Monday, July 30, 2012

More on time: the writer, the hitchhiker, and the wise woman in Rhode Island

When you put your eye on something and get intentional about looking at it— like staring deep into a flower and seeing pollen grains on the stamens and tiny etchings inside the petals—you start noticing the object of your attention everywhere.

This week the object of my attention was time.  I publicly declared in my last post that I was going to give my time to the Lord and not strive when the “man makes the plan” part morphed into “but the Lord directs the steps.”

It’s not so easy.

I daresay a majority of successful writers advise writing every day. I have no small children, no outside job, no urgent situation clawing at my sleeves. Still, days go by when I’ve been so busy my butt hasn’t hit a chair cushion and I haven’t written a word. Then I get anxious, and the self-defeating recording clicks on: “You’re really not a writer—you just got lucky with one book.”

I beat that one down with the vigor of a kid at a bonk-the-gopher game. But soon the anxiety of time gone by with nothing tangible to show for it competes with my fifteen minutes of cardio for a sweat breakout.

Today I planned a writing schedule that would make Stephen King proud: morning devos, gym, write. After morning time with the Lord, I went to the gym with my daughter. She actually likes going there.  I go to get the health meter stable. Being finished long before she, I looked forward to hurrying home and getting to my desk.

The look in her eyes compelled me to linger. Some overly contoured guy trailing her made her feel uncomfortable. Her eyes pleaded mom’s presence.

I stayed pasted in the hip adductor chair and squeezed twelve more times. My write time now bumped to after the other morning have-to’s.

The day before, my husband and I were headed to a shooting range for some target practice after which I had a few things planned like hand chop the jungle encroaching my fence, vacuum the pool, and do SOMETHING with the interminable pile of clothes that used to be put away.

While we gassed up at a quik stop, a young man approached us and said he was trying to get to a neighboring town (which just so happened to be near the one we were headed to). Seeing no weapon in  his T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, my husband told him to get in.

I was concerned about the detour this would put in the time of our shooting appointment, but my husband’s quick question to the kid’s rambling thoughts stopped me short.

“Do you know the Lord?”

“Yes,” he said. Further probing revealed a mind confused, a young man grasping for something to reclaim himself from jail and drugs. We talked for the thirty minutes it took to get to the place a friend was holding his “things” while he got his life back together. (I want to talk more about his questions next post, for now, sticking to the time theme.).

I don’t know the impact of our “time” diversion in this man’s life, but that’s God’s business. We (thanks to the hubby) let go of our schedule and route to pursue what smacked of God.

And then to top off the “time” thoughts in my mind, one friend, Lori Roeleveld, a wise woman in Rhode Island, expanded this theme of God’s time in a provoking post (she always has provoking posts!) Please 
stop by Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island and be refreshed. She elucidates the issue well and concludes the gist of the post.

P.S. Because Thomas Nelson has just released my book, several writer friends have worked it into their own blogs in support of me. I appreciate the time it took for them to do so.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Time, My Turf, My Toy

Six-pound visiting boy puppy has no self-esteem issues. He likes to stir up quiet. Get things going. He reflects his name—Capone. No matter how vigorously resident girl dog growls and tussles, or how silently anyone tries to ignore boy puppy, he’ll persevere in finding fun.

Girl dog will tolerate a lot. She’ll share her bones and her water dish, even her de-stuffed favorite kiwi toy. But she draws the line when it comes to sharing us. When she’s sitting on the footrest of the man’s recliner, she does not, will not, share the space with anyone except the man. Fortunately, boy puppy can’t jump that high so he just dances around the perimeter and ignores her growls.

Refereeing their turf wars made me reflect on my own yard-dog tendencies. I’ll share my home and my stuff (well, kind of touchy about my computer) and even my money. But I draw the line, get downright growly about my sharing my time.

I can make a good case for myself in defense of this. After all, there are tons of books written about drawing boundaries, saying no, and managing every twenty minutes of your day. But after finding myself in the same scenario three times this week and having the same nasty reaction, I suspected that no matter how much I tried to justify myself the Lord was making a point.

Although Jesus knew when he needed time out with his Father, he let people interrupt whatever he was doing. After all, that’s what he was about—healing the sick and proclaiming the gospel.  

In the course of a typical afternoon, while talking to John’s disciples about fasting Jesus was interrupted by a synagogue official who begged him to go to his home and lay hands on his sick daughter. Along the way, a woman cut through his entourage and clutched the hem of his garment. (I might have gotten a bit testy right about now) but Jesus stopped to speak to her when he felt power going from himself and made her well.

He then continued on the way of his original destination and healed the official’s daughter. Maybe he would have liked to call it a day, but some blind men followed and begged him for their own healing. Jesus took the interruption in stride, paused to hear their request, and then healed them.

What I’m seeing is that Jesus let himself be interrupted by others’ concerns, because he was always about his Father’s business. Now for those of us with task-oriented personalities, this is a crown to win. I don’t know what obstacle the people-oriented folk have to overcome, but sitting still through conversations that go way off track, or meetings that digress into personal needs, makes my legs restless.

“I have more THINGS to do than sit here,” the railing voice inside my head that I’m sure everyone hears, is yelling.


“Abide in Me,” Jesus says.

I’m thinking about that this week—giving my time to the Lord. Making my plans but being open about the interruptions, especially the ones that take me out of my comfort zone and require I hunker down and just be instead of do.

If I really abide in him, will he not make even the things I have to do be done more efficiently? Maybe even like the moment when the disciples received him into their boat and “immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.”—John 6:21

What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Steadfast in those in between places

Google images-Jasper Johal

 Many of us have no problem believing God was or even that he is to come. It’s the middle part that gives us trouble. The part in between where we have to remain steadfast, unwavering with faces fixed firmly on the promise his presence. The persevering immoveable part.

I love how Oswald Chambers explains perseverance: “Perseverance is more than endurance. [It is] more than hanging on . . . . Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe our hero is going to be conquered.”

Chambers says that “one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God” –as anyone who’s tried to sell a house or land a job or see a breakthrough in a difficult situation knows.

Recently I received two pieces of correspondence from people that most writers aspire to hear from—publishers and agents. The agent was responding to a query I had sent her one-and-a-half years ago. She said although my story sounded remarkable, memoirs were a hard sell, especially for first-time authors, so best wishes in finding someone else to represent me.

Within a day of receiving this belated response from the agent, I received the first copy of that same difficult-to-sell “memoir” which will be released in a few weeks by Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest Christian publisher. I cried when I read the enclosed personal note telling me they were honored to be my publisher.

Two notices. One rejecting a dream, the other celebrating its fulfillment.

As I held the two messages, I thought about how I felt when I had queried the agent that year past. I was full of hope and expectation and possibility. Although disappointed my query garnered no response, I pursued other opportunities, certain within my being that God had a way.

How thankful I am for the sense of steadfastness, for the conviction that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, for the confidence that although the conventions of worldly wisdom would dismiss my work as being unsellable, God’s purposes would prevail.

James tells us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. If you are experiencing a difficulty, I pray that you would not waver in the time between what was and what is to come. And may your perseverance not be of fierce hanging on because you don’t dare let go, but of joyful confidence that indeed your hero is not defeated, that although you can’t see him in this present trial, HE IS.

Lord, today, regardless of what we see, I join my heart with my friends stopping here today and proclaim My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. Ps 108:1

Monday, July 2, 2012


The scenery passing by the car window, the words in the book I was reading aloud to my husband as he drove, and the news flash on the radio all converged in a maelstrom of conflict. Beauty and chaos. Defiant power and judgment.  Israel. America.

Merciful God.

We were driving from South Carolina to Vermont. I had brought along the book The Harbinger by Joseph Cahn, to help pass some of the seventeen hours in the car. Although impatient with the author’s repetitive narration, I was fascinated with the case he made for the warning of judgment on America. The chilling connection between the words of Isaiah 9:10 and the events of 9/11 were difficult to dismiss.

Linking bricks, hewn stone, sycamore trees and cypresses to Ground Zero and America’s foundations, Cahn couches the voice of a prophet in the form of a fictional narrative.

What if it’s true? What if God is really begging us to turn back NOW?

As Cahn asserts, we have lost sight of where our favor comes from. A people so deceived we don’t even recognize that the very words proclaimed from the nation’s capital as a show of our country’s strength are actually God’s words of judgment against Israel and possibly America’s defiance.

Superimposed on the scene in the car was the one outside. The rolling hills and white-fence horse pastures of the Virginia countryside, all topped with sunshine and fluffy clouds, showcased a land blessed with peace and beauty and favor. It was difficult to imagine it otherwise.

I took a break from reading and turned on the radio just in time to hear the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare.  As upset as I was with Justice Roberts, I had to agree with his statement: “It’s not our job to protect the people from their political choices.”

No. We will all reap the consequences individually and collectively of our choices.

 Our choice to hand over our lives to the government control.

Our choice to remove all vestiges of God from public places.

Our choice of whether or not to “humble ourselves and pray, and turn from our wicked ways so that God would hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land.’—2 Chronicles 7:14

We passed a lone billboard on the edge of a field. Its message simple: “You will meet God.”

One way or another, regardless of which choice we make.

I powered down my Nook and shut off the radio. What did these past moments of sobering reflection mean to me? 

As a child of God, I have been given the responsibility to be a bearer of truth, but so often have remained silent in the noise of the mockers, cowered in fear of loss of favor.

 God has equipped me, as well as all his children, to proclaim his glory, why should I fear?

We may live in times of encroaching darkness, but “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”—John 1:5 

May those of us who walk with God, rouse ourselves, shake off our lethargy, and take up our appointed positions in such a time as this.