Fresh and Inspired

Writing in pencil > writing in pen

Ten years worth of journals and agendas are stacked up on the table next to me. Marie Kondo recommends going through papers as the last step in Tidying Up. These notebooks sit in a cupboard tucked away most of the time, but in rare moments of deep reflection they make an appearance. For the most part they are a daily record of the mundane details that make up life — plans for dinner, meetings with people, phone calls to make, holidays.

Here’s the biggest takeaway from ten years worth of journals: pencil > pen. Up until this year, 2019, I used pen to record and plan. There were seasons of colorful pens, black ink, blue ink, red ink, green ink. Seasons of brown ink and even pink. Writing plans on paper is a spiritual practice; it is grounding and forces my brain to slow down enough to truly measure priorities, time, and energy. Sitting down once a week with a cup of coffee and writing out the next week’s plans brings focus and intention to the immediate present. And for years a little whiteout tape sat next to me to erase and rewrite the changes that inevitably pop up.

Towards the end of 2018 in a moment of frustration over having to whiteout yet another plan it dawned on me: pencil > pen. I’m a late bloomer to certain life lessons and this is one of them. No longer would I need whiteout tape. No longer would I feel annoyed with rearranging events. No longer would I feel personally injured when something was postponed or canceled.

Can we all agree pencil > pen? It’s a mindset shift. It’s a declaration that life is messy, people are fallible, and plans are flexible. Maybe that disappointment with change isn’t something you wrestle with but if it is, there’s hope. With a small change you can reframe the way you look at your days, choices, hopes, and plans.

It’s a little shift in attitude that implemented over time makes a big impact. Writing your plan for the day in pencil rather than pen cultivates a flexibility in how and when to get everything or nothing on your list done. If you struggle with regret over some of the choices you’ve made or hopes you’ve had, think about moving a big eraser over those things and then writing something new in it’s place. You can be the editor of your life. You choose what stays and goes as well as which angle and perspective to take.

Perhaps you were too ambitious with your plans and goals — an eraser mindset frees you to make those small adjustments that make them actually attainable and possible. Maybe you set a goal to exercise three times a week, but it hasn’t happened once and you’ve lost momentum. Erase it and write in a more realistic one that you can actually follow through on.

Erasing is not failure. It’s a resetting. It’s a step towards grace and mercy for ourselves and others as we place one foot in front of the other into the world and take a risk in love.

Like bamboo plants that send their roots and shoots generously in all directions then regrow after every cutting, we can freely edit, erase, and eliminate knowing it’s not a dead end but a new beginning.

May you see your next hopes and plans with fresh eyes and use a pencil rather than a pen to write them on your heart, paper, phone — holding them palms up, open-handedly, up for a tiny re-alignment if needed.

Love and blessings,

April

Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right, and noticing what happens when that practice succeeds and when it fails.

— Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

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Monday Moments

Learning to have peace and patience in the process

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“Even with a greenhouse, you cannot make plants bloom on demand or bend the seasons to suit your schedule. Nature has its own timetable. In a hurry-up world, where everything is scheduled for maximum efficiency, surrendering to the rhythms of nature can be therapeutic.” (Carl Honoré)

This time of year and in difficult seasons of life, the tendency to rush “to get through it” can become overwhelming. Lately, God has been reminding me about having peace in the process and what that looks like. For me it means letting go of my timeline for breakthrough and releasing control of hoped for outcomes. It means saying yes to the rhythms and timings of God and no to when and how and what I think is best.

If we’re all like a tree planted by streams of water that yield its fruit in season (Psalm 1), then regardless of the season and what external appearances show our roots and the essence of who we are remains constant. We may produce different fruit depending on the season, but our identity remains. A tree doesn’t change its species based on the season or weather. It remains the same but looks different throughout the year.

Regardless of the season we’re in when our roots remain in Christ’s love, everything else works itself out in the perfect time. I pray we’re all able to have patience in the process and see the beauty of every season whether it’s raw, bare winter, bright, budding spring, lush, full summer, or diverse, crisp autumn.

Monday Moments

Humble, yet confident

hot air balloonsThere’s a strange tension between confidence and pride. Sometimes it seems that false humility can be worse than pride because it masks itself as something it’s not. I’ve been convicted of this myself and notice that it rises up when I’m striving and insecure about a particular issue.

Lately, I’ve been struck by King David’s words in Psalm 51 when he’s repenting to God about Bathsheba. When he talks about being broken before God, I feel like that’s the key to walking in confidence and security.

For the source of Your pleasure is not in my performance or the sacrifices I might offer to You. The fountain of Your pleasure is found in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before You. You will not despise my tenderness as I humbly bow down at Your feet!

Psalm 51:16-17 (The Passion Translation)

When we know that we know that we know that God is not after our performance or our sacrifice, we can be secure in what we do and who we are. All God wants is for our hearts to remain broken and tender to His voice, so that when He speaks we listen and do what He’s asks. Here’s the amazing thing about God – when we humble ourselves before Him, He lifts us up!

Be willing to be made low before the Lord and he will exalt you!

James 4:10 (The Passion Translation)

When God sees the willingness and humble purity of our hearts, He exalts us. He calls us His own and gives us authority to walk out our lives before Him full of confident assurance. We are not meant to be groveling orphans begging for crumbs; we’re called to rule and reign with Him!