I've Moved!

This little blog has moved over to the official AHeartSurrendered.com! Check it out; can't wait to see you there.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

here with us

It's still a mystery to me
That the hands of God could be so small
How tiny fingers reaching in the night
Were the very hands that measured the sky

~Here with Us, Joy Williams

This song plays in my head all throughout the year.  Reminding me, it was not just a baby born that night.  It was not even just a baby with special favor granted over him.  It wasn't even just a baby with prophetic gifts or destined to be a great teacher.

This baby was God.

The God before whom Isaiah fell, covering his eyes from the blinding light and cried out, "Woe is me!  I am a man of unclean lips!"

The God that placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, so that he saw God's backside--and his face glowed so much so that the people begged him to cover it up.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The God that brought Moses and the children of Israel out of Egypt.  

The God that slew thousands of Egyptian firstborn.  The God that struck Uzzah dead for disobedience.  The God that killed the priests that disrespectfully offered strange fire.

The God that strengthened a shepherd boy to kill a giant with a stone and a sling. The God that enabled Gideon's few hundred to wipe out thousands.  

You don't mess with this God.

And yet, for the sake of love, He allowed Himself to be born.

He could have come in all His glory, as a King--and we would have been forced to honor Him!  He could have come and been given all the glory that He so muchly deserves from His own creation--us.

But He came and was born.  A helpless, weak, tiny baby.  Born to one of the poorest of the poor.  In the depths of the lowest of the low...in the midst of animals, dirt, grime.  He was placed in a feeding trough, when He is accustomed to a shining, white, glorious throne.  

But He chose for it to be that way.

He wanted to be here with us.

...how how He loves us...

Monday, November 17, 2014

trust issues

I will admit it.

I have trust issues.

I did not always.  I was always the naive one.  The one that you could get to believe pretty much just about everything.  Because I trusted you.  I did not see any reason to not to--why would you lie to me?

I was the wide-eyed girl that believed everything she was told.

She never wanted to think badly of anybody.

She was the one that fiercely defended her friends when accused.

She was the loyal one.

I'm talking fierce.  I loved hard.  All in.  All or nothing.

But then, this little girl learned a hard lesson.

She put so much trust in people...she believed in those that she loved and those that loved her.

And then....

They failed her.

Friends betray.  Family lets down.  People change.  Hearts are fickle.

And the little girl crumbled.  Because she trusted them with her heart.  She let them in, she gave it over, all in.  And they crushed.  They broke.  They betrayed.  They....

...were human.

Innately, we all have the desire to be held firm.  Our hearts yearn to be cradled in the cleft of the rock.  We all want to trust...in something.  We all want to find our worth...in something.  We all want to find purpose...in something.

Something tends to take many forms.  People.  Drugs.  Sex.  Career.  Money.  Hobbies...the list could go on.

So we search.  We try.  We fall.  We break.  And we quickly find...

...that we are let down at every turn.

That nothing is unshakable.  That nobody is perfect.

And so we get trust issues.  

Was that the intent of the Designer when He wired us with that desire of being held firm?  That we would all become broken, bloody, bruised people?  Bitter and resentful of life, ready for betrayal and heart break at every turn?

He whispers over us in His Word,

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." (Prov. 3:5)

And the verse has new life to me.  In my journey to find worth, in my quest for purpose, I trusted the world with all of my heart.  I gave my heart to my family and friends, never fearing.  Until I was broken.

Now I am bloody and bruised.  All I have left are pieces of this heart.  And I find myself clutching them close.  Holding them far from anyone and anything that could ever again break them.  

But in the process, I grow weary.  I grow hungry.  There is a longing in my chest that I can no longer deny.

And He keeps whispering.  He is relentless.  He pursues me.  He chases me.

Whispers sweetness to my heart, beckoning the bloody pieces to find their rightful home:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart..."

And I surrender.  Hold out my hands and offer what is left of the tattered shreds of what once was so strong.  The fearless heart, limp and torn.

And I offer it up, my last act of trust.  Giving it over.  All of it.  Every shred.

He holds it in His hands, and closes it fast.  And I can feel...that this was the final place.

Because now, every hurt, every betrayal, every pain has to find its way through His hands.  

Does that mean that they won't ever happen?  No!  But that every one of them is purposeful--He will not allow me to undergo unnecessary pain.  

By surrendering my heart to Him, I give Him my everything for His greater purpose: for His glory.

Sometimes my pain is necessary for His glory.  But then, sometimes His glory is found in my joy.  

But ultimately, His glory is found in my satisfaction in Him.

Which means, that even through pain, even through trials, even through the darkest night, because I have trusted Him with my heart, I have an everlasting Rock.  

His promises stand firm forever; they never change.  He will never take them back.

I know that He lives, I know that He stands firm forevermore.  I know that He will never betray me.  I know that He will never change.

I know that He reigns sovereign.  My desire is filled.  I am cradled in the cleft of the rock.

Storms may come.  Pain may overtake me.  People may betray me.

But it doesn't matter.  My God holds my heart.  

Wherever He calls me, I will go.

Where He holds me, I will stay.

I can hold tight to His promises: He will never leave me nor forsake me. 

Indeed, I'm thankful for my trust issues.  They have driven me harder to my knees, closer, stronger to Jesus, and taught me more of what it means to trust in the Lord with all my heart...

Friday, October 10, 2014

giveaway winner

And the winner of the Set Free Apparel giveaway is......

Laura Hallett!

Congratulations, girl! :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I notice a trend with the online world.

It's easy to put on a show.

Let me back up.

Never before, in the history of the world, have we had such easy access to so much fodder for the imagination, the mind, the emotions--at the click of a button.  With one post on Facebook, we make ourselves vulnerable to a plethora of emotions.

We hope that people will 'like' it--then we find ourselves noticing just how many people 'like' it.

Then we notice that maybe, certain people that we wanted to 'like' it, didn't.  Is there something wrong with it, then?

Then, we notice that a friend got at least twenty more 'likes' on a far inferior post (in our own opinions, of course).  Why?

People don't like me as much?

Or worse--nobody 'likes' the post at all.  What then?  Rejection.

Moving on.

As I browse through various blogs, Pinterest accounts, articles, people's Facebook statuses or photos, I find myself...unconsciously comparing.

It's just a brief moment, then it's gone.

Then it comes back stronger in the next comparison.

Then the next.

Then the next.

Soon, I find myself unhappy with my life.  Unhappy with what I'm doing.
And I can't put my finger on why.

"I feel like it's not enough."

"I feel like I need to do more."

"I feel like what I do is inferior."

"I feel like I'm not doing it right."

And the emotions roll on.

I have compared myself to the life of others.  What's worse.

The life of others as seen online.

It is an impossible standard, my beloved readers.  What's more, a platform that I see tragically abused.

I have witness with my own eyes, bloggers that write precious words about the Lord Jesus on their blogs--words about their lives and how well they are living, how humble they are before the Lord...

On the web, they have an idyllic life.  It doesn't mean that they all are living the American Dream.  On the contrary, some people even use this as a platform--to talk about how humble they are.

On the web, they have perfect hearts.  Nobody struggles (for real).  Nobody sees pain (for real).

If they do, they only write about how 'they' pushed through.

And I sit back, as the reader.

Am I the only one struggling here?  Am I the only one in pain?

Am I the only one that hasn't found that permanent solution that keeps me from ever feeling anything negative?

Because I'll admit to some of the above.

I'll admit that I never want to write about my struggles, because I don't want to admit I'm weak.  Weak, for real.

I'll admit that I only like to write about the good things that happen, because I don't want anyone to think badly of me.

I'll admit that my life often doesn't match up with what I write, that soon after I hit 'publish' on a post, that I end up losing my temper with a sibling.

I'll admit it.

I'm a hypocrite.  And I'm contributing to the worldwide epidemic of depression caused by internet perfection pressures.

What will I do about it?  First, ask you to forgive me.

Will you do that?  I'm sorry for any pain I have caused you.  Any feeling of inferiority.  Any thought of comparison that would steal your joy.  For the cause of making myself feel better, for making myself look good 'online'.

I apologize.

I find myself not writing as much through the trials, because I fear writing something I'll regret.  Something that may make me look *gasp* like I'm fallen, like I'm broken, like I need a Savior.

I'm here to make a change.

And begin my confessions.  Real confessions.

I already started above, but really, I'm a real person just like you.

I struggle everyday.  And not just with those deep spiritual struggles that I so eloquently write about so often.

I struggle with being patient with my brothers and sisters.

With not losing my temper.  Over stupid things.  Like when someone asks me a dumb question.  Or, dumb in my mind.  -_-

I struggle with not complaining.  With not talking through my irritations.

I get upset when my mental routine gets jarred.  If someone spontaneously asks me to do something, I almost feel crippled--I hadn't planned for that!

I waste time on Pinterest.  Like, really, I'm not being facetious.  I try to mostly use Pinterest for writing, but more often than I'd like I end up browsing Star Wars fandom pins, or something of some such frivolity.

I drink too much coffee.  For real, I will feel my blood racing through my veins.  Sometimes it makes me nervous and upset.  But I don't want to cut back.

I'm afraid of failing.  Not just like normal people are afraid.  I'm petrified of failing.  To the point where it keeps me from even starting projects.

I never blog consistently.  (But you all knew that. ;P)  But sometimes I don't even reread my blog posts. O_O

I sometimes go months without writing in my journal.

I went years without writing any sort of stories or novels...even when I had ideas.  Because I was too lazy and too much of a perfectionist to get them done.

I hate cleaning the bathtub.  Or the toilet.  And doing dishes.  Blllleeeeeecccccchhhhhhh...

I keep starting to read certain books and never finishing them--even as much as I love them, and as much as I love to read... *Cough* Desiring God *cough*!

I am too sarcastic.

I'm overdramatic.

You're not alone, my beloved reader.  I haven't even scratched the surface.

But the facade is over.  And I challenge you to do the same.

On whatever platform that you may have, in whatever way that you interact with others online or otherwise.  We all need to know that we're not alone.  Stop taking ourselves so seriously.

Be real.  Write real.  Post real.

We would have no need of a Savior if we were not fallen.  We would have no need of a Perfector if we were not flawed.  We would have no relish for heaven, if our lives were already heavenly.  We would have no need of grace if we were not weak.

We would have no need of faith if we did not live on the edge.

I'm still afraid of looking weak.  I'm afraid of people judging me.  I'm afraid of what people think of me.

But it's because of the grace of Jesus that I don't have to be.  That I can be bold and honest.  That I can share my struggles, my weaknesses, my faults, and have no fear.

Because in sharing, we strengthen one another, encourage one another--remind each other of the overwhelming power of the grace of Jesus.

Be bold, my dear readers.  You're so beautiful--even more so when you're broken. (<<<<click the link, you'll be glad you did.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

{Fashion} Review & Giveaway: Set Free Apparel

Hello, my lovely readers, do I have a treat for you!  

Most of you know that I am passionate about honoring God in the way that I dress. I want to honor God by not only sufficiently covering my body, but in choosing stylish, fashionable, and tasteful apparel.  

I like to view fashion in both jewelry and apparel as art.  Art in which I represent the Lord and His excellence and beauty!  As His representative on the earth, I want others to look at me and remark at the excellence in which I present myself, glorify my Father who is in heaven.

With that in mind, when I found Set Free Apparel, I knew I'd stumbled across a little jewel!

I was looking for something comfortable, but stylish--and loved all the styles I found on the shop!

Check out some of my favorites:

...this is just a sampling.  They have more women's shirts and some awesome men's shirts too!  

Check out their Etsy shop to see more.

"I wanted to design men'sand women's Christian clothing that not only communicated the principles, ideas and truth of our faith in a creative way, but clothing that was also clean, contemporary and stylish. A fresh alternative and fashionable option for Christ followers....  

All that said, it's much more than selling cool Christian shirts, I also desired to use my talent and ability for something greater; the Kingdom. A portion of our profit will go directly to Food for the Hungry. Click here to learn a little bit more about what God is doing through them.

We are a family owned and operated boutique. We very much hope you like our clothing. And if you do, please spread the word by socializing with others about us!"

~from Set Free Apparel's founder, Nick

Set Free Apparel was incredibly generous and sent me one of my favorite shirts to review for you all!  (And stick around, and there just might be a giveaway too!)  ;-)

I chose the Proverbs 31 Fearless Women's Shirt and was so pleased with it when it arrived.

I usually wear a size XS in Womens or a M or L in Juniors.  I found the M from Set Free Apparel fit me perfectly!

I was so happy to see that it was a v-neck tee that I didn't have to wear a tank top with!  I'm so used to having to layer my tops, it was so refreshing to be able to wear my favorite cut (v-neck), but it's neckline was nice and high enough that I didn't have to supplement it. 

The fit was perfect--not too tight, but still not boxy.

Super soft and comfy--the 100% cotton knit felt thick and well made.  I have no fears of wearing it out too soon!

All that said, check out Set Free Apparel's Etsy Shop and follow the steps below to win a $15 gift certificate so that you can get a t-shirt of your very own!

Giveaway runs from 10/02/14-10/09/14.
Winner announced next Friday, on October 10!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

five minutes

Being just so type A, I thrive on schedules, regimented time blocks, routines--the whole regime.  I hate trying to just 'fit things in', I want everything to have it's own allotted time block so that I can check it off my list, instead of leaving it half-done.

I find my day is made up of distractions and--instead of the half or whole hour increments that I crave--my time consists of teeny blocks of five.  Minutes, that is.

What to do?  At first I was irritated.

"I can't just SIT DOWN and get this done?!  Come on!!"  The laundry would call.  A sibling would need something.  My mom would need an errand run.  A friend would ask for help.  Inevitably, something would come up.

The story always went:
Amy sits at her computer to write.
If it is not between the hours of 9pm and 6am, chances are she gets called away for, or distracted by something.
Amy decides to sacrifice sleep instead.
Amy, running on little sleep, can't think clearly enough to be able to accomplish anything...anything WELL at least.
Amy notices hours of fragmented free time during her day--but despairs, because it's not how she likes to work.

Five minutes of free came, I despaired.  There's nothing I can 'get into' right now.

Do you remember Toy Story?  At one scene, the mom tells her son that he has five minutes before they leave to go get pizza.  The son responds, glancing at his toys, "Five minutes, eh?"  The wheels turn.  How much can I play in five minutes? 

Next scene, he has concocted a huge, elaborate set-up for his toys--he is in the middle of an epic adventure with his toys when his mom comes to get him.

This kid knows time management.

I'm always in a rush.  I see five minutes as a tiny block of time--not enough to finish anything, so why try?  I'm highly distractible.  I have a hard time finishing something, if I don't do it in the same sitting as when I started.  Just get it done, get it done, get it done.

God doesn't call us to rush life.

He calls me to take that five minutes, and instead of wasting that precious five, throwing it away, proclaiming that it's not enough for me, saying that I want more--He calls me to embrace that five minutes, and give it all I'm worth.

To remember that it's sheerly by His grace that my heart beats, my lungs breath for those five--how am I blessing Him?  How am I taking the gift He has given, relishing, breathing, and loving those five?

While I'm waiting outside karate, waiting to drive the kids home, I could send an encouraging text to a friend.

When the I know the dryer is just about to be finished, I could answer one email.

A few minutes before I leave to take my sister to babysitting, I could read a few verses of His Word.

I could read a page in one of my current books.

I could fold half a basket of laundry.

I could clean the sliding glass doors.

I could read a board book to the baby.

I could write 100 words...or maybe more.

I could read a blog post, like this one that I took those five to read this morning.

I could count gifts.

I could kneel at my bed and pray.

Five minutes is a long time, to the Maker of Time.

I am ashamed that I so nonchalantly tossed the gift of five aside, calling it useless, neglecting its small worth.  I am ashamed that I frowned upon the small, that I scowled at the thought of such a tiny increment.

I can't do big things in five minutes.  Oh, Amy?  And one Who's time table are you on?

Don't despise the small, cherish the small.

Monday, August 25, 2014

a life that is worthy

The books stack high.

The to do list runs long.

The sticky notes accumulate.

The places to go add up.

I find myself wanting to take a nap against the gentle hum of the car...as I drive. Wake up!  Feels like the only time I slow down--as I'm being hurtled 70 mph on the highway.

Make the most of my time.  Make the most of my time.  Make the most of my time.

The thought of the sacrifice of Jesus weighs heavy.  His mercies on me everyday--oh, how I want to live a life worthy of what He has given me!

Live worthy.  Live worthy.  Live worthy.

So I scramble for everything I can get my hands on.  I grapple, I fight!  I set out on a quest to squeeze every drop out of the life I have been given.

My reason?  To be worthy.

To show Him my gratitude.

As I panic.  As I moan.  As I crack.  I buckle.  I exhaust myself.

I forget to worship.
I forget to pray.
I forget to give thanks.

Because I'm too busy.

Trying to be worthy.

I seem to have forgotten.  I seem to have looked past the essence of grace itself.

Though I would at first deny it, my seemingly noble quest to live a live worthy--my struggles to make everything fit, my disappointments when things don't go as planned, my exhaustion by the time I get halfway down the list--yes, that noble quest, is nothing but pure pride.


Believing that I would have something to offer Him. 


Believing that through my sheer ambitions I can offer Him a life worthy of His gospel.
Through my ideas of noble things.  Through my plans.  Through my perception of what is worthy.

It is a cheapening of His blood.

I forget.  I forget where I came from.  I forget Who He is.

No! my heart screams.  No!  That's exactly why I feel this burden--I want to show Him my gratitude!

But I have truly forgotten.  Because if I hadn't forgotten, I would have remembered that it is the love of my heart that He desires.

The satisfaction of my heart.
The joy of my heart.
The smile on my face.

I was dead.  Cold, hard, dead.

But He came.  Jesus came, He lived perfectly, He suffered, He died.  He rose.
So that I might have life.

And life abundantly.

I had nothing in and of myself.  God could not give me grace, if it had not been for the blood of His Son.  He is too holy, and I unworthy.

But when Jesus took on my sin, He gave me His righteousness.  So that I stand before God--worthy of being in His presence.  Because I was given the essence of Jesus.

I forget.  And I strive to prove that I'm grateful for my ticket into heaven.

"Be anxious for nothing," He says.  And He calls me to thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving.

The outpouring of a heart fully satisfied.  And yet, I seek to satisfy my heart with my actions.  I feel as though I am not truly worthy, my heart is dissatisfied with myself.

And God whispers that He is enough.  That His power is perfected in my weakness.

That means that I am already worthy.  I bear the branding marks of Jesus on my body.  I wear His garments.  His righteousness is now mine.

Go boldly to the throne of grace.

Regardless of what I've done.  Regardless of how I 'proven' that I'm grateful.

I lost the time.  The lost the thought.  I lost the reminder to taste and see that He is good.

Now He calls me.  He whispers love.  He woos me.

To drink my coffee extra slow.  To relish the feeling of baby fuzz on my cheek, as he sleeps on me.  To bake cookies with the little girls, for no reason.   To take the time to light the scented candles.  To try a new recipe.  To go ahead and write my favorite scene. To watch the music video of my favorite song. To daydream.  To smile.  To smell the roses.

This is my life.

My purpose is to glorify Him in my satisfied heart.

My struggle is that I'm still not doing enough.  Lord, what about ministry?  What about the widows and orphans?  What about-- and He reminds me:

The greatest of these is love.

My heart is inclined to the things of Him.  When my heart is fully satisfied with Him, filled with His love, He will lead me in the way of the ministry in which He desires me.

Sometimes it's nothing grandiose.  Sometimes it's simple, seemingly insignificant, mundane and boring.

Like rocking the baby to sleep at 3:30am.

Like crying with my little sister, trying to articulate the holiness of God.

Like sitting here, writing this blog post, praying someone else is encouraged by my rocky journey.

It doesn't look like much.  It looks too comfortable, too easy, too plain--boring!

But who am I to question where He has placed me?

In a few years, He may call me to the streets of Brazil.  And I know that my heart will be overflowing with joy and peace, satisfaction as I set about the task He has requested of me.

But for now, He calls me to the mundane.  The laundry folding, 'taxi'-driving, cookie baking, nose-wiping, blogging, beautifully fulfilling life.  Because it's His purpose for me.

And that makes it worthy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

where feet may fail {this is faith}

"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown
Where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand.

I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours
And You are mine."

More than once has this song played on repeat in our house.  The deep promises drown out the lies hounding me throughout the day.

"Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now.
Your grace abounds in deepest waters"

When He calls me out, when He beckons me on uncharted ground.
When He whispers for me to follow, I shrink back, I am afraid.  I'll sink, I'll drown!  I've been there before, Lord, it won't hold me.  I've tried, God.  This doesn't make sense.

But He still calls.  Beckons me out upon the waters.  
The great unknown.
Where feet may fail.
I close my eyes, swallow hard, and place a foot upon the waves.
I open my eyes and fix them upon Him, and I stand.
I stand on the water, take a step.
My eyes fixed on Jesus, I deny the forces that threaten to drown me.  The waves that threaten to swallow me whole, their Maker is my friend.  He commands them to hold me fast.
And I trust Him.

How hard is it to have faith when our path is sure?  How difficult is it to walk where we know others have walked before?  What faith does it take to take the path so commonly trod?

Jesus calls us upon the water.
He calls us to the unknown.
He calls us to stand where feet have fallen.
He calls us where our path is unsure.
He calls us where our one and only hope is in Him.
Trust that He will guide.
He will protect.
He will feed.
He will keep.
He will hold us up, that we may deny the very forces of nature itself.

He calls us to be water walkers.

This is faith.

When I'm honest, I shrink back in fear.  Terror, in fact.  I'm the type of person that observes all of the statistics and facts before making a step.  Before making any decision I weigh all the pros and cons.  Before moving forward on anything, I check to see how others have fared that have done the same thing.  I make my decisions based on history, testimony, cold hard fact.

It's hard for me to let go, and give in to the pressing, the urging of the Spirit on my heart, unless it lines up with my research.  And sometimes it doesn't.  And what then?

He whispers, "Trust Me."

And I have a choice.  Where is my faith?  

In the world that testifies that water will drown me?

Or in Jesus, the Maker of the waves? 

Check out Oceans on Amazon. {affiliate link}

Monday, August 11, 2014

epic scribbles

Hello, my lovely readers!

My sister Melody and I have had a little secret project brewing for a little while now...

You probably know of my love for words.  I can't escape verbosity, I could talk for hours and hours, circumventing one topic, offering ideas, opinions, angles, different wordings...aaaaand, I digress.  (See?)

In my love for the English language, at the young age of about 10 I began writing stories and have not lost the love for either storytelling or words since.

Melody began her writing journey about a year ago, and has since completed 5 novels.  Yeah, I know...I'm just kinda like...um, wow...


All that to say, Melody and I have put our brains, our passions, and our love for words together and have created a blog dedicated to our writing journeys:

Here we plan on posting snippets from our own writing adventures, as well as things that we have learned and are learning in hopes of benefitting other young writers!  We also plan on posting our favorite recourses, maybe some memes to help keep sanity, and lots more fun stuff.  ;-)

Head on over and check out today's debut post!

Monday, August 4, 2014

rest for the weary

I'm tired.

After a long weekend of running from one thing to the other, I am simply exhausted.

Usually when Monday comes, I am excited for the new week.  A fresh start.  A new beginning.

But today is a stereotypical Monday.  The kind in which the alarm goes off and I moan, "Already?  Not yet!  I'm not ready!"

The laundry has piled up to be an insurmountable mound. The emails need to be answered.  The projects need to be done.  The list goes on and on...

Thank God that I have Him to lean on.

It's time for a midday reset.

Time to take a few minutes.  Maybe turn on some peaceful music.  Make some coffee.  Maybe put on some makeup.

Meditate on His word, even for just a solid minute.

Usually, when I find myself stressed and wanting to rush, it's a clear indication that I need to slow down.  Take a deep breath.  

Be still and know that He is the God of time itself.  If I am spending my time on finding peace in Him, rest assured that His goals and His plans will take place.

It's not about my agenda.  It's about His glory.

And usually, it's hard for me to bring Him glory in the midst of my mind's chaos.  When I'm worried, I'm failing to trust Him.  When I'm stressed, I fail to reflect His Spirit of peace. 

Be still and know that He is God.  

My Father that cares for me, gives strength to the weary.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

more than i deserve

Toy trucks in the already-too-small bathroom, blocking the way to the sink.

The washer is off balance.  Again.

I sit on the floor because I don't have enough room for a real desk.

I have to use 'the trick' to get the car to start sometimes, because its old.

Complaints.  Grumbles.  Longings for things to be more.  For things to get better.  Bigger.  Faster.  Smoother.  Cleaner.  Nicer.

Then I stop.  I consider.  And I realize.

What I have is already more than I deserve.

I realize: my grumbles are more than mere complaints.

They are, in fact, the very core of sin itself. Sin is what I do when I am dissatisfied with God.

I was dead.  As a result of the utter depravity, the carnal sin that ravages the depths of my very being, I was unable to do any good.  Unable to choose good.  Unable to try to earn my way to heaven.  Because I was dead.

I deserved the fires.  I deserved eternal torment.  I deserved for the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." ~Ephesians 2:4-7

Do you see it?  I deserved to die.

If God had left me there, dead, destined for an eternity of torment, it would have been fully within His just, holy, and (even yes) loving right.  If He had been obligated, if I had done anything to deserve His love and mercy, then it wouldn't be mercy anymore.  It would be what was expected.

I deserve hell.  But He, because of Jesus, had mercy on me. Has mercy on the entire human race.

Every breath you take.  Every beat of your heart.  Every morning that you wake up.  Mercy.

If I sleep on a park bench.  It is by His mercy.  It is His gift that I am sleeping, breathing, heart beating, and that that park bench is stabilized by gravity, safely on the ground.

My little brothers have trucks to play with, by His mercy.

I actually have a bathroom--two in fact! By His mercy.

That washer goes off balance with almost every load, but by His mercy it still cleans the clothes.

That old car may have trouble starting, but by His mercy it still plugs along.

I sit on this floor, typing this blog post, thanking Him that by His mercy it's here for me to sit on.

How could I complain when He has already given me more than I deserve?

Now, I forget.  Oh, so often I forget and complain.  I grumble.  I whine.  I mumble.

Yes!  Against the King of the Universe I complain about His gifts!  I should be severely punished for such a crime!

Then, He, in His mercy, again speaks to my heart, reminding me again of His precious gifts that I so often take for granted.  Again, mercy.  Again.

He is so patient.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} conclusion

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

4. Learn from the Masters

5. RUN!

6. Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed the series so far!  My apologies in not having finished this up yet! You know that I'm about to give some ridiculous excuse like I've been too busy or something, so I'm going to spare you of it this time ;-)

(And I apologize for the lack of graphic today.  I have been doing some geeky stuff with my operating system and have yet to load Photoshop back up, so I couldn't make the Part 6 graphic. :P)

So far, in our inspire me series, we've talked about ideas for getting our creative juices flowing.  We've talked about the spiritual aspect, asking God to infuse us with His divine creativity.  We've talked about the visual side, finding inspiration in the oh-so-distracting image prompts on Pinterest.  We've talked about drawing creative inspiration from different types of music, also from observing the excellence found in the various arts, and finally even exercising!

I know that this is not an exhaustive list. In fact, I could probably go on and on listing all of the ways that could possibly spark some sort of creative fire in your heart.  But for the sake of length and time, I figure that this series is ready to be drawn to a close.

As a closing thought, I would like to remind us all of the purpose behind our creativity.  Why do we do what we do?  Why do we create?  Why do we write?  Play music?  Draw, sketch, paint?

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. ~Colossians 3:17

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:16

Let us not forget Who we are creating for.  Let us not forget our divine purpose here on this earth is to bring Him glory in all that we do--especially in the arts!  May we be fueled by His passion, intoxicated with His love, so much so that it naturally overflows into our art.  May our hearts be steered toward evangelism, in that our art cannot help but proclaim His glorious Gospel!

To conclude, here are a few more random snippets and lists that I found fun and could prove helpful in your pursuit of creative inspiration.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part five

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

4. Learn from the Masters

5. RUN!

I hope you've been enjoying the series so far!  If you have not yet read the previous posts, feel free to check them out!  :-)

Okay, so today's suggestion sound maybe a little...unconventional...but in truth I have found it to be an extremely valuable activity for the body as well as the creative mind!

Any type of exercise that gets your heart pumping spikes your energy, releasing endorphins in your brain and helps you to think more clearly and creatively!  A quick search on the internet reveals the multiple tests that have been done by neuroscientists that have proven how regular exercise can cause your creativity levels to soar.

When running, you're also getting out of your workspace which helps tremendously when you're stuck in a rut.

I enjoy listening to music or a sermon when I go running, sometimes I pray (okay, a lot of times, like when I'm in the middle of a sprint and feel like I'm going to die :P).  It helps so much to clear my head and to help me focus on the next thing.

The feeling on the sunshine on my skin, my heart pumping wildly in my chest--it makes me feel so alive!  It exhilarates me, excites me about life, encourages me to 'take the next step' and keep moving.  Moving towards that goal, the prize!

"...forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  ~Philippians 2:13b-14

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  ~Hebrews 12:1-2

This is one of my favorite songs to run to ;)

Do you exercise to boost your creativity?  What is your favorite way to get the blood pumping, creative juices flowing?

I'd love to hear your ideas!  Feel free to leave a comment and be on the lookout for part six coming soon!  :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part four

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

4. Learn from the Masters

When I was little, I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I'm not sure that I necessarily had a knack for it, but I desperately wanted to do it.  I loved books.  Wait, no... I loved books.  I loved words.  I loved how words worked together to form thoughts.  I loved how some were stronger than others, and when certain sequences were created, I could be transported anywhere: to another planet, another world, another time in history, another way of life, another person's mind...  the thought of it excited me; and I wanted to take part in this mysterious, beautiful craft.

As I consumed books at an alarming rate; learning new words, understanding certain sequences, punctuation, literary devices (If you ask my mom, almost everything that I know about the English language I did not learn from my school textbooks, though I did them anyway. :P), character development and so much more, observation and passion for words was my teacher.

Even now as I read some of my favorite works, books filled with rich character development, excellence in description, choice wording--it sets my creative heart on fire.  I want to be a part of that!

I believe it is the same any time that we observe excellence in any area of art.  If it be music, listen to the finest.  If it be painting, feast your eyes on only the best.  Research, read, listen, observe--fill your mind with excellence!

The Bible gives us a standard for our work, 

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, 
giving thanks through Him to God the Father."  ~Colossians 3:17

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, 
do all to the glory of God."  ~1 Corinthians 10:31

God has called us to represent Him here on the earth--we are to bring His glory in everything that we do! Whether it be the exciting mode of art or even just mundane routine of doing your chores in the morning, He calls us to His glory and excellence in everything that we do!

Praise be to God that there have been those gone before to pave a way for us and show us what excellence looks like!  Don't let their work be in vain; consume it, treasure it, enjoy it, then allow it to fuel your creative fire to go and multiply it.

Be blessed, I apologize for the delay in posting!  :-)

Friday, July 11, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part three

1. Pray

2. Pinterest

3. Music

...from movie soundtracks to your favorite band, sometimes a mood or a single line from a song can inspire a story, or a character quality, or most importantly, just whatever element that it is that will help you jump over that creative blockage!

Oftentimes, I'll be listening to the radio and a song will come on with just one single line that will spark an entire story idea.  I love Spotify for this...it has so much available to listen to for completely free--I could listen to music for hours and hours...the different concepts presented in the songs provide awesome material for story points or characterization.

Songs like:

...just to name a few.  But I often find that it can be just a single line from a song that will inspire a whole concept for me.  Like for this last song, I just adored the line, "...the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair..."

Another idea is to use movie soundtracks for different moods in your writing.

Sad scene?  Try some soft, minor keyed songs.

Action scene?  Some fast paced, exciting sounds.

Some favorite soundtracks are:

...and this is by no means an exhaustive list, obviously!

I would encourage you to explore music with inspiration in mind.  Grooveshark and Spotify are fantastic resources to listen to tons of music for free--although, I must advise caution with the ads if you do not have the premium accounts for these sites.

Some other great options for finding new music would be Pandora Radio and iTunes radio.  Put in your 'mood song' and let the station do the searching for you!

Hope you're enjoying the series so far!

How do you find inspiration?  
I'd love to hear about it!

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out parts one and two, and be on the lookout for part four!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part two

(If you haven't read it yet, be sure to read 'Part One'!)

...alright, where were we? 

2. Pinterest

If you're female, and have any sort of teeny tiny creative bone in your body, chances are you must have a Pinterest account. (To be clear, it's not that Pinterest is solely for females, but just that the majority of females have Pinterest accounts, lol!) I know that I adore mine.  I have found so many neat ideas--things I probably never would have thought of myself!

Visit Amy's profile on Pinterest.

Follow Amy's board {I Heart} Inspiration on Pinterest.

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Writing Prompts on Pinterest.

Now, I will admit...I've probably gotten carried away...with the amount of boards that I have...on Pinterest (seriously, I need everything categorized to be able to find things--can you blame me?)...

Pinterest is an excellent source for inspiration, for tutorials on various projects, and tips and ideas for TONS of different projects... I have found so much visual inspiration by browsing various boards for writing prompts.  There are boards with awesome quotes...

Follow Amy's board {I Heart} Words on Pinterest.

For writers, there are lots of great boards filled with characterization boards with some fabulous ideas that may spark a story...

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Characters on Pinterest.

Photos of amazing settings can make your imagination run wild...

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Settings Inspiration on Pinterest.

And some pictures have a thousand words, waiting to be written...

Follow Amy's board {Stories} Inspiration on Pinterest.

Tip! One of my favorite exercises for fighting my writer's block is as I'm browsing Pinterest, to grab a bunch of pins and put them in a Word doc.  Then, underneath each photo, write whatever comes to my head, even if it's just a sentence.  Then move on to the next one and so on.  It helps to keep the creative juices flowing, and to at least keep writing even if it's not a full fledged project.

So there you go!  I must now offer a formal apology for all of the time that you are about to spend on Pinterest looking at inspirational boards...honestly, it can be addicting, lol!  But in all seriousness, do be careful not to let the pursuit of inspiration slow you down from just sitting down and doing it.  (I say all of this because I've had my own struggles of getting on for a 'quick dose of inspiration' before I write, only to end up not having time to write at all!)

Keep writing, keep creating!  Use Pinterest as a tool, and don't let it get the better of you.  ;-)

Anyway, I hope you're enjoying the series!  
What do you do for inspiration?  
I'd love to hear about it and may even add it to my list!  

Be on the lookout for part three coming up soon...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

inspire me! {cure creative's block} part one

I'd venture to say, whether you're an artist, a writer, a musician, a seamstress, a designer...a creator, you have experienced Creative's Block at some point in your journey.

We've all been there.  That dry, disinterested path.  No inspiration, no direction.  It's downright awful!

In my own journey as a creative, I have discovered a few things that help to get the creative juices flowing again, and I thought that I'd share them with you!

The first one is so simple...yet so easy to forget.  I find myself forgetting this in my art as a writer all the time.

1. Pray

All right, so it sounds too obvious, and maybe even like a cop-out for the first in this series.  But it is my belief that this element is so important, and so often overlooked!

There are a couple reasons:

  • God is the Ultimate Artist.  He wrote the first story (not to mention the story of eternity), He taught the birds how to sing, He painted the first sunset, He sculpted the first human...He even made the first clothes!  When you are looking to learn more about a craft, you go to those that have the most experience to learn and be taught by them.  God promises that He is always listening, and is always ready to bless those with wisdom that ask (James 1:5).

  • What if God is trying to get your attention?  What if He has an incredible piece that He has for you to create, and He needs you to be totally focused on Him to do it?  Seek Him, read His Word (I always tend to get great story ideas when I read the Proverbs, just fyi! LOL), ask Him what He would have you to be focusing on right now.  

Isn't that what we are here for?  To bring Him glory and honor with the fruit of our hands?

Ask Him what is next, what would bring Him the most glory.  Implore Him for divine inspiration.

And then, wait.  (That's the hardest part--ask me how I know.)

Sometimes God gives us times of dryness as a part of the journey.  A time to be quiet and listen.  A time to just pray and seek His glory.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..."
~Ecclesiastes 3:1

In the meantime, don't stop practicing.  You may not have a 'great idea' right now, but keep honing your skills for when you do!  It is crucial to stay on your game, to keep learning, to keep practicing.

When inspiration arrives, you want to be ready.

I hope you enjoyed the first part in this series!  Stay tuned for part two coming soon...