Friday Five · writing

How I Became a Writer {Five MInute Friday}

When I look back at four years of blogging, I find that my best and rawest moments have come in five minute increments. Because like Lisa Jo says, sometimes writing time is stolen five minutes at a time. Linking up with the Five Minute Friday community right here and telling you why I’m surprised by motherhood and writing right over here. 



In a yellow cardboard box on the bottom of my bookshelf are the battered remnants of what made me become a writer. Their covers torn and worn from so many countless rereadings, I’ve boxed them away in their original packaging and bought new shiny gingham covers for my girls and we snuggle under a quilt and up against too many pillows and dive in.

Laura Ingalls and her pioneer family driving across a nation when it was still in the labor pains of birth. Those were the stories that made me want to find my story. Those were the tales that made me want to tell.

But I got lost. I got lost in criticism and thin-skin and rules and regulations and shoulds and shouldn’ts and I got so very, very scared that I had no stories worth telling. So I scribbled in a journal and on napkins and in the backs of notebooks and hid my secret until I felt ready to share.

I’m never going to feel ready to share. I’m never going to really feel like I deserve to be here, to write here, to be going here to learn and dive and swim in these waters that scare me to death with their beckoning call.

But I’m doing it anyway. Somewhere along the way, I got the courage just to put a little bit out there, just to chronicle some real life, just to write it down and choose to believe a few people might care.

You did. You do. You let me hand over my broken story while it was still breaking me and you received and loved and poured grace and encouragement back into me.

And I’ve become a writer.

birthdays · Friday Five · · motherhood

How She Gave Away Her Birthday Cake and Gave Me Joy {Five Minute Friday}

On Fridays this community of prayer warriors and sleep-deprived mamas and funny college students and thoughtful friends takes one word and writes without editing, without backtracking, without over thinking for five minutes.  Sometimes we cheat a little, like me today, because I needed about 8 minutes to get it all out. But Lisa Jo knows all about grace, so she lets that slide at least once.

So go all in and try it out.  What’s your five minutes of JOY look like? 




I picked her up in a drizzle off a forest service dirt road 8.5 miles from Amicalola State Park and the headwaters of the Appalachian Trail.  She and her grandmother–my feisty and fearless mother–had hiked south from Woody Gap, a 21 mile stretch over a mountain in the rain that forecasters had said for three days would end tomorrow.  They were tired and cold and wet and it was her birthday, so instead of finishing one more night on the ground in the mud with poptarts and ramen noodles, I loaded them up in the mud-splattered F150 and drove back down the windy mountain to the lodge at the state park.

I had met them early to bring her a birthday treat.  A footlong ham sandwich with black olives and a cookie cake because I didn’t make it to the bakery for key lime cupcakes. Everyone I met on my drive through the misty forest knew her name. Every hiker I gave a peanut butter sandwich to had met the 8 year old with a pack and a grin so wide it made another tooth fall out on the second night in.  Everyone knew it was her birthday.

When we pulled into the parking lot of the lodge, she bounded out with more energy than someone who only weighs 50 pounds and carried 15 pounds on her back for three days should have. It was her birthday and she couldn’t wait to share it.  She asked if she could give cake to the workers.  I told her it was her cake and she could give it to whoever she wanted.

So she did.  After a dinner from the buffet, we cut up that cookie cake and plated it on salad plates her baby sister kept fetching from the bar. She walked all around that sparsely populated restaurant and my shyest child asked folks if they would like some cookie cake because it was her birthday.  They were a little astounded. A little flustered at the thought of saying no.  A lot joyful at the idea that a child could exhibit selflessness.

Most of the time, she can be a bit difficult.  She’s stubborn and strong willed and makes me question everything I do, but when she decides to be a giver, she’s all in. It’s her joy language, her heart song, her words without saying a word.

It’s her gift and she unwrapped the beauty of it for me on a foggy evening in the mountains on her eighth birthday.

Also linking up with Beauty Observed. Check out her beautiful photography!

Friday Five · motherhood · one word 365 · reflections

What’s Been Crowding My Heart (Five Minute Friday)

It’s Five Minute Friday, and that’s about all the time I have for this blog right now. I’ll tell you why below.

Prompt is crowd:

There are thousands of texts on a group text message on my about to kill itself iphone 3 because I have five sisters and a sister-in-law and we know no restraint.

There’s about 180 pages of word vomit in a document on my computer and I’m trying to finish and maybe suck it up and let someone actually read it before I go this conference in May and try not to throw up when I meet with agents.

There’s a new season of MOPS on the horizon and new leadership and I’m trying to give advice while letting go of control.

There’s four little sets of toes and swirly hair and tickling fingers in my bed on Saturday mornings and their daddy is just grateful we took the plunge and set up the king size before he got knocked to the floor.

I’ve been tagging and selling and working consignment, redecorating the living room, making tomato sauce from scratch, and strategizing marketing plans for the CSA for the past two weeks.  Baby boy has eczema and I want to write and submit some articles (or maybe rewrite what’s already there?) and should I try an ebook and daylight savings is kicking me to the curb, y’all.

Life’s a little crowded right now. Even when I’ve let go of some responsibility, I’ve found more to fill it with and less time to be here, in this community, and I don’t know, maybe that’s okay?

Maybe I’m feeling crowded because I’m still failing to recognize my season. 

It doesn’t have to be everything right now. It doesn’t have to be now or never. It doesn’t have to be a missed opportunity if I choose to wait.

Sometimes, the crowd has to thin out a bit so we can really see where we’re going. 

Friday Five · Home

Are You Willing? {Five Minute Friday}

Two nights ago this sweet little stop I call home nearly burned to the ground. 

In a picturesque downtown with a half dozen little cafes and taverns and another handful of businesses that move in and out, it can be hard to make a living.  It can be hard to believe that pouring your blood and sweat and retirement into an expensive storefront on main street is worth more than planting yourself a few miles down the road in the strip beside Walmart.

Especially when that building is 100 year old pine that goes up like kindling. That’s what they kept saying. How those flames leapt so fast and have now changed the face of history in my little town. How they licked and fed and ravaged before they were contained by brave fighters from all over this county. 
But when something you love has burned to the ground, you can’t just stand by and watch it happen and then walk away and never look back. Whether it’s your home or your business or your marriage or your family, when it’s something that’s been the better part of you, you raze that ground and build again.
You come back.  You find it in your soul to be willing to give another chance. 
On Fridays, I join in with a group of writers willing to go bare in the world of words for five brave minutes. We write without overthinking, without editing, without pause. We write for five minutes on the same prompt and then we share it all together in great big linkup at Lisa Jo’s. You can find us trending on twitter with #fmfparty. Come on over and join the fun. 
faith · Friday Five · motherhood

Fall In Love with the World Next Door

I could tell you how I know what love looks like.  How it’s his hands in soapy dishwater when the cracks on my dry hands just can’t do that again.  How it’s rocking the baby boy we never dreamed we’d have back to sleep at 5:30 a.m. so I can write one more paragraph on the novel that he really believes I’ll finish. How it’s planning a garden to grow tomatoes and peppers so I can make tomato sauce for Friday night pizzas and it’s tending that garden with the same care he tends our marriage–even when things are a little wilty and the rains are just too much.

But this isn’t a love story about us today. It’s a love story about how he smiled when I told him I’d given my skinny jean money to fund clean laundry in Africa, and how he nodded when I said I want to help them build a garden.  It’s about how he’s letting me fall in love with halfway around the world because I’ve discovered that really, deep down, all moms look the same.

I lead MOPS every other Friday so how fitting that today is Valentine’s Friday and I’m talking about loving moms. We meet in the spacious, well-lit, fully equipped fellowship hall of my church, and we share breakfast and potty training and sleep deprivation in the way that only mothers of young children can.  We learn from and love on each other with fierce passion for our kids, our homes, our Jesus and so many moms tell me later it’s the best part of their week–this building of community with other mothers.

No comparison, just community.  It’s been a mantra of mine for months now, whether I’m welcoming new moms or writing for Five Minute Friday.  Because if we really want to get down to the nitty gritty, our comparisons amongst ourselves will only tear us down and diminish all the worth we could be putting into building community.

So  today, I’d like to invite you to be a part of just that–this physical building of community for moms in Maubane, South Africa.  Moms who are just like the mothers who fill that hall with me on Fridays; moms who are raising their own toddlers and maybe someone else’s; moms who scrub their laundry with clean water now because we believed that’s every mother’s right; moms who would love to tend a garden, cook in a kitchen, fellowship with other moms, send their children to a school, and have playdates on an actual playground.

Moms who deserve to be shown more love than any Valentine’s Day card could ever contain. Moms who by Mother’s Day, God willing, will know that love is more than a date on a calendar and every mom matters. I serve in MOPS because I believe better moms make a better world; I write here because I believe every mom needs to hear that motherhood is hard but grace is unlimited; I read Lisa Jo because she believes motherhood should come with a superhero cape and an open invitation to sit at the table of Christ.

And Christ’s table is long and wide and full of that good measure that’s been pressed down, shaken together, and poured out on us to give to others. It looks like vegetables ripened by the African sun, like clean water pouring out a new faucet, like slides and swings, and sharpened pencils in new classrooms.

It looks like love.

In October, my community of writing mamas funded the clean water project for this community by raising $5000 in less than twelve hours because there’s no limits on the love of Jesus and should be no limits on access to clean water.

Today I’m asking my community of readers, you moms and grandmothers and aunts and friends, you husbands and fathers and supporters of moms, to come alongside us and help raise thirty times that amount by Mother’s Day: $150,000 to build a community center for the families of Maubane, South Africa.

It’s a crazy big amount, but we have a crazy big God who loves with crazy big love and we get to be a part of that love by sharing it with others. 

So, for Valentine’s Day 2014, instead of giving heart shaped candy, let’s grow tomatoes the size of our hearts in a garden for a world that’s really just next door.

Linking up with Lisa Jo and everyone else who believes #scaredisthenewbrave for today’s flash mob love and garden edition of Five Minute (or longer) Friday.