Thomas asked Jesus where on earth they were going and how can we get there if I don’t know the way and Jesus answered saying stay with me, go with me, I’ll show you.
I am the way, the truth,
the life. John 14: 6
Last week one gentleman told me he was proud of me for “stepping out” and that our paths may cross again. He’s a retired magazine publicist.
Another who was formerly my boss; but, always my friend listened as I shared my current “leaps of faith” and later ended his kind note with “I admire your faith.”
Both of them I sat with and shared my coming changes, my uncertainty of what will be and my peace that I am choosing rightly, to move into a new season and allow God to develop the rest of my story.
Be patient til your wings are grown. St. Francis de Sauls
Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin have responded to the question agonized over by me and other writers hoping to gain an audience, hoping for eventual publication.
Their new book is an important one for naive and introverted women like me, ones who are known to be quiet.
Influence, Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus, Not Me
How to navigate the work of making yourself known so that others will know what you know of Jesus.
Some time ago I was on the launch team for Kate’s Book, A Place to Land, a Story of Longing and Belonging.
I knew of Kate because I participated in her 5 minute Friday link-ups as a way to conjure up words for writing and deep down inside, hope somebody, just anybody might notice me, my words.
Occasionally they did and occasionally they still do.
I’m not really the “community” type one, I keep to myself. I’m known for saying I am so tired of “peopling”.
I am believing this will be different in my new season people.
I have continued to read Kate’s work, posts and the helpful encouragement in my mailbox. She responds to my questions about writing. She responds so promptly! (Something I personally love)
I’ve gone from yearning to have a writing life similar to hers (sorry, Kate, for a little bit, I was jealous) to believing her advice and seeing I can have a writing life of my own.
Kate Motaung has influenced me.
But, back to the question over putting myself out there or just cowering in my corner hoping somehow some reader might stumble upon me, my words and pronounce me worthy of reading…
This is the imprint of my childhood. Do not ask for anything, pretend you can do life without attention or recognition, don’t seek to be noticed or noteworthy.
In a time when we are inundated with attention seekers, social media places becoming outlets and a grasping for just one other person to know, there’s new pressure of deciding to stay quiet, to stay in “our own lanes”, at least I feel it is so.
I am learning slowly, the best way, not everyone cares about what I say.
And that is okay.
Some do and tell you so, adding comments like “please don’t stop, you’re the first thing I read everyday!”.
But, the curious, voyeur-type readers of my instagram or my blog who scope me out and quietly slink away…
These are the ones that hinder me.
That cause me to question my goals.
These are the ones that read and I imagine are saying, “Why does she think she is supposed to write this way or who is she to think she has something important for others to know?”
I’m afraid these are people by whom I am personally known.
Is it this way for others? I wonder.
They’re probably just busy; but my little girl unnoticed feels insignificant so often, the imprint of insignificance trying to hold on.
Less often and increasingly so, I have readers leave comments or people who say “I needed that.” or “How did you know?”
They thank me for being brave, honest, for saying and writing about a pain they may have known or know.
These readers encourage me to continue, to grow.
To grow in ways like joining Hope*Writers, being brave enough to be with others.
To believe the words God gives me from my experiences and my perspective are mine and mine alone; but, they are words someone else may need.
That someone might have a similar heartache, a breakthrough type epiphany on grace or even may find a new way to connect with Jesus through my interpretation of a parable or passage something to which we both relate.
Kate wrote of her mother’s death.
She and I have a similar story although vastly different.
My mother passed away nine years ago yesterday. I was in a fairly new position and living two hours away. Kate was in another country, airline flights away. We both set other things aside to be with our mamas.
Gut wrenching and emergent interrupted days, we held onto the time we had left even though our hearts longed for more. For me, at least, I always longed for and thought there would be more.
I treasure our bonding through her words, her description of the drawing of her heart to be beside her mother, the angst over not being able to be constantly near and the utter helplessness and surrender to our lack of control.
The realization of this lack when I had returned home too early and I got “the call”.
Others may have read Kate’s story and gained so much more or been impacted in a different way.
That’s the power of our stories.
Today, I am trying to lean in to where God wants my writing to go.
The balance between letting go and continuing are much like my battle of being known and staying in my place.
Much like stepping out to wait.
I know that if I continue I won’t even look the same because my heart will be open to where God takes me, the story He is developing no longer hidden.
I’ll be different, I’ll be the me that God has always seen, has kept purposely through so much trauma and self-destructive “dis” grace.
My note to self of late?
Continue and Believe. me
A good starting place for a newsletter or a book title, I perceive.
For now it’s for stepping forward to see what God has for me to share and to increase my believing so that others will believe.
This, I believe, is what God means by influence.
I’m linking my thoughts up with others on this topic of thoughts and childhood labels and hindrances to pursuing platforms so that our writing voice might grow.
On a cold morning I had decided I’d most likely stay home, I felt compelled otherwise. I had no creamer for my coffee, black coffee for me.
I woke with much need for more.
I’d be the only one to go, others sleeping or with other plans.
I hurried, barely read or journaled and only skimmed the passage marked for the day, the one devotional with which my day begins.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matthew 6:25-27 ESV
Barely let it sink in as I hurried to make the early service, early on a January Sunday morning, cold and a little lonely.
My car pushed forward with resistance, warming too slowly going to church. I ask God to open my heart and mind and so I go, I go towards what I am certain must be meant for me to hear.
Otherwise, I would justifiably stay home, the week had been challenging, more obligations to come.
The neighborhood was sleeping, the ground silver colored and frosty, I continue and I notice.
Sparrows rising up, a fluttering upwards and I say to myself
“Look at all the little sparrows, must be 40 or more!”
Then decide for myself, I must surely be a writer because I’m quite certain not everyone notices the sparrows and fewer still would pause to think of them, to speak of them in such a way!
To write of the beauty of Jesus speaking, of his comparing us to birds and lilies and of the way he positioned them to meet me as I rushed my reading and moved intentionally to seeking.
To have my morning interrupted by sparrows, 40 Sparrows
Worth so much.
So very much more.
Otherwise, he’d never made the morning and never orchestrated the intersection of the sparrows, the timing of us three to meet.
To remind me of the waste of my imagination on worry,
when imagination is created by God our father for so very much more.
Yesterday, I told someone something in a way that only slightly conveyed the real thing I tried to say.
I told her that I believed it is impossible to imagine what my life might be if I began to believe only in possibility.
We paused and our quiet faces wondered, how on earth do we do this, how do we not stray or get swayed by criticism, cynicism or just the crazy negative noise of our hectic days?
I looked into my precious cousin’s face and I answered that I’d walk with imaginary blinders on both sides of my face.
I’d need to stare intently at the tiniest of light, like the dot of a pin off in the distance, move forward with intention towards hope, off quite a ways.
Avoid the garish glare and naysay of others and other things on my way.
She listened and I gazed past her and through the little tables lining the restaurant. I looked out onto the busy bustling downtown lunchtime street. People passing by, others stopping to speak, I thought of me a year from today, will I be changed by possibility, a soft contrast of me today?
Would my face be lit by possibility, will I carry my hopes in a more confident frame?
Some things I think, must be pursued in a solitary way.
I told her I was certain my life would be different if I became unafraid of possibility and if I just continued towards the tiny light growing brighter as I near.
I would be different if I believed in possibility, if possibility was seen as an option for me.
I think we rarely really live this way.
Pursuing possibility in a peaceful way, a waiting way.
A know as I go quite certain with God kind of way to what God has to show me.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Whether it be work or money or art or writing or relationships, I am saying to me:
Do nothing out of desperation.
We continued talking about our longing to be hopeful after life has given us so many reasons to be afraid, to be so silly and naive to think we should be hopeful only to have past experiences slap us back to reality as if to say, “Hope’s not for you, surely, you should’ve known.”
The plot can shift though, we decided, the story line is our story line and we can change the paragraphs and flow.
We can surprise ourselves, readers of our own books by creating a different ending, we can believe in the hopeful development of our life stories.
Believing can come natural, just as naturally as we regularly disbelieve.
If we don’t allow fear to destroy our stories.
How different I would be, we all would be, if we took leaps of faith, if we walked on whatever represents deep waters towards the light that is meant to illuminate our days.
To bring clarity to God’s ways.
God, help me to be an example of someone who has faith.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Proverbs 3:5 ESV
Last night I told myself I needed to get with the times. I need to be aware of how they are truly changing.
I am now that person who is panicked over what the world will be for my children’s children.
I was not this way before.
My mindset was one of oh, it was bad a long time ago too, people have always been violent, issues have been challenging and intense. Children can adjust as long as they have the firm and loving foundation of family and God.
But, I got all worked up over something I saw on the internet about three year olds. Close to midnight and I’m wanting to research it more, prepare myself to protect my grandchild.
The thing is, influence is either worrisome or wonderful. It is unwaveringly committed and steadfast in whatever the influencer believes.
Children, I am certain, will be influenced by the ways of those closest to them and by those who make a commitment to stay close to God.
Last week in church the preacher asked “Who in your life most influenced your faith by their life?”
There are a few people for a few different reasons.
But, I cannot deny my grandma.
She was quiet and private with her Bible.
She was unwavering in her commitments and traditions for us.
She was industrious.
She was gracious.
My name is written in red in her Bible, all of the other names are there too.
A few weeks ago, my “Aunt Boo” reminded me of God’s control and of being sure He is working all for good in my waiting to know.
She reminded me of the refrigerator magnets at my grandma’s that were letters spelling out, “God is busy.”
God is busy. Doris Evelyn Peacock
I told the story to my daughter.
She smiled. She remembered and I promptly purchased a bag of plastic magnets because every single day I too need to remember.
He’s got the whole world in His hands.
God is busy making ways for us.
God is busy dispelling myths about Him, replacing them with reminders of truths about Jesus.
About His love.
God is for us, not against us and He is busy being sure we believe.
Linking up with others on the prompt of “influence” here.
“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”
The Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV
Cold in a way I had no idea, I removed the soft heavy blanket and because the birds had begun to sing, I turned and saw the sky behind me, bright with pink.
Longing to see more and to see with a more private view I ventured to the backyard.
Bare feet on crunchy frozen grass, my steps became a dance and rather than staring towards the sky I became captivated by the camellias.
Pink, I decide is the color of vibrance and optimism. Some petalled balls fallen from the branches and in varying stages of change, some clinging gloriously and a few yet to bloom.
I pray we don’t get the icy days we southerners disdain.
I pray the terminal frost that curtails the continued growth stays away.
Because, the camellias this winter have blossomed in grander and more undeniable ways.
Or is it my notice that has changed?
Has a sense of hopeful curiosity begun to enlighten my belief?
Changing doubtful speculation to committed curiosity over things that might finally be?
Things I believe are for me, abilities and opportunities designed by God.
I am beginning to trust it might be, that I will see.
Jesus has seen me and is pleased in my growing understanding of Him.
Mercy is becoming more than “Christiany” expression tacked on in hopes to gain acceptance.
Mercy, I am finally seeing.
Is for me.
Jesus, leaving Jericho heard the desperate cries of two blind men sitting on the side of the road.
Their sense of hearing compensated for their inability to see and so, they cried out loudly to Jesus asking for mercy. The crowds chastised them, these pitiful men positioned on their way.
How dare they ask to be seen, much less to be able to see?
Have you felt this way?
Felt that according to God and to others, you should stay in your place, why on earth would you believe there could be grander things to see?
The blind men must have been desperate, must have been shouting.
Jesus paused for them.
He asked them what it was they needed.
Jesus wanted to hear their deepest need.
“And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”
Matthew 20:32-34 ESV
Yesterday, I sat anchored by weighted rice bags on my abdomen and thighs, the sense of settled safety, I was seeking.
I joined in my friend’s “Midweek Mindfulness” and loosened up the places where my stress had made its abode.
Anchored and waiting, eyes closed in meditation, I struggled to be still, to stay composed.
Surely, this will soon be over, I don’t know how much longer I can hold this pose and I can’t think of a single additional thing to let go and I’ve prayed my prayers and I’ve focused my focus…
Then she begins to speak of curiosity and I naively conclude she’s done this solely for me.
It actually could be.
I listen and decide curiosity is a worthy mindset, not one curtailed by pessimism or conclusions to my stories, rather a careful and hopeful, continuous pursuit.
The blind men could have chosen what they’d always chosen, likely just being careful to stay out of the way
Instead they decided to be brave, to be curious about Jesus and to give new sights a try.
This morning beckoned me out onto the cold January ground and led me to see beauty, not only in the morning sun but in the blooms fallen and fading making way for new.
I get emotional over a couple of lines in a pretty song. The voice is captivating, tender and true.
She makes a quiet and sure proclamation over her soul and unknowingly, mine.
She sings, “the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy!”
It is a tender song, inspired by the verses from the Song of Solomon, a book that reads like poetry, sonnets and splendidly passionate love.