Monday, October 24, 2016

Free Write Day 22: Off (by myself with You)

Though I'm not posting this on day 22 of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes challenge, I did first draft it on Saturday, 10/22. I've done some rearranging since, and I worked on it a lot more than five minutes. The / marks approximately where my first five minutes left off.

Saturday, October 22nd, found me at a camp with the high school youth group without my laptop or reliable Internet. The weekend was full of good things-fellowship and deepening relationships and nature and games. Can I stress that again? Good things. But if you're an introvert, I suspect you'll also understand where this poem came from.

I’m off by myself, praying.
Please meet me here.
The company of people is full
Of noise and movement,
Kicking the leaves,
Rippling the glassy lake,
Speaking aimless breezes.
Perhaps You meet them in their movement,
Even as You nudge me to steal away alone to You,
The one who blesses and fulfills.
These fallen leaves, this glassy lake,
These bare trees, we all wait for You.
This chair on the shore, these wrinkled pines,
Seasons of sun and snow.
We will see You again./
When my time here feels too limited and loud
Could You hold the sun and clouds still
Until I’ve lingered long enough
To find Your company?
Only now do I notice the way
Your low-hanging sun hits
The grass flourishing in the lake.
If Your voice is still and small, why
Wouldn’t we stop to hear?
Why push until it takes calamity
to break through the din?
Lord, give quiet to my soul.
Speak to me peace to carry,
Peace to point to You in the midst
Of the swirling action.

To find out more about the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes challenge, visit the link up and intro on Creative and Free. All of my posts written in conjunction with the challenge can be found here.

Off by myself with You. A poem in honor of #Write31Days #5MFW #peacebestill #stillsmallvoice via @novelwritergirl

Friday, October 21, 2016

Parked on the loveseat (Free Write Day 21)

I am parked on the loveseat up in my bedroom with the fireplace glowing before me.

The loveseat is two cushions wide, and there is plenty of space for me here, alone. But I'm not alone. I'm wedged on it with both of my 70 pound rescue dogs. Somehow, though I was here first, the pit bull has snagged almost half the space. The hound is in the gap between me and the armrest, his head strewn over my knee, one paw by my stomach, the rest pressing into my kidney.

Together, we make up a ball of resting warmth.

And that's why I let them up; I am parked here for rest and warmth. But my needs go beyond those a dog could ever fulfill. I'm also here for some moments with my Savior, to learn a few more verses of Psalm 103, which I'm on a mission to memorize.

Bless the Lord, soul of mine. Bless his holy name.

The words are a loveseat for my soul. There was plenty of space for me here alone, but internalizing these passages, I find myself warmed and crowded by the promises and presence of the larger-than-life God.

He crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

PS This post is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes challenge hosted by Creative and Free. You can find the linkup and details here. For all my posts related to the challenge, click here.

Parking on the loveseat that is Psalm 103 #Write31Days #5MFW #FMFparty via @novelwritergirl

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Extraordinary Ordinary Life

I've had the joy of participating in the launch team for Kris Camealy's Advent devotional, Come, Lord Jesus. Today, I'm a guest over on her blog, sharing about part of what I took away from her thoughtful, encouraging new book.

Recently, I have been shown a touch of my smallness. I am not the big deal I would choose to be. I am not rich or well-known. Try though I might, I am not at the top of my field. Few have chosen me.

For Day 10 of Come, Lord Jesus, Kris Camealy writes, “…somewhere in our hearts, resides the desire to be chosen by God for something special, something amazing.”

Me and my stripped-down heart gazed at that line with longing because it’s true. I desire to be chosen by God for something special, but I am just so ordinary. My contributions? Ordinary, too.

But Kris writes, “for those who fear Him, His mercy will stand, from generation, to generation (Luke 1:50). In other words, God has already chosen and will continue to choose us, again and again.”

Each of us is chosen. Yet glimpses of significance, whether temporal or eternal, are rare, and I for one start to wonder, Where is this amazingness to which God called me?

To explore this together, follow me over to

Where is this amazing life God called me to? Discussing @KrisCamealy 's new book via @novelwritergirl

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Free Write Day 19 Notice

A few blocks from my house, one arm of one little tree turns red in July.

When I notice, I know fall is coming, though still far off.

In August, September, and October other trees follow suit.

How odd the change, to go from so green to so yellow and orange and red.

Yellow, a little more understandable, requires a leaf only to lose its blue, let that be soaked back up by the sky. But red? That ought to require a new leaf, because the color wheel shows no red in green.

Still, the leaf manages the extreme change so gradually, its process escapes general notice until the green leaf that sprouted last spring falls red onto the fading lawn.

And then there's me, just a little arm on a little family tree. Who am I that God would be mindful of me?

Yet he notices and works changes in me. Changes that go against my nature, taking a soul born black, washing it in red blood, and bringing it out white on the other side.

PS - This post is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes challenge going on over at Creative and Free. Check out how to join us and browse the link up here. For all my posts related to this challenge, click here.

Noticing leaves and impossible changes God works for day 19 of #Write31Days #5MFW via @novelwritergirl

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lessons from David for the People-Pleasers (Like Me)

My modern conservative Christian mind has trouble with David and all of his wives. Then, I read about his affair with Bathsheba and the plot against Uriah, and I don’t understand how God could’ve chosen this man for such an important role. Yet the Bible says David was a man after God’s heart, so despite his flaws, David was right with his God.

With my God.

And I'd be wise to learn from his example.

An Example of Repentance

After sinning with Bathsheba and murdering Uriah, David says to God in Psalm 51:4, “Against you – you above all – I have sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.” (NET)

Um, hello, David. Bathsheba and Uriah were majorly affected. What about them?

The people-pleaser in me would have a hard time praying the same prayer as David. That part of me would demand I focus more energy on rectifying the situation with people than with God. After all, God forgives. But people? That’s shaky ground.

David’s prayer, however, shows he was most concerned about pleasing God. And though we must care for human relationships and seek forgiveness, pleasing God should also be our number one concern.

Repentance is something to be treated with reverence, not a flippant attitude of "God forgives, it's all good." God is holy. God determines right and wrong. Our sin shows a disregard for him and for that which he created. This is serious business, and we'd do well to let David remind us of this.

An Example of Accepting Grace

Though David did turn to God, repentant, the child conceived during the affair dies as a consequence of David’s sin. David intercedes for the child, but once the child dies, David picks himself up. He knows his heart is once again right with God and there’s nothing more he can do, so he accepts grace and moves on. He doesn’t dwell in regret.

And maybe that’s the biggest shock of this story for me. Not only is David not overly concerned about pleasing people around him, he’s not beating himself up for his failures.

How could he live with himself? How can I learn from him to move on after I fail?

David focused on God, and God forgives perfectly. When we’ve displeased a person, even if we’re sorry, it usually takes a while to get back in their good graces.

Maybe that’s why so many people-pleasers are perfectionists. We know any misstep will cost us our coveted audience of pleased people. We feel guilty and unqualified for the work of God. And in our pain, we judge others, deeming them unqualified as well.

But when we bow our hearts before God for forgiveness like David did, we are completely and utterly forgiven. Forgiven, we’re free to move on.

Then, rather than guilt, grace determines our next steps.

When we accept grace, we are better able to extend it to others, something we’ve been given great power and responsibility to do. Something else we can learn from David.

An Example of Mercy

When the prophet Nathan confronted David with a story paralleling the situation with Bathsheba and Uriah, David said the guilty man deserves to die. But then David assigned a different punishment.

He was going to show mercy, even before he found out he, himself was the guilty party.

Next, Nathan then tells David that God is sparing him from death but that there will be other consequences. I wonder if this is an example of God forgiving us as we forgive others.

A Man After God's Own Heart

David's story is challenging for me because it convicts my perfectionist, people-pleasing ways. I want to be a woman after God's heart. I don't want to waste my life chasing anything less, and David's story shows me quite clearly some areas where I have a tendency to substitute people-pleasing for God-pleasing.

We must seek God’s heart, first and foremost. When we sin and repent, He offers perfect forgiveness to free us from guilt. And we are to extend that to others as we live lives focused not on pleasing people but God and God alone.

P.S. This post is part of the Chosen and Approved series with Jeanne Takenaka and Mary Geisen. Check in on Tuesdays through November 8th for the latest installment as we join forces to untangle our identities from people and perfection. You can read all the posts here.

P.P.S. I don't normally include attributions for the photos I use in my posts because if they're not mine, I've gotten them from a Creative Commons Zero site. However, I was thrilled to find Christian photographer Ben White, whose photographs appear in the body of this post, on, and I wanted to let other Christian bloggers know where to check out more of his work.

We must seek God’s heart, first and foremost. #Chosenandapproved via @novelwritergirl

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Awake and Aware in the Darkness

The yards around me are washed in the diluted ink of nighttime. It’s 12:20 AM.

I am standing outside the white lattice fence that marks my yard.

Technically speaking, I’m trespassing here, standing where my neighbors’ backyards touch toes.

Somewhere in this dark neighborhood, my dog is also trespassing. He jumped the fence, hunting a rabbit, I suspect, and is now speeding around as fast as his four paws will carry him with no regard for property lines, my husband who is biking around to get eyes on him, or me, standing in the dark, trespassing, and trying not to cry.

This is the second dog-related incident to happen inside of one week. The first incident was when, while we were on a walk, a dog charged out of his yard and latched his teeth into our pit bull’s side. The injury required two sedations and three vet visits and counting. And now this. We’ve lost our black hound in the black night and barring a miracle, we won’t get him back until God chooses to lead him home.


The vet once told me hounds were bred for endurance. They’re bred to wear things out.

And I am thoroughly worn out. And at this moment, after a week of consistently disrupted sleep as we care for our pit bull, and after over an hour of running around the neighborhood (sometimes literally) when I should’ve been in bed for that long, my faith is worn, too.

I am convicted that I’m not a fit dog owner. I don’t have what it takes. I don’t understand how so many people own these animals. I don’t understand how I’ve owned one or two dogs at all times for the last fifteen years.

As I pray that God would cause our hound to return or to be trapped by a fence that would enable us to catch him, I feel hopeless. I’m praying, but I’ve been praying desperately with little to show for it for some time now.

It’s still dark. I’m still completely out of control.

When God doesn’t seem to be answering, I call my mom. She doesn’t answer either. I call my brother. Though it’s after midnight, he jumps in his car and starts cruising the neighborhood and doling out a pep talk.

And then my husband finds our dog trapped in a yard with a fence. Just like I’d prayed would happen.

As we turn in for the night after one AM, I look back on the helpless, hopelessness I felt standing in the dark. The dog was only out for an hour and a half. I’m ashamed that I couldn’t have faith that God would work all things for good for at least that long.

I never really understood how the apostles couldn’t manage to stay awake when Jesus told them to in the garden. But I now see how quickly my drowsy faith closes its weary eyes and blocks out the very light they need.

My hound has endurance. My faith? Not nearly as much as I thought.

I eventually fall asleep. I don’t know it then, but the next day, while I’m walking both dogs, another dog will dodge his owner to approach us. Just like the one who bit our pit bull days earlier. I will keep it together through the dog’s circling, but as soon as the pressure is off, I’ll have trouble catching my breath. I’ll fight tears, though no harm was done.

I’ll walk on, a leash in each hand, more traumatized than the dog who is still healing from the bite. I’ll scan the street around myself, and I’ll know I’m not safe. This activity that I’ve done most days for years is dangerous. Contrary to what I’ve experienced in the past, I’ll know dogs sometimes just bite. Sometimes those minor tangles on the sidewalk are major tangles. And if my dog could be bit, I could be bitten, too.


My illusions of safety and control have been shaken. I’m now aware the world isn’t as good and safe as I thought, and my faith isn’t as strong as I thought.

But in the midst of my doubt and frustration that dark night, God was working the answer to my prayer.

My Savior tells me the hard truth lovingly: I have never been safe. I have never been in control.

He says it is good for me to be aware of this, but he doesn’t leave me with that knowledge only. He adds more truth. He reminds me I have always been fully protected from true harm, harm to my soul, by his everlasting, enduring love.

When my faith falters after just an hour and a half, his faithfulness remains sure.

While I was yet a sinner, Christ rescued me.

While I yet struggle, Christ continues to love me, to draw me deeper, to invite me to keep my eyes on him and not the waves. And when I fail, he grips my hand and pulls me back to himself.

When my prayers aren’t answered the way I want, he is still working the best for me, his daughter.

When something worse happens than a pet emergency, he is still on his throne. When tragedy strikes for real, Jesus still loves me.


At times, we are very aware of the darkness around us. We are trespassing here; this world is not our home. We have been here for hours, praying, and we don’t see the answer emerging through the shadows.

But we have the light of the world. We know him and are known by him. Our citizenship is in heaven, and Jesus Christ is faithful to bring to completion the good work he’s begun in us. And though we are not in control, he always is. The lives of those who have gone before us show us this.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NET)

Open the sleepy eyes of your faith. Run with endurance.

P.S. This post started as a 5 minute free write in honor of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes challenge hosted by Creative and Free this month. I didn't start by using a prompt, and the five minutes ended at the first star, but as you can see, the story had a long way to go. Eventually, it reached the suggested prompt "aware." For more info on the challenge and to see the linkup, click here. To see my other posts for this challenge, click here.

When tragedy strikes for real, #Jesus still loves me. #faith #endurance via @novelwritergirl

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Free Write Day 10 and 12: Unknown Skies

I am working on a project that has tossed me into unknown territory. As I struggle to figure out what I should be doing here, the rules of the game, the leading of my Savior, I'm struck by how much I do not know.

I've prayed for wisdom, and I must trust that the wisdom I need will be granted as I go (Jeremiah 33:3, James 1:5-6). So I keep putting one foot in front of the other, but the immensity of the unknown rolls overhead like a thundercloud.

In moments when that cloud bursts and showers on me experiences I'd rather avoid, I wonder how my faith has failed me. Did I not turn to God often enough, soon enough? (Can we ever?) Would he have spared me all this if I'd been a better follower?

But he never promised we wouldn't experience cloud bursts. In fact, we're to expect much worse--fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12). He also never promised I would know everything right when I'd like to know it.

Much the opposite. He sometimes leads us through experiences/ we're not meant to understand in the moment (John 13:7), experiences with meaning so deep and just and right that we would never believe it in our human frailty (Habakkuk 1:5), things beyond what we would even think to look for (Isaiah 64:3). For now, God knows them and has kept them secret, and it is up to me to trust that secrets are safe with Him. It is up to me to trust what he has revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Because, despite all the unknowns, God has not left us without a Guide. I don't need to see the way. I don't need clear skies overhead. I need Jesus.

P.S. This post is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Free Writes challenge. I wrote the start of the post to the / in 5 minutes, though I did go back and add the Bible references later. To learn more about the challenge and to browse the lovely posts by others participating, visit Creative and Free's link up here.

To read my other posts for this challenge, click here.

Despite all the unknowns, God has not left us without a Guide. #Write31Days #5MFW via @novelwritergirl

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