How to Add Life to that Thing You Do

AlarmI recently had the pleasure of attending the Breathe Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, MI. If there is one thing a good writers conference will do for me, it is motivating me to find my creative rhythm. By this I mean, finding a structured time, ideally each day, when I can write.

Since returning from my conference I have found that 6:00 am is my sweet spot. The house is quiet. No one is after me. I can sit alone and think, write, create.

Getting up early is not my nature, and yet, somehow, there’s life in it. It’s like coffee, only better. When my kids get up and my writing time ends, I get on with the rest of my day. But as I make breakfast, make beds, make little minds turn around our homeschooling table, I feeling giddy, nourished, and deeply satisfied.

At first I thought it was a fluke, the natural response to the first real writing time I’d had in weeks, but as the days linked up and I kept going with my 6:00 am appointments, my happiness phenomena kept happening. Life kept filling my bones and everything seemed good, and perfect, and new.

A few days after my conference, I stumbled upon a podcast by Ransomed Heart Ministries about creativity and our relationship with God. As I listened, the men on this podcast, Craig McConell and Allen Arnold put into words what I was experiencing during my early morning writing times. Quoting one of Allen’s blog posts Craig said,

“God’s primary desire is not that we write about him, or even for him, it’s that we write with him.”

Of course, I thought. That’s it. When I sit down to write, whether it’s at 6:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the afternoon, or 10:00 at night. Whether I’m in a room full of people or a quiet corner of my house, in these times of creative of solitude, I am never alone. I am always with God.

The giddiness, nourishment, and deep satisfaction doesn’t come from the writing. It comes from being with God.

There’s no other way to explain it. On Tuesday I picked up my Bible and read, purely because I wanted to, for the first time in weeks. On Wednesday I longed for community, for fellowship with a friend. On Thursday I felt like Ann Voskamp, crazy grateful for golden leaves, yellow school buses, and sticky fingerprints on my window.

All of it came from being with God. From starting my day with Him. From sitting on my couch, typing out words in the presence of my King. It is simple, it is sacred, and somehow feels like the most honest prayer I’ve know.

Later in the podcast Allen describes the work we do as a little boy playing with blocks. As the boy plays, his father watches and asks if he can come build blocks with him. “No thanks,” the boy says. “I’m doing fine by myself.” Allen explains that this is what we do with God when we fail or refuse to invite Him in, when our work or our creating is done while He sits across the room.

When we do our work or our creating with God, we experience life and we experience freedom.

For me this means all the worrying I do about building a platform, creating a following, and finding a publisher fades into a deeper purpose of building, creating, and finding intimacy with God. I don’t have to worry; I just have to be me. I just have to do the work I love with Him by my side.

It’s kind of a game changer.

This post I’m writing may not be a hit. My book may never get published. I might be an obscure writer who never knows fame or success. But in the end, my biggest fan is the creator of the universe, the greatest hero of all time. He’s in the trenches with me. Every word I write is shared with God, and if nothing ever comes of it, that’s okay, because we did it together. It came from Him.

This is enough. I am enough. His presence in my life, by my side, in my work, is always, always, more than enough.

So that thing you do? Go do it. Find your rhythm. Create your masterpiece. Do the work He’s given you.

And build your blocks with God.

To listen to the podcast mentioned in this post please visit:

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done

Beach StairwayPlanning a romantic getaway to surprise my husband has been on my bucket list ever since we were married.

As our twelfth anniversary drew near I went online and made a reservation for an overnight stay at a B&B on Lake Michigan. I did everything to plan a perfect weekend, and when the time was right I let him in on my scheme.

When I told Chris about my plans he was just as excited as I was, and on a golden fall afternoon we set off on our little adventure.

From the moment we arrived at the B&B we enjoyed everything if had to offer: a view of the lake, a fireplace by our bed, a Jacuzzi in the bathroom. We ate dinner at a cozy upscale restaurant and followed it up with a sunset stroll along the beach.

As Chris and I walked we held hands and laughed about some of the stupid things we’ve done over the past twelve years.

“Do you remember the time share presentation we went to in order to get a free digital camera?” Chris said.

“Yes,” I said with a giggle. “That thing was so crappy, I don’t think we ever used it. Remember how we got into a huge fight the first week we were married because I thought you would take me out to eat every night so I wouldn’t have to fix supper?”

“Yes,” he said rolling his eyes.

“We should make a list of the Top-Twelve Stupidest things we’ve done as a married couple,” I said.

View Lake MIWe never made a complete list but as we continued to walk I realized with a moment of clarity that the absolute stupidest thing we’ve ever done as a married couple is wasting time being mad at each other.

I know all couples fight, and argue, and get mad at each other. When it comes to knock-down, blowout fights, we are just like everyone else and perhaps, in their own way, confrontations like these serve their purpose…but in the long run? What do we ever gain by putting ourselves at odds with the one we love? With the one we’ve chosen to share life with?

I remember a scene from Little House on the Prairie where Caroline Ingalls gets her petticoats in a wad with Charles. By the end of the episode they’re lying in bed and Caroline turns to Charles with a complete change of heart and says, “Oh Charles, it is such a waste, being mad at you.”

With a fresh perspective Caroline was able to take her eyes off whatever their grievance was and see it for the relatively small issue it had been all along. In accordance, she saw her husband for the man he was and realized how silly it was to continue being angry with him.

Some of the best marital advice I’ve ever been given is to not let anything destroy the closeness you feel between you and your spouse and in recent months I’ve taken this to heart. It’s a nugget of wisdom that sticks in mind whenever I’m tempted to unleash on Chris.

In a recent argument I couldn’t understand, for the life of me, why Chris saw things the way he did, why he made decisions, involving me, that I didn’t agree with, why he just couldn’t see things my way. But at the same time I realized that ultimately it didn’t matter. The issue itself simply wasn’t worth jeopardizing the closeness between us. So I let it go, and I’m glad I did, but this hasn’t always been the case.

12 AnniversaryThere have been plenty of times, and I’m sure there will be plenty more, when I’ve let my temper get the best of me. When I’ve failed to protect the closeness, when I’ve failed to show grace and see his heart in a matter.

And it always comes back to seeing his heart, to remembering who he is (a mighty man of valor), whose he his (God’s and mine), and why I love him so (because even when it doesn’t seem like it, even when I don’t feel like it, I do love him, with all my heart, I do).

It is this, this seeing of his heart, of my heart for him that makes me fight, not against him, but for the closeness. For the love. Makes me fight against the temptation to waste time in anger.

So how about you? Who are you wasting time being mad at? A friend? A family member? A spouse? Whoever it is, whatever has caused your anger, do what you need to do to stop wasting time, to restore the closeness.

Seek counsel…

Say you’re sorry…

Take a long look at their heart…

And choose love.

Always and only, love.

The Truth About Suffering

Fairyland QuoteThis past June my husband and I found out we are expecting our third baby and while I was excited to share this news with our family and friends there was one friend I couldn’t tell.

Within days of discovering our happy news I received an email from my friend, Caye. In this email Caye openly shared the devastating news that she had just lost her baby at seventeen weeks.

I have journeyed with Caye through one miscarriage and to hear that she was now facing another, when she had just started to grab on to the hope that this pregnancy would last, broke my heart for her and her husband and their dream of having a family.

In a desire to be sensitive to the grief and loss she was going through I decided not to tell her that I was pregnant until I knew she had some time to heal. It was hard to keep my news from her. I didn’t like the feeling of not being open, of hiding something so important from a friend I felt so close to, but I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting her, of adding to her pain.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of spending some time with Caye. After weeks of not being able to get together it was good to see her and I could tell that something was different. Instead of sadness she was full of joy. Instead of grief she had hope in her eyes. I sensed in my heart that the time had come to share my news with her.

“Caye, I have something to tell you but it’s kind of hard.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “What is it? Tell me.”

“I’m pregnant,” I said with my hands literally covering my face.

“Oh my gosh!” she said. “I had no idea. How far along are you?”

“Nineteen weeks,” I said with an apprehensive smile.

“NINETEEN WEEKS!” said Caye.

Together we laughed and hugged and I know my sweet friend well enough to understand that she was genuinely happy for me. I explained to her why I waited and how I’ve wanted to tell her for so long.

“Thank you for waiting,” she said. “It would have been hard. There was a time when it would have really hurt but now…”

I watched as tears filled her eyes.

“But now, I’m over-the-moon happy for you. God has done such a work in me through this suffering and it is so, so good. I can’t believe what He’s done.”

For a moment we were both quiet, because really, sometimes there just aren’t words. But there is friendship, and there’s this way that two hearts that know Him and love Him and love one another have the ability to understand.

I’m not sure how to express what her happiness meant to me. What her words spoke to my heart. What her courage and openness inspire in my life. I am honored to be her friend, to walk with her through suffering, to walk with her through joy. And my own joy feels more complete now that she is a part of it.

Caye’s words on suffering remind me of what Mr. Beaver says about Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis pg. 86)

When we make the choice to walk with God through this life on planet earth we are not choosing a God who is safe. On the contrary we’re choosing a path that is marked with pain and suffering. There are pitfalls, and trials, and tests. There is adversity, darkness, and danger. But even in the wild, even in the pain, even in the darkest night He is there, working in us, molding us, shaping us. Creating something beautiful, creating something good.

And in the end, isn’t it the good we’re after? The beauty? The wholeness? The satisfaction of staring down adversity and finding what we’re made of?

The satisfaction of finding Him?

I’m currently reading a book by Catherynne M. Valente titled, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making. (Awesome title, I know!) And in this book Valente writes of her main character, September:

“There must be blood, the girl thought. There must always be blood. […] It will be hard and bloody, but there will be wonders, too, or else why bring me here at all? And it’s the wonders I’m after, even if I have to bleed for them.” (pg 36)

This life, it is hard and bloody. And sometimes we’re left wondering why. But in it all and through it all there is One.

There is a Lion, who isn’t safe. There is a King who is always good.

There is a Savior who went to the cross, to prove once and for all, that there are wonders worth bleeding for.

For more on Caye’s story please visit