Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas Prayer

I have a confession.

Sometimes, I read a book so fast the first time through, that as soon as I’m done, I need to re-read it.


Because I have the patience of a gnat? Possibly.

Mainly because I am so engrossed in the story, so engaged by the characters, so entranced by the plot . . . that I HAVE to know how it ends. As soon as possible.

I have never read the last page first. That’s cheating.

But speed-reading is perfectly acceptable.

And I can read fast. Very fast.

So I zip through the book, heart racing, chewing off one nail at a time, barely stopping for food, until, at last, I reach the end and all my questions have been answered.

Or have they?

Because often, in my rush, I miss stuff.

Which is why I have to go back and re-read at a slower pace. I savor each word and examine each plotline and I enjoy the journey.

Because I know how it ends.

I think sometimes I live my life this way. I can’t enjoy the moment because I’m trying to figure out how it’s all going to work out. How it’s going to end.

I can’t relax into motherhood because I’m thinking five, ten, twenty years ahead. I can’t enjoy the writing process because I’m wondering about publication. I can’t enjoy the Season because I have so much to do by Saturday!

All that, combined with my own pregnancy, has had me thinking a lot about Mary.

She knew, far better than we, the consequences of accepting God’s will for her life. When the angel said “You’ll conceive and bear a son” she knew the gossip, the looks, the potential stoning, that would follow.

But beyond that, she didn’t have a clue. She didn’t know she’d watch Him grow and then someday watch Him die.

Her response to the angel?

Be it unto me, according to thy word.

My guess is that this response is the reason Mary was chosen.

And it does make me wonder.

How many things do I miss out on because I don’t respond the same way?

I analyze . . . ok . . . over-analyze. I think . . . ok . . . over-think.

But how often do I accept?

Not often enough.

My Christmas prayer this year?

That I can say “Be it unto me, according to Thy word.”

And mean it.

Image courtesy of

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Best Story Ever

My son is two and he loves to help me around the house. But the reality is that when James helps—whether it’s with the dishes or the laundry or the vacuuming—it takes me at least twice as long and often creates more of a mess than we started with.

So, why do I do it? Why bother?

I was thinking about this while I mopped up several huge puddles of water in the kitchen floor that were the direct result of my little man's "assistance" and I remembered a quote I heard a while back at church.

“God doesn’t need you. But he chooses to use you.”

I’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.

So, why does He do it? Why bother?

He doesn’t need me to write a book or a devotion. He doesn’t need me to teach a Sunday school class or minister to a friend or pray for a hurting child.

He’s God. He spoke the universe into existence. So why would God, in His omnipotence, bother using humans to accomplish His will?

We quit. We get bored. We wander off to play with our toys and forget we said we’d help.

Or, even worse, we think we’re actually responsible. We shove Him away and don’t ask for His help. We wind up exhausted, leaving a lot of broken glass and stained clothing in our wake. And only then do we look to Him to clean up the mess.

But He continues to choose us.


Beats me.

We know that His ways are above our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9), but we still want Him to make sense.

But let’s face it.

His track record indicates that not making sense (to us) is the way He operates.

Think about it. He chose to redeem the world—wait for it—by becoming a baby.

A baby?

I have a fantastic imagination, and never in a zillion years would I have written the redemption story the way God did.
  1. Become a baby.
  2. Live a perfect human life.
  3. Let the humans I created kill me.
  4. Rise from the dead.
Really? That was the plan?

I'm thinking He could have come up with one that was a bit more straightforward and involved a LOT less pain and suffering on His part. But He didn't. He chose this way. And we'll need all of eternity to grasp the reasons why.

With that in mind, why on earth do I expect Him to write my part of His story in a logical, formulaic, predictable way?

Today, my story has several subplots that make no sense. To me.

If left up to me, I would write them differently - a lot more straightforward and definitely with a lot less pain involved.

But I’m thankful it’s not up to me.

Because God writes the best stories.

Isaiah 9:6 - For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (ESV)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writing Will Mess with your Dreams

I've had some of the most vivid and disturbing dreams of my life in the past few months. And I know what the problem is.

I take a shower before I go to bed.

Did I lose you?

Maybe I should explain.

I get some of my best ideas in the shower.

I'm trying to scrub the germs that are the hallmark of motherhood from my body. Trying to let the tensions and frustrations of the day disappear down the drain.

When it hits.

A scene, often with complete dialogue, starts flooding my mind. And every now and then, it's perfect. I've been known to hop out of the shower after one of these glorious moments and spend another hour at the computer. I also have a waterproof notepad in my shower, so when the perfect sentence or phrase or metaphor strikes, I can write it down without bothering to dry off.

You think I'm joking.

I'm not.

Anyway . . .

All the writing of the past month has led to dreams too bizarre for words. Dreams I can't get a handle on the next morning, but that leave me groggy and dazed as I drag myself from my bed, wondering why my brain can't just work on this stuff during the daytime.

Recent dreams have included Frodo Baggins, Angela Hunt, DiAnn Mills and Aslan.

You think I'm joking.

I'm not.

Most of my dreams are weird, but sometimes, the dream hits a little too close to home.

Many of you have asked if I've heard anything about the Operation First Novel contest, and as of this writing, I haven't.

But boy did I ever dream about it. I was outside in a line of people. We stood like pageant contestants and I realized that not only had I not made the top five, or the top ten, but I hadn't made the top twenty-five. Or the top fifty. Out of 140 entrants, I hadn't been in the top 50%.

And I was crushed.

Even though I knew it was only a dream and that the people at the Christian Writers Guild are far too polite to embarrass those of us whose writing still isn't up to par, I felt humiliated.

It bothered me all day. Bothered me for the better part of a week. Especially when I read a blog post where the first reader for the contest said that the margins were supposed to be 1.25" all around.

Mine were 1".

The horror!

When I told my husband about it, he looked at me for a half second and then, without mocking or cracking up at my lunacy, he said something I already knew, but had in the midst of dreams and despair, forgotten.

"Do you really think a 1/4" margin discrepancy could prevent you from winning a contest if God wanted you to win?"


He's right a lot. It really irks me when he's right.

(I hope he doesn't read this - he'll be impossible to live with.)

Besides, I'm not supposed to care if I win a contest or publish a novel.

That's not why I write.

But sometimes, in the midst of contests and revisions, it's easy to start thinking that if you don't win, then you haven't succeeded. If you don't get published, then you've been wasting time.

I wonder if my Abba shakes His head in exasperation as I mope around, feeling like a failure, when what He sees when He looks at me is someone who gave her best.

I wonder if He wishes I would remember something I forget far too easily . . . that He gave me the dream in the first place.

And He is more than capable of seeing it fulfilled. In His time. In His way.

images courtesy of

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Review: The Master's Wall

I love historical fiction. I particularly love historicals set during and shortly after the time of Christ, when the church was young and the oppression of the Roman empire intense.

The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog takes a unique approach to the genre. The main characters are children as the book opens, and we experience the tragedies that impact who they are and who they will become.

I was drawn in, wondering if David, the young Hebrew boy enslaved after his parents died for Christ, would continue to follow a God who didn't protect his family. How would the faith his parents had instilled in his heart grow in a pagan environment?

And would Alethea ever come to know the God her father worshipped, even when it cost him his life? Especially when the man who sentenced her father to die is her grandfather and David's new master.

The characters are flawed in a way that had me alternately rooting for them and frustrated by them.

The descriptions of life for the slaves, women, children and masters in the Roman Empire were detailed enough to bring the story to life without bogging down the plot.

The plot twists left me turning pages, stomach clenched with anticipation, wondering what would happen next and hopeful that things would eventually work out in the end.

The ending both satisfied and left me wanting more.


The Master's Wall is Sandi Rog's debut novel. For obvious reasons, I have a strong desire to support new novelists! But in this case, there's an additional reason.

The day the book released, Sandi was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. Sandi lives in Colorado with her husband and four young children. The mother and novelist in me has been crying out to God to spare Sandi and I'm thrilled to be able to say that her doctors are optimistic. You can read more of the details of Sandi's illness here. Her publisher has stated than an additional $1 from each book sold will go directly to Sandi to assist her during this time. I would encourage you to buy a copy of The Master's Wall, read it, and pray for Sandi and her family as she faces the intense days of treatment ahead.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Interview with My Internal Editor

As you may know, my internal editor and I got quite chummy a few months ago as I edited every single word of my first manuscript. However, during NaNo . . . well, I had to tell her to hush. Quite a bit.

I was feeling guilty, so I tried to have a little chat with her earlier this week.

Come visit me over at the The Write Conversation to eavesdrop on our pleasant, enjoyable, interesting conversation!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - We have a Winner!

A few of you have asked what it means to be a "winner" - well, for NaNoWriMo, all it means is you finished 50,000 words in 30 days. There's no judging. No prizes. No limit on the number of winners.

But it's still nice to win!

I finished my 50K on Sunday the 28th with two days to spare and several hundred words over the minimum.

I thought I'd share with you what I got out of the past 28 days.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first.
  • I've been a deficient friend for the past month. I admit to screening phone calls. Especially if they came right as I sat down to write. So, um, sorry about that.
  • I've been a deficient housekeeper. So, nothing new there.
  • I've been a deficient homemaker. So, there's been more takeout than usual. And quite a few things are in piles "to do" in December. I managed to double book myself at two doctors because I haven't bothered to write things down on my calendar. And let's not discuss the laundry situation, shall we?
  • And the writing . . . well, let's just say I don't want anyone to read what I've written. It's sloppy. It's full of lazy metaphors and overdone explanations. It's also full of holes - plot holes, timeline holes and character holes. There's a good chance that it wouldn't make sense to anyone but me at this stage. Not to mention that while I've written 50K+ words this month, I didn't finish my novel. Not even close. Best guess, I'm about half-way there.
So, with all that out of the way, on to the good stuff.
  • I wrote 50K+ words in 28 days!!! I can hardly believe it. I wasn't sure it was possible. But it is.
  • I still prefer to write in long, uninterrupted stretches, but if I can't get them, it's amazing what I can accomplish in fifteen minutes.
  • I have a novel-in-progress! Before November 1st, I had an idea of where the story was going. Now, I have the makings of a real plot. Complete with drama, catastrophe and even - gasp! - death.
  • I learned to block out my internal editor for most things. I still can't stand to leave misspelled words in the manuscript. And I did re-write the occasional sentence. But I tried to keep the focus on getting the story out, not in perfecting it.
  • I learned I'm a "take-outer" rather than a "put-inner" and I'm OK with that. I'll cut at least 15-20% of this stuff. But that doesn't mean it was wasted effort. Even a scene that doesn't survive helps me flesh out the characters and their relationships.
  • As a winner, I'll be able to purchase the Scrivener for PC program (a really cool writing program) when it comes out next year for half-price. Given that it will probably sell for $40, this equates to a $20 savings which means I made $0.0004 a word. Hmm...on second thought, maybe this should be in the "bad" list. :-)
  • In 28 days, I only had 3 days where I didn't write a word. Most days I wrote over 1000 words, which, in writing circles, seems to be a bit of a magic number and one that used to seem out of reach to me.
  • Even though I met my word count goal on Sunday, I don't feel any inclination to stop working on the novel. If anything, I feel energized to press on.
So, thanks to all of you - for your support, words of encouragement, babysitting, and for, even though you may think I'm insane, cheering me on as I bounce around the loony bin!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paper, Diets and Other NaNoWriMo Hazards

I have a paper cut.

It’s on the tip of my right index finger. Every time I type, pain shoots through my fingertip and hand.

I press on because I’m tough.

But it made me think of things we should avoid during NaNoWriMo. I’m not talking about the usual stuff writers give up—sleep, TV, video games, free time, reading for pleasure, hobbies, etc.

I’m talking about hazardous things. Such as . . .

Paper—Obviously. Paper cuts will make you miserable. Trust me.

Hot objects—Including but not limited to ovens and irons. Have you ever suffered a burn on your fingers? I have. It’s worse than a paper cut. Save yourself a great deal of pain and time. Order takeout. It’s for your own safety.

Sharp objects—Knives and scissors are taboo.

Laundry—Why risk it? I know the clothes are soft and should be harmless, but save your hand strength for typing your manuscript.

Small children—Admittedly, this is not always possible. But in the past week and a half, my children have sat and stepped on my hands more times than I can count. And, they seem to enjoy being fed, repeatedly subjecting my fragile fingers to all manner of hot and sharp objects. They request pizza, hotdogs and pancakes. It’s a miracle I’ve survived unscathed.

Sports—Volleyball anyone? I think not.

Card games—Cards are made of? That’s right—paper! And, most games require that you hold the cards in an unnatural position, causing unnecessary hand strain. If you happen to be playing Old Maid or Go Fish, then you are consorting with small children while handling paper. Madness!

Power tools—Do I need to explain this?

Of course, there are other things that can mess with your writing rhythm.

Tight pants—Every writer should own at least one pair of “writing” pants. The kind of pants that you wouldn’t wear out in public, but that are soft, warm and have an elastic waist. Comfort is important. If you have a character who suddenly goes on a diet or starts complaining of abdominal pain—totally out of the blue—check your waistband.

Caffeine—Too much or too little can ruin your day. Too much and your hands shake and your mind wanders. Too little and you can't stay awake to write. It's a fine line. And maybe you should stick to soft drinks and frappucinos. If you want to live on the edge and go with the mochas or lattes, be sure you let them cool off.

Dieting—Your word count needs chocolate. And it’s tricky to diet while living on takeout. The diet can wait for December . . . or January . . . or whenever.

If you’re a NaNo participant this year, what else do you do to protect yourself from catastrophe? And if you aren’t a NaNo participant, feel free to make any recommendations you can think of.

My word count thanks you in advance!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Have I Lost My Mind?

Have you lost your mind?

These were the exact words my sister uttered when I announced my plans to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo.

She pointed out that I was busy.

She pointed out that I don't have time to do this.

She pointed out that my decision making skills might be questionable.

And then I told her what I was writing.

And she told me to carry on.

Hop on over to The Write Conversation to read why I'm doing this. And then you can decide for yourself if I've lost my mind.

Monday, November 1, 2010

She Can Be Taught . . . Maybe

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that September was a roller coaster for me. Lots of writing and editing, interspersed with ridiculous amounts of drama.

But, I'm learning.


November is National Novel Writing Month. And the goal of NaNoWriMo is to encourage authors to finally write that novel.

The goal? 50,000 words in 30 days.

Not unattainable if, say, you don't have children, or a spouse, or a full time job that doesn't involve writing novels. Otherwise, 50,000 words in 30 days is a challenge.

My life is a bit nuts right now.

Nuts enough to totally justify skipping this year's NaNoWriMo. But I have reasons for participating. And I'll be sharing different ones with you in the days ahead.

It occurred to me this morning that November will be another opportunity - a 30 day opportunity - to focus on spending my time the way God wants me to spend it. My writing frequently takes a back seat to my life, and NaNo is a great way to bring it to the forefront.

But my life is important. The little life growing inside me is vitally important.

And no novel, not even the sequel the 15 or so people who've read my first novel have been clamoring for, is more important than spending my time in the center of God's will.

So I'm diving in. Taking the challenge. But I'm not too hung up on completing the 50,000 words by November 30th. I want to. I'm going to give it my best. But if God sends me a new challenge, a new opportunity, a new twist on my already twisting road, I won't be viewing it as a detour to my plans.

At least . . . I'll try not to.

I'll follow the path He's laying out for me. And just like a good book, eagerly turn the pages to see what happens next.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Want More

There are a couple of things I really want.

I'm not talking about the way I really want a mocha, or a slice of pizza, or to weigh less. Although, let's face it, the mocha and pizza aren't helping the weight issue at all. Neither is my Oreo addiction. But I digress.

I'm talking about big wants. Life-changing wants. The kinds of things that would impact me and my family for years.

And I want them bad.

Sometimes I shy away from admitting I want things. Even when what I want is good and God-honoring, I still have the notion that the "wanting" is wrong.

But I don't believe the wanting is where I stumble.

God created us to have dreams and desires. They are not inherently evil. They are, however, frequently misappropriated.

I stumble when my dreams become demands or when what I want becomes what I must have to be happy.

While I haven't always been able to say this, at this time in my life I can honestly say that while I do want some big things, there is one thing I want more. So much more that it trumps all my other dreams and longings.

I want Him more.

I only want what God wants me to have. And I don't want anything enough to step out of God's will to have it.

Will I be disappointed if what I want doesn't happen? Yes.

Will I be disappointed in God if what I want doesn't happen? No.

I want Him more.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:4-5 (ESV)

image courtesy of

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Directionally Challenged

I like detailed directions.

Extremely detailed.

If you ever need directions to my house, I don’t just say turn left on this street and right on that one. Oh no. I include important information such as “Approximately 8/10 of a mile after you turn left you’ll come to a curve that makes you feel like you should put your turn signal on. The curve is 1/10 of a mile from your next right turn.”

People love my directions.

Okay. Actually, they laugh hysterically when the read them, but the reality is, if I give you directions, you are not going to get lost. At least, not if you follow them.

This need for detailed direction is probably why I struggle with Psalm 119:105.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

I learned the verse as a child and my mental picture involved an enormous spotlight shining its powerful beam a good 100 yards down the path.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here. Oil lamps don’t give off that much light. We’re talking about just enough light to avoid stubbing your toe on a root or slamming into a boulder.

And this frustrates me.

After all, God is quite capable of giving detailed directions.

Have you seen the book of Leviticus? I mean honestly. Talk about details. (I like to think I get my detail issues from the Almighty—it’s nicer than admitting to being a bit OCD).

And talk about lighting a path. This is the God of the Shekinah glory cloud and the pillar of fire. God knows how to light up a path when He wants to.

And yet . . .

He seems to prefer to give me just enough information to take the next step.

No more. No less.

You can’t race along a path with that little bit of light. Each step must be measured. Each foot placement considered. You have to be on your guard at all times. And you have to have faith that the destination is worth the harrowing journey.

Of course, my faith is what’s at issue.

I have to trust that the One who lights my path, knows my path.

So I continue to step out, never knowing what’s next, but knowing He does.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010


image courtesy of
Several weeks ago, when everything seemed to be falling apart, I was sitting at my desk praying. And I felt strongly that I needed to read Psalm 119. I can’t say that kind of thing happens to me all the time. But it did this time.

Psalm 119, for those who may not be familiar with it, is very long.

I read but nothing “grabbed” me. I continued reading, feeling dutiful. Until verse 76 popped me between the eyes.

Psalm 119:76 – Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. (ESV)

Now, if that verse didn’t give you chills, I can understand. It seems like a verse I would normally have read and just kept on going.

But when I read it on this particular afternoon, my mind immediately went to a verse I have quoted over and over since my writing life began.

Psalm 138:8 – The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (ESV)

I sat at my desk stunned.

And comforted.

Nothing had changed. My circumstances remained chaotic. My plans lay in ruins. But my heart felt secure.

So, as the rest of the month disintegrated around me, I thought God had shown me that He had other plans. And I was okay with that.

But regardless of whether the manuscript was going to be submitted for the contest or not, the revision still had to be completed before I could do anything else. So I pressed on.

When I had the “opportunity” to spend the day in bed last Sunday (as in, the nurse said stay in bed all day), I wrote. All day.

And as of today, the re-write is done. By done, I mean, done for now. We all know nothing is ever truly done. But, the manuscript is finally in a place where I can submit it to the agents who requested it at Blue Ridge.

I sent my contest entry off an hour ago.

I’m under no delusions. I don’t think I’m going to win the contest. I don’t think I’ll even place. And that’s not put-on false hypocrisy. That’s a writer’s reality. I’ll probably need to write for quite a few more years, churn out several more books, attend quite a few more conferences and learn more than I ever imagined existed about the craft of writing, before I’ll finally produce a manuscript that is publishable.

But finishing in time to submit to Operation First Novel was important to me. And sometimes God, in his steadfast love, reminds us that He knows where we are. That He knows what is important to us. That He gives us our dreams. That He keeps His promises.

There is no logical explanation for the fact that I finished today, just a few hours before the deadline. If September had been “normal” I might have thought I had done this in my own power.

As it is, there is only one thing I can say.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21 KJV)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


image courtesy of

My blog has been fairly serious over the past few weeks.

My life has, too.

But I can’t be serious all the time and as my month long revision process winds down, I’ve been thinking of all the things I’ve given up in order to focus so totally on my manuscript.

Here are a few, in no particular order.

Watching TV. I don’t watch a lot of shows, but most of the ones I do watch have been on hiatus for the summer. And all had season premieres in the past week. I did not watch. I sat downstairs and typed away while my husband watched all of them, laughing so hard I could hear him through two closed doors.

(Exception – NCIS. I’m a girl with priorities. Plus, I write romantic suspense. I consider it “research” and watch guilt-free.)

Doing laundry. Not really much of a sacrifice. I’ll pay for it later, but for now . . .

Reading. This one is a sacrifice. I haven’t read any fiction in a month. That might be a record for me. The reason is simple self-preservation. As soon as I pick up Steven James’ The Bishop, I’m toast. It will be a planned “mommy outage” – nothing will get done. Possibly even less than is getting done now. When this revision is over, I’m going to curl up with that book and read it, probably within 48-hours. I’ll then spend the next several weeks jumping at the slightest sound in the middle of the night. But it will be worth it.

Knitting. I love to knit. It’s relaxing. Except for when you drop a stitch and have to spend several hours trying to salvage the week’s worth of work you’ve done. I realize it doesn’t sound all that appealing, but it is. At this point, I’d be happy to knit a dishcloth. But I won’t. I won’t. Not until I’m done.

Eating. Um. No. Not really. Which is a shame.

Tweeting. I haven’t gotten into Twitter yet, but I’ve been convinced I need to give it a go. But not yet.

Sleeping. In the past week, I’ve dreamed that James Scott Bell left a message on my Facebook wall telling me I hadn’t put enough tension in my plot. (No. We’ve never met.) Two nights later, as I struggled to come up with the perfect “climactic” scene, I dreamed one. It was horrible. And off-beat. And as my characters raced away from the scene of the carnage, there was none other than Steven James himself (who I have met), herding two small goats away from the flames. Side note: there are NO goats in my story.

When this is over, I’m thinking about sending my kids to my parents for the weekend. (They don't know this . . . well, I guess they do now).

I’ll be sleeping late, tweeting in my pajamas, napping, reading The Bishop, watching all the shows stored on my DVR and knitting a dishcloth. Or maybe a baby sweater.

The laundry can wait.

I’m a girl with priorities.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lesson Lived

image courtesy of

Several months ago, I wrote a piece about the importance of being prepared to put into practice whatever you blog about. Probably within twenty-four hours of your post.

It happened again.

I think I might be afraid of my own blog.

If you didn't read last Friday's post, you'll need to or this won't make much sense. Here's the condensed version: September hasn't gone according to my plan so I'm giving up on the plan and taking life a day a time and leaning on God's perfect plan for my life.

Um, yeah.

I woke up at 5AM on Saturday morning, spent the next 4 hours in the ER and the next 3 days on the couch.

Several people who had read the blog on Friday commented on the irony. Believe me. As I was sitting in the ER, it occurred to me that maybe I should have waited one more day before telling the world (OK, the 30 or so people who read my blog) that I was confident that God's storyline for my life was better than anything I could come up with.

'Cause let me tell you, at 5AM on Saturday morning, I wasn't buying it.

It hasn't come up on Out of the Boat before now, but I am 16-weeks pregnant.

And when I woke up Saturday morning, I didn't think I was pregnant anymore.

There's nothing quite like that kind of terror to make you question whether or not God's storyline is all that great. I can't tell you what this post would be like, or how long it would have been before I managed to post anything, if Baby #3 wasn't alive, kicking, growing and causing me tremendous heartburn and occasional nausea.

Needless to say, the events of the weekend have stopped me in my tracks.

I've been told to take it easy. No heavy lifting, no housework, nothing but the bare minimum - for the rest of the week.

Since I've been laying on the couch instead of hunched over my computer, I've had a lot of time on my hands to think about things.

I wouldn't say I've learned my lesson, but goodness knows I've lived it.

When the waves got rough this weekend, I can't say I stayed on top of the water.

But I can say that I was never alone and that when the waves threatened to drag me under, He was there.

So, once again, I'm here to tell you that I have no plan. I'm taking it a day at a time. I'm trying not to worry about the little life growing inside me. I'm not going to worry about contests I won't be able to enter, or books that may take an extra few months to complete.

I'm trying not to fight the change in my plans.

Trying to look at the bright side.

And trying to live out what I believe.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil,to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.(ESV)

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Best Laid Plans

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Proverbs 19:21 - Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. (ESV)

In Mid-August, as the school year got under way and life started to take on something that bore a resemblance to a routine, my little brain went to work.

In order to submit my novel to the Operation First Novel contest sponsored by the Christian Writers Guild, I needed to devote all my free time, and some of my already committed time, to my manuscript.

I’m one of those Type-A, overachiever types and there’s nothing quite like setting a goal to help me rise to the challenge.

But I’m also a wife and mother. I have responsibilities other than writing. And devoting a significant portion of time to my manuscript wasn’t something to undertake without serious consideration. Because, again, as the overachieving type, once I committed, I planned to see it through.

No matter what.

So, I prayed. When I felt like it was the right thing to do, I sent out an email to a handful of friends and family, asking them to pray.

And I went to work.

The next day (I am NOT making this up) my mother-in-law broke her leg. And came to live on my couch for the next two weeks.

This was not part of my plan. Obviously, this was not part of her plan either.

I love my mother-in-law. She’s a trooper. She didn’t complain. She was less whiny than some men I know (who will remain nameless) when they have a sinus infection. And, at one point, she was wheeling around in her wheelchair as she mopped my floors (can't make that up either). She did her very best to be as helpful as possible, because, after all, she was in on the plan.

(She might not have been aware of the part of "my plan" that had included her taking my son for some quality "grandma & me" time every so often during the month of September. Which, as she can't put any weight on her leg for at least a few more weeks, obviously won't be happening.)

And this wasn’t the only thing that went “wrong”. I won’t bore you with the details but, trust me when I say several things went "wrong" within a fairly short period of time.

I hit a wall.

Why was this happening? I had prayed about this. Other people were praying. This was the right thing to do.

My sweet husband tried to settle me down with the astute observation that I could just give up on my plan. (He’s a bit of a master at reverse psychology). I let him know that despite the fact that I was, at that moment, reduced to a sobbing puddle of misery, I had no intention of bailing on the plan.

Remember, overachiever here.

I sent an email to a friend and told her that God would either have to stop the sun—hey, He’s done it before—or give me supernatural strength because there was NO WAY I would be able to finish this revision in time unless He did it.

You can already see where I’m going with this, can’t you.

The next Sunday in church, one of our pastors made the comment that sometimes God lets us run out of gas so when we get where we’re going, we have no choice but to give Him the glory.

Now, you might be expecting me to tell you I finished the revision in record time—but I’m not done. I still have 102 pages to revise/edit/rewrite.

But, here’s what God’s been teaching me.

My plan for September was to finish the revision and submit the manuscript to the contest.

God’s plan for September was for me to lean on Him. All day. Every day.

Sadly, I’m a slow learner.

My mother-in-law went home on Saturday.

Sometime on Sunday, I might have started thinking about “my plan” again. Might have even written down a little schedule that would prove that it’s possible for me to finish in time.

The school called at 10:30 on Monday morning. Once again, my plan went down the drain as I rushed to the school, then the pediatrician and then brought both my munchkins home for the day.

Very little writing goes on when both the munchkins are at home.

We’ve been in the pediatrician’s office (or at his house – it’s very handy when your pediatrician is also a friend and you have his cell number) three out of five days this week.

I’m giving up on my plan.

I know. I should have done this three weeks ago.

The new plan?

I don’t have one.

I’m taking it a day at a time. I’m staying up late to write after the house is quiet. I’m being faithful to write when I have time during the day.

Mostly, I’m trying to remember that God’s storyline is always better than anything I can come up with.

And that no matter what I plan, His purposes will stand.

Psalm 138:8 – The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (ESV)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why am I doing this?

I’m currently in the midst of an intense revision of my manuscript.

It is NOT fun.

I have to force myself to do it. 

I keep finding excuses to do everything else.

Maybe I should whip up a blog post? Great!

Clean the bathrooms? Absolutely! (Um, not really, but sometimes the idea is appealing).

Revise? Blech.

Why? Well, revisions require concentration. They are somewhat devoid of the creative release that comes from writing the first draft. (Don't anyone yell at me. I didn't say they were devoid of creativity - just the easy flow of the creative process when it's all rushing out and you can't type fast enough. There's no "fast" typing in a revision.)

Plus, I'm a perfectionist, so the whole time I'm revising, I'm irked that I didn't do it "right" the first time. Never mind that I know I didn't know what I was doing the first time. Or that I know that no matter how  many times I look at this, I'll always find something to tweak.

Regardless, I stay perpetually annoyed with myself. Which is no fun for anyone.

There's no other way to put it.

Revisions are hard work.

One part of my revision process is to search out all the passive verbs in my manuscript and, in most cases, change them into active verbs.

I’ll give you an example (from the first paragraph of Chapter 11, in case you’re curious).

     His hands were shaking and his palms were sweaty.

(If grammar was a long time ago, or just not your thing, the passive verbs are “were shaking” and “were sweaty” - well, technically the passive verb is "were" and "shaking" and "sweaty" are adjectives, but you don't really care, do you?)

This sentence will now read (probably, unless I change it again):

     Todd's hand shook as he reached for a napkin to dry the sweat from his palms.

Now – honestly – did this change the sentence much?


Would I have noticed the passive verbs until I took Angela Hunt’s class at Blue Ridge, or until Edie Melson pointed out how many (57!) I had in Chapter 7 alone?

No. Not a chance.

So, what’s the big deal? Who cares?

Well, apparently, publishers care. Editors care. Agents care.

Passive verbs are just one of the hallmarks of amateurish writing. And eliminating them is a big step in moving your writing from “this person has no idea what they’re doing” status to “there might be hope for this author” status.

But there is another reason.

A far more important reason.

Because I do not write for an agent, an editor or a publisher.

I write for an audience of One.

And even if no one outside my closest circle of friends ever reads a word of this manuscript, it needs to be my best.

My very best.

He deserves nothing less.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got approximately 1500 passive verbs to eliminate.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Change? Me?

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I. Hate. Change.

Some weirdos people thrive on change.

I, however, am perfectly normal.

You can stop laughing.

OK. Now that you've got control of yourself, I’ll give you an example.

I recently changed from an mp3 player to an iTouch. This is a fabulous change.

But I’m still not used to it.

I’m trying to get all my music converted and my playlists onto my new toy. And despite the fact that I know I will love my iTouch (once I figure it all out), I’m wishing I could just snap my fingers and have everything on the iTouch the way it was on my old mp3 player.

Without having to change anything.

It doesn’t work that way.

It doesn’t work that way in the rest of my life either.

God asks me to change. Frequently.

Change opinions. Change dreams. Change direction.

While I don’t always see it this way, His changes are intended to lead me into something better. Something more. Something I wouldn’t have had without the change. And usually, something I’m going to love, once I figure it all out.

Thankfully, He rarely asks me to change instantaneously.

I’ve only recently come to realize this. But when I think back on the major changes in my life, I can see how God has allowed me to ease into them. They weren’t optional. But He did give me time to adjust to the new reality, time to figure out what my life would look like after the change. Before I had to dive into it.

I stumbled across a few verses in Psalms the other day. I’ve read them before but this time, they grabbed me.

And left me in awe.

Psalm 103: 13-14 – As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (ESV)

He knows my frame. He knows how I was formed.

And He knows I hate change.

So while He loves me too much to leave me unchanged, He also loves me too much to torture me with changes I’m not prepared to accept.

Change may not be your issue, but I would guess that you have one (or two). There’s something you struggle with. And I know if you spend some time thinking about it, you’ll see how God treats you gently in that area. You'll notice that He doesn’t let you use it as an excuse, but He doesn’t ride roughshod over your emotions and fears.

I can't even get my mind around the idea that the God of the Universe takes the time to treat me with such compassion.

There are big things for Him to deal with in the world. Stars to keep burning. Entire galaxies to keep spinning. Not to mention the other several billion people on the planet who need Him.

But He has compassion on me.

I'm left humbled. Thankful. Amazed.

And you know what my favorite part of all of this is?

Even though these verses were written several thousand years ago, we know they are still true today.

Because our God never changes!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Demon: A Memoir

Did the title of this post get your attention?

'Cause it sure got mine!

So, what on earth would make me pick up a book entitled Demon: A Memoir?

I have serious issues with all things horror. In particular, horror that in anyway involves the satanic realm.

But this book was the She Reads bookclub recommendation for August. She Reads is a group I discovered on Facebook a few weeks ago and it's a part of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I don't claim to know much about Proverbs 31 ministries, but the little I do know leads me to believe that they wouldn't recommend a book that was inappropriate.

However, I still wasn't sold. I looked up the reviews. And they were impressive. People talked about how they couldn't put it down. How they were moved by the book.

Moved? Really?

I debated for a few days and then took the plunge and ordered it (no, the library didn't have it). It took several days to arrive, during which time I wondered if I'd lost my mind and wasted $10. Well, actually $28 because I needed to spend over $25 to get the free shipping so I ordered a few more books. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this!)

Anyway, I didn't start reading it right away. I looked at it for a little while. Took it out of the box. Wondered, again, if it was worth reading or if I was getting ready to squander my precious reading time on something I wouldn't enjoy or benefit from in any way.

As it turns out, all I wasted was a lot of mental energy worrying over nothing.

I read Demon: A Memoir in less than 24 hours. I would have finished in less than 12, but life did its thing. And I had to sleep a little.

After, oh, three pages or so, I couldn't put it down.

Why? Well, I don't want to give it all away. But Demon: A Memoir is actually a love story.

No. Not that kind of love story.

The very best love story of all time. The one we live in everyday.

I finished it last week and I'm still thinking about it. Thinking about re-reading it actually.

Tosca Lee's writing was beautiful. I loved her descriptions of the fall of Lucifer, of creation, of the virgin birth and of the way God is involved in the details of our lives today. I even loved the way the book ended - and it wasn't what I was expecting.

When I turned the final page, I felt compelled to pray for the main character, even though I know he isn't real. Um . . . well . . . maybe that doesn't happen to you. And it's not often that it happens to me, but it did this time.

I also felt a renewed sense of awe and wonder that the Almighty God not only tolerates humanity, but He loves us, with a never-ending love. Loves us so much He sent His son to die for us. Loves us. Even though we so often throw that love back in His beautiful face.

That's not the way I usually feel when I finish a book.

Which is the very reason I wanted to share Demon: A Memoir with you.

Because I know many of us are always on the lookout for a writer we've never had the pleasure of experiencing before, I've decided to post an occasional "review" of a book that I've read. If you enjoyed this and would like to see more, please let me know in the comments.

Side note: My "reviews" will not be critiques. We've already covered how I feel about criticism and as such, I do not feel in anyway inclined to go around critiquing writers who have actually managed to get their books published! If I write a post about a book, it will be because the story captured me and I want to share it with you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What a Difference a Year Can Make

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I don't know the exact date.

I didn't mark it on my calendar.

I probably should have.

It was a pretty big deal.

Oh. Who am I kidding? It was huge. To me anyway.

A year ago this week, I sat down at my computer and emailed my sister the first chapter of my book. I asked her to read it and tell me if she'd like to read more.

Then I spent the next day trying not to vomit. (I'm not kidding).

I was terrified. I'd spent the past six months writing a book. And no one except my number one fan, my husband Brian, knew anything about it.

But Jennifer liked it. She wanted to know if I'd written any more. It took another couple of emails and another couple of chapters before I admitted that I'd actually written the whole thing.

She loved it. And insisted I send it to my parents.

Now, I'm 36 years old. Not 12. But my parent's opinion means a lot to me. To this day, disappointing them is one of my greatest fears.

So I sent them an email. I wish I still had it. I don't remember what I said. Something along the lines of "Uh, so, I wrote a book. Hope you like it."

They loved it.

Apparently, while the whole "writing thing" came as quite a shock to me, it didn't surprise them in the slightest. I'm not sure if this is because they are my parents and as such, are naturally biased to believe I can do anything, or if they had seen some tendencies that I had been too busy living my life to notice.

Either way, they jumped on board and my fan club reached a grand total of four.

It was around this time that it occurred to me that maybe it would be a good idea to read up on writing. I was in for a rude awakening. Because I learned I had a good story, but an unpublishable one. Mistakes galore. All sorts of issues that branded me for the neophyte I was.

Of course, a lot can happen in a year.

I'm still green. Still unpublished. Still finding and fixing mistakes galore.

But I've learned so much this year. I've learned that writing first drafts is fun. Fixing them . . . eh . . . not so much fun as mind-numbing hard work mixed in with occasional moments of delight. I've learned that even though I tend to think of myself as a fiction writer, I actually enjoy writing devotions. I've learned that the road to publication is long and without guarantees so the best plan is to learn the craft, write the best you can and leave the timing up to God.

But most importantly, I've learned that I am a writer.

And no one is more surprised by that than me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

The View from the Backseat

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We recently spent quite a bit of time on the road and my husband, being a wise and loving mate, knew that the best place for me was in the far back seat of the van.

Horizontal. Asleep.

He claimed this was all in my best interest, but I suspect it was because he couldn’t bear the thought of the long drive ahead with me in the passenger seat, gasping and clutching the door, slamming on that imaginary brake pedal in the floorboard and providing him with a running commentary on the distance to the nearest 18-wheeler.

So I climbed into the backseat, propped up on three pillows, and watched the world go by at 60 70 80? miles per hour. I looked for shapes in the clouds. I took note of the way the blue of the sky and the green of the trees make for a very pleasing palate and congratulated myself on choosing it for our nursery eight years ago (yes, our first child is a girl but in case you haven’t figure this out yet, I don’t care for pink). I observed that the trucks speeding by in the opposite lanes passed us so quickly it was almost impossible to read the writing on the side. I tried not to ponder that for long. And after a little while, I fell asleep.

Amazingly enough, we arrived at our destination without any difficulty.

No accidents. No speeding tickets. No drama.

And it made me wonder.

Does God ever wish I would just shut up and climb in the backseat?

How much of my time and energy is spent slamming on my own spiritual brake pedal, clutching and grasping at the things I hold so dear, begging Him to slow down, asking Him if He’s paying attention, questioning His reasoning?

Would my journey be more pleasant if I let Him take me wherever He wants, whenever He wants, however fast or slow He wants, and let Him do it without whining about His methods?

Would our relationship be sweeter if I sat with Him, chatting with Him, enjoying His presence, learning more about Him, trusting Him to get me where He wants me to go, instead of nagging and whining and second-guessing?

I don’t think He wants me to disengage completely, crawl off into the backseat and just say “whatever, Lord” in a fit of pique.

I do think it is easy to say we trust.

But so much harder to get out of the driver’s seat and sit in the passenger seat without fear.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review

My friend, Edie Melson
Edie Melson is a gifted author, co-founder of The Christian Writer's Den, and a faculty member of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her resume is impressive but the reason I love her is because she is one of the first people who made me feel like a "real" writer.

Now, for those of you who read this blog regularly, or just want a laugh, scroll back to the post Brownie Bliss  - that episode was entirely Edie's fault! While Edie is responsible for me eating quite a few brownies, there's no question that my writing is better because of her wisdom and her willingness to tell me when something needs to be changed, improved or deleted. She is a constant source of encouragement to me and her blog, The Write Conversation, is a must read for writers and people who love them.

So, imagine my delight when she agreed to let me post a book review each month on her blog. OK - I did sort of back her into a corner about it. I'm pretty sure when she asked our writers group she was hoping for someone more experienced to take her up on it, but hey, she did ask. And I did offer. And well, here you go . . .

My book review of Jerry B. Jenkins Writing for the Soul. Leave me a comment over at The Write Conversation and let me know what you think. Um . . . unless you think it's terrible. You can leave the negative comments over here at Out of the Boat!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Good Word

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Proverbs 12:25 - Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (ESV)

I have an acquaintance who never fails to compliment me on some aspect of my attire.

Now, this might be a normal occurrence for many of you, but as I have never been accused of being a fashionista, it’s a rare event for me. She doesn’t gush or tell me I look like I’ve lost 30 pounds (which, while it would be nice if it was true, hasn’t happened yet). She points out simple things like “I love your necklace” or “that sweater looks great with that top”. As I am slightly paranoid about most of my outfits (unless my sister picked them out), I can’t help but be gratified.

It may be shallow, but I like a compliment.

I’ve had several people who have recently provided a word of encouragement at just the right moment.

A random comment at Bible study from someone, telling me how much she enjoys the blog – I didn’t know she’d ever read it – made my day.

Another friend just today added an encouraging comment about my writing to the end of a non-writing related note. There’s no way she could have known that the summer schedule, while fun for me and the kids, is brutal to the writing lifestyle I’m attempting to carve out for myself. But her words were soothing to my anxious spirit.

And then there’s the priceless moment when someone tells me I’m doing a good job as a mom. Especially when it comes on a day when I’m feeling like the worst mom on earth.

I’ve been wondering how often I fail to encourage someone because I’m too busy to pay attention, or because I assume that they are so put-together, so confident, so sure, that anything I might say would be meaningless. When, in reality, there is no way for me to know what’s happening behind closed doors—what frustrations or fears they are facing—or how close to the breaking point they are.

And I wonder, as someone who is rarely at a loss for words, if I shouldn’t do a better job and use my powers for good. I’d love it if when people walk away from me, rubbing their ears because I’ve been talking for fifteen, twenty, OK, fine, thirty minutes straight, they walk away with a glad heart because my words weren’t self-absorbed and self-focused, but were a message of encouragement, soothing to an anxious heart.

Father, let it be.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wimpy Wimpy Wimpy?

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I’m a wimp.

A cream puff.

A marshmallow.

I’m so not cut out to be a writer.

I’m anaphylactically allergic to criticism. And this doesn’t apply only to my writing life. This is just who I am. I have the type of personality that always wants to be right. Not in the “I’m right and you’re wrong” way but in the “I’ll die of humiliation if I answer the question wrong so I’m not going to raise my hand, even though I know the answer” way.

The upside to being paranoid about making mistakes is that it has made me into a very conscientious person. If you ask me to do something, I’ll do it. And then I’ll go over it 100 times to be sure it’s right. And then I’ll call you a few days later to see if it met your expectations.

Again. I shouldn’t be writing.

Because all writing requires some form of criticism.

And, criticism + Lynn = hyperventilation.

Each time I send a writing sample off to someone, whether it’s for an assignment, or a guest blog, or because they asked to read a few chapters of my book, it just about kills me.

OK. I’ll admit that I’m a teensy bit prone to exaggeration.

But the heart palpitations, sweaty palms, upset stomach. Aren’t those symptoms of dreadful things — like heart attacks?

So what’s a would-be writer to do? When all the traditional advice says that she must develop a thick skin if she’s going to survive but when the transformation from thin to thick-skinned would require a personality transplant?

I tend to assume that thick-skinned people send off their work and don’t worry about it. They don’t spend time refreshing their email in case someone has commented on their blog and their hands don’t shake when they open up an email that will tell them whether their work has been accepted for publication. They certainly don’t lose sleep over what some anonymous person said about their book in an Amazon review.

But maybe — just maybe — that isn’t the case at all.

Maybe the thick-skinned person isn’t the person who stands tall and lets the waves of criticism roll by.

Maybe the thick-skinned person is the one the waves of criticism throw to the ocean floor and keep them submerged so long they begin to wonder if they’ll ever surface.

But when they are finally able to catch their breath, they don’t run for the shore.

They stand up.

And let the waves do it all over again.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


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I can't remember not knowing Bible verses.

Lots of them.

It should be noted that my mother claims I could quote John 3:16 at eighteen months. As the mother of a twenty-two month old who can barely say please and thank-you, I find her assertion difficult to believe.

(Every mother believes her children are brilliant. Mine seems particularly prone to this delusion! I love you mom!)

Nevertheless, my childhood was full of Scripture memory. My mother taught me verses at home, I learned verses in Sunday School and then later in school and Awana.

And I praise God for the gift of a mind full of Scripture. Because for one thing, I know that not everyone grew up with Bibles and Bible stories and not everyone had the opportunity to attend Vacation Bible School and Awana.

And people who didn't grow up learning Scripture and yet manage to memorize multiple passages are impressive to me.

Because there's another reason I'm glad I learned Scripture as a child.

It is WAY harder now.

I can quote verses I learned in Sparks as a first grader. Chapter and Verse. King James Version. No sweat.

But the Psalm - the three verse Psalm - I would like to memorize this summer?

Not so much.

I can get the general idea, but memorizing the words so they fall off the tongue with ease . . . it's a struggle. And even if I nail it once, it just doesn't seem to stick the way the verses I learned as a child do.

I've been wondering why this is? Is it because my brain is too busy sifting through the noise of my life?

Or, is it because I'm just not making enough effort.

Ouch. my dad would say, I just stopped preaching and went to meddling.


Anyway, here's what I'd like to know.

Do you try to memorize Scripture now and if so, how do you do it?

And, how did you/are you teaching your children Scripture? This is an area I feel I've fallen way short on. I don't want to leave it up to Sunday school teachers and Awana leaders.

So help me out. Leave me a comment. And while you're at it, tell me what your favorite verse is!

(You don't have to have it memorized!)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Embrace your Geekness

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Today is “Embrace Your Geekness” day.

I am not making this up!

The definition of geek is difficult to pin down. But I think we tend to apply the term “geek” to anyone/anything that is different from the norm.

I like to think of my geekness as endearingly quirky. I recognize that this is delusional, but I'm happy with this delusion.

So, in an effort to embrace my geekness, here are a few random things you should know about me . . . feel free to chime in with a few of your own in the comments.

I like to be alone. Seven hour road trip + no one else in the car = bliss.

I have a great memory for faces and a lousy memory for names. This means if you run into me and we haven't seen each other in a while, there's a high probability that I've forgotten your name. Please allow me to apologize in advance.

I have been known to watch the same movie, listen to the same CD and read the same book over and over and over again. It can take me quite a while to move on. This is particularly troublesome when the book has been turned into a movie and has a fabulous soundtrack and score.

I love movies. Action, romance, comedy, animation. I'm all for it. But I'm finicky about suspense films and flat-out refuse to watch horror movies. I succumbed to peer pressure and went to one in college and jumped every time my sister walked around the corner of our little apartment for the next six months. It's just not worth the misery.

Another thing I'm a bit, um, picky about. . . if the sign says “Enter” then it means “Enter” not “Exit if no one is coming.” This seems fairly self-explanatory. Why do people struggle with this concept?

And please, oh please do not ask me to attend a party for which I failed to RSVP. I was supposed to RSVP. I didn't. Therefore I can't go. What's so hard to understand about this concept?

(This just happened a few days ago. My husband insisted we attend. I survived.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Favorite

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A few weeks ago, I woke up in a bad mood.

While on vacation. With the entire family.

I needed an attitude adjustment.


So I took my grouchy self to the balcony of our condo and sat there with my Bible in my lap and stared out at the ocean.

I have a thing for the ocean.

I like to look at it. To listen to it. To walk beside it. To play in it.

I find it fascinating, relaxing, exhilarating and humbling.

After a few minutes of breathing in salty air and intentionally choosing to quiet myself, I started to talk to God.

Here's the gist of our talk:

Me: How could anyone look at this and think You don't exist?
Me: It's so huge.
Me: I wonder what is exactly across the ocean from where I sit now?
Me: I do love the ocean, Father. Please tell me we'll have oceans in heaven.

A bit of a pause.

(Note: I am not making this up and yes, this really is how I talk to God.)

Me: Well, maybe not in heaven, but how about on the new earth?
Me: Yeah, I bet there will be. The earth is what, 70% ocean or something? I think you must have a thing for oceans, too. I bet they're your favorite.

God, with a chuckle: You are my favorite.

Me: (Totally speechless for about two minutes).

Now, first of all, if you don't think God chuckles, let me just assure you.

He does.

Second, I would like to remind you that at this point, I had not opened my Bible. I had not asked God to forgive me for waking up grouchy.

All I had done was approach the throne.

With a bad attitude.

And what does He have to say to me?

You are my favorite.


I'm sorry God. You must have me confused with someone else. Someone who wakes up singing worship songs. Someone who never loses her temper. Someone much better than me.

You are my favorite.

I sat there for another few minutes pondering the idea of being God's favorite. Of all the things He created, it was mankind He chose to make in His image. It was mankind into whom He chose to breathe the breath of life. It was mankind He created for relationship with Him.


God's favorite.


I did get around to asking God to forgive me for my foul temper, but by then it was long gone.

How could I be in a bad mood when God just told me He likes me better than the ocean, bad attitude and all?

I don't know what kind of a day you're having or how long it's been since you sat still long enough for God to whisper in your ear that He thinks you're awesome.

Please don't let your bad attitude stop you.

Run to Him. Take Him all your junk.

Never, ever be afraid to approach your Abba.

After all, you are His favorite, too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Living Into God's Story - Part 4

***Please know that I am not claiming any of this as an original idea of mine. Like I said previously, our pastors spent weeks fleshing out the concept of Living into God’s Story and if this idea intrigues you, I would encourage you to listen to the sermons. My blog posts are simply my way of sharing what God branded into my spirit as our pastors opened the Word. ***

image courtesy of

So, to recap . . .

Previously, on Out of the Boat (this line is best if you use Mark Harmon's NCIS voice) :-).

My knowledge of storytelling has given me a new appreciation for God's story. And for my part in it.

One rule of writing is to have only as many characters as you need. If your protagonist has five best friends, they probably need to be combined into one or two. If your evil empire is enormous, you only need to flesh out the character of a few key individuals and allow the others to remain part of the anonymous crowd.
So, if God is the Ultimate Storyteller and we are the characters in His story, then . . .

We must have a purpose.

And, here it comes . . . wait for it . . .

That purpose is not all about me (or you – sorry to burst your bubble).

God always has more than you or me in mind.

He loves us, but He is always working in our lives in order to preserve many lives. The lives of our family members, our community, and maybe people we will never meet.

Joseph is a perfect example of this. When Joseph was in the pit, God knew what was coming. God knew that Joseph's suffering, while it would bring about a great deal of personal growth, was ultimately about saving the entire family. The very family through which Christ would come, which would ultimately save the world.

The World.

Now admittedly, Joseph was a Major character and there can only be so many Major characters. So far, the books I've written (OK — the one I've written and the one I'm working on) have two major characters. Everyone else is a minor character. Note that I said minor, not unnecessary. There’s a BIG difference.

There's only one Billy Graham. Only one Beth Moore. Only one Me. Only one You.

My role in God’s story probably won't be to reach the world. It may be to reach my neighbor. Or my child. Or my friend.

But my role is important (and so is yours).

In my current plotline, I'm a 36-year old wife and mother of two. I have everything I need and most of what I want. But there's been an unexpected development. As I write these words, I have no idea where He's going with this, because like all good storytellers, He only gives me enough information for me to know what's happening now, with maybe a few hints as to what's coming. But He doesn't give away the whole story. What would be the fun in that?

He's laid it on my heart to write. At first it was fiction. It still is, but the storyline has developed and now I have this blog and some devotions.

But what's the point?

Sometimes I start to wonder why me? Why now? Or, I wonder if I've lost my mind.

And here’s where the idea of Living into God’s Story has completely changed the way I think about this topic.

A year ago, if you’d said, “Lynn, what do you think God is up to with this whole writing thing?” my response would probably have included the following:

  • God is teaching me about following Him when it doesn’t make sense.
  • God is teaching me to trust Him and His timing.
  • God is showing me new dimensions of Himself and I am growing to love and appreciate Him more each day.

Now, you may be wondering what’s wrong with those statements.

Especially since they are all true.

But they totally miss the point!

Sure, God is teaching me. All the time. And I’m sure my personal sanctification is a part of the plan. But if I start thinking that it’s all about me, what I will learn, how I will grow, I will miss something huge.

Because God is too good a storyteller to weave a plotline that only impacts one minor character. Oh no. Nuh-uh. Not going to happen.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve gotten the erroneous idea that everything that happens to me is about me. When in reality, everything that happens to me is about others. God has a plan to use me to reach others.

This, I must say, is a humbling and exciting idea.

I still don’t know why I’m writing this blog or editing a novel.

But maybe He’s called me to write because in His story, I have a story to tell and no one else can tell it quite the way I will and somewhere, someone needs to hear it.

And that’s a story that will keep me turning the pages, just to see what happens next.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Living Into God's Story - Part 3

image courtesy of

Knowledge is a funny thing.

For example, when we head out to the local ballpark and grab a hotdog and a coke, we don't really want to know how that hotdog was made. We know that some people who do know have chosen never to eat these things again. But as long as we don't "know" we can go about our life, enjoying our hotdogs, and try not to think about it too much.

Of course, sometimes, knowledge increases our awareness of our surroundings. After I learned to knit, I found that when I look at a sweater I can tell if it was knit or woven, and if it has stockinette or seed or garter stitching. Not that this is going to bring about world peace or anything. It's just a new thing I'm cognizant of.

Same with public swimming pools. My first job out of college was with the Dept. of Health and Environmental Control as an Environmental Engineer. Our section regulated water treatment plants and public swimming pools. (Please do not ask me why those two went together.) Because of what I know about the regulations, I notice if the depth markers are non-slip, and how many drains are in the bottom of the pool. Again, it's just random knowledge, but it adds to the way I experience the world. (It's also why I prefer that my children not play in kiddie pools and why I'm not a huge fan of hot tubs, but I digress).

In our interactions with others, knowledge can add dimension and layers to a relationship. When you find out about someone's past, it gives you insights into their present. When you learn what their love language is, it helps you understand why they do or say or react in certain ways.

As I mentioned in my last post, learning about writing has had an impact on how I view books. It hasn't lessened my love for them. If anything, I look at them with a whole new sense of wonder.

And, it has given me a whole new appreciation for the concept of storytelling.

I'm not sure when I heard it first, and I'm not sure if it would have impacted me so strongly if I wasn't in the middle of my own self-discovery as a storyteller, but it seems like everywhere I turn, someone is talking about God as a Storyteller. This in no way implies that His Word is not true. Far from it.

It simply acknowledges that God, as our Creator, knew that the best way to tell us about Himself was to tell us a story.

Pause right there.

Think about that.

Go ahead and get chills (if you're a writer, this should make you giddy).

Because God is the ultimate storyteller.

(OK - this should come as no surprise since God is the Ultimate Everything, but I'd never thought of Him - God - as one who tells stories, or as a writer. Which seems silly given that there about 30 Bibles in my house. Another "duh" moment for Lynn.)

I recently completed Beth Moore's study on Esther (which I highly recommend). And one thing she mentioned over and over was how God laid out the story. She talked about chiastic structure and plotlines. Even about how God told us what we need to know and left out the parts that, while they might have been interesting to us (what did happen to Vashti?), weren't necessary for the story.

While I was studying Esther, our pastors were doing a Sunday morning series entitled "Living Into God's Story". We covered the last several chapters of Genesis - Joseph's story. Talk about a story! You've got prophetic dreams, family dysfunction, murder plots, slavery, rags to riches to rags to riches, deceitful women, prison, more dreams, forgetful butlers, doomed cooks, more family dysfunction, forgiveness and hope and grace. This story has everything!

But God didn't tell us this particular story for our amusement.

He told us this story so we could know more about Him.

Just as my knowledge of being a parent has increased my understanding of how God relates to His children, my knowledge of storytelling has given me a whole new appreciation for God's story. And for my part in it.

More about what Living Into God's Story looks like for me, next time on Out of the Boat!

(This line reads better if you use your best TV soap opera voice - you know, "Next time, on Why Would Anyone Watch This, will what's her name survive the electric chair? Will the handsome star find his way off Mt. Everest? Will the cute teenage boy get rid of his acne before the prom?")