Many of you asked if you could listen to an actual audio recording of the Closing Keynote of Relevant’10, “Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom”? Ah, but I’m a blogger, just banging it out and often badly, and speaking makes my neck all blotchy and my knees knock crazy and wouldn’t you know, livestreaming apparently had a technical glitch that night, (and I can’t tell you that I didn’t flicker a relieved smile!) … so… might just a simple audio recording of the speech suffice?
If you were one who’d rather listen, than read the text of the keynote “Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom”, click on each link here below, and then, on the following screen, just click on the triangular play button on the player:
The Text of the Closing Keynote of Relevant 10, Part 1: Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom (envision farm hick, nerve blotchy neck)
hank you for grace.
It’s a privilege to be here this evening with you. I’ve been blogging for six years, since 2004, and you beautiful women — are my very first blogging conference. And such women you are! For such a time as this. Such women you are, for such a time as this.
These past days I have met you and prayed with you and laughed with you and I know this about you: You are a holy wonder, you are –every. Single. One. Of. You.
Might I give my Compliments to your Maker?
You have come from all over the continent, from Canada to California, from Oregon to Oklahama, you have packed your bags, you have flown with faith, you have invested and prayed and you have longed to go deeper with God. May I say this about you? You are brave. You didn’t know what this would be like. You didn’t know if you would belong here. Would your hair be okay, your clothes, your weight — you inside. Would anyone like you?
Because we are women living in the upside down kingdom, can we do things upside down here tonight? Might we begin with a round of applause, applauding the God who makes the wonder and beauty of each woman in this room – You are liked and you are loved and praise to our God who dreamed you up and ensured that you were perfectly and wonderfully made and would you applaud right now the making of the woman sitting beside you — our compliments to your Maker! You are beautiful and you belong and thank you, Lord for such women for such a time as this!
And now… may we open in a Word of prayer to Him who made each of you and is worthy of all our applause?
A prayer for writers
God of the Word, we ask you —
Give us a Word.
Your daughters are hungry.
We are women of the Word,
Wielding words You take around the world.
Weave the curve of our letters on screens
baskets heavy with that which deeply, fully fills.
Weave the curve of our letters into baskets that offer up the only food that satisfies… You.
May you meet us, your Word women, such women, at a time such as this,
and reveal to us Your will for our words…
We long not to be not to be recognized or lauded or discovered…
We long for simply this
to glorify your name,
and spread your praise and you honor and your fame.
Make us a success not in sitemeters but in Your site alone
and give us a hunger for the upside down kingdom….
In the name of the Word wrapped in flesh,
the God-Man made bread, broken, and passed around….
In Jesus name…Amen.
I come to you tonight, wondrous word women, with nothing but a string of stories… for that is all I have, all we all have, really – the Word God making our lives into lines that we throw to each other.
The lines of our stories become literal life-lines that we throw to each other when the storms come and beat hard on our lives.
So I tell you a story tonight… words I wrote on a screen and clicked the cursor on publish. I am a mess and I tell you my messy story — and it may be the story of the women who read your stories — real women looking for real lifelines.
I had typed out the title to this post – entitling it, naming me:
What to Do When You Want to Give Up and Stay in Bed
Shadows of depression can ride up like a highway man in the night and and steal away all the silver linings.
I wake on a Sunday to his cantering away.
I lay in the bed a long time.
The legs, the spirit, too heavy to move. The sun’s high already, the sheets warm. I make a point of not looking at my watch or the bedside clock’s hands ticking, vainly trying to nudge me out.
Maybe I can bury myself deep under covers, a bunker, escape today and no one will notice?
I don’t bother moving today because I already know I’ll lose.
I know I can’t get the laundry caught up this week and I know I can’t make deadlines. I know the bedrooms I tidied through last night will be dumped out by nightfall, the sink I left empty last night will be piled high by noon, the floors I washed yesterday will be tracked dirty by supper. I will definitely lose today, tomorrow, all week. I roll over, smother my face in the pillow.
How did my daily challenge to get up and “Work!” dissolve into this apathetic
I think…. when I began to believe in the head that there’s no way through for the heart, when my inner world fell for the lie that nothing can change in my outer world.
When the problems before you seem to loom larger than the Power behind you, the purpose in living falls right out from underneath of you.
And it’s only a half dozen children pounding in from the barn, looking for breakfast and Sunday morning clothes, that compel me to push the feet to the floor, faith to the fingers.
Our greatest triumphs are always our most solitary ones and every great triumph begins with the decision to get out of bed.
I throw back the covers.
I lay out bowls. Clatter out spoons. Cunch across stale remnants of last night’s dinner still under the table. I’m mumbling how I can never get anything right, and how come I can never get caught up on all my lists, work, projects, and what in the world is wrong with me that is right with everyone else, when the Farmer comes in quiet from morning chores. I can hear him at the back sink, washing up those thick hands.
I cringe still.
Has he heard me muttering ugly?
“Annnnn…..” I hear his voice gentle at the tap, his love running over me like water.
I close my eyes. He’s heard me. And I know how he feels about bad self-sermons.
Boys wrestle in the bedroom. Floors shake. Then there it is, his hand on my shoulder.
He asks it soft, “Been a long time since I’ve heard you talking like that.” His hand finds the nape of my neck, strokes me kind. “You just fallen sick with perfectionism again?”
I don’t open my eyes…. To my dust and my smudges and my grime and my love-smeared mess. Why can’t I remember…
the state of my space doesn’t reflect the state of my soul.
I ring the dinner bell for boys to tumble to the table. This morning, even the cast iron bell in the hand feels like a millstone around the neck.
I eat breakfast in silence and I don’t know how I am going to get dressed for church, rustle up a meal for 10 when we get home from church, make it through Latin and spelling and the early Renaissance and piano scales and fractions and the three meals a day for eight people this week and the 4 loads of laundry a day and all the prayers between now and church again next Sunday.
I do the next thing. Clean off the table.
“Thank you, Lord, for the food that filled these dishes, that I am well and here and I can clean off this table.”
It sounds mechanical. And a tad lame. It is. I am doing the next thing.
Wipe the counters. And I say it aloud,
“Thank you, Lord, for water to wash off counters and that the dust bunnies around here haven’t yet grown into monsters and that the jam stuck sticky all over everything really does just wash off, and for this husband that treats me tender when I’m stuck.”
One foot in front of the other and one murmured thanks after another and underneath the everlasting arms will hold.
And when I am home and over the stove, stirring up dinner, apron over my black church dress, The Farmer slips up behind me, slides his arm around my waist and whispers, “You’ve gotten over that nasty spell of perfectionism?”
I’m surprised too.
“I guess it’s just coming to realize…” I lean back into him and I didn’t know the words until they slipped out true,
“God doesn’t ask me to be perfect; He asks me to praise.”
I don’t have to have smudgeless windows and empty laundry baskets and gleamy toilet bowls! I don’t have to have a perfect life, all problems solved! I think I hear the Hallelujah chorus!
I simply need have a grateful heart to give Him glory.
Gratitude in all things is the only thing God asks.
Can I take each seeming problem and turn it back to praise?
That alone is the one thing that is needful.
The pot on the stove bubbles over and with a quiet half smile, I wipe it clean.
And the clouds out the window drifting east, all chariots glinting silver.
This is what I blog. Because this is who I am. I am a mess – who often doesn’t want to get out of bed. Who struggles and preaches ugly self-sermons to herself and some days just really doesn’t know how to go on. I don’t have it all together. I blog about not having it all together. And you know what? I’m almost willing to hazard a guess that there a whole lot of other women out there like me who are a bit of a mess and who don’t know how to get out of bed some mornings and who have to fight. Hard. For. Joy.
I wrote a whole book about this, this past year,One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It’s a book about my struggle for joy, my simply not wanting to get out of bed.
And in that book, I wrote these words:
and I know all our days are struggle and warfare (Job 14:14) and that the spirit-to-spirit combat I endlessly rage with Satan is this ferocious thrash for joy. He sneers at all the things that seem to have gone hideously mad in this sin-drunk world and I gasp to say God is good. The liar defiantly scrawls his graffiti across God’s glory and I heave to enjoy God . . . and Satan strangles and I whiten knuckles to grasp real Truth and fix that beast to the floor.
And when you sit down to your keyboard, and you write a blogpost — you are writing for me. You are writing for messed up me, and the messed up woman next door, and the messed up woman sitting beside you in church and messed up You. We need your messy stories. And you need your messy stories.
Why do I need your story and why do you need your story?
Because story is a way that the Spirit of God can bind our wounds.
It is in story, we meet the Spirit of God. The reader meets the Spirit of God in the reading of story — the word made flesh in your life. The writer, you, meets the Spirit of God in the writing your story – the word made flesh in your own life.
The Word God wastes nothing and He heals two broken hearts with one story – the reader and the writer.
Us who are fighting for joy from behind the laundry heap and in the trenches with the crying kids and with the bruised marriages and the crushing debts and the battered , frayed dreams, and we. Don’t. want. To. Get. Out. Of. Bed — we need your messy, real, authentic, unmasked stories. And you who are fallen and broken and scraped– you need your messy, real, ugly stories. Because in the hands of the Spirit, story becomes a salve to the skinned souls.
The first person that any words ever heal — is the writer of those words.
Because our words aren’t wholly our words.
They are from the Word God Himself.
Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom, Part 3 next Tuesday
Part 1 of Blogging in the Upside Down Kingdom: A printable copy of The Blogger’s Prayer
3 Reads for Blogging Encouragement: