23 July, 2015

Simply Tuesday: Becoming More Childlike


Playing Dress-up

I loved playing dress up as a child. I remember countless afternoons being at my grandmother’s house in her closest putting on her skirts and blouses, slipping my tiny feet into her heels. I would slip her pearls on my neck and let her clip-on earrings pinch my tiny ears. Then I would try to walk. I would have to hike the skirt up and shuffle to the bedroom.

As an adult I have often felt like that little girl in her grandmother’s clothes. I have struggled with wondering if I would ever feel like I belonged. Would I ever truly fit in and as if I wasn’t just playing in my grandmother’s closest?

Simply Tuesday

I am currently reading Emily Freeman’s new book Simply Tuesday. In it, she writes about the need to become more childlike. But Freeman reminds us: being childlike does not mean being childish (pg. 138).

We often get those confused. One is forging responsibility, throwing a tantrum and being self-involved. The other is wonder, awe, trust, surrender. It is hope and belief. It is being open and ready.

She writes about the image of a daycare room coming to her one day in prayer. Little tables and chairs, paper and crayons. Then she realizes she is a child. “This day belongs to the Lord,” she said. “This is not the day Emily made to toil and strive and earn. … He invites me to surrender myself to His agenda and trust that He intends good things (pg. 134)

In my prayers I am often a little girl in a flower field. I run my hand along the tops of the flowers that grow wild, up to my waist. I am looking a field with a lake and a beautiful mountain rising before me.

Too often, I think that someday I will be a grown-up here, that I will finally not be playing dress-up. But what if that is the entire opposite of what God wants?

Being Childlike

What if He wants my curiosity? What if He wants my wonder? What if dress-up is okay because it keeps me dependent on Him?

What if the wonder, joy, awe and ability to see the small things is really what it is all about?

It is resting in God’s presence vs. trying to do it alone.

It is being filled with possibility and being open vs. being skeptical and analyzing things to death.

Freeman writes: choosing to believe the simple, true words about my identity is a childlike quality that often takes mature faith. (pg.139)

Believing What God Says

It takes more faith to let go and let God be God than to try and control it all. Like kids in a tantrum refusing to sleep though they are exhausted, surrendering and letting go bring rest, comfort and release!

When I let myself be childlike, I say okay to being messy. I do not have to have it 100% together. I can move towards others, not in “perfection” but with my mess – loving them and inviting them to embrace their mess too.

“Jesus speaks to the interior soul, inviting the child within to come to Him for validation, protection and truth” (pg. 141).

Ultimately, our souls are young! In our pain we try to fortify them – but our inner being is childlike. That is what breeds wonder, worship, love and hope! An adult has no use for those – but a child is all over them.

It’s our woundedness that cause us to fortify the child inside. We are taught not to trust. We are taught to be reserved. We are taught to hold back, play along, fall in line – be an adult! But God did not tell us to become upstanding adults resting on practicality, logic and reason. No he told us to become like children.

“He invites us all…to finally take on the truest shape of ourselves: a small and dependent child of God” (pg. 142).

Being Childlike in the Every Day

The other day I was on a run. I was having the hardest time finding a rhythm. It was a mental block. I was exhausted. I couldn’t make it down the block. I wanted to quit. But I had a distance I was determined to go.

In my frustration, I decided to sing. I got found a beat with my steps on the pavement and just started to sing. My song: He is good. He is with me. He is my strength. He will get me through. I can do this. As I focused on that instead of my pain, I started to run. I made it further than I had so far.

I realized reading Freeman’s book that was a childlike moment. The song made no sense. It was off the cuff. It was totally silly and repetitive and did not always rhyme. But it was pure. It was me – unadulterated before God. It was undignified. But it was real. It was me with my God in a moment when the veil was torn and I was just with Him.

And isn’t that just simply amazing?

How can you be more childlike today?

22 July, 2015

Be Still and Discover - Journaling into the Quiet

Today we continue our series on journal ideas and tips. You can find the previous entries in the series here.

Last week we talked about journaling into what hurt

This week we are going to talk about journaling in the quiet.

As in being quiet. Being still. Waiting.

Be Still and Discover

Ooh we hate those words, don’t we? We hate to wait. Whether it’s at the doctor’s office, in line, at a stop light, for our family. We hate to wait. We are impatient. We take out our phones and scan the social media page we were on only moments before. We look at images and updates, and idle the time until whatever we were waiting on happens.

We are not good just being.

We want the distraction of noise. TV, radio, chatter, talk. Something about silence anymore makes us uncomfortable. It’s like a wool sweater in summer – itchy and out of place.

We have lost something precious friend.

In the wake of never being still, never without distraction, unable to take silence, stillness or our own thoughts – we have lost the ability to process and in many ways, feel.

Yet we were made to feel.

As we discussed last week, what we don’t face will come back. You cannot out run things forever.

Finding the Quiet

Earlier in the spring I went on a spiritual retreat. A group of us met and after a brief introduction, went about our own way. We had two hours and nothing to do.

The time looked different to each of us. Some went for a walk, others prayed or meditated.

I intentionally chose not to bring my headphones. It would have been easy for me to slip them in, turn on some music, and write the time away. But that was not the point. The ache is my heart was present even then (link) and I wanted to meet God.

I found a quiet corner. Looked out over His beauty and tried to quiet my mind.

It was hard. My to do list kept coming up. I thought of my phone in my purse, tempted to text my husband. I went over story ideas and song lyrics. But that was not why I was there.

I write in Emmaus about the need to simply be with God. To do this we have to de-clutter our minds, push beyond our tendency to fill every minute, confront and overcome our severe hatred of quiet and reflection.

So I chose a word and just said it over and over to myself. I let that saturate my heart and quiet my mind. When something new would come up I let it be for a moment and then went back to my word.

I found stillness. In that stillness I found something else – peace.

I was able to forget my discomfort and meet my heart where it was.

We Need Silence

We cannot exist without silence. We cannot exist without quiet. We cannot exist without time away from electronics and to dos and busyness.

We were made for more. But we’ve sold ourselves short.

Creativity requires space and quiet.

Relationships require attention and engagement.

Family requires time uninterrupted, consistency and being together.

Faith requires stillness, quieting our hearts and listening.

We are addicted to noise and distraction.

We are master numbs and avoiders.

We are told what to think, feel, believe and become.

And yet we are lonely.

We are hurting.

We are crying out for more.

But we have been taught that this kind of “more” is bad.

Simply Start

So start small.

Find a place where you can relax. Leave your cell phone behind. Do not take your tablet. Turn off the TV. Make sure you won’t be interrupted.

Get comfortable. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Pay attention as you breathe – in and out, slowly.

Focus on a word, or an image of something calming.

Your mind will wander. It will feel weird. But dear friend, that is okay.

After you are settled if you want to write, please do. If not, just let your mind be still and feel what is happening within and around you.

Maybe you only get five minutes in. Maybe you don’t have a revelation. That is okay.

The practice of quiet comes slowly. It’s a friend that beckons us back.

Maybe as you wait for your kiddo you breathe deep and just be instead of reaching for your phone.

Maybe you let someone go in line ahead of you and take the moment to recharge.

Maybe you keep the TV off before dinner, put your phone in a drawer and just engage your family where they are.

Maybe we can help silence and stillness not become bad words and things we avoid and instead turn them into ways we recharge and things we make time for.

Silence is not bad. Stillness is not being idle. It’s how we come to know ourselves and bring a bit of clarity into this fragmented, busy, over-stimulated, rushed world.

How can you bring a bit of stillness into your week? 

21 July, 2015

What Hurts: Doubt, Questions and Silence

Here is my entry from the July 17th Creative Prompt

What hurts? At the moment seemingly a lot. I don’t know if it is a hurt really, but a subtle ache. It hits me when I am silent or still. What is to become of me?

It sounds drastic and I don’t mean it to. Since getting to Hawaii, I have been struggling with what to do next. I left my job in May full of expectation. I was ready for what came next. Now next is starting me in the face and I am petrified.

I have wanted to be a writer forever. Earlier in the year my husband challenged me to stop saying I want to be a writer (because I am one) and instead to say, “I want to make money with my writing.”

Turn it from a hobby into a career. Take it from something I can do passively, to something I take seriously.

But that adds more to it than just a new level of thinking. It kind of makes it real. Then doubt comes in. It creeps into the silence telling me I can’t. I’m not good enough. Who cares what I write! I forgo daily ritual and my creativity runs dry, which I take a further proof. Oh who am I kidding!!!

So I sit at home, idle and the guilt of money, bills, and productivity creep in. My husband is at work while I sit at our kitchen table and re-read something I wrote six years ago. And what have I done with that story from six years ago? Nothing!

Comparison. Doubt. Questions. Fear. These are companions I hate.

I don’t suggest that writing into your fear always come with a happy ending. Life does not work like that. This is not a fairy tale or a 90’s sitcom where it all gets wrapped up harmoniously in 30 minutes. But it is necessary to combat the lies. Not with pat answers but truth. If you can hear the truth, use it! Speak back to the companions who hang around like leaches. Look at the fear you are so boldly facing and call out the lie.

It’s like the sounds we hear at night that creak. We can play it up to being a serial killer in the hallway or we can get up and realize it’s the wind pushing a branch into the window.

We have to face our fear before we let it overwhelm us. There are seasons of being small and then there are moments of being BIG! Being BIG enables us to move forward and helps us define who we are.

This phrase is a life raft. It doesn’t carry any answers. It does bring forth creativity or squash the guilt. But it gives me something to hold onto. I might not know what this next stage will look like – but I know I want my life to mean something. So I sit at the table with doubt, fear, uncertainty and my desire to not give into the rat race and wait.

I wait knowing that in stillness fear and doubt lose their sting. Faced with light and hope, they have no place. I sit and restart the ritual and rhythms.

Nothing worth doing comes over night. I know this. But that does not make the waiting any less hurtful. It does not make the questions any easier to take. It does not make the guilt of “sitting at home” any lighter.

But it’s something to hold onto. I want something meaningful. So I come and I sit with my desire and my questions and the still small dream in my heart, and I wait.

Sometimes waiting can be hard and painful. Sometimes waiting can bring joy we never knew was there.

20 July, 2015

Creative Process Maps

Finding a Rhythm

I am trying to bring more rhythm to my life. I am working to work better not harder. I am trying to add structure so I have time to do the things I want to. It’s not easy when you are building several businesses at once and trying to be present in an ever busier social media environment.

It comes with the reality of taking what is before you seriously. I have said since I was three I wanted to be a writer, but have taken incremental steps to getting there. It is easy to get overwhelmed. When you are taking things “one step at a time” it is easy to lose the bigger picture.

If you are visual, a to do list can seem daunting. We are taught to break down larger tasks into smaller ones, to make our big goals a series of achievements. But what if the big goal is years away (like paying down debt) or it fluctuates (like building a business or losing weight)? If you are pursuing more than one goal (as many of us are) it is easy to lose sight of where you are.

Crossing something off a to do list can be satisfying, but it can be like crossing a rock on your way up the mountain. Look up and you feel like you have done nothing.

Enter the creative process maps.

What are Creative Process Maps?

I am a huge Made Vibrant fan. Caroline is one of the view people who’s emails I read every week. Her words often bring encouragement, and perspective.

She recently posted about creative process maps, a visual way to take even the most daunting task down to something simple. Keep it fun. Make it colorful. And let it be interactive.

Caroline used the idea of fitness. If she wanted to work out for thirty days straight, she made a “map” with thirty shapes. Numbered 1 – 30, she colored one off each day she worked out.

Image from Caroline

She also did the same thing for posting each week. Lara Casey does somewhat the same thing with her Tending List that is part of her PowerSheets.

My June/July Powesheets

It works well for repetitive tasks. It also helps with keeping the overall goal in mind.

My Attempt

I want to get into a more consistent writing habit. I want to move my stories along, not just re-read or edit. So I made a process map. It’s primitive (I am a writer not an artist) but it’s me.

Starting today I will attempt to write something new, at least an hour of focused time, for a month. Since I take the weekends off it will be a 20-day attempt.

Making it Yours

“Turning intentions into habits takes effort and will power, and if some silly drawing can make it even 1% easier to choose to stay committed each day, I think that’s worth it!” Caroline

What are you moving towards that seems overwhelming? It can be anything – paying off a loan, working out, finishing a project. What about something you want to stop doing – not drinking soda, spending time with your children that is technology free, not swearing, reading before you go to bed?

I challenge you to let your inner child out. Go buy some markers, create your own (or download) a creative map and start moving towards something amazing.

If you are feeling bold – let me know what you chose, I’d love to encourage you.

(If you are looking for a more organized process map, check out Amy’s website)

17 July, 2015

Friday Creativity - What Hurts

The Rules:
1. Set a timer for five minutes
2. Look at the image and write what comes to mind, no editing, no thinking about it - just write. 
3. If you want to post what you wrote below, I'd love to read it.
4. Save what you write
Write clear about what hurts. Be honest. It might be uncomfortable. It might hurt. Make some coffee, find a quiet place and get real about what is going on.

16 July, 2015

Road to Emmaus: God's Heart for Women

My first devotional, The Road to Emmaus, is being sold over at Bought Beautifully. Below is an excerpt. For more information, or to order the journal, click here.

God’s Heart for Women

Daily Reading: Genesis 1-2

From the start, God had a place in His heart and His plan for women. In Genesis 2 Eve was called Adam’s “help-meet” – the term is one that implies equality. She is what Adam is not. They are mirror opposites, two parts of a whole. There is nothing subservient or possessive in this verse. The first time God introduces woman to His story for the world, it is in the context of equal importance, equal contribution, and equal standing. Unfortunately since the Fall, we have dramatically distorted God’s view of women.

How do you respond knowing that God created both sexes equally, with a grand design and purpose? What unique gifts did He put within you? Spend some time with Him and ask Him to show you His heart and intention for your life.

15 July, 2015

Journaling into the Pain and Doubt

Today we continue our series on journal ideas and tips. You can find the previous entries in the series here.

Why We Need to Feel the Pain

One of the hardest times to journal is when we enter a season of doubt. I am in the midst of that season where it feels like I question everything I am doing and attached to. It has been hard for me to face that, for the first time, I might be able to write full time. I am staring my dream in the face and all I want to do is run back to the career I know and hate.

So how do we do face those moments of doubt? How do we find the courage to dig deep and lean in when all we want to do it hide away?

I used to not journal during these down times. One of the biggest indicators to me that something is wrong is if there is a prolonged season of silence in my journal.

Hemingway said: write hard and clear about what hurts. And that is true. We often shy away from what makes us squirm, when really we need to dive into it.

Our culture tells us to push away what makes us uncomfortable. We distill issues down to one line; distance ourselves from anyone who disagrees. We know how to fight but not discuss. We are taught that silence is bad, self-reflection is weird and that isolation is for the socially inept.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

To know ourselves (and thereby know others) we have to be comfortable with times of pain, questions, doubt, and hurt.

How Writing Helps

What I often find to be helpful to get at what hurts or why we are doubting ourselves or a decision so much, is to just start writing.

“Today I feel really alone”

“I am really struggling with the reality of not having an income”

“My heart hurts”

“I just want to hide under the covers all day”

In journaling with the pain we consider what we are feeing. We look at our bad day of being angry or overly emotional or just wanting to isolate (or just wanting to be around people because that makes us feel good) and try to deny it. We make excuses, we numb, we distract – but the issue is still there.

But journaling the raw emotion of the moment (or painting it out, processing on a run, collaging, however journaling looks to you) can help us to get to root of what is going on. We start with the surface – the ugly outside that has us uncomfortable – and work our way down. We peel back the layers until we reach the center.

Discovering What is There

Often times what is really bothering us is something unresolved. Something we did not do, an event we did not face, a reality about ourselves that is hard to accept. But if we keep pushing these emotions down all they are going to do is resurface.

Instead if we meet them, sit with them, let them affect us and then move on – we find freedom, healing, revelation, and maybe even joy.

What I Discovered

In sitting with why being given the chance to write full time scared me, I confronted my fear of success (something a lot of us do). I want it and yet it freaks me out because I don’t know the rules here and getting published will open up another world I know nothing about.

I also came to realize I am the warden of my own prison. There is no one guarding the door. I am not shackled in. I can leave my tower of lies, doubt and negative self-talk whenever I want. It is a house of cards that crumbled revealing a departed wizard who left his lies repeating on an old boom box. But I had to sit with the discomfort of where I am for almost a week before I was given the revelation to my freedom.

Where are you right now? What is like a thorn in your side that you need to tend to but keep trying to avoid?

What do you need to write into?
© Amanda Lunday