brave

I wrote a novel and thought it was time to tell you

I wrote a novel. Three years ago I started writing it. Two years ago I finished. Today I decided to tell you. 

I've been meaning to tell you for awhile. But I was waiting... waiting for something bigger, for something more exciting. I wanted to tell you I had a huge publishing deal in New York City, a fancy literary agent, and a good shot at making it on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

My goal was to be twenty-years-old and utterly established. I had dreams and goals and a 5-step plan. I told God I would never self-publish. I told God I would only release my book if I made it to the top. Shooting for excellence, you know? I decided anything aside from the best would be simply considered as mediocrity. 

It took me two years to realize otherwise. The past few years I have been relentlessly querying literary agents in New York City. I would find the most popular young adult authors in the bookstore, then trace their literary agent's name and publisher who was listed on the back cover. I'd go home and query them, silently begging them to validate me as a writer and human being. I thought if someone well-known accepted my writing, then I must be worth something, too.

I was rejected over 50 times. Rejection letter after rejection letter landed in my inbox. Each one was kind, offering encouragement to try again at another time, or informing me that my story just didn't fit what they were looking for.

In the beginning, I used the rejection as fuel to send more letters, to tighten my writing, to take the time to pray about the right agent—who would surely send my novel to the top of the publisher's list.

But no matter what I did, I continued to be rejected.

Was I a bad writer? Should I not pursue writing fiction? Should I stick to journalism, or hand-lettering, or maybe move on to working at McDonald's?  

I thought I was only worth something as a writer if I was on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

God was slowly, kindly, tenderly teaching me something else. It took me two years to learn that the validity of my writing and the definition of my worth are not tied to a fancy literary agent or a publishing house in New York. 

So now, after years of telling God otherwise, I have decided to self-publish my novel. 

I had to get to the point where publishing it myself didn't feel like settling. It doesn't feel like settling anymore. It feels like the most exciting prospect of my life. 

My book used to be about becoming known. I can sincerely tell you it's not about that anymore. I'd like to start small, taking the hours and days and months and years I have spent on this story, and quietly offering it out into the world. 

Maybe it'll just be my mom and my sister and my best friend who read it. But that's okay. Because the lessons I have learned these past three years—that my worth and my writing are not determined by what anyone says or thinks—well, those lessons mean far more to me than getting on the New York Times Best Sellers. 

I haven't given up hope on that, though. But it's certainly not the driving force for why I write. It used to be. Not anymore.

Soon my novel will be released into the world. I'm petrified and elated and grateful that God has been so kind to me, quietly molding me into someone who recognizes her worth. 

I don't have a hard release date for the book yet. This is all very new to me, but I'll make sure to keep you informed as I continue in this process. This is what I can tell you for now: my book is titled Come Find Me, Sage Parker, and is a contemporary young adult novel. 

I cannot wait to share my words with you. I've been waiting three years. I'll try my best to wait a little longer. 

100 things I'd rather hold (instead of my iPhone)

I check my phone too often. I'm finally admitting it.

It's my alarm clock -- because, you know, the Bed Time App wakes you up nice and slowly and I'm not ready to give that up yet. (In reality I should go buy a real, actual clock.)

I have been thinking a lot about habits recently, the good and the bad. There is scientific and psychological evidence to back this up -- about how habits become ingrained into the core of our brains, whether they are good or bad, and we get to the point where we don't have to think anymore, we just do. Good news: it's possible to rewire these habits. Bad news: it takes a lot of effort -- generally more effort than most people are willing to put in. (You can listen more about this from someone smarter than me, right here.)

So I'm working on ingraining exercising into my brain, and reading books on spiritual discipline, and going to bed earlier, and handing in my assignments a few hours before they're due instead of a few minutes.

But in order to have time for these, I have to take time away from other things. Mainly, my iPhone.

I love social media. In all honesty, it's a bonus for me when it comes to blogging or sharing my artwork. People can see it, then can commission me to write or make art for them. For a non-business-y person, it's an easy-ish marketing plan.

But it's becoming too much. I don't want too much. I want slow, steady, relational -- deep, not wide.

Maybe I'm thinking too much about being a millennial. (Did you see this video? I can't get it out of my head.) Maybe I'm worried about how I spend far more time on my phone than talking, listening, or thinking about, Jesus. Maybe I'm finally coming to the realization that I actually may be far more addicted to this thing in my hand than I thought before.

Prompted by Colleen's post here, and by months of thinking about starting to attempt the rewiring of my habits and brain, these are the things I'd rather be holding than my phone.

100 things I'd rather hold -- 

  1. Pressed, dried flowers
  2. The pages of my Bible
  3. Someone's hand
  4. The wispy hairs on my nephew's head
  5. A travel mug filled with peppermint tea
  6. My gray, leather notebook
  7. Snowflakes on my eyelashes
  8. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
  9. A fresh watercolour palette, filled mostly with greens and blues
  10. A spinning globe
  11. My passport
  12. A bottle of beer and a plate of nachos to share
  13. Logs of wood to make a fire
  14. Weights that make my arms feel both tired and strong
  15. Glasses of water
  16. A package of thank you cards
  17. The handle of my favourite mug
  18. Soft, delicate paint brushes
  19. The hands of my friends when we pray for each other
  20. Warm, cozy socks
  21. A candle and a match
  22. A cup of tea for someone else
  23. My grandmother's calligraphy tools
  24. An actual newspaper
  25. Someone's memoir
  26. A paper map instead of a GPS
  27. Kombucha
  28. Movie popcorn while at the theatre on half-price Tuesday
  29. A slice of cheesecake
  30. Coffee with too much cream
  31. A blank canvas
  32. This book I had the pleasure of writing a chapter for
  33. My nephew's small body within my arms
  34. The handle of the door to my church
  35. A glass of Pinot Grigio
  36. The steering wheel of my small car, filled with people
  37. The hands of someone while we dance
  38. My sister's blonde hair as I braid it back
  39. The red button on my Polaroid camera
  40. Slices of brightly coloured fruit
  41. Black nail polish
  42. My mother's arms around me
  43. Fastening high heels around my feet
  44. Pushing snooze on an actual, real alarm clock
  45. Podcasts
  46. Books I wouldn't normally read -- on psychology, and science, and spiritual discipline
  47. Books I've read a hundred times before
  48. Scarves from Africa tied around my neck
  49. My ukulele
  50. My nephew's hand when he starts to walk
  51. Dutch Blitz
  52. My school textbooks
  53. Salty, ocean water
  54. Poetry I've written
  55. Poetry written by someone else
  56. The white comforter on my bed
  57. Framed photos of the people I love
  58. Tubes of old paint
  59. A Psalm and a chapter of the Gospels, every morning
  60. My hands on my crossed legs, breathing in slowly, thinking nothing at all, but basking in peace, in the presence of Jesus
  61. Games night with my family
  62. The classrooms that are teaching me to be a journalist
  63. My favourite inky markers
  64. A brand new package of sharpies
  65. Bread boards I've painted on
  66. A bouquet of flowers I'll give to someone
  67. Soft soap
  68. A plate of good food shared with someone
  69. Pink blush and a soft brush to put on my cheeks
  70. Vanilla lattes with my best friend
  71. The keys on this computer to continue adding to this blog
  72. My purple yoga mat
  73. Shaking the hand of someone new
  74. The books I read to my nephew
  75. The book I want to write for my nephew
  76. Slivers of dried mango
  77. My agenda with plans for the week
  78. The swish of summer dresses against my bare legs
  79. Holding someone close after talking for hours
  80. Arranging the letters of a quote onto my letter board
  81. My hand against my mouth after laughing too hard
  82. Scraps of paper with verses that remind me who I am
  83. Scraps of paper with verses that remind me who Jesus is
  84. Artwork I'm giving away, just because
  85. The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning
  86. A deck of cards played with friends, late into the night
  87. The grass below me, the stars above me
  88. Sand sifting through my fingertips
  89. My leather school bag
  90. A necklace engraved with the word beloved 
  91. My running shoes
  92. Long, hand written letters
  93. The courage to try something new
  94. Warm mittens
  95. Cold lemonade
  96. Wooden slices awaiting being painted
  97. My phone on my ear, instead of in my hands, having long conversations
  98. My nephew after he's woken from sleep
  99. A list of adventures to go on
  100. My hands outstretched and open -- offering all that I am

The day he calls you beautiful

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-9-09-55-am You don’t forget the first time a boy calls you beautiful.

You don’t realize until years later that when he was whispering those words, he was permanently engraving them deep inside of you.

You don’t perceive the power that handful of syllables has.

Before he tells you, he looks at you. His eyes peer into yours, causing your face to flush red down to your toes. You half wonder if he’s aware of how he makes you blush. You don’t comprehend what’s happening. You don’t think. You just watch him while he says this to you.

I think you’re beautiful.

You lean into how you’re feeling: you’re a wildflower, freshly plucked. You’re a dainty ballerina. You’re a fuzzy Polaroid picture, the edges blurred, still in the midst of focusing.

You are feminine and beauty. Of course you are -- he just said so himself.

You do? You think I’m beautiful?

The stuttered question comes out before you can stop it, and you turn your face down shyly, away from him. You want him to think you're confident, not insecure.

Then he’s grasping your chin with his long fingers, turning your face back up to look into his eyes. He repeats what he told you before. Surely if he’s said the words a second time, he must believe it. They must be true.

I do. I think you’re beautiful.

I'm over at (in)courage today, and would love for you to join me. 

Here's to being a work in progress

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-10-09-04-am I am making progress.

Yesterday, I had lunch for the first time with people from my program. It is halfway through the semester. There are two reasons for this. 1) Thursdays are the only day of the week where I have more than one class, therefore needing to eat lunch instead of heading home, and 2) I have found it far more comforting to stay by myself than to wander outside of my own protection and make friends.

The second statement is a lie.

Comforting is certainly the wrong term. I hate being alone. Being alone, in my head, is life-sucking. I mean, I can do it. I can walk through the hallways alone, my head held high. But I can feel the life seeping out of me. And yet, for some reason I convince myself to protect my heart.

Let them think you're tough, not alone. That you're smart, not afraid. 

There are a thousand things I convince myself of, and most of the time I never understand why all of these things are hurting me.

College is far different than high school. To me, it's not about friends. I drive to school, attend my classes, complete my assignments, sometimes study for midterms, go to work, go to church, make art for my art show, hold my nephew, and invest in the people who have been in my life for awhile. School and my real, actual life felt like two separate entities.

"I'm not there to make friends," I jokingly told people. "I'm such a keener. I only care about the school work."

Liar, liar. No one can actually only care about writing papers. There has to be some part, even if it's barely noticeable, that cares about human connection. This is who we are as humans. We are meant to be connected, meant to share our joys and our losses, perhaps sometimes deeper with others, but we are meant to connect nonetheless.

So when a few of the people from my program suggested I eat lunch with them yesterday, I almost said no. I had been alone for a long time; I thought that's what college was to me. I thought college was merely academic, with human interaction staying fairly minimal.

Instead, I looked at them. I said yes.

This, of course, was not a big deal to them. But as we walked, I realized I was no longer walking alone. I became my own inner cheerleader: you are doing this! You are eating with people! You are making progress! Look at you go, you progressive girl. 

I called Sarah last night and said, "I had lunch with people today. This is tangible progress. I honestly didn't think I wanted to be around people, but I had lunch with real humans today and I am making such progress."

She said, "Yes you are. And I am so proud of you."

This is forward movement, this is courage, this is me leaping off cliffs --

I am deeply, and intimately, a work in progress.

My identity isn't what I thought it was

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I am one month into college.

Currently I should be: writing two papers, creating a film, studying for a test, researching a prominent Canadian figure, reading my textbooks, and making a hefty amount of artwork so I actually have something to sell at my second art show this December.

Instead, I am writing to me and you.

Sometimes I think, "I used to be good at articulating. I used to be able to think about how I was feeling and immediately put those thoughts onto paper."

Now it seems as though I hardly ever write what I think. These days it feels as though I'm writing so much and simultaneously writing nothing at all.

Identity is a funny thing. People ask us, "What do you do?" Before school, I felt as though I had nothing to say. But now I have something. Now I can tell them, "I'm a journalism student. I go to school. I study. I write papers. I research. I procrastinate. I am learning to be a truth-teller in all I do. Also, I am very tired."

I can easily wrap myself around the idea that being a journalism student is who I am because it's currently what I do.

The other day I received a mark on an assignment I had finished. It was a terrible grade. And get this -- it was for a writing class. I saw the mark and instantly wilted.

I am supposed to be good at this. I am supposed to be a writer. People have told me I'm a good writer, and if people tell you that, it has to be true, doesn't it? If I get a bad mark in a writing class, does that prove I'm a bad writer? Am I in the wrong program? Why am I taking journalism if I can't actually write? And why is everyone else in my program approximately seventeen and a half years old? Why did I think it was a good idea to wait four years to go to school? 

It's astonishing what can happen when you make what you do into who you are. It's staggering how quickly you can crumble. When your identity is something shakeable, a feather can touch you and still you'll fall apart.

I am a writer, even after that bad mark. But it's what I do, not who I am. I am a journalism student, but it's what I do, not who I am. I am an artist, but it's what I do, not who I am.

Instead, who I am is this:

Deeply, immeasurably loved.

I think this on my commute, while I watch the sun rise. I am loved, I breathe in. Deeply loved, I breathe out. Immeasurably loved.

I like school. I like how my brain hurts from listening and thinking and digesting and wondering. I like digging deep into the lives of fascinating people, and being able to tell someone's story who may not be able to tell it on their own.

But it's not who I am. It's just what I do right now.

My identity is entirely different than that.

This is how you'll feel when you decide to go to college

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Nobody tells you how you’ll feel when you enter college for the first time. Nobody tells you how overwhelming it is when you stare at your course outlines, trying to remember how to write an essay or -- even worse -- take an exam.

Instead they say, “These will be the best days of your life!” or “You are going to enjoy this so much!” and you stare at them, thinking they must have forgotten.

They’ve forgotten the beginning. You can’t blame them: it’s easy to forget the beginning when you’re deep in the middle of something else.

Because nobody tells you that suddenly you’ll feel like the new girl again, trying to find a spot at the table. Is there room for me? You wonder. Instead of rational thinking, you curse the day you thought going to college was a good idea. It seems too hard. It feels too vulnerable. It looks too overwhelming. And quite honestly, it’s far too expensive.

These, you tell yourself, are solid reasons to quit.

And then you remind yourself that when you get a little stressed, you rarely make good decisions.

The part that scares you most is how you can literally feel all of your old wounds beginning to unravel, the stitches falling out. You can’t believe how you still don’t feel enough, how you still feel like you want to prove yourself.

Fear doesn’t get to win, you decide. Inadequacy and fear are finished setting up shop within you. They’re not permitted any longer. You choose to be brave, even when you hate how you’re feeling: loose and like you could fall apart at any moment, like the strings that are holding you together aren’t pulled quite tight enough.

Maybe in a few years you won’t remember how you felt when you decided to go to college. Maybe you’ll think the same thing they did: that these will be the best days of someone’s life. But right now that’s not the case.

So let me tell you how you feel: terrified and excited and severely confused by how emotional you are.

That’s okay. It’s alright to be at the beginning again. 

Someday, when you’re back in your middle, when you understand that college might actually be good, you can look at someone else who is just starting off, and you’ll see how scary the beginning is. You’ll take a deep breath and remember the terror, and instead of affirming how wonderful their time will be, you’ll hold their hand and say, “It’s okay. It’s okay to be at the beginning. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to feel this way.”

Sooner or later, they’ll understand how good it is. They’ll laugh at their fear and think about how they probably didn’t need to feel that way.

Later, when it’s their turn to look at someone who is just starting off, they’ll hold that someone’s hand and remind them what we all need reminders of: it’s okay to be at the beginning.

In a few days you’ll enter college for the first time, and everything will be new. The people, the parking lots, the classes, the course outlines.

You are not inadequate.

You are not fearful.

You are, quite simply, at your beginning.

Here's to choosing you belong

faithfulblog.jpg

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset I spoke at a young adults gathering last night. My best friend and I drove two hours, and the entire drive my stomach continued to plunge lower and lower, as if I were on the DropZone at Wonderland. I swear my vital organs were mixing themselves up within me. My liver and lungs and heart and kidneys seemed to be trading places with each other. Stop it, I told my organs. They ignored me and kept moving around.

A few of my friends were leading worship before I was set to speak, so when I arrived at the church I saw kind, familiar faces. "They seem very natural up there," I thought as I watched them practice. They looked like they belonged on that stage -- humble, but still confident. Modest, but still sure of themselves.

I placed my hand against my stomach and tried to settle my nerves.

I don't belong here.

The thought came from out of nowhere. But like the pattern of thoughts I've experienced before, once one thought seeps in, a dozen more follow.

I had prayed over my talk for a month. I was going to be vulnerable and share exactly what I've been feeling recently -- that waiting is hard, that rejection is utterly crappy, and that faithfulness looks like a little bit of all of that: waiting, taking a step forward, and growth.

I was prepared. I was ready. The preparation wasn't the problem. The problem was my overwhelming mind telling me that I didn't belong.

//

Last week I was away for a few days at a leadership retreat. I felt like I didn't belong there either. It was me, a writer and artist, among twenty-five pastors and worship pastors and youth pastors and ministry organizers. I sat there and learned far more about leading, and healing, and freedom than I thought I would, but I still had that niggling sense of unbelonging deep within me.

Someone kindly called me out on that. I'm going to tell you what he told me.

What to do when you feel like you don't belong:

When you are invited to the table, and you feel like you don't belong, you have one moment to feel that way. You can ask yourself, "what am I doing here?" and then, once your one moment is finished, you move on. Once you've moved on you say, "I'm here now, in this place where I have been invited. What can I offer to the people around me?" And then you hold your hands out, and you understand instinctually that you were created uniquely with strengths and gifts, and you offer your very best.

Even if you feel like you don't belong, you choose to move forward. You choose that you belong. Because God has made you intricately with strengths and gifts and purposes and abilities that you alone were designed for. It has taken me far too long to believe that.

//

Looking out at the young adults who were coming to sit down in the church, I watched their faces pass by me. I was going to be speaking to them in a matter of moments -- about how faithfulness looks an awful lot like planting a garden: carefully and gently tending each day, hoping and praying something is growing deep within the ground below you.

You don't belong here, whispered harsh and raw against my brain. I paused and closed my eyes. I took my one moment. I asked myself, "what am I doing here?" and then my moment was finished and I was moving on. I added gratitude to that too. I said, "Thank you, Jesus, for bringing me here, to this very place, in this very moment."

I was there then, in that place where I had been invited. I had so much to offer the people around me. So I rose from my seat, and I stepped on the stage, and I understood instinctually that I was created uniquely with strengths, and gifts, and purposes and abilities.

And then I opened my hands and offered my very best.

When you're afraid but free

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 8.23.10 AM I am sitting on Lake Rosseau, just me on a dock looking out at a lake.

I am attending a leadership retreat and more often than not, I do not feel like a leader. But I showed up because that is what you do when God asks you to go somewhere.

I woke up early this morning, no alarm. I simply woke up feeling oddly refreshed. It was early when I looked at the clock and I figured I could get a few more hours of sleep in, except suddenly I had this unquenchable need to get down to the water. So I packed up my Bible and this notebook and found the loneliest, most outstretched dock I could find.

The water is both soothing and scaring me.

The lake stretches so far; so very, very far, I think. I wonder if I could ever swim it all. If I could dive in, hands above my head, holding my breath for minutes or hours and swim to the other side. Here I am: just me, this giant, soothing, scary body of water, Jesus, and all of my thoughts that are falling out the sides of my head.

Am I afraid of putting myself out there? Answer: yes.

Am I afraid of trying again and again and again, only to fail once more? Answer: yes.

Am I afraid of rejection? Answer: yes yes yes.

Am I afraid that I care more about succeeding according to the world's standards than I care about doing what God has for me? Answer: yes.

I am afraid of so many things, and the water slowly rocking the dock I am sitting on seems to make these fears more glaring.

I do not feel guilty. I do not feel shame. This, by God's grace, shows me progress. A year ago I would've simply wallowed in those two ominous feelings.

But today, this morning, the sun still peeking over the evergreen trees in front of me; the cool morning breeze finding its way softly around me, I am not guilty and I am not shamed.

I am afraid but still I'm free. I am aware of all that I need to surrender.

My shoes are off, my hands are open.

God is here, and so am I.

God shows up, and I will too.

I am afraid, but I will surrender, and I am free.

Living fearlessly authentic (or trying to)

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.55.39 AM I have watched seven episodes of The Office while writing this. I've scrolled through the entire dress section of the Topshop website, despite the fact that they are all severely overpriced. I have eaten two chocolate chip cookies along with a cup of milk, and suffice it to say, I have procrastinated writing at all costs.

I text my friend, "I am writing." I feel like if I text her this, the words will be forced to come quicker and I can go to bed. Also: accountability. Also: sometimes it's easier for me to talk about writing than to do the actual writing itself.

"What are you writing about?" She replies.

I sigh and look at the journal I haven't touched in weeks, then back at the blank screen with the agonizing, and frankly condescending, blinking cursor that mocks me. "I have no idea."

Why do we write -- to inspire people? to tell our truth the best way we know how? to escape from how we are feeling inside? Tonight I ask myself that same question over and over and over again: why do you write, Aliza?

To live an authentic life.

That, to me, is the truest answer right now. It varies from time to time, but for now that's why I write. I want to live an authentic life -- fearlessly authentic, if we're being truthful. I'm realizing that doesn't mean I'm not scared, because Lord knows there are so many days where I'm scared of so many things. Recently it's been the utterly terrifying thing called vulnerability. Which I think feels less like bravery and more like hurling myself off a ledge. Unfortunately in order to be authentic, you have to be vulnerable. It's a two-step process, and all the guac and chips in the world won't make it easier. (Although guac and chips do make some things easier.)

The problem with writing blog posts is that in order to live an authentic life, you have to practice what you write. Maybe that's why I haven't written much lately.

I was telling my friend this the other day, while driving under a mix of stars and city lights. It was late. Or maybe it was just really, really early. I can't remember. But I told him the same sentiment I wrote above. I said to him, "I have a serious problem. If I write something, that means I have to live it. I mean, I guess I don't have to, but I'd like to be as authentic as I can be. It's hard to write things only to have to live them out."

He laughed and said, "Maybe that's what you should write about then. How hard it is to be authentic, but how much you'd like to try."

So this is what I'd like to say: it's hard to be authentic, but I would very much like to try.

Flannery O'Connor said all the things best that I wish I had said: “If I ever do get to be a fine writer, it will not be because I am a fine writer but because God has given me credit for a few of the things He kindly wrote for me.”

That's authenticity, if you ask me.

So I think I'll be scared, and I think I'll keep feeling like I'm hurling myself off a ledge when I'm experimenting in vulnerability, but I'll try to be authentic all the ways I know how. And, to steal from Flannery, if I ever do get to be a fine writer, it will not be because I am a fine writer, but because God has given me credit for a few of the things he kindly wrote for me.

On the day of your first art show

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13169806_1187713074581886_1259034791_o On the day of your first art show, you wake up smiling. Literally. You're surprised by this because all week you've been worrying: worrying you don't have enough art, worrying no one will show up, worrying you might have the date wrong. Your brain sometimes goes a bit nutty when something important is about to happen.

So you wake up grinning, and you get up and survey the artwork that's threatening to swallow the entirety of your bedroom. Eighteen canvases, hundreds of paper prints, even more cards, over a dozen notebooks, two globes, and a map. Your fingers have worked on all of these, and soon they'll be hung on a brick wall and people will come to see them. Or so you hope.

You go with your mom to the nail salon, because you bought high heels which show off your toes. When you return home, you go back to your room and gather together the materials you'll need to set up. For the past few weeks you've continually thought that no one will come to your show. You think it will flop, crash and burn, and every other sad cliche you can grab hold of. Positivity hasn't exactly been your forefront, and suddenly, as you're putting together your crates of prints, and piles of canvases, you feel the breath of God within you whisper, "I am giving you favour. Aliza, I am giving you favour."

You could cry because your faith is so small, so pitiful in spite of the goodness that has been poured over you. Your fickle human heart felt as though it would be far easier to doubt than to hold onto hope that God has good, kind plans for you. You were wrong, as per usual. You've sucker punched yourself in the chest, and when you retrieve your breath it's withering and fragile. You straighten your spine and thank God earnestly for his kind favour.

And then you go to your art show.

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On the day of your first art show, God opens his arms wide and parades his grace through the loveliness of humans. When, what you estimate to be around ninety people walk through the doors to see your artwork, you are stunned. Stunned is an understatement, actually. If what you are feeling within manifested into actuality, you would have fallen flat on your face on the floor, unable to get up.

You are blown away by how much it means when people show up. God is always there, it's true, but he so visibly shows up when people show up for each other.

The next day you wake up smiling again. Your heart is so full, so grateful, so near exploding you wonder if you were to add anything more to your soul, it would overflow and brim over, and brim over, and brim over some more.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDgEofbMpmk&feature=youtu.be[/embed]