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Archive for the ‘Promoting Friends’ Category

It’s been a hard week, and it’s only Tuesday! My friend Heather called late last night and I shared a bit of my funk with her, but I still went to bed unable to escape the feeling of being crushed. People have failed me this week. I’ve failed myself. I’ve failed others, and it sucks. Like lava flowing through my veins, my anger has been an internal companion lately. I find myself getting irritated by things that wouldn’t bother me if I was feeling like myself, which I’m not.

Is this an identity crisis? Do I need to just pull up my big girl pants and get over myself?

I’m reading Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. I think she’d tell me I’m not being kind to myself. I wonder if I’m experiencing my mid-life unraveling? She describes it as a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re “supposed” to live. I’m doing heart and soul work and like Brene describing her own journey, it’s a bit like slogging through mud on my journey to living wholehearted.

I’ve been focusing on all the times I HAVEN’T kept my word, said or done the kind thing, loved someone well, served with compassion, finished what I started, and lived like I wanted to. I’m caught in the sinkhole of wanting what I won’t ever have and feeling sorry for myself. But it’s not just a pity party; it’s a deep grieving for an impossible relationship. Most of the time it’s emotionally manageable, but in my current state, it cements me in the bottom of the sinkhole. I need a rope.

I woke up this morning to a text from my friend Cherie. As we messaged back and forth, she made me laugh and I felt a little sun. I shared a bit more of my funk with her, and she spoke my name back to me, reminding me who I am. I lay in bed for a while, crying to God about my life and the uncertainty I’m feeling. Pete must have crawled in our bed after Benny left for school this morning because he was curled up asleep on Benny’s side. As I was wiping my eyes, his little voice said, “What’s wrong mommy?”

“I’m just sad right now and I’m talking to God about it.”

A minute later, my phone beeped. It was a Facebook message from an old high school friend. Stephen shared a video of his lesson from last Sunday, telling me that somewhere in the middle of his talk about Grace, he told the story of a time in high school when I called him out. It’s a story he has shared several times because for him it was a rooster’s crow…a call for a new beginning. A call to remember the grace we live in. He thanked me again for allowing God to use me to get through to him. I cried some more. The year I met and knew Stephen, my senior year, is one I’ve always referred to as my year from hell. But God used me in that hell and He gave me a few good friends. Stephen reminded me of that today of all days.

I guess that’s three rooster crows. Heather. Cherie. Stephen.

I’m still in my pajamas, and I may stay that way today. That’s okay. In my core, I know who I am. On the outside, sometimes I forget. My face is dry now, but my heart still hurts and I’m crying out to God. He’s the only one who hears the things I don’t feel safe enough to share with other people. He doesn’t hand me my big girl pants and tell me to snap out of it. He’s the one who sends three friends to speak life to me and remind me who I am, and then He holds me while I cry.

Watch the whole thing, but minutes 16-20 are about the rooster crowing. Good stuff! Here’s the link:

Undeniable Grace

P.S. My memory surrounding the letter I gave to Stephen is a bit hazy. I’m a wordy girl, so I’m sure the song lyrics weren’t the only thing I wrote, but I can’t remember what else I said. I only remember how nervous I was giving it to him, prepared for the possibility of it being the end of any friendship we did have. Lucky for both of us, we weren’t close enough friends for me to make him a whole guilt-inducing mix tape. Imagine slogging through that! 😉

And Stephen, if you read this, I’m humbled I’m part of your story. My heart is the same, but my methods have changed, and like you, I’m all about God’s grace! Thank you for messaging me today. Your timing was perfect.

I shared some thoughts a few months ago on Peter and the rooster crowing:  Jesus, Peter, Me, and the Number Three.

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My friend Don and I recently started another challenge. You can read all about it (and check out the great photos) on the blog I created for it: http://47dayphotochallenge.wordpress.com

It’s fun and creative, but I was most excited about practicing consistency, my lifelong pebble in my shoe. That’s why we call it a challenge. We have 30+ friends who’ve joined us so far. The majority of us are amateurs (me) using our smartphones and apps to capture our vision of the day’s subject. A few of us are using pretty sweet cameras and know a thing or two about lighting and composition. All of us are in it to have fun. At the end of each week, I’ll post my pics here too. You can click on each photo to enlarge it.

1-Love-Niki1-Love

2-Beverage-Niki2-Beverage

3-Something Blue-Niki3-Something Blue

4-Looking Up-Niki4-Looking Up

5-Workspace-Niki5-Workspace

6-Heart-Niki6-Heart

7-Laugh- Niki7-Makes you laugh

8-Texture-Niki8-Texture

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“I don’t want to do it.”

“It’ll be okay. This is the next step for you. Trust me.”

“But I waited a long time to get away from my childhood of rough people and hopelessness. I thought those days were behind me. Now you want it in my face every day? Why, Lord?”

“Do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord. You know I love you.”

“Then feed my sheep.”

“But what does that even mean? Aren’t I already feeding your sheep? Isn’t that what we’ve been doing for the last 9 years in youth ministry?”

“I have a different flock in mind for you. Trust me. Do you love me?

“Yes, of course I do. You know that I love you.”

“Then tend my lambs.”

“But Lord, I’m not sure I can. I’ve never been homeless. Why would they listen to me? What if I say the wrong things?”

“Do you love me?”

“Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Feed my sheep. I chose you for this moment. You have what it takes, and I went before you and prepared the way. Just follow me.”

 

I lived this conversation nine years ago, before leaving traditional youth ministry. Like Peter falling back on fishing, youth ministry was my place of relative comfort. I knew what to expect. I was familiar with the tug of the net and the weight of a good haul as well as the frustration of being…fishless.

Oh yes, I get Peter. He and I have a lot in common.

I’ve gleaned many truths from the Bible story in John 21:

  • When we throw our net in where Jesus tells us too, even working as a team we won’t be strong enough to pull in our catch, and our net won’t rip. I like the sound of that.
  • Sometimes we provide the catch and sometimes Jesus does. (He was already cooking fish and bread over a fire before the disciples reached the shore and He asked them to bring more fish for the meal.)
  • When Peter saw Jesus, he jumped in the water to head for shore. I’m guessing he was still trying to get his head around Jesus’ resurrection and was eager to be with Him as much as possible. I wonder if just for a moment, he thought it a second chance to walk on water. Would I?
  • At the end of this passage when Peter asked about Jesus’ plan for John, Jesus told him not to worry about anyone else, just to follow Him. Now there’s a lesson I need to embrace!

Here’s my favorite part of the story:

The Bible tells us Peter was hurt and probably frustrated when Jesus asked him the same question three times. Yes, it takes some of us longer to catch on than others, but I think it was more than that. Three is one of the numbers that repeats throughout the Bible, especially in Peter’s life:

  • Peter spent three years with Jesus before this story takes place.
  • He was one of the three people in Jesus’ inner circle, and present at the transfiguration.
  • He had denied Jesus three times.
  • Jesus came back to life three days after His death and Peter was one of the first people He pursued.
  • The fishing story in John 21 was the third time Jesus had appeared since His resurrection.
  • Going back to the beginning, the third day of creation was when the water parted and earth rose up creating land. That same day there was vegetation (growth) and it spread. Can you see the parallels between creation and the resurrection?

I’m fascinated by numbers – it’s no accident that our ministry is called SEVENS. Numbers create beautiful patterns and focal points to help us understand order and importance in the stories of our Christ, the Bible, and our lives today.

Like my friend Chris pointed out in his post on Sacred Margins earlier this week, Peter’s job changed when Jesus took him from being a fisherman to being a fisher of men. Peter owned a fishing business, which means the man had skills and potential, a mighty combination which Jesus used to plant and grow His Church. He still works that way, you know.

It wasn’t Jesus, but Peter who needed this confirming conversation of the triple confession of love. Jesus knew who Peter was and where he was headed, but I think He also knew that in the back of Peter’s mind, he hadn’t let go of the triple denial. By asking about his love, it made Peter think a little and open himself up for healing of that wound. It was further confirmation that Peter was getting a second chance. It also provided an opportunity for Jesus to give him his mission, not once, or twice, but three times.

I too required more than one charge about the mission Jesus gave ME to feed His sheep. My concentration was on the flock of teenagers in my life and God moved me, literally, changing my flock to the homeless, broken-hearted, and captives in the Denver and Boulder area. New flock, new mission, new confirmation that Yes, I love Jesus and He’s building something with me. I’m part of His plan. He’ll keep welcoming me back when I drift and doubt, giving me direction…as many times as it takes.

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It’s been awhile. I thought I should check in, and reassure you – and myself that I can in fact type even when not under a deadline. So what’s been happening here?

The flu, the common cold, maybe Ebola, I don’t know. Some serious germs have been permeating our home for the last month. It’s ridiculous. We’ve prayed, rested, drank gallons of water and orange juice, rested, slept, watched a lot of Netflix, rested. You know, sick people activities.

I’m also recovering from foot surgery. I’ve had a cyst the size of a super ball on the inside of my ankle for over a year. I finally went to the doctor and was referred to a surgeon. Three weeks ago (while we were having a moment of health in our home) I had surgery. I have 2-3 more weeks of recovery time ahead of me, but if you think that has given me lots of time to sit around doing nothing, think again. I’m homeschooling three children. Right now we’re behind schedule and trying to catch up due to all of that sick people activity.

Yes, I said three. Will, the boy who has been living with us since last April, moved out in January. We did our very best to love him while he was with us, and I worked my ass off to help him graduate in May, but he decided he didn’t want to be here. I am still heartbroken over how things ended. He’s not speaking to us. I pray for him and hope he gets his head on straight and realizes how loved he is. In my pain, I feel like I failed some great task I had been given. I think I did the best I could, but he needed more than I could offer. And that just sucks.

We announced that 2013 is a Sabbath year for SEVENS. That means a lot of things, and you can read about here on our SEVENS blog. We’ve yet to start anything because of the illness we’ve been passing around, so our year is starting off with forced rest. Oh the irony. 😉 We are on the mend and figuring out what Sabbath looks like when it’s lived out in practical ways.

Some wonderful family from our church donated a minivan to us, and we are SO thankful to be a 2-car family again! We had been borrowing a car from our friends Zack and Melody for a few months. We’re blessed to know so many generous people. To Zack and Melody, and the mystery family, whoever you are, if you eventually happen upon this blog post:

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Trevor, Chris, and Allen are the creative gurus over at Sacred Margins, and occasionally invite me to participate in the process of writing about walking out one’s faith. They are working their way through the liturgical calendar, something none of us have done before because it wasn’t part of the faith tradition we grew up in. Anyway, my latest post was about Revealing Light which focuses on Luke 4/Isaiah 61 as part of the last week of Epiphany. I have not been able to let it go. I am blown away by these passages and didn’t get to share everything I wanted to, so I’m working on a second part that I’ll post here soon.

Speaking of writing, my friend Luke (also a blogger extraordinaire) gave me an amazing book to read. The WAR of ART by Steven Pressfield is exactly what I’ve needed these past few years. Have you read it? If you are a creative soul, you should! Luke said so.

I never did update about my reading challenge last year. My goal was 104 books. I managed to read about 60, not including the children’s books I read with my kids. If I included all of those, I blew my goal out of the water! My goal for this year is the same. On average, 2 books a week. We’ll see how it goes.

Do you have a reading goal for the year? What’s new with you? Let’s reconnect.

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My friends Trevor, Chris, and Allen invited me to guest blog over at Sacred Margins today. I wrote about making a difference in my post, Greeting Cards and Bubbles.

“The guys” as I affectionately call them, are not only some of Benny’s best friends, but a talented band of brothers with a gift for exploring themes of faith. Their Sacred Margins site was born out of walking through life together and long talks about rest, space, and the desire to explore the deep connections between spirituality and technology. I am so honored they invited me to be part of the discussion!

I need to apologize to my friend Don. Not only because I never finished his 30 day drawing challenge, but because I’m not going to. I’ve had to give myself permission to move on. It was a great challenge – he rocked it out – but me? Not so much.

I did learn that I can draw more than stick figures. I also learned that drawing is work for me, and not the fun kind. Give me a lump of clay and I’ll be content to make whatever you want me to, but my brain does not see pictures on a flat surface in a way that is easily reproducible for me. I’m going to stick to word art for a while.

I have enough challenging things in my life now to take on any more. For instance, I decided not to join my many friends taking the NANOWRIMO challenge this month, but I am working on my time travel novel. That is fun for me, and there’s no pressure to have it completed by a certain day. I definitely work better on a deadline, but this is play, not work. It’s still challenging, but in a good way.

Have you read my story yet? The one published in Time Traveling Coffers? It’s not too late to get it at a discounted rate.

https://www.createspace.com/4021532

(Save 25% by using coupon code 9HW5GHYR when you order by 11/31/12)

I’m also trying to write our end of the year letter to our SEVENS family and friends without making it sound like a Christmas letter. It would be much easier if I had been writing quarterly letters like I had planned to do. I’m lucky they’re a forgiving bunch and they love me.

Be honest. How do you feel about Christmas letters?

Love them? Dread them? Hate them?

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I write fiction.

Now there’s a phrase I didn’t think would ever pass my lips. I’ve dreamed about writing a bestselling novel, but what writer hasn’t? I even went as far as outlining a novel at a workshop I attended a few years ago, but it was only to appease the speaker. I filed it under “writing misc.” and forgot about it. I have spent the past few years whining about not having enough time to blog, and working on piddly projects here and there. Until a few months ago.

I know this lady in my writer’s group who is always sharing opportunities for contests, anthologies, conferences, and such. She’s a writer/editor and probably submits more than anyone else I know. One day she cornered me and asked when I was going to write a story for her. With a polite smile, I kindly told her that I don’t write fiction. We chatted for a few minutes and I finally admitted that the time travel anthology she was working on intrigued me, and I did have an idea for a short story based on something that has puzzled me most of my life. I shared my idea and she said, “Write that!” So I did. Sort of. A few weeks after the deadline, I found out my story was accepted. I went to work on my edits and resubmitted my story. I was thrilled when it was also chosen as the 2nd story in the book!

From the intro:

What makes this collection unique is that an object must directly or indirectly be responsible for the [time travel] journey. The approach taken by all twelve writers is both as different and as diverse as the authors themselves. Several are from other countries. Several are brand new. Several are already published…it is family friendly. The editor wanted parents to be comfortable allowing their child or teenager to read these stories without fear of offensive language or sexual content. That being said, sit back and enjoy a trip through time via odd devices. It will be well worth the journey.

Time Traveling Coffers (WolfSinger Publications) released last week just in time for Mile Hi Con here in Denver. Last Sunday I joined my editor, publisher, and a few of my fellow authors in a reading, panel discussion, and book signing. We had a small but gracious audience and I received lots of encouragement and advice. I couldn’t cram all the story details into my limited 6,000 word count for the anthology, so I saved  a lot of it for the novel I’m writing. I hope others love my idea as much as I do.

Now that you know the story behind the story, here’s how you can buy it!

Print Edition is priced at $12.95
Ebook is priced at $5.99

Here is the link for Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Traveling-Coffers-Dana-Bell/dp/1936099373/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350073188&sr=8-1&keywords=Time+Traveling+Coffers

 

Smashwords offers all available e-book formats.

(Save 50% by using coupon code WB94A when you order by 10/31/12)

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/243987

 

This is the link for create space:

(Save 25% by using coupon code 9HW5GHYR when you order by 11/31/12)

https://www.createspace.com/4021532

 

I also have limited e-book copies I can offer for anyone who would like to read and review the book on their blog. Email me if you’re interested.

 

I didn’t get to do this in the book, so special thanks to:

Dana Bell for asking me to write outside of my box, and accepting my first story.

Benny Nowell and Karen Stonecypher for thinking through the plot with me and being my head cheerleaders.

Paula Moldenhauer, Kordee Rose, and Don Hillson for their invaluable critiques of my SFD, asking me the hard questions, and keeping me encouraged and on track.

Will Rees, and Max, Zoe, and Pete Nowell. I was glad my kids were as excited about my story as I was. 🙂

 

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Yes, I’m behind again. Lots going on over here in Niki-land.

Day 22: Something you miss

 

Day 23: Something you need (I couldn’t choose just one.)

Day 24: A Couple 😉

I have friends that draw better than I do. I’ll prove it.

Click on any of the links below. Go on. You know you want to. 😉

Expatriatism,  Free To Be Too Much, and GirlyGeeky

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