Friday, December 19, 2014

Blank pages

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
 - Richard Bach
I've started many different posts over the past two weeks, but deleted them all. It's been a struggle. I've had a hard time concentrating and too little sleep. The demands of motherhood and homeschooling during the holidays have been overwhelming. Factor in grief to the equation, and I can certainly tell you that I am not Super Woman. (I always knew this, but there are some out there who, for whatever reason, seem to think I am!) I do not have "it" all together, nor do I pretend to have it all together.

My goal in this blog was to document my writing journey, and this is part of it. Blank pages. Frustration. Disappointment with myself. But it's not all bad. I've learned much, and I'm still learning. I set a goal when I began this blog to publish every week, but I'm recognizing my limits. When life is okay and things are running smoothly, I can meet the goal. However, when life squeezes the stress on thick (like a herniated disc) and daily life becomes a burden, it's time to inhale a big dose of grace.

It's okay to slow down. It's okay to say no. It's okay that writing right now isn't a priority. It doesn't mean I'm a failure. It doesn't mean I'm a "bad" writer. It doesn't mean I'll never succeed. It means there are seasons to everything. (Reading happens to be the current season, by the way!) It means I prioritize. It means I do what I can when I can. It means I seek God for direction.

Writing is most definitely not a sprint. It is complex. It is multifaceted. It is a process. Too often, we want to shortcut the process and skip to the end. But we singularly rob ourselves of the learning and character building that only comes from staying in it until the end. The hard part of the race is figuring out how to pace yourself. That, I have never been good at. Pacing is a lot like grace. It has to keep flowing. It has to be abundant, ever-present. It doesn't give up. It recognizes that every step is important. It honors the journey.

So while there has been blank pages as far as writing, those pages are permeated with an aura of grace. Without grace, expectations and goals become unrealistic rules. No matter the job or role, we all face "blank" days/pages. But it's those who give and accept grace that don't quit. And eventually, the blank pages will be filled with a beautiful story.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Time to slow down

Advent has begun. And it's a good thing. Because it's time to just slow down. The holiday season is defined by a dizzying flurry of activity. I am relieved and thankful for Advent, for the chance to slow our pace and reflect on the true reason we celebrate this season.

One effective way we do this in our family is by reading Advent books. It's a purposeful way to put a choke-hold on our busy calendar. We have our favorite titles from past years, as well as newly discovered ones. Below is our list:

Arnold Ytreeide books: (My suggestion is age 7 and up. Allow yourself adequate time for reading, as these can take about a half hour daily. Also implements the use of an Advent wreath and candles.)
Jotham's Journey 
Tabitha's Travels
Bartholomew's Passage
Amon's Adventure (for Easter)

Which Way is Christmas? (My suggestion is age 10 and under. Quick reading, about 10-15min./day.)

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp (My suggestion is age 8 and up. Short, but thoughtful reading, about 15-20min./day.)
This book also offers the option of doing a "Jesse Tree" for which the reader can access a free download (code for access is in the book) of each of the 25 ornaments highlighting the Biblical story.

I also stumbled across these two resources for Advent books, but have yet to check out the titles myself:
My Top 5 Books on Advent by Paul-Gordon Chandler
Good News of Great Joy - Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper

What are your favorite Advent books and traditions, dear readers? I'd love to hear them! For the next several weeks, my prayer is that we would go slow and be struck by the wonder of God's love.