Thursday, January 30, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Hero

Five Minute FridayOn Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend 5 collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Hero


Climbing towers. Slaying dragons. Rushing headfirst into the thorny thicket. Yes. I used to compose a very specific idea of hero in my head – and it used to involve a chiseled Disney archetype with shiny armor and a sword.

Later, when I curled into my safe spot at my father’s desk; reading Greek mythology, Shakespeare; and other literary adventures far beyond my years, my estimation of a hero darkened, and I doodled strange, dark, multi-limbed creatures wielding swords, lances, and jagged shards – these new heroes always towering violently protective over the small shadow of myself that I included.

Still later, when real fairy tale crashed headfirst into real life, and my heart and other pieces were shattered and broken into bits, I disavowed the notion that there were heroes are all. I saw no honor. No sacrifice No courage. No excellence .No heroes.

These days, I don’t have to look far to see heroes. Not far at all.

Heroes love fiercely into the chaotic swirl of parenting that breaks a mother’s heart and can tear a family to pieces. Heroes stand and open their arms to let their children leave and remain standing there with arms open to welcome them back when prayer and faith restore what has been broken.

Heroes watch tireless through the dark of the night when fevers flare, stomachs roil, and congestion barks its ugly snarl. Heroes sit vigilant with cool hands and cloths that sooth; always knowing what to turn to for each ailment. Always patient and watchful to guide the sick and the restless back to health.

Heroes go to battle for the best that can be offered – even when the best is sometimes couched in a lesson that stings and burns. Heroes look long into the future and do not focus on only immediate happiness, but the foundation that is being laid and the infrastructure that will support a well-rounded, well-learned individual who will contribute much to their world. Heroes know that the long view is generally best.

Heroes stand firm in the face of immaturity and indifference, as children stretch; thrust; and fight to find their footing in the blind dark of desperation and a need for love. Heroes continue to stand and make themselves a beacon in the darkness; shining out into the bleak; the raging storm; and maelstrom; lighting the way to the home that will always be there.

All around me, in real life friends and ones I only know online, I see wonderful, Godly parents living their lives; setting an example; leading their children; and working to make a difference. The way is often hard. It is heartbreaking. It is thankless. But they continue on. They endure. This is for them. These are my heroes.


How to Join 
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Embracing My Anger

I have shared here in this space about how I have battled my anger. How I have bared my teeth, clenched my fists, and shivered in silent fury over things that have nearly unhinged me. Anger and I have wrestled for many long years. And I generally regard it as a burden; an Achilles heel; a chink in the armor of a generally unruffled exterior. It is not something that you see acknowledged openly – much less written about in Christian circles (never mind circles of Christian women). Anger is negative. We shouldn’t do it. Anger is damaging. We should put it away from us. Anger is harmful. We should let it go.

So imagine my surprise when I clicked over to the (in)courage site the other morning and read a post by Sarah Bessey about paying attention to anger – and not so that you could hide it or let it go. Her opening salvo floored me – enough that I had to step away and come back later to read these words that were now simmering inside me:
I think it’s important to pay attention to what makes you angry. In my experience, our calling is hiding somewhere in what makes us angry.
Pay attention? My calling might be there? I’ve been able to move past the “nice girls don’t get mad” phase in my life, but to take that next step and embrace the anger because it holds part of my calling? I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.

And then I took a moment to delve into those things that make me angry – the things that set me on fire – and tried to make them less personal for one moment to see if there was something more global there.

I get angry when people don’t listen to me. Listen to Me. I wrote an entire post on this. The thing that pushes my buttons. The thing that can almost break me. What about the people out there – for me specifically – what about the women and children who are in unimaginable situations whose cries for help are not being heard? This encompasses one of my huge issues to advocate for: human trafficking. But also includes issues like domestic violence and global poverty.

I get angry when I don’t have enough money for things. This isn’t just “I can’t get a new pair of shoes,” but when we’re (still) in a situation of having to choose between things like “do I get this prescription or do I pay this bill?” And right there – I’m still better off than a huge percentage of the world because I’m going somewhere to get a prescription written for me and I have a bill that needs to be paid. What about the millions who have little or no access to basic healthcare and the millions more who don’t have essentials like clean water or enough to eat?

I get angry when someone tries to bully me. Now let me be honest, this is a rarity these days.  And I’m grateful for that. At first glance, I’m not a woman who looks to be trifled with. I wish I could say that this had much to do with my tremendous physical shape and bearing, but my husband is convinced it has more to do with the look in my eyes than the look of my biceps. I’m not a small woman, and apparently if you catch me in the midst of the right temperament (angry anyone?), you’ll be likely to clear a path rather than deal with what I’m handing out. But once again, what about those women who – for whatever reason – are being bullied. Who have the look in their eye that allows others to trifle with them? Who have lost so much hope and a sense of self that they are at the mercy of predators who eagerly look for carrion because they themselves have nothing – are nothing – and therefore must take what scraps they can from others.

Sarah said:
Anger is only the starting point, of course, the invitation: Christ sustains the passion and directs it into life-giving transformation.
What begins in the white heat of anger can burst into the passionate flames of commitment and transformation. Even more so if you have had any kind of experience with the things that you become passionate about. I have not been in all of the difficult circumstances for which I advocate for, but I have been that woman.

I work now where I can, to advocate, shine a light, and raise money and awareness. I write for Exodus Road. I share for the End It Movement. I contribute and share for Mercy House Kenya. I support the efforts of World Vision. My goals for transformation are larger than this – the Lord knows where my heart wanders when I dream – but I will take these steps one at a time.

And in taking these steps, I become less fearful of my anger, and more willing to see it as a catalyst for the change I want to see.

What is it that makes you angry?
What calling is buried within that anger?
And once you’ve thought about that, what are you going to do about it?

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

I'm joining Simply Beth for her Three Word Wednesday link up and am looking forward to getting to know this circle of writers. For this link up, choose three words; share a post, photo, or scripture that highlights those three words; link up here; and share some encouragement and blog love with other writers.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why I'm Doing the Jesus Project 2014

There are a multitude of projects going on in my life at this moment. Balls in the air. Plates spinning. Cats I’m herding. I have a fondness for starting things (perhaps not as much traction in finishing, but I’m working on that), so embarking on new adventures is a fun thing.

Any excuse to share my handsome husband
My online writing group is about to launch again. In fact, sign ups begin today over at the (in)courage site. I’ll segue briefly and mention that these aren’t groups for just writers, but for women in all ages, stages, and areas of life. Single moms, working women, empty nesters, military spouses … there’s sure to be a group for you to connect with. But I digress ….

I’m working with another group; supporting a favorite author as she prepares to launch a new book. I can’t say much now, but I’m looking forward to sharing more when it’s closer to publishing time.

At the beginning of the year, I always get bit by the crafting bug, and have already churned out a new hat, a luxuriously large washcloth, several pieces of jewelry, and a scarf that I’ve been working on for my husband for the past three years (that part about no good traction in finishing).

A small taste of what I'm reading
I have stacks of new books (if a book can be called a project) that I’m tearing through with delighted abandon. And my online community has launched a new venue for encouragement that has some of us writing snail mail letters to each other throughout the week.

There are work projects and family projects galore. Something is always going on. And then there’s this new thing called The Jesus Project (or sometimes The Memory Project 2014 – both hash-tagged for ease of following) that I’m looking forward to.

Ann Voskamp has introduced an annual project for scripture memorization. She’s done this for several years now; previously taking on sections of Colossians, Matthew, and the Romans project last year. This year, the focus is on words of Christ from the book of John; on beautifully illustrated printables with ideas for sharing them with your family and getting everyone involved.

As I made a space in our hallway and hung the printed squares with the verses, I anticipated the joy of doing this together as a family. While there has been resistance to this project in some circles, and enough questioning and vitriol against it, and the author, to make the space behind my right eye hurt, I believe this is going to be a good thing.

Squares from The Jesus Project in our hall
Despite what detractors say, this is not a works-based project. No one is saying memorize enough of this stuff and you’ll get in to heaven. Not that I saw at any rate. Just following some words of wisdom that have been set down from ages past – some from the mouth of Christ himself – that encourage us to take this word into our heart and keep it there.

I don’t generally identify myself with a particular denomination anymore – I’ve been part of too many churches to feel like I need to cling to one name only. Raised Baptist. Visited Foursquare. Turned to Episcopalian. Then Anglican. Became a Lutheran. Then a Presbyterian. We’re going to an entirely different church now; one where the teaching lines up with the Bible, and we feel confident in their statement of beliefs.

One consistent thing I saw in all these churches and congregations was the support and encouragement of scripture memorization. Not as a measuring stick. But as a tool in the arsenal of the Christian life.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6: 16-17 ESV

I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11 ESV

We’re not always going to have our Bible with us. We may not always have access to the handy app on our phone that pulls the scripture right up out of the ether. But you will always have access to words that you have tucked away, hidden in your heart, and let become a cherished part of who you are.

If you want to participate in the Jesus Project – great. Visit the website, print out the squares, hang the up, and memorize along. But don’t make it a comparison. Don’t kick yourself if you don’t keep up (exactly what I did for a while when I got off course on the Romans project). There is no "project police" waiting to drop the hammer if you’re not right in synch with the schedule. And trust me; God’s not waiting to smack you if you don’t. That’s just not His style. Do it because you want more of Him. Do it because you know you need more of Jesus in your life. Do it because you understand that having those verses accessible to you in a moment of weakness or need may be the saving words that help you hang on or go on.  Do it because He said:

If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  John 8: 31-32 ESV

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

I'm joining Ann Voskamp and friends for Multitudes on Mondays. You can find her writings and the other links here. Be encouraged.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Visit

Five Minute FridayOn Fridays a bunch of brave writers gather here to all spend 5 collective minutes writing on a single prompt. It’s a great way to catch your breath at the end of a long week. This blessed, beautiful place where we open our hearts and let words and tears and the inner workings of our lives bleed and flow and dance across the virtual pages. Yes, this community opens wide and invites you in to share. Come and visit and read. You will be blessed.

This week: Visit


I committed today.

Laid down real money.

Signed on the line.

I am going to my first official writer’s conference. I’ve hashed this out with my family (we’re all going and turning it into a partial birthday trip for my girl), and have been encouraged by them and other friends that this is a good thing to do.

I’m excited about the speakers, and the breakout sessions – I’ve already charted those out and put in my first, second, and third choice selections (though I have a feeling it’s not going to come to that), but more than anything, I’m giddy with anticipation about the people I’m going to see.

You see, this writing community that bubbles in effervescence around me – overlapping one group to another with continuous connections twining their way through, this community is full of friends that I’m making and longing to see. Longing to sit down with over a cup of coffee or tea, longing to sit eye to eye with to share thoughts and dreams, longing to listen to the cadence of voices bringing to life the words I’ve been reading for months and months.

It was almost too easy for me to begin making a list of why this couldn’t happen: money (there’s always money), maybe the car wouldn’t make it, maybe I wouldn’t be able to walk around the conference, maybe it would be full, maybe I wouldn’t be able to get away from work in time, maybe …
Taking my One Word necklace for a visit with friends

But it doesn’t get much easier than this one. A straight shot down the highway; one state over. Writers whose books I’m reading. Bloggers whose sites I encounter – whose faces I’ve seen lighting up my Twitter feed and Facebook groups. There’s really no good reason not to go.

So I’m going.

It started with a joking line to a friend about getting our One Word necklaces together in real life. And now that’s turning into the real thing with several that I know converging on this small college town, and several more that I hope will join.

You see, it’s this writing community that pulses and thrums so vibrantly online – so much so that it can’t help but explode into real life. The encouragement and cheering. The sharing of joys and sorrows. The chasing of dreams. The praying and sharing. It all happens when we stop in on each other’s lives – sometimes on a blog post; sometimes on Facebook, sometimes with sweet voices carrying over Voxer, sometimes in real life snail mail. But always visiting each other with hearts and hands open. Waiting and welcoming.

And guess what? There’s always room for one more.


How to Join
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Encouragement

Five Minute FridayThis wonderful space. This joyful Friday writing community. I look forward to this each week ... not losing my days in pining, but becoming more giddy in anticipation of the fun to be found in the Thursday night Twitter Party - where hearts meld, women pray, laughter echoes in virtual rooms, and friendships are birthed and nourished because of shared faith and a passion for words. These are the Five Minute Fridays. The prompt goes up from Lisa Jo at midnight on the East coast. We write. We post. We read. We share. We encourage.

This week: Encouragement


There was the time when I curled into the corner of the sanctuary – pressed hard into the wood and spoke with blank eyes and a monotone; sometimes punctuated by a choking sob that would not be denied. In the midst of a job that was breaking me down; in the center of a length of darkness with no light in sight; at the bottom of a well. I was desperate. You held my hand (I know that was outside your comfort zone). You sat with me in the silence and let me cry – your presence holding me up. You murmured a prayer; petitioning heaven on my behalf. You asked for grace, mercy, and strength.

There was the time we finally made it to happy hour – sipping sweet, spicy cocktails and nibbling on delectable goodies. Oh, to finally let our hair down and catch up. How did this happen – this connection forged in 80s bands, Tom Cruise movies, and deeper things. We shared about our families, about our daughters, about our day-to-day lives.  The similarities we share allow us a unique insight as we battle some of the same demons; fight some of the same wars; wrestle with some of the same adversaries. Dry wit and sarcasm allows us to find humor in the things that might frighten others. And beneath all this runs the gleaming thread of faith and commitment to see God’s work carried out here on this earth: to meet the needs of the least of these.

There was the time we sat in the restaurant – unchanged since my college years. Red vinyl seats still scratchy and intermittently patched with duct tape. I sat straight-backed; a determined smile on my face. You both looked at me, and in the face of that sincerity, my determination crumbled and real life leaked through. Frustrations with my long desert journey and questions about my marriage bubbled up – all filtered through fear of being judged imperfect and a failure again. Your warm hands wrapped around mine said no such thing. You shared similar journeys, similar struggles, and similar desperate prayers. And then you prayed for me. Not desperately, but deeply, sincerely, and fervently.

There was the time we sat in Borders (ah, Borders!) for five hours. Or was it longer? Books, notebooks, and water bottles piled around us. We told stories I didn’t know we could still tell – things that have remained undiscovered after a lifetime together. We spoke of organization, gardening, crafts, and upcoming meals. You counseled me, as you continue to do, on how to be a better mother. I may have offered advice on how to be a better SciFi fan. Our lives are wound around these visits – the ones that have taken place in bookstores, and coffee shops, and treatment rooms. Living and breathing the joys and pains as they come. Shared as only sisters of the heart can.

Four situations. Five different women. This is what I've known.

She is right. There is nothing easy about encouragement. It is not simply pleasant platitudes – tossed out to put a band aid on an ache or a hurt. Not how I’ve known it, at any rate. Encouragement is heartfelt and hard won; coming in the midst of battles and hard times (as well as in the good) – anchored in the Word of God – reminding me of joy eternal when happiness has fled the scene. Encouragement looks past the immediate emotion of “feel good now” and says, “How can I invest in your life now and in the future?” and “How can I remind you of the grace, and peace, and strength you have because of what Christ has done for you?”

Be encouraged, friend. Be encouraged.


How to Join 
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Peek Behind the Scenes: The Liebster, Community, and Me

I’m taking an odd step today with my behind the scenes post. I’m giving you a behind the scenes peek at me. And since my picture is right there to the right, I'm thinking you'll be okay if I don't add another one of me. This is going to be a long post. I’m telling you that now. Between answering questions and writing about friends, it’s a lot. Stick with me, would you?

A long time ago in a land far away known as “last year,” my sweet, online friend Amy Boyd did me the very gracious honor of nominating me for my very first blog away – the Liebster. I had seen this on various blogs, but never really thought that anyone would nominate me. It’s a wonderful way to introduce smaller blogs to more people and pass around the blog love. I’m so very grateful because Amy is such a gracious host – not only on her blog – which consistently encourages and uplifts me, but also in other media where I’m getting to know her a little more each week. On Twitter, via email, on Voxer.

Unfortunately, shortly after I received this kind nomination, I packed up my family and went on vacation. And didn’t write for the rest of the year. It was only through the encouragement of Amy and some other friends that I remembered the thrill of connection, the importance of letting the words flow, and got back into the sync of my writing.

If you had asked me a year ago if I thought that real, honest, sincere relationships could be made and thrive online, I might have laughed. I’m laughing for sure now, but for a whole difference reason. Amy and a large handful of other women are part of an online writing community that has become an integral part of my daily life. We cheer, pray, cry, encourage, and advise each other. This blessing of community is something I pray that each person will find – whether online or in your hometown.

Behind the Scenes Part One
So Liebster business. We are asked to provide eleven facts about ourselves:
  1. I probably have more books in my bedroom than most people have in their house (if you're willing to count and find out, so am I).
  2. I have an uncanny fear of crossing sky bridges of any height or length and will do most anything to avoid them if possible.
  3. I don't ever want to go to Las Vegas.
  4. I danced in the Pro Bowl. Twice.
  5. I am utterly and completely addicted to office supplies. Really. I physically can't say no when I hear, "we're putting in an order at Office Depot, anyone need anything?" #itsnotabouttheneed
  6. I also probably have more pens (yes, probably here in my bedroom) than most people have. Ever. (my husband says "than you could use in a lifetime")
  7. I am a scarf girl - almost every day - no matter what the weather.
  8. Ever since I was in high school, I've always had a jar of dried mung beans around. Just because I like the way they feel.
  9. I love doing stage makeup, but my specialty is trauma and horror, so I really only come in handy if you want to look like you've been in a car accident (did that for a video) or want to be a zombie (right Kristen?).
  10. I'm a classic nerd girl who loves SciFi, Star Wars, Star Trek, the Marvel & DC Comic Book Universe, vampire mythology, Tolkien, dragons, Game of Thrones, and just about anything Joss Whedon. I still dream of making it to ComicCon someday.
  11. I'm an avid gardener and am looking forward to spending time in the dirt with my family for our fifth year in a row producing good things to eat and share.  
Behind the Scenes Part Two
Amy provided eleven questions to the friends she nominated for the award:

1.    What movie do you wish had a sequel to finish the story?
Movie, television series, inspired tale with brown-coated, devoted followers – give me more Firefly/Serenity. Un-cancel the show. Make more movies. Just give me more Mal. You can’t take the sky from me.

2.    What is your favorite meal?
Given that we have recently returned from visiting family in the place where I was raised, I’m fairly certain I’ve eaten every single one of my favorite meals last month. Not sure I could pin one down, but it would surely consist of Chinese food: chow mien noodles, roast duck, char siu pork, and cold ginger chicken. Add a couple of sides of ahi limu poke (raw fish with seaweed), manapua, and poi, and that just might be my favorite meal. It’s a good thing I don’t live there anymore.

3.    Do you dream when you sleep? Do you remember them?
Yes. And Yes. My dreams tend to be full-blown action dramas; in color; with soundtracks. Sometimes they’re a weird combination of movies or shows I’ve been watching. Sometimes fact and fiction merge and its bits of movies and bits of real life in a mash-up. What it never is, is boring.

4.    What was your favorite Christmas gift as a kid?
Had to be the red and white skates I got when I was nine. I wanted those so very much and couldn’t wait to open the shiny silver package under the tree that I was sure contained my long-awaited gift. I had hours and hours of fun rolling around in those things.

5.    Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I think I’ve adapted to the morning out of necessity, but it’s pretty telling that during vacations and holidays, I’m lurking up into the wee hours. I guess I’m really a night owl at heart.

6.    If you won the lottery, what 5 people would you tell first?
I’m so terrible – I’m not sure I’d tell anyone for a while! I think it would be fun to run around coordinating extravagant surprises and meeting needs for people and not letting on that you were the responsible party! For sure my husband and my daughter (after I finally broke my silence), but after that, I’m not really sure I’d tell anyone!

7.    What is your best physical feature?
I had to ask my husband and this because I am horrible at this kind of question. We’re going to go with eyes, because they’re expressive.

8.    Who inspires you the most?
People who do put actions behind the words they speak or write. I love to read a passionate entreaty or a determined call to make a difference, but it means so much more – and in turn moves me – if the writer or speaker is also doing what they’re calling others to do. All of that is doubled when it’s an everyday person like me, who is daring to risk brave; step out; and make a difference in their world.

9.    How old were you when you started dating?
This is a tough one. I had a couple of boyfriends in high school – the kind that you only saw in school, but didn’t really “date” – as in go out on dates where they have to pick you up at your house and meet your parents – until I was at least 18. Dating + Me didn’t go very well. I’m happy that I’ll never be doing that again!

10.    If someone wrote a book about your life, what would they title it?
In Spite of It All:
One Woman’s Journey to Answer God’s Call on Her Life and Discover Strength through Brokenness            

11.    Are you a rule breaker or a rule keeper?
Pretty safe to say I’m a rule breaker.

In turn, I’ll be nominating some other bloggers and sending them some questions for them to include as they write their own Liebster award post. I’d like to introduce you to:

Karrilee at Abiding Love, Abounding Grace – If you’re a regular reader or follow any of my social media, you’ll probably recognize Karrilee immediately. We connected for the first time on a Five Minute Friday Twitter party over year ago and continued to make connections and discover things that made us kindred spirits as we talked over Facebook, and our blog posts. We had a chance to meet in real life last fall and attended the Women of Faith conference together – what a blessing. Her words of encouragement and her joyful spirit; always urging her readers back to God’s throne are a breath of life.

Jenn at Running This Thing Called Life – You can’t even know, there was a time in my life where there were no Jennifers. Now I have an abundance, and each one is a blessing. My blogging friend Jenn – she is amazing. We met via Twitter and have been in writing groups together, and her encouraging spirit can brighten even the darkest of days. She's dreaming big and has allowed me to have a peek inside that dream. I'm excited. Jenn is a real lyricist with her words, and her original photos will capture your heart. She writes bravely into the face of living – the beautiful and the hard – and always brings it back to the Lord, who is her strength.

Lauren at It’s a Wilderness Out There And In Here TooThis is a friend of my heart that you need to come see. She writes fearlessly about everything from relentless love, parenting in the midst of the mess, f-words (like fear) that can break us if we don’t keep our eyes on Jesus, and chronic illness. Yes. Lauren is the friend who gave me the courage to admit in writing that this is something that I struggle with. She gave me her number so I could call or text her when I was having a rough day (dear lauren, i don’t think i can go one more inch on this bike and i’m not going to make it back. Yes you are. You can do this), and she has cheered these revelations in my journey like she’s known me in person forever.

These women, they bless. They are amazing writers. Their hearts are His. I hope that you’ll visit them and give them some love.

I'm linking up with Crystal Stine and company again today; joining the Behind the Scenes link up – where we show those photos – but tell the real story behind them. The sneak peek behind the scenes, a look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Five Minute Friday - See

Five Minute FridayThis has been a long week. It is the first full week back after the holidays, and there has been a whole lot of crazy going on. Re-adjusting to schedules. Remembering what the morning looks like. Dealing with a certain level of desperation and insanity at work. Car battery dying (oops, there goes a car payment, as a friend used to say). Getting sick. Call from the nurse at school. Homework’s lost. Paper jam.

I need my community tonight. My creative, writing, hug-tight, love-hard, we-got-your-back community. And I feel like I’m having to stretch and reach and fight to get here. But I’m here. Take a Breath.

This week: See


In the middle of wild and crazy – and then add a dose of unexpected frustrating – it can be impossibly hard to find my happy. To find the will to smile through the tears. To find the energy to get up and get going when my spoons are low and depleted and I don’t think I have it in me to face another round of phone calls from people who can’t find their Start button.

I’m so very grateful then, that even when I can’t get my happy on, joy can still manage to percolate to the surface. Before you dismiss me out of hand as an eternal optimist and shinning Pollyanna, you should know full well that I am self-described as fairly grumpy, edgy with sarcasm, and skeptical to boot. I mask these well when needed. Because deep down, I have joy.

Even on the hardest of days. I have joy.

It is a gift. And it is not mine. This joy comes from sacrifice and a purpose that was laid down long before I was imagined. But it was laid down for me, and it was laid down for you. This joy becomes our strength, and that strength becomes ample, evident testimony that the One who gives us both the joy and the strength is larger than circumstance, larger than roadblocks, larger than life, and larger than death. This joy becomes the stories of our lives that point to His glory. In spite of it all.

In the midst of my desert time, I used to wonder when I would stop wondering about when I would see God’s hand. I hung on to the Psalmists’ words: I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13 NKJV), but how long Lord? How long?

Now I can see that He was there all along. Beside, behind, beneath, and between. In the measure of every breath. In the heart of every cry. I inhaled His word and breathed it back out to Him in measured prayers. And I’m still doing that. Praying His words. Counting my thanks.

I will recommend the whole of Psalm 34 to you as a meditation tonight, but especially this reminder to taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. (Psalm 34: 8 ESV)

Friends, wherever you are, take refuge in Him tonight. 
See that He is good.


How to Join 
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

 I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Take a Breath (A Three Word Wednesday Post)

Momentum. Have you ever been caught up in it? Caught up in the whirl? In the heat of the moment? At the height of passion? In the thrill of the chase? Have you ever been overcome by your emotion – and said exactly what was on your mind, even if it wasn’t quite what you planned? Have you ever been consumed by a new relationship – and let it lead you down a path, even if that path wasn’t quite what you wanted? Have you ever done something physically challenging – stretching your limits and feeling amazing, until suddenly it wasn’t feeling quite so amazing?

I’ve been through each of these situations; before and after; and know that while heat, passion, and heightened emotion are wonderful, stimulating, and invigorating, they’re not where you want to be when there’s a critical decision at hand. And critical can be relative, mind you, it just depends on your life. Critical might be a word spoken – or unspoken – in the midst of a crucial conversation. It might be the decision to slow down a romance and give things some time. It might be knowing when the distance has been reached or when a muscle has reached the length that it’s going to stretch or push.

Being aware of that critical moment means knowing yourself intimately; being confident in who you are; being willing to listen to the Spirit and be attuned to God’s moving in your life; and then while listening, knowing when to

Take a Breath

Sometimes it’s that simple. The moment in which we inhale can be the moment that we stop the momentum, regain our sense of balance, and keep our passionate, stimulated, enthusiastic self from going over the edge.

Why Breathe?

Breath is Life
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. – Job 33:4
Our lives are created and crafted by God above, and His breath gives life to our physical and spiritual beings. Without that breath, we are nothing.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
In addition, our lives should be guided by His Word – also breathed out from God – and complete for preparing us for this life and the work that we will do here.

Deep Breath Helps Manage Stress
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. – Psalm 139:13
God’s artful design has crafted us together; each system supporting the other. Deep breathing stimulates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system which allows us to rest, regenerate, and heal. Keeping this system at heightened alerts for extended periods of time (e.g. fight or flight syndrome) can have long lasting negative health effects.

Deep, Even Breath Heightens Awareness
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. – Psalm 37:7a
When we pause and breathe, when we pause and wait for the Lord, we can be still, quiet, and hear His voice. Being still and breathing deep also connects us with our own bodies, with our thoughts, and helps us focus and see what lies before us. If we listen to our bodies, we are less likely to injure ourselves when exercising or playing. If we listen to our thoughts, we are less likely to let words escape us that could damage others around us. If we listen to the Word, we will be able to hear what the Lord has for us.

Slow Breath Might Mean Better Relationships

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. – Proverbs 29:11
Imagine what would happen if everyone paused before they spoke. Or tweeted. Or posted a Facebook status. We live in a hyper-aware, social media-driven, 24-media cycle culture where things are constantly happening and we are constantly being asked to respond right now. Our opinion is asked on the minutiae of every happenstance around us; we begin to feel obligated to report what we’re doing or experiencing (even if that happens to be as odd or mundane as: Huh. He just purred in my ear. Computer client. With issues. That was weird. – True confession. That was one of my Facebook status updates yesterday). If someone upsets us, we think we have to respond immediately. With vigor. We don’t.

Take a Breath

There is nothing so immediate that it cannot wait for the space of a breath. And if it can wait for the space of one breath, it can wait for another. And perhaps, in that moment, when we allow ourselves to breathe; when we allow ourselves to become centered again; and direct our eyes toward the One who breathed life into us and continues to breathe life for us on a daily basis; we can save ourselves from going over one cliff or another and find respite simply in resting in Him.

Take a Breath

I'm joining Simply Beth for her Three Word Wednesday link up and am looking forward to getting to know this circle of writers. For this link up, choose three words; share a post, photo, or scripture that highlights those three words; link up here; and share some encouragement and blog love with other writers.

I'm also jumping in with Holley Gerth and company for her 2014 Encouragement Challenge: Coffee For Your Heart. The challenge was "What encouraging words do you want the people you care about to hear as they begin a new year?” I hope this meets that challenge.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Fight

Five Minute FridayIt’s been almost a full month since I wrote the last Five Minute Friday; since my phone took off pinging with the sound of friends connecting online across time zones; of my family graciously conceding time for me to drift away to my desk and delve into the five minutes that is so much more than five minutes (as in, I do try to stick to the five minutes of actual prompt writing, but the rest? Posting? Pictures – if I do that? Trying not to be a complete control freak and not edit my mess? That doesn’t happen in five minutes. You didn’t think it did, did you?)

The laptop is actually cold beneath my fingertips. It’s been on its own journey –across and ocean and back. Its hum sounds excited. Anticipatory. I feel it thrumming with me as thoughts run through my brain – scattered by my brief time on the Twitter party (Costco). I just got my first post up today. I haven’t been writing for a month. I honestly have no idea what I’m about to say.


This week: Fight


Towards the end of the year, I allowed myself to rabbit hole. Or is it rabbit trail? Rabbit … something. That thing you do where you find a small path that looks like it might go somewhere and start to follow it off into the brush. I did that. With more than a handful of things. Ideas mainly. Posts. Declarations. Ideas. Intentions. Opinions.

Everybody’s got one.

So many shoulds, supposed tos, this is the way it’s supposed to be – all, for the most part, surrounding the idea of the Christian life; God; and belief in Christ. All, for the most part, presented by learned scholars; committed theologians; believers who’d done their research; well-read, scholarly individuals.

It was fascinating stuff. I was intrigued. The ideas presented were often logical – they followed thesis to their conclusions (with footnotes) and were, for the most part, staked in the foundation of the Word.

And yet …

As I read and listened and observed the conversations and comments I saw so much contention. So much need to be right. So much need to be heard. So much need to be vindicated. And it hurt. Maybe I just haven’t been paying as close attention because of the immediacy of things like desert living, but when did the life of the Body of Christ turn into Thunderdome? Two men enter, one man leaves.  Really?

I know God is a God of Justice and holds us to a set of commandments and expectations, but those are His. Directed to us as individuals. Who are accountable to Him.  And His other directives? The ones we’re supposed to be following? I see more of His mercy and love flowing out of those – admonitions to love Him with all our heart, love our neighbor, care for those around us who are the least among us, doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly, telling His story and sharing the gift of His love and sacrifice with those who have not heard.

I’m probably making a mess of this here, but all I’m really trying to say, is that as part of my One Word commitment to Return this year, I am returning my eyes (heart, attention, focus) fully to God and His word. I’m pretty sure that’s the right place to start if I want to really hear what I should be doing in my life, what I’m supposed to be accomplishing, and the way it’s supposed to be if I’m walking in His footsteps.

God is just too big – too incredible, awesome, and amazing – to be brought low by any disbelief or disgrace that the world tries to throw at Him. They’ve been doing it for a long time now and it hasn’t stuck. I don’t think we need to give them any more ammunition for a fight.

I want to focus on what He’s called me to do. What His desire for my heart and my life is. I will return to the foot of the throne of grace where I will wait, listen, and learn. This is where I’m taking my direction. This is where I begin again.


How to Join
Want to know about Lisa Jo Baker, how Five Minute Friday got started, and how to participate? All the details are here. No editing or second guessing. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!

It Begins Again (A Three Word Wednesday Post)

I woke before daylight for the first time in three weeks. Joints aching, muscles protesting, I rose slowly in the quiet chill of the morning to begin the daily routine again. Back from vacation; back to work; back into the routine that I measure my days by. The calendars have flipped and another year begins anew.

Memories from our recent vacation - first time home in four years. Here's my sweet girl and my little brother, the back of the lovely cottage we got to call home, my girl and her cousin that we got to meet for the first time, and the local staple: ahi limu poki (raw fish and seaweed with onions and kukui nuts) that I just can't get enough of.
2013 was such a growing year here on my blog. Relationships blossomed in the online communities I was a part of, and with that encouragement, I went from writing fifteen or sixteen posts per year, to over one hundred last year – even taking the brave step of joining The Nester for the 31 Days Project (yes, I wrote for thirty-one days straight) where I finally said yes to the Lord’s prompting and wrote about my Desert Journey.

It was our first year out of the Desert – not a full year, but pretty close. I landed a new day-job after a long stretch; one that I love so completely (and yet never imagined doing); that allows me to work with my left-brained, problem solving hemisphere in the office while freeing up my right-brained creative hemisphere to write and design while at home. This may sound like a statement of the obvious, but in the middle of the job that nearly tore me apart, I didn’t make the connection between my lack of personal writing and the fact that I was pouring out all my creative energies into speeches, presentations, brochures, and more for everyone else. Imagine that. And did I mention that I love my team? That makes all the difference in the world.

When I began committing to my blog at the end of 2012, I wrote about wanting to be transparent, honest, and vulnerable in my writing; largely in response to several readers who talked about committing to me and my writing because of just that. Staking my claim to vulnerability with words was simple enough. Putting it into practice; being willing to, as an old professor would say, “write into the teeth of things and floss them,” that was another thing all together.

Writing about my issues with anger – and specifically with my anger and struggles with my daughter’s school was hard. This Five Minute Friday: Jump – about the desert (again), and my free fall into God’s grace was hard. Being willing to share about living with chronic illness and the limitations it puts on me (and my horrendous struggle with having limitations put on me) was hard. Being vulnerable is excruciatingly hard. It’s being willing to peel back some of your theoretical safety, security, and masks and stand up in all your mess and say, “this is all there is, this is me.”

Thank heavens that the “this is all there is” includes incredible grace from heaven and a Savior who gave it all so that our mess is seen through the veil of His sacrifice. And let me tell you this too – people respond to vulnerability. It resonates with them. I know this – because when I read about struggle, and grief, and tears, and pain that another writer friend, mentor, or someone I admire has wrapped in the gift of their own words, it resonates with me.

As I welcomed the New Year yesterday and prepared for what was ahead, I went through my traditional activities of cleaning my desk (Right, you say, this is more than an annual activity. Right I nod, it truly is), organizing the books on my desk (these are the ones I reach for most often on a daily basis), and preparing calendars and organizers.
What I'm counting days with, reading, and organizing with this year.
In addition, I’ve decided to join up with the One Word 365 team and designate a word for my 2014. Selecting one word is a challenge to be life changing; to be committed; to be intentional; to be invested.

My word is Return. There are many ways that the umbrella of Return will spread over my life this year.

Spiritually, I am always in need of returning to my God. My spirit wanders – whether I want it to or not – and He is continually calling me to come back; come home; be near. In the past several months, our family has not physically been to church because of my chronic illness. There have been complications, and we have been away. It’s wonderful that sermons are available online, but we’ve missed the fellowship of the body and the life that comes from being part of the active church. We will be returning. As a family, we are recommitting to a deeper spiritual connection and prioritization this year. A family verse of the year and statements defining who we are will sit at the head of our table as a reminder of where our focus lies.

Physically, this is my year to return to health. It has already begun through new medical care, but I am moving beyond the confines of traditional, western medicine to things like better eating, movement where I can move, and a better understanding of how my body works – even with the chronic conditions that I wrestle with (maybe especially with the chronic conditions) – and how to make the most of the health that I have and carve out more. I am taking it back. This is the first time that my goal is not a number on a scale or a size on a rack. It is health pure and simple. That, and the ability to walk freely again.

In my life, there are many things that I want to return to. Connected with my return to health, is my desire to return to the earth – the desire to return to my garden. I always found such peace and fulfillment in sinking hands into soil; planning and sketching out the layout of the gardens every year; planting the seeds, watching them grow, and harvesting the bounty. I’m looking forward to returning to the discipline of writing – not just the link ups (though, I love those – like this Three Word Wednesday) – but organizing my thoughts and moving ahead with themes and series of my own. I’m looking forward to returning to creating things. Whether photography (got to get that camera fixed), knitting, scrapping, canning, or something new, I want to see things unfold under my fingers have a product of my own making to share and give.

With things fresh, there is so much to look forward to. I hope you will join me here as I discover these new things and return to new places. It will be a joy to have you with me as it begins again.