Saturday, July 27, 2013

He Met Me on the Hills

There have been a couple of times in the past year where I have kicked and screamed (figuratively...almost) about something I was meant to do. This past week was one of them. Three months ago, I told my friends that I would ride in a bike ride, RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), with the hopes of training and getting into shape. Seeing as how I have only been on a bike a handful of times in the past ten years, I was DEFINITELY counting on the training. We went out about 5 times...and with weather, children, activities, and life...there just wasn't much training done.

The days before the ride (this past week), I freaked out. Actually, I went to a bad place. I started pointing the blame to peer pressure, swearing I'd never commit to anything out of my comfort zone again, and basically making my life and my family's life miserable with my hysteria.

Heck, I couldn't even take my hand of the bike the last time I rode. I-was-a-chicken.

Some might worry about the physical stress after no training, but honestly, I was worried for my SAFETY! I envisioned myself tumbling down a hill and breaking many bones in my body.

Soooooo...what made me do it anyway? Maybe a little peer pressure, maybe my internal competitiveness...maybe reaching the edge of frustration and just taking the plunge. But... I showed up at 6 am on Wednesday morning, and decided to take it one 20 mile spurt at a time.

And I did.

And I kept going.

And I tackled those hills with LOADS of prayer and humility. God met me on the hills. I had no option but to pray. And I prayed for angels to protect my bike on the down slopes, and I trusted in the body He's given me to climb the up slopes. I recited the verses I used in labor.

I needed 2Timothy 1:7 most for the downward hills where I DID use my brake as others sped by, and I did feel like a weenie, and I did fear that I would blow a tire and tumble to an ill fate. I needed this verse very much!
"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment." 2Timothy 1:7

And of course, I used this verse:

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
Two days of nearly non-stop hills, and 100 miles of biking, this NOVICE bike rider crossed into the final town and nearly wept for joy. And I did take my hands of the handlebars...I even spoke on the phone at one point!
I came away with a couple of things from this feat in the heat of July:
1. I have some pretty great friends--like-minded women in Christ, who started out each day in prayer, and gave me plenty of GRACE for my sometimes bad attitude and my slow pace!
2. Mostly, that God will meet me wherever I am at, and truly shares His power when we submit ourselves to Him in our weakness. I could not have done this without Him. I am amazed that He is so faithful!! And having such an intimate time with Him in the struggle of the ride made this trip all the more worthwhile as I abided and He met me on the hills.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

One Sheet Design: For Lindsay Harrel

Here is my first client's one sheet since I started offering design services. Lindsay has a great story! Can't wait to see her success this year!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Mom-Writer's Sunrise

This morning, I forced myself to wake up and do something I wanted to do all week. Watch the sunrise over the ocean. We are in our last day of vacation/second honeymoon. It has been an amazing time to relax, rejuvenate, and just release all the stress from life and parenthood. Funny though, I began the week here, against a vow I had made to myself.

To leave my passion of writing behind.

I wanted complete solitude from everything I focused on up North. :) But, something happened, and I allowed the writing to remain a focus, even as the waves lapped to the shore, and the sand swallowed my feet.

And suddenly, out of nowhere, a giant tidal wave of doubt and frustration threatened to knock me down. Funny thing is, I had just accomplished two big feats in my writing pursuit. It all makes sense now. But these past few days, it threw me into a swirling downward mess.

The pinks and golds of a rising sun took me from the balcony of my hotel room, and sat me right down at the water's edge. I tried to listen, tried to hear God's call for me. What should I DO, Lord? Am I DOING what you want? I am so frustrated with this process. So defeated in the DOING.

Some people might claim to hear the voice of God, clear as the sun's glitter on the waves. I am not one of those people. God doesn't speak to me in an audible way. Today, I begged to hear His voice. I wanted answers.

The Spirit knows better though. I wasn't moved to listen. I was moved to worship. And everything came into focus. Well, not everything, just One thing. It's like I was searching the horizon with a strained zoom lens, and once I zoomed out, clarity sharpened the Image my heart needed most. The answer my heart craved, even against what I thought to be the answer I wanted.

Through a prostrate heart, as prostrate as the sea foam submits to the shore after a crashing wave, I realized the answer to all my questions...all my concerns: God wants me to abide in Him.

That's it.

Nothing more.

He's the One that's in the business of DOING. NOT me. I am worthless if I think that if I just DO something, life will be better, God will be happy, Love will flow freely.

Eh, eh.

No. In a world where DOING is often the answer...where success is built upon a foundation of effort and stress, where power is built upon pushing and trampling those in the way, where...and forgive me for stepping on toes...
the Church is stuck on guilt trips to get the believers to DO...regardless of the Spirit's leading...

I have discovered that nothing is worth anything if the DOING is my focus. Because it is when I ABIDE, when I allow the LORD to be in control, just as He's in control of the ocean waves--they never stop, they continue to approach and retreat, to swell and to dissipate--God is the ONLY one in control of the DOING.

Only when I ABIDE in Him, and give Him the power to DO through me, will I be moved.

Only in HIM.

What happens when we ABIDE? We worship and fall prostrate. And it's there where we have focus, because it's through the heartbeats of the Almighty that gives us Life. Through the tug of the Almighty's hands that we are led to do. Not because a person, or pursuit, or preacher tells us to DO. It's because when we ABIDE in Him, our heart beats in rhythm with His own. And from the overflow of HIS Love, we DO.

I feel like I've cried an ocean today. And I haven't. But my body feels like it. Such release. Such PEACE. Such abiding.

So, after this long might wonder what this looks like for my writing. Honestly, I was about to throw in the towel on this pursuit to publication before this morning. There are a few things I have discovered after worshiping at the water's edge:

1. I can remember the exact moment God bestowed this craving to worship through stories. It was at a time of my life I had prayed for something more...for something to satisfy amidst the colicky babes, the clinging toddlers, the monotonous days of motherhood (and I LOVE my kids...don't heart needed something else). As much as the Christian writing community talks about writing as a Gift from, I grasped that it REALLY WAS a gift from answered prayer of giving me something more...something all my own. He gave me the outlet at just the moment I needed it most... a mother of three small children, in a season of chaos!

2. With the help of some amazing women (you may have heard of them as the Alleycats), I can finally understand that, because this writing thing is truly a gift, truly an avenue to joy in my life, truly Spirit led to bring me to abiding in Him, publishing really is just a worldly perk. Yes, it's still my desire to see my name in print some day, but it's not the culmination of this gift. Far from it. I think there will be a much grander finale to my story writing, and I will dream that it involves a more Heavenly audience.

3. The DOING is not up to me. Abiding is. And like I said, the writing thing is one way God allows for me to ABIDE with Him. AMEN! Wow, He gifted me in a wonderfully joyous personal way to ABIDE in Him. I feel BLESSED!

My husband and I talked a lot about creation this trip. It's hard not to when you have the vast ocean before you, the rising sun, and the sea of stars at night. And when I sit and allow myself to absorb the creation around me, I burst with an urge to cry and write all at once. If writing wasn't God-given, then could I be so moved to write by merely observing His Handiwork?

Writing is my song. It is my worship. Writing is the pursuit God has given me to ABIDE.

I can't DO. Just WRITE.