Why am I trying to write this book?

Other than the fact that it feels like obedience to pursue this, the ideas that I have about it are these:

-- That I have learned certain things from my life thus far and it might benefit other people to share those things.
-- If sharing painful things I’ve been through can help other people then it makes them worth having gone through - a way to bear one another’s burdens.
-- If people relate to what I write, then I am not alone. I feel more understood and connected to people.
-- There are pathways that my brain can only trace and connect through writing. It is healing for me to analyze and organize and process.
-- That last one doesn’t feel like it benefits anyone other than myself and it seems like this is a selfish, indulgent endeavor, to spend my days this way. Aren’t there other things in the world that need my attention more? Wouldn’t it be better for me to just get some therapy and take some meds and get back to living a more normal life?
-- Well, I’ve had therapy and meds before and they do help. I’m not opposed to them at all. I probably should seek them out again, but I have a feeling that I would still be compelled to write.
-- Which leads me back to where I started, like this is what I was made to do. Regardless of where it takes me or what other things I don’t accomplish instead.
-- And so the final answer is simple and perhaps selfish, but also true. I need to.


Love that Will Not Let Me Go

I’m thankful today for this feeling, this not-sad-feeling. Even though I didn’t sleep very well, and even though I cried last night, today is a new day. God’s mercies ARE new every morning. It doesn’t hurt that the sun is out, bright and blazing today. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a whole morning of silence, of taking life slowly and drinking it all in. It helps that I had a good book to read and got to stay in my robe and sleep in most of the morning. It helps that I’m looking forward to the gym, if not the exercise, then at least the tanning bed. That’s how I bribe myself in order to make myself go. If you work out for 30 minutes, then you can tan.  Ooh la, la. Luxury. But the funny thing is that I actually like the work, or maybe just the feeling of being one who works out. Perhaps there is something to be said for endorphins after all. All I know is that I feel light today, hearty – maybe even happy.

There are so many times that I get scared this feeling will never come back. Just about every time I get sad, in fact. Nipping on the heels of sadness is the thought that this is all there is: my life will be one long season of depression from here on out. But it’s not true. There are still wonderful feelings to be had, joy to be felt, love to be shared and peace and contentment. It’s not all fear and sadness. Yes, there is a lot wrong in the world, a lot that makes me want to crawl back under the covers and stay there, but there is still good in the land of the living and I must move toward it.

We watched a movie the other night and at one point, in a dire, hopeless circumstance, the main character gives a speech about how he will not be overcome by despair. It preached to me. So often I think my emotions are beyond my control. Good and bad, they threaten to overwhelm me as I am a person who’s so easily overwhelmed. But it’s not true. I have choices; I have a choice to make. And on this day, in this moment, I’m choosing life. I’m choosing to take care of myself, to do the work set before me – the good deeds God planned for me before I was born.

The choices will not always be easy, and I won’t always do the right thing. I’ll mess up a whole lot before it’s all over because life is tough and nobody makes a perfect score. But as Katherine Patterson said, “Nothing to make you happy like doing good on a tough job, now is there?”

Of course just putting this all down and thinking about sharing it with the world has brought tears to my eyes again. I believe they’re good ones though, the kind that rinse off the dirty edges of your soul.

Here’s to not eating the darkness today, friends. Instead let’s swallow lots and lots of light.


a list for letting go

1. I have about 4 chapters written so far. I'm planning for 12, so that means I'm 1/3rd of the way finished.
2. Tonight my daughter wiped away a single tear from my face. It's just what I do; I cry when something beautiful happens right in front of me. Most people don't notice. I was glad that she did.
3. My man likes to listen to mellow grooves late at night.
4. I think that peppermint chai must have had caffiene. Otherwise I'd be in bed by now, right?
5. I'd like a list of practical ways to show people that you love them, and then I'd like to nail that list to some people's front doors.
6. I'm supposed to go have breakfast with a bunch of 5th graders and their parents in the morning. Don't ask me if I'm excited about this.
7. People still surprise me. Thankfully, it's usually in a good way. Maybe that's because I've already seen most of the yucky stuff before.
8. mason jars
9. Why did I put this in list form? Because it's a shortcut to real writing, which I'm too tired for.
10. Debates are difficult for those of us who like to mull things over first. But we're pretty sure anything we have to say wouldn't change your mind, so we'll probably just stay quiet.


Dear Friend,

The number one thing your loved ones want to know at this special time of the year is that you love them, that you want to be with them. That you enjoy their company and care about their lives. And guess what, it doesn’t cost one cent for you to give them that. It only costs your time and your affection, your smile, your words, your arms and your heart. Yes, it might feel awkward and you won’t say everything just right, but try anyway. Love is not based on perfection.

Not everything you plan will go smoothly, and that will be okay too. Savor the moments driving around in the van looking at Christmas lights together, even if one of your kids complains about it being lame. Drink hot cocoa together and sit in the same room for more than 15 minutes -- that’s worth more than anything made of plastic you can buy, wrap or open. Love is not measured with dollar signs.

Take a picture by the tree that you decorated together, but not just so you can post it somewhere on the internet. Print one out and put it in a frame. Save it for later so you can remember that you feel the same way about those special people no matter what day of the year it is. Even if they want more than you can afford or they act like spoiled brats. Even if they’re awesome and grateful. Love is not based on performance.

Tell them the stories you believe and why. And don’t get upset when they don’t worship the way you think they should. Give them time and space to accept the miracle for themselves. It may take years and you might never see it happen. That’s okay, too. Love gives whether or not it is received.

Don’t get caught up in the madness. Remember that you are also a gift.

May we all handle each other with care.


scratch paper prayers

I will sing as your canary bird. 
Take my soul and bury it in the earth.*

It feels like I do not have what it takes at all this morning. To be the writer that I want to be, to be like the other ones that I admire. It doesn’t seem like there is enough time for me to practice and get better and be able to produce anything worthwhile before I’m 45. Which isn’t so old I guess, but I would like it better if it were now. I guess that means I’m looking for recognition, for someone to acknowledge and affirm that I have a unique way of seeing and telling and that they enjoy reading my words. But that shouldn’t be why I write. at least not my main motivation. If that’s at the front of my mind then I will change and the focus of my writing will be impressing people rather than telling a good story and telling it well.

It’s so hard. I want to do a good job, the best I can. I want to create art, but I don’t want to be vain and only thinking about promoting myself. Please help. I believe you want me here, to think, to examine, I even think you’ve called me and made me to do this, the same way that you brought me John and made me a mother. This is not as important as either of those, but it’s what I’m supposed to do in addition, right? Maybe I’ve imagined that feeling and you’d be just as happy if I only cooked, cleaned and took care of my house and family everyday. But this is how I take care of myself somehow. This is the thing that fills me up. Books and other art can do so too, but they always spark something else in me, a need to go and tell my own thoughts, to create my own art.

It’s just so hard to be committed to the process, the long, long process at this point. I want the end result, to hold it in my hands and admire its accomplishment. But, no, it takes work. If it’s going to be worth admiring then it will take time to create. This is not slap-dash, haphazard and thrown together. The story must be told just so and it must be woven slowly. God, give me patience to keep at it, even when it sucks. Help me see that we can figure this out together, how to take the base form and transform it into something more lovely. How to keep producing a long rough draft and  how to continue to have faith that there will still be plenty of time to edit when I’m done.

* from Summertime by The Head and the Heart


Just Do It

No, there's not a picture of a swoosh to go along with this post. Yes, I'm feeling too apathetic right now to go searching the internet for one. I'm feeling anxious to get started writing this morning. I'm excited because I feel like I know where I'm headed  more than ever before, like there's a real path now. But I'm also scared to get going. Sometimes it's easier to just sit and think about the possibilities and the big picture than to actually get to work on all the details. It's like standing in front of a blank canvas with a crisp, vivid picture in your mind and worrying that you don't have the right colors of paint. I guess the only way forward is to start brushing and mixing, and being okay with possibly having to buy a new canvas every now and then. It's good to be comfortable with scratching through and starting over. Each attempt simply provides me with more practice.

Wish me luck!


Let the yoke fall from our shoulders

"The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who can't be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear."

This is from page 46 in A Grief Observed, by CS Lewis. I believe there is truth here. I've been in that darkest place before, that lowest low, when I felt completely alone and abandoned by God and I was so, so angry with him. All the worst things I'd ever temporarily thought about him over the years suddenly became true. I believed them because I didn't have the strength to believe anything else. That's just how it is when you've been cut, when you're wounded and bleeding. Hard and painful things happen to us here on planet earth, in our homes and with our families. Some hurts are bigger than others but just because you've gotten over something or you're not currently going through a storm is no reason to invalidate the pain of another. Let the one you care about say what he or she needs to say, even if it makes you flinch. Be a witness for her and she will trust you for life. Presence is powerful. You don't have to have answers, just use your ears and be willing to cry your own tears in hopes that it may lessen the number shed by the one in grief.

If you're that one today, don't run away from your pain all alone. Find someone who's able to help you carry it together. May love, courage and hope find the way to trickle slowly back into your heart, just as soon as you're ready for them.