Gratitude of a Humbled Heart

Another first draft completed. I’m amazed. From my teens into my early thirties, I couldn’t finish anything. Oh, a few short stories here and there, but nothing of any length. Now, in a span of six years, I’ve completed three novels. Three. And two of those in the past two years!

I started thinking back, marveling at such a turn-around in my writing. Yes, six years ago I enrolled in some writing classes. Three years ago I joined a writers group and a critique group. Two years ago I attended my first writers conference. While all of those contributed to how far my writing has come, I realized that another thread ran even deeper.

Six years ago, my relationship with the Lord began to deepen and mature. That, and only that, has caused the change. As I mature, I’ve discerned the Lord’s voice more clearly as to what to write and how to say it. I’ve gained a teachable spirit, both in regards to life and writing. I’ve grappled with keeping my priorities in line. And I’ve learned that the spiritual life requires discipline, which has translated to other areas of my life, as well.

So in my joy at completing yet another novel, I sat humbled, realizing the work the Lord has done. The work the Lord is doing. It started in my heart and extends through my words. He is continually shaping my vessel for His use.

And I am grateful.


A Turtle on a Highwire

I don’t do well talking about my writing. One reason: I don’t communicate well verbally. I mean, I do better when I WRITE something rather than say it. (Okay, if I write what I’m going to say, things are fine. But spontaneous speaking about my work or my life? Forget it!)

Things that stew and simmer in my heart come out more clearly when I write them down. But some of those things that come out need more of an audience than my journal. Not because I need an audience, but because God needs an audience. His work in my life needs to be on display, and not just through my actions.

But this little turtle, who likes to live life inside her protective shell, hesitates, unsure of the reception of others.

That’s why I love blogging. I can write about things important to me, things I think about, without having to look my audience in the eye. I guess you could call that a coward’s way out, but I see it as my safety net. Like a beginner on a highwire, I need to know something is beneath me as I inch forward, hundreds of feet above the air. That’s how I feel as I begin putting my writing into a public venue.

If, someday, the Lord sees fit to allow my words to see publication on a larger scale than they have until this point, I need to have had some practice living with my words out there. That, to me, is the beauty of blogging.

Now, no one may ever read my blog (although I know there are a few faithful followers of my ramblings), but whether my words are read or not, they are out there. And I’m learning to live with that.


Two Quickie Reviews

A couple of quick book reviews. (I know, they aren’t “hot off the presses” books, but I get a little behind in my reading!)

It’s been several years since I’d read anything by Angela Hunt, even though I’ve always enjoyed her books. I picked up The Novelist because it was an intriguing premise—and it was about a writer! What I didn’t count on was it moving me so profoundly. In this book, a successful novelist writes a very different book as she deals with a young adult child out of control. What happens to her over the course of the story is the truth of what happens to us as writers when we write, although the overall theme of the sovereignty of God will ring true even with those who have never put words on a page (at least without the threats of an English teacher hanging over them!)

Another utterly unexpected pleasure was Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth. This is a wonderfully refreshing story of a mother and a daughter, the dreaming of dreams and the death of dreams, of growing up and letting go. Wrapped in the beautiful Southern charm of Savannah, GA (a city, I must confess, I have always longed to see) this was a very enjoyable read. It’s fun and quirky and poignant and happy and sad and . . . well, read it and see for yourself.

Those are just two of my many reads this summer. I find that my writing and reading go hand in hand: when I read a lot, I end up writing a lot; when I am writing a lot, I am reading even more. And round and round and round it goes.

So what have you been reading? I’d love to know. My “to read” stack is tall and varied, but I’m always looking for something new to add to it.


A Life Well Lived

My grandmother went to be with the Lord on Wednesday. We were happy for her—she hasn’t been the same since breaking her hip eight weeks ago—but we will miss her all the same.

In thinking about her life and how it has intertwined with ours over the years, my brother and sisters and I came up with four things that we remember most about who she was.

  1. She was generous—with her money and her time. There was always a generous check on birthdays, graduations, weddings as well as money given to mission trips, the church, and various other Christian ministries such as Campus Crusade. And she made time for whoever would drop in to see her, even to the point of sitting on the floor and rolling a tennis ball back and forth with her small great-grandchildren.

  2. She enjoyed her family. When we sat down to meals, whether a full Thanksgiving spread or hamburgers and chips on paper plates, she always responded the same way: “It’s such a banquet.” I used to think she meant the food. Now I realize what she really meant was the company gathered around the table to eat it.

  3. She found joy in living. In talking with my parents and my other siblings, we all agreed—never did we hear a negative word come out of her mouth. And there was always a smile on her face. Even in these past few weeks, after the physical therapists prodded and twisted her she would smile and thank them, in spite of her pain.

  4. She left us a godly heritage. Both she and my grandfather were committed Christians who studied and loved God’s word and then lived it out. They impacted many lives outside our family as well. Their lives were not only a testimony and example to us but a heritage passed down to their children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

All in all, my grandmother’s life was a life well lived. We will miss her smiling face. But we know she is rejoicing with her Savior.


With Me, It's All or Nothing

I can hear the tangy, slightly off-key voice in my head, see the bright red lips purse around each word.

Ado Annie: “With me, it’s all or nothin’. It’s all or nothin’ with me.”

Actually she and Will sing that song to each other, but no matter, the sentiment is the same—and it describes me to a “T.”

I started writing again—I really did. But on days I had good BOC (bottom on chair) time, I got nothing else done. No boxes unpacked. Nothing put away. No nagging the children to keep things picked up in the house.

So the past three days I’ve written nothing.

Why? Because I’ve been unpacking boxes like a madwoman, determined to clear out the garage. Because I’m sick of burning the backs of my legs on the seats in my car which is parked in the driveway, in full sun. See what I mean? All or nothing. I started the boxes thinking I’d just work on them in the morning and write in the afternoon. No way. Doesn’t work.

In theory, I imagined I would use to summer days to write two to three hours then have the rest of the day continue unpacking and to generally keep my life together. In theory. Reality is: it’s all or nothin’ with me, baby.

So at least in recognizing this character trait (or flaw), I think I’ve come to at least a truce with myself. No more unrealistic goals of writing and getting other projects done. It’s an either/or proposition. Either I write that day, or I do other things that need to be done. I simply have to make sure that I have writing days at least three days a week.

I think I can do that.


Where's a Writer When You Need One?

In our move, we had to switch internet providers. That meant a switch in email addresses, too. I really thought the kids would be able to keep their old addresses for awhile (they can still send and receive), but I forgot one important part: the parental controls are still on and I can’t access the area to change them anymore! No biggie, except this means they can’t receive email on those accounts from anyone except the currently approved list.

So we set up new email addresses today. No problem for most of us—the same as the old with a new bit after the @. Four out of five—it’s the fifth one that’s giving us trouble.

You’d think, as a writer, I could come up with a nifty little line for my 13 year old son. His old address reflected his love of playing soccer. But now he’s quit soccer and is playing whatever sport his school offers for that season (football, then basketball, then baseball with the possibility of track, cross-country, tennis or golf thrown in). He doesn’t have any suggestions, and I’m drawing a blank as well.

So I face the reality. I’m title-challenged. My books and stories reflect it. My unimaginative email address reflects it. Now my son must bear the brunt of my insufficiency. *sigh* Perhaps one of these days I’ll learn to come up with a witty phrase that encapsulates a story or a person. But for now I’ll just brood over that email address until I come up with something workable. Perhaps one of my other children will show proficiency for this kind of thing.

I can only hope.


Back to the Writing Life

Today is July 1—my self-imposed deadline to quit obsessing over moving into my house and get back to writing. It was a needed break, really. Otherwise I’d have gone crazy. I had to focus on getting moved in. But now the rest of the boxes can wait, and my novel can’t. So by writing this today—on a Saturday, a day I usually get no writing done anyway—I begin my foray back into my other life, my writing life.

I’m giddy with anticipation. I get to become reacquainted with the characters in my current work-in-progress. I get to mull over new ideas, put new words to paper, make old words sing with inspiration, honing each scene, each paragraph, each sentence.

And yet, I worry. Do I have the discipline to make some headway during the lazy days of summer? These days filled with children’s requests for friends over and trips to the pool; days unencumbered by scheduled activities, bedtimes, or alarm clocks.

Over the years, I have learned to love summer. Used to, the unstructured time sent me reeling. Now, on Monday, I begin the search for a happy medium—to accomplish tasks, both passionate and practical, while reveling in the casual schedule that allows relationships to flourish.

Can I do it? Can I relax without frittering away valuable time? This is the only answer I know: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

So check back from time to time and see how I’m doing. Or better yet, use the nifty little email signup box to the right and get my new blog posts in your inbox.

And have a fabulous rest of the summer—it will be over before we know it!