Saturday, October 25, 2014

Messes and dares {Finishing Something}

"It's a really old city...stuck between the dead and the living."

"You said, remember that life is not meant to be wasted."

Sometimes I feel stuck between the dead and the living. My creative soul all dried up.

That song by Sara Bareilles always moves me for some reason.

"my earth is somebody's ceiling"

I am made alive, today, for a purpose?

Today with it's strange uncertainty?

We don't get a do-over with how we choose to live.

You'd think I would be able to be more daring knowing this, but instead I often pull back.

You'd think I'd be a hope-seeker all the times, but there are plenty of moments my world shrinks and I can only see what lies right in front of me.

You'd think I'd choose the loving stance even if it wasn't easy or didn't go well for me.

I come up short, though.

I'm glad life isn't a paint-by-number drawing, because by my count, I'm way off on number 25 of 31 so far.

I choose to count what I have and recognize what I am doing here, rather than play a numbers game.

It doesn't mean I don't need to keep going. I just told a friend tonight that my writing feels 'stale' right now, but that's a perfect time for a challenge, isn't it?

And by perfect, I mean, remember this, a lovely reminder by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird:

"Your day's work might turn out to have been a mess. So what?..

"Messes are the artist's true friend. What people (inadvertently, I'm sure) forgot to
mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here -- and by extension, what we're supposed to be writing."

linking for five minute friday and 31 (minus several) days.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The art in waiting {finishing something}

Today there was a beautiful sunset on my drive home.

(This is not the same sunset. I added it for visual effect. I didn't take a picture of today's sunset. See below.

I barely saw it though.

Looking back, the sky was lit up with color everywhere, pink hues and clouds that looked like colored pencil drawings.

It was easy to miss.

The act of seeing requires work.

My mind drifted in and out of thoughts from the flutter of activities during the day- to -do I have time to stop at the mall' -to- the mall is my least favorite place of all- to -I wonder if I should just eat leftovers for dinner- to- why does it get dark so early- to- I keep forgetting to buy baby gifts for every single friend who has had a baby this month!

It's no wonder all my creativity feels a bit stale at the moment, even though I decide to pour out what little I have for this 31 -- I mean 21 -- I mean possibly 11 days project.

The sunset comes back to me now and I remember its brightness.

I remember the goal here is NOT what I think it is.

Not the end of the month

finishing a book

making sense of a complicated relationship

reaching some milestone with my blog.

No? I thought these sounded good. Maybe they are in some ways. Maybe we all desire a longing for completing something.

Emily Freeman reminds us that there is a deeper work happening here.

What if the art, what if our hope comes out in the waiting? What if that's when we learn to trust? Learn to shed our skin a little, to accept the things that need to change, crack the surface, and surrender to ourselves, the ways we want to solve and fix and complete.

What if we can't manufacture art, in or around ourselves, anymore than we can manufacture our own safe places?

Emily says that when what we long for is completion, mostly we are looking for a "tangible work you can hold and point to.

"Your souvenir may be a relationship, an education, an investment, a charitable cause," she says.

"As you stare at the stone of the hoped-for souvenir, remember the deeper work happening within you, where your life is hidden with Christ in God."

All these things happen in hidden, mysterious places, but I put limits on God when I believe I can do it better than Him, faster than Him.

Friends, where are you in waiting now?
Where does life look a lot like trying...or striving for completion?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The enemy of done? {Finishing Something}

"You don't know what the story is about when you're in the middle of it. You think you do, but you don't. You make up all kinds of possible story lines: this is about growing up. Or this is about living without fear. You can guess all you want, but you don't know. All you can do is keep walking." -Shauna Niequist {because every 31 days must have at least one quote from her, of course}


"I want to see the finished product. Right now I'm in the middle and it's a mess." -my friend working on a home improvement project. This may be somewhat paraphrased but I have dibs on her words because she knows I quote all the wise things she says.

So, I didn't realize my series on 'finishing something' would turn out to be more about finishing this series than anything else. I keep showing up MIA so finishing this is becoming a feat! Who knew writing for 31 days would be so hard. I guess I'm not surprised, since Octobers seem to be a flux month for me, but every year without fail I think a daily writing challenge will be easy breezy. This year, I'm okay with the fact that a daily writing challenge is not easy breezy.

Thank you, friends, who stand by me in the beautiful mess that is writing and life.


I am becoming a big proponent on clapping for things that get done even in the midst of things that don't get done.
-I am excited that I am starting to do Morning Pages, even if it's actually more 'Night' Pages for me.
If you are a writer or a creative (we all are somehow!), do you have a way to get the juices flowing? This is a process I used to do a lot more in the past and need to remind myself is important to make space for nowadays, too.
-I've been creating writing/blog goals, concrete ways to move forward, because if you aren't moving you are just standing still and will probably get run over by a train (that was me attempting to say one of my favorite quotes off the top of my head, but I messed it up -- here is the real quote).
-I have momentum again for the book patiently waiting to become a book, 87 Coffees, where I interview lots of different folk. I get excited when I interview people, because this continues to be the slowest process known to man. Even though I meet interesting people every day and even though the book has been trying to write itself for a long time.
Brene Brown says it well when she says, "perfection is the enemy of done."
Your turn: Where can you spot good things that are moving you forward right now?

Monday, October 13, 2014

For those who grieve {Finishing Something}

"Life seems to be a story of holding on and letting go, learning which is which and when." -To Write Love on Her Arms

i heard this song
performed by christa wells 
at the barn
and every so often
i play it
and then play it again

because it's so true to life isn't it?

it doesn't matter your job
or your personality
or the strength of your faith
things break
for you
for others
and there are times you lose words
because maybe something is burning

and it should be easy
to pray and
'lay down our plans'
to fix it
but it's not

how do you sit in the burn?

friends, who grieve

"what can i bring to your fire?"

i listen to those words on repeat
it haunts me

i know it's me too
the times the flames have grown
and i've needed someone to
"brave the heat and come close now"

so where do you go
when it breaks?

when even best words start to fail
and you can't hear anyone speak to you

they can't get in
through the door


He's not afraid
He can get in to

"come close now"

{maybe this has nothing to do with finishing something
or maybe it has everything to do with it..}

Check in here for what's going on with the rest of the series.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The welcome home {Finishing Something}

Life is one adventure after another. Tonight was a fun day of golfing -- yes, golfing! Somehow I have never actually hit a golf ball other than putt-putt so this was exciting. It was pretty low key though. We took pictures while we golfed.


 I mean, we took it very seriously.
Speaking of serious, these fruits, called Rambutans, are no joke. They look like bugs to me and taste kind of slimy inside. A customer at whole foods called me brave just for trying those suckers, so that was exciting, but I ended up keeping a couple around my house for show for a few days before I tried them again (still not very good) and wishing it was Halloween already because they were spooky.
 What else is going on? Well, God, being God, keeps speaking to me through different mediums and for awhile now He's put this song on my mind to remind me of grace.

The wonderful Brennan Manning, who wrote Ragamuffin Gospel, one of my favorites, reminded me tonight that we -- ragamuffins -- are never far from grace and "a light in the window"  with "a "welcome home" sign on the door."

I can do well to remember that. That I need the welcome sign.

"It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with every start" - Mumford and Sons

I don't know what this series, this story about finishing, will become. It feels like my stories become more about beginnings than endings. And what I seem to learn along the way is that He is the real author, as much as I want to be. 

Manning says that Jesus "chose to enter your broken world and limp through life with you."

Wouldn't that be like God, as I limp along, to show up each time, with each start, and remind me He's there with me?

I can't do everything. You can't do everything. We are broken people. It does me well to remember I need him, every single day, in writing and in life, when I think I can figure it all out, or can bring everything to the table.

I can bring him all my hopes and desires, all my pride, my flaws and my sin, my distress and the places I hurt, and all the places I limp.

You'd think it would be the long walk home that would change this heart. But maybe it's the welcome I receive with every start.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Simple words {Finishing Something}

A simple word for me, perhaps for you.
 Or maybe only I am lacking motivation at the moment?
Don't forget to write through the rut and the heartbreak.
And when you want to leave it alone for another day, when you think your words have come up dry, there is something there just beyond the muck.
It may not be fun all the time, but it's there.
Write even though your laundry needs done.
Your family will love you for that.
(So will your washing machine. Tonight I accidently went through a wash cycle with nothing in it, it was a good time).
Write even though your kids may be calling you and you have to crawl into a closet to get it done.
On days when you don't write and all you think about is how you can get writing done (irony, anyone?), sigh and remember tomorrow's coming. Celebrate whatever little discoveries you found today and pack them away for tomorrow.
You can always pick up where you left off tomorrow. You don't have to wait for tomorrow's tomorrow.

Pretty sure that translates to big, bad writing procrastinator, amidst this stellar series on finishing.

Does anyone share this pain?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
his mercies never come to an end
they are new every morning
great is your faithfulness
lamentations 3:22-23

P.S. This post had the word TOMORROW in it five times.
You are welcome for being highly motivational.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The first and the last {finishing something}

I wrote a lot of things down in a brand new journal at the barn when I went a couple weekends ago, for a day to breathe the crisp air of fall and to hear rhythms of quiet and to remember that writing is good even when it feels redundant and let's be honest, sometimes meaningless.

But it's not. 

What you love, where you feel called, where you can't sleep unless you share your voice or your creativity or your whatever, these places are sacred and they are valuable.

These places make us come alive.

We can always start again. Even if you've had a thousand false starts and so many rough drafts your garbage can is full.

Begin today.

This 31 days series is on finishing. But I always, always must remember the journey, our lives and our faith is one of second chances, and third and fourth chances.

Goals and visions and clear production are important,

but this quote by Frederick Buechner helps me remember the point.

May our lives be fully lived wherever we are, whether we see today and our work as the beginning or the end.

It is the first day because it has never
been before and the last day because it
will never be again.
Be alive if you can all through this day.
~Frederick Buechner