September was a gloriously long month. We had family and friends come to visit. We started meeting again with our Gospel Community groups. We spent some time breathing in fresh mountain air. And the mornings started to turn crisp and cool, leading me to break out my sweaters and spend a few more minutes under the warmth of the covers. It was the perfect month for reading.
It's one of the first questions I am often asked by writing mentors when I am struggling with some aspect of my writing. And it's become one of the questions that I most love to ask other writers. Who we read shapes how we write.
Am I the only one who has a hard time accepting it when God says "no" to me? Am I the only one who grits my teeth in frustration when God's response to my prayer for a good thing is "wait"? Am I the only one who feels forgotten by God when something hard happens in my life?
In a way that I can only attribute to the power and sanctifying work of the Spirit, my faith has become less blind understanding, less knowledge of seminary-ingrained truths, and more real, concrete, deeply-rooted-in-my-soul knowledge of God.
As believers, we must write as one who will give an account for every word we speak (and write). At the same time, there is grace when we don't get it right. We must embrace this tension, writing with fear and trembling while leaning into the abundant grace of God.
The first half of the year I went heavy on the theological and spiritual formation books, but something in me shifted this month and I just NEEDED some fiction. So prepare yourselves for an overload of the fiction books (and a few theological books) that I read this month!
If you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about. That dreaded feeling of sitting in front of a blank page and having absolutely no idea what to say. The whiteness of the page seems to laugh at you and the nothingness seems to bore into your soul.
Don't change your words or your presence to fit what you think people want to hear or what you think will garner "likes." Write the words that spill out from the depths of who you are. Write the words you can't help but write.
Maybe it’s the season I’m in now, but life feels especially uncomfortable lately. As much as I try to fight for joy, discontentment seems to continually rear its ugly head in my heart. It feels like the things I am praying and striving for most, God has chosen to keep just out of reach...
We are scared of failing. Scared of imperfection and - moreso - of letting people see the ways we don't quite meet the standards we've set for ourselves. But, you see...in the most beautiful way, imperfection is an invitation.
July was full...and interspersed between the big and memorable moments were lots of wonderful small moments too. Lots of walks through our neighborhood to our favorite overlook. Ordering pad Thai at our favorite restaurant. Dinners with friends and playing volleyball with our small group...I also read a few books that I'm excited to share with you!
In our success and image-driven culture, we feel the pull to keep doing, because what we do is what we will be known for, right? Working hard is what will make us happy and successful, right? That is what will finally give us the peace we have been craving, right?
Right?.... Maybe not...
This month was a whirlwind, but between layovers and sports camp and hours on the airplane, I was able to squeeze in a few good reads!
I'm realizing that gratitude starts with a small shift of the mind. It starts with a shift towards noticing. It starts with clearing out space in your mind and in your schedule for slowness and stillness.
It starts with seeing, really seeing, and recognizing the gifts around you for what they are.
I'm really excited about these books. Several of them were highly recommended by friends and they did not disappoint! One might even be my favorite book I've read this year...