Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Photo Credit: Kristen Hogrefe, Orvieto, Italy

A common question people ask writers is where we find our inspiration. Regardless of your trade or career, you find inspiration for your craft somewhere or from something. However, the source isn’t always remarkable and doesn’t have to be. Today, I’d like to share some places I find inspiration to help encourage you to seek out your own.

From Creation

The Genesis record of creation repeats the words “And God saw that it was good” multiple times. Although man’s sin corrupted God’s flawless design, we still see the intentional purpose God crafted into His creation.

No wonder when I run, hike, or otherwise adventure in this world, I constantly find beauty that stimulates the imagination. When I visited Italy last year and explored several settings in my upcoming novel, I was overwhelmed with the the colors, sounds, architecture, culture, and cuisine (including pizza and gelato)! As I said before, the experience doesn’t have to be international or exotic to provide inspiration. Wherever we go, God’s nature provides boundless possibilities for subject matters and settings.

From Conviction

This February, the final novel in young adult, dystopian trilogy publishes. Some people have asked why I decided to write dystopian since it can sometimes be a controversial genre.

The reason is that I felt convicted to write a dystopian thriller from a Christian worldview with an overarching message of hope. So many dystopian books are dark with bleak outcomes, and while mine still includes many common characteristics of the genre, it offers a twist. It suggests that for a futuristic society to survive and thrive, its people need to rediscover heritage and the Source of true hope. As a result of my convictions, this theme underpins an otherwise classic dystopian tale.

From Conversation

I’m not the only person who likes to people watch at airports or tune in to random conversations, am I? Sometimes, a mere word or phrase catches my ear and suggests perhaps a title, a unique character name, a nugget of truth about human nature, or a humorous story to tuck away for later.

Even if those snippets never find their way into my writing, they certainly make me a better observer, conversationalist, and listener–all of which are necessary for being a good writer.

Where do you find your inspiration? Please leave a comment and share!

~ Kristen

This post first appeared on DailyPS.com. For more inspirational posts, visit DailyPS.com.

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Making the Manger Personal

Last September, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy with a colleague, work remotely, and research my next novel. During one of our day-tripping adventures, we visited a place called Civita di Bagnoregio, a place sometimes called “the dying town.” This city rests atop a hill that is slowly eroding, and the place itself is breathtaking.

As my friend Maria and I explored the city, I suddenly stopped short. There, to my right, were the remains of a manger.

A manger. The scene seemed taken right out of a nativity story set in Bethlehem, and yet here we were in Italy. As I soaked in the moment, a few realizations struck me. Though perhaps I’d already known them, I hadn’t taken them to heart before. Maybe you can relate.

The manger was a common place chosen for an anything-but-common Christ.

Jesus could have been born anywhere else. People expected that the Messiah would come as king and break Rome’s oppression. They expected a palatial birth with pomp and circumstance. As a result, they couldn’t even recognize His birth in a stable, among animals and dirt, to a simple girl and her carpenter-husband.

I get caught up in my expectations sometimes, too. I expect God to provide a certain way, and when He doesn’t, I feel confused and frustrated. Yet God’s uncommon methods are the very means He uses to accomplish His will back then and today.

The manger stands as a challenge for simplicity and personal humility.

For introverts like me, Christmastime can overwhelm the senses with programs, white-elephant gift exchanges, Sunday school parties, special services, shopping, and everything that we’ve come to expect. Granted, those things may all have a time and place, but they often distract from the main reason we celebrate.

When I looked at the manger, all I saw was a rickety feeding trough that did double-duty as the Messiah’s crib. Its bare simplicity reminded me what a humble birthplace Christ accepted. It reminded me of these verses from Philippians where the Apostle Paul challenged his writers to adopt the mindset of Christ:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7 NKJV).

Is that mind in me? Is it in you? If I’m honest, it often isn’t. I prefer things my way, on my schedule, for my convenience. Yet Jesus exercised humility even though He was equal to God! How much more should humility characterize my thoughts and actions?

Back in Italy that day, I felt reluctant to leave this manger-like scene. However, I don’t have to relegate the manger to once-a-year Christmas stories and pageants. I can strive to apply the truths it represents every day of the year. So can you.

May you experience the joy of God’s unexpected blessings this Christmas and always!

~Kristen

Thanks to DailyPS.com for hosting this week’s post on their blog. 

 

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Do Small Things Greatly

Life is full of small things, isn’t it? I don’t mean snails and sand fleas. No, I mean the small choices we make, like taking care of our bodies, and tasks we complete, like home and work responsibilities. Since “small” or seemingly routine, non-earth-shattering items construct the majority of our time, perhaps they aren’t so insignificant after all.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for daring adventures and if you’ve been following me here lately, you know I just returned from traveling two weeks in Italy. Everything in its place, right? Although life certainly has its mountain-top moments, it’s also good to adventure on the small scale.

Truth is, God cares about and can use our ordinary, less-than-glamorous moments just as much as those bucket-list accomplishments.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the Bible in I Chronicles. Now this book holds its share of hurdles, including chapters of genealogies, but it also holds a challenge relevant to our lives.

To read on, click over to DailyPS.com where this post appears in full and consider: What “small thing” can you do greatly today?

~ Kristen

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You Can Embrace Your Unfiltered Life

Do you feel “less than” when you scroll through social media feeds, featuring flawless photos and seemingly perfect status updates? If so, it’s time to stop comparing your unfiltered life with everyone else’s filtered ones.

The truth is, all of us filter our content. Case in point. Last month, I was beyond excited to share that my friend and I are making a spontaneous trip to Italy that will let me visit some settings in my upcoming novel. Also last month, my refrigerator died, and I had to spend about the same amount of money to buy a new one as I had to pay for Italy travel.

Guess which experience I shared and which I didn’t? Exactly. After all, no one really cares or wants to know that my fridge died.

But that’s the point. Real life, unfiltered life, is often inconvenient, less-than-ideal, and messy. Nine times out of ten, we don’t show that part of our lives online.

While there’s nothing wrong with putting our best face forward, the drawback is that we’re not presenting the complete picture. When other people look at us, they think we’re perfect. When we look at their feeds, we wish we could be more like them.

It’s a vicious, ridiculous cycle. The Bible makes clear that comparing ourselves to ourselves isn’t wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Instead, let’s learn to accept our unfiltered lives. That doesn’t mean putting our messiness on display for all to see but learning to be content with the places and people God’s given us.

How do we do that? Read the rest of the post at DailyPS.com. I look forward to your comments!

~ Kristen

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Lies the Kill Zone Tells You

Learning to surf at thirty-something requires a willingness to sputter like a toddler in swimmies and a healthy dose of humiliation. It also demands mental toughness to defeat the wave’s wallopings. Now doesn’t this sound vaguely like life?

I thought I was reasonably ready for my first surf lesson. Yoga has improved my balance, and I did burpies to help prepare for changing stance from lying on the board to going vertical. Points for a good pupil, right?

But like so much in life, preparation can’t top hands-on experience.

With great anticipation, I plunged into St. Augustine’s waves. That’s when the words kill zone took on a whole new meaning. Forget getting on the board and trying to surf. First, I had to get past the barrage of breaking waves.

To read about the rest of my surfing adventure and takeaways, visit DailyPS.com. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my story. Much like breaking waves,  lies can pummel us at times. How have you fought past them, and how have others spoken truth into your life in those situations?

~ Kristen

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3 Habits of Satisfied People

More than likely, our lives have or will turn out differently than we plan. Even so, we can know the satisfaction of a life well-lived. The deciding factors have less to do with mountain-top moments and more with our everyday habits.

Last month, I had the opportunity to share with Alpha Omega Academy’s graduating class some habits that will help them live meaningfully, and I don’t think these practices are just for teens. They’re ones I have to work on intentionally every day. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

Habit #1: Guard Your Priorities.

We might be able to multi-task, but we can’t do everything. Or, if we try, we’ll do less well. Guarding our priorities means saying “no” to good things so we can “yes” to better ones.

By “better,” I don’t mean in terms of importance but in terms of our calling. Is this task or responsibility part of our God-given assignment? Is it something we should do or just something we could do?

The truth is that guarding our priorities sometimes means letting go in order to respect our commitments. But in the end, honoring our calling is more important than pleasing everyone.

To read about the other habits, click over to DailyPS.com. I look forward to your comments. 

Have you implemented these habits into your life, or what habits would you add to this list?

~ Kristen

 

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Graduates, what would you teach us?

This weekend, I’m excited to attend the graduation for some amazing young people I’ve watched grow up through youth group. They might say they learned from me, but in many ways, I learned just as much from them.

I met with them for coffee a few weeks ago to hear about their plans and next steps. Listening to their dreams inspired this post, which appears in full at DailyPS.com.

Whether you’re a graduate or farther down life’s road, I hope this post encourages you.

Post excerpt

Graduates are on fire for life and its seemingly endless possibilities, but those of us on the other side know Forrest Gump was right when he said life can be like a box of chocolates—and not always in a good way. As a result, we adults have both wisdom and experience to offer. However, let’s take a moment to switch places and ask ourselves what we can learn from the Class of 2018.

Celebrate your success, and don’t dwell on defeat.

Sometimes, life and its school of hard knocks jade us. We see the rejection letters, the closed doors, and the failed hopes. When we do, we often lose sight of all the bright moments we’ve experienced, too.

On the other hand, graduates are young and resilient—and for the most part, not as burned by disappointments. For those of us feeling frayed, let’s exercise our stamina again. Accept defeat and criticism when they come, learn from them, but don’t dwell on them.

Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate those successes. Graduates know how to party, and we need to cheer for the moments where we do make the deadline, conquer the laundry pile, and get the upper hand on “adulting.”

To read the full post, visit DailyPS.com. Congrats to the Class of 2018!

~ Kristen

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