That’s an easy response when someone asks how I am. But that’s not really a defining response.

No, we throw that around as a banner. Telling everyone just how busy we are, full schedules, running here and there, don’t have time to talk so we text short blurbs. Life coming in 140 characters all throughout the day and into the night.

We choose the life we live. We do. So many say they don’t have a choice in what’s been given them or they don’t have a say in how their life is lived. But that’s just not the case.

Reason being?

He gave us free will. We have the choice in our jobs, whether we have that job or not. Does that mean you don’t live as comfortably as you have gotten used to? Sure. But again, that’s a choice you make.

I wrestled with this thought for a very long time, as I myself talk about how busy I am. I wear it as a badge, using an excuse to not do other things because I am just too busy. Lately though I have been making the choice in how busyness affects my life. That also means how it affects my health, my spending and my mind.

Busyness has a trickle down effect that we often don’t see until we are hanging on by a thread, little sleep and nerves frayed. Over the last few weeks I have been intentional about the choices I have made, to spend time with the people I say matter…to take time to listen rather than talk about my schedule. To intentionally put my free time into the things I desire to pursue. To choose community and people over schedules and hurriedness.

Quickly I am finding that my free will choices become much more filling when I am choosing things that do not drain me, that don’t just add something to a block of my time but it adds life.

I don’t want to miss something in the busyness of life that may not slide by again. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be His hands and feet to someone simply because I have this appointment on my calendar. I don’t want to rush through life simply to look back, with a few more pounds and a lot less fulfillment simply because I didn’t take a few beats to be intentional about what gets on my calendar (and what doesn’t).

That also means rest. Not laziness, but true rest. Which means on the weekends I am not checking emails as often, that I am not on my phone at dinner with friends, and I am most certainly engaging in active recognition of Him in every part of my life. It means that I am making decisions in order to give Him the firstfruits in my all life (work, play, community, rest). I choose that. I get that choice regardless of what others may believe about themselves, as we have that choice.

We have to be intentional about the choices and continue to focus on making them to reinforce it into a habit of our own making that lends to a healthier life, both spiritually and emotionally.

It’s Time That We Start Again…

I sat on my back porch this afternoon, fully engulfed in a book I have found hard to engage the last couple of weeks. The sun was shining, birds were doing their chirp song and life in that moment was fully being lived. There’s even a growing sun burn on my legs as proof.

That’s when this song came flooding my thoughts as I gazed up into the very blue sky…

“Open your heart, it’s time that we start again.”

I could not turn off that refrain as I sat there. It just kept repeating. Those words, hit home and dug deep. They reinforced this same nudging I have carried around the last few days. Nudgings I kept trying to pass off as my own selfish thoughts, desires that I truly believed I had left nine weeks ago as passing fancies for a time.

Then there’s this morning…unassumingly in worship when God calls yet again to say He put that longing on my heart and wants to know if I will follow Him obediently into it. No guarantees of ease, giving up the comfort for work. But work that is in obedience to Him. That is a heart’s cry and answer all wrapped into one.

But I have to lay down that net. That net I have let ensnare and capture me with distractions and excuses. A net of my own making, to provide my very own way. A way I know He is with me on, but not one that I am following Him obediently in. One that I allow Him into the journey on, but asking to stay in the boat rather than step out courageously and confident in Him.

So here I am again, hitting publish on this site and back to sharing what God puts in my heart and at my fingertips to write. Unashamedly for Him, not for myself or for the numbers.

Want a glimpse at the sermon that caught in my throat today? Check out the audio later this week here.

And want to know the song I cannot get out of my head, check out Hawk Nelson’s Drops in the Ocean.

The Week I Couldn’t DeThaw

The entire city shut down this week. Nashville doesn’t handle bad weather well. I am not sure if it’s because we’re in the South (I am a Southerner, so I can say that fully) or if it’s because so many people that live here are from elsewhere, where they may never see weather like this. Whatever the reason, when we got a mix of sleet, ice, snow and freezing rain this week the city flipped out. 10999900_10102866496130665_6212275999966148498_n 10995656_10102866495806315_5455224881107460534_n(1) Across the nation everyone’s been dealing with this winter weather in one way or another, so you can all commiserate. this week proved to be too much for us all though it seems. No one could handle it well, least of all me. It turned from a calming peace of a couple of days off, to the week which wouldn’t I couldn’t dethaw. I kept finding myself in this place of bitter icyness. I simply could not dethaw from the weather, from my head and from my heart. Have you ever encountered that? Where all you could see what the growing hardness but could simply do nothing to stop it? I found that I kept climbing back into this igloo this week after poking my head out. All I saw was bleakness running on for endless miles ahead and I welcomed it. Things were abounding where I would see winter’s firm grip on my heart and situations. A frozen state of mind that simply could not warm to anything. It’s sad to even type those words but that’s where I have been. I think we too often don’t talk about when we feel closed off, hardened by life. We instead only want to point it out in others and move along. Telling them simply to “straighten up and get over it” as if those words are helping a situation or season of life. I am thankful for friends who allow me to be in this season without judgement or harsh words, but instead words of encouragement, of support. Words that affirm that this is a season and not forever. Prayers of perspective instead of gossip and whispers. Friends that take time to understand rather than pass the buck of fault, seeking healing rather than wounding. I am also so very thankful for this season of life. While difficult, trying and tense it has show me that springtime is coming. That I have to navigate the icy paths of winter in order to get new life springing forth. I hope that breathes hope into someone else today, as it did me. Instead of an icy chill of demeaning words or judgement, let the warmth of the hope of spring blow into your heart as it did mine. You don’t have to be strong for tomorrow, simply in today. You merely only need to grasp today as you were created for it, and it was made for you to live fully in. 10173578_10102531468843035_8725455831267033928_n Soon enough spring will be here.

Hard Friendships

“How honest can I be in this conversation?”

A friend and I were recently having a conversation and that was the question posed to me.

That right there is why we are friends, and why I trust her with the questions I war with. I value her friendship, especially in these moments. Moments when I need raw truth I can count on her to provide it.

This time it was needed. I had found myself pondering a question, the same one I had four years earlier. One that I had promised myself I wouldn’t ask again. You see we revisit what we haven’t fully addressed in our lives.

I believe this with my full heart. That when we allow a relationship or situation to go unaddressed, we will come back around to it. It’s a cycle. And this particular day I found myself right back in that cycle. Questioning my own judgement of a situation and the actions of another. Wondering why I yet again allowed myself to get sucked in.

The conversation with the friend didn’t last long because she gave it to me straight. It was a truth I knew deep down but I needed someone to speak that truth into my life in such a pointed way. Otherwise I’d circle right back around on this cycle.

So I decided to be truthful with myself once and for all. What does that look like in this instance? A heart struggle. Honesty. Rooting out doubts. Facing fears. It means I stop lying to myself, the hardest thing for any of us to do. It means I stand up for myself, my heart. It means facing myself and no longer listening to the lies that suck me back into the cycle. It also means rooting out a friendship that has been long standing, but damaging. It means a clean break off without excuses or apologies. It means radio-silence with someone that I have long since called upon as a friend.

Simply because another friend spoke truth that I couldn’t hear any other way. That is true friendship. Friendship that will look at you and tell you the hard stuff, when you don’t want to hear it but you know it in your heart. This friend is the one to keep. The one who checks the mask long ago and speaks real life, and welcomes the same without anger or resentment.

Thankful that there are friendship like that which exist, and I have not one but a couple that I can trust to do just that in my life. Now to speak that same truth into the lives of others in such a way that I would honor them in return.


Finding Your Fringe, a Book Review

Sometimes, in this lovely little bubble of creatives here in Nashville, I get the opportunity to preview a book before it’s released. I must say, I am overjoyed when that happens because not only does it allow me to pour into another author’s work, but it also let’s me peek into what the process is all about. Over the last month I have been posting some things with the hashtag Fringe Hours. Today I am going to share why that is. Jessica N. Turner is releasing a book TUESDAY by that exact same name and I believe every woman should pick this book up. Why, you ask? Well because of this particular line specifically:

Because judging others is toxic to our souls. It does not help us. It only hurts us, poisoning our thoughts and preventing us from enjoying what we do have. (p.66)

If that doesn’t make you download it on your Kindle or run out to Barnes & Noble, then I give you this one, that I keep coming back to over and over again.

No one is actually keeping score on what you are doing and not doing. (p.67)

Did you catch that? You have permission to take your Fringe Hours and do something with them. It might mean writing (like myself) or it could be a sewing project, baking cookies, watching that DVR’d Hallmark movie or taking a lap around the neighborhood. Jessica goes through step by step ways in which you can reclaim those Fringe Hours that we often seem to misplace in our lives. It doesn’t mean you walk away more busy, more stressed or fraying at the ends. No it means being okay with what you want and doing just that in those pockets of time. For me, I started seizing my lunch hour three days a week (when I can) to work out. Do I stress myself out when I don’t make the class? Not as much as I used to because I know that I will simply find another outlet in which to express myself physically later on. It’s not one more thing she’s asking you to do. Jessica touches a heart that beckons for taking back time you once had and not feeling guilty about it. It’s finding that restful spot where you heart and mind are at peace. Some weeks you may find there simply aren’t any Fringe Hours-Jessica walks you through that season as she reflects on those in her own life. This book is one for us all, regardless of life stage, marital status or age. Use your own Fringe Hours to read this insightful piece from Jessica N. Turner and allow your schedule to be a reflection of you, not a perfect standard no one can fulfill.

Join the Winter Bloom Collection that is reading through Fringe Hours here. Pre-order Fringe Hours at Amazon. Pre-order Fringe Hours on Barnes & Noble.

My funny Valentines…

I went on a first date once on Valentine’s Day. Yes, that actually happens. It was in college and the guy had no clue that this particular Tuesday night was in fact Valentine’s Day. Every woman knows when Valentine’s Day is, so you can see why there may have been some curious excitement when he asked me to go out on that particular evening.

He didn’t make reservations anywhere, not thinking that it would be the busiest night out of the year for couples in restaurants. We waited for two and a half hours for a table. It was our first and last date for many reasons.

Sixth grade was the last year we did the shoeboxes on the desks for Valentine’s Day. I distinctly remember this fact because that was the year my mom told me that I didn’t have to give one to every single person in my homeroom or class. I also remember it because this was the year that they made the little attached boxes to the Valentine’s cards if you bought LifeSavers. That year, they had gummy LifeSavers available and I was overjoyed to share those with my friends and classmates. (I still have an affinity for gummy LifeSavers)

The reason I recall all of this is because even though my mom gave me the “everyone doesn’t have to get one” speech, which I appreciate in my childhood development now, I still felt I needed to give everyone some love that year. Everyone should know they matter and are appreciated, even the guy in homeroom who did nothing but aggravate me daily with his snarky comments on me reading books.

When I was in grad school I was seeing a guy for quite a while when Valentine’s Day rolled around. He thought dinner in and a movie was the ticket after a very long week of work and grad school. (We were both working full-time and in grad school, his was electrical engineering so he won on the harder courses) He made an amazing dinner complete with Cheddar Bay Biscuits (yes the Red Lobster recipe) which was a big deal because he was allergic to cheese, sad right? I made a chocolate cake that looked like a flower (#wifematerial even then). We settled in after dinner to watch a movie he rented. He kept going on about how it was a romantic one and thought it’d be perfect since we’d not seen it. It ended up being The Notebook.

Don’t get me wrong ladies, I do enjoy the movie however my grandmother had just been diagnosed with dementia so that whole story line was a bit too raw for me. I ended up sobbing for half of the movie.

My dad has the trifecta in February. With three women in his life, my momma,  myself and my sister, he was our Valentine for the better part of my life. (Still kinda is because I’m a daddy’s girl) Not only that but my lovely mom was born within a week of Hearts Day and their anniversary falls not far behind it. So he had the arduous task of going big each February. (Or one and done, as some would say)

But in the mix, he never forgot about my sister or me. If mom got a piece of jewelry, my sister and I got a little smaller piece that looked like it. If mom got the big honkin’ box of chocolates, we got the smaller version. Mom gets a big vase of roses? We got a flower each. My dad was pretty spot on, and still is, on modeling that bit of thoughtfulness in life for me and my sister. To know that men are capable, regardless of other problems or issues, of being thoughtful in ways we don’t give them credit for.

I share all these stories with you today because I have a bit of nostalgia when Valentine’s Day rolls around. I think back on the ways in which I have been shown love, kindness and appreciation. I also like to give it out. I know it shouldn’t take a specific date on the calendar to show it, but it does for us. While I attempt to show throughout the year how much I love and appreciate those around me, it’s always nice to see the world breathe love out at least on one day a year.

It reminds me that love surrounds us, encompasses us and we don’t much appreciate that in the every day. We take it for granted, we distort it, we manipulate it and we often abuse it. But today we can pause and live in it. It’s cheesiness, it’s ridiculousness, it’s amazingness, and it’s awe and wonder.

In the middle of dark times, when ugliness and evil abound we can pause and be reminded by red hearts, chocolates, flowers in bloom that love matters. Love is real. Love is present. Love is giving. Most of all, that we carry the capacity to love, to give it out and to receive it. I believe we should carry February 14 in us every day of the year, much like December 25.

But what do I know? I am filled with hope at the joy of love. I see it’s impact when we give it out and fully live into it.


My Nightlight

I have a light in the hallway upstairs outside of the bedrooms. It’s a small one that runs off of solar energy for when it’s dark in the hallway. In all of the things I have bought over the last seven months for my home, this has been my favorite.

The reason being is that I absolutely cannot see when I get up in the night or in the very early morning. Due to bad vision, and night blindness, my eyes don’t adjust to the darkness as quickly. Hence many bumps and bruises from slamming into things.

This little small wattage of light allows, even when the door is shut for a sliver of light to come through. In the dark, it looks as if my hallways is flooded with light and glowing. Recently I was looking at it while lying awake in unrest and thoughts plaguing me.

To the dark, it seems as if there is such an immeasurable light on the other side of that door. It breaks through in the door frame, filling the gaps with it’s glow. This weekend I was reminded of this passage and how it so sweetly fits the image of bearing light.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 (ESV)

Do you see that? We shine as lights in the world. We are the ones flooding the gaps in the darkness, giving the glow of the Son to others in order for them to see their way in the dark. It’s work to be the light. It doesn’t just come to us naturally.

Just as my trusty light I have in my hallway, it has to be plugged into a source, be revitalized with the light from another place in order to function as it’s designed to function. When the light gets dim in us, we have to remember that we are the ones flooding that gap for someone else, that we must choose deliberately to renew our energy from the Source from which it comes. That light in us? Well it’s not reliant upon us to shine. It’s found fully in Him.

Plug in to the source, flood the gap, be the light in the crack for another who is on the other side of the door, in the dark, searching for a way.