This blog is nearly 4 years old! And I am readying to attend the Declare Conference for the 4th time – that place where I’ve gone to find rest and inspiration to continue on in this bloggy space. Where women gather to worship. Where friends find one another for the first time. Where the #digitalevangelist is equipped.
To gear up for this year’s conference, attendees are linking our digital arms and answering a few questions…So here we go!
1. If we were meeting in person, how would you introduce yourself? Wife to Steve, homeschooling mama to two (so far!), writer, speaker, editor, writer’s coach, and native Texan. I’ve always been an old soul, an avid reader, a lover of music. Although I’m an introvert in need of recharging time on my own, I love people – meeting, encouraging, diving deep.
2. What is your favorite thing to write and why? I love writing nearly everything. But books are my favorite, by far! I enjoy the long-range project, the life-message, the time spent with God processing on paper. My first book – Refining Identity – a Bible study, a discipleship journey. My second, an ebook – The inTentional Mama – a super-short and practical read to uplift mamas everywhere. My third releases in ONE WEEK! Chronic Healing follows my journey living with a chronic condition, walking alongside the Lord who is my Healer.
3. What is your favorite thing to read and why? Can I just say ALL the things? Articles and blogs, commentaries and Bible reference, Christian novels, Christian inspiration, classics of the church fathers and mothers that challenge me to go deeper. I wrote recently about the books I couldn’t stand to part with during our recent move. Give me words to read, to ponder, to apply, and I’m generally content to sit for hours [if anyone will let me…ha!].
4. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Have my pre-dawn writing time followed by listening to waves on a beach, toes in the sand. Dine slowly at delicious, local restaurants with people I love. Hold my hubby’s hand. Kiss my daughter’s freckled face. Tickle my son. Nap. And read.
5. What’s one thing you love about your blog and one thing you’d like to improve? I love this space dedicated to finding God in the midst of everyday life. I love the freedom to express, to share, to challenge myself and others. I’d like to tweak a few things to make the site more aesthetically pleasing and current.
6. [Lightning Round] Would you rather…
Read on Kindle or paperback? Silly question…paperback! Pen and coffee go with my reading time.
Drink coffee or tea? See above =) Coffee, for sure. But I don’t mind a cup of tea in the evenings either.
Go to a musical or a movie? Unless the musical is Les Miserables, I’ll take the movie option.
Vacation at the beach or at the mountains? Engaged on a mountain, married on the beach, I love them both! Beach ultimately wins – crashing waves, bare feet in sand, endlessness of the ocean.
Have an exciting night out or a relaxing night in? Relaxing night in. Games, pjs, cuddles, deep conversation = happiness.
Watch sports, play sports, or no sports? I’ll watch as long as hubby is nearby. Then it classifies as a date. =)
Thanks so much for joining me on this link-up intro!
Somewhere over the past few months, I’ve internally shifted into having more of a performance mentality. I’ve tied my identity many times with how well I’m doing rather than simply with who I’m being. I felt myself failing far more often than flying.
As someone who is passionate about identity, this can be difficult to admit. But it just means that I’m still a work in progress, still learning to live out who God has designed me to be.
Have you struggled with a performance mentality?
God began to stir my heart months ago towards a fresh vision about who I am becoming and where I’ve strayed. I heard a singular word. Presence. My heart leapt. This word summed up everything I longed for, everything I’d neglected leading to those moments of feeling the failing. It brought me back to the Source of what matters.
Both the Presence of God and the presence of me. Recognizing His unfailing Presence in my life. Placing the fullness of my presence before Him and others I encounter each day. Present in this moment, neither living in the past nor dwelling on the future. Presence full in the here-and-now. Living with the longing to discover how each moment is pregnant with His Presence.
It’s always the Presence of God that creates transformative change, that creates life. In His Presence is safety and rest, guidance and strength, cleansing and restoration.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12
It’s always the fullness of my presence that reveals the love I have for God and others. How can I show love if I am not present?
On a practical note, I’ve wondered how this offering of my presence to those in my daily life works. As a homeschooling mom who also writes and speaks and plans – who is the wife and mom and friend – how do I handle the interruptions that inevitably enter my day, pulling my attentive presence from one thing to another? That’s what the past few months have brought me to ask as I’ve pondered this single word, Presence…single, yet not simple.
When the Israelites moved throughout the wilderness, they had only one indicator that it was time to move on: the movement of God’s Presence in the pillar of cloud or fire. They may have stayed one night or several months in one spot. But every morning they looked to the pillar of His Presence to follow His direction. When He moved, so did they. It was simple, though certainly not always easy. Attend to His Presence. Move when He does, but never before.
I’m not sure I have the precise answer yet to what this looks like practically. But, perhaps, here’s a place to start:
Holding so loosely to my agendas that they’re easy to set down, either for a moment’s interruption or for a complete redirection, attentive to the movement of God’s Presence.
Training my kiddos, and offering the example, of practiced patience. How to wait on someone else to complete their thought or task before pulling them off course.
Stripping away the things that weigh me down, making it easier to move when His Presence does.
Asking: What’s getting in the way of sensing His Presence? What’s keeping me from giving my presence?
Presence. Remembering that He’s here. Remembering to be here.
I never would’ve imagined not being able to talk at the Declare Conference I attended this past weekend. I’ve looked forward to this for a year…planning to meet wonderful women who love Jesus and writing as much as I do…talking with the many sponsors that helped make this event possible about their amazing causes…chatting with old friends and new. But a little cold earlier last week weakened my voice and after the first few hours of chatting, it was gone completely.
It was frustrating! And annoying! And not at all part of MY plans!
It was also a bit ironic…at a conference all about “declaring” God’s goodness in all our different ways, there I was, without a voice.
I felt a prodding that there was more to this voicelessness than annoyance. In this forced silence, at a time and place where silence was definitely not my plan, God wanted to show me more.
1. Listen!! You know the whole “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason” saying? That kept reverberating in my heart each time I felt desperate to interject some witty or wise remark into a conversation. Listen…Stop focusing on what I feel compelled to say and simply listen!
2. Be intentional with my words. I had to get very choosy with my words. I met all these amazing people who wanted to know my story, hear about my blog and my message. I could talk about those things for hours on end. Except that this time, I literally couldn’t. So…with great intentionality I chose the most important words to speak to convey the message. (And then I was quietly grateful that my business card could give them the info they needed if they wanted to know more.)
3. Stop and make eye contact. Does anyone else have the bad habit in their household of yelling questions/directions across the house? Mom, what’s for dinner?…Kids, hurry up and get dressed!…Honey, where’s my phone? Anyone…anyone else? We’ve let this become the norm in my home, which we all need to work on! But, this whole experience of me lacking in the speaking department is requiring us all to step it up and actually Make. Eye. Contact. So, questions must be asked face-to-face rather than in passing down the hallway. A challenge for us…a very worthwhile challenge…to show a new level of respect and patience for each member of this family.
4. A smile speaks volumes! It really does!! All weekend, when I felt like I had zilch to offer, I gave a smile and I got smiles and hugs and prayers and new friends and fresh opportunities and more business cards…and more than I’m even sure I can recount! I could’ve just stayed in the corner with a sour-puss face. But I would’ve missed out! I’m SO glad I chose to hand out smiles when my words couldn’t come!
5. Receive grace graciously. Everyone was so sweet and understanding! Not one single person left the conversation or felt like they couldn’t talk with me because I wasn’t able to speak. I felt bathed in their grace! It was refreshing and helped me realize that being voiceless doesn’t equate to being a waste or a nuisance.
6. Embrace humility. Once home, I went out to eat with my family and realized it was a bit difficult to totally rely on my husband to speak for me…order my drink and my soup…find the waitress and ask for refills. All these little, everyday things I had to release to another. A bit difficult…a bit humbling.
7. Consider those who have no voice. And in the state of my temporary voicelessness, I walked the long hallway of good causes representing many people who live lives of voicelessness. Children orphaned or sold into slavery…widows blamed for their husbands’ death, left to labor so their children can have one meal every few days …women trapped in prostitution, who know no way out. Those are the true voiceless…who need someone to listen and look into their eyes with a smile…who need to hear words of grace and intentionality…who need someone to stand up and speak on their behalf.
Is there a present inconvenience in your life that perhaps might be a tool God is using to get your attention?
One sponsor of this conference that stood out to me was Gospel for Asia. Over the next 40 weeks, I will be sharing stories from this amazing organization. I would love for you to take a look and then come back and meet me here each week to see how lives are being touched and changed forever!
The message of identity is near to my heart so much that I have written a Bible study called Refining Identity. Please take a look at ways you can be involved in helping bring this to life! Thank you for partnering with me to make this a reality. I pray this message will be shared with each person who needs to hear God’s definition of who they are!
For me it all started with a single, seemingly random question, “Do you have a blog? Because if you did, I would read it.”
A sweet friend asked me in passing one day and I’m sure she had no idea the seed she planted. I was tempted to simply take her question as the wonderful compliment that it was. But the way that thought kept niggling at my heart, I had a sense there was more to all this. In that moment this paper-loving, technologically-limited mama felt a shift of perspective…a door opening to new possibilities.
Then, another friend mentioned weeks later that she was on the organizational team for a blogging conference. Hmmm…It’s like God was trying to get a message through to me.
When my hubby got all excited and supportive, brainstorming possible names and topics for this non-existent blog, I had my confirmation. See, I’d been writing for years…about a decade or so. But it was all hidden away in journals and computer files, tucked away from public viewing. But with the simple vocalizations of a few around me, a dream that I’d kept quiet from most…to be a writer…burst wide open. And I knew…
So, on a rainy day the week before this conference, my technologically savvy hubby sat with me and got a blog officially online. It was such a sweet and most definitely the geekiest date we’d ever had! (And, a fabulous birthday present to me…yay for the big 3-0!)
This conference, then called Mamas Write, refreshed my soul, opened doors to scores of other like-minded, female writers and challenged me to step out of the shadows. Each of us approach blogging a bit differently: the DIY-ers, the mom-bloggers, the inspirers, the challengers, the humorous, the deeply profound and so on. But beneath the layers of the beautiful unique, we were all founded on one principle: to make Christ known…to use this platform of blogging to minister to others. The methods vary, but the ministry remains.
This August, I am SO excited to return to this conference, now called the Declare Conference, with a little bit more experience under my belt. I’m ready to see these ladies I’ve kept up with on Facebook or followed along on their blogs. I’m ready to be refreshed and renewed!
And, if you are a female writer, whether you have an established blog or you remain in the shadows, I’d love to invite you to come this year! You will not walk away empty…You will be filled with vision, direction, tools and quite likely some pretty nice swag to take home! I hope to see you there!
Discover more about the Declare Conference HERE!
Who are the SPEAKERS?
What are the SESSION TOPICS?
You can REGISTER HERE!