I've taken a bit of a hiatus from writing.

  In doing so, I've written more than ever.

  The reason behind this productivity is twofold; I put a hold on my writing goals because circumstances in other areas of my life were happening and changing so fast and furiously it was all I could do to hang on and keep my head above water.  What helped me get through it?  Journaling.  Writing my heart out.  Word after word, page after page.  Funny thing is, I didn't write as much when it was a weekly goal.

  The second reason for my recent fluidity of words is the music coming through my headphones while I write - soothing yet stimulating piano music from my station at Pandora.  I'm finding there's something about having music playing in my ears while I write (it makes me feel like I'm a character in a movie for one thing, which is a whole lot of fun).  It brings my emotions to the surface more than silence does. Like good dialogue that moves a story forward, I feel the music pushing me on, making me write more, getting me to feel more.  It's a fun find.

  This following is a piece of what evolved out of that effervescence of journaling - as I was able to get things out of my mind and onto the page.
  It's been a difficult week at best with Tuesday's news of my sister's insurance denying her treatment, and the ensuing shock and upheaval.  Yesterday was a mix of emotions, and on my way home at lunch I thought, "I am tired of having all these surprises in my life; being blindsided by problems all the time."  Then it hit me- maybe the problems shouldn't be catching me by surprise anymore.  I believe their content may always remain unknown, but perhaps I should learn to expect them more, like constant visitors who just love to show up unannounced and stay way past their welcome.  I'm not sure if we can ever be fully prepared for what's coming next, but I'm starting to notice that having unexpected guests arrive and stay over is happening more often than not in this present age.

  Some travelers we've found parked on our doorstep since 2010 started:
            A child's depression.
                A daughter's life being threatened.
                    A sister's cancer recurring.

Today I read in 1 Thessalonians , "But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief."  Paul is talking about the return of the Lord coming like a thief in the night, but it can apply to my circumstances also - I am getting weary of days surprising me and acting like thieves...

    Stealing my joy.
         Robbing my trust.
              Taking my security.

We never know what a day will bring to us because we cannot see the future.  At the same time we're not supposed to brace ourselves from the moment we wake up thinking that perhaps at any moment there could be bad news.  That's living in fear. 

So I wonder to myself - where's the balance?  More importantly - where's the good news?  My answer came quickly as I realized what it's really all about, for me anyway.  I see that these trials are showing me a God who is getting bigger and bigger every time the hard times come.  A God who I am getting to know more fully than ever before. I see He can handle my doubts and fears, my anger and sadness, my tears and disillusion (and yes, even those times when I throw a thing or two across the room).  Through all the junk and the mess, He is still there to stand strong with me.  Even when I feel completely alone, I am not.  He is with me, and I couldn't do this life without Him.

Let the good times roll.

Seeing Myself Clearly

   "Trapped without a mirror but you've never seen yourself so clear before..."

   Deep words from my 15 year old son.  I was holding his notebook of lyrics, reading them - something he absolutely, positively hates me to do.  But I had needed to move it so I was taking the opportunity - while it was already in my hand in transit - to flip it over and read what was on the other side of the blank page he'd left facing up.

 He doesn't journal, but he does write lyrics.  I found his sentence to be profound.  I said it out loud a few times, loving the way he'd phrased the thought.  There are times when we are struck-  in a good sense or bad - with seeing ourselves as never before. Those times can stop us in our tracks and make us take inventory of who we really are. 

 I tend to believe that we make a clearer assessment of ourselves as we age- we are getting to know who we are more fully every minute, every day, each year.  The older we get, (hopefully) the more comfortable we become with ourselves, which has its pros and cons.  We begin to realize and accept that we have habits that will never really change, and while some of those are positive traits, some of what tags along with us are qualities we'd rather shake off and move away from.  Aging also means that we have grown, we have accepted, and we can move forward in confidence, not being as concerned with the "Who am I?" question asked so often in younger years.

  Still, those "seeing me oh-so-clearly" times come, no matter what our age.  We may like what we see; often, we don't.  That is because God is never done with us-He's always looking to shape us into the likeness of his Son.  If I ever think I have arrived, watch out.  I have another think coming. 

  As I pondered all of this, I thought of 1 Corinthians 13:12 - "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  What we are is abundantly clear to God - this verse tells us we are already fully known by Him. 

 When you make something, do you not know every thing that goes into it?  You handle every piece; you know each part; everything is just as you designed it to be.  God knows us like that, since He created us.  Isn't that amazing?

 I believe when we stand in His presence at the end of this life, we will finally see ourselves as God sees us, knowing every part of who we are and seeing how it was all put together in love.  We'll be without a mirror, but we'll never have seen ourselves so clear before.

When Writing -and Life- Gets Difficult

I didn't design this to be a day of reposts, but I've read some things that are so meaningful I am eager to share them.  Stop a minute and read today's post from Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent:


This will speak to you no matter what road you travel in life.

Great Advice

Today's post is a reprint from http://wannabepublished.blogspot.com/2010/02/afp-marybeth-whalen-on-taking.html

It's so timely for what I'm experiencing and working through that I wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy.

The tipping point for me happened years before I had ever heard the word branding or platform. I heard about this little newsletter called Proverbs 31. It was small time but I liked the content. I called the girl who was running it at the time and asked if she would let me write for it. That was in 1993.

Today that newsletter has grown into Proverbs 31 Ministries, reaching women all over the world through various facets: a radio ministry that reaches over 1100 outlets, a daily email devotion that goes out to nearly 350K subscribers, the newsletter is now a full color magazine with over 5000 subscribers, and we offer a writers and speakers conference that consistently sells out year after year with over 600 attendees. I have the honor of serving on the speaker team, writing devotions, teaching at She Speaks, and heading up the She Reads fiction division of the ministry.

What's my point? I didn't say yes when P31 had grown. I said yes when it was tiny and grew along with it. Don't discount those things that take time and don't say no to things just because they aren't "big enough." God will reward your patience and your heart to serve wherever He places you with no objective other than to reach that one person who needs to hear what you have to share.


 I've pulled back the reigns a little bit.  I'm reflecting, pondering, musing.  I'm trying to figure out where I'm headed with this writing bug that's bitten me.  In the end, what do I really want to do with it?  I'm not sure, and I realize it could be a while 'til I know (and that's just fine with me).

   I am thoroughly convinced that if I simply write for myself through journaling, devotional type pieces and here on my blog, I'll be happy.  I have recognized that I love the physical act and exercise of writing- there's something about putting pen to paper, feeling it glide across the surface and watching words form that is satisfying.  There's also something gratifying about typing on the keyboard.  I have always wanted to play the piano proficiently- I don't, but I think keyboarding helps fill that need.  Like piano playing, I'm pounding on keys and making beautiful music that just happens to come out in letters on a screen rather than notes in a song.  Works for me.

  That being said...

  What am I writing?  I have a goal that I will pursue until I feel the call to do otherwise.  500 words a day in my journal or on my blog.  Where that will lead I do not know, nor do I have to know. It may seem like a small, insignificant goal, but it is a challenge for me as the daily demands of life tend to crowd out any writing time I may desire if I'm not careful. It is enough for now that I am writing, and when it's time for that writing to take on more direction, it will.

   What am I reading?  "On Writing Well; The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction" by William Zinsser, and only a few pages into it I am in love with it.  He writes in a way that tells it like it is, and I find I'm reading some of my own thoughts on the pages of his book.  I catch myself laughing out loud at more than a few parts - not that he's writing with so much humor, but he captures human nature so easily that I readily chuckle in agreement.  It's well worth the read- buy it or check it out from your local library as I did.

  I had the opportunity this past weekend to catch up after a very long time- too long- with my brother who lives in Laos, half a world away from Pennsylvania.  He was 17 when I was born; when I was beginning kindergarten, he was donning a uniform and heading off to fight the Vietnam war. Presently he is a writer and has spent the past 23 years over in Asia immersing himself in the continent and the culture in order to better write his manuscript.   It is that same war and the soldier that he was that he writes about now - he is and has been living out the writer's cardinal rule of "Write What You Know" in every sense of the phrase.  His manuscript is now nearing completion and publication, and he is seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

  I am in awe of what he's accomplished, and the years he has put his heart and soul into his passion.  He mentioned to me last night that he doesn't think of himself as a writer; just someone with a story to tell.  He told me that the best piece of advice he could give me was that when one is writing, one must have confidence in him/herself to believe that they can do it; they can tell their story, and it's worth telling.  Confidence is key.

Today in Zinsser's book I read, "(When it comes to writing)...a fundamental rule is: be yourself.  No rule, however, is harder to follow.  It requires writers to do two things that by their metabolism are impossible.  They must relax, and they must have confidence."

So there we have it.  An intangible, immeasurable, yet crucial part to any story.  Confidence.  Not grammar, structure, point of view, imagery....of course those things are important and necessary, but your story- my story- won't go anywhere unless we are confident that the world needs to know what we have to share.  I do believe that each of us, somewhere in our life's experience, has been given a story that only we can tell.  Have you ever thought of confidently writing down yours?

God is with me, always

Here's my entry to Mary DeMuth's Kindle contest. 


In exactly 259 words – the retail value of a Kindle reader – tell us about a time you experienced a “thin place” in your life. These would be aha moments, beautiful realizations when the Son of God bursts through the hazy fog of our monotony and shines on us afresh, times when God has reminded or reassured you that he is real and present. 

It was December 23rd. Walking into the school where I worked I felt empty, even though it was Christmastime. I queried my heavy heart to find out why. That quickly, I realized I was now working in an environment where “Christmas” becomes “holiday”, and God’s name is rarely mentioned. Previously working at church, I was surrounded with the truth of Christmas; now my days were filled with Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Los Posados. It bothered me that God wasn’t well represented in this time of year.

At the school library, I turned the doorknob and stopped short at what I heard. It was God singing over the intercom. Well, it wasn’t God, but it was Josh Groban, and he was singing about God. The music piped in was the chorus to “O Holy Night”.

I slipped into the empty library and closed the door. I heard, “Christ is the Lord, O praise His name forever!!” My heart soared with the raw truth it had been hungry to hear, soaking in the words. I positioned myself under the speaker in the ceiling and stood still.

The truth of “Oh night divine” wrapped ‘round about me. I knew then that no matter what‘s happening, no matter where I am, no matter how little is said about Him, He is still present in the world and with me always.

The song ended; the room was silent. Wiping tears from my eyes, I owned a lighter heart. God was alive and well at Christmas and all the year; He’d just told me so Himself.

Want to Win a Kindle?

Here's an opportunity for you to do just that.

  If you've ever had a time in your life where you've sensed the presence of God working mightily - where He broke through the haze and felt as close as your next breath - AND you can write about it in exactly 259 words by midnight February 12th- then this contest is for you:

Go check it out - I'm definitely entering!

God is great, God is good, Let us thank Him for our goals...

    I love it when God and I think along the same lines.  The other day when I was reading in Philippians, I came across this - "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  How cool is that- Paul had a goal way before he could put it in his Daytimer or load a reminder into his Outlook calendar.   Even then, people knew what goals were - they were recognized as important milestones to strive toward and achieve.

  How he phrases this entire verse encourages me.  "Forgetting what is behind".  How often does "what is behind" call our name for a myriad of reasons- to keep us discouraged, to make us fear repeated failure, to plant seeds of doubt, or to summon up a really bad past that we're trying to get away from to make something of ourselves.   The good news is we're supposed to forget it, not consider it, pretend it never happened.

The part I like most, though, is how Paul is moving ahead.   See it?  Straining.  Not sailing.  Not skating.  Not soaring.  Nope- straining.  I don't know about you, but that gives me hope.  It tells me that it's not easy to move ahead sometimes.  Reaching goals can be difficult and hard work.   Any time I have to strain, I'm not picturing a walk in the park (and what I am picturing I shall not discuss here).

I believe a twin to the straining is the second term he uses about getting where he wants to be - "I press on".  Pressing on implies that it's tough; we'd rather quit but we set our resolve and steel our minds to get to where we set out to go.  Now when someone sits a bowl of M&M's in front of me, I don't exactly have to press on to take handful after handful and consume them. Getting to the bottom of the bowl is a goal that's easily achievable by yours truly.  But how about getting a bachelor's degree?  Pounding the pavement to get a new job after losing your old one? Or maybe simply sticking with healthy lifestyle changes that seemed exciting in the beginning but don't appeal as much anymore?  Ah, those are times where we have to Press On.

I am reading a terrific book by Jim Wideman called, "Beat the Clock: Successful Strategies for Effective Time Management".  I highly recommend it - there is great applicable stuff between the covers.  And on page 27, guess who he quotes?  Paul with his goal verse, followed by Jim's own take on the matter -  "I like to say it this way; if you aim at nothing, you hit it every time."

So far, it being February, I'm pleased with how my goal setting and achieving is going.  For many years, I aimed at nothing, and Jim's correct- I hit it every time.  This year finds me getting things accomplished and knowing where I'm going.  I would be foolish not to recognize that at any time life could throw me a curve ball, putting it all on hold while something larger than myself gained all my attention for a season.  But as of right now, I'm able to take it one day at a time and work on forgetting what is behind, straining toward what is ahead, and pressing on.

What are you aiming for?  Are you hitting it? Leave me a comment; let me know.

A Little Off Course

After writing my last blog post, I had a most strange emotional experience.   While I initially felt an incredible sense of freedom that I had fairly announced to the myself and the world (lol) that I was going to write simply for writing's sake and that kept me floating for a day, yesterday I experienced a new low- something that was akin to the death of a dream.  There are many things going on in my family's life right now, so emotions are running a bit high and close to the surface as it is, but all of a sudden without the distinct direction of a picture book goal to work towards, I felt a little lost, like my ship had gone off course just a tad and now I'm trying to get it back to where it belongs in order to sail full steam head.  I'll get there; and I believe what I'm feeling is a necessary part of the journey.

Like a lighthouse guiding me around the rough edges of this voyage, this post from http://wannabepublished.blogspot.com/ spoke mightily to me today. I thought it might also reverberate with anyone who writes or simply endeavors to break out into something that they know they have a heartbeat and a passion for.  Words of wisdom - enjoy.
For those of you discouraged about the writing journey, I hope my story helps a little. Or at least gives you an idea of how important tenacity is in the writing journey.

I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book called Outliers about the irony of genius. Most of those highly proficient in a career or endeavor spent 10,000 hours before they “broke out.” As I thought about my writing career, it all suddenly made sense. I spent the decade of the 90s (plus two more years) writing in obscurity, hour upon hour until I’m sure I surpassed the 10,000 hour mark. After that decade, I attended Mount Hermon with a novel in hand, landed an agent, and sold two books in that first year. Folks often want to hear that part of the story, but it’s hard for them to hear about all the underlying work that went into that dramatic year.

I don’t at all see those 10,000 hours as wasted time. It’s what I needed to apprentice myself to the writing craft. I found my voice. I learned to write fast. I exceeded deadlines. I curried discipline. All those traits serve me well now.

So now I’m in my twentieth year of this journey. I’m not a bestselling author. I’ve achieved some critical success, but I’m not fully making a living at it. I see this last decade as a building one. Recently the Lord showed me something profound while I gardened in my small vegetable patch (readying it for winter). My garden is small, though I long for a larger one someday. The Lord said, “I gave you a small plot so you’d learn to bloom there. If I gave you a field, you’d have been overwhelmed.” True, true, true. Had I been granted instant success, it would’ve been like trying to garden on ten acres when I hadn’t mastered a 3x30 plot. All these ten years have been training ground for me to learn everything belongs to Jesus. Had I become successful out of the gate, I shudder to think of the Me Monster I might’ve become. I’m at that place where I’m keenly aware that everything is a gift. Success. Rejection. Waiting. Accolades. It’s all from His hand. And it’s not about me.

I’ve had an inkling that my next book could be the breakout one. But I’m also grounded enough to know that it could flop around like a dying fish. It’s okay. God, through ten years of 10,000 words and ten years of small plot gardening, has taught me the beauty of His sovereignty in it all.

So if you’re on your journey discouraged that publishing isn’t happening fast enough, that you’re “good enough” to be published but aren’t getting nibbles, stop and wait and consider.

Have you put in your hours?

How’s your small garden plot? Any weeds?

Have you rested in the fact that God has us all on vastly different journeys, and that yours will differ from everyone else’s?

Are you learning contentment, tenacity, patience?

Are you better craftwise than you were last year at this time?

Have you passed on what you've learned to others, being generous in what others have taught you?

Just some thoughts to consider as you journey forward.