On Taking Up Space

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Well friends, it’s been a while. All of the sudden I looked up and it was August, and this little corner of the internet had been abandoned for months. I would like to say that I don’t know how that happened. Except that I do.

The past few months have been packed to the brim with camps and planning and supply runs and crafting and phone calls and to-do lists, and all the other things that define the life of a children’s minister during the summer. I’ve been traveling almost nonstop for work and just got back a few days ago from a mission trip on the other side of the globe. Things have been a little busy around here, to say the least.

Several weeks ago my travels took me to Atlanta for a conference. Any time I gather with this particular group of colleagues we end our time together with what we call the “talking chair.” We each take a turn sitting in a chair at the front of our room and sharing with one another what we plan to work on, either professionally or personally, until we meet again.  I thought about what I wanted and needed from the next few months, and when it was my turn to speak I simply said, “I will write.”

I’ve said before that writing is therapeutic for my soul.  It’s the way I connect with God and myself best, the way I give myself freedom and space to be the most honest version of myself. And so I’m vowing to make more time for that—both here and elsewhere. I’m vowing to write even when I don’t want to and feel like I have nothing to say. I’m vowing just to write and let the rest fall into place.

A few days ago I was reading an essay in which the author talked about the importance of taking up space in your own life. She was referring to our tendency to put everything else first—work obligations, family responsibilities, chores, etc. It’s not that those things aren’t important (they are), but if we’re not careful we can slip too far into the background of our lives. We can go  entire days and weeks and years without doing the very thing that bring us joy and give life, the very thing we were created to do.

For me, that’s what writing is—it’s taking up space in my own life. It’s making time for something that nourishes my soul and speaking the truth I have to speak. Thanks for reading along while I do it!

 

On Writing and Prayer

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For me, writing is a lot like prayer. It is hard and holy work, and when I actually take the time to do it—well, that makes all the difference.

Sometimes writing comes easily. I think most writers would say that there are times when the words spill out faster than they can put them down on paper. Those moments are golden (and in my experience very, very rare). Prayer is a lot like that, too. There are times when I can’t get the words out fast enough—when I can’t figure out anything to do but pray.  And often it comes with pain. It is no coincidence that the harder life gets, the easier prayer becomes. It’s what C.S. Lewis was talking about when he wrote that pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world. Pain makes us desperate.  We talk to God with a kind of honesty and lack of eloquence that is difficult to muster otherwise.

But for me, that’s not the norm.

Most days writing is hard, hard work. I spend much more time staring at a blank computer screen than I do writing. Or worse—I spend hours writing paragraph after paragraph just to end up deleting the whole thing, suddenly aware that it’s not what I wanted to say at all. I struggle to get the words out and try to figure out why everyone else seems to do it so much better than me. I put it off to do other things and make excuses for why I don’t do it more. But still, I always, always, always come back. Writing does my soul good in a way that nothing else can. Every time I write—no matter how long it takes or how many times I have to start over—I come away from it a little bit lighter, a little more myself.

Prayer is the same. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out a way around it, thinking I can do better on my own. I search for the right words, mess up, and start all over again. I search for any words and find I can’t find anything to say at all. I feel inadequate and lost.

But I need prayer. I need it the way I need writing and the way I need air. I need it to not only be my best self, but to be myself at all. I need it because it helps me draw nearer to God, to be who he created me to be. Prayer is how I grow with God and how he meets me where I am.  It changes me, and I find over and over again that if I just start, God has a way to taking care of the rest.

For me, writing is a lot like prayer.  It is hard and it is holy and it is good. And I’m thankful.

Called to Create

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Every writer has days when she doesn’t feel like writing. Every artist has days when he doesn’t feel like painting or drawing or sculpting. Every musician has days when she doesn’t feel like playing. I get those days. Even those of us who enjoy the creative process have days when we feel dried up. There are days when the notes don’t sound right or you stare painstakingly at a blinking cursor for hours waiting for the right word to come. There are days when there’s just too much else going on—whether it’s dishes or laundry or commitments or meeting that are pulling you away.

There are days when I don’t feel like writing. There are days when I can’t find words to say and fear I have nothing real of value to offer this world. Those are the days I need to pick up a pen the most.

Because this is what I know: I was made in the image of God. By that I don’t mean that I look like God or that God looks like me. What I mean is that the very essence of God is part of my DNA. Who God is at the very center of his being is present within me, too. Who I am—at my very core—is a reflection of my creator.

God exists in community with the persons of the trinity, and we are also made for relationships. We are made to live and walk and worship in community. Our souls ache for the love and friendship and attention of others, because that is how God made us.

God is love incarnate, and so we are made to love. We are called to be the presence of Christ in the world, loving and caring for those who need it most. Our hearts of capable of deep compassion and sacrificial love. That is how God made us.

And God is a creator. God imagined the billions of colors found in sunsets and vast oceans with their dull roar and crashing waves and nights full of bright, twinkling stars that light up the whole world, and then he spoke them into existence. He made humankind with his very hands, from the dust of the earth. God created all that is good and beautiful—he breathed life into it. He is the greatest author, painter, writer, and musician that this world has ever seen. He is a creator. And so are we.

If we are truly made in the very image and likeness of God, then I have to believe that we are called to create. The very God who created the world out of darkness lives within us. He is calling each of us, in a million different ways, to live into the fullness of who we are.

And that is why what you create matters. That is why is matters that you create. Because when we embrace our calling as creators, we become who we were made to be. Art invites us to be a part of God’s story in the world, a part that couldn’t be told any other way. Art speaks truth and beauty and vulnerability into a world that is searching for anything that is honest and real. Art conveys the good news of Jesus’ love and redemption in the most tangible way. Your words, your voice, your sound, your art matters, because they are a part of who God created you to be.

One of my favorite writers, Emily Freeman, says it so well:

We are the mothers, the lovers, the nighttime storytellers. We are the hopers, the fathers, the harmonizers.  We are the visionaries, the silent supporters, the leaders, and the background singers.

We are the servants, the musicians, and the politicians; the waiters, the washers, and the obstetricians.  We are the thinkers and we are the believers.

We are the dust and the brushstroke, the poets and the poetry, the weak empowered, the broken made whole.

We are the mirrors of God on earth, the megaphones of glory, the hands and eyes and hearts of heaven.

We are grieved but not hopeless, brought from darkness into light, given a new name, a new future, a new Power alive within us.

God is the Artist and he has made us.

We are his poem and we will make art.

*Photo Source

Write It Down.

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So I’m blogging again. Why? Because I need to write–and I tend to do it better when I have a purpose and a schedule and something to say. Writing has always been the way I tell my story best. It’s the way I talk to God and practice honesty and communicate the big and important things to the people I love. This blog is an exercise in both story-telling and living into the best version of myself.

I believe that we all have a story worth telling, and I believe that we all have a life full of big, grand moments that are worth capturing on film and on paper and in our memories and in the stories we tell around the dinner table or over a bottle of wine. And that’s why I’m writing. I want to tell my story, and I want to capture the life that is happening just a little too fast. I want to remember these stories so I can carry them with me and pass them along. I want to hold up these moments and days and years as worthy of celebration and writing down—because they are.

If I could be anything in the world, I would be a writer. So why not start now? Pen to paper, fingers to key, spilling the words and stories in the world with vulnerability and courage. Whether or not anyone reads this blog, the words are written down. And that’s the most important thing.