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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Of Knowing

I sat in the auditorium full of students laughing and joking, waiting for Chapel to start.

I was quiet and alone. My stomach churned from nerves and from morning sickness. I was eighteen, unmarried, and had just found out I was pregnant. I was in my first week at Dallas Baptist University--I only ended up staying two weeks--and I had no idea what I was going to do with myself.

I do not remember anything else about that Chapel service except the verse that was read. It was Jeremiah 29:11--

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

So God pretty much spoke directly to me that morning, and I struggled really hard not to ugly-cry right there in front of everybody.

And I've been trying to figure out what God's plan is for me ever since.

Growing up I figured I had a pretty special future. For a while I thought it was music, then I thought maybe it was writing. I think I've secretly thought, ever since I was a child, that having a great future meant some sort of fame. And at this point in my life, I'm pretty sure I won't ever be famous. It's a bit of a blow to the ego, but I'm reconciling myself to it.

I have a good job, and a start-up business, and a family, and friends. But I still don't know what the Grand Plan is for my life.

I'm increasingly okay with that. I am growing more comfortable with not having a clue what I'm becoming, with, instead, becoming comfortable with who I am right now, even if it's not what I would think of as great or grand. I am learning to stop expecting some sort of Arrival.

And as I was looking at my wall collages at work today--collages which include that verse, "I know the plans I have for you"--I noticed something I've never noticed before.

God doesn't say, "I have plans for you." He says, "I KNOW the plans I have for you." My inference is, "Even if you don't know what's going on, I know what's going on."

And today, more than 15 years later, there's no ugly cry looming under the surface. Just a smile as this mysterious God makes a bit more of himself known, and a deep breath as I give up a little more of my right to know.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Laundry

First off, I have four kids. Let that sink in for a while.

Laundry with four kids is never-ending. A friend suggested one time that I just fold the baskets of laundry as they come out of the dryer instead of pulling the clean clothes out and letting them sit in baskets for an indeterminate amount of time.

It's a great plan, really it is. It makes perfect sense. But it ain't gonna happen.

Because laundry, like everything else in my life, doesn't happen in a vacuum. There is always someone, somewhere, needing me to do something else.

If I'm making dinner, someone is needing to be held. If I'm holding the baby, someone needs to be reminded to finish their chores. If I'm reminding someone to finish their chores, the soup is boiling over. And on and on it goes.

I don't think it's coincidence that a long list of things to do is called a laundry list. After all, laundry is a never-ending chore.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a thing. We catch up, we fall behind, we catch up, we fall behind. Laundry, life, ebb, flow. That's just the way it goes. And that's okay.


***Just a reminder about what exactly Five Minute Friday is: "not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing."

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Addendum

I was just checking Facebook and Twitter for The Blue Pencil (hey, do you need an editor?), and I found this link to quotes on writing.

I have an entire document of writing quotes that I've collected over the years. After all, when your business is words, there's nothing like some good words for inspiration and motivation. So I added several quotes to my document, and saved the link for future reference.

And in the process, I made a very important discovery.

Reading through those quotes on writing? It made me want to write.

The fire is still there, and that's a good thing.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Write

It took me a few decades and a come-to-Jesus moment to call myself a writer. I've talked about it ad nauseum on this blog, and you can dig into those archives if you want.

But lately, the writing has been mighty scarce. And I've found myself wondering, what do you call a writer who doesn't write? Does that mean I'm not a writer anymore?

Sort of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it still make a noise?

I'm not making much noise, at least not publicly. I have a journal that I write in every few days. But that's more spiritual reflection/conversation stuff, not sit-down-and-really-write stuff.

**************

A Facebook friend and former classmate of mine announced today that one of her stories was accepted for publication, and I was equal parts happy for her and jealous of her. I've also talked about this before, the jealousy of others' writing success. And in the middle of those green feelings, I said to myself, "Well, she's been writing. You haven't. How can you get published if you don't write?"

I don't know what to think about any of it. I'm pretty sure I still love writing, still need it, still crave it. But I'm just as sure that this time of my life doesn't permit much writing. The art has to wait, and all that.

I'm not sad about it (perhaps I should be?), just a bit bewildered over what it all means.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Minute Friday: True

Yeah, it's been a while. That's just the way it's been lately.

Also, don't expect genius to follow, folks. That's just the way it's been lately, too.


True

When I think about what's true, I know I have to separate the things I KNOW are true from the things I FEEL are true. Sometimes they're the same; often they're not.

Today, for example, is just a blah sort of day. Micah hasn't been sleeping well, so I haven't been sleeping well. We all know that viewing the world through the haze of sleeplessness leads to less-than-true thoughts and feelings. I don't know if my history with depression makes me more prone to head down the paths of I Don't Care and Why Are You Still Asking Me Questions? and Work is Stupid and The Whole World is Stupid and Dear God, Please Just Let Me Sleep. But I do know those paths are beckoning today.

I'm fighting them off with a grande mocha and a little bit of what is actually true.

Things like, "Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord."

And, "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

I've been reading Anne of Green Gables lately, and she talks about how certain words just sound like poetry. These words are poetry to me this morning. If any person walked up and said these things to me, I'd probably nod and smile while thinking, "Shut up." But reading them? While sipping my mocha?

Truth, y'all.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Blue Pencil

I have started an editing business.

I first started talking about copyediting seven years ago, not too long after I started blogging. It was one of the main reasons I went back to school--to earn a degree that would one day allow me to edit--and I've been slowly acquiring experience ever since.

After editing my friend Karin Kaufman's indie novels (The Witch Tree, Sparrow House, and All Souls--check 'em out!)--my friend, who, by the way, is herself a copyeditor--I finally decided to jump in and make it official.

The Blue Pencil is where you'll find my editing alter-ego, so please pass the word if you or someone you know is an indie author and would like another set of eyes. Because, trust me, we ALL need another set of eyes.

Side note: I saw someone talking about how wonderful her editing skills were. This person's editing skills are so wonderful that she edits her own writing. Sigh. No, people. Just, no. Let me reiterate: We ALL need another set of eyes.

What's been interesting to me during the process of going public with this business is that, after all this time, I get SO NERVOUS when I start making anything public.

I placed an ad on the Kindle boards, and I was SO NERVOUS.

I wrote a promotional thread on the same boards, and I was SO NERVOUS.

It was a sort of irrational nervousness, a deep-seated anxiety, and no amount of calm logic would still the butterflies in my stomach as I was working on these things.

I suppose there is just so much wrapped up in finally making this dream a reality. There's excitement, of course, but there's also fear. Because, what if it doesn't work out?

But there's nothing for this fear but to Keep Calm and Carry On, as they say.

That and promotion, promotion, promotion. So I'd appreciate if you'd spread the word. Like my page on Facebook, tell all your writer friends, and visit The Blue Pencil often.


***Oh, Five Minute Friday, how you elude me. Shalt try again tomorrow, you and I.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Six Minute Saturday

Because, of course I sort of forgot and sort of didn't have time for Five Minute Friday.

This week's prompt was to write five minutes on the word STORY. What follows is my minimally edited six minutes of writing. I'm not thrilled with it. There's so much more I would flesh out and change and improve and, probably, delete. But in keeping with the heart of Five Minute Friday, I haven't:

Ironic, isn’t it, that the first prompt is about story?

I don’t know what my story is. Not just my fairy tale story—the one that haunts me, no not haunts, makes me wonder. Will I ever figure it out? Will I ever complete it? See, I don’t really know what happens in my story. It’s my story, and I don’t know how it goes.

And the same is true in my life. There are so many things that I have tried for for so long. Goals, dreams, hopes—parts of my story. And I feel, constantly, that my path diverges from what I have planned, to something else. And I try to trust most days that the story will turn out really well. I try to trust that the plot twists have purpose.

But I wonder. Wouldn’t MY story have been better? The way I want things? Surely if I had been allowed to write my own story, it would have turned out better. I would have the job I want. I would have the house I want. I would be happier and, probably, thinner.

Interestingly enough, this brings me full circle to my story—the one I’m writing. Several years ago I was wondering what I would write when the fairy tale was finished, and while lying in bed one night, an idea came to me.

The sequel (or another story set in the same world) is about a girl who finds a magic book and begins to write in it—a journal or diary, or perhaps a story. And in writing she discovers that everything she writes happens to her. Not in a direct way, of course. In an interesting and mysterious way.

So she sets out to write her love story. She writes about a prince and the way they meet and fall in love. And it seems to her that these things are not happening, because she has certain expectations about how the story will work out in her real life. And what she sees happening in her real life is not what she is intending as she’s writing the story.

But of course everything is coming true, in its own, better way. The true story—the heart of what she longs for—is unfolding beautifully. She just has to open her eyes to it.

So I suppose I should just open my eyes to the story in my own life. Trust that the heart of what I long for is unfolding beautifully.


But some days, it’s hard.

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