Thursday, October 25, 2012

I'm Gonna Do It!

By the time you are done reading this, you will know just how neurotic and over-thinky I am. But maybe you will see a little bit of yourself and find the encouragment to take your next step.

In my previous post, Where's Your Bar?, I talked about my fears of having my bar set too low. I like a challenge, but only if I'm sure I can conquer it, which, by definition, probably means it isn't a challenge at all.

So what is all the hype about?

I am going to do the NaNoWriMo contest.

This has nothing to do with Mork from Ork, if you are old enough to remember that. It is a commitment to write 50,000 words in the month of November. The hard part is, they have to be different words, haha. Essentially, I will be writing a rough, rough draft of my novel.

I can hear the characters that live in the box in my head celebrating. They will be so relieved to see the light of day; they have been rolling around in there for a few years, my whole life actually. Each one is an extension of myself and my journey, so you may not like all of them. That's ok.

My angst has come from two different directions. One, do I have what it takes to complete this mission? 50,000 boils down to roughly 1,667 words per day. An average blog post is about 400 words, and I can't even manage a daily post.

Secondly, I try to live my life to serve and glorify God. This doesn't feel "tangible" to me. Locked away with my laptop for the majority of my time takes me out of the loop a bit. It almost feels selfish to do. (Are you starting to see my neurotic side?)

But here's the thing: it is not up to me. I feel 100% that this is where God wants me. It's scary because it's unlike anything I've ever done before, but to think I can do it on my own takes God out of the picture. I don't to be anywhere that He isn't. Scripture tells us that in our weakness He is strong. I bring plenty of weakness to the table, so He will be magnificent.

Each time I've started down the road of "NO", Ephesians 3:20 showed up in my in-box. He can do more than anything I can ask or imagine, but not if I don't take that first step. He's not going to do the writing for me without me sitting at the computer. I at least need to show up.

In processing through this, I've been chatting with others who have stepped up to a challenge. My sister has been adding to her nursing degree steadily over the last few years. Today she finishes her Bachelor's Degree in nursing and in a few months starts grad school, all while working full time. Scary, but she's doing it, one step at a time.

My friend Shelley has gone for her real estate license, muddling through the online course since April and passed her test a few days ago. She saw what she wanted and went for it.

My friend Melanie Dorsey is stepping out in a big way in Florida, video taping a Bible study that she wrote after losing her son to brain cancer. She does everything By His grace and for His glory. Words to live by.

We each have our thing that makes us quake and reconsider. Are you going to live in the land of What if...? Or, are you going to take the next step?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Where's Your Bar?

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” Michelangelo
Crunching through the leaves with my boys last night, one of them said that he would like to try all the sports there are. He asked what sports I played in high school and I was embarassed to tell him, "None. I was afraid I wouldn't be any good so I didn't try any."
I was concerned that my answer might deter him from trying, but instead, he felt sad for me. I felt sad for me too.

Fear of failure has kept me from trying many things, which sounds funny for someone who likes to be somewhat public. I am pondering doing something that I've never done before, and the fear of failure keeps wrapping itself around my feet. It's also forcing me to analyze what success and failure really mean.
Maybe you are hesitant to try new things for the same reason, so let's process this together. Here's what I've come up with:
     Success cannot be defined without knowing our motivation. If I am motivated by public recognition or attaining some sort of victory, then I may do my best and still not be a success. If I am motivated by something within me, like the joy of a challenge or an opportunity to use the gifts God has given me, then I am already a success, regardless of the outcome.
    Failure wears many faces. If I begin a project and treat everybody miserably while completing it, I should not consider myself successful. Sacrificing personal integrity and relationships doth not a success make. (I made that up...feel free to use it.) Only going for the low-hanging fruit does not necessarily make one a success either, as Michaelangelo's quote alludes to. Lack of tangible success doesn't mean we've failed, but that we've stretched ourselves, and that is always a win.
     Play to the right audience. Every arena has its own community to cheer you on, and my possible endeavor is no exception. It's easy to get caught up in the cliques and drama. When I trained for the triathlon in 2010, half the fun was talking shop with other "athletes" and feeling like I was part of something bigger. When I didn't do the triathlon I signed up for this past summer, I could have felt like a failure except that my audience was not the athletic community. It was God, and in His eyes, I know I chose wisely.
I think that is what it all boils down to....why do we want to do what we want to do. If I'm trying to feel like a big fish in a small pond, I need to seriously consider my next step. If I want to experience more of life and try something new, then I should march on. I don't want to wake up on my last day knowing that I shrunk back in fear of failure without ever really trying.
How about you? With this perspective of success and failure, what might you do that you haven't done before? Where have you set your bar?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Acorn Philosophy

Sweat running into my eyes, I spied an acorn in my front yard and held it over my head, anticipating the coolness of shade. Finding no relief from the glaring sun, I quickly grew frustrated and threw the acorn aside, wondering what was the matter with it. Don't acorns come from oak trees? Shouldn't an oak tree provide shade on a sunny day? Apparently nobody told the acorn.
Ridiculous story, right? We all know an acorn doesn't provide shade for a good 25-30 years; they need room to grow, good soil, rain, sun, and even the barrenness of winter to reach their full potential. But, how many times does the acorn scenario play itself out in real life and we fail to see it?
My two youngest boys are trying my nerves lately. They wrestle. They talk back to me. They aren't always kind to each other. Basic daily grooming requires negotiation, and a meal without drama is a thing of the past. After they had gone to bed one Sunday night, my husband and I congratulated each other for making it through another weekend.
Wallowing in the dailiness of parenthood, God showed me the acorn analogy. I am expecting oak trees when what I have are saplings, barely done being acorns. It will be years before I have oak trees, but it will come.
Whatever your situation, whether it's raising kids, growing a strong marriage, training for a race, encouraged. Don't add stress to the situation by expecting an acorn to function as an oak tree. Give whatever it is time to grow and mature. "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in the end you will have a harvest of righteousness. (Galatians 6:9)"

Monday, October 1, 2012

In the Hush

One of the things I do to get "Mom Points" from my kids is take them to draw pictures of the sunset. We sit on a hill near our house with our colored pencils, crayons, and markers and just soak it in. We headed over there last night, enjoying the crisp air and the gorgeous sky.

To be honest, their sketching was soon abandoned in favor of riding their bikes down the hill. I, on the other hand, am a sky junkie; few things calm me like sitting outside watching the clouds. Every scripture testifying to the power of God comes alive. The weights lift off my shoulders and I am soothed by His faithfulness. Last night was no exception.

Colored pencils to paper, I stopped thinking about everything that distracts me and let the beauty of the evening envelop me. Happy kids, amazing skies...I was lost in the moment. Then the sun dipped below the horizon and for a moment it was difficult to see until...
Photo: The day is sealed with a fiery kiss...
Where darkness once was, fire consumed the sky. Even my kids stopped riding and just stared in awe. In the hush, the majesty and infinity of God displayed in its fiery brilliance spoke to my soul.
When it looks like God has faded from the scene, wait. 

Maybe you thought you were following God's plan for your life, and now you are knee deep in quicksand. Wait for Him...
Maybe your marriage has ended. You sit in the darkness left behind, trying to adjust to your new normal, and wonder what happened. Wait for Him...
Maybe there is a child you are aching to hold. The void left behind seems unfair and you wonder where God has gone. Wait for Him...
Maybe the thought of waking up one more day is just too much. Wait for Him...
Even when we can't see it, He is at work, piecing together something so amazing it will blow your mind.
"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)"
You can do this.