Simple SnippetsAs I journey through life I have tried to find the joy and the happiness in the small snippets of life. Searching for the bigger meaning, or even the small meaning, in the simple, and not so simple, moments in life.
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The SITS Girls
Today is the third day of Sue’s Revised A to Z Challenge! I got a few of my friends signed up and I can’t wait to read their posts. If you are interested – the “rules” are simple (it’s really just about getting motivated to blog so just do that!) check out my original post here and let me know if you’ve accepted the challenge in the comments below so I can read your stuff! (And check out my friend’s blogs who are doing this challenge here and here!)
Years ago (okay… maybe not THAT many years ago) I stated that I didn’t like to work in groups or teams. I liked to do things myself. In high school, I was always the one who did the majority of the work while in group projects and the same held through college. Mainly it was because I liked to get things done NOW – I don’t procrastinate a lot – and I would get frustrated when others didn’t seem to be pulling their weight. I’ve even taken this as far as working on my own from home. Now I don’t have co-workers to slow me down and I can work at my own speed and in my own way.
BUT several years ago I started writing and joined a writing group full of innovative and creative people. Right around that same time I joined the social media juggernaut known as Facebook. Since those two momentous occasions I have come to understand something: it’s okay to collaborate.
You see when I write something now (except my blog posts) I never, EVER put it out for the public to see without at least one of my writing group looking it over. (I don’t do the blog posts because usually they are written last minute and there isn’t time! When I have one that needs to be perfect – I send it out to them first.) I get so many good ideas and feedback from my group – we truly collaborate. We “work jointly” as the definition states. And I try to do the same for them when they’re struggling with a name, a concept or a way to get the word out about their latest work. (I helped my friend Roberta come up with a name for her new novel, “Surviving Jamaica” – you can preorder it here!)
And when I couldn’t come up with a suitable “C” word for today’s challenge (“challenge” was my second option) I turned to my friends on Facebook who flooded my timeline with wonderful words that started with “C.” After many suggestions, one friend finally said, “Or, after all of this, collaboration.”
DING! That was it! Not only was I blessed by everyone’s input, but I realized it was more of a collaboration than I had ever experienced in any high school or college science project setting. And I think I know why: everyone wanted me to succeed. It wasn’t about a grade or a number on my report card. It was the chance to really chime in (so MANY “C” words now… sheesh. I see them everywhere…) and to be part of the process. It was a true collaboration.
Very often we see writers as solitary people, huddled away in dark corners, writing their latest masterpiece. But when books are put together there is more than the writer involved. There is the editor, the publisher, the publicist, the sales team, the typesetter and the reader too. We can’t do it alone (even when we really want to). I’m starting to learn that I can’t do everything on my own either. And, in fact, not much of my life has been accomplished alone. It’s been a collaboration between me and my husband, me and my parents, me and my friends and me and God.
For those of you struggling with finding a “C” word for this challenge here are some additional ideas: challenge, custodian, colloquialisms (I almost use this one), cooking, composting, Chablis, Cape May, Calla lily, crazy writer (or insert yours here) friends, community, Christianity, and my favorite – cookie. (Thanks Cookie Monster!)
Finding peace is not a new topic on my blog. I’m striving for it in my life and I try to expose that on this space so anyone out there also struggling can, perhaps, learn something. I had a very deep experience recently and I just knew I had to share it.
Like most of us, I feel a certain level of guilt when I don’t accomplish “enough” in any given day. I never feel like, no matter how much I have achieved, that I can STOP. Especially since I quit my office job and started working my own businesses. I can never stop thinking, “How am I contributing?” “Did I make enough this month?” “Maybe I should have skipped lunch today or gotten up earlier, or worked the weekend.” It just goes on and on. The list is never-ending. And I keep going until something causes me to break.
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. ~ Psalm 38:4
Last week, I had a couple of self-esteem blows in addition to the normal list of “guilts.” And I let a few moments go by and didn’t use each second to the best of my abilities so I felt guilt. Every SECOND wasn’t used properly? *GASP!*
BUT the weather was BEAUTIFUL and I had spent too much time cooped up over the winter to let it pass by so I suggested to my beloved that he skip the gym and we take the kayaks for a spin on the lake. He readily agreed. We left chores, guilt, and to-do lists in our dust.
Once we got the kayaks on the lake, however, I quickly noticed that just pushing off into the water was not enough to relax my overactive mind. We paddled over to a section of the lake where some Bald Eagles have set up a nest. (We did get a glimpse of the majestic bird as he was fishing for some food.) As soon as I saw the bird, it was like a checklist clicked on my brain. *Saw the bird. CHECK! Moving on!*
I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.
So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” ~ Lamentations 3: 17-18
Even on the lake, where there is little to do EXCEPT relax, my mind kept churning. I tried to make conversation with my husband (because silence is apparently a sin in my head), I sought out other wildlife and I paddled all over that stupid lake. And then the guilt started to kick in: What SHOULD I be doing instead of lounging away on the lake?
A few weeks ago someone in Sunday school made this comment: What part does guilt play in hindering my peace?
SHEESH. A lot at this point. I couldn’t even relax in the serene beauty of God’s creation! He basically put me out on a boat in the middle of a lake and I STILL couldn’t find the peace He was handing to me on a silver platter! I made a commitment in that moment to just BE and find peace… even if it killed me.
So I sat back in my kayak, felt the sway, heard the lap of the water on the stern and even let my eyes close for the briefest moment. After a few moments I heard, “Hey! Are you awake over there. You don’t have your vest on!” His concern was valid. Weeks of stress and self-imposed guilt dissipated as I drifted along, lulled finally into the peace that I had sought so desperately.
But I didn’t fall asleep. I cried.
Giant sobs came and big, wet tears fell down my face. (I think I may have scared my husband, but in the end – he understood.) And as the solitude claimed me, it pushed every guilt-ridden, negative, unhealthy thought out of my mind. I released it all into the lake.
When we left the lake soon after, it was too soon, but I determined to come back soon (because I THINK my peace might be in the center of that lake.) So here I sit again today (but not in my kayak), writing this post. But now that this post is written, I’m going to shut my brain off, put down this pen and just feel the breeze coming off the lake and hear my own heart beat.
Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. ~ Proverbs 3:17
I read a recent blog that mentioned making a list of writing prompts for yourself to get yourself writing more. I thought, “Why not dig up some notes from some of my journals and see if they make good writing prompts…and then, share them!” I think these would work for writing prompts for short stories, a fiction starter or even blog posts!
So here you go fellow writers – don’t thank me – just get writing!
- Write about a favorite saying (Example: “She can pinch a penny so hard Lincoln would cry” or “Getting passed like a dirty shirt!”)
- Write about a time you had to invoke the 20 second rule
- Create a bucket list of places you want to travel
- Make a list of your favorite children’s books
- Make a list of books you’d never tell anyone you read
- A Day in the Life
- Write about a day when you did only what you WANTED to do (If anyone has done this – I’m jealous! SHARE!)
- Do people hinder us or do we hinder ourselves
- Write about what success means to you
- Your six-year-old comes up to you and say, “Momma, I have a confession…”
- “It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen…”
- Compare your child to you at the same age
- If your life were a 80’s hair band song – what would it be?
- A poem using only words that begin with the same letter
- Find your favorite piece of artwork and write an ode to it
- Make a list of “Life Rules” from your child (age 8 and under)
- Did you ever notice
- If you have to pick 4 ingredients for a “Chopped” basket – what would they be
- What are you willing to sacrifice for your writing
I don’t know about you, but I am inspired to get writing! If you write something on your blog using one of these prompts – please share so I can read it! I love reading others writing and am so inspired by the blogs of others. I hope that I have inspired you today – if not with writing something from these posts – at least to get writing.
Today is the second day of Sue’s Revised A to Z Challenge! I got a few of my friends signed up and I can’t wait to read their posts. If you are interested – the “rules” are simple (it’s really just about getting motivated to blog so just do that!) check out my original post here and let me know if you’ve accepted the challenge in the comments below so I can read your stuff! (And check out my friend’s blogs who are doing this challenge here and here!)
Today I’m talking about the letter “B.” (I feel like Big Bird in a Sesame Street skit.) When my husband and I started dating we picked “Bless the Broken Road” as our “theme song.” We each had listened to separate versions: his Selah and mine Rascal Flatts. We even choreographed a dance for our wedding to the Selah version. (Check that out here!) We picked the song because every line seemed to speak about our relationship.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I was walking last week and listening to some music when the Rascal Flatts version came up in my rotation. I skipped by it because it sometimes makes me cry (tears of joy) and I didn’t want my good mood squashed at that moment. But about three songs later, the Selah version came up in the rotation. So I decided that perhaps God wanted me to hear it! I listened, remembering our wedding day, our first dance as a married couple and all the years since we first met.
The years before I met John were filled with broken roads – heartbreak, friendships gone astray, failed jobs, and an endless sea of discontentment. But now, as we celebrate our sixth year married (and a few more total), I can honestly say I haven’t had a broken road since we’ve been together. The end of the song says this:
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true.
You see, the blessings are that I didn’t meet John sooner and that I did have all those broken roads to traverse. I would have loved to skip out on all those heartaches and bad times, but without them – his love, his commitment to me and even his quirks – would not mean as much to me. Sure we would have been together sooner, but would it have been as good?
As we continue to move forward in our marriage and face obstacles and new adventures together all I can think of is: God bless the broken road that led me straight to you. It helped me to be a stronger woman, a better wife and a blessed individual.
So if you’re traversing some of those broken roads today – have hope! God is using this time to mold you, shape you, grow you and bring you towards a more solid road. I bet there might even be some blessings along the way!
What broken roads have you walked down only to see later they were blessings in disguise?
Recently I participated in a Twitter party with the SITS Girls. One of the questions during the party was, “Have you ever considered having guests post on your blog?” I answered, “YES!” From there, the discussion built and I connected with two other bloggers who were willing to swap posts with me! Today I’m introducing you to Jeannie Ewing. Jeannie is really awesome and I think you will enjoy, and be blessed by, this post. Please connect with her (social media details are below) and let me know what you think! I also guest blogged on her site last Friday – check it out here!
GOD IS BIGGER THAN STATISTICS
When I fear, I will trust in you. ~Psalm 56:4
Every morning I approach my daughter, Sarah’s, room with apprehension. In the back of my mind, fear begins to swell in my heart as I wonder, Will she be alive when I wake her up? Naturally this would be a completely irrational fear for a typical mother of a typical child. But my children are not typical. Sarah was born with a rare craniofacial condition called Apert Syndrome. It is so rare, in fact, that there are no statistics available about life expectancy and mortality rates.
One year ago another Apert family lost their daughter unexpectedly. She was Sarah’s age and like her in nearly every way: her features were mild, and she was effervescent, joyful and loving. She, like Sarah, did not carry many of the “extra” burdens that kids with Apert Syndrome often have, such as gastrointestinal, pulmonary, and cardiologic problems. She was healthy – except for Apert Syndrome. And one night, she passed away undetected until her parents found her the next morning.
When I catch myself reverting to this horrific memory and the haunting question, What if, I take this verse to heart. It is a comforting verse, one that draws me back into the loving and protective arms of God. Though I cannot predict Sarah’s lifespan, I can predict one thing, the one thought that always elevates my heart to heaven and resurges hope within me:
God is bigger than statistics.
It’s become so vital to my ability to live in the present moment, in fact, that I have posted it on my Facebook page, where I update people on Sarah’s development and ask for prayer when she has her inevitable surgeries.
When we live in fear, we squelch our capacity to love and to appreciate the here and now. Fear paralyzes us so that inaction is the only option available to us. We can wallow in fear. We can worry, fret, and agonize over the “what ifs” in our lives. The truth is we all have those unknown and uncertain factors that we would give anything to only understand.
But God permits us to dwell in the realm of mystery so that we draw nearer to Him and thus grow in our ability to love. Love frees us from the shackles of fear, which only imprisons us. The enemy waits for us to succumb to our fears so that we cannot do great things for God.
But God wants more of you and me. He has created us for a definite purpose, one that involves spreading the message of hope to a weary and bleak world that has given up on the true message of love.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are the fears that cripple you in your life? Do you surrender them to God in prayer? Do you seek support from trusted friends, a pastor, or a counselor? How can you grow in trusting God today?
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
Image Copyright Ani Wallach Photography (2014) and created by Jeannie Ewing on Canva.com
Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com. Check out Jeannie’s social media:
Last Thursday morning I got up as I do every day before and set about my work day from home. Sometimes it gets a bit tedious and I’ve found myself straying a bit from God, my morning devotionals and also from taking care of myself. So before I dug into my work, I decided to take a walk with my pup. Many times I get too busy and don’t get proper exercise in my day so I wanted to be sure I accomplished it this time. I dug out my headphones, pulled up the music on my phone and set out. I have a set playlist that I really love on my phone (Pitbull, Iggy Azalea, One Republic, JLo, Jessie J… tunes to get you moving), but that morning I thought, “No, I’m going to try out some of my old tunes.” Boy was I happy I did! I listened to ABBA, Garth Brooks (I’m kind of on a kick since we saw him last weekend in concert!), Michael Buble, and even Selah (who sang our wedding song: Blessed the Broken Road). My step had some pep baby! Max and I ended up walking almost an hour around town and I felt energized, awake and inspired. I had two blog ideas come to me (for my A to Z Challenge – if you want to join in check it out!) and even encouraged to work more on my short fiction novel (which I hope to publish within the next month or so!)
Sometimes it’s good to break out of your comfort zones, get out into nature, and loosen up a bit.
This past weekend was one of my favorites. It was my 6th Wedding Anniversary (which included dinner out at a new restaurant- pay attention – I might do a review!) and Mother’s Day. I got a small cake from a local bakery that was a replica of our wedding cake – lemon cake with raspberry preserve filling – and we celebrated our marriage by just trying to spend some time with one another. I got to spend my time with loved ones just enjoying love and each other. We also spent some time with friends by a nice outdoor fire, chatted about the ups and downs of our lives, sipped a few tasty drinks and relaxed under the warm May evening. It doesn’t get better than that.
One last thing: If you’re a writer and are looking for an awesome conference to attend, meet some nice people, and hone your skills across the board – check out the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference in Grove City, PA (near Pittsburgh – very close to Ohio!) This conference really has something for everyone – fiction, children’s writers, non-fiction, how to get contracts, how to self-publish and includes terrific fellowship and time with real authors, editors and publishers to share ideas and get your foot in the door. You won’t regret signing up for this all-inclusive conference! Hope to see you there!
Check back this Wednesday for my 2nd guest blogger! You’re going to love her!
Have a great Monday!