Every May, our town has a “large trash pick up day” where you can set out your large household items you no longer need or want. It’s turned into a grand shopping experience for the trucks slowly driving the streets to look for scrap metal, antiques, wood, or any assortment of material. It reminds me that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
I love large trash pick up day because it feels a little bit like fishing. After we set out our large items, we’ll call out to one another, “Someone’s here! They’re taking the old chair. Oh, look! Someone just took the old fan and the cans of paint!” It’s so curious to see various people coming by and rummaging through all we’ve set out. I participate as well; on my neighborhood walk, I’ve gathered baskets and little containers that I’ve used in my own home.
What isn’t taken goes to the landfill on Monday. Most of it does somehow find its way into another home, though.
All morning, I think of all I set out for public rummaging: the blogging, the speaking the writing, the teaching. I think of the rare tweet, the Instagram post, or the photo on Facebook. I think of new book manuscripts and more creative ventures that feel like I’m setting even more of myself out there. So much of my vulnerable little self lies broken and set out there like garbage on the curb. And guess what? People rummage through. They sift and decide. Some smile as they find something of great value to them. Others pass by. Some even turn their noses up. But the important point is that at least a few people come and find what they need.
And I watch from the window, delighted when someone picks a little thing up.
Today was a day I bounced from thing to thing with barely time to breathe. You know days like this. You bounce. You don’t even stop to sit down.
But you’re a writer, so with your purse still on your shoulder and your car keys on your lap, you take three minutes before the next thing and you set your fingers to the keys.
That’s what it’s like. When you run a household, raise the children, work, and do your thing, the writing fills in the nooks and crannies of the day. I’m learning to turn from the necessity of leisurely hours to write while sipping coffee and leaning back to gaze upon the landscape and consider the next verb. Instead, I plop down, write, and then bounce.
Over the years, I’ve learned to live in the triumphant mindset that things will go well. They must. We serve a God who cares for all our needs (Matthew 10:31), who works our circumstances for our good (Romans 8:28), and who, by His unchanging nature, never fails to display His love to us (Psalm 103:17).
When something “doesn’t go well” through disappointment, loss, suffering, or any kind of struggle, I’m learning still to recognize this very event as an opportunity to see the power of God displayed.
My husband asked me again recently how I so quickly find the nests of birds. We’ll walk down the sidewalk together, and I’ll point out that robin’s muddy nest or that sparrow’s tightly cupped nest or that mourning dove’s loose pile of sticks that’s actually a nest.
I tell him that I know where and how to look. Without knowing where to look or how to look, you’d never see them.
Where to look: in the morning, notice the activity of the birds having their breakfast. They’ll be on the ground feeding or out and about to eat berries and insects. But then, they return to either build the nest, lay the egg, or tend the nest. Watch where they go. See where they dart into a tree or shrub. That’s where the nest is. The only way I’ve ever found sparrows or finches nesting is to watch where they fly to in the morning.
How to look: If you don’t see any birds flying to their nests, don’t worry. You can find nests by simply looking for variations in pattern or color as you gaze at the trees. I look for shadows. I look for the darkness. That’s usually where some little bird has tucked a nest.
I can hardly describe to you the joy in my heart as the Proverbs31 COMPEL book club starts today. Over 400 participants will read Seated with Christ together and receive writing instruction for the month of May. In other words, I get to talk about Jesus and teach writing for four weeks.
I get to talk about Jesus and teach writing for four weeks.
Jesus and teaching writing! My two passions in life! When God allows you to merge your two greatest passions, it brings this beautiful synergy. It’s so life-giving. It’s so kind of Jesus. It’s so fun.
If God merged your two greatest passions, which would those passions be? I laughed with my husband that his dream passion-merging would be if God allowed him to shepherd people through woodworking instruction. I know a man who merges his two greatest passions: the Civil War (in particular the battle at Gettysburg) and leadership training. He uses battleground lessons from Gettysburg to help leaders grow. Maybe, for the month of May, you might pray and dream that God could allow your two passions to merge. What a great, expectant prayer!
For the month of May, I’m bursting with joy that I can talk about Jesus and writing every day.
This morning I thought about the wonderful promises found in Psalm 5:11-12. I spent several minutes setting these words to memory, and I realized how precious the words have become to me as I look back upon the past and live in future hope.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
I consider the gladness and joy of taking refuge in the Lord. I love the image of God’s protection spread over us like a warm, soft blanket. I love the picture of God surrounding us with favor and blessing. We’re wrapped up in Him.
I walk around my home, go about my tasks, and curl into bed at night with the promise of Psalm 5:11-12.
At the last conference I attended, a featured speaker arrived to share her testimony of God’s work in her life as a professor. She flew across the country for this event. I found out later that not only had she missed the wedding of a dear friend, but that she had also missed her own birthday in order to join the conference for the weekend.
When I intersected her in the lobby after she spoke, I said, “I’m so sad to hear that you missed a wedding and your birthday to be with us. Thank you so much for the sacrifice you made to get here.”
She said, “Oh, it was fine! I told everyone that I couldn’t wait to come here to be with my friend!”
“Your friend?” I asked, confused. I looked around. I furrowed my eyebrows. “Who are you visiting here? Which friend?” I hadn’t seen her with anyone the whole day.
“Jesus,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “My friend, Jesus. I couldn’t wait to be here with Him.”
Tears formed in my eyes as I watched her delight in just talking about Jesus. She wanted to come to this Christian conference to spend more time with Jesus with other people who loved Him.
She leaned in and said, “Being with Jesus is better than a wedding or my birthday. In fact, this is my birthday gift, to be with Him here.”
I smiled all day. She couldn’t wait to be with her friend. And she made me see Jesus as the friend I would trade everything to spend time with, too.
Last weekend, I met a reader of Seated with Christ. Our encounter brought such delight to my soul, and I’ll let you know why through her words. She’s Kirstin Nave–a wonderful blogger over at Workout in the Word.
Kristen writes this:
I am so blown away by God’s intentionality, and the way He pursues us and uses His people to speak into our lives! A few weeks ago a publisher let me choose out a book from a pile they had brought to a conference. There were 10 I hadn’t heard of yet, and I randomly chose, “Seated With Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison”, by Heather Holleman. – I put this book on my nightstand at home (along with a couple others I’ve been wanting to read), thinking, I have zero time for pleasure reading right now. . . – Turns out this book was more than pleasure reading. . .it was life-changing, God-ordained reading. . . – I was having a rough day a week ago and walked in my room, glanced at the book, and a quiet thought came in my mind, “Maybe I should just pick that book up”. I found myself sitting on my bed, weeping, devouring the book and wondering, “HOW DID THIS AUTHOR GET IN MY HEAD?” – My husband interrupted my reading so we could talk about a conference we were going to that weekend. We realized we had no idea who was speaking so I flipped open my phone to see the list of speakers and HEATHER HOLLEMAN’S FACE POPS UP FIRST. She was coming all the way from the East Coast to CA to host the very conference we were going to 😂😂 – You just can’t make this stuff up!! This book has changed my life, and opened my eyes. . . and I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with this amazing woman this weekend, a new friend. She’s a world changer! – He loves me. He loves Heather. And He loves you. He’s working in our lives, orchestrating the details we need to draw us closer to Him. So grateful for these life-giving words in, “Seated With Christ”- living freely and fully in Him!!!