every little thing

wpid-wp-1444611142823.jpg

I was thrilled to be part of the launch team for Deidra Rigg’s new book
Every Little Thing: Making a World of Difference Right Where You Are.
I devoured an advance copy about a month ago and have been itching to share a

quote which has continued to tumble around my brain and heart.
But this is simply one small aspect of this incredible work from Deidra.
If you ever needed a friend to help dust you off when you have fallen,
you need this book.
If you often wonder how you landed in the place you currently reside,
allow Deidra to share her own experiences with humor, wisdom and honesty.
Every Little Thing will help you discover how it is possible
to change your small pocket of the world simply by being you,
wonderful world-changing you.
Every Little Thing is available everywhere you would find stellar books.

*****

God is in the wilderness.
Go there.

You can trust him to meet you right in the middle of
your wild and worn and weary places.
Take off your shoes.
Tear off your pretense.
Skip over the polite conversation.
It’s you he wants.

Simply you.

~Deidra Riggs
Every Little Thing

Reading and writing has always helped me figure out who I am and

what I am experiencing.


These two activities work in tandem to help me make sense of my world,


allowing me to dig deep enough to hit the core of what’s going on.

None of our lives are experienced in isolation.

There are people we love, circling our hearts and when they hurt,

it creates shared suffering.

Add our personal realities to the collective realities of others and it is

no wonder many of us feel swamped by life.

When I read the above quote and allowed my eyes to linger on the word wilderness

I finally found a peg to hang my hat.

Granted I am not unfamiliar with the wilderness.

I have logged quite a few seasons upon its terrain just like many of you.

Past times seemed dark, quiet, lonely and hopeless.

This current wilderness landscape feels polar opposite.

Forward progress appears to be impossible.

I simply can’t “try hard” myself out of these confines.

About 7 years ago, I looked up every possible definition and synonym

for the word wilderness.

There was a definition for wilderness which fascinated me all those years ago

and instructs me today:

a part of a garden devoted to wild growth

wpid-wp-1444371336728.jpg

This definition sums up how I feel right now.

There is life and growth but there is also a lot of wild, massive tangles.

I see new blooms and others bent low, exploding with seeds for

another season and death can’t be hidden.

There aren’t  tidy perfectly symmetrical rows of flowers consisted of

concrete and absolute answers in this section of the garden.

Perhaps if I take a few steps backward, I will discover a garden with straight rows

nuzzled against the unruly plot of land.

The wilderness has purpose, there is undeniable growth despite its wild nature.

Weeds and blooms weaving themselves together isn’t necessarily the bad news I feared.

I just might be able to survive this section of my life garden.

Deidra’s words provided my mind with a new synapse to ponder good

rising from the wilderness.

She reminded me, I am not alone.

God is with me in every knotted length of this terrain.

He longs to meet me in the midst of my exhaustion and questions.

Most people would never choose the wilderness as their destination.

Yet God doesn’t say “see you later when you are on your way out of the wilderness”

and take a shortcut to the outskirts of the wilderness.

No, he chooses to plant himself right on the most uneven paths.

I am grateful to have read Every Little Thing because it is filled with wisdom

when you find yourself in the least likely and undesired places.

It’s a book of encouragement for when we fall down and desperately

need a perspective adjustment.

Tucked between the yellow starred covers,

I am confident you will come face to face with the realization,

it is possible to make a world of difference right smack dab where you are,

even if it happens to be in the wilderness.

 

 

agendas

I could tell you a story,

paint you a picture,

hand you a book or

buy you a movie ticket.

Whether heard or witnessed, experiences are rarely identical.

I might smirk while you laugh until tears escape.

It’s doubtful the same sentences would be underlined or the faintest  of brushstrokes

hiding in the corner of a frame would be celebrated in one accord.

I believe conferences are like a collective fellowship

revealing the tandem fibers woven into our lives.

I mentioned on Monday, I attended the Faith and Culture Writers Conference.

I would love to share my thoughts knowing I won’t capture even an

ounce of what each person’s perspective.

Let’s call them footnotes.

I am usually a prolific note taker but I didn’t take as many notes this year.

I chose more often to put the pen aside and step into the stories told by others.

For clarity and length sake, I will provide the link to each speaker mentioned so

you can read their bios and have a firmer place to land.

Four speakers shared with over 300 writers and creatives on Friday night.

Standout quotes and thoughts:

Tony Kriz

We tend to make ourselves the hero of every story. 
Jesus was good at making others the heroes of the story.

We must be willing to lay down our agendas. (my paraphrase)

You must write for art, for beauty, never for the career.

At the end of his talk, Tony instructed the audience to turn in their seats
in such a way where our eyes could land on the greatest amount of people.
One by one he read statements for us to raise our hands if the answer was yes.
We were given time to scan the faces unlike our own but united
in lifted hands.
Statement by statement we stood together in honesty as we were stripped down
until we arrived at the final statement of
I am a writer.

You can read those statements here.

Sarah Thebarge

I was riveted and only wrote her name on the page 🙂
She shared that we are writers because we write.
We need patience in our writing as God may have only unfolded
half of our story.
When the other part arrives, it will illuminate the first part
and bring completion to the whole story.

Randy Woodley

Our stories are stretched through diversity.

Allow new adventures and people to stretch us and our stories.

Remember God says I am doing a new thing, will you not see it?

Deidra Riggs

Deidra shared a day when she abandoned her routine and agenda and
simply allowed God’s whisper to lead and teach her.
He showed her things she would have never seen had she been
unwilling to let go of her plans.

Go closer.

Choose a different way.

Go off the prescribed path.

Whether you are a writer or not,

God is writing your story.

Be willing to wait,

to lay aside agendas and control.

Wander away from

the concrete path and allow your

feet to tread in squishy

and muddy terrain.

Our stories possess more

colors than contained in the

largest Crayola box.

Will you let Him?

Will you listen so you can write it down?

Will you share your story in spoken words

or words upon a page?

His glory is supremely magnified when we utter our stories.

Saturday marks the point when brains become saturated with

information, thoughts and dreams.

It’s here where life-giving water floods our

once solitary paths and unites them with a multitude of footprints

gently treading upon our souls.

Eric Larson

The memorable final dance sequence of Flashdance provided a visual

reminder to “take our passion and make it happen.”

God has not given us a spirit of cowardice but of love and

a sound mind.

Be brave in life and in your writing.

Paul Louis Metzger

Our lives and our writing should be shaped by the object of our affections.

Our lives should be shaped by sacred literature.
Keep learning from the literary guild.

The best writing is often not found in the place of comfort,
but often in the margins through suffering.

Don’t hide what you want to write because you believe
no one wants to read it.

Stay thirsty, my friend!

Sarah Bessey

We were blessed to hear from Sarah twice over the weekend.

I did a lot of listening and not a lot of jotting down.

Our dear friend from the north brought her Canadian sensibilities,

her passion for Jesus and blessed us with prayer.

Writing is my spiritual discipline, my prayer,
my cloister, but it is also my offering.

Quit writing with an agenda, a motive or a strategy.

Begin with your own life-giving life, 
not a copycat life,
but a life brimming life.

His words are not an addition to our lives.
They are life.

Write in the midst of the mess as it is where we meet God.

Deidra Riggs

We ended our time with Deidra gently urging us to

not discount the blessedness of rest.

You know she was speaking my language 🙂

Rest is our heart’s true home.

When we deny ourselves rest, we deny our true home.

Rest is where our feet find solid footing.

Rest is holding things loosely…our callings
our gifts and letting them go.

Don’t forget God’s promise that we will enter
into His rest.
An intimacy designed just for us in the private place.

Don’t rebuff God’s advances to you.

Take this life and make it an offering.

Take your life passions and make it happen.

What will you do with your

calling,

gifts

and life?

Will you fully give it away?

I repeat,

Will you share your story in spoken words

or words upon a page?

Live a great story!

 

 

relinquishing the default button

During my teen years, I would head to the public library to

check out back issues of SEVENTEEN magazine.

I rarely made eye contact with one particular librarian as she once arched her

eyebrows in my direction, lowered them long enough to view my selections

and inquired,

“Just how old are you?”

She might have called me “missy” but I don’t recall.

I quickly added a birthday and said, “15.”

My eyes would devour every detail of what most teenage age girls considered

the gospel truth.

Some articles were of minor interest to me and others I didn’t comprehend.

I did understand acne and although it wasn’t a major problem, a brief article

about this dreaded plight drew my attention.

In the margin with bold type contained the answer to my misery.

“Pimples seldom occur past age 21”.

21 seemed a universe away but it gave me a pursuit.

One day these breakouts would be

game. set. match. over.

Because SEVENTEEN magazine tells the truth.

Until I reached 22 and 25 and now at 49,

I know the falsehood of that bold print statement.

The grains in an hourglass fall through space,

collecting in heaps but their mass cannot bury

all things hard and inconvenient.

I was reminded of this truth in my life this past weekend while attending

the Faith and Culture Writers Conference.

I believe the Father loves me and knows me.

Yet I forget He knows my frame, my desires and my ways.

He knows even after my year of brave, walking into a crowd of

hundreds is not my sweet spot.

He knows I never want to impose or intrude or thrust myself upon

another even if it comes wrapped up in a writing treasure named Deidra.

The One who knows my name and every ounce of my frailty and

tendencies decided to take care of business before the conference

had even begun.

As I was standing in line to check-in to my room, I found myself behind

Cornelia, conference founder extraordinaire.

We embrace and she introduces

me to Phil Long, a stellar poet who wowed us last year.

He exits the lobby to find his room and suddenly there is Deidra Riggs.

Cornelia introduces us, we hug and exchange small talk.

I could tell she was weary from her trek across states and time zones

and she was gracious to ask me more questions than

I ventured to ask in return.

How tender of God to provide an introduction in natural surroundings

because he knows we are both just two travelers

pulling rolling suitcases.

He whisperers,

See what I can do, Helen?

It’s not two steaming mugs at a

Starbucks but it will do.

And it did.

The breakouts I deal with at 49 are ones

I clearly thought would be laid to rest by now.

They are contained in a tiny box I check

when asked,

“Do you want this to be your default mode?”

The box repeats,

I am not enough.

I am different.

I will not be included.

In any setting, I allow my eyes to inspect a room of people

and count how many I would term the life of the party.

My default is to open my trick or treat bag like Charlie Brown

and declare,

“I got a rock called calm.”

Can I tell you how often I have rejected being calm?

For too long, I have said no thank you to the way God

has carved my soul.

Can I also tell you how often God and other people met me

in the calm this weekend?

Too many times to write in this post.

As I wrote in the beginning, I poured over SEVENTEEN

magazine.

But I subscribed to ‘Teen magazine.

One day, I decided to write a letter to the editor.

I told him that I had been a  subscriber for years and

I was considering canceling my subscription because I could

not follow the hair or make-up advice.

There was no one pictured within the magazine covers who bore

any resemblance to me.

How was I to know what type of make-up to wear when my eyes

were not blue or green and I didn’t have freckles?

I had an afro and not straight hair.

This was my quiet and calm rebellion.

Several issues later there were two African-American

identical twin sisters featured as models in the magazine.

I am confident mine was not the only complaint.

Perhaps it never occurred to them that two models of color

who looked exactly the same was not completely

solving the problem.

It was a step in a better direction but it also provided

me with unexpected instruction.

I will never learn who I am in the pages of a magazine.

I can’t understand beauty by someone else’s standard.

None of us are identical.

I still forget.

I still look at glossy covers and book deals and Facebook likes

as the indicator or final word in worthiness.

God guides me under his wing

and His love displays how I have

mistakenly read the wrong script.

My friend Pam, was to be at the writers conference

and a guest panelist but was unable to attend.

She asked via Instagram if I would consider writing about

the conference.

This week, I would like to share a collection of

thoughts and quotes from some of the speakers.

You might believe semicolons, plot lines and

agents are the only topics at a writers conference.

You might be tempted to take the week off from this

blog.

I would encourage you to wander back and see if you might discover

yourself right along with me.

This past weekend

we talked about

faith, life and fears.

We shared tales of

rejection, messes and passions.

We admitted our dreams are good

and the need to be brave in writing

down our stories.

United we witnessed the power in proudly calling ourselves writers.

A book deal doesn’t define calling.

We all need to know who we are.

Won’t you join me this week?

.