I’m Thankful for 2020

I’m Thankful for 2020

My writing community is doing a Thanksgiving Shower today – any members of the community who would like to participate are posting about one thing they’re thankful for.

I was thinking about what I wanted to share…

And I decided that I’m thankful for 2020.

2020 has been one of the craziest years of my life. In 2020 I’ve gone through valleys I never saw coming. I’ve growled and made faces at current events. I’ve come sobbing to God with the weight of… life. I’ve faced the raw, unfiltered depths of my heart and winced at what I’ve found.

But I’m thankful for 2020.

Consistent with what I’ve found before, God has used the hardest times of my life to draw me closer to Him. To show me that I am truly nothing, and that He is truly everything.

I’ve learned that my life is not mine. It’s His.

I’ve learned that my future is not in my hands. It’s in His.

I’ve learned that I don’t know it all. He does.

I’ve learned that I’m not at all worthy of praise. He is.

Sometimes I’ve doubted my purpose. I’ve wondered how God could use someone so seriously flawed as myself for His glory. And He’s showed me that He can – that He’ll use even my brokenness for His glory.

What I’ve written so far makes it seem like 2020 has been a miserable year for me. Quite the contrary! God simply flooded my life with amazingness this year… I don’t even know where to start.

I’ve had the opportunity to build so many new and incredible relationships. And develop and further build old ones.

I’ve been able to move on from home education and push myself into taking my writing seriously.

I’ve journaled like crazy.

I’ve gained many new experiences (and therefore tons of new story material).

I’ve grown closer to God, worked through the rubble of my heart, and been able to keep coming back to focus on Him.

2020 has been amazing.

I’m so grateful God’s given me 2020.

Some Honest Ponderings + A Poll

Some Honest Ponderings + A Poll

Hey, friends!

I don’t have a lot for you today… just a smattering of thoughts and a poll for you to answer. If you don’t want to hear from me today, please at least zip to the end of the post and answer the poll for me… it won’t take more than 17 seconds! I’d love to hear from you so I can have a better idea of how I can serve you here.:)

But in case you do want to stick around and listen to me…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about discipline, self control, prioritizing… all that good stuff.

And I feel like I’ve really lost it in these areas lately.

I don’t like it.

I used to be the girl who was so motivated and diligent with many things in her life. I had goals, and I fought for them. I knew where I was going. I was focused and fierce in pursuing what I knew God wanted me to do.

But then this summer I started spiraling out of control. So many things happened and changed, and I lost my foothold. I flew out away from the firm ground of order and left myself dangling on the end of a rope I couldn’t seem to climb – perpetually swinging in the winds of life.

I told myself, This is life now. Embrace the crazy.

But this doesn’t have to be life. I don’t have to be disorganized and scrambling. Of course, there will be plot twists that pop up throughout my days, weeks, and months, but what would happen if I tackle them with a disciplined mindset?

How much of the craziness in my life is self-inflicted?

I want to stop being all willy-nilly in the way I approach my life. Yes, I need to be flexible, but I don’t need to be floppy. God is a God of order, and I’m not convinced that I’m being the best image-bearer I can be when I’m not living my life in an order of some sort. I want to reflect God’s character as best I can.

So in conclusion…

I want to work on being disciplined and focused this month. I want to be seeking God whole-heartedly, and I want my life and habits to reflect it.

That’s all.:)

Have a lovely evening, friends.

-Laurel

Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain

Happy Thursday, friends!

I have to admit… this morning didn’t feel so happy.

In case you don’t know, I get to feed the cows on my family’s farm. Sometimes I just show up and plow through the feeding routine as planned… but today there was a little hiccup.

The tractor I use for feeding had a flat tire.

I didn’t have to change it – my awesome brothers took care of that – but that incident set the feeding schedule back a bit.

Oh, and it was raining.

And cold.

And I was getting soggy and chilled and frustrated and “oh, poor me”ish.

Wimp.

As I roared around in the skid loader and a dampened mood, I asked meself – whoa, okay, fingers, I guess we’re going with an accent today, – really, what do I have to complain about? Sure, the morning didn’t go as planned, but what do I have to smile about?

Umm… basically everything.

I’ve got an amazing job… even if it is a bit damp and dirty at times. The damp and dirty days make me appreciate the nice days all the more!

I have warm clothes that help ward off the cold and the rain.

I have a lot of thinking time while I’m feeding.:)

See, the way we look at our lives makes all the difference. If we’re hunting down things to be angry/frustrated/sad about, trust me, we’ll find them.

But if we’re hunting down things to be joyful/contented/happy about, trust me, we’ll find them.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

God has so richly blessed us… on our best days, and on our worst days. He always, always, always gives us something for which we can thank Him.

What’s that “something” for you today?

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Generations – A Poem

Generations – A Poem

My latest poem… tell me what you think of it!

A torrent of green

They burst on the scene-

Ready to take on the world.

Confident – oh, so

Confident

They

Could change the world with

Their song.

So they did.

What once was a forest of

Bleak

Monochrome

Soon became an explosion of

Verdure.

They gladdened the hearts of

The weak and the strong

The fearful and brave

The old and the young.

As the days turned to

Weeks

And the weeks turned to

Months

Their glory was ripening to

Rust

And they knew that their

Sweet days were

Short.

Yet they glowed

And they sang

In the grasp of the wind

That was stealing them

Far, far away on its

Breath

And they fell to their

Death

At the foot of the trees

That were helpless

To bring them to life.

A waste of a season?

They knew that they’d

Lived

The fullness of days

Appointed

To them.

So they sank into time –

Having burst upon

Us

For a moment –

And broke into

Sod

For successors.

Photo by John Silliman on Unsplash

No Condemnation

No Condemnation

To be honest…

Some days I get so frustrated with myself for not being the person I want to be. Being me, I mess up, then start throwing accusing questions at myself.

Why can’t I get my life figured out?

Why did I do such an awful job at work today?

Why can’t I live up to everyone’s expectations?

Why can’t I live up to my own expectations?

I can so relate to the Apostle Paul when he writes in Romans 7:15, “…what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

Cue the sickening feelings of guilt, insufficiency, and sinfulness. Right?

Wrong.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1

This is one of my favorite Bible verses ever. Are you serious? No condemnation???

I’m floored by the fact that the God who looks into my heart and knows my sins even better than I do is the One who loves me with such passion and faithfulness. This incredible love compelled Him to take on Himself the full punishment for my sins. He received all of my condemnation on the cross.

God isn’t calling me to beat myself up over my failures… He’s already been beaten for me.

I can’t let my shortcomings define me. Christ defines me. Yes, I will sin… but I’ll take that sin to God, repent, and walk away from it, travelling on in the amazing grace He gives.

Praise God, I can walk in freedom!

Will you do the same?

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo by Pete Nuij on Unsplash

First Things First… And Writing Isn’t One of Them

First Things First… And Writing Isn’t One of Them

And you thought you knew me. 🙂

Don’t get me wrong; I love writing. As a kid, I liked nothing better than curling up with a notebook and pen, crafting stories and poetry. My addiction to scribbling words and trying to encapsulate my crazy thoughts in semi-understandable sentences has only grown over time. My obsession with words was always just one of my weird little quirks. End of story.

But recently it came to a horrifying climax. It seemed like so much of my mental energy was going into writing and my future as an author… trying to figure out what it would look like, and how I would get to where I wanted to be in the writing world. I was so enjoying what writing involved that I was letting it become my life.

I was pouring into my stories instead of my siblings. I was investing in my writing courses instead of my friends. I was focusing on myself and my dreams instead of on my Savior and His dreams for me.

What started as a harmless little hobby began to devour every aspect my life.

The thing is, I’m not just a writer. I’m also a daughter, a sister, and a friend. Most importantly, I’m a child of God, a member of the body of Christ, and a representative of Him.

These other roles and responsibilities are even more important than writing. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to pursue a career in something I so enjoy, but I need to remember that there are so many other aspects to my life than writing.

I need to remember my identity in Christ, and let my priorities flow from that.

My relationship with God comes first. Next, my family relationships. Next, all other relationships.

Last, writing.

I’m not saying that it’s evil to work diligently at your job and seek to be good at it. Not at all. Actually, I’m really focusing in on that this week. But note the key word, job.

My job should not become a synonym for my life.

Balance, folks. Balance is key.

Let’s set our priorities in the right place and live them out.

On Seasons

On Seasons

Don’t you just love this time of year? The weather is cooling down, the flies’ days are numbered (hooray!!!) and I’m loving my sweatshirts, hot coffee, and afghans.

The seasons are changing, and I’m so looking forward to fall.

Spend enough time around me and you’ll learn that it’s my tendency to look forward to things – always planning and dreaming and scheming, picturing where I’ll be next year, in two years, in five years, in ten years…

But that means I can get so caught up in my dreams that I’m tripping over the important things I dreamed about yesterday. That’s a problem.

However, in my mid-teens I was encouraged by several sources – books, a blog, friends – to embrace the season of life I was in at that moment, rather than always dreaming, always planning, always waiting for what was around the corner.

And so I did. While still making my lists and dreaming my dreams, I wholeheartedly embraced a season that brimmed with family, schoolwork, cooking, music, writing, and spunky calves. I threw myself into the thick of it and loved it.

And then I looked up. I was turning eighteen and graduating. The season in which I had learned to delight was deteriorating before my eyes.

My first response? “NOOOOO!!!!!!!”

Seriously. I went into mourning for about a week.

My beautiful life was about to be changed… forever. I would never get back those days of being a crazy little farm kid, of doing school around the dining room table with my mom and siblings, of having the relatively simple and easy life of a child. Never.

(Whaaaaaaahhhhhh…)

What was happening to my life? I liked it just the way it was… why did I have to grow up and graduate, ruining and complicating everything? Couldn’t life just stay the same? Nice and normal and… safe?

I knew that if I was kicking and screaming (figuratively!) on my way to high school graduation, something was seriously wrong with me.

My mindset had become flawed.

Gradually, unwittingly, I had allowed my season of life to occupy a place in my heart that was never meant for anyone or anything but God. I had let it become my delight, my satisfaction and my identity, when only God can truly be those things for me.

This summer God’s been teaching me to embrace, not my seasons, but Him, the never-changing Creator of my seasons.

He’s been instructing me to work heartily at the projects the day lays before me, but to shift gears quickly if need be.

He’s been reminding me to appreciate the abundance of blessings He daily showers on me, but to allow them to turn my eyes to Him, not away from Him.

He’s been revealing to me the glorious truth that with Him, each and every day is brimming with opportunities for growth, productivity, and joy… lots of incredible joy.

He’s been encouraging me to to make Him the very center of my life – in the midst of every crazy, beautiful season and all it contains.

I want to encourage you to center your life around this incredible God.

You will not regret it.