The Journey Together Summit

Friends, Today, I am overjoyed to share a FREE online event I’m confident you’ll love: The Journey Together Summit, June 5-8. I’m joining hands with 34 leading authors—some really amazing women—with the sole mission of helping you discover new bravery. Whether you desire to be brave at home or at work, in your marriage or with ...

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Friends,

Today, I am overjoyed to share a FREE online event I’m confident you’ll love: The Journey Together Summit, June 5-8.

I’m joining hands with 34 leading authors—some really amazing women—with the sole mission of helping you discover new bravery. Whether you desire to be brave at home or at work, in your marriage or with your children, in ministry or in the mess of the day, dealing with a surprising life or just organizing it—this is the event for you. There is something for everyone with over 34 topics of fear covered (wait ’til you see them all!).

We’re also featuring an awesome line-up of authors who will give you practical, relevant and biblical tips for stepping into peace, purpose, and passion.

This is an event you won’t want to miss! Afraid you can’t “be there”? Don’t worry!

The 2017 Journey Together Summit is a FREE, VIRTUAL online conference!

You don’t have to travel—we bring the interviews to you! They’ll be broadcast over the web, so you can watch from the comfort of home.

What’s more? It’s FREE. Check out the lineup and see the agenda here. I can’t believe I get to be part of this.

 

So what are you waiting for? Join me and 34 other experts at the 2017 Journey Together Summit. Grab your FREE ticket today! And, if you can’t attend June 5-8, we have you covered. Get the All Access Pass and you’ll be able to watch the videos post-event.

I can’t wait to see you there! And I hope you’ll invite a bunch of your friends to join you. It’s a great way to initiate meaningful conversations and share this journey we’re on together.

Kelly

P.S. You can download my brand new e-book on prayer — for free — when you subscribe to my newsletter. Click here to sign up.

Seeing you, being seen, and seeing Him

My friend Tami and I are very different, although we’ve been close friends for years. We are on different ends of the spectrum politically and in many other ways. But the other day I met her for lunch and ended up pouring out my heart—how I feel, what emotions have come to the surface lately, ...

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My friend Tami and I are very different, although we’ve been close friends for years. We are on different ends of the spectrum politically and in many other ways. But the other day I met her for lunch and ended up pouring out my heart—how I feel, what emotions have come to the surface lately, and so on. I told her these things knowing she had different opinions, and she shared a little about where she’s coming from. We could do this because we were in a safe place—we both knew we were loved, differences and all, and we trusted each other to listen with an open heart.

It was a really healing moment for me. A reminder that differences don’t have to divide us.

One thing Tami and I have always had in common is we hate to be misunderstood. If you want to be mad at me, fine, but only if you’re basing it on the things I actually did or what I actually meant. We can’t rest until we’ve corrected mistaken impressions.

A big insight I’ve had lately is along those same lines: We all want to be seen and know that we’re heard.

[I promise this isn’t about the election… bear with me. REALLY. I promise. It has a God point and doesn’t take a stand about sides!]

I’ve heard analysts say that many thousands of people who supported our President-elect voted in large part because they felt like he understood their plight and was on their side. They supported him because for years they’ve felt overlooked by our government and media and now they feel as though they have finally been seen.

On the other hand, many who are disappointed about the results think that the people who voted the other way do not care about people of different colors, religions, sexual persuasions, and so on. And they want to be sure people understand the implications of that and what it means for the people who feel as though they’ve been overlooked.

See? Not politics.

It’s about being seen.

As I’ve been praying and thinking and talking and wrestling with my emotions and beliefs lately, I’ve landed here: Am I putting my money where my mouth is? Am I living the life and faith I believe we’re directed to live? I won’t go into all of those questions and ramifications—unless you have several hours to spare, you can thank me for that. But one of the conclusions I’ve reached is just what I said earlier. People want to be seen and understood. It’s a basic, driving force in human existence.

And it’s something we can affect, no matter who’s at the helm of this country.

In Psalm 139, David says:

“O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
Psalm 139:1-6, NLT

Today, I’d like to suggest three basic steps towards healing, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. Because the truth is we’re all on the same side. God’s banner over us is love. And it’s over all of us—people of all varieties and backgrounds and persuasions.

1) Spend time with God and be open about your conflicts, turmoil, confusion, anger, joy, frustration with acquaintances… whatever you’re feeling. Because He already knows you, and He created us to live in relationship. We grow closer to God when we share with Him who we are. Healing happens when we get real with God, and time in His presence can bring clarity and peace.

2) Seek out time with a trusted friend. You certainly don’t have to talk politics. Share your life. Let yourself feel safe and understood. God created us to live in relationship, and healing often takes place in community, rarely alone.

3) Reach out to someone today and let them know they are seen. It doesn’t require a personal or controversial discussion—simply pay attention to the people around you. Praise your child for a small act of kindness. Kiss your husband on the cheek and thank him for taking out the trash. Compliment the server at a restaurant for her efficiency. Tell a stranger you like her sense of style.

One person at a time, we can begin to change our understanding, to recognize the beliefs that drive a person. We can make a difference one life, one moment, one baby step at a time. And over time, as this kindness and generosity of spirit spreads, maybe—just maybe—it will impact the toxic environment in which we live.

Because people will be seen. And in the process, they will see the love that drives us, and it will point them to the God who inspires us.

Dear Precious Lord, help us today. Soften our hearts toward others. Increase our compassion. Enlighten our understanding. Thank You for seeing us and knowing us. Thank You for caring. Thank You for being our safe place to turn. You are mighty and altogether lovely—and I want to show You to others through the way I care for them. Help me. Teach me. Go with me. Amen.

Words you may need to hear: You are not alone.

Not ever. Even when it feels like it. Even if you haven’t heard from God for a long time. You’re not alone when you’re struggling. Or when you’re rejoicing. Wherever you are, whatever pain or struggles or loneliness or brokenness you’re feeling, God never leaves your side. Trust me, I know there are times it’s ...

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GRAPHIC you are not alone

Not ever. Even when it feels like it. Even if you haven’t heard from God for a long time. You’re not alone when you’re struggling. Or when you’re rejoicing. Wherever you are, whatever pain or struggles or loneliness or brokenness you’re feeling, God never leaves your side.

Trust me, I know there are times it’s hard to believe that. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. But I believe with all of my heart that God always eventually reveals Himself. He always shows up.

Yesterday I asked friends on Facebook to pray for a friend of mine who was feeling alone and abandoned by God.

You can say what you’re praying… or what you hope God will do… or that you’ve felt abandoned too but later discovered God was working… or just that you’ve taken a minute to lift her up in prayer. Just something so she knows that she is not alone, that God hears her and maybe His answers will come through a stranger’s words for her? OK… go! (And thank you!)

The responses were so real. So true. Words from people who have been there. From those who have struggled. Some people simply lifted up my friend in prayer, and some shared advice. A few people have told me how much these stories and words of encouragement meant to them, even though they may not have been “for” them. But I beg to disagree.

God often answers our prayers through the words of someone else. And He may answer more than one person’s prayer at the same time—like when I finally sold my house, and realized that he answered my prayer by also answering the prayers of the woman who bought it. We build our faith when we share our stories, when we open ourselves up and reveal the pain—because those are the things that connect us. So I’m posting all of the responses (minus the names of the posters) below. Maybe one of these things is exactly what you‘ve been needing to hear!

  • I know the feeling of abandonment. There have been times in my life that I felt all alone only to discover that God’s been there the whole time. Don’t give up! Just give it to God. It’s all in His time.
  • Let go, let God!
  • There are people around you who care. They just aren’t saying so. Ask someone for a hug. Many people assumed I was ok until I told them I wasn’t. I guarantee there is at least one human who will stand by you.
  • I’m praying that God gives you a sense of peace and love. I pray that he also gives you strength and wisdom! I pray that you never feel alone again and know God is always with you! I Jesus name I pray… Amen.
  • Give yourself time to overcome your problem. Sometimes you end up happier in ways that you never considered. Reach out to a friend.
  • In the darkest night, know that the still presence of God exists for you.
  • When I was born, I was born abandoned, no one wanted me… IKR: How could anyone abandon a baby?? Well they did… Thanks be to God he placed me in the care of great parents who adopted me… However that feeling inside, carried way up into my adult life;aAt about 25 I was PRAYING and God spoke to me and said; “Don’t you know that from your very first breath, I have been the one taking care of you? What makes you think I’m gonna stop now?” He feels the same way about you! I am a witness he’ll carry you through! 🙂
  • God is with you all the time and many others care for you. I will pray for you.
  • Jesus knows our feelings and is an ever present help if we just sweetly speak His name.
  • Dear Jesus I thank you, because of you, we are never alone. You are our strength and our joy in the time of sorrow and disappointment. I pray comfort with your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
  • God will never leave you ! He will NEVER give you more than you can handle. BELIEVE. Prayers lifted up for you.
  • This isn’t for me, but I needed to see this today. I didn’t even realize I needed to see it, as I sit here in tears. Thank you Kelly. I’m soaking in these words.
  • Praying for your friend to find peace, comfort and courage in Christ and his presence.
  • Praying for your friend to know that God is with her and that God loves her. He is holding her in His loving arms.
  • Trust his power and never doubt his strength… GOD is always there even when we are away from him…
  • Sweet friend of Kelly’s, you’re never alone. Jesus is always with you.
  • Just prayed for you to feel the love of strangers going out to you and for JESUS to envelop you in his arms to give you peace. AMEN!!
  • Dear friend of Kelly’s, since you are a friend of Kelly’s I know you love the Lord. Look up, and say,” Thank you Jesus for all the blessings (name as many as you can) you have given to me today.” Take in a deep breath of air and let it out slowly, and thank Him for each breath.He loves you so much and will never leave you. Tell Him how you feel and how you want to feel. Let Him take on your burdens and sorrows. If you can, smile as you think of how much you love Him and He loves you. Now, I pray that Jesus will give you strength and comfort and take away your sorrows and troubles and replace them with joy and happiness. In Jesus’ holy name….
  • Dear Kelly’s friend: I am going to tell you that life can really feel bad. I am going to tell you that we can feel alone, forsaken, hurting, bewildered and bitter and God is the same. He is the same as when we feel loved and nurtured and peaceful. I am going to say that you are blessed beyond measure because you are loved. I am going to tell you that you are being lifted up by total strangers because Kelly is such a lovely person and she loves you enough to reach out to all of us on your behalf. I am tough loving you because I have been in the depths myself and I know that GOD is the same and that you will come through this because you can and will find your strength in Jesus… It’s the way of faith. Believing for things that ARE NOT SEEN. But your time of healing will come. Now I am going to send you one of those crazy facebook hugs and whatever gives you joy I say GO DO IT! Our lives are short…lets do this together! <3
  • Praying and asking God to strengthen you at this time. We are all His creation and He loves us all! Just remember you were fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • I am in a season of rejection and living with a wounded heart. And yet. And yet. God has not rejected me and I am living in His love. The important thing was not to be right (or to be well thought of) but to love.
    Paul states that he was abandoned by t
    hose close to him—those he trusted. But then he focused on those who were faithful.
    Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. —Galatians 6:9
    So how can we love others as Jesus loves us and participate in the kingdom work to which we are called? By loving others when its hard, when it costs us something, when it’s not convenient. By choosing to be loving even when we are wronged, misunderstood and rejected.
  • What a blessed soul you are,with Kelly, busy as she is, calling in all who understand your pain. All these people and more, are reaching out to you as best they can—in so doing all of us are being lifted.We are the Body of Jesus Christ, His hands extended. I am thankful for your need being shared today, because it has drawn all of us closer to each other, and to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Keep on believing, never give up. You can make it. <3
  • Feel, deal, HEAL…. allow yourself to grieve,then figure out how to deal with it (might include asking others for help), & then the healing will begin. Blessings and prayers for a better tomorrow….
  • My husband has recently encouraged me with the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Long story short, when Naomi and Ruth went to Bethlehem, Naomi wishes to be called “Mara” because she felt God had forsaken her. God showed his faithfulness and provision through Boaz in a time when Naomi felt she had lost everything (husband and two sons). Sometimes we will never know or understand God’s plan or what He is doing, but His promises are true. It sometimes does take constant reminder and encouragement. Thank you for posting this, Kelly. I pray all of this support and encouragement fills your friend’s heart with warmth and reassurance.
  • I don’t know your name or your circumstances, but God does. I don’t know the trials and agonies of your heart or the journey that brought you into the moment you are in. But I do know that God knows. And that His knowing, and our FEELING like He knows and cares, don’t always match. But it doesn’t make it any less true. Over time I’ve come to learn how He works and speaks in my life, and to recognize when He’s present…….so I pray that you learn these things about your relationship with Him, too, if you don’t already. Learning to keep my heart open when I want to close down, was challenging, being open to other possibilities and a bigger picture than the one I was seeing/experiencing, was challenging….but it’s been well worth it. You are not alone, even tho I get that it feels like you are. You’ve got unmet, silent friends out here, lifting you up. Keep inching…and as crazy as it sounds: Sing. Sing your pain, your fear, your doubt, your anger….whatever you’re feeling, sing it out loud….and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
    GRAPHIC we build our faith
  • Always and forever He is with you. His rod and staff comfort You. He leadeth you beside the still waters. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all your days. He is your Lord and Shepherd. He will not abandon you or leave you defenseless. He’ll fight for you, hide you under His safe protection. LOVE wins.
  • Prayers for your friend.
  • Life is a challenge. Remember those who care and love you can help
    you through!
  • Whoever you are, you are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God. God has a plan for you and although life can be tough and we don’t understand the trials, He can use our weakness and give us a peace beyond understanding. Please know you are loved and being prayed for by many.
  • Joshua 1:5 I will never leave you nor forsake you. We can ALWAYS count on God! He loves us more than we can imagine! Just bring your cares to Him….He is the only one who can take care of us.
  • Lifting you up in prayer. Pain and struggle are His way of getting our attention about something in our lives. Our perception of loneliness or abandonment my be His way of reminding us that we are never alone and if we abide in Him we ARE ENOUGH. Sending peace
  • Praying for you. I believe that God’s grace can see us through any trouble. God bless and keep you in the palm of his hand.
  • This scripture has been vital for me for years…it is my go-to scripture… “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
  • What I know for sure is that God is listening. Give it to Him and let Him do his work in you and for you. Lifting you up.
  • I saw this earlier today and have been thinking about it… all I can say is that I have felt abandoned by God many, many times in my life. But I’ve tried my best to maintain some sort of Faith in Him even when I didn’t feel like doing it. And He always comes through for me. Not always the way I wish He would, but He has given me everything I needed for every single day of my life. Keep praying. Keep trusting. He’s there. He never goes away.
  • For this one day, let go and let God.
  • My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  • Do you remember what you were doing last year on this day? Last December 19th? Whether it was a fabulous day or a regular day it is now a memory. Whatever your struggle is now, it will be history in the blink of an eye. Abide. Watch. Amazing things are ahead.
  • Sometimes God seems oh so far away. He is silent when I think I need answers. Or, He answers but I don’t like it. Sometimes I just don’t WANT to hear from God. But, whatever the situation, I have found Him to be faithful. His love is relentless and we who belong to Him will always find our way back to Him. It’s just the way God works. Praying for peace and clarity in whatever situation you find yourself.
  • God is the only one who will never leave us or forsake us we have to have HOPE—Having Only Positive Expectations of what God is doing in us and through us. He will bring good out of all circumstances and trials Romans 8:28
  • You are so covered in prayer by all of us FB prayer warriors. We are a team that know God is real and our Creator. I can assure you He cares for you because He made you in such a precious image. He stands by you and you can’t see Him. He hears you and whispers sweet breaths of love and comfort to you. He will bring forth a mighty answer in a gentle way. Be ready.
  • I don’t know you but will be lifting you up in prayer and asking our good Lord to wrap you in his healing white light!!!! Kelly, thank you, what an AMAZING group of prayer warriors you have. I have read every wonderful comment and your friend Jama’s post really spoke personally to me. I literally felt as if he answered an unspoken prayer for me through her post, even though it was not intended for me! So thanks for that and God Bless <3
  • God is our refuge, the lily of the valley. He is faithful to see us through. Keep praying daily. Keep the faith and I’ll be praying for you.
  • I pray strength for you for I know it’s not easy and more important GOD knows. Our strength is in God. Where else would we go, so we run to Him. His arms are wide open waiting on us to cry on his shoulders and when the crying is done he fills our heart with strength. He says when you pass through the waters I will be with you. You will make it through and there is strength on the other side. Jesus is our Strength.
  • Life breaks and falls apart, but the Cross says these are all places where grace is. Whatever is happening in your life, it will not be unredeemed…
  • To your friend—2 Corinthians 3 & 4—Blessed be the God and Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. God created you, so you have to be very beautiful. God will not leave you, He is with you all the way. You may not know this but God is carry you. (Praying)
  • To your friend: You are an amazing person, and through your struggles a light seeks you. It has me and I am still working to fully accept the light. Be strong. I am stronger now than before because of the struggles I have faced and you will be too. Keep your head high and praise our holy Father because without him we would be nothing. Bless you darling and have a great day. Enjoy your struggle the solution will find you.
  • “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:10 ESV

But don’t let it end here. What would you say to my friend? And to others?

Christ’s community is powerful when we all pull together in love. There’s so  much strength to sustain us when we open our hearts to each other. Thank you for sharing your love. It started as a gift for my friend, and ended up being a gift to many.

God: always magnifying, always illuminating, always multiplying. Amen.

 

Reaching one person at a time

It’s no secret that publishers like authors to have large platforms (which simply means they want us to have a large sphere of influence—through social media and other channels—being able to reach as many people as possible). I’ve been making myself crazy trying to meet—or exceed—their expectations. See, I was that annoying student in school ...

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It’s no secret that publishers like authors to have large platforms (which simply means they want us to have a large sphere of influence—through social media and other channels—being able to reach as many people as possible). I’ve been making myself crazy trying to meet—or exceed—their expectations. See, I was that annoying student in school who couldn’t just take a multiple-choice test. I had to write an essay in the margins explaining why B and C were both actually legitimate answers, but that I knew they were looking for B because of thus-and-so. If a book report was due, I designed a full-color book cover to go with it. I didn’t try to be annoying—it came naturally to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not in my nature to under-achieve. I want to go above and beyond. And I’m doing everything I can possibly do, and the numbers aren’t where they’re supposed to be. I’m tired of thinking about it, and I know my friends are tired of hearing about it. As I was venting to another writer the other night, she reminded me that numbers aren’t everything. That not everyone reads blogs. That there are other ways to sell books. And that if God put me here, He will make it happen, no matter what I do. In spite of what I do.

And I really know that. I do. But I’ve been feeling disappointed in myself for not being able to make this happen faster. (Yes, I know: I cannot make it happen. Only God can. I get it. I’m hopeless.)

Tonight as I ate dinner, I was reading a book called Wherever the River Runs by Kelly Minter. And these words shouted to me from the page:

“…The saving knowledge of Jesus is not for the masses but for the individual,
which eventually makes up the masses.”

If you know me, you know that I’m not one who jumps and shouts at ballgames (or at church). But my little soul was whoopin’ and hollerin’ as the full truth of that expanded inside my heart. Jesus didn’t spread His message like we would suggest today—with blog posts and followers and pre-made tweets. He didn’t go on national news networks. There had to be more efficient ways to get His message to the masses. But, as you’ve heard me say before, He liked to do things upside down. He was busy—so He spent hours in prayer. He came to save the world, so He met with people one on one. And not through social media. Nicodemus wasn’t born again as the result of a powerful podcast, and Jesus didn’t text Zaccheus, “Get out of that tree. I’m coming to your house.”

Jesus stopped to talk with the Samaritan woman at the well. To Mary and Martha. To the adulterous woman. Even when He was in a crowd, He saw individuals—the blind men outside Jericho, the woman with the issue of blood, the paralytic lowered through the roof. He fed the masses, but He never neglected the individuals.

I’ve always believed Jesus came to give us the gift of relationship. To forge a bond with each of us, one person at a time, according to our own personalities and experiences. It is only when that connection is in place that truths are revealed. That change happens. That lives are changed.

And when I read what Kelly Minter wrote, I suddenly understood this blog thing in a new way, one I recognize as truth. Even though I’d love to have thousands of followers, even though it would be exciting to have a blog post go viral, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about connection. Relationship. It’s about the private messages on Facebook from women I barely know, sharing stories of their experiences. It’s about people responding when I ask if I can pray for them by pouring out their hearts in emails. It’s about being stopped on the street by a friend to talk about prayer, or meeting someone for coffee and talking about God.

Blogging is about letting myself be known as a way to invite you into my life.

I couldn’t articulate it before, but now I see that this is why, a couple months ago, I started writing the names of every new blog subscriber in the back of my journal. Because the individuals matter. Because I can run my finger down the list in prayer, asking for blessings for Kara and Dixie and Donna and Mark. Giving thanks for the people I’ve never met who took the time to subscribe. A friend tells me her mom, who I’ve never met, comments on every post as though she knows me. I hear stories about people sharing posts with their friends. These are the moments that bring tears to my eyes. The moments in which I raise my hands towards the sky. The moments I let my ego disappear and bow in humility before the One who lets me write. That’s the reason I’m here.

So if you read this, please know that you matter. “You” singularly and specifically, not “you” as in the plural masses. I’m not a huge online personality, and I may never be. I am real. And I am flawed and insecure and outspoken and occasionally self-centered and sometimes way off base. But I love God, I really do. I try to be authentic and true in every single word I write. And one of my favorite roles in this life is to be a friend.

I hope you’ll let me be one of yours. And I promise not to keep track of how many of you there are. Because I finally get it. To tell the truth, I’ve always known. This is why the numbers thing has been such a struggle for me. People are not numbers. Each person brings something different, something unique, into my life. I want the personal connections way more than I want to reach an arbitrary number. I let myself get distracted by the overachiever in me, the student who won’t settle for just 100%. I’m sorry.

Lord, thank You for Your revelation. I had it backwards. Upside-down, if you will. People are not the means to an end (and the book is not the end). Instead, the book is a method by which I can reach people, find new relationships. One at a time.

No more numbers talk from now on. Only people. And the one and only You. Amen.

Gallery of Gratitude—Week #3

15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To start the new year, 2015. It’s never too late to join us. Learn about the challenge here. Several years ago, the first time I attended the Midwest Writers Workshop, I met this woman from Michigan. Irene invited me to lunch with some people from her writers group. The ...

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15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To start the new year, 2015. It’s never too late to join us. Learn about the challenge here.

Several years ago, the first time I attended the Midwest Writers Workshop, I met this woman from Michigan. Irene invited me to lunch with some people from her writers group. The next year, I met a redhead from Indiana, Sarah, who also hit it off with that group of writers from Michigan. Before long, Joe, Terri, Irene, Sarah, and I were hanging out with Kelsey and Dan and a whole lot of other people. We kept having to pull up extra chairs because we didn’t fit around the table anymore. Someone dubbed it the Cool Kids table. And our writers group was born.We’ve added a few others along the way—Julie, Lisa, Jane, Jama—who are present when they can be. We have fun together. But what I love is this: every single person takes their writing seriously.

 

They work it in around kids and jobs and all of life’s busyness. It’s not a hobby, it’s a passion. I’ve watched their determination—Sarah’s and Joe’s, in particular—to press on, no matter how busy they are with regular life. To keep getting better. To finish one project and start another and never give up hope. To learn more, and try new things, and do whatever they have to do in order to make this happen. To be published. To be able to keep writing.

I’ve never been great at follow-through—I have lots of ideas but not enough hours or energy to make it all happen. But the determination of my friends is impressive. Without them, I doubt I would have attempted to write a book, and if I had, it wouldn’t be nearly as good. We all write something different—fiction and non, mysteries, historical fiction, horror, poetry, inspirational, YA and middle grade. We all have different backgrounds. We’re a wide range of ages. And yet, somehow, the bond was deep and instant and only gets stronger.

Cool Kids retouched

 

On paper, and maybe in person too, we appear to be an unlikely group. But this group brings something into my life that I don’t get anywhere else. This past weekend, we had our third annual retreat. We write. And talk. Mostly about writing. We read each other’s work, help each other past problems. We brainstorm ideas, suggest marketing techniques, discuss our experiences so far with agents and publishers. And we laugh. And have spirited discussions. And ongoing jokes. And deep connections. And like every other year, we found ourselves still up at midnight, sitting around the fire—still talking about writing. We gathered around to hear Irene’s poetry. We ate a lot of food. We laughed. We advised and counseled and taught and propped each other up. And had a glass or two of champagne to celebrate our successes.

These are not the kinds of friendships you can make happen. This is the kind that comes naturally, instantly, without any effort at all. I’m so grateful that God gave me such a great group of friends, people who have become some of my biggest cheerleaders. People whose love for what they do has inspired me to keep going, to keep writing. To do whatever I can do to make this publishing thing happen for me—but also for them.

Tell me—who has inspired you? Send them a note or post a short tribute to them on Facebook or your blog. When we share our stories, we get to know each other better, and I want to know about you.

P.S. If you have a group you’d like to spend a weekend with, someplace comfortable, I highly recommend the Patchwork Quilt Inn in Middlebury, IN. We’ve gone there every year. The owners are fabulous—as is the food. It would be a great getaway for a couple, but it’s the perfect setup for something like this.

P.P.S. I have no idea why that photo is upside down. I wasn’t trying to be cute. My computer is doing it and I can’t figure out why or how to fix it. So I guess you’ll have to look at things upside down in order to see right side up. Hmm… maybe I should write a book about that.

 

Can I carry you?

This post is being featured today at the Internet Café. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man ...

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roof-photo-788x1024This post is being featured today at the Internet Café.

Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” ~Luke 5:18-20, NLT

Standing in the center of a clump of people at the altar one morning, as I prayed for a woman who had requested prayer, I felt a new hand on my back. I heard Sandee’s voice. I leaned back slightly into the pressure of her hand. And I rested, knowing that these prayers were for me. I laid down the worries I had and let her words wash over me.

After she prayed, she put her arm around me and squeezed. And said, “I don’t want you to have to go through this again.”

Me either. My dad has cancer. Stupid, stinkin’, honkin’, blasted cancer. I lost my mom to that awful disease nearly three years ago. Believe me, I don’t want my dad to go through this, and I don’t want to, either.

When Sandee prayed for me that morning, I pictured the men carrying the paralytic on the mat. Hauling him up to the roof because they couldn’t get through the people crowding the house where Jesus was. Tearing off mud and tile — they had to make noise and a mess, and people had to be watching, but no one stopped them. And then carefully lowering him down to Jesus, muscles straining, sweat dripping. Because they knew what Jesus could do for their friend. And they knew their friend couldn’t do it for himself.

I went home and read all three accounts of this story (Matthew 9, Mark 2 and Luke 5). And noticed something. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the paralytic asked his friends to take him to Jesus. I think I’d always assumed they did it because he asked for their help. I just assumed that the one in need of healing would take the first steps (literally or figuratively) toward the Healer.

But in this case, I think it was his friends. They took it upon themselves to carry him. To put him where he could receive help, help that they couldn’t give him. And when they did, when they fought through the crowds and excavated a hole large enough for their friend, Jesus said, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” And then He healed the man’s body too. As always, the soul was healed first. As always, Jesus knew just what was needed.

And so did the paralyzed man’s friends. They’re the ones who carried him. Like Sandee carried me. Like friends do in this Kingdom. Because sometimes we’re too weak. Sometimes we’re frightened, alone, filled with shame, overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the problem. Sometimes we’ve lost direction and don’t know how to get there. And sometimes we’re not even aware of what we truly need.

So today, my friends, will you please let me help carry you to His feet? Comment below with your needs, or send me an email (kellyostanley@me.com). I commit to lifting you up — or lowering you down through the roof. Let me carry you today. And then, tomorrow, we can each grab hold of a different mat and help carry another. Until we’ve laid the whole world at the feet of God.

Behind the scenes

Everybody wants to talk about the front of the painting. You know, the canvas, the place where the paint was applied, where the artist’s talent (or lack thereof) is prominently displayed? But you know what? There’s a part that is rarely noticed — perhaps even the most important thing of all. The hanger. It holds ...

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Everybody wants to talk about the front of the painting. You know, the canvas, the place where the paint was applied, where the artist’s talent (or lack thereof) is prominently displayed? But you know what? There’s a part that is rarely noticed — perhaps even the most important thing of all. The hanger. It holds the painting up, keeps it safe from harm, and positions it right where it belongs. 133828149

As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. Exodus 17:11-13, NLT

Sometimes I have a hard time translating lessons from the Old Testament into my daily life. But not this one.

Because I’ve failed. I’ve fallen. I’ve been weary and heartbroken. Full of grief, overwhelmed with anger and outrage, unable to hold my arms up for another single minute.

I’m grateful beyond words that I didn’t have to go through that all by myself. That I’m not walking this earth all alone. That I have my own Aaron and Hur.

See, when Moses’ strength gave out, his people started to be overcome. He needed help. The beauty of this story is that, when the battle was over, it wasn’t just Aaron’s victory. Ultimately, of course, God Himself brought the victory. But the ones who held up Aaron’s arms shared in it with him.

friends

When you see someone start to give out, when their faith is wavering, hope is being crushed, weariness is prevailing, the battle isn’t going their way — just reach out, lifting their hands to the sky. To the One who lifts us. To the One who holds us up. To the One who makes everything possible, no matter how discouraging the battle looks at that moment.

Because the most important thing about a pretty surface is whether there’s something holding it up so that the world can see.

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