Perspective

Life and Happiness

As you know, I spent some time at a writing conference recently. I’ve been attending St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference for several years and it always, ALWAYS helps me to boost my writing. The creative juices start to flow as I spend countless hours with other creatives. It’s almost as if their creativity rubs off on me and the blissful, beautiful campus of Grove City College stirs a sense of peace and calm that helps me to write.

But not this year.

After I returned home I realized I hadn’t written a darn thing. In fact, I had barely opened my laptop and had only jotted down a few sparse thoughts in a journal. The creative juices I had expected to flow had not come at all. I felt like a failure. Once again I was back home, amidst the normalcy of every day life, where my creative juices often get sucked up by chores.

Monday’s harsh light snapped me back to reality and I took to Facebook to sulk about my woes.

“I sometimes feel inferior to all they (my writing friends) are accomplishing and achieving while I sit here and lament over my lack of work and lack of creative juices. I thought conference would inspire me, but it seems to have only made this inferiority complex worse.” 

I put my depression and my feelings of failure out for the world to see. It’s something I’m known to do – a sort of transparency that many tell me is a nice thing to behold. But I wasn’t feeling transparent or like I’d be able to encourage anyone. I was simply sulking. But I was astonished by the response.

“I’m so glad you posted this,” wrote one friend. “I always feel the same at the end of conference.”

Another encouraged me by saying, “You are not alone. … I always have to remind myself, ‘someone else’s success is not our failure.'”

Still others told me about a long list of chores they had to accomplish, laundry that needed to be done, groceries that had to be bought (one friend’s family couldn’t even get bread and milk for themselves!) and kids that needed to be driven places. Many told me they hadn’t written a single thing during conference. It helped me to realize that others were feeling this way. I was not alone, it seemed, but, in fact, in good company.

Then one of my new friends wrote this: “I am so grateful to you for taking me under your wing. You were such an encouragement to me.”

Another, “You reserved time to individually review my jots and tittles, providing good ideas and encouragement.”

And lastly, “I’m glad you weren’t writing during those moments we were chatting. I enjoyed getting to know you.”

What perspective! I had almost forgotten that during this time of not writing, I had been meeting new friends, encouraging others to write, giving advice to new writers, helping new conferees find their way – both literally and figuratively – and simply enjoying the company of others who were like-minded. I didn’t waste one single minute of conference, it just wasn’t what I had expected I’d be doing with my time!

One of my other friends reminded me of this: “It is absolutely impossible to survive the bruises if we compare where we are, EVER, to our friends with whom we’re sharing this journey. … we have to stop thinking of life as some kind of race. It’s not. … the true joy of life that God desperately wants for us can’t be found when we’re racing. We have to SLOW DOWN and cherish now.”

Wow. After reading her comment, I thought back to every minute of conference. I didn’t race. I let every single person who wanted to talk to me, do so. I listened to people’s stories and laughed along at their jokes. I hugged. I prayed. I smiled. I DID cherish it, but simply got caught up in worthless thoughts afterwards.

Does this look like someone who wasted her time to you?

So I wanted to write this post to thank all of those people who made me realize my perspective last Monday wasn’t in keeping with what God’s perspective is for me. I wasn’t recognizing and enjoying the joy He had provided all during conference week. Instead, I was letting the enemy sink his teeth into my thoughts and skew my perspective. But, thankfully, it only took a minute of being honest and transparent on social media for my friends to come to the rescue.

And I thank them.

If you are feeling down, depressed or upset about your shortcomings this week, consider these verses:

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:8-10 NIV)

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Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)

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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9 NIV)

If you’re feeling down – ask for help. Tell a friend. Look to the Word for encouragement. I would venture a guess that your negative thoughts are not in keeping with what God has in store for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11 NIV)

Look for His message, His perspective and pray for His guidance to help you through.

God bless and Happy Friday!

 

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I is for Ideas and Inspiration

Life and Happiness, Writing

Where do ideas and inspiration come from? For me, it comes from being around people who are similar to me – artists. I find joy, inspiration, and encouragement from people striving to create – whether it be writing, sculpting, singing or playing an instrument. Art in all forms digs down deep into my soul and starts a fire that cannot be quenched until I begin to create myself.

During conference last week, there were no shortages of talented people from which to draw inspiration. Like our St. Davids Sanctified Ukulele Band. (For video – check out the St. Davids Christian Writers Facebook page) Yes, ukuleles…and a guitar and a stray washboard. And singing. It is hard to squash down your own talents when surrounded by the beauty and talent of others. Especially when they are so crazy and quirky as this bunch.

ukulele band

The ukulele band in action.

barb

On the surface this doesn’t look like a quirky person…except she isn’t a blonde.

bert

And Roberta’s hair is NOT normally curly.

Where do ideas come from? Teachers and mentors who provide instruction and encouragement to keep chasing your dreams. Bob Hostetler’s keynote speech began with a story about NOT fulfilling your God given talents. His story-telling was so poignant and soul-searching that I knew I would be challenged and provoked for the rest of the week. And I was right.

Bob continued to inspire me in his Non-Fiction class over the next three days. He used countless examples of non-fiction writers who shine in their craft, giving me ideas of where to submit my work, how to hone my work and even how to sell myself.

Cindy Sproles not only taught a devotion class that encouraged me to excel in my writing skills, but also spoke with me personally about a devotional book I’m working on. She opened up her heart and expertise to me, but more importantly, she inspired me with her own work (New Sheets), which is a book that is similar to the book I want to create. With her insight (another good “I” word!) I felt like my dream was possible. (not “I”mpossible)

Now that I’m back in my “normal” life setting, and not surrounded 24-7 by these inspiring people, I must find inspiration and ideas from my everyday life. Like this piece of artwork I found while walking.

fish

 

Or this awe-inspiring architecture of God’s house.

church

Or the sun streaming across this meadow.

gazebo

 

As I assimilate myself back into “normal” living, I strive to find inspiration from God’s world around me and cultivate the ideas He has ingrained in me.

 

 

Mini Post Monday

Life and Happiness, Writing

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.

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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.

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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!

You can also find me on Twitter @suefair48 and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page (I have two actually – here’s the other one!)