Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012 >>>>Hello 2013

Had to know change was coming in 2011, huh?

2012 was a year of defining moments. Some  were good, others scary, and some are still evolving. It was a year in which I knew God was saying, “Shhh! Study to show yourself approved.”

I took him seriously about that admonition. The evidence is in how many fewer times I blogged in 2012 compared to 2011. I hope my decision will reap good things in 2013.

In April, my brother sent me to Washington, DC for the Titus 2:1 Conference. I can tell you a secret because I told my now very dear friend, the conference director – Cheryl, what I’m about to tell you. When I arrived, I was mortified. The conference had a small feel to it. Too small, I thought.
image credit

I wondered how I’d tell my brother I had wasted his money by agreeing to go. I felt out of place and ill at ease, but there’s nothing new about that, is there?

The next morning I thought about hiding out in my room for an impromptu three day vacation. I made myself go down to the meetings out of respect to my brother. I wasn’t about to waste his money. In that moment, I changed my life. Or rather, the 2:1 experience and all the friends I made changed my life.

Those friends and mentors continue to enrich my life, career, and soul almost by the hour. Because of them, I am in the process of creating a newer, better blog and will be moving to my own “.com” within just few days. The Lord willing and the creek don’t rise!

I am about to embrace an even scarier endeavor. I will tell you more in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, you better buy smelling salts now if the news of my own website didn’t leave you woozy! That same community of friends has catapulted me into this endeavor as well.

Ridgecrest Conference Center/BRMCWC - 2012 
In May, I returned to the weeklong Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. (Again, thanks to my big brudder.) I was privileged to take classes with both Eva Marie Everson and Ramona Richards even though I was woefully, embarrassingly unprepared for both. I was able to nourish old friendships and make some very meaningful new ones.  

In October, my brother sponsored my trip to the Allume Social Media conference. With Anne Voskamp, Mary Demuth, Darren Rouse, Sarah Mae, Jessica Heights, and Logan Wolfram among others pouring into my life, I discovered my own personal super power.

When I tell you, you may wanna scream, “DUH!” because some of you told me so already. Fraidy cats have a hard time believing.

My superpower is: encouragement. I don’t wear a cape. I wear a wristband and necklace. In fact, I’ve worn them daily since I returned from the conference.

I don't need no stinkin' cape.  :-)
As lame as that sounds, those mementos have kept me going in this mean season of life. I went shattered emotionally and spiritually. I came home knowing that God sees me even though I'm buried in this rubble I call a life. He sees me and because of him, I am a superwoman with a superpower. I look at the band and necklace every time my soul grows faint.

This year, I discovered a truth in my heart of hearts: I am a blogger. This is my first love. Gone are my book contract dreams and great American novel dreams. Those have been replaced by my love of blogging and my devotion to you – the fraidy cats that have come in from the cold to walk with me. I rejoice in letting go of the former dreams and in knowing that God is doing a new thing in my life. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Thanks for all you have meant to me since May 21st 2011. Thanks for bearing with me when I don’t post and when my posts are lame. Thanks for all the times you’ve hit the ‘share’ button on Facebook, Google plused me, pinned me, or tweeted something about my journey.

I can’t wait to get the 2013 party started. Say some prayers for me as I get this new website launched. Yea. . . me. The  anti-Geek who is a techno-phobe. I told you that 2:1 Conference changed my life!

Happy New Year! See you soon?

Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

P. S. Just in case you wondered, my top 5 posts of all time are linked below!


Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
Psst . . . Hey, Homeschooler:  click here

What if the Proverbs Woman Had a Pinterest Board  click here

I Am That Woman  click here

When Parents Make Mistakes  click here

In the Company of Brokenness  click here 


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Everyday Heroes Hidden in Plain Sight – Pt. 2

Courtesy A. Squires

I entered the plane breathless for the moment I could deplane. As my new friend's story unfolded, I found myself dreading the moment we'd land as much as I dreaded Hurricane Sandy's turbulence. 

The plane lurched and bounced. We each grabbed at the other's hands, drew back a bit, and let out nervous half giggles-half sighs when the plane evened out. For a few minutes, I had forgotten I was afraid.

An expectant mom weaved to the back of the plane trying to beat the waves of morning sickness chasing her to the lavatory beside us. We groaned kindred groans silently praying the plane would fly smoothly for her sake as well as our own.

"May I ask what you do for our country?" 

"I've just gotten back from Iraq.”  Her calm tone implied it was about the same as a trip to the grocery. She spoke of warm relationships with Iraqi people. She alluded to successes and failures experienced while there.

Courtesy D. Scott
Confidence oozed out of her pores. The fraidy cat in me blushed over my tendency to develop the vapors with the least provocation.

A spring deployment to Afghanistan overshadowed anticipated Christmas celebrations with her family. The light in her eyes dimmed a bit. She admitted to some apprehension about the future and explained how her family would care for her children and foster tot. She winced when she spoke about the hardships of being away so often and so long.

I waxed bold and asked specific questions about women coping with the rigors of life in the field. She laughed, “You'd be amazed at what you can do with eight ounces of water and baby wipes!”

I told her about my inner fraidy cat. My idea of roughing it involved trendy lugged soled hiking boots and a walk over to the glassed in elevators at an Embassy Suites hotel. She rewarded me with quick, easy laughter that captivated my motherly heart.

The plane gave another jolt. Again, I had forgotten all about hurricanes, turbulence, and plane crashes. We agreed our present circumstances were claustrophobic at best. 
Courtesy T. Parker

She chuckled and told me about her favorite way to fly. In a helicopter. The kind with no doors – for easy out and easy in. She talked about the freeing sensation of flying low and fast with the wind against her skin. Her words made me dizzy.

To everyone else on the plane, she was just another weary traveler thankful to be headed home before the storm shut the airport down. To me, she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight. One who commiserated with my flying phobia even though she liked flying on door-less helicopters.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I did what was, for me, a heroic thing. I told her I was a person of faith and asked if I could say a prayer for her right then and there. Tears flickered and threatened to dampen her lashes as she nodded o.k.

I wrapped her in a motherly embrace and thanked the good Lord above for honoring me with the cramped, claustrophobic seat in the back of the plane. How else would I have met the hero hidden in plain sight? I thanked him for my friend in passing and begged him to follow her with peace and protection now and through all the days of her long life.

I asked him to bless her family and their time together. Lastly, I prayed Godspeed over her and her soldiers while asking God to bring peace to troubled lands through the work they do.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
 
As the minutes ticked down, we talked about the longing for comforts of home. I asked about care packages and gathered advice about items to include and ones to leave out. I promised our chance meeting would make a difference even if I didn't know how just then.

The gentle touchdown came all too quickly. I knew life would carry us on to where we were headed. I would soon be a faint memory in the rear view mirror of her life. She, however, would be indelibly inked on the memories of my heart.
                                                                                  
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
I am combining an effort to honor this soldier with the Twitter campaign honoring the memories of the Sandy Hook, NJ shooting victims. My friends at Home Educating Family's blog offered the chance to share my vision with you on their site.  

Join me in #26acts of kindness for men and women in uniform. Fraidy cats can accomplish some awesome things when we work together!

To visit me at Home Educating Family's blog for more information, click their link below:
Home Educating Family

Everyday Heroes Hidden in Plain Sight ・Pt. 1

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I stumbled down the plane aisle trying not to betray my infrequent flier status. Did my eyes shifting back and forth while checking aisle and seat numbers betray my lack of nonchalance?

Confusion raised a nervous sweat on my forehead when I realized my seat was in the last row vs the middle of the plane. To make matters worse, I inconvenienced the young lady in the aisle seat to get to my window seat.

Hurricane Sandy bore down on us sending my flying nerves into pandemonium. I felt like a great white whale stuffed into a tuna can about to be dropped into the eye-wall of a hurricane.

The flying public is not overly chatty these days. So, I tried to figure out how to retrieve my book from below the forward seat given the one square inch of wiggle room afforded me.

Recognizing futility when I saw it, I sighed surrender and settled back to begin my prayers for arrival without aid of an airsickness bag. I gave a nervous glance at my seatmate expecting banal indifference. Trying to hide my startled reaction when her eyes met mine, I allowed a quick, "Nervous  and infrequent flier . . . ."

To my surprise, she gave a sigh of appreciation and said, "Oh, I know! Me too!"
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Rather than offering a begrudging acknowledgment of my plight and settling back with her own distractions, she drew me into an easy conversation. Had I any idea of the truth about her flying experience, I would have suspected her camaraderie was for my benefit only. Little did I know she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight.

We asked the polite questions strangers on planes ask. We commiserated with relief knowing each understood the other's anxiety. The flight promised to replicate an old wooden roller coaster if the weatherman could be trusted.

We talked about the book she was reading and how it resonated given her life experience. It was only natural for our conversation to turn to her family. When she spoke of her children, her face took on a glow  any company selling beauty products would die to reproduce.

In her early thirties, she held a newly minted MBA. Pride in her recent  achievement paled when she spoke of being mom to a tween and teen boy and girl. On top of an already busy life, she was a new foster mom. The pitter patter of tenderness punctuated her excited giggles as she told me the story of how the toddler came to be in her care.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
When our talk turned to specifics of her vocation, the truth began to slip out bit by bit. She too was traveling for business. A shy smile appeared when she explained. Rather than traveling for her primary employer, she was traveling as part of her military service.

During each leg of my trip, I was privileged to give up my place in line to a uniformed member of the armed services. Each time, the service person replied, "Are you sure?"

My adamant reply erupted, "If I could, I would do more!"

I shook my head in wonder to find  this amazing woman, young enough to be my daughter, was one of the ones I  been watchful for as I traveled. Dressed in street clothes, she would have vanished in the crowd but for our sharing cramped seats at the back of a plane.  Sometimes God pulls some sneaky ones, doesn't he?

"National  Guard?" I asked.  Her smile glowed again as she nodded an affirmation. The writer in me sat up like a dog begging for treats. You know me. I always need to know more.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
What about you fraidy cat? Have you ever met someone and known the meeting would change your life? I can't wait to tell you the rest of this story. When I'm done, I hope you'll join me in random acts of kindness.

See you tomorrow, and we'll get this party started, o.k.?

Hebrews 13:2 (NLT) 
Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

                                                                           







Thursday, December 20, 2012

Finding Peace in an Age of Apocalypse


Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Silence comes hard for writers even when stories are too young to tell. I have been in a hurry for my words to catch up with my journey. God, however, is not bothered by my impatience.

In the midst of these puzzling, wordless days, I am keenly aware of his presence. Yes, the same God with whom I have so painfully wrestled here on the pages of this blog. That God. He inhabits this silence.

Some days I panic and fret over blog stats and goals. I wonder if I have destroyed my online presence because I don't worship at the altar of the social media gods often enough.

My heart begins to beat heavy until it throbs in my ears. “You cannot grow your brand in silence,” the Type-A me tells the wordless me. “You'll never be one of 'those' savvy bloggers because you just aren't prolific enough. Why you don't even have a free printable, and at this rate, you never will! You'll never catch up.”

I breathe in the God-filled silence long and slow trying to drown out the panic. I hear rhythms of life I have not heard in eons. (Yes. I am that old.)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creataive
When a gas-powered leaf blower three yards over stalls, silence deafens me. Slowly, I can hear again. The scritch-scratch of my rake becomes hypnotic allowing other sounds, long ago sounds, to seep in.

The sounds of a heel tapping to keep a swing in motion melt into the eeee-awww sounds of the swing groaning and complaining as it responds. The breeze lifts my bangs. A wet towel snaps in the wind and a clothespin squeaks as it closes over the towel. Sounds of the past wash me away.

I realize I have been so caught up in the race of life, I have lost the
rhythm of living. The unfamiliar quiet is as eerie as it is comforting. I breathe in the God-filled silence and know he is there in the absence of words. I know it is o.k. to wait because I am waiting on him. 

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
 I feel words begin to emerge again. Then, news explodes with the awful reality of a hopeless world. Twenty little faces taken from twenty homes even as  we sing about the most magical time of the year.
                                     
Silence seems the only appropriate reaction because there are times words just fail.
These days of mourning require a singular silence of the soul.

One does not have to embrace the
end of the Mayan calendar to know: we live in an age of apocalypse. Suffering, violence, disease, and mayhem abound even as society is the most advanced, educated, and interconnected the world has ever known.

Media offers a litany of answers from gun control to doomsday prepper survival bunkers. Politicians pontificate and jockey for airtime. Big business promises a shopping rush to distract us while big pharma offers a pill to calm us. Psychologists warn that the fragile among us may do exactly what the troubled young man in Connecticut did as December 21
st approaches – react in desperation.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
                                   
There is but one answer for a fallen world calling out for solutions to save us from ourselves. Long ago a child was born to die. In his death, he would bring meaning and purpose to a sinful world. As he faced a certain death, he knew we would face questions that had no sane answers. 

He left a message of hope that will survive beyond the end of the Mayan calendar:

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

John 16:33 (The Message)I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world. 

Romans 8:38-39 (Amplified Bible)
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Friday, December 7, 2012


It's been that kinda week. Hope you are finding easy solutions for the untidy messes at your house!  Lots going on here in FraidyCatlandia. Hope you miss me as much as I miss you. Planning on moving this blog from Blogger to Wordpress over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates and new blogposts. Er...ah...as soon as I finish painting 'that room' and get the soda cleaned up from the nooks and crannies in the freezer -that I never knew were there till now.

Blessed Advent and Merry Christmas countdown. 
CA - your resident fraidy cat. 
Where I pretend I am when I hear the pop in the freezer.
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010

Friday, November 30, 2012

Until I Can See How Far I've Come . . .

Courtesy J. Paine

I knew before my eyes opened what was coming. I knew it was gonna be a “let 'er down gentle” moment when it arrived. I was going to have to live up to the standard I championed even though I would not want to. Bravery doesn't come easy when it's your turn to show it.

I told myself all day that I had been courageous to try. It was amazing I had even known how. “Self,” I said, “Enjoy the process and don't worry too much about the outcome. You will have other opportunities. Just keep walking.”

I went through the day letting go of expectations I had tried not to have. I began to let go before someone else embarrassed me by prying my boney fingers loose from what was never mine. I looked at my mental lists of what if's and if then's. To prove that all was not lost, I picked through the rubble for what might be salvageable.

2012
Vocabulary led to The Scarlet Letter which gave way to Algebra, and before I knew it, we flew out the door to Fencing. The distractions were insufficient to the task. I found myself rehearsing an exit strategy even as I went through the school day motions. I guess you could call me a doomsday prepper.

By suppertime, it was there on the computer waiting for me just like I knew it would be. Gracious, polite, complimentary and telling me what I already knew. It was time to pick a new goal and keep walking.

I smiled to myself as I began to type a response. I had been doomsday prepping all day while fighting to keep insecurity at bay. So, I was gracious, polite, and complimentary in return.
Courtesy A. Hughes

I steadied myself because I would have to tell the others. I did what I didn't want to do. I covered my broken heart with offhand indifference and made the announcement in passing. Tears threatened to glisten behind my eyelashes. I just kept doing the next thing hoping no one would notice.

Sometimes, you have to believe that God has a sense of humor. When you do, you have to have faith that you are not the butt of his joke. While the fencers practiced their parry and reposts, I read She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice. Providence can make you wince sometimes. Today was that day.

I was wallowing in insecurity waiting to be told I was insufficient and unwanted. Nicole talked to me about awkward teenage years and the gangly growth spurts we all have. Then, she hit me where I live by suggesting insecurity is an awkward spiritual growth spurt.

When we frame our insecurities as guideposts on the road to growth, we may still feel awkward about them, but we will also recognize them as totally necessary steps toward true freedom in Christ. (p. 89)

What if we begin to think of our insecurities not as shameful places to hide but as opportunities to see God working in our lives. (p. 90)

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
You have to laugh, don't ya? Even if you are laughing through the tears you don't want anyone else to see.

I waited until the house was quiet, and it seemed safe. Finally, I could let the truth slip between my eyelashes and bathe my face in tears. Life has handed me so many failures. What's one more especially when I could have predicted it from a mile away?

I will pick up these pieces just like I am picking up all the rest strewn on the path of life behind me. Today, it feels as though I take one step forward and ten steps back. And yet, I keep walking.

It is a painful process, this awkward one of spiritual growth. From where I am tonight, I cannot see how far I've come because the forest of disappointment and failure is so dark I can barely see my hand in front of my face.

Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
I will keep walking until I can turn around and see how far I've come. I will face my insecurity and yes, even my fear, knowing the one who walks beside me:

specializes in situations that seem bleak, in people the world calls goners, and in cemetery places of the soul. (p. 91)


Won't you keep walking with me? 

(click on the picture to enlarge the image)

Jeremiah 31:3 (Amplified Bible)
Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Broken Hearts, Broken Dreams, and Broken Holidays

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 

Meeting his mom's eye with a knowing glance, the older son gave a wise nod. The preschooler between them tore open his package undoing the meticulous wrapping project in seconds. He was oblivious to what was unfolding around him – or more accurately what had not unfolded.

The gift at hand was a decoy. A stand-in tagged as if it came from an absentee father whose gift had not, and would never, arrive. Young as he was, the ploy still worked its magic for the little fella.

The older one was wise to the game now. “Ha. I guess he sent the gift Pony Express, and the pony died.” The mom arched an eyebrow as the two snickered in camaraderie. It was a pattern that would repeat most years as the two boys grew to men.

                                    ~~~~~~~~

Lights twinkle as darkness descends upon neighborhoods. In house after home, decorations suitable for Instagram and Pinterest appear in all their glory. We prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday as if they are religious experiences. Grocery stores hum as delicacies of the season fly off the shelves.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
If you watch closely enough, however, you will see pain hidden behind the frozen smiles of hurting people around you. They are the ones who wait, in this mean season of holiday pain, for a Pony Express that will never arrive. The wounds go deep and are too numerous to name.

Some pain is raw, open for all the world to see: unemployment, death, divorce, disfigurement, admitted addiction, mental illness, chronic illness, and disability. You see that pain and wince. The suffering see your gaiety and wonder how you can go on as normal when their lives will never be the same.

For some, a secret pain leaves them with no where to turn. They suffer the insults of abuse, infidelity, and addiction behind closed doors. Isolation and loneliness in marriage colors some days as deftly as the lights surrounding us. For others, family secrets hold everyone hostage and infuse the air with tension and pretense.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's come in rapid succession leaving the hurting ones unable to breathe as one bombardment follows another. If they told you the truth, some days they wake up hoping the Mayans were right about the world ending in 2012. And yet, they put on perfect holiday smiles for the sake of those around them especially the ones they love.

I sit in the quiet of my freshly cleaned home anticipating the week of celebrations ahead. I ponder the mean seasons when I slipped out of the house after dark to cry cold, lonely tears while staring back at a house ablaze in holiday lights. The world was falling down around me, and no one seemed to care. I remember me and think of the hurting ones wondering now how to celebrate when life has entered a mean season.

Courtesy M. Horrocks
To the outside world, my life is again in tatters. My marriage is in smoldering ruins around my feet. I do not know what the future holds. I wonder: is too late to start family traditions in a fractured family that was never good at traditions even in our best of times. I wonder: has time run out? Did I miss the holiday Pony Express?

If you, my fraidy cat friend, have stumbled in from the cold and dark thinking no one sees your frozen smile or heart full of pain, rest easy. You are among friends. I am glad to welcome you home and have something I want you to know.

As mean as your season has become and as lonely as you feel, you are not alone. There is a God, a Creator God, who has a plan for you. I call him Redeemer because he is in the business of redeeming loss and pain no matter how it comes packaged or by whom it was given. He sees your broken heart, broken dreams, and broken holidays.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative 
As far fetched as it seems just now, he has his eye upon you. He has promised that his plan for you will not be frustrated if you keep your eyes on him. Believe me, I know how hard that last part is. I know because I have been writing my way back to him and wrestling with him every step of the way.

Tonight, I am thankful you have found your way here. I am thankful I can share in the fellowship of your suffering and tell you about a baby who was born, lived, died, and rose again so that our pain would never go unheeded.

You see, I am convinced of that truth even tho' I am in a mean season of my own. I rejoice and celebrate knowing my Redeemer lives. I am certain he is in the process of making something beautiful out of this mess I call life even in the midst of my broken heart, dreams, and holidays. 
                                                                                                                 Why don't you stick around for awhile. Wait with me, and let's see what
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
redemption looks like? I'll be looking for you. I promise.

1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Phillipians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nights Like These – A Parent's Lament


It is late, and I should be in bed. Ask any homeschooling mom, and she will tell you. The mathematical probability of a kid needing to talk is directly proportional to her determination to get to bed early. Here's the thing – I tell myself I homeschool for just such nights as these. My son can stay up late and pour his heart out until his words are spent. I did it for his brother. Turn about is fair play.
By Courtesy and in Loving Memory of Christina Jones Hooker


Wanna know the ugly truth? I'm older now, and when I've been up writing till the wee hours for the last three nights, the last thing I wanna do is sit and listen with grace and empathy. Especially when I know we are going to grind over and over the same old territory we just covered the last few times we navigated nights like this one. I want easy answers and quick solutions. I wanna snap my fingers and hiss, “Go to bed!”

I look at the clock. I wonder how much longer till he will have exhausted all he can say. I watch for him to slump with relief as he realizes the pressure valve of words has been released. In that moment, the tears rise in my eyes, and the ache in my heart threatens to rip my chest open. I am sure I am a failure because even the answers I have fail to pacify him.

Oh, for the days when he would hear the loud noise of trucks half a mile away and cling to my leg for reassurance. It was so easy then. A pat on his baby head and the words, “S-h-h-h, baby, it's just a truck,” were enough. He'd toddle on off to play, and I could sigh a big ole fat sigh of parental success. Where did those days go?

Courtesy A. Squires
Now the insecurities that bring him running concern life, faith, and truth. Is my life going to have meaning, or will I just survive some dead end job in a life without purpose? Who is trustworthy? What makes them trustworthy? Is God trustworthy, and how do I know? Will I be a good spouse, and how do I get from here to there? Why does it take so long to grow up and get where I wanna go? Which Algebra lesson will be the fatal dose? Oh, the agony of youth. Oh the agony of parenting when easy answers no longer do the job.

I sit and try to recover from the onslaught of intense emotions that overwhelmed him. I wonder how to prepare for the next time. He slips back in the room with his head bent low. Wordlessly, he drops down beside me and wraps his gangly arms around me. I do what I have done since he was a baby safe in my belly. I pray.

I pray that I will be sufficient to the task and that God's strength will be made perfect in my frailty. I pray that he will protect my deep thinking son from a world that offers so many easy, but counterfeit, answers. I recount the verses that promise we are created for a unique purpose with good works to fulfill before God hung the world in place.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

We sit in the quiet until my tears subside. We agree that it is hard to talk and hard to be heard. Even harder to feel understood. We have survived despite our capacity to wound each other. I realize that this is part of entering into my son's life and into the fellowship of his youthful suffering. But it is hard. And it is late. And I am spent already from the sadness in my own life.

And then, I see the Son of Man bending near. How often he has been up late watching over me even as he counted the hairs on your head. One thing did not distract him from the other. Fatigue did not provoke him to hiss and hurry us along. When his answers were hard for me to hear and even harder for me to understand, he waited as the night grew later.

Unlike me, he never wondered how to prepare for the next time I would come crying or complained that he was insufficient to meet my need. As I mop up the emotional flood that's left behind our late night pow-wow, I realize my son can neither feel nor comprehend my suffering on his behalf.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

Oh, how much I have in common with my hurting son in light of all the days God has seemed insufficient to act on my behalf and understand my suffering. God sees my childish lament and knows the corners I cannot see around. He anticipates what I am yet too immature to grasp. He waits for me to catch up as I mature in faith. I do not try his patience nor exhaust his eternal strength. Not only is he sufficient for me, I do not have to be sufficient for my hurting son because God is and always will be. 
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010

Isaiah 53:5 (Easy to Read Version)But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.



A Voice Lost in the Noise

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

I kept shaking my head in amazement the rest of the Allume weekend. I was amazed that God used Mary DeMuth to whisper in my ear. I felt my wobbly legs grow stronger from the infusion of confidence. As soon as I dared look around at the talent in the room, I was walking on spaghetti strings of jello again barely able to stand on my own two feet.

It was awe-inspiring to rub elbows with four hundred or so bloggers, including some with rock star status, every time I ventured out of my room. According to wordpress.com, “Over 391 million people view more than 3.8 billion pages each month.” Wordpress alone drives over fifty-seven million sites.

Can you see what I'm thinking? The four hundred of us gathered weren't a spit in the internet ocean. If we weren't even a spit . . . I was, and will always be, lost in a sea of noise. Not only am I lost, I am behind and running to catch up on all things technically related to blogging. While waiting for the next keynote speaker, I slunk down in my chair and began to make peace with myself for the five minutes of every week I can do so.

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Darren Rouse was sitting in the lobby when I arrived. Here's the thing, you might not know who he is, but in my community of bloggers, he's a rock star. He's one of those who makes a real living blogging – and by real I mean in the style which I will never be accustomed. He'd been on the elevator with me a few times because we were lodging on the same floor of the hotel. If you saw him on the street, you'd have no clue he was a rock star because he looks and acts like, well, everyman. He was funny and shy and real about his faith.

This humble man, who lives in the stratosphere of success, flew all the way from Australia to tell us about his life as a pastor and how he discovered blogging. He recognized the power of the medium and wanted to harness it. It was 2001. Know what he thought at the time? He thought he was “behind the curve” and that he would never catch up. In fact, his first blog post got zero views while his review of a camera model he used on a trip went ballistic.

His words rang in my ears like the bells of Notre Dame. Darrel Rouse thought he was behind the curve ten years ago. Oh my fraidy cats. He knew exactly how I felt. And then, God used Darren Rouse to whisper in my ear a second time that weekend:

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You don't need a huge following to change one life, and if you change one life, your blog is big enough.”

This theme over-arched the entire weekend, but his comment was the one that tied all the related ones together.

Here's the truth: I am always going to be lost in the noise. I am never going to catch up. I can bob and weave with Facebook as they alter  algorithms and force brand pages to pay to be seen. Facebook holds the winning hand. I will disappear unless you work hard to see me and my updates.

I can set goals and take classes to grow my blog. I can figure out how to create printable pages, produce my own ebooks, and ask other bloggers to help promote my pages. I can do those things because of the gracious and wonderful community of bloggers God is allowing me to befriend. I can chase the blogging world's definition of success and not change a thing in the world.

I have felt the frantic push-pull of the 'do this – do that to reach blogging success and generate an income'. Believe me, I feel it even more now that I face life as an aging single parent whose last teenager will soon fly the nest. I tell myself I have no current job skills and that 'all' I can do is write, so I better figure out how to make this blogging-to-'real'-writer scheme work and work quickly. Can you feel my anxious frenzy growing?

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Toward the end of his talk, Darren told the story of how he watched a little girl eat cake, the same kind of cake he had only just finished savoring bit by bit, tiny bite by bite. After an approving nod from her mom, she grabbed the cake with bare hands and devoured it in seconds becoming a chocolatey mess in the process.

He then encouraged us to give up the fork and gobble Christ without reserve because those of us who gorge ourselves on him will live. That's when I knew what I've always known. Life is hard. There are bills to pay even as an uncertain future looms.

Yes, I want to be a rock star famous writer who travels and speaks and rubs elbows with bloggers and authors like Darren Rouse and Mary DeMuth till I think, “Hmm...this is normal. This is what I do.” But the only thing that will matter when the world ceases to spin is the one life that was changed, or not, because of what I wrote.

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I will always be invisible, and this blog will last for only a season. If you feel invisible today because words harshly spoken convinced you you are, I see you. Your pain is real. Your loneliness is real. Your need is real. I know the one who can be there in the midst of that pain. I hope you meet him here in the midst of my messy, needy life. I hope you feast fork-less and with abandon because you meet him here.

John 6:57 (Amplified Bible) Just as the living Father sent Me and I live by (through, because of) the Father, even so whoever continues to feed on Me [whoever takes Me for his food and is nourished by Me] shall [in his turn] live through and because of Me.