Tuesday, September 16, 2014

For You



I woke up yesterday in my own bed for the first time in 6 days.
It felt like forever and a single breath.

I kissed my kids' faces off and drove them to school.
And I had big plans to tell you all about my week at Camp Create.

But plans were made for shifting.
So, here I am, rolling up the rug and scooting my big ideas far across the floor. They can wait.

Right now, while the rain falls straight down and taps out a reminder that seasons change and there's not a thing we can do about it; right now, when the house is quiet or wild and you're feeling like you want to grab life by its ears and run with it, or your eyes are puffy and stinging and you honestly don't know if you can do another day; right now I need to tell you something.

God is for you.
He is not against you.

Listen.

He's FOR YOU.
He wouldn't know how to forget about you or write you off if He tried. (He won't.)
You have screwed up and made a mess of things.
You've wounded ones you love.
You've wronged the innocent.

Doesn't matter.

You've told lies and plotted retribution.
You have stolen what wasn't yours to have.
You've chosen poorly, swam a river of greed and selfishness.

He's for you.

You've done drugs. Had sex. Gotten drunk a bunch of times.
You've been a mean mom.
An unfaithful wife.
A hateful sister.

He loves you.
He knows your capacity to turn away, and it does not scare Him.
He wants to take your shards and chuck them into the sea.

You've walked away from community - from Him.
You've felt silly over what you believe in your soul about God.
You've decided you're too smart. Too free.

He's for you.
He created you with that big brain and that thumping heart.
He wants you all to Himself. So He waits.

You've been angry with Him. He dealt you a hand you never asked for.
You feel abandoned, forsaken, like a wide-awake child alone in the dead of night.

He knows it's not always easy to believe.
He knows the risk He ran when He flung us into a world where we're told we don't deserve an ounce of pain. He knows it feels uneven, some days, like a trick or a ruined punchline. And knowing all of those things, He swept us together here, in an untidy pile, and gave us the opportunity to work together, alongside Himself, toward the redemption of the broken places.

He trusted us to find Him in neon lights and shopping malls and endless sidewalks and despairing jobs and broken families and bleak injustice and the exact kind of unfairness that makes us rage until all that's left are our weary hearts.

And just when that pulse drops and we think we're finished, just when we dare to believe - really believe - that He isn't enough or we're not enough or that it's all one poker-hot lie,

He scoops us up.

And He tells us one hundred times in one thousand ways, "I'm for you. I am never against you. I know it seems that way. I know it's hard to trust. I know you think you've run too far from my reach. I know you think you're a goner, a lost cause. I understand. But where you see a spark, I see a forest fire. I see its first plume and its last ember. I see what you can't, the eternal Why, that burning bush where my presence meets your faulty humanity and its end is redemption and beauty that will rocket every heartache away."

There is nothing that can separate God's people from His grand design, where every end spells goodness.
We can't do anything bad enough to turn the wine back into water.

He's got the microphone.
He's up on the stage.
His shirt is soft, His jeans are muddy, His eyes are so kind.

And he shouts while He laughs, His free hand waving us to Him.
"I am so for you. You don't even know. Get over here!"

Then He drops that mic, He jumps down and He runs.
Straight into our mess.

He kisses our faces, not giving a single rip about where we've been, ecstatic - just like a Dad - to have us back.

Bosses and parents and exes and bad friends might be against us.
We might be against ourselves.

But not God.
Not ever.

What are you waiting for? Run. 

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:31-39 (NLT)



* Thank you to Kimberlee and Bethel Music for being God's truth to me today and inspiring me to write it all down for you. Thank you to the Village Ladies and, in a roundabout way, Jen Hatmaker, for kicking my behind just when I decided I didn't need to hit publish. It's uncanny and wonderful, and it's God.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

When We Knew God Was Moving

Hey, friends! Today I'm reposting a blog I wrote 4 years ago.

This moment - this post - is what I see as the first link in the chain of selling the farm, moving to the city, and flipping much of our lives and most of our hearts upside down.

If you've ever wondered how we got here, this may help. :)


Doors 
Originally posted May 18, 2010



I had big plans to write tonight about my journey for contentment. It has been on my heart every day. It is becoming a part of me, and the harder I pray for it, the more it snuggles up to me and holds my hand. I am on a mission to be content with what I have...and maybe with even less than what I have. God has been connecting the dots for me with bright red Sharpie and I am thankful for that. Let's face it, who doesn't like it when God reveals Himself to us in a way that is impossible to miss? So, I went to bed late last night with some of the word threads already knitting together in my mind. That is the way it is with me - my brain writes in intermittent sentence fragments almost all the time. It can't be helped.

But then I awoke before daylight, clammy, chest-pounding, sick inside from the dreams I had. I rolled closer to Cory and clamped my eyes shut, but the traces of sorrow and charcoal, leaden guilt tinged the edges of me.

I mumbled, "I will carry this around all day long". I knew I would, I've been down this road so many times before.

So I prayed for relief and a fresh perspective. Blindly, I reached for solace. I drank orange juice that tasted like the sun. My lips were sugar-brushed from the comfort-food cinnamon toast that I had planned before the night, before the dreams. Today was going to be a good day.

Nevermind that the view outside my windows was dripping grey. Nevermind that I subconsciously chose a grey shirt and a brown sweater - the very picture of blah. I had decided half a day ago that today was going to be a good day. I was determined. And it was, for nearly two hours.

My husband works for Congressman Souder, in Indiana's 3rd District. You may have heard the name in the news today.

Another scandal, only this time, we are at the periphery. We are watching it unfold in real life, not on Fox News.

In spite of everything I know about God's supreme sovereignty, I cried behind my bedroom door, phone in hand. I was disappointed. I was scared. I was doubting, and I knew it, and I knew I had to stop.

I feebly tried to ignore the number counter in my brain, ticking away the dollars while we spoke. Subtract. Subtract. Subtract. I was thinking of my own job, a recent victim of the political machine. I was thinking of mortgage payments and health insurance.

I opened my Bible right in the middle and through my grief I was instructed to sing and to praise.

The kids and I piled into the pinkish car and I heard Calvin sing, "Let the waters rise if You want them to. I will follow You. I will follow You."

I have been singing that song every moment since.

I am heartsick for every person who is affected by this - there are many. I feel compassion for Congressman Souder and for his family. This is why we do not put our trust in men. They will fail us every time. I will fail you every time. I pray for redemption and I know for sure that it awaits those who seek.

As for us? It looks as though God has upgraded his notifications with yellow highlighter atop red Sharpie. Do you remember me saying that change was coming? That I could feel it in my bones?

It's here. 
 
 
** This post, written a month later, tells all about our decision to sell the farm. (It also has tons of pics of the farmhouse!)
 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Skipping Town and the Back-Story on Robert


Right now, I'm in Kansas, being helper-extraordinaire, crafting my brains out with the *actual* campers at Camp Create, and hopefully not filleting my finger with the lime knife again.

I'm sure I'll have one million things to tell you about when I return.

In the meantime, I'd like a moment of silence.

You see, today is picture day for my kiddos.
What I'm trying to say is, Cory is the only adult on the premises. On picture day.

 If you're wondering what the big hairy problem is, might I direct your memory to what happened last time. You know, the time Silas went to his recital in his pajamas.

This is why Mommy should never leave during momentous occasions or the holidays, or anytime physical appearances are a priority. Or just ever.

In the meantime, because I've got some rad and eager new readers asking questions with really long answers, I thought I'd take the opportunity to repost a few older blog posts that will hopefully help fill in some of the blanks for our new friends.

I'll see ya on the flip-side, Homies!


Bankrupt
Originally posted 8/14/2012


His neighbor's window caught my eye when I pulled up a few weeks back.  It's one thing for Robert to live there, quite another for a child. Of course, I thought of Abraham.

What sustains the human spirit? What is it that pushes up through the dirt and inspires a message to the whole world, written in reverse, all except for that pesky "S"? I wanted to know that child, take her for a walk, have her teach me something about contentment and joy.

He walks out of the building and over to my van, all swagger and falling-off pants. He might fool them, but I wouldn't know how, because when he smiles you see clean through the tattoos and the put-on scowl, or at least I do. I see the boy, the Abraham, the one who might have scrawled his own Ode to Joy on a window a few years ago.

We drive to a house a few blocks down, where cops creep through at intervals, where people smoke on front stoops and babies toddle down the sidewalk in droopy pampers.

They scream at him from the porch, each insult more toxic than the last. He loads the van, loads the van. He doesn't say a word, won't play along, and their hatred grows. So they amp it up. He splits down the middle, his protective shell falling away at both sides. He screams back, hurls the ugly over the heads of smudge-cheeked children and right back at them.

I might have done the same, if the whole world was just a tiny bit different.

So I commend him for his self-control. I'm impressed. I mean it. You're better than that. You have skills they don't have. We believe you can do anything. And there he is again, that beautiful child that maybe only I see. He laughs and jokes. We pass the defunct pie shop and I swoon all over again about the signage, so perfectly blue and chippy. "You're so white", he laughs. I shrug.

His apartment is a sitcom waiting to be filmed. It's full of so much crazy, so much reckless emoting, so much masked pain. I love them. Each one of them. They're beautiful and wild and tender and frail and I want to keep them forever as my friends.

I drive home a few hours later, brim-full of the life he shows me. I find more of God every time I'm with him. Isn't that strange? He doesn't even know God. Doesn't want to. But God is there. He's right there in that crappy apartment with all the people who believe they're nothing. He's there in their arbitrary rage. He's with the ones with the dull eyes, the yellow teeth. He's with the ones who shine in spite of it all. They are His people, and I see Him in their midst.

***

I sit two rows behind him, boring holes through his shoulders, his neck, his growing-out afro. It's two weeks later. I listen, but only half-way. I've heard it all before. I know what those papers say and to be honest, I just don't care that much.

He tries to raise his right hand, but it's chained to his left. He won't turn around. He won't look my way.

But I've got all day, I've got forever, so I just keep looking. I won't miss my chance. And so, he looks. We lock eyes and I wink, because it's all I can do. I wink and I smile my smallest smile and he watches me, takes it in.

His lips twist to the side and he shrugs his shoulders. I'll spend the rest of the week deciphering the gesture. I don't know what it meant, but I have my ideas.

They lead him out in pants six inches too short, his slippered-feet barely able to shuffle. His shame is the cinder block of the walls, the concrete of the floors, the drab of the polyester, the bite of the shackles. It trails behind him, emanates from him. It's something real, something I could reach out and shove. It's the thing that killed his light.

So I'm the mom in the courtroom, the one who doesn't care so much about what was said, the one not dumb enough to believe it's not bad, because it's awful. But that's my "son" heading back to jail. He's only eighteen. They'll keep him for a very long time.

I don't know who he'll be when he comes back out. This boy was never a criminal. He was the one I would nudge, through the sheer force of my will, to prove everyone wrong. He was the one who would write the book someday, the one who would show all the other Abrahams that it didn't have to be that way.

One mistake changed all of that and now I'll talk to him through a video screen. I'll show up for his hearings, because no one else will. No one. I'll write letters and I'll pray that the light comes back. I'll miss him and I'll mourn his tonight, his tomorrow, and all of his future. My heart will break in shock-waves.

And I'll hope.

PS - This post (and the links in the post) will fill in almost everything else you missed on how Robert came into our family. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Closet-Turned-Desk-Nook


Many of you have asked to see more of our revolutionary, cutting-edge, closet-turned-desk-nook. I've been meaning to do this for, oh? two years. (I really like to build suspense between Part I and Part II...)

In my defense, this area can be difficult to photograph.

Also, it's often a complete disaster area.

Back story: We had very little involvement in the house plans for our home. Because we bought our home as part of a neighborhood revitalization project, most of the details were pre-determined.

This was supposed to be an ordinary storage closet.

Being a person who is almost entirely incapable of "envisioning" something that isn't actually in front of me (come on, can people actually do that??) I never gave this theoretical "closet" a second thought. Closets are good. And necessary. The end.

But one afternoon during the framing stage, we drove over for another of our obsessive check-ins and as I stood on the footprint of our home - the one that seemed impossibly small, I noticed the perfect little nook-sized area, right smack-dab in the main living space (which is essentially all one room.)

"Could we put a desk here?" the wise wife asked.

Yada yada, the builders were happy (if a bit skeptical) to bypass details such as shelves and a door.

Our desk nook was born.

When I found the wallpaper, it seemed like a kiss from the angels. The world needed this desk nook. It was pre-destined. From the foundations of the earth.

It's the best decision we made about our house.

Our farm house had 1300 more square feet than this house, and I remember wondering where on earth we would keep the computer and, you know, work.

This is definitely one of the most used spaces in here. It's a great reminder to me that we don't always need new or more or bigger. Sometimes we just need to rethink what we already have. BOOM.

Voila. It's perfect.

Our old, beat-up desk slid right in.
 (Now can you hear the angels???)


 {Hey - this is one of my  favorite new blog finds.}

Sidenote: Calvin made me an "actual" writing quill.

Many of the details have trudged with us from home to home...because although we've unloaded countless tens of twenties of boxes of things we no longer needed, I apparently couldn't envision a life without the red, defunct, entirely impractical stamper.

I won this ah-mazing Hellen Keller quote print a few years ago in a blog giveaway.You can get yours right here.

I plopped it in a thrifted frame. Gah. I love it so much.

The light came from Lowes.

Here's where things get weird.
Because I realized I wanted you to see the "nook" being an actual nook....so I pulled out the ol' point-and-shoot and took some sloppy, wider shots. So you can see it all in context.

We like context, right? It's good? Context??

You'll see the green entry table to the left, basement stairs to the right.

So wonky and so wrong.

Whatever.

See that odd corner of brown? That's our dining room table. I'm telling you, the quarters are close. But they work! They really work!

We have some weird support posts that interfere with lots of things like photography.
And walking.

One more, because why stop at 3 contextual poses?

I'm here to say, if you're short on living space, re-think one of your closets. It turns out, doors were made to be removed from their hinges.

Happy nooking!

-Shannan

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our Week With Chevy Traverse - Heading Out



If you've been reading for a while, you know our smallish guy, Calvin, has a genetic, autoimmune disease that constantly keeps us on our toes. (I've written about it here and here.)

We've had months and years that have made me almost physically ill with worry, and we've had years (like 2013) where everything was coming up roses.

Rain or shine, doctors are an important part of our life. They're a constant presence, along with his twice-daily meds, and we're thankful for the way God often protects and heals and moves through ordinary humans.

For over a year, our local hematologist has nudged us to go meet with a specialist in the Philadelphia area. In a strange course of events (aren't they all?) we caught an opening just one week in advance.

After pricing plane tickets (yikes) and even train tickets (what??) we knew we'd be driving, though both our vehicles didn't exactly inspire confidence.

Enter :: Amazement.

The good people at Chevrolet contacted me to see if we would like to test drive a brand new Chevy Traverse for a week. Yes, please. Without even knowing about our trip to Philly, they planned to deliver the wheels one day before we were heading out. The timing? Perfection.

They happily gave us the green light to travel in their vehicle.

We knew space would be important, both in terms of bodies and luggage. With seating for up to eight* and best-in-class maximum cargo space, we knew the Chevy Traverse would fit our needs.

And because safety is always a concern when we're road-tripping, I was happy to hear the Chevy Traverse has a NHTSA 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score for safety** and an available industry-first Front Center Air Bag.***

Mostly, we just looked forward to the simple thrill of driving a brand new car. We saw it as an opportunity for gratitude in the midst of an "adventure" that could have been a drag. We had planned all along to make the most of this necessary trip, but this really upped the ante.

Cory and my resident techies were eager to use the Bluetooth®**** capabilities to stream music and make phone calls from the road.

Silas was mostly just excited to have a brand, spankin' new batch of buttons to push.

We were all so psyched! 

Our family shot some fun video of us geeking out about our epic Philadelphia road trip in a brand new Chevy Traverse.

Check us out:


We're obviously back now, and I can't wait to tell you all about our trip to "Phillydelthia" ( <Silas) and what we thought of the Chevrolet Traverse.

Stay tuned!


 *Seating for up to 8 is standard on LS and 1LT.  Available on 2LT.  LTZ seats 7.
**Government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) New Car Assessment Program (www.SaferCar.gov).
***Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.
****Go to gmtotalconnect.com to find out which phones are compatible with the vehicle.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekend Cheer-Ups


Last weekend's list was so much fun, I'm doing it again.
But don't go thinking this is a new "thing", because history has proven I'm no good with "things".

All I know is, I could use a bit of cheer. Always. Every weekend.
I'm guessing you could, too.


::  This makes me want to hug all the teenagers. And kick them in the shins.

:: Stream this on Nexflix if you like food and love people.

:: I have a lot of soulmates, but this lady is one of them. She just doesn't know it yet.

:: This wedding seemed surprisingly sweet.

:: Sharing the freedom found in Christ with people in chains. (New website up and running today!)

::  Don't hate me because I was born in the '70s. 

:: I watched this with Calvin. (Some of his stuff is a bit "adult" for young kids. Just fyi.)

:: Chairs are officially always funny. Always.

:: I'm loving this look. {And it could easily be pulled off secondhand!}

:: But not everyone is buying secondhand and I'd like to live vicariously through you. (Seriously, cutest stuff they've ever put out. Ruby even commented on the catalog that showed up and she's never done that before.)

:: Dying to make a pot of this.

:: (in)ourage turned 5 this week! They're giving away a free e-book filled with some of their popular posts (one of which is by Yours Truly.)

:: I used to hate my brown eyes but I don't anymore. I'll tell you why.


Happy Weekending, Dears!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

All Of The Answers


(Or at least most of them.)

As you may or may not know, and since I tell you every single time I get sick (sorry), Cory and I were downed by "walking pneumonia", which basically translates as, "You will feel like crap for almost 4 weeks, but you'll still be up walking around, so you'll just keep telling everyone 'It's allergies'."

It's not.

And though it hasn't been fun, compared to that time I almost died in the Betty Draper Rental, this is Summer Camp. I would gladly drive all night and buy the t-shirt if it meant never going back to that.

I officially think I'm back to life today, and I just took a bunch of pics of the state of my home to give this post some color and a hard slap of reality. (My floors! sob.)   



Guys. You totally kept me entertained for the past few days. I loved hearing your questions. Thanks for playing along!

I answered some of the specific Qs in the comments section of the original post.
Others I'll answer or address in future posts.

All the rest? Right here! Let's get to work.


 Q) I'd love to hear what you do on your dark days, the ones where you are screaming for answers that do not come and you are holding on to your frayed hope by your bleeding fingernails, and God seems about a jillion miles away. 

The "easy" answer is pray, and I do. But I'm a weird pray-er (more on that another day.) When I'm having those days my prayers tend to be restless, urgent, "Help me!" prayers. Aside from that, I try to listen to myself and give myself a bit of grace. Being an introvert, I often want some alone time, hunkered down in my sweats with some books. Sometimes I need a good cry. Tea with a friend. A good show and a cheap wine cooler (classy) on the couch with Cory.

I try not to go shopping (online or otherwise) when I'm having one of "those" days. :)

We have lived through some really hard stretches over the past couple of years, and honestly, I've simply survived them. Stubbornly. I refuse to give up hope. I find a scripture I can cling to, and sometimes I write it down and tape it on the wall. I search hard for beauty in my everyday. And then I usually take a picture of it.

Mostly, I've learned to accept that everyone has these days. And I've learned to ask for help and support. We so often want to pretend things are okay and lots of times, they're just not okay at all. They're awful and painful and lonely. Sending out an SOS text and asking for prayer brings us closer into community, and being in community draws us closer to the heart of God.

One of my most frequent prayers, especially in hard seasons or days, is "Show me who you are and how You love me." I don't get super long-winded or flowery with my prayers. But I believe if we can really SEE God and notice how He loves us, it changes everything.




Q) I wondered then, but didn't ask (because it would be rude) how you paid for three adoptions.

Not rude at all! This is a common question for anyone even considering adoption, because adoption can be costly. Our 3 adoptions were very costly, averaging around $30k each. RIGHT???? It's important to note that when we adopted, the tax credit was still in place, so we were essentially refunded $13k of each of those adoptions, but unfortunately, things have changed since then.

This won't be super helpful at all, but I want to be honest. During that time of our life, we earned over 3x what we earn now. And we were a family of 2. We lived simply, but we made far more than what we "needed". From time to time we look back and ask ourselves what on earth we did with all that cash...and then we remember, oh yeah, our kids. :)

For that reason, we never did any kind of fund-raising. We did borrow money from a generous relative for Calvin's adoption, because we didn't have that kind of money "sitting around." For Ruby we  funded part of it with an adoption loan. For Silas, we had the funds to pay for it out of savings. We basically drained our savings, but knew we would just save up again.

Remember, within two months of bringing him home, we both lost our jobs. And just like that, those glory days were over (and new, better ones were coming.)

We know God provided for us to bring our kids home. I wish He would do it that way for everyone, but I know He doesn't.

There is no way we could ever fund an adoption now, and though we have no plans to adopt again, if we were to adopt, it would likely be through the Foster Care system, not only because it costs significantly less, but also because that's where God is leading our hearts these days.

{Adoption sidenote: Someone asked about getting a husband on board with adoption. I wanted to issue a reminder that I published two posts back in June written from the perspective of adoptive dads. They both fell during the month when my feeds were all messed up, so many people missed them. If that includes you, here are the links: Part I and Part II .}



Q) Since Ruby is usually pictured with rainbow-loom bracelets and necklaces, my question is this: do you have those insidious little rubberbands in every nook of your house like I do?

Uh, is the sky blue? Do I love salsa? Am I sitting here in yesterday's ponytail???? The bands are my bane. For life. Rivaled only by Legos and only because Legos hurt more when I step on them. Having said all that, sister's got mad skills.


Q) So, when you say you shoot on auto when using the beast, what exactly do you mean, because your pictures are oh so beautiful???

Well, thanks! I love taking pictures. Seeing the world through a lens has changed me. Dramatic, right? But true.

Cory actually corrected me for saying we shoot on auto. I'm just flaunting my ignorance again, that's all. We usually shoot in Aperture mode, so we can control how in/out of focus the background is. Cory also controls lots of other things when he shoots (he's the pro around here) but the only things I really do are aperture, exposure compensation (I like my stuff leaning toward overexposed - nice and bright!) and I know how to spot meter (like if I want to take a photo of my curtains - this is hard since light is coming in through the window).

Sometimes I just crank it to Program mode and let the camera do all the work. Sometimes I can't figure out why everything is black and Cory reminds me to remove the lens cap. :)

Since you might ask, we use a Canon 7D and we have 2 lenses, but usually use the 50mm. (I don't even know the difference in lenses and use whichever one happens to be on the camera.) For all the nitty gritty on what we use or what Cory wishes we used, you can read this post.


Q) I'd like to know what hedges you put up to protect yourself from the sins of pride, self-promotion, envy, jealously, etc, that are so easy to come by in this facebook-instagram-twitter-blog world that we live in. (In my short year of blogging I never figured it out.) 

What a great question! I think envy and comparison can creep in to anyone's heart, whether they blog or not, read blogs or not. It's part of that danged human nature. I have certainly been jealous of what someone else has written, or I've been hurt to not be included in something, or I've wished that I was noticed as much as so-and-so, etc... It's ugly. I hate it. But I find that in those times, what I usually need to do is just take a step back. I need a bit of a break. I need to go have tacos with my local homegirls. I need to stop trying to write and go read a book or two.

Because this "writing" thing has been somewhat of a surprise for me, I'm very aware that as easily as God gave it to me, He could take it all away. As I mentioned above, something weird happened to my blog back in June and overnight, over half of my readers vanished. I really believed it was God. I thought I was sort of done. It was surreal and unnerving, but ultimately, I realized it didn't matter. It took the pressure off, in a strange way. It helped me re-center myself and why I'm here. Maybe it was God or maybe it was just technology, but it turns out it was just an wonky patch. I'm still here.

Since then, I'm just not as worried about my traffic or growing my blog. Of course I want to grow! I love it when you guys share something that resonates here with your friends. Makes a girl feel loved. :) But at the end of the day, I'm not writing to "be" or "do" any certain thing. I'm writing because I love to do it, it's a part of me. And I hope to honor God with this gift. I want to hold these things loosely and not become too defined by them.

As for the pride thing, I just keep crowing about my faults and showing dorky photos of myself. It's hard to take myself too seriously when I remember all the things I've spilled here. So, thanks for keeping me in check!



Q: What are some blogs you go to for inspiration, decor ideas or just for a "pick me up "?

I love when other people answer this but I hate answering it myself! There are just so many. What I find is that the blogs I read most days are the first ones I read, years and eons ago. Many of them became my friends over the years and sometimes we keep in touch in other ways than blogging.

I'm blown away by the number of fun blogs that exist. It can almost be scary-overwhelming! I would say that as I create more content (blogging and other kinds of writing - more on that in a future post!) I read fewer blogs. It's a simple "time" thing. But I'll never give 'em up altogether. I think pretty pictures and good writing matter a little, but more than anything, I want REAL. I want someone who shows her face so I feel like I actually know her, and I want someone who will show the sides of her and her life that aren't always glossy.

I have a recent fave that I'll be sharing sometime next week, but some of my regular reads are Meg, Emily, Jen, Nici, Becca,  Lori. There are probably 50 more that I pop in on, not necessarily daily, but often. I'm in awe of the words spun by my (in)courage sisters and have loved getting to know them and their unique voices. Some other recent finds include Jami, Deidra, Kelly, DL. 

As always, you each deserve a medal made of salted dark chocolate and two vases of zinnias for making it through this post.

Have an awesome day!

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