Busy-ness, Christmas, Doing or Being, Passion, The Chaos of Christmas Doing or Being in the Season

The Chaos of Christmas: Doing or Being In the Season?

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White-gray snow still covers patches of our backyard. The time to celebrate Jesus’ birth draws near. Wrapped gifts sit in the family room, ready to give to those we want to bless. The externals of Christmas are prepared.

But what about who I am on the inside?

Continue reading “The Chaos of Christmas: Doing or Being In the Season?”

Heart Lessons From ACFW, Passion, Perspective

Heart Lessons From ACFW

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I loved the reminder of this verse!

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I planned to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference. Well, I did, and I’ve come home exhausted, but invigorated.

Who knew one could experience so many emotions during a three day writer’s conference?

Continue reading “Heart Lessons From ACFW”

Passion, Passion in Hard Times

Passion in Hard Times

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The day I began to write my first book was the first day I discovered unexpected passion. The story came into my head, exciting me and making my heart pound. Could I seriously write a book?

With the decision to try, I discovered passion in a whole new way. Passion to write well, to tell the story God gave me to tell. He didn’t give it to someone else. That thought instilled a deeper passion and an intense determination to do it well.

I will say writing is the second (after mothering two boys) most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted. The hard days have come. Remembering this story is mine to write has revived my passion when hope of ever finishing flailed. It’s helped me to not give up.

What about you? What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever attempted? Do you agree or disagree that passion is sometimes what keeps you going when the temptation to give up is strong?

Passion, Passion and Faith (quote)

Passion and Faith

I want to give you a quick update on what these next couple weeks hold for me. This coming weekend, I have a commitment with our church.

Next weekend, I will be attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. I need to scale back my blog preparation time. So, I have prepared a few posts with quotes I like and want to share with you, along with a some thoughts and a question. I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule beginning September 17th. On September 19th, I have a special surprise planned!

I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

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As I considered this quote, I realized I had never thought about the role passion plays in faith. If someone chooses to live a life of faith, passion is reflected in how that person speaks, acts and in the choices made. My challenge is to live out my faith with passion. I don’t always succeed, but because my faith is in Jesus, I find grace when I make mistakes. Grace that allows me to try again.

What about you? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that faith is the highest passion in a human being?

Calling, Contentment, Lindsay Harrel, Passion, The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency

The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency: Guest Post by Lindsay Harrel

Today, I’m so excited to have my good friend, and fellow aspiring author, Lindsay Harrel, on my blog. We met online and through My Book Therapy, and we met face to face last year at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas. Lindsay never ceases to amaze me with her depth of insight and her encouraging words. I’m thrilled she’s here!

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A few weeks ago in my Sunday school class, we were discussing contentment and one of my friends asked a question that intrigued me: Can we be content and still strive for our dreams?

It made me stop and really think, because I’m currently pursuing the dream of becoming a published author. Is it wrong to go hard after a dream? If I do, am I not accepting the life God has given me? Does it mean I am not practicing contentment? That I’m not grateful for the good things in my life?

In my opinion, the answer is no. I believe there is a definite difference between contentment and complacency.

Reading one particular definition for complacency was an “aha!” moment for me. According to princeton.edu, complacency is “the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be satisfied with myself. I want to always be improving, bettering myself, challenging myself to be more like Jesus. A complacent person doesn’t bother striving for dreams because she is “happy” as she is – even in her ignorance. Even in her sin.

A content person, on the other hand, knows that God called her to something bigger than her current situation – even if that means having a better attitude IN that situation or living it out with God at the center.

A content person is allowed to dream. She knows that God planted big dreams inside of her for a reason, and that if she pursues them, she is being true to who God created her to be. She has a peace in the pursuit – and she has a peace if God tells her “no” or “not right now.”

Contentment means delighting ourselves in the Lord and getting the desires of our hearts – because when we grow nearer to Him, His desires become ours. What He wants is what we want.

It means constantly seeking God and what He wants for us and from us.

Complacency, on the other hand, means we wait for God to come to us – and that we ignore the signs that He’s been there waiting all along.

Complacency is also waiting for life to change, but having no real hope that it will. It’s living life with no greater purpose beyond what we can see today.

But contentment – oh, beloved contentment – is praying with confidence for our dreams, and knowing that God’s plan is ultimately better.

Contentment, whether you are pursuing a big dream or a small one, means being at peace with whatever God gives us. It’s trusting God to be God – and being okay that we are not Him. It’s relinquishing control. It’s knowing that He knows best.

Contentment is not an easy path. Complacency is much simpler.

Complacency means not striving for a dream out of fear.

But contentment takes courage.

Take heart, friend, and strive for your dreams, knowing that the Lord who gave them to you will not forsake you. Have peace in the pursuit.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Your Turn: What dream are you striving for – and how has God spoken peace in your pursuit?

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Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers contemporary category for 2013, and is published in the Falling in Love with You anthology released by OakTara in October 2012. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of six years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).

Adventure, Adventure-Do I Need It?, Life, Passion

Adventure: Do I Need It?

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Image courtesy of franky242 at freedigitalphotos.net

Skiing down a double diamond black run. Sky diving. Rock climbing. Zip lining. Mountain climbing. Tent camping. These all fall under the category, “Adventure” in my book. With the exception of tent camping (which I last did about eighteen years ago), and skiing (blue runs and one black, once. By accident), I have yet to attempt any of these activities.

Continue reading “Adventure: Do I Need It?”

Passion, Priorities, Simplicity, Simplicity and Passion: Do They Go Together?

Simplicity and Passion: Do They Go Together?

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Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For the past couple years, instead of writing  a list of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve focused on one word. My 2012 word was PASSION. I know, we’re well into a new year, but this word won’t let me go.

As I’ve considered simplicity over the past couple weeks, I see how walking out a life of simplicity opens up room for passion in my days and in my heart. When clutter is cleared from my heart and thoughts, I have the clarity to focus on the most important things. My heart and mind are free to think on things I’m passionate about.

Continue reading “Simplicity and Passion: Do They Go Together?”

Passion, Plan

Planned Passion?

ImageFor the last few years, instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, I have focused on one word. Last year, my word was PASSION. I learned a number of things about “passion” that I would like to share on this blog.

I was surprised that this word ended up being the one given to me to focus on. I am a very planned lady. I like my plan. I work my plan. My plan is my comfort zone. This seldom leaves room for the spontaneity passion sometimes requires.

I began thinking about what I am passionate about. Things I’m passionate about include living my life in a way that will point others to God, in a good way. I am passionate about being the best wife and mom that I can be for my family. I am passionate about the stories I write.

Each of these items has an element of planning involved. But, more than that they each require an investment of time and effort. To be a good wife to my hubby, I need to spend time with him, listen, learn to understand what makes him tick. Some of these “lessons” came through arguments, others came through watching him.

As a mom, my plans sometimes fly south for the day before my kids are even off to school. As they grow older, I am discovering they need more of me, not so much what I do for them. Yes, they need good meals and transportation. But they also need a listening ear and a heart that desires to understand them. This requires me to set aside my “to-do” list and focus on them.

I came to writing much later in life than most of my writer friends, but I love it! When some poor person makes the mistake of asking me about my story or what I’m learning about writing craft, they’ll probably get more of an answer than they bargained for. My spirit is light, excited when I get to talk about it. Writing, too, has required me to adjust my “plans,” my timetable.

Being passionate about relationships with God and my family and about writing stretches me, requires more of me than I thought they would. Learning to live with passion is changing me for the better. I’m moving beyond my plan and focus on the “the to-do list” into a place of focusing on hearts.

Your Turn: What are you passionate about? What motivates your passion?