Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wisdom is Easy, NOT

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the Courage to change the things I can;
and the Wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer
I think sometimes I don't take that Wisdom line seriously enough. It becomes more of a knowledge thing based partly on reason, but mostly on common knowledge and emotions. I believe I know the difference between what I can change, and what I cannot and that very pedestrian knowledge is what I act upon.
Sometimes I get smacked upside the head with some true Wisdom and then my perspective changes, but how often do I sincerely seek for Wisdom in the matters of what I can change, and what I cannot change?
And do I seek deeper Wisdom, or stop thinking along that line when a change I don't WANT to make pops up on my internal radar? Or a change that would be hard, unpopular, or mean me admitting a failure? Do I ignore deeper Wisdom when I shove my head against the same wall I've shoved it against time after time, refusing to accept the wall's validity, or necessity?
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
and Wisdom to know the difference.
I'll add a line this morning:
And grant the desire to seek, then the perseverance to pursue and claim that Wisdom.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Novelists and Parents- Got to be Stubborn

I'm right at the 60,000 word mark in my 2nd Chancey book. Things are a hot mess. Some of the messes I understand and am on track with - even though my protagonist, Carolina is not. The book is first person so some things I find out as Carolina finds them out. Like with her daughter, Savannah, and her friends. As I told someone the other day, there's something going on with the teenagers, but I don't know what it is yet. There's just those little clues (like real life raising teens) that make you think something's up, but you don't have enough of the pieces yet to figure it out. So you keep asking questions, checking their room, paying attention to every nuance of every conversation - and even then sometimes you never figure it out.
Except this is a novel. And getting answers is a must. At least some answers - story has to be tied up at the end, but the bigger questions which are left are about the reader. That to me defines a deeper book - one that makes me question, ponder, okay - think! That doesn't mean a hard to read book, Michael Creighton's books always make me think. Same with Jan Karon's simple books about Mitford.
But at this point in my book - things are a hot mess. And now to start shedding some light and getting the tangles to unwind themselves a bit.
One cardinal rule of fiction writing is you can't sell it (to an agent or a publisher) until the novel is completed. Why? Because getting your characters in messes is the easy part - getting them out in a satisfying manner, well, that's not easy.
And that's not just in books, it's in life as well. Being stubborn can be a good thing for a novelist because you just will not leave those characters alone until they figure this out. Being stubborn is good for a parent, too.
I remember telling Lizzy one time in a jr. high moment of truth. "You don't understand. I know the truth and you're not telling it and I will not drop this. This is pathological lying. So my next step is for us to talk with the youth pastor, if that doesn't work then we'll talk to the senior pastor and if you're still lying we're going into counseling. So, get this into your head. I will not stop."
So, now my characters are in a hot mess and I'm going to force them to get out of it. They will have to be in uncomfortable situations, speak the truth to friends, and face their deep-set fears. And I'm going to write it all down!
Being a writer - and a parent - is not for the faint-hearted.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Cloudy Monday, but . . .

This moment. This moment. This moment. I want to stop and really be aware of this cloudy Monday morning.
The clouds are supposed to break up later today and the rest of the week is sunshine all the way and temps in the high 70's.
A week from today the pastel eggs, adorable baskets, stuffed bunnies and chicks, and chocolate confections covered in pink, yellow and baby blue will all make their way to the discount shelves.
Daffodils and hyacinths and forsythia will have had their heyday and be just glorious memories. The menu for Easter dinner will no longer occupy my thoughts, lists, and time. Newspaper ads will switch to beach wear and those flower strewn dresses and pretty shoes will lose their appeal.
Holy week happenings - from passion plays, to egg hunts, to Good Friday events to Sunrise services to cantatas will all be on the already turned pages of calendars in churches around the world. In only seven days.
So - This moment when winter pulls it's chilly fingers away and tiny buds prepare to burst open. This moment I don't want to miss in my rush for warmth and sun --- And Easter.
So, I'm taking some deep breaths and taking another look around. Only in truly seeing the cloudy Monday mornings for everything God made them, can I truly see the magnificent sun-drenched Sundays.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Goes Around . . .

Finishing up my week's lessons for Bible Study this morning, the last question is one to make you think deeper. We're studying Jacob - a patriarch of the Christian and Jewish faiths. He gets a lot of ink in the Old Testament and several of his stories are favorites for Sunday School and sermons. So I came to that last question this morning, "What main principle did you learn from this week's study?" What came to mind immediately doesn't sound all that spiritual or high minded, but here's what I wrote down, "What goes around, comes around."
Jacob cheated, lied to and deceived his family. Jacob was cheated, lied to, and deceived by his family.
Mama use to say that Soap Opera's were good training ground for folks because no one got away with anything. Think about it, getting caught was just part of the story. And most times, the most important, and most watched, part of the story.
Bible is the same way - What goes around, comes around.
Life is that way. What I put out there into the world creates an atmosphere, an environment and I can not just walk away from it. It's what I breath and live and it's part of me. How I treat people at work, the words I use on the phone, the manners I have or don't have in the grocery check out line, my thoughts and how I spend my time create my reality. A reality I can not leave at my front door or keep away from my children and marriage.
What goes around, comes around.
God's big on pithy statements!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Carpet versus Children

Yesterday was such a beautiful day I made time to sit on the deck and read a Good Housekeeping magazine. Problem is, when I read these home magazines my expectation level rises. Expectations for unstained, unworn carpet. Bright, cushioned deck furniture. Clean, organized work areas. Efficient, beautiful kitchens.
That's probably why I don't really enjoy HGTV like so many of my friends do. I want all that stuff for my house and yard, but I don't want to do the work or spend the money. I start thinking, "What would I do to the house, if I had an unlimited budget?" and that's not the kind of dreaming I enjoy because at the end of my dreams I like to be happier, feel better. Not be disappointed.
Why do we not like shows or movies where the kids are perfect? Or where marriages are all perfect? Because we feel like failures. A book where the kids are too good, families all too happy, would never make it. It's not reality the writer would be told.
So why do we subject ourselves to those perfect houses, perfect yards, perfect meals, perfect bodies, perfect vacations?
I don't know, but I think it's interesting where we want reality--and where we don't. Maybe it's about control.
Carpet? Controllable. People? Not controllable.
Where am I setting my self up for disillusionment? And why?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's a Baby!

Some good friends' daughter is having their first grandchild today. She's in labor and they are gathered around her - Grandmom and I are even chatting on facebook from the delivery room. The sun is coming up over the budding Bradford Pear trees in our back yard and by time it sets this cherished baby will have been held, fed, changed, poked, prodded, and loved beyond all measure.
Fingers and toes will be counted, tiny fingernails oohed over, and infant cries will bring laughter.
Again, one of my favorite hymns, Morning Has Broken comes to mind, especially the last line: "God's recreation of the first day."
While it's sung both ways, I like it when the word is expressed as re-creation (instead of the word for play and relaxation). Re-Creation - A repeat of creation.
And what is happening today, with family gathered, nurses hovering, doctors on call, friends waiting is God Re-Creating. Sure, things aren't perfect and won't be on this earth. But in the wakening buds on the trees, the joyous singing of the birds, and the cries of a newborn - God reminds us - he's still on the job ---And All Things Are Made New!

Morning Has Broken Lyrics
(A Traditional Song, Lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon*)

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

From Margaret Mitchell to Socrates

Margaret Mitchell wrote the last chapter of Gone with the Wind first. Then she put a thousand pages in front of it. After the publisher saw the manuscript, loved it, and wanted it, she had to finish it - which meant writing the first chapter. Oh, and Scarlett's name was Pansy. Yep, Pansy.
Last night our classic book group got together to discuss the first half of GWTW, so I did my usual research and dug deeper into the author and the book. I used to hate in school when a teacher did that with a book. I wanted it to stand alone on the story, forget it having a theme or symbols. Why can't it just be a good story?
And I guess it can, of course. But what if there is something more? What if the story shines light on my life? Or history? Or people's actions? And what if looking deeper binds the readers together in such a way as to affect change, or at least understanding?
In doing the research for the classics we've read, I've found that the author rarely seemed to know or think about a bigger picture, a theme, a call to action - they were just writing a story.
So it's what I, the reader, bring to the story and even more - what I take from the story.
Might it be the same with life? My days can just be days on a calendar or they can be more. Depending on what I bring to my days, and what I want to take from my days.
Socrates put it this way: "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Your Ceiling is Dirtier than Mine

Last fall's epic rain fall was too much for our vent over the kitchen, the pan underneath it overflowed and left a brown spot on the ceiling. No honest leak, so a little touch-paint was all that was needed. Except then instead of a brown spot we had a blinding white spot. Just a couple touches of the paint brush pointed out how dirty the ceiling had become. So, Saturday the kitchen ceiling got a fresh coat or two.
These words from Walter Wangerin Jr. jumped out at me this weekend in my reading, even as the smell of fresh paint hung in the air: "To sinners, the mere presence of goodness can feel like an attack. It triggers guilt. Guilt hurts, Guilt forces us to notice ourselves, thereby to question and to second-guess ourselves; and such an internal process destroys the joy of an unconscious life. We are altogether too conscious, suddenly--too self-aware. Doubt destroys the thoughtless satisfactions.. . . . Goodness is a spotlight."
The bolding is my addition. I loved his wording, "Destroys the joy of an unconscious life." We're so big these days in not wanting people to feel bad. Saw it a lot working with youth - parents refusing to put words on their children's actions. As a parent, it's my job to shake my child from their "unconscious life". I want my husband, my friends, my children, my church to do the same for me. Not burden me with condemnation - but not shy away from telling me the truth.
Put words on my actions.
Even if it's just by living your best life, so that it shows me where mine is dirty. Like clean paint on an unconscious ceiling.
And, God, give me the strength and consciousness to seek out those who are good, kind, and honest and not work to only hang out with folks whose ceilings are dirtier than mine, so I look good in comparison.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Skating Rink Terror!

Our elementary school in Illinois rented out the skating rink one Sunday afternoon a year. When my kids were all finally old enough to skate, I decided to get back on the rink. I loved skating as a teenager and was excited about feeling that freedom and exhilaration again--until I got out there.
Wow, the change in perspective and balance when a couple inches higher on little wheels is shocking. I went a couple yards and found that shag carpet covered wall, to which I clung. No handrail, so I clawed my way around the rest of the rink handful of shag carpet by handful of shag carpet. I promised God if I got around to the open area I would take those skates off and never put them back on again. I've never bargained with God on an airplane, but I sure did at that skating rink.
What surprised me was the raw fear. How could I have put myself in a position to get incredibly hurt? I could bust a knee cap, break a leg or arm and then where would I be? Who would drive the kids around? I could be laid up for weeks.
Where was that carefree enjoyment of whizzing around the rink? It was lost in a sea of knowledge. Lost in a sea of fear from all my knowledge. My eyes had been opened to the possibilities of pain and injury due to flitting about on wheels on concrete.
Kids flew past me, wrecked, got up and skated and wrecked some more. No fear. And I use to be like that?
Maybe that's key to moving ahead - ignorance. Okay, not really ignorance, but the ability to not focus on the consequences of failure. You know, that saying -What would you do if there was no risk of failure? What would I do?
What would YOU do?

Ready to be Scandalized?!?

Talked on the phone to a lot of folks yesterday who called to wish us Happy Anniversary. Talked to Mama a really long time and it was so satisfying and relaxing and fun. I know, I know - I'm very blessed. Also talked to all three kids and caught up on Lizzy's schedule for next semester, Ryan's job interviews, and the grad school conference Robert is in charge of. Talked for a long time to friends - about nothing much but catching up on our lives. Even been on the phone with a friend already this morning.
I do love to talk with people. Hearing their stories, seeing what they catch in my stories. The give and take of conversation. I always fear I talk too much and I try to shut up, but doesn't always work-oh well.
Have you noticed how some people don't ask questions in a conversation? They never seem curious about what other people are doing. Wonder if they really don't understand how that makes the other people feel?
One of my favorite parts of writing for the paper was the permission it gave me to ask people questions. Truly, I am curious. Helps so much with my writing because wanting to know what makes people tick helps with creating characters. A friend who was going through a horrific divorce situation use to say she was going to write a book called, "The Soaps Ain't Got Nothing On Me." Mama use to say people think the soap opera's are wild, but they're nothing compared to real life.
But I think a lot of people think real life is too yucky to get involved with. Try it - start asking questions of people around you and see what your limit on other people's lives & info is. You might be amazed at what you learn.
You might even be scandalized! Wouldn't that be awesome!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When I Grow Up I Want to be Just Like You!

There's a country song out there about a little boy wanting to be like his dad - in good ways and bad. It's cute, and actually moving, especially to parents. Parents remember those days when the little ones thought we were amazing and wanted to be like us - and then they grow up. It's not nearly as much fun when they decide they'd rather die than be like mom and dad.
But both stances are part of growing up - the idolization isn't meant to last, and neither is the repudiation.
I remember the day, the moment, I began seeing my parents in a more balanced light. When I began to compare them - not to my whims - but to other parents in my world. That was when my own parenting goals probably began. I was in high school.
I also remember when I saw that change happen with each of my kids - when I saw a more discerning look in their eyes when they looked at me, at their daddy, at our family. When being like, or not being like, Mike and I took on real meaning for their lives.
In my Lenten devotion this morning, Jesus is standing before the high priest in a middle of the night at an unjust hearing. He's bound, he's being accused, spit on and hit. He maintains his dignity - and his silence. He only answers that he is the Messiah and will sit with God in heaven.
One line jumped out at me in the author's prayer. "Let your forgiveness transform me, so that I am like you, and that I like to be like you!"
That I like to be like you. Wow - not out of idolization or fear or sacrifice - but because I like it. To stand silent in the midst of critics and do it because I like to be like Christ? Now there's some real maturing and some real discernment - and requires some real prayer.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Are you Hungry?

Somewhere around 5 pm on Saturdays I started noticing everyone getting crabby with each other. I noticed the pattern back when the kids were still living here. Finding a pattern meant there was probably an underneath pattern I could figure out.
Didn't take long.
Saturday mornings meant a big family breakfast. Breakfast is Mike's favorite meal and the rest of us love it, too. Lizzy's affection for bacon is legendary, Robert is big on biscuits and gravy and Ryan's favorite is a biscuit with sausage and strawberry jam. Just like in my family growing up, this was just what we did on Saturday mornings. Country music playing on the kitchen radio, cooking and then sharing a meal - a good meal, a big meal. And everyone would be fueled for the day.
Matter of fact - we'd be so full we couldn't eat another thing all day!
There was the problem.
By 5 pm on Saturdays we were hungry, but we'd been so busy all day and we'd had that big breakfast and no one thought of eating. So, we'd get grumpy and start fussing at each other.
Well . . . lately I've been out of sorts at times, especially with Mike. No reason - and of course that means it's just not an obvious reason and is going to take some thinking.
So, I picked up the Lenten devotional I've neglected for the past couple weeks and spent some time with God this morning and clear as day I realized my problem.
Not filling myself on a regular basis - Like we'd forget to eat on those Saturdays - I've been forgetting to spend time being refilled by God. And so I've been grouchy and touchy. Now, maybe you are always the soul of calm and pleasantness, but if once in a while you feel out of sorts for absolutely no reason (or at least not a good one), check and see if you're hungry- hungry for what only God provides.
And then have something to eat for crying out loud!

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Calm Place

I'm floating on my back, my ears below the surface of the water. Sounds of my brothers and friends playing in the water is muted. Boats, even far away on the lake, are telegraphed to me in a whiny, high pitched sound and vibration. Eyes wide and level with the surface, the sky looks huge. A dark green pine branch reaches out over the water and the sun shines on the needles. The water holds me up with no effort. My arms and legs float on watery sparkles around me. My breathing is the loudest noise and it slows until I can't hear even that. Smells of the lake water are intensified in the heat. All is peace, water, sunlight in shades of green and blue. This my calm place.
It's where I go when I need to calm down. One day last week I was wondering if other people did this kind of thing. If others have a specific place they imagine being when they want to calm down. Wouldn't you know it? Without me even mentioning it, a friend a day or so later was telling me her counselor had recently taught her to do this very thing. Her calm place is a walk in the woods and this imagery had helped her cope with a difficult and stressful time.
Her walk in the woods reminds her of a place in her childhood. My lake experience is from my childhood, also.
So, do you have a place you go in your mind to calm down? Share it. And if you don't - find one and practice going there. Then when you need it, it's available. Plus, it's just interesting to see what it is you crave. For me it's sun and water, green and blue.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Daffodils are my favorite flower. Yellow is my favorite color, a lot due to daffodils, I think. The smell of daffodils is my favorite flower smell. Nothing else smells like it. Yesterday I walked into Kroger to pick up a few things to make some guacamole for Robert and Carrie - and Kroger had daffodils! Five bunches for $10. You can't always get daffodils at the store or even at a florist. I know because the times Mike has tried he always tells me and then, sweet guy that he is, he buys some other kind of yellow flowers. So, it was a special blessing to find daffodils and now they sit in several vases around the house. They opened this morning and are absolutely gorgeous. One bunch is right here beside my laptop.
Speaking of guacamole - used my friend Stephanie's recipe. Robert and Carrie loved it and it was perfect to snack on during the Tennessee basketball game yesterday afternoon. Did you know that all these regional tournaments are their own cinderella story? March Madness is all about the national tournament, to which 64 teams are invited. They all have a shot at winning the national title. And no matter how bad your season was, if you win your conferences tourney (and everyone gets to play in their conference tourney) then you are invited to be one of the 64 teams. So everybody went into these area tourneys with the chance to be the National Champion.
Speaking of Robert and Carrie - they are on Spring Break - their last. Oh well, it happens. They're in town because the kids all are taking us out tonight for our Anniversary, which is next week on St. Patrick's day. Lizzy will be home later today for the first time since we took her to GCSU in January.
Speaking of Spring Break and our Anniversary and St. Patrick's Day and March Madness and Daffodils reminds me how much I love this time of year.
What are your favorite parts of early Spring?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just do it

You know what they say about patience . . .
Don't pray for it because the only way God can teach you about it is to give you something to be patient about.
Well, I think the same is true for obedience. There's only one way to learn it, by doing it. There seems to be two kinds of obedience. One is where the outcome is fairly assured. This is the kind of obedience we teach our kids. Action and outcome are tied together. It's not 100% failproof, but the system works. You may study and fail a test, but in the long run, study=success.
And then God tries to get us to grow up. He desires a more mature understanding of obedience. Where action and outcome are not related. Or at least it's not evident. And even when something good happens in relation to the obedient act, there's still a distance. It's Obedience for Obedience's sake.
There's a part of me that wants to tie my daily writing of this blog to an outcome. Because if I do that, it's easier to do everyday. However, God gently reminds me he has promised no outcome. I am not allowed to put words in his mouth. Even if it would help me in the imediate.
Now, there have been good things due to my writing it and I do enjoy the blog - but I have to resist making my obedience in this about an outcome. It's about learning to be obedient despite weariness, frustration, lack of anything whatsoever to write, and the feeling of complete idiocy at thinking I have something worth writing every day.
However God whispers, "Just do it. Put your fingers on the keyboard." And that simple act of obedience makes all the difference in my day, my life.
Is God whispering to you? Is he wanting to teach you this kind of obedience? Don't think of it as God playing with you or testing you, realize he's calling you to grow up and get closer to him. So give it a try. Quit looking for outcomes. Quit looking for reasons. Quit looking for a way to explain it to your friends and family.
In other words: Just do it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rainy Day Questions

"Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet." Roger Miller

Chance of rain in Georgia today - 100%. The kind of rain which brings it's own special effects. Fog, deep gray skies, constant patter and occasional outbursts.

So, what will it be?

You gonna walk in the rain?
Or just get wet?

I'm still deciding.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

But I Don't Wanna

"I do not like to write - I like to have written." ~Gloria Steinem
So true - about a lot of things.
Doctor and dentist checkups are on my schedule this week. I do not want to go to them - but I'll be glad to have gone.
Dave Ramsey says (about saving money) something to the effect of, "Live now like no one else, so later you can live like no one else."
Lizzy in her desire to transfer schools last semester studied hard. She made great grades and was accepted at her new school. But it also taught her how to study and is paying off this semester.
What is it that makes us do the unpleasant thing? Work, visit the doctor, save, study?
Fear is a strong motivator - if I don't go to the dentist my teeth might fall out. No doctor visit? What won't be caught in the early stages? Foreclosure signs in the neighborhood can jump start saving.
Desire pushes us. A new school, a better job, a better car, a published book.
What is motivating me today to do what I do? If too much of my day is motivated by fear it will be a fearful, worrisome day. If too much of my motivation comes from my desire for more or better, I tend to become self-centered.
To never examine my motivations is to risk veering off the path I need to be on. Reminds me of a quote my brother uses on his emails "If you can't be a good example, you just might have to serve as a horrible warning."
So, what are my motivations for my actions today?
What are yours?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Give me back my Bundle

Man, the birds sure are happy this morning! The chilly air is alive with their greetings and songs. In a blaze of tangerine, the sun pushes over the horizon, nothing to block it but bare limbs beginning to bud. Like the birds, I'm full of song this morning. Nothing quite as lovely as their chirps, whistles, and trills. Mine is more "Ooo, ooh. Tonight's going to be a good night." And then I change it to "Today's going to be a good day." The Black Eye Peas song is a favorite of mine - maybe because of all the weddings I've been to lately where it plays early and often. Or that it served for a backdrop on the Oscars last night.
I stayed up to watch the Oscars. They were my background for reading a book, then when something happened worthy of watching, I just looked up.
And even with my late bedtime - "Today's going to be a good, good day. Ooo, ooo." Wonder why somedays just come out of the box better? I honestly don't think it was anything I did or didn't do. And I even have three doctor/dental check ups this week. Those yearly kinds which I, in my infinite wisdom, thought I'd get done all at one time. So, it's not my upcoming schedule which lends to happiness.
Do the birds have a reason to be so full of song this morning? Does there have to be a reason for me to be full of song? But on blah days, I want a reason. Is that to assure me it's not arbitrary? Out of my control? If there's a reason for being blah, then I can fix it?
My default setting is happy. How hard it must be to suffer from depression, when your default is blah. My heart aches for my friends, for which this is so.
You know, there's an old saying that if we could all bundle up our troubles and put them in a pile for exchange, after examining everyone else's bundles - we take our own back out.
The older I get and the more I see - the more I believe that.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

Talking to Mama a couple weeks ago she asked if we were going to move my office upstairs now that we have all these empty rooms.
What a silly question.
I said, "No" and wondered at why she even thought of that. Then last week, sitting at my desk downstairs and trying to make it so the little heater warms all of me instead of scorching only my ankles, I remembered that the upstairs is heated. Hmmm. . . And there is the room with the twin bed and view of the front yard and the sky and trees. Hmmm. . . And in the summer there's air conditioning and bright light all year and Hmmm. . .
Looking at the real estate ad this weekend, I thought, "What if we had just moved into this house? Me and Mike, not with the 3 kids. How would it be set up differently?" My whole perspective changed. We'd do things very differently. So, last night Mike moved my desk and computer and junk upstairs. It's so awesome.
Now I'm thinking - What else in my life is set up to satisfy needs which are long gone? I guess the cereal being in a low cabinet so the kids can reach it isn't needed anymore. They're all taller than me. That sounds like an easy one, but I just now realized it.
What in our lives has been outlived, but we continue to live it? Ways of thinking? Habits?
Where do I need to look with fresh eyes? I want to question myself more. What keeps me from doing this already? How do I miss so much?
Lord, let me see my life with fresh eyes. Let me be open to change and new thoughts. As Spring brings newness, let me be renewed and refreshed and ready. -Amen

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kindergarten Teachers and Agents

Lizzy was born in January 1991 in Joliet, Illinois. We brought her home to Ryan who was 2 1/2 and Robert who was 4 1/2. The following August, Robert started kindergarten. My overwhelming feeling at the time was that for the first time ever, someone else was taking responsibility for him. Of course, Mike, was responsible for him and at Sunday School he was in a class, or he stayed with grandparents occasionally. But on a daily basis, 24/7, he'd been my charge. My responsibility. It felt strange to hand him over to someone else. Very strange and - - discombobulating.
Those feelings came back to me last night.
I've spent eleven years sending my writing out into the world for people to read. I've mailed it snail mail, I've emailed it, I've entered contests, I've promoted it on facebook & twitter, I've put it in a blog -you get the picture - it's out there.
Then yesterday my agent sent me a copy of the proposal they are sending out to try and get a publisher interested.
Woah, someone else is responsible for my writing. It no longer rests in my hands alone. Just like with Robert, he remained my "job", my responsibility - but others were now involved in how he grew. Reading the proposal was like seeing the book I've lived with for thousands of hours, through someone else's eyes. Someone who cares, is positive, and wants to help my book be the best it can.
Are you holding on to something that is ready to move into the world? It is a rough world out there and our precious things can get knocked around. However, there are people out there waiting, and wanting, to help.
Like Kindergarten Teachers and Agents.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Me and My Excuses are Tight!

Here we were cruising towards Spring. We knew it wasn't flip flop weather yet, but unburying them from the back of the closet was a good idea--just to be ready. Picking up some chicken for the grill seemed like a good idea and flower pots could be moved to their places.
Then yesterday we got almost four inches of snow here in Georgia.
I didn't get any writing done yesterday. The snow discombobulated me - even sitting with my back to the window, the snow fell so fast and the flakes were so big, the reflection in my computer screen looked like I was in a snow globe! So, I took off the day from writing to enjoy the weather.
So what was my excuse for not writing on Monday? I don't remember now, but I'm sure I had one.
You've heard of having a "come to Jesus meeting"? That's when you lay all the cards on the table between you and another person. Me and God had one of those this morning. I laid out all my cards (excuses) on the table and he, well, he just thought it was funny. He was trying not to laugh out loud, but I've sat across from my kids when they've laid their woes out and I recognized that pinched eyebrow, tight mouth and merry eyes that holds back pure laughter. Really? This is really all you've got?
God doesn't dismiss my excuses or make me feel stupid. It's just when I get them all laid out in front of him -they don't look so imposing, so overwhelming. Matter of fact, getting them all laid out makes them look, well, manageable. Doable. Okay, downright weak.
Left on my own, I can do magic. Small things become humongous! It's truly amazing and awe inspiring - but has nothing to do with reality. Folks not familiar with God may find him vague and elusive. But God is truth and spending a little time with him makes reality come into focus.
So I'm starting my day with a list. A list of all the little things I need to get out of my head and into my past. Make that call, schedule that appointment, finish that job.
But, then what will I do without all my excuses? Oh, yeah - write.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Easily Amused is Not All Bad

North Georgia College is starting late today due to the snow. Sitting with Mike this morning having coffee I read that announcement as it scrolled across the screen with the other school closings. And I realized something - We say North Georgia and South Georgia - but Northern Illinois and Southern Illinois. Try it - North Illinois, North Massachusetts, North Virginia, North California. Doesn't work. Or Northern Mississippi or Northern Alabama.
Works for East and West, too. East Tennessee - fine, East Pennsylvania - not fine.
So what's up with that? Is it just a regional thing? Seems to be regional to a certain degree.
Now, to wrap all that up into some deep thought, touching story, or fun idea to round out this morning's blog. . .
Okay, nothing's coming. I'm still trying out different states in my head. Plus, it's snowing really hard outside and I want to go stare out the window.
So, what I want to know is did you know that about the North/Northern thing? Let me know if you did. I'm fairly amazed about it - luckily I enjoy being amazed by not much of anything.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Surrounded by Grandparents!

I'm surrounded by Grandparents these days! No, I'm not spending my mornings at the McDonald's playground. We're just at that age where our friend's children are having babies. Some friends had a granddaughter this weekend, others just found out theirs will be a grandson, others are in the last month of waiting. And many friends pepper the conversations with pictures, stories and gushiness about these amazing creatures. It's a stage of life I never even imagined and it's really cool.
There's this glow about being a grandparent - totally different glow than that new parent glow. The new parent glow is all bright and crisp with a fervent edging of fear. Stark, raving fear. The grandparent glow is mellow like polished pewter or morning sunlight on a still lake. Grandparents know. They know all those beautiful, carefully selected names will take on lives of their own when hollered across the backyard or when creatively shortened into clipped initials or weird nicknames by 5th grade friends. They know how those cute, matching nurseries become bedrooms and the backdrop of major battles over wet towels, dirty dishes, and late night phone calls. They know.
And they smile. The smile isn't an evil "-just wait and find out smile". It's that smile of remembrance. The smile that says, "Wow, we made it this far. Survived it all and here is my child carrying a child; holding a child." A smile for all the coming, unimagined joys for these incredibly imaginative young parents who have no idea how full their heart will be on a daily basis. Or how long and dark nights can be.
I love that smile on my friends and love watching them become something they never were before. Whole new creations right in front of my eyes hold me spellbound.
Isn't life surprising?
Isn't life good?