraid to Fail

Last week my professor challenged me to write both a vision statement (where I want to go) and a mission statement (how I am going to get there) for the next 2 years of college. The foundation for these two statements was the list of strengths, motivations, and spiritual gifts that I have been finding in myself over the last few weeks of the course.

Where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign. – Victor Hugo

Creating those two statements was not too difficult for me. I know some things I want to do, so the planning and dreaming is fun! For some reason, though, my next assignment has me terrified. This week I am supposed to write two goals— one long-term and one short-term—based on that mission statement. I have to actually back up my plan with action. 

I have never thought of myself as being afraid of failure. How could I? I have failed so many times I thought that I might be immune to the fear of it. But here I am—fearful that my dreams and ideas won’t work the way I want them to.

These dreams of mine are not secret or radical. In fact, a few of you have probably even heard me talking about them. But that’s all it was: talk.  Behind the scenes, for almost the entirety of 2013, my best friend was trying to get me to actually go start something [*hint* write something].

I always had an excuse—an obstacle that I created for myself to postpone action. I knew that starting something would require me to put time, energy, and creative effort into something that might flop.

Yeah, no more excuses.

 <<<<>>>>

 Want some more background? I suggest reading my last post, College Decisions, here.

And yes, my post on being an English major is coming within the week.

Organized Mess

My life—composed of school, work, family, friends and ministry—is relatively busy, but it is not half as busy as my mind is. To be sure, my mind is busy because of my life, but my point is that there is a lot of thinking and growing going inside my person that is not necessarily visible to the world outside.

I am making life decisions, not about school, work etc., but about who I am and who I want to be as a person.  It’s really not as deep as it sounds. Essentially, God is walking me through many lessons about self-control, patience, trust and strength. Like I said, a lot is happening and I have a lot to process.  It is good; I am growing so much.

Currently, I have a list of about 10 blog post ideas (all related to the things I am learning in life right now) in an Evernote document on my computer.  My plan is to begin writing on each of these ideas in the coming weeks—one at a time. It will be my way of learning to articulate the mess of thoughts that seem so organized in my own mind.

Oh, one of those lessons I’m learning is how to follow through on my own goals. *cough* I guess we’ll see how this goes!

Sphere of Influence

My junior year in high school I sat at my computer kicking myself for picking such a difficult essay topic—the definition of love. I had many thoughts and ideas to try and fit into a short paper, but I couldn’t seem to get past my thesis.

All I could do was to keep typing out whatever came to mind and then hit backspace until the right words came out on the screen. The quote by Isaac Singer, “The waste basket is the writer’s best friend” never felt truer to me.

As I struggled to get over my writer’s block, my friend encouraged me with these seven words: All writing should come from the heart.” This friend was seeking to help unlock whatever it was that I really wanted to say, how I really wanted to say it and what I really thought—to make it personal.

Those words have stuck with me for the last 1 1/2 years of writing. Every time I write a blog post, a letter or a journal entry, that phrase pops to the front of my consciousness, reminding me to be honest about who I am and what I think. This is the internet—it would be easy to put up a screen in order to skew peoples’ view of who I really am. But that phrase has kept me transparent and real.

A month or two ago I mentioned all of this in a “matter-of-fact” way to the friend who had helped me with that essay and I got a “really?! I don’t think I even remember that!” He had no idea that his words had made that much of an impact on me…or that those words were even capable of having such an impact on me.

The fact that I chose to listen to my friend’s encouragement has led to some rather open posts about my own spiritual struggles and life-battles. As a result, I have had the blessing of giving back to the people who have invested in me, and who have spoken into my life by writing about how they’ve blessed me. I have touched a few friends, family members and random people on the internet who I will probably never meet. All by being open, by writing from my heart, by sharing my story.

You will never know the profound effect that your words can have on a person’s life. Your sphere of influence might be doubling without you even knowing it…

~~~

An quick endnote:

My last three posts (Me? An Artist?, Not Drowning, Girl at the Beach) make the list of my favorites, but they were spread out over a long period of time. It’s time for me to get focused and a little more regular with my writing.

As of now, September 2013, I am going to be doing a bi-weekly publication. It’s not as often as I’d like, but due to school, work and another writing project, it’s really all I can give. They’ll make a writer of me yet…

Me? An Artist?

Insecurity is one of the most difficult struggles of my life. My heart has to fight against the temptation to find security in the affirmation and acceptance of people around me, rather than in my relationship with God. I have to refute the lies of inferiority and ungifted with the truths of loved and purposeful that I read in Scripture. It is by His grace that I am where I am—secure and confident in Christ—because of His Word, observant parents, and loving friends who have chastised and prayed for me over the years (and continue to do so today).

Well, even as I have grown significantly over the years, I believe that God has been gradually showing me that there are still parts of my self-image that need tweaking. To be specific, He is addressing my negative and disparaging thoughts about my own writing.

About 5 months ago I sat with my two friends/mentors Rich and Sarah. We were discussing art and my utter lack of talent in that arena. I mean, I wouldn’t exactly call the shading on my stick figures inspired. Essentially, I have never considered myself an artist, and I’ve always been self-deprecating about it…while feeling a little stupid that I can do zip.

Well, as the conversation progressed Rich told me that my writing is a form of art work. First I laughed at the fact that he called blog posts an art and then second that he called my blog posts artwork. I asked sarcastically if he had even read any of my posts lately. He gave me a “look” and then told me that if I couldn’t see how my writing was art, I needed to get my eyesight fixed; and if I still denied it, I was under false humility.

Ouch.

That conversation began God’s work in me as he planted this seed of thought in my mind—maybe what I write is art, maybe it is beautiful, maybe it is important. Then, two weeks ago, I stumbled across this video—spoken word—created by Jefferson Bethke called The Greatest Artist of All Time.

There was one line in that poem that flashed me back to Rich and Sarah’s kitchen table:

“Stop saying that you’re dirt, stop saying you’re scum of the earth. You ought to be careful what you say about someone else’s work. Because if we have trusted in Jesus, we can stop saying we’re filthy. I mean, all that is, is pride clothed in false humility.”

That video hammered the point home for me. I am His artwork, and by continuing to cut myself and my own creativity down, I am telling God that he did not do a good enough job with me. God is tired of me disrespecting his handiwork in my life. It is time to start calling what I am and what I write by their real names–art.

Maybe this short testimony and this video can bring you to a better vision of who you are in God’s sight.

“You are God’s poetry. You were created because someone else was creative. See, long ago he picked up his eternal paintbrush, dipped it in his glory, placed us in his story and said “they will live for me.”” – Jefferson Bethke