Deep: Five Minute Friday

It’s a cold and wet Friday morning here in Ohio. It’s beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Christmas. I’m excited to join my link-up pals over at Five Minute Friday today. This week our prompt is Deep.

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How many people in your life would you consider to be true friends?

I’m not talking about the Passing-Comment-“How-Are-You-Doing?” type of friend. I’m asking you to think about those friendships that have depth.

Think about the ones who gets all of your jokes.

The ones with whom you can make eye contact and somehow tap into ESP.

The ones who seem to know something is wrong with you before you know yourself.

The ones who encourage you at exactly the right time.

The ones who pray for you.

The ones who know you on a deeper level than anyone.

In this day and age it is becoming increasingly harder to possess this kind of friendship in our lives. Technology has made it easy for us to expand our list of friends, but at the cost of depth. Those online friends see the edited version of our lives that we choose to make public, but those ugly moments are far from their view.

This Christmas season I’ve challenged myself to step away from the computer and Smartphone and hand-write one letter each day to someone who has influenced me. There’s something about a written letter that helps to foster that deep level of friendship that we all long for.

I’m starting on December 1, and I would love if you want to join me. I’ll be talking more about this next week on my blog so be sure you come back to visit. Let’s take our friendships deeper this Christmas.

If you want to join in the letter writing I’d love to know in the comments!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Fearless Writing: A Writer’s Worst Fear

A couple of years ago I did a chapter-by-chapter review of several different books on writing. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is still one of my very favorite writing books. It’s been a while, but nine months after giving birth I am starting to feel like myself and ready to get back in the habit of writing on a regular basis. I ran to my bookshelf to Fearless Writing, a book I received last Christmas but haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Fearless Writing was written by William Kenower, Editor in Chief of Author magazine, he is most known for his teaching on the craft of writing. This book focuses less on craft and more on the thought-process necessary to develop in order to be a successful storyteller.

I look forward to re-establishing a weekly routine of cracking open a good book, sharing some thoughts, and practicing new skills. I will approach each week with some thoughts I had while reading the chapter and then I will also post my 5 minute practice that follows the prompt at the end of the chapter. I hope that these posts inspire you as a writer. Feel free to follow along with the prompts and if you should post in response on your own page I’d love for you to send me a link in the comments.

Welcome to Chapter 1.

A Writer’s Worst Fear

Most writers fight a battle before they ever touch pen to paper or open a new document on their computer. For some, the battle is in finding the time and space conducive for writing. But more often than not the battle is one waged within the mind of the writer. Its weapon of choice is doubt and it attacks every creative thought or ambition before it lands on the page.

The biggest fear affecting writers is What will other people think of my work?

It feels great to receive positive feedback. But when readers aren’t singing your praises after a heartfelt post, story, or chapter it can damage the confidence of the mind behind its creation.

Rejection is part of the process. If your writing is intended for anyone else to see there will be rejection–there is no question about it.

Writing fearlessly is all about approaching fears in a new way. Instead of allowing fear stifle your creativity use it to propel your writing into bold confidence. Start your writing with accepting the fact that someone will dislike what you have to say, but don’t let that become an excuse for censuring your creativity.

Writing is a highly personal venture.

Every writer picks up the pen with a different purpose. Every reader approaches a piece with their own experience and lens as well.

Getting beyond fear already puts you at a 1-0 record. And when you start your writing session with the mentality of a champion then fear is pushed down to its healthy dwelling place and your imagination has the license to embrace every idea.

5 Minute Practice- Create two characters. One is a confident, experienced writer while the other is struggling. Through their conversation offer advice to the struggling character. Then heed that advice yourself.

“Stacey, it’s so good to see you!” Mel reached around her friend’s back balancing the paper cup in her hand. “I’ve missed you so much.”

Stacey’s face emitted a small smile contrasting with that of her friend. Through layers of clothes and a large coat Stacey allowed the warmth of her friend’s embrace to throw off a little of the weight she was bearing that morning on the ride over to the coffee shop.

“Go ahead and order. I’ll find us a table.” Mel spoke as she left Stacey at the counter in search of an empty corner of the shop for the two to sit down and work.

What am I doing here? Stacey thought to herself. It’s been months since I’ve thought about writing. Why did I agree to meet Mel?

She allowed her eyes to browse the menu and settled on an order of hashbrowns, since she skipped breakfast, and a hot mocha to sip on as she worked. After placing her order Stacey joined Mel at a small table in the corner of the shop.

“Oh, it’s been so long. Tell me what is going on. How are the kids?” Mel jumped right in as Stacey peeled off her dark coat and pulled her laptop from her secondhand bag.

“The kids are great. Bill has them this morning so let’s hope they survive.” Stacey pretended that had been a joke and not the reality of her thoughts on the ride over. This was the first time she left Bill alone with both girls since Becca had been born nine weeks earlier.

“I’m sure all is well, Mama.” Mel chuckled. “I’m just so happy you could escape for a little girl time.” Mel pushed her paper cup to her lips as the waitress approached with Stacey’s order.

“I hope you don’t mind I ordered some food. I’m starving.” Stacey said apprehensively.

“Not at all. I get it.” Mel smiled. “So tell me about your work. Any new chapters since we’ve spoken?”

“Well, there isn’t much to tell.” Stacey began as she picked up her fork and weaved it through the shredded hash browns. “I haven’t powered-up my laptop in three months. Let’s hope I still have the magic today.” She placed a hand on the closed computer in front of her. The companionship she once shared with the device had been replaced by a layer of dust that she only removed that morning before packing up for the date.

“There’s nothing wrong with that, Stacey. And I’m sure as soon as you are ready all of your magic will return. I love your work and I cannot wait to read something new.” Mel encouraged.

Stacey smiled back doubt and shoved her mouth with a forkful of potatoes.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all go through seasons and even the best authors need some time away. Having a baby is a perfect excuse for taking a breather. It’s not like you’ve been sitting at home doing nothing. You’ve had a baby to feed and care for. I think you will find that the confidence will return and you’ll be back into it very shortly. How about coming with me this week to Writing Group? I’m sure seeing everyone again will help.”

The Ameri Brit Mom

The Faith of a Child

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Last Sunday as we were headed home from church my oldest daughter and I somehow landed on the topic of baptism. On a few occasions she witnessed others within our church as they declared to the congregation their new life in Christ. Her curious mind probed my husband and I, but before long she lit up and said, “I want to be baptized.”

I was so proud of her decision. The fact that she could articulate the purpose of baptism at six years old is unfathomable to me. She’s a girl on fire for Jesus!

Yesterday our church celebrated her baptism along with several friends and family. The entire children’s program also came in so they could support her. After she came out of the water she was all smiles and shivers.

I’m so proud of the way she has chased after Jesus.

On October 3rd she prayed and accepted Jesus, but he was active in her life long before that. Her heart is evidence of that. She has a beautiful soul and is kind to everyone.

God has big plans for her.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Value: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

I hope those of you who live in the USA had an amazing Thanksgiving gathered with loved ones and lots of yummy food. Thanksgiving was a little different in my family this year as my youngest sister is living in Canada. Her empty seat at the table was a constant reminder of the miles between us. Thankfully, Mom and Dad are headed to Niagara today in a car packed with leftovers and cards from all of us.

Today I’m gathering with others that I am also thankful for as we meet up every Friday to share encouragement and life with one another. This week the Five Minute Friday community is writing on the prompt: Value.

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With the conclusion of Thanksgiving festivities our hearts turn in anticipation toward the Christmas season. I woke up this morning to a Facebook feed endlessly announcing Holiday sales. Like many, I spent time yesterday with the people that mean the most to me and being thankful for all the Lord has blessed me with. But, like many of you, I am so tempted to turn around–not 24 hours later, and cultivate a spirit of want.

Can we just have a day to simmer in the juices of thanksgiving? I mean, goodness, our turkeys marinate longer than us!

How can we so quickly switch from “Lord, thank you” to “Lord, I want”?

This holiday season I am praying to stay cognizant of my attitude.

I want to enter into this Christmas season with the same sense of thankfulness that I felt gathered around the table yesterday.

The promise of a Savior–that is why I am thankful and why I anticipate Christmas.

Please join me in remembering the true gift of family and placing value on the things that matter most this season.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Praying Proclamations

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How do you define prayer?

Based on your prayer habits how would you explain it?

Is prayer a dialogue between you and God or is it a one-way lifeline you resort to when all else fails?

If I’m being honest my prayer life has been more of the latter. I’ve rushed through prayer because life is busy and so I get all of my requests off my chest and then move on. The piece I’ve been lacking is the part where I quiet my heart and allow God to speak into it.

Listening is a weakness of mine.

Something about being the oldest of three girls I learned quickly that if I wanted to be heard it would take A LOT of talking. Once I get to know someone I can talk their ear off. I’m well-aware of my addiction to my own voice.

But prayer isn’t a time for me to practice asserting myself. It’s not a relationship if I don’t pause and let the other party speak.  I pray in the car on the way to work and I talk the WHOLE WAY.

When it comes to prayer I realize that most of the time that I’m talking I am asking, asking, asking. “God, please heal”, “God, please help”, “God, please show me…” It’s all a bunch of requests, but not a lot of thankfulness.

I do praise God for amazing things in my life, but I don’t think it is something that He hears enough from me.

Last night, as I sat in the youth group where I am serving in my church, I listened as the speaker read through many of Paul’s prayers. She read aloud the first several verses of every epistle and Wow, those are powerful words. Each book is opened with a greeting to it’s recipient, but also with Paul proclaiming who he is in Christ.

Following Paul’s example, the speaker asked each person to write out their proclamation. It’s easy to lose sight of who we are in Christ so this practice really helped me to refocus not just my prayer life, but my entire attitude. Below is my proclamation that I prayed last night:

Lauren, a servant of Jesus set free from selfishness;

in order to make disciples of

God’s Chosen People;

through the blood of Jesus I was set free from the bondage of sin;

And though it may present itself daily I am able to overcome by His blood.

I was created to learn, to teach, to grow, and to thrive so that all might come to a saving faith in the Lord.

What an awesome practice this was for my faith. In this act I was able to focus on who I really am as opposed to the lies of the enemy. It also cleared my mind to then listen and receive from God in a great way. If you’ve never done something like that please give it a try. It is empowering. Start by reading the first several verses of the books written by Paul (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians…) then write out WHO YOU ARE.

It may seem counter-intuitive that I said I need to listen more, but then also pray proclamations. However, when you begin your prayer time by refocusing your lens on who God says you are then the entire practice is flipped. You remind yourself of His goodness and suddenly all those requests you had planned to bring are trivial in the sight of His glory.

Finally, as a catalyst to improving my prayer life I am going to embark on a 40-day journey of written, honest prayer. Much of my time will be spent waiting on the Lord and listening as He speaks, but I want to record these prayers as a way of remembering.

Looking forward I’ve set some goals for my prayer life:

1. Listen and give God silence in which to move

2. Pray proclamations

3. 40 Days of written, honest prayer

Will you join me in this journey?

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

One: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are passing. I feel like I just crafted last week’s post and here I am waking up to the excitement of joining my fellow writers for another edition of Five Minute Friday. This week our prompt is One.

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Over the past eight and a half months our family has undergone some change.

Our oldest daughter went from being an only child to welcoming a baby sister into the world. I’ve been blessed in countless ways watching her adapt to this change. She has become a second mom to the baby. It’s amazing the bond they have formed in such a short time.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I am thankful that in a world that will wound and sting that my girls will have each other. If one falls down, then the other can help her up. They can keep each other warm when they are surrounded by cold. When one is in need of backup they can provide defense for one another.

As an older sister myself I see the importance of the sibling bond. It is one not easily broken or overpowered. And I know that if everyone else turns their back on me that my sisters will still be there.

I can’t wait to watch the Lord continue to grow the bond between my daughters. I am blessed and I am thankful for the gift of true sisterhood.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Operation Christmas Child

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Operation Christmas Child is an international organization that provides financial and physical needs all over the world. It is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an interdenominational charity. This is the twenty-fifth year that OCC has impacted global needs. I love this organization and how easy they make it to teach my children about the importance of serving and giving to others. Every year since she was two my oldest has packed shoe boxes and she looks forward to it every Christmas season.

 

This weekend our church hosted an Operation Christmas Child packing party. They receive donations all year and during the party families come in and help pack the boxes. My daughter loved walking along the tables with her grandparents and hand-picking items for those in need of gifts this season.

This year we packed over 500 shoe boxes as a church!

It’s not too late to get involved. This is Drop-off week for OCC. If you would like to pack a shoe box and want to know where to take it check out their website for locations.  For directions on how to pack a shoebox check out their site!

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

The Ameri Brit Mom

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans/Armistice Day!

One hundred years later, we are still thankful for those who fought to keep America a free nation. The men who fought to protect the safety and democracy of the western world were pivotal in preserving those very things.

We remember those lives touched by war. We pray for peace in the world so that the grip of hate will loosen. We teach our children about the realities of fighting so that we may one day achieve silence on all fronts.

On Friday, my daughter invited my cousin, a current army reserve, to be recognized at her school assembly. She is so proud of her special soldier and so am I.

For those who serve or have served their nation may you know this day belongs to you. Thank you!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Burden: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

Every Friday I love to join other Christian writers over at Five Minute Friday where we gather to share inspiration on a similar prompt. This week the prompt is Burden.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

If you are anything like me…

It’s been a long week and each day seemed to bring a new burden of its own. You’re scared of moving forward because with each step a new devastation is thrust your way. So instead of moving–you stand paralyzed with feet fitted to the ground and a load as wide as an elephant on your back.

In many ways 2018 has found me this way. Like a deer in the headlights I’ve been caught off guard a time or two and been unable to move. The fear, loss, and hurting that I’ve faced have lightened by the passing of time, but every new burden gets cast onto the ever growing pile accumulating on my shoulders.

At times I’ve been so focused on the things weighing me down that I’ve forgotten that my body was not created to take that on. No wonder I’ve been struggling with anxiety…I’m dragging the world’s largest trash bag of junk, but God is the only one who can lift it.

We can find help in physical rest, but until we give our burdens fully to God we will never feel lighter.

I don’t have to wait until 2019 for healing. I can let go today. In fact, my knees are bending now and my hands are opening and as I approach the throne of God I know He is waiting for me to give it all up.

The Ameri Brit Mom