A Fun Find

We spent a couple of days in east Texas with some of our good friends. One morning, Jeff and I ventured into a larger town and wandered through a few antique stores. We love antiques, though we buy very few. Our weakness, however, is books. (Of course!)

We found three books we were willing to shell out $2-$3 each to own. One was a copy of a book I read as a child. It’s kind of an obscure book. I’ve never heard anyone mention it, never found it hanging around in a current library collection. But when I saw it in a dusty back corner amidst a tumble of children’s books, I grabbed it up.

I don’t know if, on a re-reading, it will hold any literary merit at all, but I remember it being a book I truly enjoyed, one that continued to fuel my love of reading—and book-buying, for it was one that lived in my bookshelf for years! I wondered if the author would find a satisfaction in that. She didn’t write a bestseller, but her story meant something to someone. And isn’t that the point?

Actually, I still have titles on my shelves that few people have ever heard of, authors that are not even close to household names. I keep them for the same reason that I bought this one: because the reading of them is a good memory. And somehow I feel I owe it to the ones who penned those stories to make sure they don’t disappear forever.


The College Life

What is it about a college campus that draws me? For the past two days I’ve been on a local university campus while my sister attended yearbook workshops with her students. She needed an extra driver and thought the time away without responsibilities would afford me time to write. And it did. I got tons accomplished! But just walking across campus and into the student center sent waves of longing through me.

My reaction didn’t surprise me, though. It happens to my husband and I every time we return to our university for a football game or other event. I think it’s a combination of good memories, a beautiful place, the opportunity for intellectual stimulation, and a lifestyle that thrives on relationships. But our infatuation with the college life is more than the campus, more than the classes, more than the lifestyle. It’s all three in combination with each other, none able to be separated out.

Maybe that’s why the thought of sending my oldest to college this year hasn’t seemed as hard for me as for other mothers I know. I’m so excited for her—to get to experience and learn and make lifelong friends. She’s too much like both Jeff and I not to thrive in that environment.

I’d go back to college myself in a heartbeat. And in any capacity—student or staff. Maybe wife of a professor. Hm, that might be the best of all worlds!


Slow and Steady

In our fast-paced, run-faster world, we sometimes forget to remember that the story of the tortoise and the hare represents a true truth. I’m re-learning that this summer. Instead of having big chunks of time in which to write a book that must be finished in the next month, I’ve had all the normal errands as well as summer stuff as well as kids in and out of the house—sometimes on an hour-by-hour basis. But through it all, I’m writing a little here, editing a little there. Every time I think there is no way I can finish this project on time, I realize that slow and steady is at least keeping pace. I find I’ve done more than I imagined. I discover that perhaps my deadline set by faith can be met, both by the grace of God and my diligent efforts to run the race step by step instead of in frantic bursts.

I think the diligence and self-discipline are the real lessons here. And I know these truths apply to so much more than my writing. They apply to exercising, eating right, Bible study, relationships, money—everything! But I don’t act as if they do. Instead, I hurry, hurry, hurry, doing a slap-dab job at one thing, ready to move on before I should. I forget that the end result of slow-and-steady is the one I am really trying to achieve. I want to cross the finish line not just for the sake of “winning,” but also to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Pages of the Past

I went to look up just one little piece of information for my historical novel. I knew I needed it straight from the source my character would have had access to: the newspaper. Two hours and about twenty printed pages later, I emerged.

You see, I’m a sucker for old newspapers. They say so much! The language is, of course, important—what words are used and how. I love one ad I found: Estrayed—one fawn-colored jersey cow. Estrayed! What a great word! The articles are important for what is told and the conclusions that are reached on national and international events and questions, especially from the vantage point of looking back and having more information. The ads are wonderful sources of detail to add texture to a historical story and also good research into what kinds of things were available to the general public at a given time.

Page after page after page of fascinating stuff. And very little of it would have seemed so to the people who read it in “real time.” For me, these pages of the past help round out the picture of life for people that lived through the events we read of in our history books. And for me, the lives of ordinary people are the best part of history.


Feeling Left Out

Trust has been a huge topic between the Lord and I lately. Seems like every teaching I hear, every scripture I read and every conversation I have comes back around to trusting God. Really trusting, not just saying I trust Him.

I have come to that place of trust in some areas of my life. Not so much in others. Just this past week I’ve been sliding into a funk over not having an agent. It seems like everywhere I turn I hear other writers talking about their agents. Writers that are on about the same level I am. And I’ve started feeling left out. I’ve been wondering what I’ve done wrong. Have I not been as persistent as I should? As personable? Is my writing still not up to par?

Now I do know that I am happy none of the projects that I’ve pitched to and had rejected by agents have come to fruition, because I don’t think I would have been happy with those projects and possibly those agents in the long run. I keep telling myself that somewhere out there is someone who “gets” me, someone who, on a professional and a personal level, will champion my work. But right now it feels like finding that person will never happen.

And then it all comes back to trust. Do I trust the Lord to do with my writing what He will—even if that never includes publication? Do I trust the Lord to give me the exact right agent for the exact right project at the exact right time? Do I trust that the Lord can make what He wants happen, with or without an agent in the picture?

I’m grappling with all of that as I finish this manuscript, one that I feel good about, one that has already garnered some attention. And still I struggle. Do I trust God—ultimately and always? The answer is yes, but sometimes getting my head to believe my heart takes a little while.


The Tree and the Chaff

I love so many of the word pictures in the Bible. They often explain God’s heart so much more fully than mere words would do. Lately I’ve been considering the contrasting pictures in the first Psalm. Those that “delight in the law of the Lord” are described as a tree rooted by a stream. The “wicked” are compared to the chaff that the wind blows away.

Think about that. Can there be two more extreme images? A tree—a flourishing tree, nonetheless—that soaks up water from the nearby stream through its deep roots. It is living. Steady. Immovable. Lasting. It is also beautiful. And functional, providing shade as well as producing fruit in its season.

The chaff, on the other hand, is almost weightless, able to be blown away by the wind. It is the extra but unnecessary part of the crop. The dead and useless part. The waste.

I’ve considered both of these images in the past, but never in their direct contrast with each other, as they are presented in Psalm 1. It really makes you want to be the tree, doesn’t it?