Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When God Calls You On The Carpet

Did you ever ask God to give you guidance?

I have. I fasted for it. I prayed for it. I begged and pleaded to Him for an answer. I even threw myself on my bed face down and ugly-cried for His answer. 

What was my question? 
'What do You want me to do Lord?'

Just when I thought He'd never answer, I heard His voice ring in my ears. "Write books."
Being the good, obedient Christian I am, I replied, "All of them?!?"
And I know I'd heard a chuckle when He said, "Yes. All of them."

Now He didn't mean all of them, as in the whole-wide-world 'all of them', but all of them as in 'all of those partially-finished writing projects that are sitting dormant as notes in the folders on your desk'. 

I tried counting those folders once, but I ran out of fingers and toes. Twice.

That's a lot of books.

This exchange took place a while ago, mind you; in fact, I wrote a blog post about it. And yet here I sit, still bookless and folder-full.

I can understand how the Hebrews felt when God wasn't pushing them 24/7. The miracles are noted, praised on, and then left to be forgotten in some dusty notebook- or in my case laptop- until we heard from Him again. Last week I was sitting all alone and wallowing in misery about my purpose, but this time God decided to let me wallow- at least until Sunday.

When I went to church, there was a visiting speaker. I love new speakers- at least most of them. I liked this man too- he had a lot of great insights to share. 

And then he said...'Stop giving God excuses! If God told you to write books, write books!

I know the speaker gave other examples after that, but I was too busy giving an 'uh-oh I'm in trouble' look to my best church buddy sitting next to me, who gave me an 'oh boy, yes you are' look in return.

She knew my 'write books' story. She also knew I was full of excuses for not writing. Any writing. 

God called me on the carpet. Big time. 


She knew it. I knew it. And God certainly knew what I wasn't doing.

Yikes.

No more excuses. This was a warning, and I didn't want Him warning me again. No forty years in the desert for me, thank you very much.

But what to write first? Same problem as before (since there are no fewer than seventy book ideas with half-written notes in my folders), but God was nice enough to give me a little clarity this time around.

Three books are on the list to start with (the first needs a final edit as the artwork is being done, the second is half-written and the third is a coloring book for my artsy muse moments), and I'm telling you all of this, my Dear Readers, just to make sure I stay on track to get these books finished!

I don't know how long the art will take, but even if I get the final editing done before the art is finished, I already have that half-finished book lined up. The best part is the second book cover is so simple, I'm going to create it!

If all goes well (and fast) at least one book will be out before the holidays. At least, that's my goal. Setting deadlines are also something I have to do. Small goals, small successes, but big results!

Has God ever called you on the carpet? What's your story and how can I pray for you?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Juice Your Creativity!

Reality is getting in the way of my creativity!

You know what I mean...you're too busy to do this, your schedule won't allow you to do that; there's no time, money, resources or room to do what you really want to do.

The creative juices dry up if they're not used, folks. Believe me, I know!



So what do you do when your creative well goes dry? Juice your creativity!

How?

Ask yourself a few questions. What do you love doing? What actions do I need to take to get inspired? How can I make these ideas become a reality? When can I make these ideas become reality?

One of the things I love doing is fabric art. I opened my drawers of fabric and started juicing...er...playing with them.
I looked at the bright colors.
I let the fabrics flow through my hands.
I wrinkled each piece, laid it against the other fabrics for companions and contrasts, and unfolded it to see just how much fabric I had to work with.

Once the juices started flowing, I looked at books of fabric projects, odd notes I'd made about fabrics and project ideas, and the next thing you know I was excited. I wanted to create again!

What happens when you get excited about something? You make time for it.

The activity itself doesn't matter. Whether you write, do paper art, or make a quilt like me, or something else that's just as awesome- the idea is to get excited so you're more motivated to get a project started- and finished.

It also helps you organize your time and space. I have a great sewing space that fell into a catch-all for a face-painting project, and I haven't sewn in months because my machine is unbelievably cluttered. But after playing with my fabrics, instead of dreading the mess to clean, I'm looking forward to using that space for sewing once more.

And when the sewing wanes, I'll do something with paper. Or writing. Or attempt new experiments with fabric I haven't dared to try yet. I want to keep those wonderful juices flowing in a positive, more productive direction.

Have you been feeling juiceless lately? Ask yourself the questions I listed, and let me know how you juiced your creativity!






Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Clutter-Colored Glasses

It's amazing how your vision clears when you go away for a few days.

I went to a writers' conference, and though I came home at night, I was basically home just to sleep and have some breakfast until my eyes fully opened. Then out the door I went, into the world of the written word.

When I returned, I'd noticed changes in my family- and my house.



Have you ever noticed something odd or off or just plain not right in your home after coming home from a trip? It's like I'd taken off clutter-colored glasses.

My family was in a funk- and that funk was absorbed by the contagion of their funky surroundings.

There was clutter everywhere. Stuff I either didn't notice before, or was placed there while I was gone. It didn't help that the basement had partially flooded earlier that week and they brought a lot of the funky stuff upstairs to dehumidify.

Yet the basement had dried out days ago, and still the stuff sat in our living room and dining room. Instead of putting it all back (and then some), all of us just stepped around it like it was a natural growth forest of clutter.

At least until I came home.

Okay, so that's not entirely true. I had a lot of writing stuff to go through, so I walked around the junk and made my way to my writing sanctuary upstairs.

I slighted the sloppiness.
Passed over the papers.
Disregarded the dishes.
Usurped the upstairs and hid like a hermit.

Apparently the clutter-colored glasses were also worn in my sanctuary, for it was strewn with papers tossed (as I looked for the good stuff to submit for the conference), craft supplies left out and partially toppled, all in a chaotic, glittery pile. 

Maybe I can sell this mess as art on Etsy. So much for escaping the clutter!

I said to myself 'if they don't care, neither do I' and went back downstairs to watch funny cat videos with the family. But the depressive air continued to stifle. We constantly tripped over stuff, squabbles over who stuff was whose to move out of the way, and I was embarrassed to have people over. 

And what the heck was that smell?

The more the clutter grew, the less anyone wanted to do anything about it. And I was part of the problem because I'd never noticed.

God kept nagging me to do something. We needed to declutter and clean this house top to bottom. But how was I going to do that with a wonky forearm and people not motivated to move? I'm talking everyone, including my normally hyperactive husband!

God gave me the answer.

I talked to my husband about it, and the next day we implemented my clean-up plan.

One room. 

Just work on one room per day (or two if we needed it) for just an hour or two per day. Declutter and deep clean everything. Husband and daughter deep clean and move furniture, son clears and sorts into boxes and bags, and I go through the bags and shred, sort, file and put away things. No taking entire weekends and huge chunks of time out to do the entire house. Eat the cluttered whale one bite at a time.

And on Monday, we went into action. It worked!

First we put on a mix of music everyone liked and could sing as they worked. All surfaces were cleared and anything that we knew would stay got wiped down and put back after cleaning. There wasn't much that belonged on most of the flat surfaces that needed to stay. By the time we were done, half the room shone like a star. Already the house seemed to be more cheerful.

And I shredded enough paper to fill en entire trash bag.

The living room took two days to complete, and I have all kinds of bags to sort through before putting anything back. Right now the living room is sparse and clean-looking, but it lacks that homeyness. Those items are in the bags, ready to be cleaned and sorted. If it doesn't belong, out it goes- either to the room it does belong or to the donations box.

Today and tomorrow we're working on the dining room. I figure if we take two days in each room on the first floor and take Fridays off to play games (now that we have access to them!), that leaves the weekends free. 

We'll keep doing this until both kids are in school or working. 

Years ago I told you I was a borderline hoarder. This was how I beat it. I'm still amazed at how bad things got before I saw it happening again- this time with my family. But I am so thankful that God motivated me to see what was going on and do something about it. 

And guess what? The bickering has almost completely stopped. Tempers have cooled and we even played around a little while we were working and the music was playing. When the work was done we had lunch together, talked, and enjoyed that precious time together as a family. And when my husband went to work, the kids and I watched a clutter-free movie- and didn't even have to look for the remote!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Spark Rekindled



Two months ago, life came to a head and my muse decided to lock her doors and become a hermit.

I stopped being inspired. I stopped creating. I stopped everything.

Sometimes life gets so overwhelming, you just have to stop for a while to regroup. Sometimes you just need to stop and breathe. And sometimes you have to stop doing what you love to do what you need to do for your family.

So I did. 

Life hasn't stopped, but when my muse cracked open her door, I jammed my foot in before she could slam it on me again. I apologize to you, my Dear Readers, if it seemed like I fell off the map, but I wasn't about to trouble you with my issues either. I didn't want to turn this blog into a platform of Cheese and Whine.

That being said, I'm attending a writer's conference. In fact, I'm on my way out the door after writing this post! I wasn't going to go this year, but the leader of the conference insisted, so I went. I'm so glad I did.

When your muse ignores you and you're feeling all alone in the world, it does a body and mind good to talk with other Christians- Not necessarily about your issues (though I admit I did that a little), but to just have conversations with people who love to talk about God. Group prayer feels so much more powerful than prayers in private, and there's a connection with others when you sing hymns in unison with strangers. 

Strangers who are fast becoming friends.

And friends whom I've lost touch and now have reconnected.

This morning I woke up earlier than I normally do, because my muse decided to unlock the door to take a peek at the outside world. Honestly, her timing stinks (4 am...really Muse? Really?), but I welcome her with open arms and extra bacon for breakfast. We have a lot of work to do.

And a lot of blog posts to write!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Ministry Momma Bear

I try really hard not to be too serious. I really do. But sometimes things just get so bear-poo crazy that there is nothing to do but get serious- or at least more serious than normal.

Our entire family works in ministry. We love it. We help people, invite people over to our home on Sundays, feed them, talk to them, and try to help them see God in everything around them. We have helped a lot of people in the years we've lived here, and have been so blessed by it all. We encourage our church members to do the same.

You know you're doing really well in the Lord when the bear-poo hits the fan. One teen in a family we were trying to help has now threatened one of my kids, and my husband. Severely threatened. The odd thing is, no one can figure out why.

And there's nothing we can do about it until this teenager actually does something. 

The only thing we can think of is this teens need for affection is so strong, jealousy has taken over and all they want is to destroy what my kids have. 

This is the same kid that cried as I held them and fell asleep against me after a volcanic incident with a parent.
This is the same kid we played board games with, who had no idea what settled family life looked like.
This is the same kid who peeled apples with us as we sang gospel songs, getting ready for Thanksgiving.

And now, the same kid who is drinking, on drugs, and is now threatening bodily harm on my family.

Normally, I would Momma Bear this teen- Angry eyes, toe to toe, with a growl that says 'Don't even think of messing with my kids!' - but I can't Momma Bear him. How can I Momma Bear a kid I'd considered one of my own cubs?


I know this teenager needs comfort so desperately. Momma Bearing is the last thing this kid needs. Inside their heart is a great person who has a craving for Gods' love. I've seen it. But the environment that surrounds them is taking over, and there's nothing I can do about it except pray, lock my doors and windows at night, and keep my own kids safe. 

My Momma Bear heart is so torn right now.

One of these blow-ups happened at our church. Afterward, my husband overheard one congregant say, 'And that is why we don't have people over our house."

That's not the point.

One incident in hundreds isn't going to stop us from doing what we do. We won't let it. God won't let it. We'll still have people over, and we'll still feed them, talk, and let them fall asleep against us, tears and all. That won't change.

But now I understand why Jesus says 'He leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one that went astray'- Because Jesus has a Momma Bear heart too. I want that kid back. I want to love on them until the hate in their heart is gone. Help them get settled in their heart and mind. 

And if they decide to remain lost? 

Well, God doesn't mind if Momma Bear prayers are made with tears.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Super Heat Waves

Once upon a time, I was sitting on the couch nearly dying of heat stroke.
It was March. 
We just had snow. 
And the rest of my family was shivering and under heavy quilts.
I, however, could've stripped down to my undies and sat on a block of ice, and I still would've been hot.
"Hey! Who turned up the heat?" I yelled to the quivering pile of blankets. Their only response is chattering teeth.

Humph.

I checked the thermostat to make sure someone didn't pull an 'I just moved it a couple of clicks' stunt, but it wasn't touched. Apparently, my hormones were raging again.

But I'd had a hysterectomy. There are no more hormones...right?

A word to the wise; hysterectomies don't stop menopausal heat waves!



Apparently estrogen is stored in the fat cells, to which I have a plethora. I'm just a big hormone bank that's been saving the stuff with each pound I'd gained, which is no small feat! And guess what happens when you start losing some of that poundage? No wonder the doc told me I wouldn't need supplements probably ever!

For the past few weeks my internal oven has been set to volcanic. It used to be a humid, clammy, ogre's armpit kind of heat, one that will melt metal chairs into puddles of aluminum and sweat. But since the surgery, it's been more of a dry, Arizonian desert kind of heat.

And my husband loves it. You know, the guy with the ice-cold everything adhered to as much of my person as possible so he stays warm at night. It's hard to sleep when you're nearly being strangled by the one you love.

Even my friends are wowed by the intense heat emanating from every pore of my being. They hold their hands out over my arm, expressions of disbelief turning to one of incredulity as they warm themselves by their buddy, The Organic Radiator. Hey- maybe I'm a superhero!

Save us Radiator! We're freezing! And with a wave of my arms, the house is now as balmy as Hawaii.

Then again, I could be a super villain. Maybe I'm the reason behind global warming!*GASP*

My villain name would be Solar Flare...give me chocolate- or else! The dark kind please, because the milk chocolate melts too fast in my hand- even those M&Ms would make a chocolaty rainbow in my palm- nothing is safe! Do this or I'll...um...melt your ice cream! 

Noooo!Anything but that!

I'd wear a cape, but that would be too many layers...I might go nuclear.

In the meantime my family will be spending the summer months grilling on my arms and toasting marshmallows over my head. We'll save so much on charcoal and wood this year!

Or maybe I'll hire myself out as a pool heater when the water's too cold. I like swimming!

The Organic Radiator to the rescue!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rusty Gate Wisdom

God is amazing.

Have you ever been super busy? Like, crazy, off-the-hook busy> So busy that you heard yourself say (one too many times):
"I can't right now."
"Sorry, I don't have time.."
"Let me finish this other thing first..."

Yeah- me too.

Then God decided He'd had enough, and bestowed a boatload of wisdom on me that made my mind whirl.
I was busy, but not productive.
Relationships matter.
Being so busy made me miss chances to bless others.

I was busy doing 'things' instead of working on relationships.

But this week God decided to let a little light shine in through the tiny cracks in my thick head.

God is love. There is a verse that blew me away that went something like "You can make God's lessons as clear as day, but without love, your words are like the creaking of a rusty gate..." I never really understood what He meant by that. I always thought it meant you needed to speak with passion.



Passion is good, but relationship is better.

People listen more when they know you, love you, and trust you. In other words, your words have meaning when the person you're speaking with has a relationship with you!

God takes delight when I spend time with my family.
God loves it when I laugh and goof off with my friends when I need a break.
God is joyful when I open my house up to anyone who wants to come on Sundays after church.

I'm not saying forget responsibilities and goof off constantly- but there is a time to play and rest; I think all of us forget to have fun or just spend quiet time together with each other.

I may not get the laundry done when my daughter is sick, but she will remember the times I sat with her poor fevered head in my lap as I sang her to sleep. The same goes for putting off emails to play cards with my son, or a quiet evening at home reading books on the couch with my husband. These are the things my family will remember- not the fact that I always had clean socks waiting for them!

Yes it takes sacrifice and a big heart to forgo 'getting stuff done' to do these things sometimes. But the payoff is so much more rewarding when we do! Like the saying goes, "I have a messy house, but a happy family"- and what would make God happier than that?

Hug your kids, Kiss your husband extra awesome before he goes to work. Call your friend for a quick chat. Build those relationships and help make them strong. And don't forget to talk to God too- He's waiting to hear from you!