November 25, 2014

Five Lessons from the 31-Day Challenge

Last month I took up the challenge to write a five-minute blog post every day of October. My favorite days from that exercise were the prompts ViewSayLife, and Visit.

Overall, working through the challenge taught me:

1. A blog post doesn’t have to be lengthy to be meaningful.

2. Putting thoughts into written words doesn’t have to take long. However...

October 28, 2014

Wake {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

"You live your life like a tornado; destruction follows everywhere you go."

For me, those Sara Groves lyrics bring to mind very specific people and situations. Do you know any of those tornado folks—the ones who seem to spin out of control with no concern for who is affected, who is reeling in devastation from their actions, lack of action, words?

Every one of those stormy individuals leaves behind a wake of hurting people, who must pick up the debris of a chaos they didn't cause and attempt to go on with life. I have not had such a person very close to me; I have not personally been left in the wake. But the song goes on to say, "It hurts when you hit at the hearts of the ones I love." And it does.

October 27, 2014

Free {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

Maybe it’s because I’ve not been feeling well this week. Maybe my thoughts are with dear family members in tough situations. Maybe it’s because I’m reading a novel about the Underground Railroad.

Whatever the case, when I think “free,” I think of Heaven.

I imagine the crippled diabetic leaving behind her wheelchair, the blind beggar seeing gold-paved streets, the Parkinson’s patient sitting calm and still and steady at Jesus’ feet. I can see the bullied, the neglected, the ostracized, the enslaved, those labels all melting away in the welcome of Heaven. I think of myself no longer struggling against this selfish flesh, nothing restraining me from living out Christ’s character.

October 26, 2014

Visit {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

In the hot, sticky days before school began again, the children fussed—the tiny angelic one, the two elementary-aged siblings, the teenager. And I, aunt and sister to them, fussed too, though I was in the early years of my twenties. We were restless, tired of each other, outraged at the smallest inconveniences and ready to argue for any cause. The strangling heat forced us to stay indoors in one another’s company. And so the bickering went on. It went on until I could bear it no more.

October 25, 2014

Enjoy {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}


I place the word on my tongue like candy, and as it melts I catch flavors of

Stealing a nap on a Sunday afternoon  
Laughing with my sister  
Walking through the orchard in horizontal sunlight 
Cuddling in blankets on the couch with Steven, nibbling dark chocolate 

October 23, 2014

Look {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

Nearing the pecan orchard on a hazy summer afternoon, you may see a tangle of knee-deep weeds reaching lazily up from the ground. But if you look, really look, the scene is a carpet of miniature blossoms—delicate purple star-shaped blooms, pinky-sized roses, lemon-tinted florets as small as sand gnats.

Maybe you notice movement above, in the branches. But look, truly look. Before you even turned in his direction, the red-tailed hawk lifted majestic wings and launched a graceful glide to the neighboring property.

October 22, 2014

Expect {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

When will I learn that I can expect God to hear me? That I can expect Him to answer, to interject Himself into this story in a big way? Why do I hold myself back from expecting, believing He will do what He has promised?

Do I think I must protect myself from being disappointed by Him? Do I harden my heart out of fear, worry that I won't be able to handle it if He doesn't respond? Perhaps I'm simply tired of expecting, exhausted by the hard work of hope?

October 20, 2014

Fear [Not] {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

What if there’s a natural disaster?

Fear not.

What if my house catches fire while I’m away?

Fear not.

What if I’m assaulted, robbed, kidnapped, shot?

Fear not.

What if someone breaks into my home in the middle of the night?

October 15, 2014

Life {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

On a May evening when I was twelve years old, a phone call prompted my parents to usher my younger sister and me out the door for a two-hour drive. My older sister was at full term expecting her second child, and had gone to the hospital in labor. We arrived there, too, and we waited. I went in to talk with my sister as she lay in the hospital bed. I went out to the waiting room again. More family arrived. More waiting. I think I slept.

At last, a door opened and a thrill came over the family-filled room; the baby was here! Yet more waiting followed that news. I waited while nurses performed various standard checks and procedures. I waited while the grandparents held her. I waited while other relatives older than me held her. It felt like I waited while everybody else in the whole world held that little one.

October 14, 2014

Away {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

Two of my greatest desires in this life are for purpose and peace.

While there is magnificent purpose in living in the imago Dei, there are earthly obstacles. There’s friction along the path of glorifying God and enjoying Him. I feel I will never be able to do so wholeheartedly, with no reservations, no hesitations, until I’m somewhere else. Somewhere Other.

Somewhere Away.

October 13, 2014

Work {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

I love to learn of people’s childhood aspirations, what they wanted to be when they grew up. Always, always I wanted to be a mom. But there were other pursuits that appealed to me, too.

I wanted to write from the moment I first held a crayon in my chubby little hand. I penned boxes and boxes of homemade books, written and illustrated at four and six and eight and on and on. The illustration tapered off in middle school. But the writing continued, now on journal pages and floppy disks and flash drives stashed away.

October 12, 2014

Rest {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

Scripture abounds with rest. Have you noticed that?

Yes, there are admonitions to work hard, to worship, to fight the good fight. There are also words about rest.

This theme has been cropping up in my Bible study. Finding rest in God is a motif repeated in the Old and New Testaments. It’s beautiful. I still have delving to do as I study the topic, but I've made a few observations about resting in God.

October 11, 2014

Teach {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

I had an extraordinary experience with being homeschooled. My parents poured out teaching day after day for twelve years and beyond. In the second half of my homeschool experience I also had video teachers who taught Algebra II and Chemistry and British Literature. Later I had college professors who drilled Bible and United States History and Early Childhood Development.

When I think back on those teachers, I recall a few specific facts they instilled.

October 10, 2014

Care {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

Are we weak and heavy-laden
Cumbered with a load of care
Precious Savior, still our refuge
Take it to the Lord in prayer
—Joseph M. Scriven
Those lyrics and their melody played in my mind upon seeing that the writing prompt for this post was care. It annoyed me. Those lyrics are frustrating because they're far more easily said than done. They make it sound so simple to rid oneself of that “load of care.” Just pray about it. Bam! Cares gone.

October 9, 2014

Join {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

photo by Candace Williamson
We have this huge framed photograph hanging in our living room— our two hands joined together on our wedding day.

You can see the edge of my white dress and his black vest. There’s a scarlet church door behind us. But there are no faces, no feet, no hair, no veil. Just our two hands tightly clasped.

I look at that picture often. I’ve gazed on it in good times and thought sweetly of the friendship it symbolizes. I've glanced at it as I passed by on mundane days, and remembered the permanent promises we made. I’ve glared at it in more strained moments and hesitatingly accepted its reminder; we are joined, he and I.

Not just our hands. Our lives.

We are as joined together as my own pair of hands, the same flesh in complementary partnership.

October 8, 2014

Say {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

I don't usually say much.

For as long as I remember, I've been told I should talk more, say what I'm thinking, "be more outgoing." I know I need to reach out more. I work on it.

I'm under no illusions of being special. Multitudes of folks out there were made by the Creator with similar quiet ways, Andrews in a culture that favors Peters. So with writing as my medium of "saying," I have a few things to say about not saying much.

October 7, 2014

Go {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

No, stay, I say. Don’t go.

It never stops, the going, going, going.
It’s the natural leaning of life to go.
It’s what we end up doing if we don’t make a choice otherwise.

Let’s be different, you and me.
Let’s linger, remain.
Let’s cherish here and now, just the two of us.
Let’s stick around this little town and call it home.
Let’s sit on the front porch and talk and laugh and stay.

October 6, 2014

Know {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

“But what do I know?” We say it as an afterthought, trying to soften or disclaim an opinion just spoken.

It is a question I’ve asked myself often of late. What do I really know?

There’s a lot I thought I knew, so many inferred rules, extracted principles, formulas. And one by one, they’re proven unfounded or exaggerated or ineffective. I’m left wondering, with all of that fallen away, what do I actually know after all?

October 5, 2014

Stuck {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

I’ve been stuck for the past three years. Stuck in one place, in so many ways. Stuck in bitterness because of that.

At first I prayed relentlessly that God would change things. He didn’t. So over time I prayed less, lost faith that He was hearing me. I tried to be at peace with being stuck, but the trying was always in vain.

October 4, 2014

Learn {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

I’m learning that almost anything can be learned.

Even concepts I used to think only came inherently to a chosen few. Things like contentment and joy and being a good listener, like trust and gentleness and a quiet spirit.

I should’ve known.

After all, Paul said that he had learned to be content in any condition. The Proverbs were written to be learned from, and they exhort me many times to listen well. And if you can be instructed to adorn yourself with a gentle and quiet spirit, surely that must learnable too.

October 3, 2014

New {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

The new is uncomfortable and delightful.

It’s different, scary, unpredictable. It’s refreshing, exhilarating, stimulating.

New shoes not yet worn in are fun but hurt at first. A new house is fresh and clean and you get to decorate it, but you may also forget which drawer holds the toothpaste or stub your toe in the night on that wall you forgot exists. A new marriage is full of joy; but there are also a million ways in which the bride and groom will have to change and a thousand terrifying things they’ll learn about each other over time.

October 2, 2014

View {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

The view from my kitchen window changes with the seasons.

In summer, it’s all green up high and shade down low, thick grass under thick branches under thick blue sky. The entire scene wavers and shimmers with heat. The old grey metal barn radiates thickest waves of it.

Fall thins things out. The sky is a thinner blue, the leaves thin from the branches, and the grass’s green thins. Sunlight dims. Shades of brown creep in. The old grey dilapidated barn is a thinner grey.

October 1, 2014

Move {31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes}

Why is it that the first step is the hardest?

Sliding on the shoes, tying the laces, and opening the door to go for a run.

Picking up the pen, opening the journal, and inking out the first word.

Standing up in the pew, sliding awkwardly sideways past other churchgoers, and heading toward the altar.

September 12, 2014

Ready {Five Minute Friday}

Here goes another Five Minute Friday post.
The prompt: Ready

I thought I'd be ready at 18, like the other women in my family. I had always thought I didn't need a plan; that script was already written on my heart. (The years proved I was I wrong.)

I thought I was ready at 20, poring over books, devouring lectures, drinking in preparation of every kind, eager to leave behind the study and put it into practice.

September 5, 2014

Whisper {Five Minute Friday}

I've been perusing Five Minute Friday posts by other brave writers for quite some time. I've always envied their boldness in pressing that "publish" button after just five minutes, just 300 seconds of typing on an assigned topic. That seems almost an act of brashness to a girl who can spend days perfecting a post before even considering making it public, who hoards five times as much of her writing as she'll ever share.

But I have gained so much from reading the knee-jerk thoughts of others. Their unedited paragraphs have challenged, encouraged, impressed. At last, they have prompted me to take up the challenge and just write. So today I do.

July 2, 2014

Swingset Chains

Blue flip-flops abandoned
Feet plunge into thick green grass
Cool and almost moist on skin

Toes dive in again


Grass left behind

Feeling the falling
Relishing it
Feeling the flying
Relishing it

June 8, 2014

Not By Sight

my uncorrected vision
An image I made for Steven a while back, in an attempt to demonstrate my uncorrected vision.

I was prescribed my first pair of glasses at the ripe age of nine. They were the thick kind that made my eyeballs appear incongruously tiny, even in comparison with my young face.

A year later, when I was ten, the optometrist prescribed hard contact lenses. He said they might help slow the rapid worsening of my nearsightedness. (He also told me not to read so much. Maybe if I’d listened to him back then, I wouldn’t have to rely so much on audiobooks now.)

April 12, 2014

Blog Disenchantment

I’m one of those millennials, a digital native who's been blogging and reading blogs since the year 2000. My generation is as comfortable with reading and writing online as other generations were with reading newspapers and keeping private diaries.

But I’m disenchanted with blogs in general, just now.

I follow blogs I love via feedly. Each morning I used to look forward to opening my blog feed and devouring new thoughts, new words and philosophies, new perspectives from others. By the time I'd closed the browser, I felt I’d had a friendly chat in which I was introduced to great new ideas that I could act upon or think critically about for the rest of the day.

March 19, 2014

Dear Pride

There you are again,
Telling me I'm not good enough.
If only I'd tried a little harder, a little sooner—
If only life were more fair—
If only I'd made one choice differently—

Then all would be well.

January 31, 2014

Up for a Bike Ride?

Intention. It's what this blog is all about. It's what I work at every day as a coach, supporting others in their own quest for it. It's the heart of a lovely little book I simply couldn't put down.

Notes from a Blue Bike tours Tsh Oxenreider's path toward intention. It is an endearing memoir of her pursuit of purposeful living in five areas: food, work, education, travel, and entertainment.

I wrote 161 words trying to define the idea of living with intention.  Tsh puts it more succinctly when she calls it "living life, instead of life living us."

January 22, 2014

Five Ways I Want to Be Like My Daddy

Every now and then, usually on a Monday, I peek out my back windows at home and see something that makes me smile broadly. My dad’s vehicle is parked under the pecan trees, and on his property the big barn doors are flung open. I know he’s out there building something, repairing something, or searching for something stored away in the barn. Most of the time, he’s doing one of those things for someone else. I know he enjoys working with his hands. But I think he also likes the quiet, the familiar calm in the orchard, the space for thought. Perhaps returning to the family land is as comforting to him as seeing him there is for me— a refreshing reminder that some things in this world, though they change like everything else, do so a little more slowly.

January 16, 2014

You Know Me

We’re in the car, traversing those same fifteen miles again. Past the window fly dispassionate pines and fields and family-owned businesses. From the pane, trying to appear just as detached, my own reflection looks back at me.
I say it again, for the hundredth time. “I just don’t feel like anyone knows me.”
My husband sighs, mutters sympathy.