Each Day Your Story Begins Anew

Imagine … We are, each one of us, the pen or the paint brush. And our lives, from this moment on, stretch out before us like a blank notebook or canvas.

We are like paint brushes.

Some may be afraid of all the “white space” before them … scared of making a mistake or simply uncertain of where or how to begin. They are hesitant to mar the surface that appears so perfect without their input. Yet others see the unblemished space before them as an opportunity to create the life they want, to begin anew.
What do you see when you look to the day ahead?

Some of the things you face each day might challenge your faith and your focus and affect the way you see the blank page/canvas before you; that’s why I think it’s important to begin and end each day with joy. I came across this book that some of you might be interested in. It is a daily devotional with thoughts from some best-selling women authors like Sheila Walsh, Beth Moore, and Lysa TerKeurst (click on the image of the book below to follow the link):

Joy for the Journey

 

Another wonderful author—Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista—had this to share about her own faith journey:

“I had to stop writing for anyone else.

Except me.

Don’t be afraid to write your story.

We each have one story to live.

It’s never too late.

To pick up your pen and begin a new chapter.

To find your voice.”

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The overview of her book listed on Barnes & Noble shares this: “Whitespace. It’s the space on a page left unmarked. Untouched. Whitespace makes art beautiful. It gives the eye a place to rest.
Just like beautiful art, our souls need balance and beauty.

… Bonnie guides you to discover a better story for yourself, one that feeds your soul and makes room for rest. Infused with biblical encouragement and thought-provoking prompts, this book shows us how to create space in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faith—right in the midst of our stress-frayed lives.”

We all need and desire rest. Finding your own personal, spiritual whitespace is an important part of achieving this. And when you find this space … this spiritual connection … and spend some time there, you will find that it’s not quite so difficult anymore to put the pen to paper or brush to canvas.

God's Canvas

No matter who you are, how old you are, or where you find yourself in life, it’s never too late to start fresh, to write a new story or paint a new picture … to share your whole self, your real self with the world.

I read this in yesterday’s DaySpring Devotion: “As we learn each other’s stories—where we come from, what burns in our hearts, our hurts, our successes, our dreams—we are then able to connect better, understand each other, build each other up, and together glorify our Father in Heaven.”

Maybe today won’t go exactly as you planned. (It never really does, does it?) So, you’ll have to cross out a few lines or paint over some mistakes. Don’t let the mishaps define you or your life; they’re just part of the ever-changing story that you and God, together, can continue to create and shape anew each day.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

 

God's Story

 

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

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It’s a New Day

Today is a joyful day in the life of Christians because we celebrate an event that forever changed our lives. Though the Cross seemed to signify “the end,” Christ’s Resurrection proclaims “a new beginning” for us all. It’s a new day!

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Unlike some people who make New Year’s resolutions, I find spring, in general, and Easter, specifically, to be a great time to think about making changes and starting something new. While nature shouts “new life,” we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the new life we have in him. New life in Christ should strengthen us and give us courage to step out in faith and do something different. Something meaningful, not to others necessarily, but to ourselves. It doesn’t even have to be anything huge or immediately life-changing. Do you feel the winds of change whispering to you? What are you being called to do?

Winds of Change

If you’ve been meaning to spend more time writing, then today—write something. If you’ve wanted to paint, or sculpt, or dance, or anything creative, get a canvas or some clay, or sign up for a class. Whatever it is, just start.

As Holley Gerth reminds us, “Creativity literally changes us. Scientists used to think after a certain age our brains were set. But being creative actually makes new neurological pathways in our minds. It’s never too late to grow.”

Spring Growth

Personally, while I definitely want to spend more time in creative pursuits, one of the things I have made a decision to pursue more whole-heartedly is being an encourager. I believe it is one of my gifts that I have only barely begun to use in my life through my blog and my friendships. My goal is to mail or give out a card or hand-written note each day to at least one person. For how long? I don’t really know. Is that too grand of a goal? Am I setting myself up for failure? Should I start smaller, like with one personal note of encouragement a week? Perhaps. But I have a box full of cards and a room full of card-making supplies. Plus, as much happiness as I hope to be spreading through my acts, I believe it will make me just as happy to connect with others in this way.

So, this morning I started with a pretty new address book and I wrote in all the information I had from my old book.

New Address Book

Next up, I plan to go through my Yahoo and Facebook contacts and my phone and include any other information from there. I know I can merge contacts electronically and keep the information in that format, but there’s just something more personal about a hand-written address book. (And then, of course, there’s white-out for all those changes that are bound to happen.)

Of course, the perfectionist in me would like to get all of the above completed first and set up a specific plan before moving on to the next step—actually beginning to share personal notes of encouragement—but I know that I will not make progress by following that path, and I just might miss out on meeting a moment of need for some of those whom I would like to reach out to. If you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t tarry in the “safe zone.” Open the gate and move forward. The time to begin is now.

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As the FlyLady is known for advising on her website, “Jump in where you are.” [The FlyLady offers a housecleaning and organizing “system” that is based on establishing habits and routines to clear out clutter, get a handle on your home, make time for fun, and, in many ways, simplify your life.] What I like about her is that she understands how the perfectionism in people like me holds us back. I don’t always like to get started with some things until I feel like I am totally prepared or able to complete the new project perfectly. This sometimes means that nothing gets done. Two of FlyLady’s regular reminders to her readers encourage me:

  • Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family. (It doesn’t have to be done perfectly.)
  • You are not behind—you are just getting started! (Quite worrying about what you should already have done or trying to catch up. Each day is a new opportunity to start fresh.)

Spread Your Wings

And here are more great words from Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista: “Don’t wait until you’re completely new, in order to spread your wings. Don’t wait until there is no more sorrow, in order to celebrate the moments you do feel happy. All the moments you and I live in secret and out in the open is known. Because you and I are loved. Completely. Unconditionally. Irrevocably. Always. Again and again. Easter is alive in you. And in me.”

So, take time this day to not only rejoice in the Risen Lord and the new life we have in Christ, but also to spring forth with a new fervor to make your life a living testimony of God’s love for us and your love for others. Some might think my plan or my post is trivial, especially in light of the magnitude of this day. But if each of us reached out with our own gifts and talents in an attempt to touch a few lives, think of the difference we could make in those lives. Don’t think that what you have to offer isn’t enough. Even your smallest efforts can be multiplied by the Lord.

“Let our lives together be like the course of the sun:
rising in strength, going forth in power,
and shining more and more unto the perfect day.”
Dr. James Dobson 

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Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

You Don’t Need to Walk Alone

In a daily devotional on “The Impact of Right Relationships,” Dr. Charles F. Stanley wrote: “A group of people rightly connected can do so much more than a man or woman acting alone.”

I am happy to say that for the first time in my adult life, I am living in a neighborhood where people do this thing called connecting. Specifically, it is the people in my cul-de-sac that I have become friends with; however, Bart and I are branching out and getting to know some of our other neighbors as well. We have lived in other places where the people around us didn’t really seem to care about knowing the people who lived right next door to them. That’s just sad.

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In our cul-de-sac, we don’t all have all things in common, but each of us connects to several of the others in different ways, and we are learning how to look out for one another through various circumstances. It’s nice to know that if I ever need anything, like a ride to the store or a couple of potatoes for my pot roast, I can call or text them and someone always comes through. We’ve had a Bible study, a fall block party, and numerous chats across the yards (when weather has permitted). We have just started making plans for a spring block party, which I am really looking forward to.

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And when something more serious occurred, like the recent tragic death of one of our neighbors, we found even more ways to connect with, support, lift up, and love one another through the following days. At first, many of us were concerned about intruding; we didn’t want to appear nosy and insensitive. But it turns out that the most sensitive thing we could do was to reach out and lend a hand. It reminded me of this post that Lysa Terkeurst shared a couple days ago:

“My friend’s husband passed away after a long illness and when I asked her about some of the lessons she learned through those tough years, she said something that will stick with me forever. She said, ‘When people are going through hard life circumstances, don’t say “Well if there’s anything you need just let me know.”’

My friend said most days she couldn’t process how she was going to get through the next ten minutes, much less be able to ask others for help. I was challenged by this and wondered how I could help someone in need without being asked.

I could deliver dinner. Gas up their car. Mow their lawn. Pick up an extra gallon of milk or some pet food from the grocery store. Whatever it is, I’ll think I’ll just do it and I won’t wait to be asked.”

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This is what we did and this is the type of stuff I hope we will continue to be able to do for one another. Especially when you live in an area without any of your own family around, it is so wonderful to be able to build and experience a new “family.” If you don’t have that type of community—if your neighbors don’t really seem to be connecting—maybe YOU can be the one to get something started. Have a cookout and invite everyone over—even if you’ve never spoken to some of them before; host a pot luck in your home or create a space for one outdoors (that’s what our fall party was); set up an event for all the kids to get together and play. Maybe everyone else is just waiting for someone to make the first move. That someone could be you.

As enjoyable as it is to share good times with your neighbors, it’s also nice to know that once you have connected, it’s easier to share the everyday moments as well. When Bart was out of town a couple months ago, a few of my neighbors checked on me. One family even invited me over for dinner one night, which was super sweet (and very enjoyable). Just this past weekend, I was sick with an ear infection and a cold. I got calls and texts from different neighbors asking me if I needed anything. It’s bad enough when you feel sick and miserable, but how wonderful to not also feel alone and forgotten. And you know what, it’s okay to need others.

DSC02083The Faith Barista posted this just today: “Following his beating, it’s likely Jesus could not physically carry the cross all the way to Calvary. Jesus needed someone. In that moment, a man whose journey somehow crossed his path was pulled in to help him. We don’t know if Simon even knew who Jesus was. … All we know is that an ordinary person helped the Savior. Through one simple, understated act, became part of the journey with Jesus. And I’m reminded. It’s okay to need someone. When the cross is too heavy to carry, but we still want to be faithful to see the journey through, needing someone isn’t a shameful. … needing is good because it creates space for God to enter in. And love us through others.”

In a blog post on friendship, Lysa TerKeurst says, “Loving someone else is one of the most God-honoring things we can do today. After all, we’re reminded in Scripture that all the commandments can be summed up and fulfilled if we will love others.”

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“Let no debt remain outstanding,
except the continuing debt to love one another,
for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. …
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor.
Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Romans 13:8–10

So, my advice, my encouragement, for you today is to remember that you do not have to walk through life alone. Reach out, connect, walk beside someone else; you can start with the people next door. What a blessing it is to build bonds with our neighbors.

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