And We’re Back…

ifluence

 

It’s been awhile, readers. 2017 has been a wonderful, crazy, fun, mess so far…

I’ve been working on my novel these past few months and it brought some ideas to my attention. First of all: inspiration. What inspires me as a human being and as a writer? What causes my heart to skip a beat because of happiness? Or what is it that makes the tears stream from my eyes? What is it that inspires me?

Inspiration comes from many avenues. It can be a warm, sunny spring day or a wet and drowsy winter one. It can be a certain place that makes us feel enchanted, or it can be a person who has captivated our attention and our imagination. This thing called inspiration is the cornerstone of our stories. However, it is not the backbone.

The backbone of our life story is: influence. Influence is one of the most powerful tools that mankind possesses. Why? We live and thrive from the things that influence us. Think about it: you have the power to shape and mold a human mind through your actions. What do people see when they look at you? Or rather, who do they see? You have the power to change lives; will you?

The funny thing about influence is that it goes both ways. You can negatively influence someone… This is why we must be so careful of our lifestyle. There are always those who are watching your life and looking to you. Sometimes, people base their personality off of your lifestyle… This can be done consciously or subconsciously; however, the fact remains, it does happen this way.

We never know when we are affecting a life. That person standing next to you,  you pass them everyday… Today he could be wearing a suit. Not because he wants to impress, but because he has just been to the funeral of a young student. Our words have the power to speak life and death. What will you say to the person who has just been through the heartbreak of loosing someone? As we live, we must remember that people are indeed looking to us. Live your life in such a way that people will look to you for positive influence.

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Scripture Sunday: Masquerade

imageWhen I was little, every Christmas mom would put out this porcelain doll as part of the decorations. This doll was elegantly beautiful. She had rosy red cheeks and bouncy curly hair and she wore a lovely red velvet dress with a bow to match. On the outside the doll looked as if she was perfect. But on the inside, the doll was hollow. You see, the porcelain is only a cover, it’s a mask. No one seems to care about that, all they see is what’s plastered on the outside. That is what’s comfortable and it’s a portrayal of something other than the real thing that is hiding underneath.

In life, many people tend to be just like this porcelain doll. They put on this cold and hard mask to try to hide their emptiness.

There are certain people that have been in my life at one time or another that just bring out a side of me that I really do not like. Whenever I’m around people like these I second guess myself, I feel like I can’t be good enough…I feel tiny. I had to learn that I am not going to please everyone, especially not these types of people. I am learning to look passed the negative comments and find the good things.

Recently I found out that one of my younger friends is going through the same thing right now. She struggles because she wants people to like her and accept her, but instead they are just fickle friends, really. When I heard that this she is going through this, the selfish part of me felt a little bit of justification. Not because of her struggles, but because now I have another person who can sympathize with me. It would be so easy for me to lick my wounds and her’s too. My actions would be teaching her to hold that grudge in her heart. We can show them…That is the kind of thinking that is so wrong of me to have. I can’t be like that. So maybe instead of letting my pride get in the way, I should pray for the hearts of these people.

The other part of me is heartbroken… I can see potential in people; they could be so influential. Others are being driven away and are hurt because of the bad attitudes. Instead, they could be lifting up and encouraging one another. All that is revealed is the people who are causing the hurt are the ones that are truly hurting and hollow inside, just like the doll that I mentioned. They have these insecurities that they are trying to mask. But here is the truth: don’t we all have certain moments when we masquerade as something that we are not? I am certainly not here to cast any stones…

Now, this has me checking my life. What kind of attitudes do I have? Am I that porcelain doll who is beautiful on the outside, yet hollow on the inside? Here’s the kicker: am I gossiping or talking about people in a way that could hurt them? James 3:10 “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” Wow. This means the double standards have to go, y’all.

We have to be so careful what comes out of our mouths, no matter who we’re talking to or about… Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”

How do I expect others to change their ways if I can’t change mine? Really, these are heart checking questions that I have to ask myself. There is hope for us today. The Lord can heal our brokenness and He can fill us so that we are no longer empty. No matter how terrible we are, He still loves us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Even when we are at our lowest, Jesus still loves us and He died for us. Today, and every day, I am so thankful that He is on my side and He helps me in my weaknesses. 

Romans 8:26-28 says, “26. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”

 

Scripture Sunday: Potential

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Most of you probably know that I love to buy yarn. There is something so thrilling to me about the whole “buying yarn” adventure. The stores that sell yarn are always filled with magical items that are to be used to create something or decorate something… I love it.

I would say that one of the reasons that I love yarn so much is because I can see what I want it to become. I look at it as having the potential to be something great… What would happen if we started to look at ourselves in this way? I don’t see messily packaged string; I see a beautiful creation.

We have all had days when we felt messy, useless, and as if we weren’t worth anything at all. What we have to understand is that God sees us just like I see the yarn that I buy. He sees potential in us. He sees the beautiful creation and not the messy, useless, string. Isaiah 43:7Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him .

He has the plan. When I make something I usually follow a pattern that tells me exactly which stitches to uses and which one goes where. He looks at us and He sees who we can become; He sees what He can make through us. Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” In this passage, we are referred to as clay and God is referred to as the potter. A potter spends much of his time using his own hands and working with the clay. God wants to mold us and shape us until we are who He has called us to be. We can’t always see what God has planned and it can be difficult to wait.

It is time for us to start seeing ourselves as God sees us; it’s time to see our potential. It is time for us to declare who God has said that we are. To find these things, look in His word! There are so many scriptures that clearly state who we are in Him.

Now, you must understand that potential is an amazing thing; however, potential still has to have an action done before it can be fulfilled. It will take the action of us living out our relationship with Christ. But, isn’t a relationship with Him what we really crave in the first place? John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” In this passage, John the Baptist was testifying about Jesus. In our own lives we must allow Jesus to increase and we must decrease. What does that mean? Well, when someone is increased in your life, you see them more often, right? You talk with them, walk with them, eat with them… They begin to take priority in your life. Most importantly, their needs become greater than your own needs. More importantly, what they desire becomes most important to you. In this way, you begin to submit to them because you trust them.

Start saying daily to yourself, “I have potential to be something great and beautiful.” God sees us in this way already; now we have to see ourselves this way. He picks us up in our messy state and He says, “They have potential. After I am finished working with them, they will be something great.” Be pliable. Listen and let God use you. He knows the plan even when we don’t. I’ve had this song in my head for the past week. It’s called “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel. Listen to this and let it wash over you today. Some of the lyrics are, “I’m no longer a slave to fear, for I am a child of God.” Let these words ring true for you.

 

Scripture Sunday: Are We There Yet?

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Okay, let’s admit it. Each of us have asked the famous question, “Are we there yet?” at least one time in our lives. Whether we were on a long journey or we were just waiting to get to a local restaurant for some food… We have asked the question.

Today’s Scriptures: Genesis 6-9 (Here is a nice little link so that you can read the passages right here on the spot. You are welcome!)

This week I had the opportunity to teach children at a local school a Bible lesson. The lesson was about Noah and the flood. How many times have I read or heard this story? So many! It really is an iconic story in the Bible and it is one of the most famous of the stories. As I read through the scriptures this time, it spoke to my heart in a different way. In Genesis 6:6 it tells us that God was sorry that He had even created man in the first place! Woah. That’s no small matter. But Noah. Noah found favor in The Lord’s eyes because he was righteous in a world filled with evil. God chose Noah because Noah loved Him and obeyed Him.

Here’s where it get good: God told Noah to build a giant boat… “A what now? You want me to build an ark? What’s an ark? How…?”  Yeah, none of that actually happened, but me of little faith probably would have been asking those things. Here’s the thing: it had never rained before this time. No rain. Ever. Everyone thought that Noah was crazy! Sometime God calls us to do things that seem insane to the people around us. Honestly, they can seem absurd to us as well. They won’t get it and they won’t understand. Don’t ever give up what God has called you to do because of the negative people. When you know Him you will know what He has called you to do. Just like Noah, we must obey everything that God says, even when it seem crazy. Genesis 6:22 says, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

So Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives entered the boat. It was probably like a fun adventure at first, but I can imagine that it became tiresome very quickly. It rained, and rained, and rained more…. For 40 days and 40 nights. That’s a long time, folks. The Bible tells us that the water subsided after 150 days…. Here’s the part where they were probably asking the question… “Are we there yet?” The flood waters raged; there was death everywhere around them. How terribly heartbreaking that must have been! In our own lives, sometimes we feel like the flood water are never going to stop. We feel hurt, confused, lonely, and sometimes even angry with what is happening around us. This is when we begin to ask God, “Are we there yet?”

Noah submitted to God’s will. Sometimes we just have to stop talking and listen to what He has to say. As we read the Bible, we should ask God to reveal things to our spirits. Tell Him that you are listening and ready to obey. In the middle of the floods in our lives we have to trust that He is God and He will work it all out. In the end, God made a covenant with Noah. Covenant means a promise. After months of sitting in the ark, waiting… God’s promise of safety, protection and new life was fulfilled, finally! As soon as Noah got off the ark, he worshiped. Genesis 8:20a “Then Noah built an altar to The Lord…”. What a beautiful example for us to follow. When we finally do get there we should worship Him for how great He is.

Today I want you to recognize that God will keep His promises. When we are faithful to Him He will honor that. No matter what other people say, His plan is wonderful. Don’t be discouraged during the times that feel like the floods are upon you. God is with you, especially in the storm. Jesus calms the storms! There is a song that is perfect for this; it’s called “Eye of the storm” by Ryan Stevenson. It is a great reminder that He is in control, even in the storm. He knew all of our situations; none of these things that happen are a surprise to Him. I am not going to lie, it is hard to trust sometimes! Thankfully, He knew that as well and He is still faithful even when I fail to trust.

Matthew 8:27 says, “The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”” He calmed that storm and He can calm yours too!

Finally, Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” What a promise!

Meet The Writer’s Brain

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As you know, I am writing a novel. Now, before you get too excited, it is far from being finished. Very far away. In fact, my novel and I have recently taken a break from each other because we were both frustrated. Words were said, shots were fired, scenes were cut…  it was not pretty. I’ve never been a writer of real books before, but I’m thinking that this is what it is like. Our brains are just different than the normal persons brain. A writer of fictions has many different voices talking and trying to make the case for themselves. No, these voices aren’t actually real so don’t be worried. There is no psychological problem or anything. Simply put, this is how our imagination makes itself known. We hear our own voice in the voices of these characters and only we can decide their fate. That’s the tricky part. We decide who they are and what they do. Sometimes it’s hard to be responsible for my own choices; now I have to make choices for these fictional people too? Oh goodness.
Most of the time when I write, it comes more naturally and with greater ease when I’m inspired by something. I need to be inspired. Inspiration is sometimes the very lifeblood of a story piece; it can come from all sorts of places, people, things, ideas, etc. For instance, as I am writing this piece, I am sitting on the front porch listening to the sounds of the rain. The rain makes a beautiful and soothing pitter patter as the waters drop to the ground. Do you see it? Do you see the imagery in that? Aren’t you imagining it right now? That is why this moment is inspiring. It’s tangible, it’s real, it is beautiful. I can describe it to you very easily. Rain is just one of those things that gives the creative juices a jolt; it creates it’s own stories. Nature itself has a way of doing that too. This reminds me of the saying, location, location, location. When writing, your location can sometimes make or break your piece.

A place that inspires me, okay, don’t laugh at this one, is Fresh Market. Yes, I know, it’s crazy. For some reason I just love to go and look shop around inside the store. The gorgeous smells of the assorted coffee beans, the ritzy atmosphere, the pasta aisle. The pasta aisle is the harder one to understand, but I guess it reminds me of Italy, travel and romance. When I’m in the midst of an inspiring place, I involuntarily start creating stories in that setting. See what I mean about location? If you’re in a place that makes you feel happy and wonderful, most likely the piece you write will reflect your mood. Plus, you use that specific setting to give your piece an interesting piece. Yes, I do have stories in my head about Fresh Market. Don’t judge me.

People. Oh do people inspire me to write. Sometimes I see a person who is perfect stranger and I think, “Okay, this person would be perfect for a fictional character.” Don’t be scared, I don’t mean it in a creepy way. People watching is a real thing. Think of the story that a person has to tell. That person doesn’t even have to say one word; if you’re a writer, you will be able to look at them and figure out what their character is saying. Sometimes a person’s face will tell their story for them. This makes it very interesting when writing a novel, fiction or non-fiction. The character’s expressions will almost always give away who and what they are. It can be fun to analyze them. When I write my characters, I take a combination of traits that I’ve seen, good, bad, and ugly, good, evil, and I mix them together to form the personality. Honestly, It’s like painting, just with words instead of paints.

All of these things are happening in a writers brain at any given moment. We constantly have a story to tell; we only need an audience who will listen. Support your local writers, y’all. They have a lot happening in that brain of their’s.

Friday and Why I Create

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Friday. This means the beginning of the weekend; who doesn’t love those?

Today is a good day. I decided that I would share with you why I do what I do. I create, that’s what I do. I eat, sleep, breath, live to create. That sounds so romantic, right? Well, as a creative (which, if you did not know, that is what we are technically called these days) I can personally say that creating things isn’t always fun and games. It is hard intensive work. It brings joy, sadness, elation, frustrations, satisfactions and disappointments. Basically it’s a constant roller coaster ride complete with highs, lows, and everything in between. So, why do I do it and why do I have such a love for creating? Sometimes I’m in it for the way it makes me feel. When I use the term “creating” I’m broadly describing the things that I do. For me, it means painting, writing, drawing, crocheting, and music.

One reason that I create is because it’s a way that I can express myself (I know, it’s cliche). When I make something I put a part of myself into the project. With my paintings, each of my pieces have their own personality and character to them; no two pieces are alike. I recently painted a fun portrait of a donkey for a friend and I painted a duplicate of it as well. The two paintings have totally different personalities. Call me crazy, but it’s true!

The way that art makes you feel… It can make you happy, it can make you sad, it can make you feel sorrow, pain. It is all in the way that the images are conveyed. I’m currently working on a painting that is a lovely princess type lady. The problem is, I can’t seem to get her mouth to smile. I know, I sound like a fruitcake, but she does not want to smile!  Her mouth is only in a slight smile and her eyes convey a bit of sadness. I didn’t plan it to be that way. It just happened. That’s what makes it so neat! This princess is going to tell her story just in the way that she looks. When people look at her, they’ll see the story unfold. It’s so fun to make things that tell a story. I get excited just talking about this stuff. Okay, you can call me and art nerd if you want.

Sometimes I create for the gratification. When the piece is all finished I can look at it and be proud of what I have accomplished. I always strive to make my pieces appeal to others. I love it when people love my work. The best is when someone buys my artwork and proudly displays it in their home. Those are great moments. This is funny, but I feel as if each piece is one of my babies. Because I spend hours with it; I nurture it, care for it, and give it life, essentially. Often times I reflect on the fact that God is the ultimate creator and that this is exactly how He feels about us. We are His “babies” and most certainly a piece of Him is in us. After all, we were created in His image. I stare at His vast creation and I say to Him, “Wow. You spoke the word and it was created. You really are amazing.” Now THAT is what I call being the master of a trade. In all seriousness, it amazes me. He amazes me. As a creator myself, I truly am in awe of Him. He knew what He was doing when He created each and every one of us. God doesn’t make mistakes; He made my imagination for a purpose.

If you could see inside my brain, you would probably be alarmed; it is a zoo in there. To be honest, the more that I get to know myself the more I know that my brain works differently than most brains. I tend to see things differently than other people. When I look at the ground outside I don’t see just grass. I see a green field of possibilities with each blade having a story to tell. I imagine things everywhere I go and I’m always concocting new stories in my head. If I didn’t use my brain powers to make things, all of that imagination would be bottled up inside. That would be dangerous. Furthermore, because my brain is wired the way that it is, I must design, create, and dream impossibly possible dreams.

I guess simply put I could say: I was created to create.

 

Travel Bucket-list

Travel Bucket List

As I sit here in my home, sipping my cup of peppermint tea, I am dreaming of other lands. Have you ever longed for far off places, daring sword fights, and a prince in disguise? Well, I for one, have. I have been fortunate enough to travel to beautiful places; however, I am far from finished. I have a whole list of places that I desperately want to visit. I call this list my “Travel Bucket-list”. Here are the top 5 places on my bucket list.

  1. First on my list is, of course, Italy! Anywhere in Italy; everywhere in Italy. I adore the language, the foods, the people, the culture, the beautiful sites that I’ve seen in pictures…

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    This picture was taken in Venice, Italy.
  2. Second on my list is France, specifically Paris! As Audrey Hepburn once said, “Paris is always a good idea.” Okay, I know I am a typical “tourist” and girly girl. Most girls dream of going to Pari. Also, I am a romantic and I love good love stories and romantic notions. Whether it be Italy or France, something about these two countries just portrays romance. Maybe it’s because of the beautiful languages that are spoken in these place? French and Italian are both Romance Languages. While this term isn’t meant in the “lovey dovey” way, they are romantic because they are lovely to hear.  pexels-photo-87501-medium
  3. England is most definitely on the list. My cousin married an Englishman so now we have family over there; however I haven’t had the chance to visit them as of yet. I would love to go, though. The accents, the fish and chips, British television shows, the British terminology, “Shall we watch the telly?”. I love it. It’s right nice, that. Obviously I want to visit where our family is, but I would love to explore and see the different places. Also, Highclere Castle is very high on the list! If you don’t know, Highclere Castle is where they filmed the lovely Downton Abbey. I love this show! If you have never watched it, all of the seasons are on Amazon Prime. Go watch it; you’ll fall in love with the whole show.
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  5. Fourth on my list is Africa, which is a continent that has always had a special place in my heart. Maybe Kenya or Nigeria or South Africa… I would love to go on an adventure and take many pictures of the various landscapes that I see. The African people are so remarkable to me. The scenery, the wild life… whenever I do go, I will come back with so many interesting stories to tell and to write about. My imagination is already there; it’s just waiting for me to catch up to it. pexels-photo-38139-medium.jpeg
  6. Hawaii… I have already told you that I am a typical touristy type of person. The beautiful beaches, pineapple, island scenery. Yeah, I know I will love it. Aloha! “Ohana means family.”pexels-photo-88212-medium

I guess I can say that I have an adventurous heart. I do plan to see the world one day. Until then, I’ll just keep reading books that tell stories of far away lands. One day when I do travel the world, you will certainly hear about my adventures.