Sunday, April 15, 2018

For anyone who's also struggling with this


(I have SOOO much that I want to say about this topic, but I don't think I can say it all yet, so I wanted to say a little.)

Over the past couple years, especially, God has really been showing me some profound insecurities, misconceptions, and struggles that have lodged themselves in my soul.  He's helping me root them out, but I've got a feeling it will be a years-long process.  They go very deep.

In the midst of discovering my fears, God has showered me with confirmation that they are not unique to me.  I believe these are issues that many of us deal with.  The problem is that we don't talk about them, and that needs to change.

I mean things like:

- perfectionism
- works-based approval (both from God and from others)
- religiosity & legalism

These problems can manifest themselves with symptoms such as:

- inability to believe that you are truly "free in Christ"
- tendency to overanalyze even insignificant thoughts, decisions, etc.
- wondering whether you're idolizing something or someone you deeply love
- inability to let your mistakes go 
- inability to rest in your spiritual life

We're ever striving, striving, striving.  Ever feeling like we haven't quite reached the mark -- like there's a little more we could and should give.  Never feeling like it's okay to say, "That's enough for now"; not wanting to settle down and be at peace or "do something for us" --  something fun and frivolous and "not spiritual" -- because we equate peace (a gift of the Holy Spirit) with complacency, and we believe that being "all in" for God means shunning anything that even slightly resembles satisfaction for our "flesh." 


Forgetting that maybe sanctification is actually a thing and maybe it's actually a process and maybe that's actually okay.  (I mean, were the disciples magically perfect when they received Jesus' call?  A resounding "heck no" to that.  Well, then, did Jesus give up on them in disgust because they weren't instantly perfect?  How about another resounding "heck no".)

Forgetting that "every good and perfect gift comes from above" (James 1:17). 

Forgetting that "God . . . richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17). 

Forgetting that having doubts, questions, and fears doesn't automatically boot you out of the Kingdom.  (Remember Thomas?)

Forgetting that the Spirit gives different people different gifts, and that it's a crying shame when we fool ourselves into thinking our gifts and talents and callings aren't "spiritual" enough (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). 

Forgetting that when Jesus prayed for His disciples the night before His crucifixion, He didn't pray that God would remove our humanity, but that He would purify it (John 17:15).  (Michael Lloyd has great things to say about the whole issue of hating our humanity in his CafĂ© Theology.)

(random bunny because bunnies are happy)

I could go on, but, again, I can't cover it all right now.  Hopefully more will be coming soon.  (I'm planning to get a "Resources" page up and running on this blog, where I'll share some of the things that God's been using to help me in this area.)

Suffice it to say, for now, that I believe there are lies that the enemy has spoken into our souls, and it's been hurting my heart today to think about how deeply we've fallen for them -- what damage they've caused our mental, emotional, and spiritual psyches, what scars they've left on us.  So I wanted to hopefully speak some truth and love into this kind of situation (and please understand that I need to latch onto this every bit as much as you might).  I think this is one of the main things it comes down to: we haven't really grasped, deep down in our souls, that we -- individually -- are loved by God.  And there is something so broken in the outlook of a Christian who doesn't believe God adores them.



Beauty, please believe that you are loved.

That's what I want to leave you and I with today.  We think we're clinging to God by a thread, and that any mistake or mishap could break it and send us plunging.  We also think that we're the ones doing the running after God, as if He isn't running after us too -- more than that, He was running after us first.  First and always.

So if this is you -- if you struggle with feeling like you never perform well enough for God, if every slip-up has the potential to send you into a whirlwind of self-doubt, if you don't truly believe down in the core of you that God loves you voluntarily and passionately -- please try to believe this instead.  Please allow this message to sink down into your soul and dare to believe that it might be true:

You are not alone and you will not be given up on.  


(P.S. I'm right here trying with you, and I'd love to talk. Please feel free to reach out. We need each other. <3)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

He Is Risen Indeed


                                                                                                                 
Spring winds murmuring,                                                          
Emerald grass marshaling,
Glad birdsong twittering,  
All flowers glimmering.
Rise to a rumor given:
"Fear not, for He is risen."
Creation awaiting with bated breath
The Power that conquered cowardly death.
A slab of granite rolls aside --
Dazzling light bursts from inside -- 
Easter morning dawns.









/////

"Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet.  It is I myself!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
Luke 24:38-39

/////

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Motherly Writer's Tag

I'm doing a writer's tag!  I feel so hip.


The amazing, the outstanding Kate of Story and Dark Chocolate tagged me for this a while ago, and I just realized that I can do this.  Because, fam, I am a writer -- or I aspire to be at some point.

Now, the reason I included that little peck of sappiness might be confusing to some of you ("Of course you want to be a writer, Olivia -- you've said as much, so why are you reminding us?"), so, before I begin the tag, a somewhat long but somewhat necessary preamble:

Yes, I've known for a while now that I want to write, but the genre of writing in which I want to work is a different matter.  Most of my writing/my writing plans are for devotional/Christian living types of books.  And I'm happy with that, but, as I'm sure you're all aware, most of my dear blogging friends have all these amazing and wonderful fictional WIPs, full of complex fantasy and actual plots and lovable and eccentric characters.  And me?  I've always felt that I'm a little bit out of the loop as far as fiction writing goes -- heck, up until fairly recently, I didn't even know what "WIP" meant.  (Even now, I had to look it up to make sure that I had figured it out correctly.)  Betas and NaNo and outlining and writing snacks and whatever the heck "plotting vs. plantsing" means -- it's just not my language.  (Not yet, anyway.  It's slowly becoming more familiar.)

Guys, do you know how many fictional stories I have in the works?

Exactly two.  

I mean, sure, I used to write lots of short stories when I was younger, and I'm somewhat interested in expanding some of those at some point, but for now, these are the only ones I have.

BUT, I am realizing that I still have them.  I don't have many and I don't have much, but I DO have stories that I am passionate and excited about bringing into the world.  I do want to see these two finished at some point, and hopefully published one way or the other.  So do you know what that means?

I get to fill out writer's tags and do other writer-ly stuff if I want to.  :)

Okay, inspirational sappiness over.  Let's get on with the tag!  Huge thanks to both Kate and the tag's original creator, Belle Anne!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How motherly are you to your characters?

Not very: I feel more like an awestruck and somewhat timid bystander sometimes, like I'm butting in on my characters and saying, "Hi, 'scuse me, can I write a story about you?  Thanks."


What sort of a mother? Strict but attentive? Spoiling and soft? Tender but cautious? Or perhaps you are one of those writer mothers who is not so motherly?

Again, yeah, one of those writer mothers who is not so motherly.  Not that I don't want to be motherly to my characters, you understand -- I just don't feel like we're at that place yet.

Do you fret about your characters’ fates? Their dates? Whether or not they get kids of their own?

Of course!  If I didn't care about their fates, what would I be doing writing about them?!

Although I will say that, going off the date thing, I cannot write romance to save my life.  I mean, when I do, it had better be brief and not very involved, because I just can't do it.  And lack of romance will sometimes prevent me from trying/liking a story, so it's very hypocritical of me.  BUT I CAN'T HELP IT.

Are you sad when your characters are hurt? How sad on a level from one to ten are you when one of your characters is injured physically or emotionally? Spiritually? What about if they die?

I mean, sad is a bit of a strong word . . .  I guess ever-so-slightly guilty might be a better one.  But when my characters go through something emotional or spiritual, there's a good chance that it's something I've experienced as well, so it's kind of a cathartic process to write it.

As for characters dying, welllllll . . . . 

#Spoilers.  Can't say.


Are you aggressive or do you retaliate when someone insults or doesn’t like your characters/book? To what extent?

Not really.  I mean, I might (read: probably will) get somewhat offended and crawl into my shell, there to curl up with the pieces of my shattered dreams for writing greatness and be sad, but retaliate, no.  

And, seriously, I know I do and will need constructive criticism for my stories.  Just make it constructive: honest and helpful but not mean or hurtful.  (And also please say something complimentary about something, too.  My self-esteem needs that. *cries*)


Which of your characters do you “baby” the most?

So, as some of you may know, I'm writing a continuation of Susan Pevensie's story (because that sounds better than a glorified fanfiction), and I feel a lot of kinship with Susan and a desire to explore some different aspects of her character that I think might be there.  The struggle is that in so doing, I'm tempted to ignore some of the real, actual sin issues she has, as well as to project some of my own characteristics onto her even when it may not be appropriate.  So I guess in that sense I sort of "baby" her -- it's difficult to discipline myself to explore her flaws when they come from actual sin and pride instead of just insecurities, fears, etc.

Which one of your characters do you let fend for themselves the most?

Hehehehe . . . I just realized that one of my characters is literally a hermit, so . . . I guess that answers that question. ;-P

Do you tend to cling more to your older children and stories, or your youngest ones?

My younger ones.  I'M SORRY, OLDER KIDS/STORIES, THEY JUST NEED/WANT MORE ATTENTION RIGHT NOW.  You understand, right?  It's not like you're chomping on the bit to be reworked, are you?

Do your characters have any habits or styles that you disapprove of?

Of course: like all of us, they have flaws/sin struggles.  (That is, I haven't really gotten to those aspects in one of the projects, but in the Susan story, yes.)

Which of your characters are you most proud of?

I feel like I'm going to be most proud of Susan Pevensie (even though she's not originally mine) or one/both of my protagonists in the other story.

Also, for those of you who are interested, the beginning of this "other story" I keep going on about -- as well as the personality of the main character -- can basically be summed up in this picture:


How many of your main characters have actual mothers?

Living?  Haven't decided. :-P  But probably most.  (At least, at the beginning of the books . . . *ominous music*)

How many of your main characters are mothers?

Other than majorly secondary characters, none, so far. 

Have you ever had pressure to kill off a character? Have you ever downright refused?

No, I don't think so.  Does that actually happen?  Do people actually tell you, "You should kill off this character"??


How many of your characters are children?

A lot of them are adolescents . . . does that count?

Are you loath to kill characters? How much so?

Sort of.  I mean, what I don't want to do is become an author who kills off characters solely for the emotional "feels".  I don't want to be the person who kills my characters if it's not necessary.

(Although, when I was younger, I did rather mercilessly cut down a precious, five-year-old little conduit of sunshine, which was rather uncharacteristically brutal of me.  Plus, I can't decide if it was really critically important.  *blinks*)

Are you biased for your own characters?

Not really.  At least -- again -- not yet. ;)

How well do you care for your characters?

I mean, like I said, I don't know that I can really say that I care for them -- I care about them.  And I'm not planning to turn into a killing machine author, so, there's that.  Right?

And do you intend to be more motherly, or less motherly with your characters in the future?


Couldn't say -- I haven't any plans one way or another at the moment.  I think I'll probably just let whatever happens happen.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, that was really fun -- for me, at least. ;)  Hope you all enjoyed it, too!  Be sure to go check out Kate's blog.  

I'm only officially tagging one other person -- Faith over at I Like That -- but if you want to fill out the tag, please consider yourself tagged!  Here are the questions for copying ease:

How motherly are you to your characters?
What sort of a mother? Strict but attentive? Spoiling and soft? Tender but cautious? Or perhaps you are one of those writer mothers who is not so motherly?
Do you fret about your characters’ fates? Their dates? Whether or not they get kids of their own?
Are you sad when your characters are hurt? How sad on a level from one to ten are you when one of your characters is injured physically or emotionally? Spiritually? What about if they die?
Are you aggressive or do you retaliate when someone insults or doesn’t like your characters/book? To what extent?
Which of your characters do you “baby” the most?
Which one of your characters do you let fend for themselves the most?
Do you tend to cling more to your older children and stories, or your youngest ones?
Do your characters have any habits or styles that you disapprove of?
Which of your characters are you most proud of?
How many of your main characters have actual mothers?
How many of your main characters are mothers?
Have you ever had pressure to kill off a character? Have you ever downright refused?
How many of your characters are children?
Are you loath to kill characters? How much so?
Are you biased for your own characters?
How well do you care for your characters?
And do you intend to be more motherly, or less motherly with your characters in the future?

I close with this picture, because it's relevant and because the bloopers of Once Upon a Time are a gift, as is the cast:







Tuesday, March 6, 2018

// airplane reverie //


- 09/25/16 -

Up here in cloudland it is borne in on me again: the vast love and kindness of our Creator God.  With expanses of sky sea stretching out to ice floes of cloud, strange and dangerous urges tug at the dreamer's mind: a longing to step out onto those tundra plains that look so solid, there to wander awhile in blessed solitude, high above the burdens of an earthbound existence, pondering the enigmas of the universe in a place where the reflection is remote enough to be tranquil, and communicating with the Savior Who left high, holier realms than even this to elevate us hence. 

How can it be, the miracle of One True God?


Monday, February 19, 2018

monday music || to resist the roaring lion

Hello, friends!  

I've thought about starting a new series like this for a while -- sharing different songs that I've discovered are really applicable to certain situations, or just if I find a random bunch that I think are cool and should be heard by, well, you. ;)

So for this first edition, I'd like to share some of the songs that have been really helpful to me recently.  As the title suggests, these are for when you need encouragement -- when Satan is prowling around and planting his seeds of doubt and fear (basically, his lies).  

For me personally, I know that many of Satan's attacks on me are related to my performance in my relationship with God -- what I'm doing or not doing that's right or wrong.  Whether I'm "getting it right".  So these songs are mostly related to those kinds of worries. 

Over the past year and a half, God has really been revealing a lot to me about a lot of key issues -- insecurities that are etched deep into my soul, my subconscious, coloring the way I perceive God and myself, and what our relationship is supposed to look like.  I'm still struggling with a lot of these things, but that's okay, because, as I was just telling a friend, I've got an amazing group of people around me, trying to help me readjust my view of myself and of God's heart for me.  (And btdubs, if y'all didn't know -- you're all a part of that group!  Your support and encouragement and friendship really does a lot for me, so thank you. <333)  And I know that God won't abandon me to confusion and despair, no matter how hard Satan tries to convince me that He just might if I'm somehow not doing something right.  My Defender is greater than my enemy.  And these songs help remind me of that.  I hope they do the same for you!

By the way, I got to go to a concert recently and see two of these artists perform.  And they both played the songs that meant the most to me, guys. :')  God loves to give us gifts -- He delights in us.  I think that's something we forget a lot -- I know I do.

Anyway, the songs. :) <3










Don't forget:

Our Defender is greater and stronger than our enemy.