Thursday, September 29, 2016

When God Asks You to Write a Book

So there's a little secret I've been keeping from the internet . . .

God asked me to write a book.

And I wrote it.


Well, I didn't write it immediately. Actually, I sat on this feeling, this nudging from the Lord for quite a while. And when I say a while, I actually mean an entire year.

Because how in the world does one write a book? I had no stinking clue. Find an agent? Hook a publisher? How long is a typical non-fiction book anyway? Do I need to write book proposal first? Maybe I should just blog a while longer to up my experience and all the while, "keep praying about it."

365 days of excuses and ultimatums back to God that sounded something like "Ok, well if you want me to write this, then how about you plop the opportunity into my lap."

After some back and forth with the Lord, He clearly stated back to me "Child, sometimes obedience looks a lot like plain hard work. And delayed obedience is still disobedience. You are not responsible for the outcome, just your obedience."

Ouch.

As 2015 came to a close I spent every free minute researching the writing process, watching webinars, participating in creative writing prompts, listening to podcasts on book writing, etc. I even went to Barnes and Noble one day, bought an over priced coffee, plopped myself down in the Christian non-fiction section, opened the front covers of books that seemed to resemble my same theme/topic I felt lead to write, and wrote down names of agents and publishing houses.

And when the calendar turned January 1, 2016, I started to write. Every morning, seven days a week, before the girls woke up. 500 words a day, minimum. No filter. No editing. Just writing my (raw) story of desert wandering, and how I've learned to find hope and joy in the middle of it all.

This is why I've lost some blogging stamina this year. This is also why I have lost stamina to do things like, you know, laundry and dishes.

At the end of three months, I had a rough draft.

That rough draft is now turning into a final draft with a real title and a real table of contents, that is now being reviewed by the Editorial Department at WestBow Press.


ALL THE FEELS RIGHT NOW, FRIENDS! Insert each and every emotion showing emoji and you pretty much nailed it.

What is the book about? Here's a teaser my Editor drafted. . .

Through her battle against an eating disorder, discovering and addressing her daughter's disabilities, and the aching loss of a child, Brittnie Blackburn has walked the wilderness and come out the other side more certain of God's love and provision. In this honest, hope-filled memoir, she lays out how to overcame difficulty, chose joy despite circumstances, and how you can do the same. If you're feeling lost in your wilderness and long for a better, more joy-filled way, come learn how to sing the desert song.

They say one writes the lessons they need the most. I can attest to this theory. So I write these words not from a place of having mastered the art of joy despite circumstance, but one who still (sometimes daily) wrestles with this concept. Because sometimes the desert land feels never-ending, no?

My prayer is for those who have wandered or are still wandering their own desert land, that these words will somehow point you to Jesus, our good Father, whose character does not change, even when our circumstances do.

I wish I had a cover design to show you or a launch date to circle on your calendar, but we are not quite there yet. (Speaking of cover designs, if anyone is gifted in this area and would enjoy tossing around some ideas, please send me an email!)

I write not from my own strength, but from the strength He has given me. I write not for my name to be known, but for His name alone. My hope is for His glory and power and sovereignty to shine bright through the pages.

I am humbled and honored to share these words with you. Thank you for your love, encouragement, and support. More details to come over the next few months.

. . .

What act of obedience is God calling you toward? Is there a tiny step of faith you can take to move in step with His guiding? Remember, you are not responsible for the outcome, just your obedience. :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What's Been Keeping Us Busy. . .

While I love the lazy days of summer, (as lazy as you can be while still getting both kids out the door by 8:15am) what I love more is some structure and routine.

Shocker.

Thus, the fall routine was welcomed with open arms by this mama. And lets be honest, by the littlest child, too, because my social butterfly was no longer digging her lack of ability to express herself as class clown to her peers. 

Here's what's been keeping us busy the last few weeks of September. 

Making messes. . . 


Eating donuts. . .

Convincing daddy to buy you things such as this here candle stick from Home Depot. "It was just a dollar," he said. Ok, now what in the world are we going to do with it except pick it up off the floor 500 times a day?

Visiting Chuck-E-Cheese . . .


Attending our first Houston Dash game. . . (super fun, but a little too loud for Ms. Clara, so we left at intermission. Or half-time? Or whatever they call the middle of the game in soccer.)


Watching ice cream freeze. . .


Administering check-ups. . .

Giving and receiving manicures. . . (I promised Brandon I wouldn't post the picture of Camille painting his nails with pink glitter. But I never promised I wouldn't mention it.)



Introducing Camille to window crayons. . . probably a bad choice on our part. 


Practicing sitting on the potty . . .

Making dinner . . . (no worries, we were right next to her the entire time)

 Shopping . . . (aka browsing the fun stores but not buying anything)



Playing around at Gallery Furniture . . . (free ice cream and mini zoo for the win)




Enjoying time with friends . . .







Fun (non-pregnancy) announcement coming soon . . . stay tuned!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Day of School 2016

Most of you know that Clara, our oldest with Cohen Syndrome, attends a non-typical school year round. She has been in full-time school for the last 19 months and (despite much progress) has continued in the same classroom/level etc. Because of this, I never think to take "First Day of School," or "Last Day of School" pictures like most parents typically do.

#momfail

Well, this year, thanks to Brandon, I'm on top of my game. He bought the girls first day of school matching outfits and we kicked off Clara's year today, September 1st, since today is Camille's first day at her (new) mother's/children's day out program.






Here's to a new school year full of fun, adventure, growth, and learning!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bearing Fruit In The Midst of Loss

How do we continue to bear fruit, while navigating the painful path of loss?

This is a tricky dynamic to say the least.

Because even in our hurt and our pain we are still called to spread good and speak life and share joy. Galatians 5:22-23 is for all people, not just those untouched by deep heartache.

We are allowed to grieve, but we are still called to plant and diligently tend to God's kingdom.


This question is one that Hope Mommies has been working through over the last few weeks on their blog series,"Bear Much Fruit."

Today I am sharing a few thoughts on this idea as it relates to gentleness, learning from Jesus and his tender response to the woman highlighted in John 8.

Click here to read my guest post. 

To read through previous posts in this series, click here.

Make it a great day!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Turning Pillows Of Stone Into Pillars Of Praise

I was reading a well known story from Genesis 28 recently, the story of Jacob and Esau and Rebekah and Isaac and y'all, a few things hit me between the eyes like never before.

I love when God does that. When He presents us with a story or scripture we've heard a hundred times and gives us fresh eyes and an open heart to receive new hope-filled promises.






So Jacob. . .

Jacob had angered his brother, Esau, who was now planning vengeance. Jacob's mother, Rebekah, urges him to run and hide and live with her brother, Jacob's uncle, for a while until Esau can cool his jets and chill out. And once Esau is chilled? Rebekah will send for Jacob and all will reunite and live happily ever after.

How is that for a reader's digest version?

So Jacob starts to run towards Haran, the town where his uncle lives.

Genesis 28:10-11 of The Message says it like this. . . "Jacob left Beersheba and went to Haran. He came to a certain place and camped for the night since the sun had set. He took one of the stones there, set it under his head and lay down to sleep."

Can we read between the lines for a second?

Jacob is on the run, on the move, and all he knows is that his brother is after his life. So I imagine all the emotions are filling Jacob's head and heart. He finally makes it to this desolate land, decides to call it a night, and all he has to lay his head on is a pillow made of stone. 

Desolate land. 

Pillow made of stone.

Ok. . .  is this verse talking about Jacob or Brittnie? (Remember, we are reading between the lines.) Because I have been there a time or two. And I would imagine that I am not the only one who has fallen into what feels like a desolate land, a desperate situation, and all you have to rest your head is a slab of rock. And just as Jacob went to bed desperate, there have been many times I have gone to bed desperate, too.

But then the coolest thing happens, friends.

While Jacob is snoozing on a hard-as-nails-stone, God gifts him with a dream.

As he sleeps, Jacob has a vision of angels ascending and descending a stairway to the heavens and God, there with the angels, begins to speak promises over his life.

Verse 13-15 describes the dream and this is what God has to say. . . "I am God, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I'm giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the Earth; they'll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the Earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I'll stay with you, I'll protect you wherever you go, and I'll bring you back to this very ground. I'll stick with you until I've done everything I've promised you."

Que all the tears because are you kidding me?


Jacob wakes realizing that while he had gone to sleep lonely and afraid, GOD was right there, with him in this desperation and well, he had just not been aware of it.

Jacob then took that pillow of stone and turned it into a pillar of worship.

He turned his struggle into a sacrifice of praise.

He took the hard parts of his story (literally and figuratively) and handed them to God as a gift. 

We can do this too, friends.

It's not easy. And God doesn't always grant us grand visions as He did Jacob. But we too can turn our pillar of stone into a pillar of praise.

We can take that thing that is breaking our heart or breaking us down and lift it back to the heavens with hope-filled expectation. And we can do so with sincere eagerness that the God that comforted Jacob in Genesis chapter 28 still comforts us today.

#preachingtomyownheart

. . .

What's your pillow of stone?

How can you offer it back up to God as praise?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Snippets Of Summer, Part 2

As many of you know, our summer took a turn from blissfully peaceful to majorly stress-filled. We jumped on the crazy train, and in some ways, the train has not landed in the station. The last six weeks or so have not been my favorite. I was ready for August to arrive, but now I am more than ready for fall to arrive.

Brandon struggled though his third round of kidney stones for the summer, and house drama continues. As a result, my funk has come and gone and come and gone, and I certainly have not been the best version of myself.

But, instead of harping on all of that, how about I share some snippets of summer, some of the good from the last few weeks?

. . .

We set Clara on the tricycle for the first time. She was a little unsure but seemed to enjoy holding on while we pushed/pulled her around the driveway.


Daddy and Ms. Camille coloring . . . An activity Camille could do all day, every day. And when daddy colors with her? The. Best. Brandon always lays on a pillow when he plays with the girls on the floor. Please note Camille needed her own pillow, too.



"Fun Friday" play-date with Molly. . . These two . . . cutest ever.


She's ready for a swim!

The Saturday after Brandon's surgery we ventured out of the house for a little carousel riding, shopping, and pizza eating. I was going stir crazy at home, the funk was weighing me down, so Brandon said "let's go!" I truly had no idea where we were headed, and didn't even ask. This outing was good for the soul. 







This summer has also brought about some new fears in this girl . . . fear of the dark, fear of thunder (which she calls "under"), and sometimes, fear of the rain. So, when we are able, we dress the part and go play and splash in the rain to help up the fun and lessen the anxiety. 



Playing daddy's ukulele. . . 

While Camille has developed new fears, she has also developed a new love . . . grocery shopping. This girl is the best little helper/shopper. Seriously, she will push the cart all over the store. We are still working on the concept of keeping your head up so that you can, you know, see where you are going. Details, details. We may or may not have knocked over a few displays.



She also loves to help pass the items to the checker. The checkers always get a kick out of this, although the people in line behind us don't always get a kick out of this. :-)


Sister hugs. . . 

Yes, child. This is what happens to your diaper when you insist on getting in the pool fully clothed.

 Clara takes the BEST selfies. . .

We celebrated Brandon's birthday earlier this month. Little did he know he would come home to a princess birthday party. A princess party is what you get when Camille is in charge. Complete with a Doc McStuffins singing card. Because of course. Daddy was thrilled to wear his tiara. 




Lounging. . . 

I went to wake Clara up one morning and saw this scene. Shirt half off. Glider cushion in her bed. Must have been a wild night. 

Sleeping angels . . .


Camille likes to get super close to the camera and talk to me. "Mommy! You see me? I awake!!!!" 

How's your summer? Anyone else itching for fall?

Click here to read Snippets of Summer, Part 1