Farming, Juggling and our Limitations

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through the last chapter-Chapter 12:Limit.

As I read through this chapter and listened to the video from Ann and Charity, the image that kept popping up into my mind was a juggler. But the thing is I am not a juggler. I cannot juggle everything. In fact, if I tried to juggle everything, I have no doubt that I would drop several balls.

But that, my friends, I think is the key. We need to learn how to juggle one or two balls at a time. Since I work at a church and preach about every 5-6 weeks, writing is a part of my job. Yes, it is a different kind of writing, but it is writing in one of its many forms. I need to learn how to balance both aspects of my writing life. Perhaps that means that on weeks I am preaching, I write less on the blog.

I am an “outgoing introvert!” (Thanks Katie M. Reid for that definition because it characterizes me perfectly!) I love spending time with my friends and family, but I also love my alone time too. I think it is important for me to learn to place some juggling balls down in order to pick up another one…even if just for a short period of time.

Having grown up as a farmer’s daughter, I understand limits on time. When the harvest is ready and the fields are dry, the crops must be harvested. If there is rain in the forecast and the field is almost finished, then the farmer works until that field is completed even if that means working late into the night. Yet there is only so much a farmer can control, they have limitations on their call.

And as writers, we too have limitations! Charity is spot on when she states: “Sometimes the writing life itself puts limits on us; sometimes we have to limit the rest of our lives in order to be able to write.” Oh how true those words ring for me! Do they ring true for you too?

I need to remember that I can only juggle so much at a time and that that is totally okay.

This book and online discussion using the book “On Being A Writer” by Charity Singleton Craig and Ann Kroeker has been so much fun! It has been a joy to meet other women who are trying to hone their writing skills. I am thankful for each and every person that interacted here and at their blogs as well.

I really can’t pick a favorite chapter, because they all were my favorites. But honestly if I did pick one, it would be the chapter on Engage. There is so much joy in finding “my people” and knowing that I am not on this writing journey alone!

And after these six weeks, I am finding it is easier for me to utter the words “I am a Writer!”

What the Rocky Mountains Have Taught Me

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 11: Rest.


Can you believe we only have one chapter left to go?

But onto today’s topic for now….REST! Having attended seminary “self-care” is something that was ingrained into every fiber of  my being. Professors continually reminded us of the high percentage of burn out rates for clergy and individuals who work in the church because they don’t care for themselves. They don’t take time to rest! So, self-care is something that I think I am pretty okay at, but I would say it is also something that I could work on too. (Does that make any sense at all?)

I am pretty good at noticing when others need time to rest, but I am not always so good at recognizing it in my self. However I have been blessed by a continuing education experience the last five summers. Every June, I head to the heart of the Rocky Mountains, just outside of Estes Park Colorado to learn but also to spend time in Sabbath and rest. Every morning, we have class but then we have the remainder of the day to simply play or rest or whatever one feels like doing. Every evening, there is a fun event since it is a very family oriented event. One night they even have a square dance caller come in and teach us how to square dance.

There are lots of things that I love about this event, but truly the reason I have come to LOVE it is because it forces me to put down the phone, the computer, etc and simply take in God’s amazing awesome creation. Where we stay, there is no Internet, no computers, no television (unless you count the one in the main lodge—which to be honest, most of us forget about!). I find myself spending my time reading on the porch with the gorgeous backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in front of me. I also find myself listening and taking in the creatures around us. I find myself taking in every sight and sound of God’s creation. I simply find myself taking the time to rest!

I’m telling you it doesn’t get much better than this! 

Yes, sometimes I will drive into town to go to a coffee shop or the grocery store. But what I have found is a lot of times, I will throw my phone in my purse and completely forget about it. It is so healthy and healing for me to take the time to simply be…to be still and know that God is God! And in the magnificent Rockies of Colorado, I cannot help but know that!

When I return home, I immediately find myself turning on the tv or scanning Facebook or whatever. I need to be better about taking what I experience in the Rockies and bringing it home especially in relationship to my writing. I am going to be better about taking time to simply just be..whether that means going for a walk on a cool crisp Fall day or sitting in my backyard listening to the creatures scurrying about or enjoying my beloved prairies where I always feel at peace and like I am standing on holy ground.

I think, Ann and Charity are right….not only do we need to take time away from our words, we need to take time just resting and remembering that even God rested. In Genesis, we read “And on the seventh day, God finished the work he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done (Genesis 2:2).”

It is important for us to take time away and to rest; to live out Sabbath in our lives. I have come to realize that society isn’t very good at living out Sabbath in our technology fast-paced world! Let’s be examples of living out Sabbath in our lives! And also let’s not forget to play a little too! (Children sure have a lot to teach us when it comes to taking the time to play, don’t they?!?!)

Because when we take the time to rest, I believe God can use our words even more fully. God can take our time away to help us see where our words need work or if our words are exactly what God wants us to share.

A Garden Not A Tumbleweed

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 10: Plan.

Growing up on the prairies of North Dakota, during seasons of drought, I have seen my fair share of tumbleweeds blowing about. I know how easily they can show up in the most unwanted places. As I read Ann’s words about how she viewed her writing as a tumbleweed, I found myself shaking my head along in agreement.

I haven’t much had a plan when it comes to this space. I’ve written when I felt the nudge to write. Yet I want more than that. I want a better plan. I want my writing to reach those that God wants me to reach. I’m reminded of the words to Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper and not harm you; to give you a future with hope.”

Last October when I participated in my first 31 days challenge, it did change my plan some. I have been more of a planner since than. Even when I haven’t necessarily felt like writing, that is when I have felt the need to write more. In other words, I am nurturing and nourishing my words in this place. Im reminded of Ann’s words when she writes: “My writing life these days is more like the habit of keeping a garden. I sow seeds, watch for growth and fruit, nurture what’s flourishing until it seems the harvest is fading, and a sow a new batch of seeds when the time is right.”

I love that image! I want that hear in this space too. When I was younger, I dreamed of writing my own children’s book. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wondered about sharing our story of mental illness in a book. It is something I have been praying and thinking about even more lately. I want to continue to share my words; to sow seeds, watch for growth and sow new seeds when the timing is right.

I want my writing to be a garden of fruitfulness rather than a single tumbleweed blowing about like on the prairies of North Dakota.

My People

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 9: Engage.


“It’s not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”–EB White

Karrilee, Tammy, Dana, Valerie, Ingrid, Melissa, Susan, and so many more. These are all the names of women that I didn’t even know a year ago. At that time, I only knew them by their blog names. I met them through their blogs as we participated in the Write 31 Days community. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I never could have imagined where that journey would lead me. Each and every one of these people have engaged with my blog. They have left comments. We have Voxed each other. We have watched each other’s Periscopes. We have cried with each other, prayed for each other and so much more!

I cannot even begin to put into words what engaging with other bloggers and writers has done for my soul (but I will try!) Many of you know my story of having a negative experience at a writing group at the local library in my previous town several years ago. It was an experience that hurt my heart and caused me to hold back and be leary of other writers etc. Yet these women and men who I have met this past year have given living water to this parched soul! And for that, my friends, I simply say thank you!

There is so much joy in find my people; finding those who utter the two simple words “Me, too!” Our stories aren’t meant to be held close to our chest, but to be shared with each other. And so, I have learned to share my story by engaging with so many linkups (Many of the ones Kate shared in her blog post on Monday: Holly Barrett, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Holley Gerth, etc).

I invite you to engage with these communities too. I love when the link-up host replies to one of my comments. For me, it shows validation for my words. But more than that, it shows me that someone has read my words, identified with them and engaged with them. It reminds me again and again that I am not on this journey alone.

This summer, I had the opportunity to meet three of my blog friends in real life. I cannot even begin to describe to you what that was like. It was like seeing an old friend again, sitting down with coffee and catching up on life. I am already counting down the years, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds until I meet my next blog friends in real life. I also am excited for my first blogging conference whenever that might be! (It is super expensive to fly just about anywhere from North Dakota!) BUT attending a blogging conference is on my personal bucket list!

Thank you for being here dear friends…and thank you for engaging with me and my words! I so appreciate each and every one of you! You are each a  gift!!!

Staring Back at Me

Little did I know that when I began this blog, that this space would become exactly my mirror staring back at me. In this space, I have written about being a daughter of someone who daily struggles with a mental illness. I have written about the joy I find in playing and spending time with children. I have written about my deepest desires asking “How long, Lord? Oh how long Lord?” I have written about friendships that only God can orchestrate. I have written about who and whose I am!

Last October, when I joined the Write 31 Days challenge, I never would have imagined how healing my series would be for me, but it healed wounds that I didn’t even know where still there. It opened up my world to others who have blessed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. And to be honest, writing our story down was and continues to be one of the bravest things that I have ever done. Because even yet today, our journey of mental illness ebbs and flows. There are days I am proud of who I am, proud of where I have come from, but then there are days, that I wonder why us, why our family.
A year ago, during the Write 31 Days challenge, I penned the words below (in italics) after completing the Write 31 Days challenge. Even looking back at them now, I realize how vulnerable I was. In the words of Ann in this chapter, I never realized how desperately I wanted and needed to share our story. Ann writes: “I desperately wanted to understand myself, unearth who I was meant to become. And deep down, I wanted to write.” Yep, I wanted and needed to write! Yes, there have been times when I was afraid to hit the publish button and there are other pieces of our story that I have held close to my chest. But unearthing our story led me to realize how brave and strong my Mom is, but also how brave and strong I am as her daughter.

An excerpt from Praying on the Prairie originally posted on October 31, 2015:

You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope”–Thomas Merton


“Saying yes to the situations that stretch you and scare you and ask you to be a better you than you think you can be”–Annie Downs; Lets All Be Brave; P. 107

I am reminded of a word “eucharisto.” It is a word that my colleague shared with me a year ago in his sermon on the day I shared with the congregation that I was leaving and had accepted a new call. In that sermon, my colleague talked about listing our blessings and thanking God for all the things God gives us. He later told us that the word in the text for ‘thanksgiving’ is translated ‘Eucharisto.’ As I sat there and listened to his sermon, I found myself reflecting on that word. And today I find myself clinging to that word again.


As I sit here this morning and reflect on the last 31 days, I find myself once again clinging to that word ‘eucharisto.’ This write31 days community has blessed me in more ways than I can count or even imagine! Today I am so very thankful for each and every one of you; for you who shared your stories with me, for you who told me how my story blessed you, and for each of who ventured to participate in this challenge. So today I am uttering these words back to you my dear friends, ‘Eucharisto!’


And as I give thanks for each of you, I am also very thankful for my momma. She has been through so much. Yet she is one of the most beautiful faith-filled women that I know. Our story of mental illness will always be a part of who my mom is and who my family is. I hope that through these 31 days, I have been able to let so many know they are not alone. I also hope that I have been able to share our story, and shatter, at least, some of the stigma associated with mental illness. Thank you for reading my story and walking with us through these 31 days because I am a daughter; a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness. And the truth is I will always be that daughter.


I am and always will be that daughter. This summer was a great summer, but it also was crummy too. While I was in Colorado, Mom ended up in the hospital. The doctor diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection. She was released from the hospital and seemed to be doing well. Only a few days after I returned from Colorado, I got a call saying she had gone to the doctor again. They said it was still the UTI and after time, she would be fine again. Then on our way back from the National Youth Gathering, I got a call from the nursing home yet again. Mom was adamantly asking to move (which made no sense because she loves it there) This was a side of Mom that we had not seen. No answers…and only more and more confusion. While my sister and I were on our sister’s trip, we got a call asking to move her. We were adamant about her not moving, yet there seemed to be no solution. With much hesitation, we gave permission to move her to a new facility. She seems happy there, but still is not the Mom we have known and loved. I only have more and more questions and no answers. My prayer is that soon Mom will return to her old self and will be able to move back closer to me. (Instead of 45 minutes from me, she is now like 4 hours away).

Like our story continues to ebb and flow, I am realizing how healing it is for me to share our story. I sit her with my cup of tea, talking to you like an old friend. And I take comfort in knowing that this old friend knows me and our story. (I also have dear friends that I can do this with in real life too!) And as you listen, I find myself leaning in to tell you more of my story.

In telling my story, I find that it is also important to play. I love holding infants. There is something so holy about holding that little life in my hands. On Monday, I made a pit stop to see a dear friend and her new baby. It was just exactly what the doctor ordered. This weekend, I was able to spend time with my family. I helped my aunt put up veggies from my Grandma’s garden. I sat and broke bread with my dad and sister at the cafe downtown. My sister and I laughed and smiled as we learned how to use our new selfie sticks.

But, the most joy was playing with our brand new farm puppy Kotee. Kotee loved all the attention my sister and I gave him. He was a little wound up by the time our aunt and uncle headed back to the farm. (Sorry P and T!) The best was seeing how much grandma enjoyed Kotee. Recovering from surgery, Kotee brought joy and peace to Grandma. He was the best medicine for her! And seeing that reminded me, reminded all of us of the importance of remembering to play.

As we remember to play, I am reminded of how life too ebbs and flows. It has its ups and its downs. It has its moments of ordinariness and extra-ordinariness.

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.’–LR Knost

A Work in Progress

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 7: Promote.

I am just going to start off by stating a pretty obvious fact for me….This chapter is one of the hardest for me. I am not one to toot my own horn. I am one who does a way better job of encouraging others. So when it comes to my own writing, I have a way harder time promoting myself.

In fact, in high school and college, I was active in their theater programs. But I was more content to be behind the scenes rather than on stage. I was more willing to let my co-stars names shine in big bright neon lights. In college, I had the opportunity to play Anne Frank’s mother in the Diary of Anne Frank. But I wouldn’t have gotten that part if I hadn’t tried out for the play prior to that: “The Miracle Worker” (The story of Helen Keller). I was the tutor for the young artists who were in the play. After acting in The Diary of Anne Frank, I spent the rest of the years behind scenes; being the prop mistress.

That is only one example of how I am way better at encouraging others and not promoting myself.

The more I have become a writer, I have learned the importance of promoting my own work. When I first started blogging, I barely shared any of my posts. That negative voice inside my head kept replaying: “Why would anyone read your words?” But as I have grown into my role as a writer, I have taken small steps to promote my work. Every time I post, my post is shared on Facebook. I have also begun sharing my blog posts on Twitter.

And within the last week, I have begun using Periscope. I am praying about it and waiting for answers to best use that format to share and promote my words. I am reminded of the words in this chapter when Ann shares these words from her publisher: ” I would simply ask, he said, Couldn’t you see speaking as another avenue to share that same message? Your words–Your message—spoken?” (AHA!!)

I don’t think I will ever be totally comfortable promoting my own work. But I am learning and growing and trying my best to promote my words/my story.

For now, let’s just say I am a work in progress!

Hitting That Send Button

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 6: Send.


Newspaper print laid out on the table, cutting and pasting the articles into their place. In High School, I spent much of my time on our school’s newspaper. It was a way for me to write articles and share my love of writing in another way. After high school and college, while at seminary, I joined the Persistent Voice. The Persistent Voice is a newsletter that is “an ongoing conversation between men and women at Wartburg Seminary; Dubuque Iowa that  reaches across the world.” As a member of the staff of the Persistent Voice, I had several poems and articles published. I gained more writing, editing, and publishing skills.

However, I never though much of having those items published because I was on the staff and was a student at the seminary. After while, I got braver and started submitting writing material to other places. I submitted a poem to poetry.com for their poetry anthology. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a letter saying they would like to publish my poem in their anthology. I purchased a copy of the anthology to share with my friends and family. (You can find that poem here: Tribute to New York Rescue Workers)

Over the years, while serving in Minnesota, I began submitting my work to a few literary contests. I often would ask my friends and family for their input. I would carefully select my submission and email it off. The waiting was always the hardest part. Often times when I saw the submission place in my email “from” line, my heart would skip a beat as I clicked on the email to open it. My eyes would scan the email to see what they thought of my piece. Every time it was rejection. One can only experience rejection so many times, so every time my heart and ego became a little more deflated.

I have learned to pick myself up, dust myself off and keep writing. Last April, I was out with some colleagues when one of them asked a question. I popped onto my work email to check out the information for them. As I was looking for that email, another email caught my eye. I quickly found the information we needed and then I went back and read the other email that had caught my eye. It was from a respected blog that I read daily asking if they could republish one of my blog posts on their site. I replied that indeed they could republish it. I can’t even tell you how giddy and excited I was. Several of my seminary friends and colleagues have had their pieces published on this blog too. It was finally MY TURN! (Living Lutheran: You are Seen)

And, suddenly, I didn’t feel so scared about hitting that send button.

Being Drug Out of My Writing Chair

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 5: Write. 


“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”–E.B. White.

But what do you do when the writing can be the hardest part. Yes, I realize that if I am going to call myself a writer, I must sit down and actually write….but some days that can be so much easier said than done. As the Director of Home and Family Ministry at a church, the words I write might be a sermon, newsletter article, Confirmation lesson etc, so when it’s time to write on the blog that can be hard to do.

As you already know, I still have a hard time calling myself a writer, but I am getting there. My mom has told me stories about how when I was little, I didn’t ask for a toy, but rather pen and paper. I was content to pour my words out in stories and characters even at a young age. Little did I realize what an impact words would have on my life.

Words, in many ways, became my lifeline. In English class, I loved when we had a writing assignment. When I went off to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp and told our story of journeying with mental illness for the first time, words became my prayers lifted up to God like hands raised to receive. At seminary, I struggled some. But it was a seminary professor who realized my love of words and poetry that helped me finally pass his class as an independent study. We would tape our conversations, I would go back and listen to them, and then I would come armed with my questions during the next class time.

Words continued to be my oxygen as I used them to share my family’s journey with a mental illness. But it really wasn’t until I joined the Write 31 Days challenge last October, that I realized how powerful my words were for me and for others. It is the one time that I truly sat down and wrote every single day. It is the one time that I felt like I found my sweet spot. It is the one time that I realized how there is so much power in hearing those words “me, too.” In my own words, I was able to breathe easier, because without being able to share my/our story, it felt like I was alone.

Even though I have found that my words do make a difference, there are still so many times when I get distracted; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. (Can anyone else relate?) I scroll through FB looking for that quote that I saw earlier and want to write about. Before I know it 30 minutes have gone by, I still haven’t found that quote and I still haven’t written ANYTHING. It is so easy to let the world around us distract us too.

Sometimes I think it is so easy to get distracted because I am striving for perfection (Anyone else shake their head at Charity’s words: “The second reason we resist sitting down to work is we want our writing to be perfect!”) I will find anything in my line of sight to help me procrastinate because so often I get caught up in the comparison game. That blog is prettier than mine; she writes so much more eloquently than I do etc. But then I read these words from Charity and I am convicted: “We have something to say that can come only from us.” Only I can tell my story of being a daughter of someone who daily struggles with a mental illness. Only I can tell my story of being a single 36 (SOON to be 37) year old who yearns so very deeply to be a wife and momma. Only I can tell the story of who God has called ME to be.

Trusting in that promise and knowing that my words are valid, perhaps someone just needs to drag me out of my writing chair to show me the surprising places where my words have and will show up!

Our Trip Was Only Just Beginning….

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 4: Notice. Why is noticing important? How can we improve our noticing skills? Why and how does noticing enhance our writing lives?


I carefully packed my clothes away in my red suitcase. After double-checking our lists, I zipped up the suitcase and set it against the wall. My sister’s lopsided suitcase with the broken off leg leaning gently against my suitcase.

My alarm clock rang with its annoying buzz the next morning as I headed off to worship. Dear sweet children gathered around my feet for the children’s sermon. After worship, we headed down stairs past the quilters room and Brides room into our gathering space. We sat and broke bread together. The hours after worship seemed to crawl by much like a very slow turtle.

Finally the clock struck 2:30 pm. A text from my dear friend CT came through on my phone. She was on her way to pick us up. Ann and I stood by the door, suitcases by our side, waiting not so patiently to get our adventure started. CT arrived. I quickly locked the doors to my house. Then we loaded the carefully packed suitcases into her car. She dropped us off at the airport but not before wrapping each of us in her arms as she hugged us goodbye.

CT drove off and Ann and I stood in line. I successfully went through security while Ann was taken off to the side. Not exactly sure why she was pulled out but after a quick check, she was also waved through. We each grabbed our items out of the security bins and slipped our shoes back onto our feet. Then we found our seats and waited for our flight.

Finally the plane arrived and we began boarding for our flight. The first half of our flight from Minot to Minneapolis was extremely short just enough time for the flight attendants to pass out snacks and beverages before we were descending down into Minneapolis. After landing, we got off the plane and walked from our current gate to our next gate and almost immediately began boarding our flight for Nashville.

After finding our seats, we soon were taking off. I grabbed onto the chair in front of me until we were at our cruising altitude. In the air, we looked out the window. A sea of fluffy white marshmallow clouds was sprawled out in front of us. It felt like we could reach out and touch them.

Soon we were descending into Nashville. After landing, Ann and I found our way to baggage claim where we picked up her lopsided suitcase. I had carried my suitcase onto the plane as a carry-on. After a few moments, Ann spotted her suitcase. She wound her way through the crowd of people waiting and grabbed her suitcase. With suitcases in hand, we walked out into the hot humid August Nashville air. Luckily we found a cab waiting area and there was no one in line. The attendant told us the cost of the cab ride $26, loaded our suitcases into the cab, and then the cab driver opened the door for us. We got into the vehicle and sat down.

On our way to the hotel, the cab driver asked us where we were from and if this was our first time in Nashville. As we drove along, we sat glancing out the window, taking in the sights and sounds of this new place we were now visiting. Before we knew it, we arrived at the hotel; the Hyatt Place which is only three years old and used to be a parking garage. It was so close to downtown Nashville that we could walk everywhere.

A concierge was waiting on the sidewalk as the taxi driver pulled up. The concierge pulled our suitcases from the taxi. We paid the taxi driver and thanked him for our ride.

Through the glass doors, we entered the hotel into the lobby of the hotel. In front of us, behind the front desk, stood this wall full of words describing the city of Nashville: music, bright lights, etc. We took in the wall and our new surroundings as we waited. Finally we were next in line. And we soon were checked into our hotel.

With our keys in hand, Ann and I wheeled our luggage…well kind of wheeled since Ann’s one leg was broken off…to the elevator. We pushed the round button for the elevator to come to us. It came. We stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the 7th floor. The elevator ascended. We stepped out of the elevator, turned right, and then turned left down a long narrow hallway. Soon we arrived at the door to our room. We slid the key into the door and opened the door.

Ann and I sat down our luggage and inhaled the landscape before us. Right as you came in the room, the bathroom was to our right. Taking a few more steps, there was a couch set before us much like a living room. On the bottom shelf of the bookcase, lay a hard covered book about Nashville and its many sights. On the top shelf, lay a soft white blanket. Standing next to the end of the couch was a room divider. On the other side of the room divider were two queen side beds with an end table between them. On the opposite wall was a closet. Next to the closet was the television which stood on a dresser. There also was a small refrigerator which stood on floor near the dresser. Next to the dresser was a full length mirror. Next to my bed was a huge picture window. With the curtains open, the view out that window was the view of a rooftop pool at a neighboring hotel.

Next to the closet was a little nook. That empty space next to the closet became the place where all of my belongings were sprawled out throughout the week…my suitcase, souvenirs, my shoes and the list goes on. The space next to the couch became the area where my sister laid out her belongings during the week.

After a long day of traveling, our stomachs were growling for food. We took the elevator down to the hotel lobby and to the restaurant/bar in the hotel. We perused over the menu and then placed our order; a cheese quesadilla. The waiter asked us where we were from and we told him North Dakota. He smiled back at us and said I can tell. (Apparently we had a pretty prominent accent!) Our order came. We bit into our food; the ooey gooey cheese tasted so good in our mouths. We quickly devoured our food.

Once our meal was finished, we rode the elevator back up to our hotel room. After sliding the key in the door and entering back into our room,  we changed into our pjs, pulled back the covers, and crawled into our beds as we drifted off to dreamland. Waking up refreshed and renewed for what would be an epic joy-filled fun week in Nashville together.

Our trip was only just beginning…..

Surrounded by Amazing Bloggers and Friends

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 3: Surround–I surround myself with people, activities, and books that influence my writing. I am so very thankful for the friendships God has orchestrated this year as I have been surrounded by amazing people, places, and things!

These words echoed in my ear as I read them this past weekend. I find I surround myself with people, places, and things that help me to live this quote out in my daily life. I surround myself with amazing friends and family who allow me to talk about things in my life that I am currently thinking about. Sometimes our conversations lead to a blog post.

I also surround myself with awesome books. I have always loved books and continue to love books. Long before I read Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts,” I began a Sunday series on my blog titled “Sunday Blessings.” But after reading Ann’s book, my series was even more solidified. Each week I keep a list on my phone of the blessings I encounter and then post it on Sunday evenings. I also read Annie F. Down’s book “Let’s All Be Brave.” That book led to a blog post after I read it in just a few short days. That book is a book that spoke to me especially this year since “brave” is my one word 365 for 2015. I recently picked up “Wild in the Hollow” by Amber Haines, “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans, and “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker. Books all recommended by other bloggers. I also am currently reading “Orphan Train.”

But, not only, do I surround myself with books, friends, and family, I find myself surrounding myself with more and more bloggers. Because I have come to realize that these people are “my people.” They remind me of the gifts that I bring. They challenge me to be a better writer when I read their posts and want to sound as elegant as they do. But mostly they understand me and what I write about…God, faith, my family, my friends, singleness, mental illness, yearning to be a mom and wife, adoption…and the list goes on and on.

I met many of these woman through the Write 31 Days challenge last October. I spent those 31 days writing about “Being a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness. I met Theresa Moma because her 31 day series was about her battle with depression. I met Dana whose words are always so beautiful and speak straight to my heart. And as the year went on…I have met others through the snail mail party and through Five Minute Friday. And I actually wait for new posts from so many of these people. (Susan, Bethany, TammyMelissaAnnaKate, Jen, Janel, Karrilee, and so many more. I wish I could list you all! I love you all!) Karrilee and I have so much in common that it could only be a God thing that our hearts have been united. And I believe that about all of the other woman as well. Only God could orchestrate these surroundings for me!

Each week, I often link up with some of my most favorite writers. These are writers that I want to to be more and more like. I am so thankful for the many who have shared their testimonies of faith over at Holly’s place every Tuesday. I am so thankful for Kelly and the RaRa Linkup over at Purposeful Faith. Some of the best cheerleaders in the world! I am thankful for Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart. But, to be honest, my most favorite of all is the lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee. Jennifer always writes words that speak to my heart. And the funny thing is she attends the church where a seminary friend was their intern. Jennifer’s words always weave together like a beautiful tapestry of words. I want my words to do that too! 🙂

There are so many more that I could write about, because I feel like each of them in their own ways surround me with stories and words that help me to write especially when I am feeling like I have NOTHING to say! I think there is so much power when we can inwardly and outwardly share our stories. I wouldn’t have met so many of these wonderful people if I hadn’t decided to be vulnerable and share my family’s story of mental illness. I wouldn’t know how to live if people like Andrew and dear Kara Tippetts didn’t share what it is like to live with an awful illness. May dear Kara rest in peace and may we all surround ourselves with people, places, and things that help us to answer the question on the header of Kara’s blog: “What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?”–Martin Luther.