My Purpose 

“Why do I write?” 

I’ve had to ask myself this question lately and had to do some internal soul searching. 

I am a writer. 

Sometimes maybe I feel too humble to admit this or I feel not worthy of the title, but in reality, it is the truth. It has been the truth from the time I could write with a pen. In elementary school, I was already writing children’s short stories and illustrating (or shall I say attempting to) those stories as well. It was my dream as a 3rd grader to be a writer one day. As I got older, I dreamt of the day that I would be a writer and photographer for National Geographic and travel the world to all the places I saw in the pictures in their magazines. Throughout school, my teachers would commend me for my writing. And I wasn’t writing for their approval or praise. I was writing for myself. Because I loved to. Because it was a part of me. I had to write. Always a deep thinker and introspective person, the words easily flowed from my head onto paper. It gave me joy and happiness to create something from nothing. From a blank page into a work of art – not of painted colors but of words pieced together to create meaning and to create a story. 

There are boxes in our garage full of journals, my journals, that I have bled my heart into. And I keep buying those journals. I keep filling the pages, and I keep writing. 

But, there are times, when, I don’t want to write anymore. 

I feel uninspired. This happens to every writer and we automatically think of the word, “writer’s block.” It’s a real thing. There are no ideas. Or we can’t find the way to get it out of our heads….like when a word is on the tip of your tongue. 

Or, I simply want to regress away and hermitize myself. Being a writer, at least when you are writing about your own life, is highly personal. It’s risky. It’s scary. Putting yourself out there and exposing yourself takes courage. And it can take a lot out of you. For me, it sometimes creates anxiety as the writer is often wondering what other people are thinking of their writing, and, “what are they thinking about me?”

Which leads me to a reason of why I recently found myself putting my writing to a halt. I had to ask myself why I was writing. Was it for the people? Was my heart in the right place? 

In our world of social media, it is so easy to get caught up in the self-gratification of getting “likes” on what we post. It sounds silly and juvenile, but unfortunately, over time, some of us find ourselves becoming obsessed with the number of “likes”, comments or now it’s “reactions” that we get. We can find ourselves rating the worth of what we posted, whether that be a picture, a blog post, etc… based on the number of “likes” we got. Our minds, naturally so, are wired to think that the more “likes”, the better it is. And the less “likes”, we are apt to think that what we presented was not that great after all. We want what we present to the world to be perceived well. As a writer, I have found myself from time to time getting wrapped up in this. And so then I have to ask where my heart is in all of this. 

I often find myself thinking of the verse, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?” (Galatians 1:10). It was this very verse and a convicting lesson I heard in church one day several years ago, that I made the decision to get off of Facebook. And I did. For two years. Two whole years, people! That’s a long time! Especially for someone who had realized she was getting too much out of the approval or lack of approval from others through Facebook. She needed to start living more for herself, and not for others.

That was several years ago, and I’ve been back on Facebook since then, though I have had my short breaks that I’ve needed to take from time to time. 

Alas, but this post isn’t meant to be just about social media. 

I’m being honest about the struggles of being a writer, especially in today’s modern world of technology. I’m talking about the things I wrestle with as a writer. 

When I find myself getting gratification from the accolades of people and losing sight of why I wrote what I wrote in the first place….then it’s in those times when I have to take a step back. 

I recently found myself feeling a tug at my heart strings to step away from some things in my life. From a group I was leading. From Facebook. From writing.

I found myself needing to get away from people. To become a hermit for awhile. To rest. To seek God. To seek peace in a chaotic world. To see where my heart and priorities were and do some evaluating.

It was during this sabbatical, that I found myself feeling down in the dumps. I didn’t know what to do with my time. I didn’t have Facebook on my phone to scroll mindlessly through. I didn’t have my group to lead. I was losing connection with friends and feeling an emptiness and loneliness. The worst feeling, though, that I found when getting rid of several things all at once, was I was feeling unfulfilled. And then I realized that all these things that I had let go of, including the praise of man, had been giving me a lot of fulfillment. I then felt guilt because of this. But it was during this short break that I found myself spending more time with God and reading books that drew me closer to Him. I felt, at times, a sense of peace and weight off of my shoulders to have surrendered these things for a while. I felt less anxious. 

But I began wondering a question – a question we all ask ourselves. “What is my purpose?” 

I stopped writing altogether, even for myself in my own personal journals and I realized that something was missing. Something is missing when I am not writing. I am not feeling fulfilled. Writing is like life to me. It GIVES me life. And it has been this way for years, without me even realizing it. 

And I think I have come to realize that part of my purpose here on earth is to write. God gave me a talent – a passion, and I must not let it go to waste. As I was going for a run the other day, a thought came to my mind; “I love to inspire people.” 

This brought clarity and happiness to my soul. And then that was the answer to my question, “Why do I write?” I write for several reasons, but the driving force behind it is truly to inspire other people. To help people. To encourage others to follow their dreams. 

Ever since I overcame my sickness with postpartum depression three years ago, I have been so transparent and vulnerable about that time in my life and what life looks like since going through that. It hasn’t been easy to be so honest, but I have felt compelled, perhaps even called by God to do this. And the reason has been to help others. To know they aren’t alone. 

I’ve tried to write about “real life stuff”, so that people can relate. There’s so much perfection that we see on social media and perhaps I’ve even portrayed that from time to time when posting pictures of our travels that have been edited and filtered so that the picture looks like it’s from a fairy tale. But, for the most part, I have felt the calling to, on Facebook and in my blog posts, to be real. It’s kind of against the norm to talk about things like depression and anxiety, but after having gone through it myself, I want to shed light on it. And as one who is on the other side, I want to encourage and inspire others that they will get through the darkness. 

And so, I write to inspire. I write for myself. It has helped bring me healing from my battle with PPD. I write for others. 

I don’t want to get caught up in the applause of men and I think this is something I will have to constantly keep in check and not lose sight of the purpose of the piece I am writing. 

A dear friend of mine sent a message to me recently during my sabbatical from writing, and I felt it was perfect timing and perhaps a sign from God. She said, “You have a gift. Keep doing what you are doing. You have a beautiful way with words.” And her words inspired me to write again. Her words inspired me to say to myself, “I’m not meant to be here to just be silent.” 

And I will not be silent. I will not let my pen become covered with dust. I will not let the pages of my journal be left empty. 

I will fill those pages with my words. I will fill them with my heart. 

Blossom

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
-Anaïs Nin

Flowers long to see the sun. They long for the spring. Flowers were meant to bloom forth from the earth. And when they do blossom after the cold and harsh winter, they shine with brilliant colors. They radiate. They stand tall and proud, for they know they are beautiful. The flowers know that being confined and imprisoned in a cage is not their fate. Not their destiny nor their purpose.

 

And so it is with us.

 

We were not put on this earth to remain tightly closed in a bud. Imprisoned. Not meant to be bound by fear. By self-doubt. By self-limitations. By anxiety. You name it…we all know what keeps each of us bound in chains.

 

We were meant to flourish.

 

I know what it’s like to remain tight in a bud. And I don’t like being there. And then there have been the times when I did not, could not, and would not remain there. But I found myself blossoming. Opening my arms to adventure. To trying new things. To stepping outside of my comfort zone. To looking outside of myself and helping others. There have been times I have seen myself truly blossom, and it has been beautiful.

 

I’ve seen myself bloom the most since my daughter was born two years ago. I fought a battle the first few months of her life, an illness called postpartum depression. I fought that battle with every fiber of my being. I still have scars and I am wounded from that battle. That was a season. A season that I will call my dark winter.

 

That season of my life occurred during the fall and winter months. I remember we had an early spring that year, and my healing coincided with the sun coming out from behind the clouds. My healing came when the rain stopped falling from the sky. It came as the flowers rejoiced with me that the darkness had passed.

 

It was a season. A temporary season that did not last forever. At the time, every day felt like a lifetime. But the point is, that the winter passed. And the spring came.

 

I was healed. I had survived.

 

And, so then, I blossomed.

 

I seized the day. I thanked God for the breath in my body. For vanquishing away all the dark and scary thoughts. For taking my tears away. I thanked Him for my beating heart.

 

I was more thankful for life than I had ever been. I lived with zeal and had a newfound energy. A desire to get all I can out of this life, and to give. I helped others who were fighting the battle I had fought. I had new eyes. A new perspective. More compassion and understanding in my heart for those who stood where I had stood.

 

I created a support group. I was a leader. I did public speaking within my support group; something completely out of my comfort zone. But I had to. I had to help others. I wanted to. I shared my story. Over and over.

 

I did things I never dreamed of doing. Like going to boot camp. We’re talking about a girl here who took a bowling class as her athletic/P.E. course in high school! Who just simply doesn’t run. Not ever.

 

And I started doing yoga . . . something which I had previously always just rolled my eyes at.

 

Was I intimidated? I can say with a resounding “YES!”, I was. But I did it anyway. And I found out it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I found myself loving both boot camp AND yoga. I began finding that trying new things was kind of exhilarating. That I was filled with a newfound confidence that I was able to overcome my hesitations, doubts, and fears.

 

I don’t ever want to remain tight in a bud. I want to blossom. Every day. I want to encourage and inspire others to blossom. There is a world of opportunity out there, of adventures, just waiting for you. The possibilities for your life are endless. I love the saying, “Bloom where you are planted”. Go. Seek. Find. Right where you are now. Make the most of every day.

 

Be like the wildflowers in the valley surrounded by the mountains. They see the harshest and coldest of winters. Perhaps you are in that place right now. But when spring and summer come, the valley is covered in a rainbow of every color imaginable. Each flower is unique. They stand tall and proud. And they dance.

 

They dance in the wind. They dance for they know what it was like to be hidden away from the sun. To know only cold and darkness. And so, they rejoice with all their hearts to see the sun again.

 

May we be like the wildflowers.

 

May we dance in the wind.

 

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“In a field full of roses, she is a wildflower.” ~ Anonymous

 

 

The Nomadic Dreamer

What keeps us from going? What keeps us from doing? Going where we want to go, doing what we want to do? What keeps us from pursuing our dream job, from traveling to our dream place? What keeps us from pursuing our dreams, or something that is calling to us, but we are afraid to answer that call?

 

For those of you who know my husband Josh and I pretty well, in our first year of marriage, we did something pretty crazy. We did something most people don’t do. We followed our dreams. We went for it! I had always dreamed of just VISITING the country of New Zealand after watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy and being a huge nerd fan, but we decided visiting wasn’t going to be good enough for us. Why not LIVE there?

 

So, we quit our jobs, sold most of our belongings, including my bright red Mustang that I loved, got a working holiday visa, said goodbye to our families, and moved across the world. 7,639 miles away from home, to be exact. In our first year of marriage, which is supposed to be the hardest year (and which was, by the way, haha), we went to a foreign country when we were still in foreign territory as newlyweds and getting used to married life. But, we did it. And, it was AMAZING. “It’s just you and me, kid.”, is what it felt like. We met some wonderful people through the church and some who have become our lifelong friends who we can’t wait to return and see them again. But, for part of the time, it was just me and him, traveling through the rolling hills in a little red car, driving on the opposite side of the road, and just vagabonding from one destination to the next. I usually like to have a plan, but it didn’t quite work like that…we did have potential jobs lined up, working at backpacker type places, but everything was up in the air pretty much. At that time, it was a little scary and intimidating. But, it was also fun! And looking back now, I’d say it was actually pretty awesome just following the road or following your nose to the next destination. We passed up on a lot of potential jobs mainly due to the accommodation setup, but there were some jobs that fell into our laps by just driving around.

 

If I hadn’t followed my dream, I could never say that I went apple-picking before, in a foreign country! I wouldn’t be able to say that I climbed on top of a volcano, and that I hiked an active volcano, which did erupt just a couple months after we climbed it. A 19 kilometer day long hike, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, that truly tested your endurance and your mental strength. I wouldn’t be able to say that I got to feel like a hobbit as I walked through the real life Shire from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies. I also wouldn’t be able to say that I got to TRY OUT to be an extra FOR The Hobbit trilogy. I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve visited the Maori village of Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao. This crazy and complex sounding name is a geothermal Maori village located in Rotorua, where we got to see what the a day in the life of a Maori looks like; how they cook their food underground from the heat of its setting and watch them perform and sing their traditional songs and dances. During their song and dance, they make their eyes get really big and then stick their tongues out at you, which I found to be quite amusing. Oh, and the village has a wonderful smell of rotten eggs due to the sulphur emissions. Furthermore, If I hadn’t followed my dream, I wouldn’t be able to say that I witnessed my husband zorbing (globe-riding is the recreation or sport of rolling downhill inside of an orb). You get the point . . .

 

Josh and I relied solely on each other, and on God, of course, who guided us along our journey and then found us a perfect job for Josh, just when our options and money were about to run out, He provided for us. He found a job working in the capital city of Wellington, working at the Earthquake Commission, helping thousands of people who had lost their homes and livelihood due to the devastating earthquakes that had struck the city of Christchurch a few months earlier. I was able to be free, and not have to work. I got to do what I love, which is write, and I blogged about our travels while living there. We lived in a flat that overlooked the bay, and that was at the very southern point of the North Island, so I was a witness to all the ferry ships coming in from the South Island, and the airplanes flying into the airport. I got to see people coming and going, perhaps following their dreams, too, of visiting the magnificent landscape that New Zealand has to offer. As newlyweds, Josh and I clung to each other; it was such an adventure, and we grew closer faster, I think, than if we had just stayed at home. I got to live my dream, and now, I can’t wait to go back.

 

Why am I talking about our living abroad in New Zealand? To brag? No, well, maybe just to say that I am so proud of us for doing that, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I also say it to encourage others who are considering doing something that sounds “crazy” or unrealistic. It may seem overwhelming and intangible at first, whether because of money or just the flat out practicality of it. But, it can be done, just take the small steps, step by step, and GO FOR IT!

 

And now, there are things in my life that are calling to me. There are things that have always called to me, some from the time I was a little girl. One dream I always had was to go to Africa, yes, the very cliche mission land to go to, and visit an orphanage. Not only that, but to write a children’s book, and then read my book as the little children sit around me in a circle and listen to my story. And to have the proceeds go to that particular orphanage or other orphanages in the area as well. And in reality, I might have an opportunity to do that, very soon, in fact. Not to Africa, but an opportunity has presented itself to go visit orphans, like I have always dreamed of, in Costa Rica. I am undecided on it at this point, 85% sure I want to and need to go, but something is holding me back. I’m not sure what. And maybe that’s the question that holds us all back. That 15 %. Such a small number compared to 85, but, man, is it loud!

 

That 15% is all the reasons why I SHOULDN’T go. Why I can’t. Why I am incapable. Why it’s not practical. We can all relate. It doesn’t have to be my scenario, necessarily, but pretty much any situation where you are passionate about something or have dreamed about it, and you’re about to take that leap of faith, you’re almost close, so close actually, at the very edge and about to step off that ledge and leap, hoping you fly. We come so close to that point, but, more often than not, we close our eyes in shame, and turn back around, living in regret and wondering whether or not we would have flown if we had taken that leap. So, we turn around, and we go back to what’s safe. To what we know. To what we’ve always known. And that, my friend, is called an opportunity lost. A dream left to float in the wind.

 

Another dream I’ve had is to open up a Bed and Breakfast in France or Italy. If you haven’t learned by now, I LOVE to travel. I get bored being in one place for too long, because I know there is so much out there, so much to see! So many people to meet, different kinds of food to taste, different stories to hear, and to come back and to have a tale to tell yourself. I dream of one day hiking the Inca Trail all the way up to the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu. I dream of spending a week or two hiking from hut to hut in the Swiss Alps. I want to climb to the rooftop of Africa, and stand on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. My dreams that have been dormant because of a stupid illness called postpartum depression are coming back alive, and coming back with a vengeance. The fire is strong. With my healing that has really seemed to be happening more so within these past couple of months, I am finding myself again. The dreamer. But not only the dreamer, the do-er. Josh and I are people of action; we’re not just all talk. I am finding my gypsy soul again; my passion for life, for traveling, for helping other people. I think a quote that definitely describes me in a nutshell is by Isabelle Eberhardt, “A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.”

 

And I will travel to those distant and uncharted places. I will not let anything stand in my way. Sometimes it’s money, but so far, we have found out that God always provides. If you want to go, GO. Yes, it may take time, and you may have to cut out on things and have a tight budget, but if you want to travel somewhere that you have always dreamed of, then, why not? “Well, I have kids”, or, “Well, my job”. Guess what? More times than not, it will work out. You will get the money. You will find someone to take care of the kids, if you don’t end up actually wanting to take them with you. It won’t be the end of the world to your job if you take a few days to yourself and pursue your dreams.

 

One of my favorite quotes is by Saint Augustine. He says, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I wholeheartedly agree with his thoughts, and I know I have so many more pages myself to discover, that I can’t wait to discover. But, I don’t want this to be just about traveling. That quote can apply to life. It’s not just about not traveling. It’s about not living, truly living life. You miss out on the world, not necessarily by not traveling, but by not being and doing. By living only for yourself. By not getting out of your comfortable chair, from your comfortable house in your comfortable neighborhood, and spending your time or your comfortable paycheck on yourself. There are so many grand experiences waiting for us in this life, sometimes opportunities that are SCREAMING at us, but we just ignore them and say, “not now,” or “that’s not for me.”

 

And you know that 15% of doubt that we have? I imagine sometimes that’s what screams to us, instead of the 85% telling us we should do it, or should go. We overlook all the reasons we should do something, or CAN do something, and we listen to that voice of self-doubt, or the negative voice in our heads. Call it Satan, call it reason, call it whatever you want, but I think it’s pretty dang annoying whatever it is! I imagine a tiny little chihuahua. They are so little, but they make the most obnoxious, loud, yelps that can drive a person crazy and wake up an entire neighborhood. They are so headstrong and defiant, and they demand their presence to be known, and man, do you notice their presence, though tiny they be. That’s the 15%. Now imagine; a beautiful, quiet, snow-filled forest. Not a sound as your eyes gaze across this picturesque scene; but then, your eyes see a huge, majestic and magnificent wolf, just staring at you. It doesn’t say anything…doesn’t bark, begging for your attention, but it just stares at you, its eyes piercing your soul. That’s the 85%.

 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure,” writes Paulo Coelho, in his novel, The Alchemist. Oh yes. And all the “what if’s” that come with that. “What if it doesn’t work out?” Sometimes, it’s not just the obvious circumstances such as finances that stand in the way of something, but it is that we doubt ourselves. We doubt our capabilities. It’s human nature to do so. To use a biblical example, Moses even doubts himself. First of all, we see his fear.

“Then Moses answered, ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ The Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’ And he said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it (emphasis added). But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Put out your hand and catch it by the tail’—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—‘that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’” [Exodus 4:1-5]

Often times, we run from what we think is a snake, instead of seeing that what God has given us is a staff. A staff to lead. You don’t have have to part the Red Sea to be a leader, and the staff doesn’t even necessarily have to represent being a leader, but just something that God has given us that we can use. Our talents, our dreams, our ideas.

Furthermore, the story goes on with the dialogue between Moses and God and Moses says to God, “‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’’ [Exodus 4:10]. Moses is coming up with reasons why he can’t go lead the people. Self-doubt. “I am NOT”, he says. He is being negative and saying why he is incapable of doing what God asks of him. He’s listening to that loud 15% inside of his head, instead of the 85% of why he should and why he IS capable. For one, God is on His side and asking him to do this! But it’s human nature to come up with all the reasons of why not to go, why not to be, why not to follow your dream. In fact, he even goes on to say, “‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’” [Exodus 4:13.] When we read further, we learn that God then became angry with Moses. If I were God, I would be too! Not only is Moses doubting himself, which I’m sure God doesn’t like, he is doubting GOD.

On the other hand, there is a biblical example of someone who was willing and who trusted the Lord wholeheartedly and gave no indication that he doubted himself or God. Isaiah 6:8 reads, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” Wow! The use of the exclamation mark in the context really emphasizes, I think, Isaiah’s pure enthusiasm and excitement to go! No questions asked. “God, I’m here!” How we should all be like that! Instead of making a list of all the reasons not to go, or not to do this or that, we should be eager to say yes. We have to be practical to a point, of course. This can apply to so many instances in our lives. Not just necessarily going on a mission trip like I’m considering, or going for my dream job one day of working in real estate or eventually being our own boss and owning a B & B in a foreign country. You all have things….dreams, hopes, ideas, desires, that have been placed on your hearts, some of you for as long as you can remember. There may be a very logical and valid reason why you have not pursued that, and that’s okay. But for most of us, it’s time to toss the list in the trash and kick the obnoxious chihuahua in our heads to the curb. It’s time to GO. It’s time to DO.

And then, you may very well find the words of Paulo Coelho to be true:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”