60-Second Sanctuary is here!

My book, 60-Second Sanctuary, launches today! If you’d like a copy, please buy one now for $6 on Amazon.

dtp_7139330_USER_CONTENT_0This book grew out of my book from last fall, Creative Women’s Devotional (also on Amazon). People told me, “I liked your book, even though I don’t crochet,” or “I liked your book, even though I’m not Christian,” or “I liked your book, even though I’m not a woman! 😀 ”

After visiting with readers like this, I felt the need to write a devotional that connected us to the Spirit in a quick and open-ended way.

In my new book, 60-Second Sanctuary, every single devotion only takes a moment to practice. If you are busy but feel a longing to strengthen your creative and spiritual side, this book is made for you!

I would like to give a special thanks to my endorsers, Nick Larson and Jenny McGee, who wrote these words about my book.

“We all have but a few minutes a day. I know as a young parent and busy pastor that I often have the urge to ignore enriching my creative side because I feel too busy. Genevieve’s 60-Second Sanctuary is a fantastic tool to help focus my creative God spark and is such a grounded, plausible, inspirational tool that can make an impact in your life.”

—Nick Larson, associate pastor at Broadway Christian Church
and co-author of Never Pray Again

 

 

“I highly recommend these daily devotions because they bring you right to the heart of God. You can’t help but have a spiritual and creative transformation as you journey through this book.”

—Jenny McGee, abstract painter, Azulbyjennymcgee.com

I want to thank my family. My son, Derek, who is only in high school, both photographed and designed the cover. He’s way too talented for one person. If you need photos in the CoMo area, contact him. My husband, Logan, was master tea-maker and cheerleader.

❤ Thank you to the many friends and readers who encourage me with notes, gifts, meals, hugs, prayers and squeals when they see me. I love you! You keep me going more than you know!

Tonight (Wednesday) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. (central) I am having an online book launch party on Facebook if you’re interested. What’s an online book launch party? I will post some behind-the-scenes photos of my inspiration, show an excerpt of my raw writing and generally celebrate this happy day! What do I need to do at an online book party? Nothing! Like and comment if you want. Using an event is a way for me to talk about the book to my friends who want to hear about it and not add clutter to the main news feed for friends who aren’t interested. So if you like book stuff, then please join!

As always, God bless you today and always. Wherever the Spirit is leading you, I hope you will follow and find your next adventure. This book has been an adventure for me with ups and downs but a worthwhile journey. I know now I can travel lighter as I work on my next book (a short story memoir about yarn things!)

PS—I hope you’ll let me know how you like 60-Second Sanctuary! If you find it helpful, would you please leave a review on Amazon or on your social media? I’m an indie author and every mention helps the book find its way to new readers. Thanks! ❤

Last quarter: the quarter that counts

My son Derek #73 goes for a tackle. Photo courtesy of Erin McGruder.
My son, Derek, #73, goes for a tackle. Photo courtesy of Erin McGruder.

I’m an ignorant football mom. Supportive but ignorant. Although it’s the second year of my son playing football, I have barely more knowledge than I did at the beginning of his football career.

A friend who understands football asked me what my son plays. “He has a new role this season,” I answered.

“A new role? Don’t you mean position?” he asked.

“Yeah, that’s right. New position,” I said. “I don’t remember what it’s called, but he’s on the line.”

“On the line” means something, although I don’t know what. They all seem to line up on both sides, except for the quarterback. Maybe they’re all “on the line” except for him?

On the line. Photo courtesy of Erin McGruder.
On the line. Photo courtesy of Erin McGruder.

I learned there are people who hold exclamation point-type markers attached with a chain to show the distance the team needs to move the ball. They might be called the chain gang?

Realizing the distance was marked made the game much easier for me to follow.

Staying strong in the last quarter. Photo courtesy of Erin McGruder.
Staying strong in the last quarter. Photo courtesy of Erin McGruder.

Even with my self-confessed obliviousness, I know the last quarter is the most important quarter. Teams can make comebacks and last-minute turnarounds.

The game is won in the last quarter.

When this year started, you had dreams, inklings, whispers, desires, questions and hopes. Find them again. Follow them again. Feed them again.

This is the last quarter of 2014. This is the one that counts.

Blessing

Lord, bless us with bravery and trust when we hear your calling.
Bless us with patience and trust when we don’t.

 

Tell me your thoughts!

How will you revive a dream you’ve let slip?

Believing the myth of perfection keeps you from joy

May your inner self be secure and happy

May your inner self be secure and happyIf you were perfect, what would you be like? How would you dress, walk and talk?

Most of us keep an image of perfection in our minds that we truck out. We compare ourselves against it.

Perfect Gen wouldn’t spill tea down her front minutes before teaching class. Perfect Gen probably wouldn’t be addicted to tea and certainly would be coordinated.

As real Gen, I had to squeeze out what I could of my soggy shirt and do my best. If spilling tea is the risk I have to take as a tea drinker, then I will deal with it.

Lessons from pasta

I watched a food show that made me hungry and thoughtful at the same time. Hungry because it looked delicious. Thoughtful because the hosts mentioned that rough pasta is the tastiest. Why?

Perfectly smooth pasta can’t soak up sauce as well as pasta with some texture on the surface. The surface might seem too rough at first glance but once the pasta is in the sauce, it’s beautiful.

Perfect or joyful

Perfection can be an enemy of joy. Instead of seeing the beauty around us in people, our homes and ourselves, we wrestle with wanting to be flawless. We become prisoners of our own minds and judgments.

We chide ourselves to improve. A mother thinks she should be kinder and more patient, even after hours of playing Legos with her son. An artist imagines the painting should hold more emotion and thought, although declared stunning by others. A woman looking at herself in a mirror concentrates on imagined spots when everyone only notices her smile.

How do we find contentment if we cannot be perfect in this life?

Joy lives in being present to moments as they are in messy, glorious days. Cups of teas spill. Tea-soaked teachers teach.

Our rough edges are the places where we can best soak up all the flavors of life.

Blessing

God, you who hold all our tomorrows,
remind us of the joy in today.

We can relax and trust in the new beginning
you offer us.

Bless us now in our imperfection.
Help us focus on living out your love in the world.

Tell me your thoughts!

What does the perfect version of you look like? How do you use that image against yourself?

Think you’re out of balance? Add this to your to-do list

tea

teaIn the education portion of my recent Stephen Ministry meeting, we learned about the need for balance between giving energy outward and restoring energy inward. Too much giving creates burnout. Too much rest produces sluggishness.

Where would you fall on that spectrum? You can probably guess where I am.

I have lists from when I was 8 years old. Nothing like a good list to put things in order! Take care of something, cross it off. Next thing. Next thing. A list maker must have more things to put on the list. Next thing. Next thing.

On an average day, I make three lists: a personal to-do, one for work and one before I go to bed at night with any worries on my mind. I buy books of lists to keep my household on track. I avoid shopping without one. I’ve been known to make a list of pros and cons when faced with a tough decision. Lists give me a sense of control in a life of uncertainties and demands.

I love lists and hope to always be a list maker. But I want to use them for my good. My established list habit can be a tool to restore myself and strengthen my trust in God.

What would my life look like if I put “rest and refill my positive attitude” on the list as an item? I can build in more breaks between writing code, shopping for school supplies and caring for others. Well rested, I will have more patience and good humor.

How about if I added “spend time in friendship with God”?

I will take the time to relax over a cup of tea and ask God to help me recognize when my need to accomplish is coming from pride or fear. Yes, the laundry needs to be done, but I can stop for a moment and give myself a chance to hear God.

Even if all my items don’t get crossed off, I’ll see clearly the blessing that is my day-to-day life.

Blessing

Lord, our minds grow anxious
from undone things and outside demands:
jobs, family needs, losses, requirements, changes.

Place your holy hand of peace on our shoulders.
Remind us we can trust you.
Your kingdom is our destination.

The needs of the world are passing away;
we can rest in your mercy
and take comfort in your loving embrace.

Tell me your thoughts!

What do you feel that you have to take care of by yourself? How would it help to stop and rest with God? Where do you find you push yourself the hardest?

How to thrive after a midlife crisis

With my brother and sister and a birthday cake

With my brother and sister and a birthday cakeToday’s my birthday! I thank God for the gift of my life.

I don’t always recognize what a gift it is. Ten years ago, I asked, “What am I doing with my life?”

I was hungry to learn. I read self-improvement books from the library, one after the other. I don’t remember which author offered this idea, but it stuck with me:

A plant doesn’t grow by positive thoughts. It has to receive light and water while planted in good soil.

This thought made me realize that it wasn’t enough to change my attitude. I needed to change my environment. I applied—multiple times—and found a job at the University of Missouri. It has been my place to thrive professionally for the past ten years.

These are the five things that helped me over my mid-life crisis.

Lead yourself and learn

Become the leader of your own life; have a vision. Where do you want to be? It’s up to you to guide your life where you want it to go.

I wrote down a description of what I wanted to be—a PR specialist—and that is close to what I do today.

I furthered my education and got my master’s degree. My degree helped me professionally and personally. I made friends in grad school I treasure to this day.

Decide on your destination, and lead yourself there.

Keep your eye on where you want to be, not on what is stopping you

I explored my vision and kept my eye on it.

My years of riding lessons make for great life lessons. When you’re riding horses over jumps, you can’t look at the jump. You look where you want to go. If you look down at the jump, you won’t get over it. I can hear the yell of my riding instructor, “Why are you looking at the ground? Is that where you want to be? Eyes up! Look where you are going!”

Keep your eye on your destination. If you keep your eye on the obstacle, you will feel overcome by its size.

There is no obstacle you can’t find a way around. Keep your eyes up!

Feel everything

Change involves discomfort. It hurts to grow and let go of old attachments or familiar ways of living. There is no escape from our feelings if we want to come out the other side.

I believe God reaches us most easily when we are at our lowest and most broken. That’s when we realize how much we need God and others. As social creatures, we can never be independent. We have to live in love and in community. The past ten years tested me. I lost a high school friend and my brother to suicide, and my mother to lung cancer.

I let grief change me; I gave myself over to mourning. The feelings were a wall of cold water crashing on me. My skin felt numb and raw at the same time. My eyes hurt from too much crying; my lids were made of sandpaper. I could go from angry to melancholy to blank to hysterical laughter all in the same five minutes.

As I grieved, I prayed to God with an intensity that I wished would never end. I felt an answer in a new-found closeness to the holy presence. Christ healed my heart.

I believe you are never alone in your suffering. Peace will come. Hard times will change you for the good if you let them. Keep breathing.

Go for it

Go for what you want!

It might not turn out. I’ve had some failures! With failure, you have a story to tell. Failure is easier than regret.

I took a risk to try writing publicly in 2013 on this blog, now I’m a published author. Thank you, my beloved readers, for being a part of this adventure!

Nurture a heart of gratitude

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I give thanks for turning 45 today!

People complain about aging. I tell you, to be alive at any age is a blessing. When I think of my beloved ones who haven’t reached the age I am today, I know growing older is a blessing. We might gain an ache or two along with our wisdom, but life is precious, joyful and holy.

Have you noticed how older people appreciate the moments? There is such happiness in seeing the beauty of small things: a child’s smile, the way an iridescent blue fly drinks from a horse water trough, snuggling with your spouse in the morning before you have to get up, watching snow fall, playing string with a cat, the sound of waves on the beach.

May God bless me to be an old woman. I’m going to make a great one—puttering around to make hot tea with a small dog underfoot! I might stick my finger in my 80th birthday cake and help myself to the icing before it’s served…

4 free lessons from the Little Drummer Boy

daisiesAs I begin my new book project, I struggle with that voice that says, “You’re not good enough.” While I can’t quiet the voice, I can remind myself that this book is my offering to God. I’ve been thinking of the Little Drummer Boy.

My mother was one to listen to Christmas songs year-round, or at least starting in August. She would break out the Mannheim Steamroller vinyl and turn the stereo up to at least 7.

She loved the classics as well as electronic music. One of her favorite songs was the Little Drummer Boy. This song tells the story of a young boy with nothing to give the baby Jesus. With Mary’s blessing, he plays his drum.

Without fail, my mother cried every time it came on.

I seem to have inherited her Little Drummer Boy crying syndrome. Now when I hear the song, I remember her feeling so touched. It brings tears to my own eyes.

The simplicity of the story means each generation can learn from the little drummer boy.

Give now. Don’t wait to be an expert to give your best to God.

The little boy didn’t say, “Wait, I need to take some drum lessons and get better before I offer my song. I will come back in a few years.”

As I was talking to my husband about the song, he said he imagines the little drummer boy played the drum the way young children play drums, in a clumsy, charming way. The song doesn’t say, “Then the very best child drummer—a kid so good that had he been on YouTube 2,014 years in the future, he would have had 1 million views—played for Jesus.” It only says that he played.

Be a proud beginner.

As adults, we get caught up in looking like we know what we’re doing. How we look seems to matter more than what we feel and experience. How many new things do we avoid because of fear and the idea of “I don’t want to look stupid”?

Children are beginners at everything, even self-consciousness. They haven’t learned to be self-conscious.

What if we approached something new with an attitude of openness without worrying about how we look?

Remember it’s OK to look like a beginner. It means you are beginning something new!

Offer what you have with your heart.

The boy was motivated by his love for the Lord in this song. He could have gotten caught up in self-pity that he had no frankincense.

Whether you are offering a prayer, a smile, a glass of water or a devotional—do it with spirit and goodwill. Let your love for the Lord motivate you. Whatever you have to give, if you give it with love, it will be enough.

Be present to the moment of giving.

The boy wasn’t half-drumming, distracted by the score of a game. He focused on what he was giving.

How often are you present? All the time? Most of the time? Or like me, sometimes, here and there, when I am not distracted by ponies and to-do lists?

Think of a Japanese tea ceremony with its deliberate patience. Instead of tossing your offering in an off-hand way, present it with intention.

Center yourself and give part of yourself. The recipient of your generosity will feel your presence. You will gain more from the giving.

Give well.

Blessing

Lord, let us give what we can now:

Smiles to the lonely,
Peace to the troubled,
Food to the hungry,
A hand to the stumbling,
An ear to those not heard.

If we don’t have big tithes
or fancy prayers,
time for overseas missions
or prayerful retreats,
let us give what we can now:

A kind word,
A welcome,
A thank you.

Let us be the people who turn around
someone’s day.

Guide us to become people who give
as you give:
extravagantly, excessively,
endlessly.

Tell me your thoughts!

How have you been blessed this week? What will you give out of love for God? What would you like to learn?

How to stay motivated mid-project

lightLast week, I mentioned my process for starting new projects.

Beginnings have their own momentum. The middle of a project can bring the doldrums. During my two and a half years in grad school, my first year was skateboard ride down a hill. So exciting! New faculty! New friends! New projects! It was all exclamations points!!! Then came the third semester, the middle of five semesters total for me before graduation.

Due dates seemed too soon. The workload seemed too heavy. The glamour of the beginning had worn off. The syllabus seemed like a hard boss with no mercy. The exclamation points were gone. It was one | wall | after | another |.

Do you know that feeling? The initial thrill is gone, but you’re still far from completion.

Here are 7 ways I used to keep myself motivated.

Accept that you’re not in control

Sometimes you can’t pick the work that needs to be done. The syllabus or your job demand what they need, not what you want to do. As the serenity prayer suggests, accept what is out of your control with as much grace as you can. With any meaningful project, you will have to slog through some unpleasant parts. I love having a pony. Do I love mucking? But pony poop is part of pony having, so every weekend, I grab my rake.

Accept that you’re in control

This is like the second part of the serenity prayer. What can you own about the project you’re doing? Even in tight deadline situations, you can choose little things to make your work easier. Is there a photo you can post next to the computer that cheers you up? Do you have a favorite color rake?

Bribe yourself to get through short tasks

I broke my project into tiny tasks that could be completed in 10 or 20 minutes, and thought up prizes for myself as rewards. It might be having a cup of tea, making toast with extra butter and jam, painting my nails, calling a friend, watching TV or taking a bath.

Pick prizes that will bolster you, but not take too much work or money.

Get silly

It helps to bring back a sense of play to your work. Put on energizing music and dance around. When I was building my web portfolio for grad school, I also built a spoof website in parallel.

Get competitive

Find someone who is doing the same thing that you are, and make a friendly competition of it. Who will do it first?

Realize the desire to quit will not last

I once read that hunger pains only last 20 minutes. If someone was dieting and could wait the 20 minutes, the discomfort would go away.

I think this is true of many of our desires. Our desire to quit is a short-term discomfort. If you can remind yourself that you will feel better about the project soon, it helps propel you past the sticking point.

Ask for help

Tell your loved ones that you are glum and need motivation. They will remind you what a good job you’re doing, and shower you with attention. You can ask them with help staying on track.

Remember, you can always tell God you’re struggling and ask for guidance.

Keep praying, keep working and keep looking to the day when you accomplish your goal!

But, Gen, what about the memoir?

Speaking of being in the middle of projects, thank you for those who have stopped me to ask how the memoir is going. I love you for asking. It means the world to me that I will have supportive readers when I have it finished.

As I looked over my memoir this summer, and prayed about it, I recognized a hard truth. My memoir in its current written form isn’t honest enough, funny enough or well written enough for my liking. I left my childhood with chronic emotional pain that took me years to heal. I don’t want to impose my story on others so the end result is depressing. For the moment, I’m letting the memoir rest until I decide whether I want to try writing it a third time from a completely fresh start, or rewrite the draft I have with more honesty and humor.

Update on the newest writing project

Meanwhile, my new project continues, and I would love your feedback as I flesh it out!!! (Still in the exclamation phase!)

Here’s my pitch.

My book, the Creative Women’s Devotional, helps women who are doing crafts to transform their hobby into a spiritual practice. An uplifting gift for moms and grandmas who are Christian crafters, it offers stories, blessings and suggestions all looped together with God’s love.

This will be a book that I build through blogging. The final book will have additional content not found on the blog, and offer the convenience of one place for 40 devotionals.

How does this sound to you as a book idea?

Do you think I should open it up for more types of craft? Originally I was thinking knitting and crochet, plus quilting and possibly scrapbooking. I am most familiar with knitting and crochet. I would need to use others’ expertise to speak about quilting and scrap booking.

What do you think would make it more interesting, more entertaining, stronger or more inspiring?

Blessing

Lord, thank you for staying with us when
we lose our way.

You are the tree giving us shade when
we need to rest.

You are the mountain calling us higher when
we need to stand back up and keep climbing.

May our work be done for your glory.
Energize us, focus us and guide us
on your way.

Tell me your thoughts!

What projects have you had that started strong but lagged in the middle?