Here I Go …

April 2014. I took my first blogging challenge.

I’ll admit it: Before I ever started, I thought I wasn’t going to succeed.

But I did. Somehow I blogged my way through the alphabet, from A to Z, in the month of April. Twenty-six posts in thirty days! At the end, my fingers were sore, but the pain was worth it.

I learned that not only do I enjoy writing for me, but I enjoy writing for others as well. And to my delight, I discovered an amazing community of bloggers I never realized existed … bloggers who encourage me both in my Christian faith and as a developing writer.

So … I’ve decided to do it again. I’m taking on the A-to-Z Challenge and once again will spend most of my spare time in April typing away.

 

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015]

 

A lot of bloggers who take the A-to-Z Challenge will have a theme. Perhaps a gardener will blog through the alphabet about different varieties of flowers, or a cook might share different recipes throughout the challenge.

Last year I tried to come up with a theme, but never did. Literally, God gave my my writing topic each day, one post at a time.  (You can read all about that here, which is my “A” post from last year when I admitted my aspirations to blog through the alphabet in April.)

Truthfully, blogging without a theme and waiting on God to give me an inspiration for each day’s post was something of an exercise in faith. Literally, there were days when I had absolutely no idea of what I would write about until I sat down in front of my laptop and prepared to blog.

So I asked God to allow me to have a theme for this year. Actually, I didn’t so much ask as I pleaded with HIm. And this is what He gave me:

A Baptist Girl’s Confessions: Tales from My Ever-Growing Faith

 Hmmm … not exactly what I had in mind as there still isn’t a firm idea of what I will be blogging about each day. It seems like once again I will be doing what I do best, writing about the insights God gives me in my own little mundane life.

I expect during April I will write about motherhood, grief (as I am still very much processing the deaths of my father and grandfather), foster parenting, raising teens and tweens, marriage, homeschooling, personal memories and who knows what else. There might even be a day or two when I write about the laundry.

I can’t promise you  what sorts of posts you’ll find here each day, but I can promise you this:

I’ll do my best to share my faith

as I write from my heart

on whatever topic God gives me.

Most of all, I hope you will join me in April.  Please feel free to connect with me by commenting, either here or on Facebook. I love getting feedback and forming new friendships from my readers as well as with other bloggers from around the world.

Be sure to stop back in tomorrow for my first A-to-Z post for 2015, in which I will share all about:

Airplanes

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The Day I Became a Writer


Challenger_Launch

January 28, 1986.

Millions of Americans watch horror as the Space Shuttle Challenger explodes 1 minute and 13 seconds after lift-off.

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It was the winter of my 8th grade year. I was more concerned with my jr. high life of school, homework and which girl liked which boy than I was with anything else. I listened to Whitney Houston and watched Family Ties or The Cosby Show, and only barely paid attention to what the nightly news reported about President Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev and other leaders might be doing around the world.

But all of that changed on the day the Challenger exploded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I recall coming home from school and feeling mildly annoyed that nothing was on TV except breaking news reports. I never sat down to listen to what the latest world tragedy might be. I just dashed off to my bedroom to start my homework.

It wasn’t long before a friend called me.

Paige, have you heard? A space shuttle exploded! It killed all the astronauts, including the one that was a teacher!

challenger

Overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, I could barely concentrate on what my friend was telling me. Moments later I hung up the phone, switched the TV back on and watched the images replay again and again. The group of seven astronauts smiling and waving to the small group of family and friends as they walked toward the shuttle. The giant white shuttle, pointed heavenward. The gradual lifting of the shuttle leaving behind a white trail of smoke against the brilliant blue winter sky. The explosion causing one trail to turn into two.

I felt sick to my stomach, yet I was unable to turn my face away from the TV. All I wanted was for the story to be false, for it all to be a big mistake, for the astronauts to have somehow survived the explosion.

But it was true. The shuttle exploded, leaving nothing behind but the shock and grief.  The entire nation mourned.

I was 13 years old …  and it was the first time I can ever recall being emotionally affected by a national tragedy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

January 29, 1986

Class, today’s writing assignment is to write about yesterday’s tragedy with the Space Shuttle Challenger. You can record the event or write down your reaction.

My 8th grade English teacher gave out the assignment, and for a long time nothing could be heard but pencils scratching across loose leaf paper. I don’t recall whether or not these essays were turned in that day or if we spent several days editing those first drafts. I don’t recall if it was intended as a bigger graded assignment, or if it was just counted as a daily activity and checked for completion.

But I do remember the time I spent writing that day, and how I wrote about being able to see a bit of every American on board that shuttle … whites, blacks, Asians, men, women and even a teacher. I wrote about the sorrow of the tragedy, and how as Americans we all lost something on that awful morning.

Up until then, I never knew writing could be cathartic to the soul.

A week or so later, Mrs. Swayze announced that a small number of the essays written about the Challenger tragedy would be published in our tiny school’s newspaper. Mine was one of the essays chosen. It was the first time when something I wrote was published and read by others. I recall the comments I received from friends and even other teachers at the school, telling me how they felt comforted by the words I had written.

Up until then, I never knew how gratifying it was to have readers who found a measure of enjoyment or got some sort of pleasure from reading my thoughts.

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Somewhere, among all the boxes where I’ve packed up the scraps and pieces of my childhood, there remains a copy of that old school newspaper. Every five or six years, I will happen across it as I search for something else I know must be tossed in with the boxes of school yearbooks and 4-H ribbons and other items that tell the story of who I was before I grew into an adult.

Whenever I do, I always take a moment to pause and reread that essay. Tears well up in my eyes as I am transported back to that January so long ago, remembering the hours I sat watching the tragedy replayed on the TV screen and the scribbling of my pencil as I tried to write about that deep, sorrowful pain and what it meant to me and to my nation.

January 28, 1986 was a day of national tragedy and sorrow. It was a day when I grew up just a little bit more, realizing for the first time that world events affected me as an individual and as an American citizen.

It also happened to be the day before the day when I became a writer.

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And He who sits on the Throne said … “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”     ~Revelation 21:5

Megan Writes … a guest post of sorts

Woo-Hoo! Not only are we celebrating a Sweet Sixteen birthday today, but now we have double reason to eat some cake.  My step-daughter Megan just got some amazing news.

She is the 3rd place winner in the annual Louisiana Writes Youth Writing Contest!

How wonderfully crazy is that?!  Yes, we are just a tad bit excited around here.

Megan has won first place in our local library’s Writes of Spring Youth Writing Contest for the past two years running, and she won second place the year prior to that.  This year, one of the librarians asked us to send in her entry to the state youth writing competition, so we did not really thinking she had much of a chance to place in such a large contest.

Boy, were we wrong!

When that letter arrived in the afternoon mail, there was some squealing going on at our place! I bet the neighbors thought we had lost our minds over here … but we were just doing a little celebrating over Megan’s success!

Megan with her letter of congratulations.
Megan with her letter of congratulations.

In early November, Megan will have the opportunity to attend the Louisiana Book Fest, where she will receive a medal, a certificate from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and an anthology of all the winning entries from the contest (which had over 900 stories and essays from children in grades K-12 from all around the state of Louisiana).

Since I am bragging on my young author, I thought I’d share her essay with you.  Enjoy!

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My Painful Tonsils

by Megan Hamilton (Non-fiction Essay, 5th/6th grade division)

Have you ever been in a painful situation when the pain must get worse before it can get better? I have. This is the story of how I learned painful situations often bring about something good.

All my life I had enormous tonsils. Whenever I would get a bad sore throat, my dad would take me to the doctor. At every single visit, Dr. Scott would say, “Wow! Those tonsils are as big as ping-pong balls!”

The spring I turned twelve, my stepmom took me to see Dr. Scott for my yearly checkup. During the exam, he again commented on my large tonsils.   My stepmom mentioned her concern because I complained of sore throats so much. “You do have lots of sore throats,” Dr. Scott agreed. “Perhaps you should see an ENT.”

That was the last thing I wanted to do, so I prayed my tonsils would be miraculously smaller. But when I met my new ENT, Dr. Barry, for the first time, I noticed his calm personality. All of my fears vanished away.

Dr. Barry asked me many questions about my past, such as how often my throat hurt and whether I had allergies. Then he said, “Now I’m going to ask an important question. Is today a normal day for you?”

I nodded yes.

Dr. Barry cheerfully said, “Open wide.” A moment later he added, “If today is a normal day for you, then your tonsils are definitely not normal size.” At that very moment, I knew exactly what was coming my way – surgery!

Once the surgery was scheduled, I had a lot of questions. “Will it hurt? Will I be awake for it? Will I have to stay overnight in the hospital?” For the next three weeks, my parents patiently answered my questions, reassuring me a tonsillectomy was the best thing to help me feel better.

Before long, it was surgery day. The night before I had packed a bag of comforting items, and bathed with special pre-surgical soap. I was physically ready to have my tonsils removed, but inside I was a nervous wreck!

I had to be at the hospital very early. When I checked, I received a special bracelet to wear, before being taken to a pre-op room where lots of nurses bustled about. One of them put an IV in my hand. That hurt! I was glad I didn’t cry.

Dr. Barry came before the surgery to tell me all the details, like how long the surgery would take. I felt reassured when he told me I wouldn’t remember any of it. An anesthesiologist came to give me medicine. I got very drowsy, although I do remember a nurse rolling my bed to the operating room, placing a mask over my face, and asking me to count to 100. “One. Two. Three.” I counted.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up from a deep sleep. A nurse gave me ice chips for my throat. Soon, my parents walked into the recovery room, and my face lit up!

Before my surgery, my parents took me shopping for special foods, like popsicles and ice cream. I made sure that our freezer was stocked with my favorite green popsicles. I figured the best part of having my tonsils removed was going to be all those treats! Unfortunately, after surgery I didn’t want anything to eat. My throat hurt so bad it felt like swallowing razors. After a week of green popsicles, I wished I would never see another one!

Each day it seemed like the pain got worse. All of my siblings were outside riding bikes in the summer sun, while I was stuck inside with a throat that hurt worse than ever. It was so unfair!

One day, I noticed my throat felt better, and in a few more days I forgot all about the surgery pain. But the really amazing day was when realized I never even thought about my throat at all anymore! For years, my throat had hurt. I never realized just how bad until the pain was gone.

I hate pain. Yet, I learned a big lesson from my tonsillectomy: Sometimes pain is necessary if you want to feel better.

BUT …

I just checked. There are five unpublished (and unfinished) blog posts in my queue. Most of them have a title, along with a short paragraph, maybe two. Nothing more. Just random ideas, barely starting to shape up into something worth sharing.

Not five minutes ago, I sat with my laptop in front of me, gazing at the blog posts waiting to be written. Surprisingly, my main emotion wasn’t guilt, though if I am honest there was this small pang of guilt starting welling up. But I swallowed hard a time or two, and soon enough it all settled down again as I forced myself to remember that writing is not my only job.

My last post was published on July 15th. I haven’t managed to write another full blog post since, though I promise it isn’t for lack of wanting to write. Trust me … I want to write! 

BUT

 

Isn’t there always a “but?”

I laughed right there because this is something I always caution my children about doing.  Whenever I reprimand them for neglecting a chore, they want to respond with, “But Mom …”   I shake my head, hold up my hand, and say, “There’s always a “but” to stop you from doing what you know you should be doing. It’s your job to not let the “buts” get in the way.”

Let me just go ahead and say it:  The BUTS have been getting in my way!

It doesn’t even matter what the buts are or why they are preventing me from writing. Sometimes, but not always, our excuses are valid. It’s what I wrote about in my last post about having Blogger’s Guilt. (By the way, that post was deemed “share worthy” by Faithful Bloggers and featured on their website! Here’s a link to view it there:  http://faithfulbloggers.com/struggling-with-bloggers-guilt/)

BUT … truthfully, most of the buts I’ve been using lately have been more because of my own laziness. I’m out of the blogging habit and I’ve grown complacent in regards to my desire to be diligent about writing for God.

It’s been a strange summer in my home. The typical schedule and routine has been thrown so far off course I don’t even know how to get us back on track. And yet here we are at the end of summer vacation and starting to ease back into a life of order. Homeschooling is back underway as of this morning. My summer babysitting job is drawing to a close at the end of this week, as well. No more camps. No more overnight visits with friends and family, especially on week nights. It’s time to get back into the daily grind.

And that includes me, too! In addition to all of my other jobs as wife, mom and teacher, I am planning to return to a diligent routine of writing every day. Not only because I desire to get back into my regular writing schedule, BUT because I need to write daily as it helps me focus on all of the things God has called me to do in my life.

Did you notice it? There was another BUT … and it’s actually a good but, because not all buts are bad.

but-meubles-electromenager-saint-herblain-1309252625

Do you know what my favorite BUT is? It’s in the Bible, located in Ephesians chapter 2. To really get the wonderful effect of this BUT, you have to read the verses 1-3 before you get to the verse with the BUT.

Here are a couple of key points from verses 1-3:

You were dead in your trespasses and sins … (verse 1)

 … we were by nature children of wrath … (verse 3)

In other words, like all other humans born on this planet, I am prone to being bad. My very heart leans toward self-centered, wrong behaviors.  (If you are a parent, you realize you didn’t have to teach your baby to hit or bite or throw a screaming fit. You did, however, have to teach how your child how to share and how to use manners and how to be kind to others.)

As much as I try, I cannot be perfectly good … not even on my best day.

Now comes my favorite part, verses 4 and 5:

BUT God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

God knows I cannot be good on my own. I can try and try, and still will fall short of His perfection. So He made a way for me through Jesus Christ.

Trust me … this is the best BUT ever!

My life is never going to be perfect. I’m going to struggle with doing what I know is good and right, and being selfish. I’m probably going to give into a temptation of some sort, if not later on tonight then tomorrow for certain.

It’s only because of the “BUT” God has offered that I have hope to live a life on this earth that is worth living … as well as the hope heaven’s perfection in the next life.

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~Romans 5:5

If you haven’t accepted God’s offer, I hope you will take the time to consider it. I’d love to tell you more about how this wonderful BUT can change your life, just as it has changed mine.

Blogger’s Guilt

It’s hard not to feel guilty.

Following the A-to-Z Blog Challenge I took during the month of April, my new goal for this blog was to publish a post two or three times each week.  But I’ve failed … miserably.

Truthfully, I think about writing on my blog every single day. In fact, it’s never that far from my mind.  Writing is a cathartic hobby for me, a pleasure which never feels much like work. Because of this, I am always eager to find a few moments in which to sit down and write.

It’s actually finding those few moments that is so very hard.

Image from Pixabay
Image from Pixabay

Ten days ago, three of my five children returned home from Germany. I’ve loved having a loud, chaotic house again.  Cooking for a tribe, tackling Mt. Laundry each morning, sorting out disputes, being the chauffeur to five people who apparently have busier schedules and more places to go than myself … it’s all part of the fun and games and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Two weeks ago, the baby I keep each weekday decided to begin to use her walking skills on a regular basis. Suddenly, everything has changed! “Miss E”  is able to quickly get into a lot of things she is not supposed to get into … and I’m remembering things about toddlerhood I had long forgotten. Whew! There really is no sitting down with a toddler in the house! These little people are work, and nap times are just as much for moms as they are for the sweet child.

Most days I am trying to figure out how to fit in time to read my Bible and exercise, much less have time for personal hobbies. My daily schedule isn’t filled with vast amounts of free time. Just like everyone else on the planet, I’ve only got 24 hours a day. The hours are limited, and I’ve got to use them wisely.

It’s during seasons like this I must remember there will be days when writing, even if it is writing for God, must take a backseat on my priority list.

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Last week, I came across this lovely blog post:  Seven Reasons Bloggers Don’t Blog.

I can relate to all seven reasons given by the author of that freeing blog post.  (1) I do not want to post fluffy content on my blog. (2) My biggest desire is to  write encouraging and helpful words for my audience.  (3) Writing is tiring, and time consuming.  (4) The 40% of me that is somewhat introverted needs time to quietly process life before I can write about it publicly.  (5) I’m writing a book …  but I’m only about halfway through the first two chapters. I am discovering it is a painfully slow process to write a book.  (6) Big and wonderful things are happening in life.  My family is preparing to become a foster family. I’m excited and scared and very busy with getting my home ready to take on another child. (7) Finally the biggest reason of all … blogging is not living.

I love my blog. I love to write. But my biggest responsibility is to be the godly wife and mom God has called me to be.

I realize that according to the experts, if I am to ever have a “real” career as a writer, I need to have a platform, build an audience of 5000 or more readers,  and post three or four times a week on my blog. But I’m not there. I admit that many days I wish I was because I think I’d love nothing more than a fantastic contract with some big name Christian publishing house and a couple of books on the shelves  down at the nearest Lifeway Book Store.

Yes, God called me to write … but He simply asked me to write for Him, not for a publishing house or for a set of standards that He didn’t give to me. So that’s what I am going to do … write for God.

And He also asked me to be a wife and helpmeet to my husband Jon.  God called me to be a mother to five wonderful teens and tweens, who are growing up so quickly. They won’t be home with me for very much longer before they leave to start their own lives. God asked me and my family to open our home and share His love and our lives with children I don’t yet know through fostering.  He asked me to be a good neighbor to the lady next door who is dying, and to be a listening friend in real life, not just on the computer screen.

I’ve got just one life to live. While writing and blogging is very much a part of my life, it’s not all that I do. And so today, I’m setting down the guilt I put upon myself for not blogging on some made-up schedule. I’m laying aside the burden I’ve carried around for the past two and a half months for not keeping up with an insane blogging schedule, as well as tending to the realities of my life.

Instead, I’m asking the Lord to help me be faithful to do all He requires of me for today, and nothing more. I pray a lot of those days include writing for God.  I think they will.

But whether they do or whether they don’t, I’m done with “Blogger’s Guilt.”

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  ~John 8:36

A to Z Blog Challenge … Reflections Upon Completion

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

 

I honestly didn’t think I could do it. The challenge seemed insurmountable. How would I ever manage blogging twenty-six times in one month when I hadn’t managed even twenty posts in the entire previous year?  I had a feeling that my one moment of impulsivity was going to drive me absolutely crazy.

And yet, it didn’t.

In fact, writing practically every day in April turned out to be rather enjoyable.

Going into this challenge, I had no idea what to expect. I imagined hours of sitting around, beating my head against the computer screen, while my five kids ran rampant around the house. I envisioned dishes stacked up, laundry piled up, and school projects left unfinished. I figured before it was done, I’d give up, unsuccessful and unfulfilled as a writer.

Thankfully, my ideas and concerns are not God’s. And what He had in mind for me during April was something I never would have imagined. Through daily writing, I learned more about God, His truths, myself and the process of writing.

So what are my A-to-Z take-aways? There are many, but here are the 3 most important ones, along with a new writing/blogging goal I derived from each.

1. If God called me to write, then I definitely need to write … daily.  As a mother to five children, all of whom are homeschooled, I have a busy life. It’s not an excuse for me to neglect to do what God has asked me to do. Generally, I feel like I don’t have what it takes to take care of my family and write, but in April God reminded me that if He has asked me to do something for His purpose and glory, then He will provide everything I need to get the job done. This does not mean I will post daily to m blog.

As a result, my new goal is to write half an hour each day, and post to my blog 3 times a week.

2. Good writers employ many writing aids, including prompts. In the past, I’ve been hesitant to write to a prompt, simply because I felt as if it couldn’t be a spirit-led sort of writing. I would wait until an idea hit me and then I would write, but considering that I wasn’t practicing daily writing combined with a hectic life, writing ideas happened infrequently. The result was sporadic blogging and random writing. It wasn’t so much because God was speaking to me, but rather because I wasn’t attuned to listening or taking advantage of opportunities to write with the help of prompts. What I discovered about a prompt (even one so general as a letter) is my thoughts were pointed in a direction, enabling me to find inspiration I wasn’t otherwise aware of and a place to start.

In addition to writing daily, I am going to utilize prompts for days when I do not have another writing idea.

3. Writing is communal. Typically, I think of writing as a solitary activity. It’s not. Writers, like all humans, need community. Writing is done best when I am connected to other writers. Perhaps the biggest blessing of the A to Z Challenge was discovering new blogs and connecting with other writers, especially those who blog about their faith. Connecting with other writers is beneficial to help me apply writing skills to my own writing as well as gives me to opportunity to encourage other writers.

It makes me happy to introduce to you a few of my favorite new blogs I found as a result of the A to Z Challenge:

1. The Artistic Christian

2. True Beloved Blog

3. Praise, Prayers and Observations

4. Everyday Moments of Worship

5. Whims and Wanderings

I hope you’ll take the time to check out these blogs.  Leave a nice comment, too! They are great writers … and they have been a blessing to me, so I hope you will join me in encouraging them as well.

In order to hone the craft of writing, I am committed to being actively involved in encouraging writing communities, both online and face-to-face, as well as participating in writing challenges or classes.

April might be over, but I think the A to Z Challenge will stick with me for a long time yet to come. I’m already planning to participate in next year’s challenge. Meanwhile, I’m going to put into practice some of the lessons I’ve learned and see where God takes me on the writing journey to which He called me.

A is for …

Perhaps on another day, the writer’s link with a blogging challenge for the month of April would not have caught my attention, but on that particular morning it did. With nothing more than a quick glance at the rules of the game, I registered.

Fast forward two months, and what seemed like a great idea back in February has me feeling a bit like an April fool today.

Still, I’m already in, linked up, and set to go. Besides, whenever I’m in, I’m all in.

My mission for the month:  Blog through all 26 letters of the alphabet.

Just in case you’ve forgotten a certain little poem often taught in elementary school, April is only a 30-day month. Even the slowest of math pupils would understand that 26/30 means a lot of posting in April!

Quite frankly, my track record for blogging is not that good. I’ve had this blog for about a year now, and have managed only 16 posts or so during that time. Statistically, I’m not even blogging twice a month.

Generally, I try not to feel guilty about my lack of consistency in keeping up with my blog. After all, as the mother of five, all teens or tweens, it’s not as if I’m sitting around, twiddling my thumbs, and eating bonbons all day.

Which leaves me with one burning question:

 Why did I ever think I could manage publishing 26 times on my blog during a one month period?

Looking back, I know much of my eagerness to participate had to do with a desire to improve my writing skills, develop better blogging consistency, find new writing inspiration, and build my readership. I recall thinking, “What better way to possibly improve in several of these areas than by taking a part in this challenge?”

Yet, as the weeks went by and I thought about the actual process, I began to feel nervous about exactly how this challenge would play itself out.  Many writers taking the challenge blog through the alphabet with a theme in mind, which seemed like a great idea to me.  Several times I tried to come up with a theme: homeschooling ideas, Bible verses, godly thoughts, favorite books to read with children, etc.  Each time I would get excited about the theme possibilities …  and then panic would set in.

Oh, no! What will I write about for Q or X? What if I run out of ideas?

With the focus of succeeding in this challenge centered on me and my abilities, I knew I was setting myself up for failure. Something had to change. Or rather, there was something that I didn’t need to change. I needed to stay true to who I am as a writer.

The one big thing that is consistently true about my writing is that I write for God. He’s the boss and I work for Him.  In our writing relationship, He always gets to pick the topic. My job is to pretty much just write whatever He tells me to write.  And since He mostly gives me insights about Himself through the ordinary (and sometimes not-so-ordinary) experiences in my life, I try not to complain.  It’s actually a really great deal, and I love my job … though it might be nice if there started be an occasional payday involved.

I have come around to understanding that there won’t be a theme for my blog during in the A to Z Challenge. At least, that is, there won’t be a theme chosen by me. And so far, if God has picked a theme, He hasn’t let me in on it yet.

He did, however, stay faithful to His part of the bargain, and give me the idea as well as the words to write in this initial post.

letterA

That’s why A is for Aspiring to blog through the Alphabet in April

Stay tuned for B.  At this point, even I have no idea what God might want me to blog about tomorrow.

 

My heart is moved by a noble theme, 
as I recite my verses to the King; 
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. ~Psalm 45:1

My Laundry Room Encouragement

Yesterday a surprise package arrived outside my door.  I love surprises … especially ones that I know are likely to be good. And this surprise box had “GOOD” written all over it! (Well, not literally, but I’m sure you know what I mean.)

It was from my Aunt Janell, who lives so far away from my Cajun Country home that I rarely get to visit with her.  However, during a phone conversation several weeks ago, she had mentioned she had a little something to send me if she could ever get around to mailing it.  From the size of the box, I knew this wasn’t “a little something.”  Again, I had the feeling that whatever this boxed contained was a treasure … perhaps not a treasure for anyone else, but definitely something intended to bless my heart.

With the kids watching eagerly, I opened the box … and, to my delight, discovered this:

Image

Like any good gift, this one was absolutely perfect for me!  No doubt, God had His hand in helping my aunt choose this gift and even picked the perfect day for it to arrive on my doorstep.

Writing is hard.  It’s emotional. I’m invested in the words I’ve written, and long to see that what I’m doing makes a difference. I want it to matter, for God to use it, and for others to be blessed by it.  But so often, I don’t see it, and I start to doubt whether or not I heard God call me to write for Him.  Perhaps I’m not supposed to see and know all the ways God uses the words He gives me to write … and yet, I am easily discouraged.

So after a couple of days of questioning and doubts and wondering why on earth I keep pushing myself to write, a laundry mat arrives on my doorstep … and in my heart I felt God whisper, “Just keep meeting me in the laundry room, remember to write for Me only, and trust that my plans for you are good.”

Thanks, Aunt Janell, for the laundry mat and for the encouragement to continue writing. I’m quite certain it will be put to good use … bringing a smile to my face each time I step inside my laundry room (aka: the prayer closet).  I’m looking forward to seeing you in September! 

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As you can see, my newly upgraded and improved laundry room is all ready for the return of 3 of my 5 kids at the end of the week.  I am positive I’ll spend a lot of time standing here this weekend, washing away the dirt, grime, sand and sweat which collected on their clothes from several days of summer camping fun … and God will somehow meet me in the laundry room, washing my spirit in His perfect peace and love.