life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between

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Reduce, renew

It’s Wednesday morning and it has been way too long since I’ve blogged (five & a half days, to be exact) and I’ve been feeling the lack of writing in my bones and I AM BACK! Finally.

Things have been crazy busy in my neck of the woods, and I am wondering how I’m going to find time going forward to reduce and to write. Reduce (v.): 1. to bring down to a smaller extent, size, amount, number, etc. 2. to lower in degree, intensity, etc. In everyday functioning, I’m like a sauce bubbling & boiling on the stove, needing to be reduced to a calm, warm simmer so the best parts of me can mix together and be brought out. That’s what writing does to me — puts everything back in its place and brings out the best parts of life, faith, love, and what I’m learning.

Right now I’m supposed to be getting ready to get my teeth drilled, but I wasn’t feeling well, so I rescheduled the appointment. That means extra free time for laundry & blogging!

However, unexpected free time doesn’t count. I can’t just look forward to free time to blog — I have about a million & 1 things on my to-do list that could keep me busy from the end of 2011 to the beginning of 2013, and I won’t “find” time for anything that’s actually good for my soul.

So, I have to put into practice what I just learned from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — it’s time to go pro. That means dedicating myself to sitting down to write, even when it’s not most convenient or when I’m not most inspired. Because it’s good for me; it’s what I was created to do, and God speaks to me through it. And I feel lousy and scattered when I don’t.

Did you know I usually write in the morning? On my days off, I usually get up and eat breakfast and drink coffee and blog – sometimes interspersed with some morning TV, although I find that’s less and less of a distraction. When I organize my thoughts and purge what is on my mind & heart, I can actually go on feeling good about my day. Not that I don’t have good days when I don’t write, but I feel peaceful and focused and even-keeled on the days that I write. Like starting the day by processing everything actually awakens my brain to processing everything else for the rest of the day.

I’m starting a new full-time job in less than two weeks — this entire blog post was supposed to be about that amazing transformation, but I guess something more important was hiding in my subconscious. Yes, I might love and feel called to my new job (so far so good!), but I am also called to write. SO I need to make time for both.

Which means reducing… reducing time spent on chores, meaningless tasks, TV time, and even (painfully) time with Dayne. If I don’t spend every waking moment that I’m here in the apartment with Dayne actually with Dayne, it means that the time I actually do have once the writing is finished will be all the sweeter, because my soul will be at peace and my attention will be focused.

What do you feel called to do? What makes you tick/feel good? What puts you at peace and simultaneously drives you? How can you make time for it? What can you reduce?

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Be Inspiring!

From The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

“Once you make your break, you can’t turn around for your buddy who catches his trouser leg on the barbed wire.  The best thing you can do for that friend (and he’d tell you this himself, if he really is your friend) is to get over the wall and keep [moving].

The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.” (p. 20, emphasis mine)

I’d like to suggest that you could replace “artist” in that last sentence with just about anything – “Christian”, “woman”, “man”, “coworker”, “friend”, “human being”.

The War of Art is about connecting with your inspiration and defeating “Resistance” (anything that gets in the way of you executing your “art”: your gifts, talents, creative nature). I think inspiration can come from just the mere suggestion that you could (and most likely will) inspire someone else. And I think that’s one way we love other people!

It’s interesting; I was just reading an article recently about how it doesn’t help people who are going through a tough time to be miserable with them, even though we think that is true or natural empathy. What really helps is to be the face of (tactful and attentive) optimism and hope for that person.

I wrestle with this philosophy in my Christian walk. When others are struggling with walking in step with Jesus, I often think that the best thing I can do is seek to understand where they’re coming from and focus on the difficulties of Christian life. But if I’m honest, when I’m struggling, do I want to be around people who are lagging behind and complaining about Christianity, or do I want to be around people who are genuinely connecting with God and others and living through Him (i.e. do I want to be inspired)?

Donald Miller (the Christian author who wrote Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) wrote recently on his blog:

“It’s hard to remember that… people will actually be benefited by our work.

…Most writers don’t think [their] work really matters. I’ve met writers who have sold thousands of books and still don’t think anybody’s life has been changed by their efforts. There’s an enemy whispering in their ear, I think.

I wrote four books and sold millions before I realized I was helping anybody. Sure I knew people were reading my stuff, but I didn’t realize they were making better decisions because we’d sat down for a few hours and I shared my heart.

…Just the thought that somebody out there might not leave their spouse, or quit on that book they’re writing, or change their career or find God. In all those books about writing filled with tips and tricks, I think loving the reader is the best motivator I’ve found.

…So the next time you sit down to write a blog, just remember somebody is going to read it and be encouraged.”

Even though Donald’s focusing on writing specifically, the same principle holds true: the next time you sit down to make a phone call, or write an email, or complete a task at work, or do something you’ve been feeling called to do for a very long time… people are going to notice what you do. We have such power to encourage and inspire.

Use it! Be inspiring!

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. – Romans 12:6-9 (NIV)