When the Silence Speaks

Photo Jan 04, 5 11 50 PM
If you’ve noticed, there’s been a silence here… a blog suspended in what appears to be a standstill. But if I could just take you behind-the-scenes and beyond this space, you’d discover that this silence has not equated to stillness. Behind the scenes there has been much wrestling with words. There has been much in motion…

Much like the quietness of snow falling has been this silence. You can’t hear it. Yet there is no stillness about it as it falls steadily, snowflakes and flurries settling upon the soil until suddenly there is beauty covering the earth that is impossible to miss.

This is what has become of my writing in the last two months within the silence here. From my view, the silence speaks of the exchange of motion I’ve been trying to make for many years now. In seasons’ past, silence within this space has spoken of times when the writing failed to come… or when I failed to come and write despite the busyness or challenges of life. By the grace of God, this hasn’t been the case this time.

This blog has been a step toward a bigger desire and dream buried within my heart that’s been waiting to be birthed for some time now. For years, in fact. This space has served as somewhat of an outlet for those birth pains. The more I would write here, the more the birth pains for this dream would increase. Until recently, I decided there is ultimately no choice but to give way to them.

This is why the silence in this space speaks so loudly to me.

Silence doesn’t always speak of a void. It can also speak of a filling.  (click to tweet)

Instead of speaking of forsaking the writing itself, of a goal not yet reached, of steps backward (like in the past), it actually speaks of very much the opposite… It speaks of a great exchange… of a greater wrestling with words than ever before to bring this dream that God deposited in my heart long ago one step closer to reality.

As I’ve finally chosen to yield to the pushing, to embrace and lean into God and allow Him the freedom to direct the creative process within me, what’s been locked away in a place of conception in my heart has finally begun to take shape and form. Like snow falling quietly in a flurry, the book that’s been so long in my heart has slowly begun falling onto pages in a frantic flutter of writing.

And I can’t wait for you to see it soon.

ENDURANCE: Finding Strength and Beauty in Your Toughest Seasons

Light in TreesIf you take a look at the environment around you, you’ll discover evidence of the season you are in. Here, the trees are beginning to shed their golden leaves, strewn this way and that by the winds of change. Crisp mornings are slowly creeping their way in and many mornings are clouded in fog. The moist air that sometimes carries a frosty bite, also carries the scent of rich earth, cedar, and pine. And rain. Lots of rain. The exchange has begun.

It’s a season in which we exchange the long, carefree, sunny days of summer for the shorter, more structured and scheduled, cold and rainy ones. We fit our beds with flannel sheets and cozy blankets and our feet with warm socks. We bring out the coats, the mittens, rubber boots and scarves and pack away the shorts, the tanks and sandals which are no longer needed. We use this season to winterize our wardrobes and our homes.

From the very beginning, our world was structured and ordered around time and seasons as part of God’s design. Life is not only lived from moment to moment and from day to day, week to week, and month to month. It’s also experienced in seasons. Without seasons, we know that any form of life on this planet would be consumed by extremes; either scorching insatiable heat or bitter numbing cold. No form of life could be sustained in such a formidable environment.

Seasons come and go without any effort on our part. They are a natural part of life we all experience. And it’s our choice how we respond to them. There’ve been many times in my life when I thought I’d never make it through a difficult season… and I did. There were also times I wanted a smooth-sailing season to never end. But it did.

Over time, I’ve begun to develop a greater sense of awareness not only to the changing of seasons in the natural environment around me, but also in my personal and spiritual life.  I’ve discovered that understanding your seasons while choosing not be defined by them, is a valuable key to unlocking the perseverance needed not to give up or get stuck in a difficult one. It empowers you with the endurance needed in order to stay stronger longer.


Seasons change. They come. They go. And sometimes, the transition is so subtle you barely notice it at first. Other times, a season may have been so hard and seemed to go on for so long that you feel you can’t possibly bear to go on. In those times, it’s important to remind yourself that even your toughest season will not be the end of you… if you learn how to respond to what it wants to produce in you. When you grab ahold of this truth, you’ll find a new strength and assurance that will keep even your toughest seasons from stopping you or sucking the life out of you. You’ll realize that it’s your toughest seasons that have the ability to grow you the most… if you’ll let them.


In years past, I dreaded and even resisted this time of year when we’d exchange summer for fall and the long rains would return. But this year I’m ready. I’ve come to realize that there is a beauty about this season. And in every season, for that matter. You just have to know where to look. And know that it’s ultimately the rhythm of our seasons and how we yield to what they require of us that will position us for endurance.

Each season has its own natural flow and when we don’t heed the wisdom of working with the seasons, we’ll pay the price of working against them; sheer exhaustion, discouragement, and possibly even exasperation and disheartenment of those we influence. The value of your season is determined not only by your ability to ascertain what lessons you need to extract from it, but also by your ability to exert effort into what is expected of you. Sometimes we don’t move beyond our current season because we haven’t allowed it to accomplished in us what is needed in order to run its course.

Speaking of running, when I complete 5-8 mile long outdoor runs, I’ve noticed that I have an increased ability to endure longer distances when the course of my run isn’t just one long straightaway… or a seemingly going-nowhere run on the treadmill. It greatly helps to have a turn every so often in each leg of the course. With each leg comes a different set of scenery, each unique. Setting my focus on completing each smaller goal, each leg of my journey, makes the distance seem more doable for some reason.

If I were to run the same distance as a straightaway or on the treadmill instead of in the course of 2-4 legs of twists and turns, the distance seems unendurable. The time seems to drag on and on without my ability to divide it up between short-legged distances.

There’s just something about seeing that turn up ahead that gives me courage and hope to keep going and not give up; an intentional focus that supplies strength to my struggle that with each leg completed, I’m one step closer to my finish line. Knowing that one leg is completed stirs in me a fresh stamina and gives me the perseverance to keep pressing on toward the next leg… and eventually the finish.

Seasons are much like the legs of the years in our journey. With each leg I complete, my focus builds, my confidence builds… I think to myself, “If I can just round that corner, I know I can keep going.” When I’m tired and it feels like I just can’t go another step, I remember my commitment: to make it around the next corner. And the corners build and round to help me finish well.

Endurance is not developed overnight or through one season. Endurance is a tricky thing to learn because it’s developed over being faithful through multiple seasons. And usually they’re difficult ones. They’re hard. They are the ones that tempt you to give up or quit. On more than one occasion.

And if, like me, you hope to make any kind of impact with your God-given influence, you’re going to need to learn how to function well regardless of what season you are in, to pace yourself and to live your greatest potential in every season.

Take some time to note and embrace the beauty around you and within you. Each season has a beauty all its own. Whether it’s the warmth of a newfound friendship, a new perspective or fresh strength, a rock-solid word of encouragement on a rough and wearisome day, or a glimmer of hope in the beauty of a sunrise that seemed just for you… What hidden beauty have you discovered in your toughest seasons?

What To Do In Seasons of FOG

There have been seasons when a gentle, quiet fog has hovered over the landscape of my soul. All I can clearly see are my feet and the few steps in front of me. I so badly want to see the horizon of where I think I am heading, but instead there is only mist. Instead, I can only focus on my breathing, my heartbeat.

And then, when I’m quiet enough, God begins to speak to me in the quiet of the fog, “Trust me and keep walking.” And yet that is all that I can do. The eeriness of the shapes ahead shrouded in soft mist makes me uneasy. Uncomfortable. And yet, I walk. I walk with cautious steps ahead, even though I am unsure of the twists and turns of the path that are only uncovered as I continue to move forward.

“Stay close to me,” He says. “Don’t deviate from your trust in Me. Continue to hope… without caution or care… because I am with you.” The steps may not get easier but I’ve learned to keep pressing.

We don’t stop doing what we know to be right just because everything doesn’t look right or just because we don’t have full view of what lies ahead.

Our own lack of clarity does not need to create a crisis. God ultimately has a crystal clear perspective and nothing ever obstructs His view. A mind kept in perfect peace is one holding on, steadfast and strong, believing and trusting a God who is near. It’s a mind hoping unswervingly in the One whose hope for humanity caused Him to love so extravagantly. It’s a mind fixed on Him that recognizes there is no need to wander or worry. It’s one that stays focused on Him even while vision may be clouded.

God’s character doesn’t change just because our view of what He’s doing does. (click to tweet)

Eventually, the fog will fade and you will have a clearer view of where He’s taken you, even if you don’t realize it in the process. It’s not your responsibility to know. It’s solely your responsibility to trust, and as a result of that trust, to simply take that next step.

F O GSo keep pressing into Him for His every Word. Keep moving forward, even if it’s only an inch at a time. This path will keep you close to Him. Desperately close to Him. And remember that in the uneasiness He is there. And when it’s unclear where you are going, remember Who it is that’s taking you there.

We need to realize the fog is not to be feared. The fog is not our enemy. Rather than resent the fog, decide to embrace it. It’s like a soft filter which keeps us reliant upon His grace for each next step. It causes us to slow down. To listen well. To wait patiently for Him. To not be so distracted by what surrounds us that we miss opportunities right in from of us to love extravagantly with same love He has for us.

Because when you fully trust Him when you can’t seem to trace what’s He’s doing, you find purpose in the moments where you are and don’t waste them with worry. Or fear, or regret.

Trust Him deeply to make sense of it all and to make your path rich with purpose.  Because eventually the sun rises and the fog lifts. And what was once hidden becomes made clear.

“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (The Message)

4 Reasons the World Needs You to Find Your Calling AND Your Focus

Today, I’m tired. For the last week, I’ve burned the midnight oil and set my alarm to wake me early while compensating for my lack of sleep with long runs and coffee consumption. Because now that I’ve finally given my thoughts an outlet, I’ve been nearly consumed by them. I’ve begun to focus on getting better at something I’ve known I’ve been called to do for a long time: write.

The tiredness has been worth it all though. I’m finally getting through all the fits and starts and beginning to find a steadier rhythm. This challenge has been necessary for me not just in how I process my world through the medium of writing, but in how good it has been for my soul. The challenges that Jeff Goins has issued so far through the Intentional Blogging Challenge have not just been pertinent to my blogging, but to something greater God has been doing in my life that I believe He desires to do in yours too.

Maybe you know what your calling is. Maybe you aren’t sure how it’ll turn out in the end. But today, I want to encourage you:

Just do it. Begin.

What would happen if you decided to just start taking steps toward that thing you’ve been putting off for one reason or another? What do you stand to lose? What could you stand to gain? What would happen if you just jumped in and began going after it at a steady pace in your race toward the finish line? Well, I’ll tell you what’ll happen. It’ll begin to energize you and fulfill you in ways you never realized. And guess what? You might just make it. At the very least, you’ll be a whole lot closer to that finish line than if you never began at all. It’s time to stop watching and to get in a lane … your lane… and go.

F O C U S.

Once you determine to go after your calling, you can bet there will be struggle. You can bet there will be distractions that will vie for your time and attention. It will be at that point that you will need to decidedly bring everything you do into the crosshairs of the call of God or you will find yourself repeatedly getting sidetracked and even sidelined from watching that calling be fulfilled in your life. Whether you’re a leader of an organization, a homeschooling mom, or a student trying to determine your major, narrowing your focus can eliminate stress, keep you in your lane, and can actually make decisions for you.

4 Reasons Why You Need to Find Your Focus:

1. Focus forces us to isolate and target the specifics and doesn’t leave room for randomness or excuses to categorize our life. It helps us learn to take aim. It makes us define what we are striving towards. It simplifies and puts purpose in our steps and schedules in order to make it happen. It helps us find out just how serious we are about what we are taking aim at and helps us discover the lengths we are willing to go to eliminate whatever excuses are keeping us from taking aim at our target.

2. Focus changes our perception of the present moment and helps us stay in alignment with our target through how we are living now. Narrowing our focus helps us clarify our decisions through the lens of where we want to go. It causes us to take a close look at ourselves, our calendars, and our behaviors. It helps us narrow our pursuits and better prioritize our time, our resources, and energies with more clarity as they come into the crosshairs of our calling. We can begin funneling our efforts into a singular direction instead allowing them to be scattered wherever the wind will take them.

3. When we force ourselves to focus, we can face the hard things at full speed and allow ourselves the freedom to let go of lesser dreams and lesser things. For us to be able to give our undivided attention to the right things, all things need to divided and put in their proper place. The most difficult things to give up are the good things. But when we look at the good things in light of the greater thing, our perspective shifts and we learn that we must let go of those as well. This increases the intensity and efficiency at which we are able to operate when we finally let go of lies and excuses and begin to establish truth and order in our lives. We learn to say, “no,” to the wrong things or even the right things in the wrong season. This enables us to say, “yes,” to the right things in the right season. And to let seasons run their course.

4. Focus helps you realize that your calling is not about you – it’s about the community you were called to influence with it. Your life is a precious gift to be lived with purpose and calling. Yet, the calling God has given you was never about you, as you may or may not have already discovered. Your calling is for the purpose of influencing the community around you in the very short time you are here on this earth. Yes, your calling is a grace that God has given you to be able to steward well the gifts and talents you’ve been entrusted with; the goal is to be found faithful. They are called gifts and talents because they are currency. Currency to be well-invested and spent on behalf of others. They are to be used in conjunction with the call of God that we all share to impart His extravagant love to the people in the world around you. Because when you refuse to chase that calling and when you keep your gifts and talents in the closet, unfocused and unused, you are not the only one missing out. The world needs you. Your influence is irreplaceable.

So whatever your calling is, whether it’s to lead well in your home and raise a healthy family, or to lead well in your business or ministry, remember that there is only one you. Remember that the world needs you to keep going. There are people you are called to who need what you can invest in them with the currency of time and talent you’ve been given. So today, I press through the tiredness, because this fact keeps me going, keeps me writing. What will it inspire you to focus on today? Take a moment to share with me in the comments!

No Excuses: Fear of Failure

There’s a little white flag tucked away in the back of my mind that has begun to taunt me since I originally started this series on my blog: fear of failure. A fear that at some point, I’d have to give into defeat. That I’d have to bow down in surrender at some point to one excuse or another. I’ve had notes scribbled in a notebook and in my heart waiting to be transferred to this page, but I just. haven’t. been. able. to. get. them. here.

But I made a decision not to let my failure to meet a deadline or a goal or expectations or whatever to define me. I’ve realized I will make mistakes. Yes, will. I’ve taken the “if” out of the equation and there’s so much freedom in admitting to myself (and yes, even others) that I will make mistakes. Because no, I’m not perfect. And, you know what? There is a difference between making mistakes and failing.

I’m reminded of an introspective moment I had several months ago as I watched my daughter compete in a school-wide spelling bee. I could hardly contain my excitement for her to have reached this level of competition after working hard to study and develop a talent she clearly possessed. I wanted to watch her excel. I had such confidence in her. I, like the other parents in the room, wanted my child to succeed so badly… to win, of course. But more than that, I wanted her to try. I wanted her to do her best. And ultimately, as I watched her, what brought me the most satisfaction was watching her stand up straight and tall with a smile on her face, putting aside her stage fright, and trying her very best in the faces of judges and an audience that would ultimately witness her successes… or failures.

As a mom, I wanted her to seize the opportunity and see how far she could run with it. And I couldn’t have been more proud than when she misspelled a word that I knew she knew and, instead of getting upset to the point of tears like other students upon elimination, she smiled and sat down with the same confidence as when she started. She handled what others might consider failure with such poise and grace that I couldn’t help but be reminded to do the same.

The judges and audience didn’t just witness her successes or failures; they witnessed her confidence and character in the face of them. She didn’t fail because she made a mistake. She tried her best and didn’t make it onto the next round, but that’s just it. She tried. She gave it her all. And when the mistake came, she didn’t allow it to deter her or affect her confidence. And that, my friends, is a sure sign of success, not failure.

And that’s why I’ll continue to write. unafraid. Because I will make mistakes. I will have my share of judges and audiences. And ultimately, it’s my character whether in view or not, that I want to develop… more than any talent I could ever possess. Because I know He is watching and He sees my efforts and looks upon me with joy and satisfaction for having tried.

So go after that thing that taunts you. Go after it with all you have, unafraid of what some would call “failure.” Because the only way you’ll fail is if you never try. Allow yourself the freedom to mistakes and learn from them. Allow nothing to deter you from keeping with whatever it is He is calling you to do. Try and try and try again until you get it right… and even if it takes awhile, never give up. And when you do, your character will shine.

NOTE: This post is part of a series about eliminating excuses and living a life with no regrets. Check out more in this series:

Nine Weeks to No Excuses: A Journey to Bring My Resolutions to Reality by the New Year

NO EXCUSES: The Importance of Having a Plan B

NO EXCUSES: The Stuff that Hard Conversations Are Made Of

NO EXCUSES: Making Time for ME

NO EXCUSES: Discipline


There is just no excuse for poor self-discipline. It’s something that you just can’t mask. And you just can’t tame it except with a lot of hard, hard work. And if you don’t tame it, this tiger will rip you to shreds in every area of life it is given the freedom to prowl.

Taming it, however, takes the kind of hard work that no one sees. Because it’s the kind of work that takes place in your mind. It’s the work of overcoming the agony of starting when you think it’s gonna kill you or pushing along even when it’s inconvenient or you don’t feel like it. The kind of work that goes mostly unnoticed. This kind of lack will lay hold of you and lock you in a sense of defeat until you strangle it with the urgency of action.

Last year when I started this series, there were two key areas in my life that I had a lack of self-discipline: exercise and writing. Unfortunately, without my discipline in one area, you would never know how I’ve progressed in the other. And I’m hoping to link the two now. Because I have progressed tremendously over the past several months in one area… And, as you can guess, it’s not with writing.

I’ve become a runner. Yes, I can say that now. Because I run. I do it. It’s become a part of who I am and how I live my life and process the world. There’s a key thing I’ve learned in establishing a regular routine of running that will hopefully begin to unlock my potential in writing consistently and it’s this:

just do it.

photoDo it when you don’t feel like it. Do it when the inspiration is absent. Do it when no one is watching. Do it when there are no accolades. Do it when it’s hard. Do it when you don’t think you can.

And keep doing it. Over and over again.

When the alarm clock goes off and you don’t feel like leaving your warm bed to press into yet another struggle of determination, you do it.

When the words don’t come or they don’t come out right, you do it.

When no amount of great effort seems to produce the results you want and hope for, you do it.

Because the battle of discipline is in your head. It’s a decision you have to make with your will. And then you teach your actions to follow.

In looking at the stacks of journals I’ve kept in the past, I’ve noticed that in the last couple of years I’ve dwindled off in keeping them… I’ve also noticed my fits and starts in blogging over the past few years… Not to mention my flailing attempts at writing a book.

I have finally seen how a lack of discipline crouched and pounced on me in seasons of busyness and transition and change. It nearly destroyed my identity and calling as a writer as I believed the lie that I couldn’t write. That there just wasn’t time. That I couldn’t cause words to fill a page. That I couldn’t start again. That I had blown it too many times.

But it’s time to denounce those lies and believe the mercy that’s available and the strength to press onward in my areas of weakness. And the best way to do that is by believing the truth and acting on it. To take captive those thoughts that have led only to inaction and lost destinies and lost callings and lost ground. Sacred ground I’ve been called to take. Sacred thoughts I’ve been called to think: timeless, penetratingly powerful truth instead of lies. To struggle and win… and no longer struggle, roll over and die.

And so, unashamedly, for the umpteenth time, I’ve decided to start again. To write again. To allow God to resurrect and restore this part of me that I’ve allowed to live in defeat instead of in discipline to the truth I know. I’ve determined that I am still a writer. It’s still in me, even though it’s been in hiding for far too long. This my calling, my destiny. I choose to forcefully believe His truth and displace the lies. To allow His truth to take fresh ground in my mind and overturn and overthrow the lies that have trapped me in defeat. I will show up each day with pen in hand, with blank screen in my face, in discipline. With each word on the page, I will write. I will do it. There is no excusing the fact that I am a writer.

NOTE: This post is part of a series about eliminating excuses and living a life with no regrets. Check out more in this series:

Nine Weeks to No Excuses: A Journey to Bring My Resolutions to Reality by the New Year

NO EXCUSES: The Importance of Having a Plan B

NO EXCUSES: The Stuff that Hard Conversations Are Made Of

NO EXCUSES: Making Time for ME

NO EXCUSES: Fear of Failure

No Excuses: The STUFF that Hard Conversations are Made Of

So this is one of the excuses I’ve been most afraid to tackle: being afraid of hard things. When I sat down and tried to narrow that category into what specific hard things I was afraid of and why, one of the things I came up with was having difficult conversations with people that (I feared) had the potential to result in conflict… ones that I feared would mess up a relationship with someone I love and care about if I wasn’t careful enough. I’d avoid them altogether because I didn’t want to do them if I felt I couldn’t do them well.

I’ve had quite a few opportunities to overcome these excuses over the past couple of weeks since I started this challenge. And let make sure that I make this clear- this is not something I’m good at… but I am learning. One of my biggest issues as an introvert is that I’m a “stuffer.” I “stuff” my feelings- good, bad, and indifferent. The problem in doing this is that, even though I think I’m keeping the peace in a relationship by keeping my feelings to myself to deal, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Image“Stuffed” feelings create a whole bunch of unwanted “stuff” you don’t intend for in relationships… it clutters them up like the things you toss in your “stuff” drawer because you can’t quite decide where to put them or what to do with them.

Over time, you’re left with a mess of unrealistic expectations, warped perceptions, festering frustrations, and more. Because the thing with feelings is that they can lie. Left unexposed and “stuffed” under the surface, they can grow into bigger lies and warp our perceptions of people even further. I’m learning that it’s best to address them as soon as possible and not put them off for the “right time”… because when you’re afraid, that “right time” will never come. And it’s always the “right time” to be right relationally with someone. (click to tweet)

And that’s the ultimate goal, right? Not that I prove that myself or my feelings are right, but that I end up being right relationally with the other person. When I have these kinds of uncomfortable conversations, it gives me a chance to prove that I prioritize the person, and not my problems. It gives me a chance to put the other person and their feelings above what I’m feeling – because I value the relationship. It gives me a chance to trust them in a deeper way… and allow them to trust me. Doors become open for understanding, healing, and grace to invade. And hopefully, our hearts and our relationship end up in a much healthier place.

NOTE: This post is part of a series about eliminating excuses and living a life with no regrets. Check out more in this series:

Nine Weeks to No Excuses: A Journey to Bring My Resolutions to Reality by the New Year

NO EXCUSES: The Importance of Having a Plan B

NO EXCUSES: Making Time for ME

NO EXCUSES: Discipline

NO EXCUSES: Fear of Failure