Friday, June 23, 2017

The Rare Gift of Being Fully Present

The challenging invitation of what it might look like to be 'fully present' to another soul kept tumbling around in my head as I trotted along on today's early morning walk.  

For each of us has a special person {or two} in our life who is yearning for some undivided, focused attention that only we can provide.  The good news is that we get to decide if / when / how we will offer that lovely gift of ourselves to another.

I'm not talking about some kind of weird, exhausting co-dependent relationship, but the willing, gentle offering of a healthy grace-laden presence to someone who's struggling.

One beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.

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This is not about doing, but about being still.  

This is not about offering advice, but about listening well.  

This is about laying aside what's good to invest in what's best.

Not to mention clearing valuable space in our overloaded calendars and unplugging from all that grabs for our attention so can go there unhindered.

Literally.

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Being fully present to another soul requires 4 gratitude-fueled distinctives that have been cultivated over time:

~  We are at peace with God, yielding to a sacred stillness in the depths of our own beings, an emotionally healthy spirituality, a well overflowing with all the fruit of His Spirit's faithful, delightful presence ... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control {Galatians 5:22}.

~  We have experienced our own broken woundedness, our own grief and sorrow ... and embraced a hard won healing along the way.

~  We are comfortable in our own skin so that we have no ax to grind, no hidden agenda to fulfill, nothing at all to prove to ourselves or anyone else.

~  We are humble in our own self-evaluation so that we know that any ability we have to embrace the calling to become a wounded healer is only because of God's powerfully redemptive work in our own lives.

Pondering with you,




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Photo by Thomas Rey on Unsplash

Saturday, June 17, 2017

In Praise of the Good Good Father






It is in the fragile seasons that You meet us strong.  It's when we feel misunderstood or wounded, broken or abandoned that we run and hide in the warm shelter of Your arms.

You're a good good Father.

You show us mercy and grace, that unmerited favor.  You don't hold our sins to our faces, You forgive and remove them from us forever.  You see our inmost intentions, whether messy or holy ... and You remind us that we're not defined by our sins, but by who we are in Jesus Christ.

You're a good good Father.  That's who You are.

You whisper that every last thing we yearn for is found in Jesus Christ alone.  You gently remind us to stop endlessly looking to others for comfort, for they are often wounded themselves and unable or unwilling to go there.  Your compassions are new and fresh every morning, our frailties are gently laid to the side.  You make us strong.

You're a good good Father.  And I'm loved by You.

Our critics are daunted, powerless to control who we are as You, the Lover of our souls, protect the very essence of our beings.  Even through sadness, disappointment, frustration, or fear, our inmost places are protected from the foolish words or callous insensitivity of others.

You're a good good Father.  And I'm loved by You.  That's who I am.

You welcome us with open arms.  You don't walk out the door and leave us alone and defenseless with all our broken messiness.  We lean hard into You, we rededicate our life's intentions to Your sacred pleasure.  We purposefully seek You for we know full well that we are weary and needy.

You're a good good Father.  You're perfect in all of Your ways to us.

It's in You that we find perfect rest for our restless souls.

click on lower right corner to enlarge





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Friday, June 9, 2017

Bouquet * The Vacation Edition {updated}



The family is about to descend for what looks to be an annual gathering here in our little house tucked between the ever changing bay and the ocean blue.  In honor of their energetic presence {and the activity level and accompanying commotion}, my online footprint's going to be random and light in the days ahead.

So I've gathered up a pile of goodies for you to sit with while I'm off corralling the troops.  Here's 'a lid for every pot,' as my Southern friend Nancy always said.

I'll be updating this page with additional gems while I'm kinda MIA.  Keep an eye out for the little * * *  that will tell you that the links that follow are later additions.

And if you didn't participate in our conversation about being the boss of your own blog, it's not too late to join the party.  Click here, scroll down to the comment section, and jump on in.  A whole passel of insightful writers has made it a truly enlightening exchange.  I'm guessing you just might have some additional wisdom to share.

Love you guys!


Jeff Goins

Reviews.com

Alexis James Waggoner

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

6 Keys to Help You Be the Boss of Your Blog





I can't quite believe I'm in the midst of my 10th year of blogging.  Sitting down at this keyboard and sharing my heart, resources, and learnings with you has become as natural {and necessary!} as breathing.

And even though I've coached others on the subject of their blogs, I'm still very much a student.  

I don't know anyone who's arrived, and have discovered that when someone seems to be perched near the blog world pinnacle, she often fades off the screen, burns out, finds other creative endeavors to embrace, or has no choice but to move on to focus on more pressing matters.

Like family.  Work.  Ministry.  Life.

It costs something to be out and about online, to produce thoughtful stuff that matters, to share relationship albeit from afar, to be in the place in your head and your soul where there's actually something of value to offer others.  




A few things I've learned ...

1.  Write when you want.
Too many 'experts' seek to inform us on the most efficient ways to hone our craft.  The number of minutes each day to write, what time of day to do so, what days of the week and most profitable hours to hit the 'publish' button.  Calendars and schedules mean well but can burden and bully, leaching away our joy as they attempt to corral our creative energy and our precious hours.
  
I beg to differ.  

Go ahead and write when you have something of value to say.  Write when you can't not write.  Write when there's a fire in your bones that just can't be extinguished.  You'll feel freer and lighter as you discover and embrace your best rhythms and pace yourself accordingly.

You're the boss of your blog.  You get to decide when you pick up your pen.

2.  Write what you want.
Many bloggers have a specific niche, an area of expertise.  And over time that works for them.  They are known for their wisdom and insight on a specific subject and faithful readers regularly head over to their place, knowing they're going to get another heaping portion of good stuff on a particular topic.

Example?  Beth at MessyMarriage.com.  Fabulously wise counsel, godly inspiration, meaningful conversation.  

But if you don't have a niche, no problem.  We're multifaceted beings so it makes sense that our posts will reflect that reality.  Know the needs of your readers and appreciate your own bent to head in a certain direction.  Aim to encourage.  Cultivate and share your own unique giftedness.  The sky's the limit, isn't it.

You're the boss of your blog.  And this is a venue where your creativity and wisdom can morph and soar.

3.  Try to avoid the numbers.
Nothing steals our joy or squelches our creative juices more than an ever-present eye on stats.  Obsession with our / someone else's hits, comments, shares, likes, followers, subscribers can siphon off our exuberance and our ability to relax into what we're producing.

Or fill us with a rather unattractive pride.

Go ahead and be aware of what those numbers are.  But don't let your day rise and fall because those babies will most certainly fluctuate.  Claim the truth that we are not defined by our stats, we are defined by our Savior.

If you want to publish a book, I know that numbers can assist you in getting your foot in the door.  But no matter.  You're the boss of your blog and you, not those pesky lurking numbers, get to shape what defines your online presence.  

4.  Dig into your archives.
It's ok to rustle around through your posts from some years back, rediscover the goodies, dust them off, give them a face lift ... or a total redo.

And then hit that 'publish' button yet one more time.

This tidbit is one of the coolest things about being the boss of your own blog.  Your stuff?  It's your continued call on what to do with it.  I like to link up the new post with the old one.  When you spy the red adapted link at the bottom of a post around here, click on to see the original.  Chances are that there's some significant updates.

5.  Offer relationship when you can.
I've met a number of wonderful people in my online travels and I know you have, too ...  writers, creatives, counselors, ministry leaders, motivators, wounded healers.  I can't begin to tell you how much I've learned from connecting with people just like you.

One feature of blogging is the whole relational piece.  Over time, 'iron sharpening iron' connections develop as you mingle with others.  You meet people who prize what you prize ... and others who make you stop and think hard about issues you hadn't fully considered.  

Hearts connect, we stop by each other's sites on a regular basis to leave encouraging words.  We rally around when the tough times hit and share joy during the celebrations.  We pray for each other, feature each other's work without expecting payback, and applaud each other's successes and accomplishments.  

Because you're the boss of your blog, you get to decide how much of your energy goes to your online friends ... and how much should be going to the real life people that you live and work and do community with.

6.  Don't let FOMO {fear of missing out} be your motivation.
Sometimes you feel like you're back in 7th grade.  It seems like everyone else is hanging out together and you're off in the corner by yourself.  Fear of missing out leads to frustrating, shallow places. 

It's way too easy to run from hither to yon, racing to endless linky parties, looking to connect, to be known, to get others to come visit and leave comments.  But can I encourage you to venture forward from a place of peace, confidence, and joy?  Be your own authentic self.  You've got perspective to offer that no one else has. 

It's a very needful gift to limit your social media presence to the venues that give you joy and are a good use of your valuable time.  And it's always smart to know when enough's enough and not hesitate one single minute when it's time to close down the laptop and move off to fully embrace the real life people that are just waiting for you to fully engage once again.

So go ahead and proactively unplug for a week, a month, a season when you're starting to feel a bit crispy, dry ... maybe a tad anxious or obsessive.  There's an art to being in a place in life that's healthy, sane, and wise ... and it sometimes requires difficult choices.

We do best when 'we make it our goal to please Him' {2 Corinthians 5:9}.  Because He's the ultimate boss of our blogs.  And isn't that a truly awesome partnership?

What's your best blogging advice?  Do tell ...

Need more?





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Friday, June 2, 2017

The Bouquet * 6 . 2 . 17



Here's this week's gathering of top notch posts from my online travels, a handful of absolute best discoveries.  These are thought-provoking, soul-stirring writings that have hit home for me, good stuff I believe is worth the investment of your valuable time.

I hope you'll find a few spare minutes this weekend to curl up and page through these offerings.  Bookmark and savor, my friend. 

And then agree or disagree, come back and let's talk ...

Small Steps: A Simple Trick to Read More Throughout the Day ~ Erin Loechner

7 Questions to Ask to Help You Make Sense of Your Life ~ Tasha Eurich

Who's In Charge of the Christian Blogosphere? ~ Tish Harrison Warren

How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss ~ Sheryl Sandberg

These 10 Habits Will Change Your Life for the Better ~ Travis Bradberry

Weekend joys ~




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