Larry Mathis on KOXE and I chatted about Insurrection this morning! Listen to the audio playback to get some snippets about the series and upcoming events.
Thank you so much for Larry and the station for having me. Check out the morning show and tune in!
I'm joining KOXE on the air to talk all things Insurrection. Tune in at 9:00 AM CST on Wednesday, February 17, to hear me join Larry Mathis! Set your local radios to 101.3 FM, or listen online at KOXE.com!
Save The Date!!
Join me for a fabulously fun book signing at Hastings in Brownwood, Texas, on Saturday, March 5th, from 1:00-3:00 PM. I hope to see you there for some signed books and a giveaway!!
“God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.” Stop it. This is a meme I’ve seen floating around and I’m very sure the writer intended it to inspire and encourage. However, there’s an underside to this message. This implies that God has weak soldiers. And some who read this may think, well, I’m just not a strong soldier, so why try?
Hey, you. We are all broken and weak. Earthlings are piddly little fleshlings, filled with bones and blood. Some have more muscle than others, some more brains. Some have more faith. Some have faith in the God who made it all. And that last one is the key.
“In the strength of the Lord I can do all things” (Philippians 4:13).
Believe in yourself.
Paul (from the Bible, yo) repeatedly asked God to remove a “thorn” from his flesh, and spectators continue to question what that thorn was.
What is yours? Let me share one of mine. Self image. I’m not sure why I can’t get it through my head, and keep it there, that I am valuable. My wonderful parents raised me to believe in myself, my church family always encouraged me, and I’ve never really come across anyone who outright shouted in my face that I was worthless or dumb. I guess there was that one incident on the playground in middle school, but, seriously, if that’s what it was, then, girl, get over it. She was a bully. You’re fantastic.
This one is for all of us: if you’re reading this, then you have an intrinsic, amazing purpose. God pieced you together, one hair at a time (even the ones in your nose) and has a hope and a future for you. Regardless of what kind of person you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you are on the planet. You’re still on the planet.
In the darkness and the hailstorm, God stands by you. Do you believe that? Do you believe in the deep down gut of your instincts, experience, and knowledge, that God loves you? He does. He wants you to seek his heart. He’s right there. He’ll build you up into something much more than you could have ever planned for yourself.
Hard things, bad things, happen to everyone. You can deal with it if you walk by the side of your glorious commander.
You are a strong soldier. Say it to yourself. I am strong. In the strength of the Lord, I can do all things. I can be kind, I can be tough, I can hold my ground. I can tell the truth, I can be loving, I can be wise, I can fix wrongs. Say it. Believe it. Be it.
What is a tough soldier? Like a Navy Seal or a Green Beret or an Army Ranger? Hoorah. (Not hooray, lol.)
What does it take to be a tough soldier? Strength, both physically and mentally. It takes thick skin, humility, wisdom. Patience, resolve. The soldiers who experienced and wrote the story of their experience enduring the attack on Benghazi in 2012– in their interview, they showed humility and a calm resolve – knowing their strengths, trusting their training, and utilizing their resources.
Now, I KNOW that you and I will each have our own definition of a bad day. We have different definitions of a good day. Some days will be sunshine and butterfly kisses, and some will be blazing desert windstorms or a vomiting child or a broken down car.
But God is there. Be the better you, because he is with you, giving you the strength to do it. Take a step back when those bombs fall. You will be stressed, you will feel anger, your pulse will rocket out of your body. There won’t be enough money in the bank, your arms may be too tired to carry any of it one second longer, and your aching knees may batter against the ground.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
In the strength of the Lord, I can do all things. You can do all things.
Because God has this. His strength enables you to carry on, to walk in that door, to drive a few more miles, to finish.
What is a soldier without any self-confidence? Can it even be? Let us not be the devoured or the extinguished.
I’m about to have to do some hard things. I’m in the middle of doing hard, cruddy, humbling things. I’ve known hard things. I’ve conquered hard things. I worked toward and earned my Master’s degree while working full time as an office manager, in my second year of marriage, and pregnant. I aced all my classes. I had a lot of late nights, a lot of stress, and high blood pressure. I was careflighted to have an emergency c-section. Hard. Things. And I’m about to walk through several other thick, barred doors in this great, confusing building that is life. I’m not sure how big this room is. It may be very cold and it will be a challenge, without a doubt.
So now, I’m arming myself. Power up, soldier.
You are stronger than you think. If you have a cognizant relationship with God, you have the ability to move mountains. Who knows what those mountains may look like. Each of us has a different mountain.
In the strength of the Lord.
How do you get to be strong? “Strong is earned,” as Jade Teta says. Strong takes time. Strong takes heart. Work it. Find it. Do it. Strength shows in times of trials. Make a list of fears and weaknesses. Make a list of your strengths. Exercise them all. Build your relationship with God. Seek him. Read his fabulous words, multiple times a day. Write them on cards and put them where you will see them, especially where you need them the most. Seek his heart in prayer. Be conscious about strengthening your relationship with God, about seeking his heart and his presence. Because he is there. Don’t worry about seeking other people, because they will stumble or disappear.
And go take a good walk. Every day. Take time to reflect on the cosmos. God speaks through his creations, so go experience the ones that won’t mess up his message with words.
You know, we can’t see heaven. I have no idea where it is. I haven’t had any special interactions with angels that I really know of, no glowing people saying to ‘fear not’ or anything like that. But each of those hard things that I can look past on, I can see how some greater presence than myself got us through it.
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). The other day I was on my daily walk and as I looked up into the endless blue sky, those succulent white clouds puffed by, looking somewhat like wings. Maybe they were angel wings. Maybe they were just a reminder that there’s so much more to this life than what we can see at this moment.
There’s one Bible verse that has stuck out to me and I have it by my mirror. “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). The human’s first inclination is to do evil, because all have sinned and fall short. Reshape those inclinations to turn from evil, and do good. Seek peace. Seek God, the author and embodiment of peace. Pursue that. Dictionary.com says that pursue means “to follow someone or something in order to catch or attack them” … “to follow close upon…to proceed in accordance with…to carry on….to practice” (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pursue). Pursue means to dig in. Stay close to it.
I was out of the house for a week and had left a bottle of water in the fridge. I took it out, unsure of its quality. The drops of condensation inside reminded me that some creatures thrive when they are left alone, and some thrive when they are riled up. Some thrive in the cold, and some thrive in the heat. Humans are ridiculously resilient, and we can find a way to thrive in all of those situations. You have to want it, you have to be aware of it, and you have to have faith.
Don’t allow anyone else or circumstances around you to take your passion or divert you from that goal. Maybe it's time for you to hop out of the fridge. Maybe you're facing the fire. Maybe you're shaken and stirred. You can do this.
From beginning to end, God has been there, seen it, known it. He knows the other guy’s plan. He knows the stories we create. He hears the enemy even when we can’t. He is also the creator of the plot twist and the big reveal. So follow your commander, your creator, your provider. Trust him, because the lights will go out. He’s right beside you. He handpicked you. And He thinks you are awesome.
To many people, the world had ended. But Saylor faced the wind and the fire, on her own two feet, ready to crush it.
This battle was hers.
Sixteen-year old Saylor had been told she was a stain on the cloth of mankind. When she and her sister orphans Micah, Denise, and Patricia are apprehended upon the high seas, they find themselves imprisoned on a Caribbean island filled with strange noises, dazzling beaches, and a secret military base. Wavering between terror and ecstasy, Saylor develops her inner warrior while facing an enemy who exposes her indispensable abilities. In order to rescue her sisters, impress the hunky Australian, and protect innocent lives on a global scale, she must master techniques of fighting an army created to destroy with a single, scorching touch -- or die trying.
Why should you read Insurrection? Here are the top ten reasons:
10. The cover is so fun.
9. The inside is even better.
8. If you like baseball or softball, you will dig this.
7. The characters will be your new BFFs, to root for and grow with.
6. Play any Angels & Airwaves or Of Monsters & Men song as a great soundtrack.
5. Original young adult science fiction adventure with fun, interesting technology.
4. Four amazing female characters, several elite warriors, and one hot Australian. Winky smiley face.
3. "My shadow waved at my future self, blowing a kiss in the sunshine."
2. Book Two is being edited, so the adventure will continue!!
1. It's a story built from friendship, sunny afternoons, family, and a bridge in the gap of the ones who leave and the ones who stay.
Read along with me! Insurrection chapters will be availabe on my website for FREEEEEE! I'll post a new chapter every Friday on my Insurrection page. Chapter 1 is up and running! Or if you want to read the whole story at your own pace, grab your own digital or paperback copy.
Please feel free to share, like, download, comment, follow, ask, tell, and review! The more the merrier, my friends. I'm so incredibly grateful for every person who takes the time to read and enjoy the story I've been given to share. Thank you for investing your time and imagination. Enjoy! <3
Read Chapter 1 Here
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This past week has been so much more than I imagined. Unplanned appointments, last minute grocery runs, and more loads of laundry than I knew I signed up for when I agreed to be a momma! Can we change those terms of service somewhere?
HOWEVER, I've got a SUPER AWESOME announcement and will post a vlog/blog tomorrow. Please check back in with me to see what's going on, so you can see it from the beginning with me!
Now go detox from your Super Bowl snax. Winky face!
Karen Gillespie was non-descript and usually very chilly. Her brown hair fell in a limp ponytail, and the looser skin around her thin jowls bore those signs of weary surmises, bored frowns, and lackluster people-watching. Perhaps Karen’s most interesting feature was her ability to be somebody different every day. She would flip aside the dainty, lace curtains in her cozy, yellow-walled apartment, and glance at the weather blowing by her window. On the days when trails of sunshine drifted down through the cement and brick walls of the surrounding city elements, she would pick up those wooden pencils labeled, “Karen,” in black permanent marker, and squiggle what seemed to be letters or numbers in some semblance of order in vertical lines upon crisp white papers. She always stacked the papers neatly afterward. On the drearier days when faded, ashen clouds filled the ether surrounding the sidewalks, she would pull out a gray pan and mix a batch of gray elements in a gray bowl to create some sort of buttery-smelling baked goods.
The uneasy queasiness of a Monday morning stirred her to look even closer out of the window, for possibly five seconds longer than she would normally glance. The air outside was clear and crisp, one which the skin did not find too hot or too cold, but Karen tucked her brown knit sweater around her arms tighter. She carried a tray of cookies and muffins upon her arms, a brisk pace to her steps, as she rounded the corner, avoiding the horde of soles and cracks filling the pavement. At one crowded crosswalk she glanced up, with a murmur only any friendly neighboring ears might hear, that, “We ought visit the Empire State Building tomorrow. There’s a chance for rain today.”
Pandering along the walk, a rainbow of shirts and shoes clattered by, and she offered a simple nod or smile to any who might notice. She paused too long in several doorways, stopped to ask several tourists for directions, and slid quarters in expired parking meters, red flags catching her hazel eyes. Pedestrians waited behind her, sighing, lingering slower in their tasks, and tarrying for moments more.
Karen delivered the tray to the gritty back door of a small bakery. A slumped man grabbed the tray with only a short pause and a flick of his brown eyes toward hers. “For this evening,” she stated firmly.
“Are you sure?” his thick hands and accent hesitated.
“Before the day is over. ‘Tis high importance.”
A delivery truck rumbled up behind her, cutting off the sky and effecting a period for Karen to glide by with a ducked head and closed ears. The baker did not prefer her deliveries, but he more often than not allowed them with a sullen nod. He knew she had been leaving a trail behind her today, for tomorrow would change the world.
The baker slipped each morsel into a paper box. A note in Karen’s handwriting glided down upon the stack, the loopy cursive offering a good day to all. He knew the goodies would churn stomachs and create a trivial frivolousness, temporarily changing minds and altering time. And yet he nodded, allowing the kind turn to act on its own.
“Delivery boy!” the baker called, his voice echoing through the busy shop. “Deliver to Tower 2. Floor 110. Pick an office.” The boy nodded, black hair falling over his lackadaisical and preoccupied face. The words drifted out the door and into the alley.
Karen allowed her cheeks to surge upward for a moment, a slight rosy glow emanating. She turned the corner again, migrating into paths and crossing traffic, dawdling and darting, tilting and tumultuous, wishing she could walk slower and in more places. She knew she could not change all, but she could change some. For minds had been made, and alterations miscarried, until wit and worry would not unwind the clock that continuously twisted its way into tomorrow.
Karen stepped into her doorway and listened to the steely concrete, the shadowed whispers, and the busy matter encircling her apartment. She knew the sounds would soon silence and an even more somber cloud fill the sky. Her nimble fingers slid the door shut and her padded feet shuffled the body over to the sink to stir up another batch of dough. Tomorrow would be a busy day.
Admiral Jacobi Porter walked right by the tall dog statue wearing a fuzzy black hat outside the towering library. But Geraldine was not a tall dog statue, nor would anyone who knew her credit her stature as tall, nor did she look like a dog in any way. But we all know the view looks different from the top.
Geraldine Kay was tired. She had been at the library all morning researching the fundamental issues of psychosis patients who had been misdiagnosed. Her case study was based on the homeless population of the great state of New York. Geraldine was what people considered a “little person” but she dreamed largely of changing the face of homelessness, beginning with those who seemed un-helpable. Her thick black hair fell down her back in a thick, curly mop as she stretched, arching her aching back, and winced in the warm summer sun. She glanced across the street and noticed a woman staring at her from an old, wooden bench. Geraldine slid her eyes down to the thick stack of crumpled papers in her lap, sighing, because she only knew the view from the bottom.
The woman shifted her weight on the creaking bench. Blythe had been waiting for the bus for fifteen minutes and her bottomside was beginning to grow numb. Breathing deeply with a sharp intake of air, she realized her blue eyes had been staring at the front steps of the library, the dull tan cement an easy place to focus amid the whirl of emotion. Two days prior, her roommate had disappeared. The black uniforms had been in and out, lining the floors with yellow, numbered cards, and bagging random knickknacks. Blythe was no longer comfortable there, but had little cash for hotels and shopping sprees. Hence, the wait at the park. What would they find? What would they not find? She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep the secret. Unsure of relief, she’d acted before considering how the view could change. But she swore she'd do it again, regardless.
Do something you believe in.
Not fully qualified to give lessons in success, particularly because I randomly text the wrong person with the wrong response and also because the earth is not quite round and I tend to trip over it, I will not claim that I have all this down.
However, in the last year and a half, I have discovered one Answer to many questions that have been such a plague in the past. I don’t know where you are coming from when you read these words, but if you are looking for answers, let’s chat for a few, okay?
I found myself at the grocery store the other day, picking out packages of meat, smiling at strangers and ducking my head in passing. One lady from the gym happened to be there, and I smiled, offering a quiet, “Hi,” and quickly studied my shoes. The thought immediately drifted into my head whispering, “She probably doesn’t even remember you.”
I don’t always believe in myself. But I deserve more than that.
The last few months I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself, changing my mindset about life in general, and learning as much as I can about a lot of things –nutrition, exercise, fitness, making goals, life changes, writing, the list goes on. As I heard myself whisper that sentence, I gave her a sharp look and snapped my fingers at her, pointing to that thin nose. “You stop that,” I ordered. I wasn’t sure what to make of what she’d said to me. Why would the lady that I remembered not remember me? Why would someone not want a hello and a smile?
You know, I’ve had a lot of hard, heavy thoughts in my life. I’ve seen some very dark days and low, low points filled with tears, writhing anger, and silent loneliness like ash floating toward a pile of dry leaves. Have you ever had thoughts like that? That you weren’t memorable enough, that you didn’t have enough talent, or that all the good days were past?
Perhaps it’s time to be memorable. Perhaps you just need a little more grit, experience, and to seek your project.
I don’t always think about my children being a project, but they are. They are a lifelong Something and I want to invest. I believe in them. I believe in them because they are beautiful, inspired, innocent, lavish in love and hugs and giggles, and want to fly. I believe in them, because. They deserve a cheerleader. That’s me.
I also need, all people need, as I’ve decided, to create. You need to be the founder of some great creation. You owe that to yourself, and you deserve it. You deserve to hunker down over that Project for hours upon hours, days upon days, possibly years upon years, and make something amazing. Only you can make it. It may be buried deep down, under layers of clothing and wrapped in duct tape, but oh my, please unearth it.
Your children may be your project. Your house and homemaking skills may be your project. Sewing, skating, running marathons, playing an instrument, singing, dancing, painting, scrapbooking, graphic design, putting together robots or refrigerators, folding paper, shucking corn, editing essays, and all of those things that have not yet been created, may be It. Making a guitar from a block of ice and the hair from a llama may be your project. I don’t know. People do weird stuff, man. Just look at most of YouTube.
But the point is, you will realize so much more of the unique, crucial character you are when you create. Intentional creation offers life. Intentional creation spurs light, life, waves of hope, and that deep stirring within the heart. Not only will it draw out these elements in yourself, but others as well. Only you can create and share that project, unlike anyone else.
Maybe you used to think you were supposed to Be Something In Particular and it hasn’t worked out. Maybe you need to explore other options, maybe you need to keep learning more about that interest, or maybe you need to adapt and look at other aspects of that Something. For example, what if when you were eight you wanted to be the first professional female baseball player? Well, maybe you can coach. You may be one of the best coaches who ever played first base. What if you wanted to be a writer, but you just can’t find a good story. Maybe you’d be great at editing and finding writers, and reading their good works, and helping to revise that project to greatness. Maybe you wanted to finish high school but you are fifty eight. Maybe you want to be an actress but have a knack for knowing just what right sound goes with an action. Be a foley artist. Not all memorable people are famous. Every part of the puzzle is crucial, even that patch of blue sky.
Try. Act. Practice. Start. Move.
Be willing to adapt, and you’ll be amazed at what colors the journey will become.
Along the way, you will face challenge and failure, as all projects (especially the worthy ones) do. This is where focus comes into play. Do this project for yourself. Enjoy it immensely yourself. Who cares if nobody else likes it. But, I am willing to bet some money, or pancakes or something, on this, that others will like it too.
So if you feel as shredded as a block of cheddar cheese inside, if you feel lost and weighted down and hurt, write it down, and make a plan to fight it. Pick up the sword and let it fly. Swing away.
Don’t be a quesadilla. Quesadillas get eaten. You are the chef.
If you can hardly breathe from the crushing silence, create a new song to sing. Create the world in which you want to exist.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-8).
We have loved and lost. We have buried dreams, goals, and stepped on chewed gum in the dirt. We have seen nights so hazy that the morning shines even brighter because of it. So take that magnificent story line that you are on, and shine it up, build it out, and add on a room. Think about those times when you felt successful, pleased with yourself, excited, and others recognized, confirming it. What were you doing? Why were you doing it? Did it add joy to others?
Revisit that, and see how you can create. God has called you here, down below, for this time, in this place, in your space. Make it shine. Make it so.
Dripping with sweet memories and caramel, these last few weeks have been full of busy days and late nights. I finished the second manuscript, the second installment, of my Insurrection series.
For right now, before I flop into bed with a hot cup of decaf coffee, here's this last month's motivational note. A happy thought from my gym instructor.
Keep up your good work, friends!! Go change the world! And check in tomorrow. :D
"Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it."
"If you focus your energy on sharing your gifts rather than worrying about what others think, you might just change the world."
If I just gave up, would anyone care?
What if I don't Make It?
What if I can't find my niche or that answer that I'm hoping to find?
"It’s never too late to run away." That’s what one purple alien told his traveling companion as their vehicle crashed to the ground in the movie Home.
The hubs and I have discussed the idea of success a lot recently. What is success? Can success be measured, weighed, wrapped up in a package, or defined by some shiny statue? Is success a framed certificate or a dollar amount on a paycheck? Maybe it depends on the initial goal and the motivation behind that goal. Some people find success as simply getting out of bed in the morning. I been there, I hear dat. Some people find success on a brightly lit stage, dressed in a formal gown, with their hair all did fancy. Does success exist in One Moment, in One Shot?
Success can be found anywhere along the road. Success is the moving forward even though the ground seems to be shaky and the air very thin. Success is the unfolding of light within a dark realm. Success is dancing wildly on a grassy patch of grass, finding hope and delight in little achievements. Success ought be sought with joy, flung freely, and named frequently.
Small bricks build strong walls, if layered well and often. Little steps matter.
I guess it’s okay if I fail, because it was small. And from that "no," from that, "well, not right now," that, "um, uh, I think it...uh, I like this, um..." stuttering stumbling happenstance, we learn, we reconfigure, and we re-examine.
It's okay if your goal is big. Love your purpose, love your goals, and love yourself in the process of achieving them. Carry on with a smile and a coffee cup in hand. Believe in moving forward and finding opportunity.
Because since I acted out scenes in my parent’s hallway, sweeping floors, pretending to be Cinderella’s twin sister who was left behind because she was the awkward, shy one who lost her first love to a band of local pirates, well, I guess I wanted to just create stories. Maybe act them out.
Definitely share them.
I’m still learning how to communicate and share my stories. That walk is a daily exercise and one that will continue until I am done with words. But words, silent words on a page, have always been the way I found my footing and guided my pencil out of the maze.
Words do not need to be everybody's purpose. This sapphire globe runs on the fuel of mankind's creative genius, endowed by such a Creator himself. We have been gifted so generously with dirt, wood, sunshine, far away worlds, unseen heavens, numbers, letters, song, sound, touch, and dream. All ought re-evaluate what their souls whisper so desperately for. Are clenched fists and coiled ambition shoved into a box in the attic?
"Mohamed 'Mo' Farah is a Somali-born British distance runner... Farah earned Olympic gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races, and repeated that double victory at the 2013 world championships... In February 2015, Farah set his first world record by running 8:03.40 for 2 miles indoors."
Runner's World. <http://www.runnersworld.com/tag/mo-farah> Accessed February 16, 2016.
Mo Farah was pictured with a surprise look on his face after winning gold at the most recent Olympics. Noted by thousands as an inspiration and a true Olympic legend, he is adored and yet has been made the subject of many a comical moment online. An entire Tumblr page has been created about mofarahrunningawayfromthings.
The race is tough.
The race is long.
The race pushes, pulls, and separates.
I looked into Mo Farah while researching fun encouraging memes for one of my online classes. College can often seem like a sprint, and for some it is an ultra-marathon. Single days in normal life may seem like sprints or ultra-marathons. Let’s face it. I’m a mother of a two-year old. Sometimes minutes seem like ultra-marathons.
The race builds endurance.
The tenacity carries physical achievement.
The maze offers surprise.
Mo Farah may have been surprised at his success with a comical expression, but he holds that gold medal as a record of his accomplishment.
One day, the time will come when that next fork in the road stumbles upon you. You'll have to decide if you want to get out of bed, drive that boring route, or to pursue the next goal. You’ll have to decide if you want to write another stupid query letter, finish another paper, change another diaper, put away those darn dirty dishes one more time, or just start digging holes.
Digging holes can be fun.
Watch out for lies, though, because they will make you think you should dig holes instead of build houses. Turn that hole into a basement. And keep going.
Not all runners get a medal. Heck, most runners don’t make it to the Olympics. Is there a person within fifty feet of you? Then that person probably runs. Is he in the Olympics? No. Does that mean you stop running? No. Doesn’t matter how he runs. It matters how you run. It matters how I run.
I’m guessing Mo didn’t run away from his fears though, and just kept running forward.
Finish strong, finish on your knees, finish covered in mud, finish glistening with fairy dust, but finish.
I’m honestly not sure how God falls into the equation and how your heart will seek him, and which answers will help you keep on. This level of the building is where we learn to give him glory when the lights go out, there are holes in the floor, and all the doors are locked from the outside. Hey, he’s there with you though. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:6). So don’t worry about running away alone, or moving forward alone. You’re not alone. There’s that.
Darkness settles into bones with a soft, creeping, withering stare. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes not. Don’t be afraid to shake it off, throw it down, or carry it along for the ride and let it blink blindly in the sunlight. The darkness only weighs in the nighttime. Now, because it is night, and my mind whirls tumultuously, I can sit in my dim office, type out some sense, and add one more notch in a void where notches are free and pay even less. But it’s there, it’s loaded, it’s available, it’s another rock on the pile. It’s hopefully another connection to someone else awake in the night wondering if it’s too late to run away.
It’s never too late to run away.
But hold tight if you need to. See if you can hold out any longer, or feel around in the dark one more time, and make one more round. Extend a hand and call out, and see if anyone else is in the room with you. I bet there is. I know there is. And I bet that a hand is attached to that Creator who made you, and that hand wants to hold yours. Even in the dirt. Even as we make our way through the maze.
Sometimes we fall in the fire, we succumb to temptation, and criticize when instead we should uplift. Focus on the next victory, rather than the hot fire under your feet. Even if you fall into the category of being the person for whom extra grace is required, or if you have a whole address book full of people who need some extra grace -- and who of us does not -- keep in mind that our God is always lavish in his grace, in his power.
Now go. Pick up the ball, keep playing, and show your audience the power of God within you. People love a guy who rises from the ashes.
Philippians 2:3 is a great verse. It is a reminder to share God's love for others. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Some of us suffer with too much pride, and some of us suffer with too much humility. Just because you can serve someone does not mean you need to think too little of yourself. YOU ARE AMAZING. You are the only you. You are spectacular, a vision designed by the hand of the Almighty Creator with unique, important, necessary talents and gifts. Hold yourself upright, while at the same time believing in others. Maybe you can consider another phrasing of the verse -- like, consider others' needs as highly important. A princess is still a princess, even when she cleans up spilled milk. Act in love toward others, while loving yourself. Humility is Love, willing to put on work gloves and an apron.
And we journey onward, rising above the fire!
For more excerpts from this book, visit: http://www.saramusgrove.com/purchase.html
Some moments cause you headaches or grief, silliness or sadness. Don't fall prey to the Big Gloom, but keep your eyes on The One who can keep you above it all.
A speech I was honored to present for a Veteran's Day program at Victory Life Academy:
From what little I know about the training to become a service member in the United States military, I have learned that my hardest days are their cheesecake, and only in the strength of the Lord would I be able to endure that first day of basic training. Pretty soon after I hit the first set of push-ups, they might give me the boot. I teach online classes with Liberty University, and have found that many of my best students are military. They follow instructions! They are respectful! They have survived a training that stripped them of their identity and gave them a new one. I can only imagine that in losing your identity, you must seek a strength much greater than yourself.
My brother-in-law was in the US Army; they were stationed in Italy and he saw intense action, had to make life-or-death choices. My uncle served 20 years, making rounds in Vietnam, Germany, and Hawaii. I spoke with him yesterday, and the stories just began to roll – from firing nuclear weapons to meeting Julie Andrews, the army changed his life. And he changed lives because of the army. These are just two short snippets of lives, stories, interwoven with this force that watches over us while we sleep. They see the invisible enemy and run toward it to save us. They make those hard calls; they know information we couldn’t handle; they maintain a volume of terminology that means things we civilians don’t relate with, like “DFAC,” “cover,” “hit the rack,” “smoked,” “wire stretchers,” “PCS,” “quarters,” “MOS,” “POV,” “boots on the ground,” and “let’s roll.” Continue rolling out, even beyond the call of duty.
If you don’t know what any of those terms mean, go ask a vet or serviceman. They’ve got a thousand stories. They’ve seen a thousand shades of red. They’ve known thousands of moments of choosing strength and courage in the glaring light of day and the darkest of all nights.
Today’s meeting offers a cute meet of valor and warfare. Victory Life Academy, you are Warriors! Yeah?! Webster’s dictionary defines a warrior as a person experienced in warfare; a person of great vigor or courage. I grew up attending a private Christian school and our mascot was the Crusader. Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the United States, and has the mascot of the Flames: our motto is that we train champions for Christ. Notice the theme toward which Christ-followers have aimed: Excellence. Passion. Audacity. Moxie. Skill. An intentioned disposition.We aren’t kittens or cream puffs.
1 Peter 5:6-9 tell us, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
Then in Ephesians 6, Paul instructs, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power... Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
Christ followers walk a unique line between love, service, care, wisdom, thick skin, humor, and valor. We have no need for fear, for our Father breathed the very air into our lungs, walked on water, befriended his betrayers, and conquered death. We know who wins the battle. We rally against the darkness and fear that negate God’s goodness. We are smiles, hugs, handshakes, authenticity, action, and perseverance. We build relationships and people. We continue on when others would give up. We play with that lonely kid on the playground. We offer food to the hungry. We study, we learn, we use those gifts provided to us.
And we share light in the name of The One who created it.
We are humble warriors.
We serve, we step into unknown lands, on bended knee and with baited breath.
Our Commander is the rock eternal, and we can’t wait to see what he will do next.
Veterans, continue telling us your stories. Continue pulling security, even though your official shift may be over. You are our heroes, both unsung and immortalized in metals.
You are the barricade in the night, the living shield of faith.
We stand with you, and like Dylan Thomas begged, We “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” We rage in action, peace, applause, honor and joy. We put boots on the ground to thank you for rescuing lives worthy of the millions of push-ups, hours of gut-wrenching sacrifices, and selfless service. Let’s ride.
It’s Friday. It’s been a crappy week.
That’s right, I said it, and I mean it. I got five rejections from literary agents, I didn’t lose an ounce on my weight loss plan, my hair looks like a monkey has been living in it, and my nose continues to run like the participants in the Boston Marathon.
It’s been rough.
Every day this week has been a struggle between my brain and my willpower. I haven’t achieved anything but I’ve listened to six episodes of Gilmore Girls while I’ve worked. Nobody has died yet, so there’s something I guess.
How To Survive A Crappy Week
1) Realize it has only been one week. Fortunately for us, life is normally more than a week long. Take this one in stride, forgeddabout it, and move on.
2) Go to bed earlier tonight. Because you probably need the rest to start fresh with a new day tomorrow.
3) Stop looking at facebook. Because it is really fakebook. And there are lot of misspelled memes that are totally depressing.
4) Like Taylor Swift said, shake it off. Be honest – it’s been rough, it’s been tough, and you’ve been steamrolled. Recall Step 1.
5) Either change one thing that is not working, or continue on. Quite often the road to success is paved with the daily grinding of action and continual moving forward, gaining strength, gaining momentum. Keep it up. Keep going. If you see results that indicate you are hurting, losing momentum, losing experience, actually fumbling and doing something wrong, then take some days to figure out how to Do It Better, and then begin again. The worst you can do is give up. Sometimes failure masquerades as disappointment. Learn from the feelings and differentiate between boredom and error. Pick up the ball, tuck it into your chest, and run like fire.
So there. That’s my tough love moment for the week.
It is okay if you don’t share this blog, because I know that nobody is actually reading it. But I wrote something today, and this is it, so again, recall Step 3 and 4.
Now for some coffee and Gilmore Girls.
“You’re just like me, a big nobody!”
Her squeaky voice echoes through the cavernous hall as the “evil stepsister” and “evil stepmother” begin their new indentured servitude in the palace, dying cloth and washing laundry.
Lately, this remarkable phrase from the movie Ever After keeps ringing through my ears, rattling around in my brain, and prattling about before my eyes. I’m just a big nobody. I can’t make it. I can’t do it. I need to be satisfied with my small life. Just step away from the computer and go clean up the kitchen, as it is covered in a thin coating of grime. At times I’m unsure if my brain is lying or if it is being honest. Am I trying too hard? Am I wanting too much? Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing what God has planned for me?
Caught in a lie. I’ve been caught between a lie and a truth for most of my life. Too many speakers at too many podiums have made me think that God has a specific timeline for me to follow, a specific list of To Dos and To Not Dos, and I simply have to trust that the right thing will happen at the right time.
Well, I have decided I don’t believe this anymore.
I have decided to have a little faith in who I am. I have decided to take my faith in God’s sovereignty, my belief that he is good, loving, remarkable, and dwells in me, and have a little faith in myself, too.
And I’m sticking by my decisions.
By God’s grace, I was raised by loving parents, and have been well-educated. I pushed through four years at college, and then pandered around trying to figure out what I wanted from life, and after folding four billion and a half church bulletins, I noticed that I was inclined to daydream and dawdle, and just wanted to tell a good story. Whether the story was about real life or not, I didn’t care, but The Time seemed to slip to the side and Life truly felt real when I was engrossed in the slithering and sticking of words upon the page. By God’s grace, I was accepted into a Master of Fine Arts program for creative writing, and the words began to pile up. Here we are four years later. By God’s grace, I am what I am.
I falter and flail, but my God is near me all the time. I shared this message with my daughter this morning, because her memory verse from Bible Drill last night was Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in God.” When I learned the verse as a sprightly twig, (ha, I wish I’ve ever been a twig. Let’s go with it.) I learned a rhyming version, “When I am afraid, I will trust in thee, Psalm 56:3.” Rhyme works, my friends. A friend told me recently that she thinks I am brave. This idea makes me laugh, and yet makes me hopeful. Am I brave? Can I be brave? Can I DO THIS?
Can YOU DO THIS???
There is this deep, inner tugging, a wrenching of my darkest hopes and fears, intermingled in a chewy, doughy pretzel. What does it take to Make It? And can I do it?
You will be left behind.
You will miss out.
You will fall.
You will say the wrong thing at the wrong time.
You will sleep in late.
You will laugh at the wrong time.
You will reject the wrong person.
You will forget what you promised yourself.
You will step in somebody’s old gum and, or, dog poop.
You will get a late start.
You will get fired.
You will lose out.
You will lose big.
You will be tempted to lose hope.
Don’t lose hope.
Be sure of God.
Be of good cheer.
Be who God can make you be.
You will be forgotten by ‘people’. You will be left behind and alone. You will feel small. You will sit in the dark silence and think there is nothing better and it cannot get better.
You are right.
The sentence continues on, my friend.
God is love. God is the beginning and the end. He is wider and deeper than we can even fathom or discover. That God made you, loves you, rescued you, and waits for you to dwell in his shadow and act in his power. There is nothing and no hope without God. If you believe that he is the great I Am, then you have his spirit in you. By pursuing his heart, your actions will give him glory. Yes, he has prepared some good works for you and I to do, and he placed those deep in the corners and essence of your heart. By fulfilling those good passions, you shine a spotlight on his person.
Whether he placed in you a desire to help people medically, scientifically, in a classroom, in a dentist’s office, in a cubicle, in a laboratory, at a lake, by a pier, on a mountain, on a weight bench, or under the ocean, those myriad talents make this world diverse and interesting, and a fully encompassing picture of his creativity that he has shared with us.
I want to tell a good story. I want to help you live on the brighter side of this shadowed universe.
Bigger than the “I can’t,” is the “I Am.”
Maybe your goal is small, maybe your goal is astronomical, but listen to the power rather than the doubt. I am royalty. Are you? It’s time to own that and act like that.
If He placed your talents and passions inside of you, then be assured you can use them for good, and for His glory. How do we ensure we are acting for God’s glory? We can’t always see that part of it. That’s where I struggle, because I am but one tiny part of the masses. God can take even my smallest efforts and make them flourish. He is the one who directs the lightning in its path, remember.
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4). That Rock is in you, so let your heart be hardened to the doubt, yet open to the light.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). Peter, also known as The Rock (do you think he looked anything like Dwayne Johnson???) was one of those people who had full confidence in himself and his Author. He struggled with humility, and I think we all do. I often have too much humility and then find myself behind proud of that. So silly. Now, that’s a twisted web. Don’t think about it too much because your head will begin to thud in a dull panic. Peter follows this strong sentence with another: “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith” (1 Peter 8-9a). Even here, God reminds us to be strong. If you feel like you can’t achieve your goal, you may be trying to accomplish too many goals, may simply lack conviction, or just need to shiver off that dead outer skin of childish faith.
So chuck anxiety out the back door and toss a lit match upon that spurning lie. Then lock the door. Do what you can today to get another step closer to that dream, that goal. Instead of aching for more, be the lightning that crosses the sky.
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