Community, Writing & Blogging

The Truth About Fear, Communion and Health

When I began the Write31Days challenge on October 1st, I had high hopes of finishing strong. I met so many beautiful writers in our Facebook group, and even had the privilege of assisting many with their buttons and landing pages. October started out strong and I wrote for 7 days straight.

And then I hit a wall.

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My idea for today was to come here and share my heart on day 11, “rest”.  I wanted to come here and tell you that I have heard God calling me to rest and that I’m laying it down to sit at His feet. But that’s not exactly the truth. I think I’ve been using “rest” as an excuse to not face what is really going on beneath the surface.

Can I be honest with you with a few things?

I Fear Not Writing.

For seven years I’ve written in this space and have loved every minute of it. I love the community that gathers here. I love reading your blogs and helping you with whatever knowledge I’ve gained over the years. But in this season, I haven’t had the same motivation or passion to write. I’ve thought about closing the blog but have no clear direction. Until such a time comes, if ever, I am here, even though it is hit or miss for now.

The fear of not writing has to do with the fact that I have seen my stats drop, my comments lessen and I’ve seen some people go never to return again. And I question,

“Is what I have to say no longer relevant?”

“Is my writing not good enough?”

“Did I offend someone with my words?”

But the reality is, blog readers come and go. I know this to be true. I recently unsubscribed from a bunch of blogs for various reasons. So I get that. It just hits my heart so personally and I allow myself to succumb to the self-imposed blogging pity party. Ever been there? As a seasoned blogger, I know that in the larger scheme of things, stats and followers do not matter. Don’t get me wrong. YOU matter! But what I am trying to say is that for me, whether I am in the will of God comes first, and whether I am being true to the community that gathers here is second.

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I want to build community, not a following. Click To Tweet

I Lack Communion with Jesus

A while ago I shared about how I had become stale in my walk with Christ. Somewhere along the way I stopped pursuing Him. I love Him, but I have allowed the heaviness of the past to weigh me down to the point where moving forward is just plain hard.

Instead of running hard and fast straight into His open arms, I retreat and isolate. Click To Tweet

I hesitate to share such things because, as an inspirational blogger, this is not very encouraging to hear. I have a hard time reading His Word for prolonged periods because my mind is always racing. I’m trying hard to find  balance and consistency, but I am not there yet. I am just so thankful for His grace and patience with me.

I Have Health Issues.

I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia for a while now. I can honestly say that I’ve had days where I thought I would be overtaken by the wave of emotions surrounding me. I’ve felt “blue”, uninterested in things I love (like writing or painting), and just a little sad most days. So I am admitting to you that the heaviness has reared it’s ugly head again.

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Lately the chronic fatigue and fibro have been kicking my rear. I am exhausted all the time, and my body is in constant pain everywhere.  It doesn’t help that I do not get enough sleep. Late at night is when I normally sit and write and visit blogs. But because I’ve been so tired, I am unable to do much of that. Stepping away from the writing and reading is something I must continue to do from time to time to remain healthy.

So what does all of this mean?

In a nutshell,

I love you all!
I still love blogging.
I am trying to get back on track spiritually.
I’m a little sad and very tired.

For now, you can count on the Weekend Whispers link up to be running strong every weekend. I am so grateful to have Carrie along with me on this journey. She’s been such a great encouragement to me. I may experiment with some random posts, homeschool posts, or just a simple photo here and there. I hope you will give me permission to just write how I feel led to write. I long for the deeper revelation. I know it will come. But in the meantime I need to be able to write out of the outflow of my life, whatever that may look like.

I want to thank you for still being here. I know when the pages of a blog are blank for so long, your tendency is to move on. I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did. But I hope you will give me a little more time to find my way.

Community, Faith, Weekend Whispers

Clearing The Clutter To See The Beauty // The Weekend Brew

This morning I awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside my window, the rays of the sun shining brightly through my window, and my 12 year old boy sleeping next to me. All of these were reminders to me that His mercies are new every morning.  As I lay listening to the birds and thanking God for the sunshine and the gift of my children, I realized how much I desired to hear, feel and see the beauty of God all around me.

[tweetthis]My life has become so cluttered that I am unable to hear, feel and see the beauty in every-day living. @BarbieSwihart[/tweetthis]

When you come to a point in your life where you are unable to manage the weight of the clutter all round you, it’s time to re-evaluate, take inventory and seek the Lord on ways to lighten the load. In a world where we can microwave a dinner in less than 10 minutes, drive thru to pick up our morning brew and leave a Facebook status in less than a minute, I am beginning to see how much I crave simplicity.

You are going to notice some changes around here as I lean in to the whisper of God concerning this space. This blog is a huge part of my life, and something I know He’s called me to. Not for me. First for Him, that He would receive glory as I partner with Him to share words of hope and encouragement. But also for you, that you might receive fuel for your journey and hope in times of discouragement.

In order to clear the clutter, I have to be willing to go back to the basics.

There will be no bells and whistles here, at least for a while. Some may see this as a drastic step back when it comes to blog design. Believe me, I’ve played through the scenario in my mind of the mass exodus that could happen. But that’s okay. I want God’s beauty to shine here, not anything of my own making. I am willing to take a risk in order to focus more on my writing, The blog is a bit of a mess right now as I hit an unexpected bump in the road with images not loading. But I’m learning that sometimes a mess will become messier before beauty can been seen.

[tweetthis]Sometimes a mess will become messier before beauty can been seen. @BarbieSwihart[/tweetthis]

I will be working to add images as quickly as possible, as well as a footer where you can find a few important things. But overall, this new look is being created so that I can have a place of distraction free writing, and to give you a place of distraction free reading. Each and every one who visits here is important to me. I hope you will continue to visit.

There are other areas in my life where God is calling me to clear the cluttered mess and simplify. I hope to share some of those areas with you in future posts.

How is God calling you to clear the clutter in your own life?

We are so thankful to have you at The Weekend Brew!

theweekendbrewbutton1. Share a post, photo scripture — anything that breathes life and encourages.
2. Grab the button to use in your post or simply link back here.
3. Visit the person who linked up before you (and a few others along the way)!



Community, Faith

An Update, Sharing The Brew and An Award

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Hi friends. It’s been a while, I know. What can I say. I just can’t seem to find the words to pour out my heart here on a more regular basis.  But I know that God is working in my life, even when I can’t see it. I’m taking note and recognizing His sovereign leadership in this season. I know that I have much more to say, just not yet.  I’m still sifting through piles of disarray and disappointment, but God promises to bring me through.

I want to thank those of you who have remained with me through the quiet. I appreciate you so much. I have a few “ideas” up my sleeve (well, in a notebook) that I’d like to try out on the blog in the coming months. Until then, I am committed to sharing The Weekend Brew posts alongside of Mary (my saving grace!) and hopefully one other post of my own each week.

Share The Brew

A while back I gave a shout out for guest posts on the blog.  I was overwhelmed by the response and have an entire calendar filled with guest posts, beginning with the beautiful words of Mary Gemmill. I am calling my guest posts series “Share The Brew“.

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It sort of fits with all of the other brews happening here, don’t you think?  So every other Wednesday or so you will get fresh, now content from a blogger who I am honored to share my space with.  I hope you will look forward to these posts and get to know these bloggers.  They are beautiful encouragers.

An Award

Chrissy over at The Brave Wandererliebster_zpsf911345b has nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Thank you so much Chrissy!  I am honored and humbled.  If you haven’t yet stumbled upon Chrissy’s blog, you absolutely must. She’s from Germany, says a lot of profound things in few words, and shares gorgeous photos.

I thought it would be fun to participate.  Here are the official rules, but you will see my “tweaks” in the strikethroughs.

Making things manageable is what I’m all about these days. 🙂

Rules

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominates you.
  2. Answer the questions given by the person who nominates you.
  3. Nominate 11 5 other bloggers with 200 followers or less big or small.
  4. Create 11 5 new questions for the nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know they’ve been nominated!

Below are the questions that Chrissy asked and my responses.

What is your favorite song? Worship is how I connect best with God, and there are so many songs that I love.  In this current season of my life, I am clinging to the words of “Shepherd”, by Amanda Cook (Bethel Music).  Take a listen and be blessed.

Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere? There are so many places I’d like to travel to — Israel, Canada, England, Ireland, and of course Hawaii.

Do you regret something in your past? I do have regrets. I wish I didn’t. But God is weaving a beautiful story of redemption through those hard places.

What is your favorite time of the day and why? I am a night owl. When my family retires for the evening, I plant myself at the computer to catch up on email, social media and Netflix.

Do you have a secret wish? Yes, but I cant’ tell you because then it wouldn’t be a secret now would it?

We all have a movie we could watch over and over – which one is yours? Hands down, You’ve Got Mail!  It’s about 17 years old but I will never get tired of watching it. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are two of my favorite actors.

Is there a craft you would like to learn? I don’t have much time for arts and crafts.  But I am a painter so if anything, I would like to perfect my painting craft.

Road trip, air travel or by train? Considering the only train I’ve even been on is a BART train (other than the trains at amusement parks), I’d like to take a nice, long train ride one day.

Camping or hotel? Oh most definately hotel. I need a soft bed, a hot shower and good cup of coffee in the morning!

When did you start blogging and why? I began blogging in 2008, but didn’t really get going until about 2010. I have always had a heart to encourage women.  One day, my Pastor (who blogs here) suggested I start blogging and well, I’ve been blogging ever since.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now? I see myself chasing around a few grand babies (first one due this April!), growing older alongside my husband, more at peace and definately more content. Perhaps I’ll still be blogging!

I nominate the following beautiful bloggers for this award.

Lindsey
Diana
Melanie
Susan
Mindy

*Ladies, absolutely NO pressure to participate. But if you’d like to, here are just 5 questions for you to answer.

  1. What’s in your mug? Coffee? Tea? Something else?
  2. If you could sit and talk to one person who lived during Bible times other than Jesus, who would it be and why?
  3. How many pairs of heels do you have in your closet and how high are they?
  4. How do you unwind at the end of a long, stressful day?
  5. What is one thing on your bucket list?

Thanks for hanging out with me today friends. I’ll be back soon.

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Community, Featured Guests

Featured Friend: Andrea @ Beautiful Craziness

Welcome to Featured Friend Wednesday where I  introduce you to one of my beautiful writing friends.  I hope you will take the time to read, get to know the writer and visit her blog and social media links.

Pride, Control and the Desire for a Refined Confidence
by Andrea @Beautiful Craziness

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I use to have confidence.

Confidence in which I could walk into a room, lift my head and be proud of who I was. Confidence in the things I did. I was good at school. I had my life planned out at an early age. I knew what I wanted and I knew what I needed to do to get it.

Confidence: “a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances” (Merriam-Webster).

Through the years the confidence has waned. That girl who was self-reliant and so sure of herself has flittered away some (and I believe she took her waist size with her!)

Maybe it never really was confidence. Maybe it was pride.

A lot of it was pride.

When I was in High School I was more proud than confident. I wasn’t the prettiest, I wasn’t the smartest…but I knew who I was. I knew what I believed. I knew what I wanted in life. I was strong. I was friends with everyone and I was liked and even admired.

When I got to college I still had that confidence. I could say hi to anyone. I remember going into the cafeteria one time that first week at school and I went over to a table and sat down with someone whom I had never met. That was outside of my comfort zone!

I went through college really fast. I wanted to get married. I did what I had to do: I got my degree, met a few good friends along the way and then got married.

I started teaching right after. I taught English Literature to seniors my first year. That first day I was so nervous…but I had confidence. I had confidence that day. That year. I had it. I remember one of my seniors wrote me an email telling me how much they admired the confidence I had and how they were grateful to have me as a teacher. I still have that email.

But in all these seasons of life I can see that though I did have confidence, that confidence was in me. In my abilities. In what I knew I could do. I had life in my hands and I was good at it.

Confidence mingled with pride.

And then came Motherhood.

I was a confident mom at first. I had taken care of kids since I was young. I was one of those who couldn’t wait to have babies. And I was good at it.

But motherhood does something to you…it scares you a little, because all of a sudden you realize that no matter how good at motherhood you are…you still fail and fail a lot.

You can’t do it all. You have no control.

Confidence plummets.

I had control of things in High School and College. I had control of my life. I had a plan and I stuck to it and did it. I never questioned if I could or would…it was in my plan and my plans rarely, if ever, failed.

But when you have other lives that depend on you, need you and expect of you…it’s hard and you mess up and plans fail.

Truth: I long for that confidence I had. I long for that feeling of knowing who I am and not wavering. That feeling of strength and the ability to be able to do whatever I need to do to get things done and knowing that I’m ‘gonna do it.

Truth: I don’t want the pride to be in the way. I don’t want that confidence if there is pride mingled in it. I want pure confidence; God-given confidence. I want to know that I can do whatever it is God has called me to do in this moment, because He has given me the strength and the power to do it and without Him, I am nothing. I want to have confidence in that truth and rely on that truth alone.

I struggle with my pride. I struggle with caring about what people think. I struggle with wanting admiration. I struggle with wanting appreciation. Sometimes motherhood is a thankless job. Sometimes life is plain hard. But most of the time, it’s awesome; and so, I will take picked dandelions from my kids over 1000 thank you’s any day.

I want confidence, but this time, it won’t be the kind of confidence that carried that young girl’s head; it will be refined and purified. I must be refined and purified, knowing that whatever I do, whatever God’s calling is on my life for this season and those to come, I will know that I can do it because He has called me to it. I will have the confidence to know that He has given me the power to do it. It’s not me, it’s not pride or vanity; It’s all God. Everything that I do will glorify him, not me.

That is the kind of confidence I want, refined and purified and perfected, so that when I walk into a room I can hold my head high because He is ‘the lifter of my head’ (Psalms 3:3 ESV) and I will have confidence knowing that “the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart [are] pleasing to [the Lord], my rock and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14 NIV).

headshot02-2.1Andrea Portilla has been married to her high school sweetheart for 11 years. She is a mom and home educator to three amazing kids; a lover of coffee and shoes and a wanna-be crafty girl. Andrea writes about her passions, faith and imperfections at Beautiful Craziness and her greatest desire is to inspire women to walk faithfully in what God has called them to within their own beautiful, crazy lives.  You can follow Andrea @andreaportilla9 or on the Beautiful Craziness Facebook Page.