Author Archives: Linda Sharon Connelly
I attended church yesterday with a heavy heart, the events of Saturday in Charlottesvile, VA at the forefront of my mind. I was not however surprised. Racism is something that will always exist in this broken world. My pastor spoke that love and hate are intertwined. I cannot disagree, love is powerful and can be good. It means caring and wanting the best for the thing I love.
What do I love so much that I would hate? It’s a valid question. If my family or friends are hurt, I hate what hurts them.
As I look at my newsfeed on various social media outlets, and I look at the chilling photos of well dressed white men holding torches and seig heiling ( not sure of the proper verbage for it). I wonder how much do they love the idealogy of whiteness to hate the rest of God’s creations?
For we are all image bearers. My saviour was not white. He was on earth a middle eastern Jewish man who brought salvation to all.
One cannot be of two minds. You either love God and therefore love all. Or hate God and love the few. What you love is what you are most passionate about, what you expend time and energy on. If you are more passionate arguing on social media about things that attack your comfort than in working to love God and others than perhaps its time to reevaulate what you are truly loving. The heart is a decitful thing, and idol maker and can lead people away from God.
This weekend’s past events in addition to other events have made it evident that there are many who love the idealogy of whiteness over all. The death of Heather Heyer happened because a man so full of hate drove into a crowd on purpose. Because what he loves overrides the diginity of others. Because what he worships was being attacked in his mind.
I pray for him to repent and have a Paul moment ( Act 9:1-19). Paul was a man called Saul who persecuted Christians until Christ intervened, causing him to be blinded for a period of time. When he was able to see again, he saw the truth of who he had been and became someone new. I truly believe that people can change, to learn to love something beyond their own comforts.
My first inclination is to hate these people right back. I am angered and saddend but not surprised. I must fight against this because how can I claim to love Christ if I hate who he created? How can people meet Jesus if I am not willing to see them as people in need of Him?
I love God and therefore I fight against hate. I will do so by how I know best, my words. I will continue to work in my community loving people because they need love. I will engage in hard conversations and not back down. I will listen and read as I have been. I have much to learn and much to love. Most of all much to be in prayer for my own heart, my community and this nation.
I pray for there to be more love of God then of self preservation.
Books I have been reading
Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler
When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Bryan Fikkert
The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
White Trash The 400 year untold story of class in America by Nancy Isenberg
Change is part of life. It is not always welcome and sometimes it’s wanted. At other times it is the opposite. Change means letting go of what I know. The routine, what is known and familar. I have clung to the things that have hindered my growth in Jesus because if fearing change. Other times I have tried to force change into my life with varying results.
Welcoming change is different from wanting change. For myself, welcoming it means submitting to what God has planned for my life. Some of the best things in my life have come from the unexpected and unplanned changes. Forcing me to move forward or even away from situations that were not healthy or had hindered my growth. I had no choice but to adjust and move forward. In welcoming change, I allow for growth in my trust of Jesus and what He has in store for my life.
Wanting change, in my experience has been an exercise of running away. Believing that in having this change that something else in my life would be cured. Each time I have been wrong. Often making things in my life more frustrating. I was not willing to see that in forcing change in my life, I was only exasperating other things. Sins I was unwilling to confess. That I falsely believed could be remieded by changing jobs or moving, what I was trying to leave behind ended up staying right with me.
Change is inevitable, often coming into my life swiftly and unexpectedly. As in anything else in life, how I react to it is what defines me. It reveals where I do place my trust and it is not always in Christ. Instead I look to people in my life for validation or inclusion for my hope. By leaning into the lessons of change in my life I have grown in my trust of Christ. Perhaps that the best reason of all to welcome change in my life. To understand that though much will change in my life, God will always be constant and unchanging. That is a great comfort for me.
When I began blogging consistently over four years ago I wanted a place to tell my weightloss story. Then it evolved into a more organic form of blogging, scheduled but organic. I say organic because I did not have a real strategy for what I was doing. Some months it was focused on faith, other times the writing process and then back to weightloss. I truly do not know if being so all over the map hindered the way my blog grew.
In the last few months, as I moved this blog back to WordPress and not posting as often. I have taken time to think about what I want to do.
I was excited to begin my career as a freelance writer, but excitment can only get one so far when fear is involved. Looking back I have allowed fear to creep in and lie to me. I got a few jobs for writing but I did not follow through as I should have with them. Working them to lead me to another job and another because I feared not having a consistent paycheck to depend on. In fact I still do.
So much of the fear has to do with a lack of education on my part. I’ve been lazy and distracted by the busyness of my life. It doesn’t help matters that I am unsure of how to categorize myself as a writer, what box or boxes do I check off? Do I want to check off those boxes? I am not sure that my skills as a writer are best suited for on spec work.
I have not worked in my novel as I should of been and how I want to. I have stories to tell and tell them I will. One thing I do know is that I want to write and I will always write. No matter the form it takes. Will it be blogging, publishing a book or scribbling in a notebook? Perhaps all three, perhaps one or two of them. In some way, writing will always be in my life. A writer I will always be, a writer I have always been.
Inconviences can suck. They steal away time and chip away at my comfort. I had an afternoon of inconviences, so many little things piled onto each other that at one point some unholy words emerged from my mouth. What I wanted was kept out of reach for me and I did not like it. Often times I can become upset with things and most often it is not for any other reason than that I am not getting what I want at that moment.
It can bring the worst out of me. But I have learned the most from being inconvienced in my life. Even that day where it felt as if ALL the things went wrong. In some ways they did, and in other ways they went right. I had to remind myself that what I was dealing with was temporary.
But sometimes the inconviences do have long lasting effects. Some are good as I have learned and been challenged in my life. Learning from these kinds of moments has lead to the biggest breakthroughs for me. By asking myself the questions behind why am I so upset? Why is it so important for this to happen now?
Sometimes I know what that answer is, and other times it takes some digging to reveal it. Following Jesus is full of inconviences. I have been stretched to reach past what I know and go into the unknown. I remember the first time I was asked to lead a Bible study, it was scary. Being responsible for helping others follow Jesus when one isn’t 100% confident is difficult.
Leading a group can be inconvenient as anything. It means setting aside time to study up for the week, follow up with group members and spending time conveying information to them. Caring for people is inconvenient isn’t it though? It means having to stop what you had planned to do in order to care for them.
Jesus isn’t about convenience, following him doesn’t fall into a neat slot on the schedule. The lessons that stemmed from being inconvenienced have helped me to grow in my faith. Molding me into the person I am today and the person I will be ten years from now.
Life if full of inconveniences, varying in degrees. Some are small such as I experienced on that day. Others are larger, which I have also experienced in my life. They have made me slow down in the moment and think about what is happening behind it all. It’s not the inconveniences that matter themselves, but what I can learn from them. To look at them as opportunites rather than not.
As this blog posts I am now on day sixty-six of posting my happiness in life. Since April 1st of this year I have posted something that brings me joy. I participated in this about two years ago and decided to try it again this year. To be honest I don’t quite know why it began but I enjoyed loooking at my life and saying that in each day there is something good.
Some may find it fake ( which it can easily become if the poster is more concerned about gaining likes and comments than being honest) and others banal. I found in doing this exercise is I learned to be more grateful for what and who are in my life. I can take so much for granted. Not everything in my life is exciting or easy to define as happiness. But I try my best to define this as best I can.
There are some days I have to think about what to post, and at least once I refrained from doing so and posting twice the next day. I also two things to post the next day that showed something that brought me joy.
Happiness does not always look like happiness. At least for me, it can take me down the contemplative road. Some days it has been a breakthrough or a hard day that taught me something needed. Those days can be harder to post as they are harder to encompass properly in a photo per se. But the happiness is there, joy exists even in the hardest of days. Joy can also look different, it could mean a brief moment of levity or laughter. Or a quiet moment that gives perspective to what is going on in my life.
Happiness and joy aren’t perfect. They come at the most inopportune times as it with things in life. It doesn’t look like the perfect instagram photo and that is ok. Perhaps the pressure some people have felt in participating in this sort of thing is to be perfect, have something to post each day. And to make sure the post is perfect and exudes EVERYTHING happiness is supposed to be.
My advice, if you find it too much then stop. If this adds stress and anxiety then stop. If you prefer to not make it public on social media, then don’t, keep it to yourself. If you want to try it but a whole 100 days seems too much, then do ten or five. If it starts to feel forced and not at all what your reality is, then please stop. If you allow this project to be more organic and real, it won’t be forced or stressful.
I know that for me, in my life it has helped me to regain perspective. I may or may not do the full 100 days.
I’m making some changes in my life and one of them includes moving this blog back to wordpress. I’ve been re-evaluating my finances, the way I look at money, getting older and I have to admit I got a bit scared. In two years I will celebrate being 40 years old, and on that day I also hope to celebrate being debt free. It is an ambitious goal and at this point I am not even sure how to achieve this goal.
But I am tired of living under the weight of debt, of being in survival mode and making poor decisions. It has made me feel like a failure over the years. Often leading me to comparing myself to others around me then into the dark of hole of unworthiness. Berating myself for poor decisions, becoming defensive at advice on how to get better.
I do not understand a lot about money, I try but it’s just not an area where I flourish. In reality, I find money boring. The way in how I take care of what is earned is just as much a testimony as how I take care of my health. The money I have is only because it is money that God has allowed me to earn through work.
In continuing to make poor decisions with my finances I am not honoring God. It is the same as when I don’t care for my health, I am taking it for granted that I will always be well when life can and will throw curve balls at me.
The first step I am taking is admiting that I can do better, I don’t know exactly what I am doing and am eager to learn. I will make mistakes and hopefully will also learn from them along the way.
I also follow a blog called Every Single Dollar which is geared towards singles and I have found fairly helpful with my journey thus far. One of my first changes was forgoing paying for hosting and moving my blog back here onto to WordPress.com in order to save money. The other has been to cancel Netflix ( So, so so hard!). And the third is to forgo purchasing iced coffee, because after all I can make it at home and still get my caffiene fix.
What are some changes you’ve made in getting debt free?
Five years ago I began my journey to a healthier lifestyle. In that time I learned that my body is capable of so much more than I had ever believed. I learned how to eat healthier and how to have a new mindset when it came to food. Exercise, once alien to me became near second nature. Dropping the weight was exciting, scary and hard. Hard not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well.
On my walk/run the other day I began to think about my journey. Five years ago, I was in the best physical health of my entire life. Mentally and spiritually however I was a mess. So much of the why I was doing it had to do with my desire for approval from others. Deep in my heart I believed that being loved and accepted meant meeting other peoples idea of who I should be. That by not meeting those ideas, I was a failure.
Losing weight revealed a lot of things that God wanted to shake me free from. It has been more than learning how to care for my body in a better way. It also been letting go of so much that I held onto over the years. Food and being overweight hid so much I hoped to keep hidden. Losing weight, being left without a place to hide left me vulnerable.
I got down to what was supposed to be my optimal weight but I was also miserable. For the most part I did not feel as if my body belonged to me. Today, I’m not at that optimal weight and I am so much happier. I am happy with my eating habits ( some days are better than others) and exercise routine. It has taken me these five years to get here too.
There were and are places I needed to grow, to learn, to be cared for in order to get to this place I’m at now. A much healthier place, physically, spiritually and mentally. I’m still a bit of a mess, but I know in the mess, God is there with me. Losing weight has long term consequences, not only what can be seen but what happens internally. Happiness does not come from the numbers on a scale, or a label size but where one is at on the journey. This is a journey I will be on for the rest of my life.
Yesterday I celebrated the Resurection with all my family. It was a great day all around. Full of laughter, friends, food and most of all a needed reminder that I am living not for today but the promise of everlasting life. This is why I am a Christian.
I cannot explain the mystery of why I am so certain that all this is real. All I can say is that I have felt since I was small child that there is something bigger than myself. Watching over me, caring for me, loving me. No matter what has was going on in, I was protected and safe.
You can read more about my journey in this post
I am in a posture of learning for this year and from this place I see I am surrounded by so much pain. We all carry unseen scars that lay hidden behind learned coping mechanisms. In this pain that I too carry, there is Holy and Good.
I have always believed in the Holy and Good. In something greater than myself, a mystery beyond my full understanding. Even in the midst of my hardships and pain throughout my life, this I have always believed in. It has been nearly ten years since I stepped forward during Easter services longing for Christ. In that time I have faltered and failed God many, many times. The struggles and hardships have shown me the Holy and Good.
When the noise from the world seems only full of vitral and anger, I believe in the Holy and Good. It is there, in the corners that are not easily seen. I think too there is confusion over something being hard, and if its hard it cannot be good. I have walked through hard and seen my friends and family do so too. Hard does not mean that good work is not being done.
[Tweet “By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it”]
By leaning into the pain of my life, holy work is done and good has come from it This is the work that sanctifies me and prepares me for what is ahead in this journey for me. My life is not just about today but also tomorrow. Today will be forgotten and I shall be made new. So I live for that day in great anticipation, in the Holy and Good.
“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
Birthdays can be weird. Well I can feel weird about celebrating my birthday. All kinds of unexpected emotions can come to the forefront on this day for me. Things that I can’t quite place my finger on or fully understand. Funny how that can happen. In all other respects the day of ones birth is a regular day for everyone else.
Birthdays were magic when I was a kid. It was a day or even a few days of food, fun and gifts. Classroom parties with cupcakes and a family dinner of my choosing. One year I wanted to be “fancy” and asked to go to McDonalds for dinner. I was also five or six at the time. They required no effort on my part for people to acknowledge it. It was just a great day of people wishing me a happy birthday. I felt cared for and loved.
As an adult though, it has lost some of its magic. It has become an obligatory thing with Facebook notifications telling me when it’s someone’s birthday. These notifications have become so routine that it can be easy to scroll past them. It feels forced, this reminder of someones birthday as can the response to it. At least from me it does.
Birthdays have made me selfish. As a teenager I wanted more of everything, more attention, more fun and food. I wanted the biggest bouquet of balloons to walk obnoxiously through the school hallways. Remember when those balloons were the thing? Are those still something highschoolers do?
As an adult part of the magic is gone because I am the one who has to plan it. Which feeds into my people pleasing aspect of myself. Will people want to come? Will my invite be ignored? I worry if people will have a good time. I have found too that some years I want to tell everyone its my birthday. Other years I welcome my close friends and family wishing a happy birthday but really don’t desire the attention from so many people at the same time.
Neither are wrong or right. The key to having a magical birthday as an adult is to let go and allow the day to unfold as it will. Enjoy the well wishes from friends and family. Celebrate however you see fit, because this is the day of your birth ( along with a few thousand others). This year I did a little of both, allowing the day to be what it was. It was a series of good times with my amazing family and friends. For this I am grateful and my heart is full.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of a story gaining traction. It can be more thrilling than riding a roller coaster. And I love roller coasters. Just as with writing, roller coasters have their ups and downs. There is the wait in line for to ride it, then its over too quickly.
I have struggled with writing the sequel to my novel for the past year. There was something missing, a plot point or character that just would not work. But I was unable to see it. I was experimenting with this one and it just was not working. Some parts of the plot were working but others parts just would not gel.
So I worked on it here and there, writing and rewriting. Creating outlines, note cards and then throwing them out because none of it made much sense to the story. Other times I paused working on it, allowing my brain to work on it subconsciencely.
Then it came to me while watching a movie, I knew exactly why the story wasn’t working and what had to be done. It meant losing a character entirely. Which is always hard as us writers do become quite attached to them. Losing him meant another character comes out of the shadows.
This is how writing works. The breakthroughs coming after several drafts, reworking plot points and going back and forth on what will work in the story. This breakthrough is wonderful but also means having to nearly start over. It helps that the it has good bones, so not everything needs to change.
This effort is worth it. It is worth seeing something through.
Keep writing the story, rewriting and pausing if needed. The words will come and when they do, be prepared for a flood of them to come. Figuring out a stuck plot point can be so wonderful. It is worth the hardship of getting through those sticky plot points.