Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning

So, it's Monday. 8:45 A.M.

I've already changed four diapers - two of which I probably should have been wearing a hazmat suit for - and apologized to two three people.

I'm on a roll!

Last week was crazy. But wonderful. I got to spend most of it with my dad, which was awesome. And, we tore out all my downstairs carpet and replaced everything. This is not the time for me to go on my "I hate carpet" rant. Trust me when I say that ripping it out was a cathartic experience!

The downside to last week was that I did absolutely no writing or editing. I also got way behind on email, voicemail and facebook (hence the apologies of the morning). Oh crud. When I finish this, I'll have to apologize to someone else - I missed a meeting. Drat.

Anyway. As I am new to this whole "I am a writer" business, there was one unexpected benefit to having a week made up of mostly manual labor and no time or energy for writing.

My creative brain is overflowing this morning!

While I was tearing out carpet, cutting boards, measuring walls, painting molding, spackling (I think the word "spackle" is cool - go ahead and laugh) - I managed to work out quite a bit of the plot of my next book. In fact, I'm going to have to take a few minutes this morning and jot down some notes so I don't forget all lovely plot twists I thought of last week.

Maybe taking a week to do something totally unrelated is a good idea.

Of course, a check of the calendar indicates that I have exactly 20 days to finish polishing my manuscript, perfect my elevator pitch and one-sheets, by some new clothes (that part might not be a requirement, we'll call it a perk) and lose 10 pounds (hey, I write fiction).

I need to do all that while keeping my children and husband clothed and fed, visiting some potential classrooms for Emma next year, coordinating some teacher appreciation stuff (yep, I'm the room mom), promoting the CDS Fun Fest (June 4th - mark your calendars) and making a run to Vanderbilt for my sister's graduation (go Jennifer - you rock!).

Could someone PLEASE schedule me a massage?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Out of the Boat - Part 2

I have a very active imagination.

I know what you're thinking . . . "Yeah, we sorta figured that out ever since you admitted that you've been walking around with detailed, novel length stories in your head. You're a loon."

True. I take full responsibility for my own weirdness.

But, I find having a very active imagination to be a gift. When I read verses like Eph. 3:20 where it says that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine . . . well, I think . . . whoohoo! Bring it! 'Cause this girl can imagine some pretty amazing scenarios!!

So I started wondering about the other disciples in the boat. There they are, the twelve, thinking this might be their last night because they are losing the fight. Jesus shows up, walking across the rolling seas. And Peter. I do love Peter. Talk about a man with an imagination. I mean, really! Where did he come up with this? "If you are who you say you are, ask me to come to you on the water." What kind of question is that? But that's not really the point of this post - that's a freebie!

Sometimes I find the things Scripture doesn't tell us as interesting as what it does. We have no idea what the eleven guys in the boat did while Peter was tiptoeing over the waves. But our own experience gives us some good ideas.

So picture it. Imagine it was you in the boat. And your buddy starts climbing out. What would you do?

"Peter! Don't!" Frightened hands reaching to restrain him.

"I always knew he'd do something stupid and get himself killed. He just doesn't think." Deep sigh.

"Show off." Eyes rolling.

"Who does he think he is? He can't walk on water. He's always been a bit arrogant but really, this is taking it to extremes. When he goes down, we're all going to get wet trying to save his sorry self." Righteous indignation.

I find it interesting that while the account of Jesus walking on the water is found in Matthew, Mark and John, only Matthew records Peter's part in the drama. I wonder if John was embarrassed that he didn't think of it first. I know . . . I know . . . Scripture is inspired and clearly God wanted Matthew to tell the story. I get it. Just work with me here!

Maybe Matthew was the one who was most jealous. Or most impressed. Keep in mind, they all heard Jesus. They knew Jesus had called Peter to come. They didn't just have to take his word for it. But still . . . he got out of a boat. In the middle of a storm.

I have some friends who are "out of the boat" - and in far more spectacular ways than me.

An acquaintance at church who, even though she has young children at home, has opened up her home and heart to foster children in need. I am blown away by that! I'm not sure I could do it.

A dear friend who, even though it makes absolutely no sense to most people, has put her home on the market. Why? They are downsizing their lives so they can be better positioned to go on short term missions trips. To Africa! With the whole family! I've known this girl for years. She's been a faithful and dear friend, but it was only a few months ago when she said "I've always had a heart for Africa." Really? I had NO IDEA.

I could go on. I know of two others who are serving on foreign fields. Single. No real hope of ever marrying. But they felt the call and they answered it.

And the biggest question they hear is "Why?" And sadly, when they say, "Because I felt called to do it" people often look at them like they've lost their minds.

I've wondered about my own reactions. When I hear of someone who is living their life, totally and completely sold out to Christ. Willing to take whatever steps they feel him calling them to take. Even if it seems nuts. Have I looked down my nose? "Don't they know what this will do to their children?" Questioned the timing? "Maybe that would be fine in a few years, but now?" Wondered what their decision might cost me? "They are so selfish - I'll have to pick up the slack."

No, we don't have the benefit of hearing the call ourselves. But maybe we should remember that for the one who is called, there is only one option.

Getting out of the boat made NO SENSE!

But getting out of the boat was the ONLY thing that made sense.

Because Jesus said "Come"!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Out of the Boat - Part 1

Credits: A friend of mine posted about how Jesus is always there for us when we've jumped, or been pushed, or went kicking and screaming, out of the boat. I've been thinking about it ever since. You can read her comments here. Thanks for the encouragement Kim!

Matthew 14: 27-30 - But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me."

Lynn's synopsis: Peter jumped out. Peter freaked out. Peter called out.

I am so out of the boat.

I guess I didn't exactly jump out of the boat. It was more like a tumble (I'm not known for being graceful). But regardless, I'm out of the boat.

And I am freaking out about it.

Bless Peter. I'm so glad he's in the Bible. I love him. I love that he had a big mouth and a big temper and that he blew it - frequently and spectacularly. And I'm thrilled that God used Peter and we all can smile when we read about Peter's antics in the gospels, because we know how the story turns out. How Peter became a bold and courageous apostle. How he lived - and died - for Christ.

But today, I'm thinking about how Peter freaked out.

The man got out of the boat. Of his own free will, he stepped out of a perfectly good boat and onto water. Water! And he walked on it. We don't know how far he walked before he realized what he had done. Maybe it was a few steps. Maybe 50 yards. But regardless, Jesus called him and he obeyed. And then he totally lost it.

For the past week or so, I've been freaking out quite a bit, once a day, OK fine. A lot. We'll leave it at that.

For me, getting out of the boat has more to do with telling people I'm a writer than the actual writing. Because now that people know . . . what do they expect? Will I be explaining to people five years from now, ten years from now, that 'yes, I'm still writing but no, I haven't been published'?

Was there any reason for Peter to get out of the boat, other than to be obedient to the call?

Does it matter if I'm ever published? Maybe to my pride. But otherwise, no. What matters is that I'm taking the next step, in obedience to my Father.

So why am I freaking out? Because I'm a perfectionist. Because I care way too much about what people think about me. Because I'm afraid of going to this conference and being embarrassed by my naivety. Because I've gotten my eyes off of my Father and on myself. Because I'm trying to do "this" myself when I'm not even sure what "this" is. Because I'm thinking about me - me - me.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" -Matthew 14: 30-31

I have no idea why Jesus wanted Peter to get out of the boat and I have no idea why God wants me to write. But it's not just about me. God is up to something. God is always up to something. He's that kind of God!

And when I call out to Him, He takes hold of me and says, "Baby, why are you doubting?"

Ps. 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.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Midnight Moment

Just a quick note to thank you, my approximately 10 readers, for praying for me as I edit/re-write. I would appreciate it if you could add something to your prayers.

I need moments of insight and flashes of creative genious, but really, it would help if they could come at some time other than midnight. Two out of the past three nights I've had "ah-ha" moments when I'm trying to relax and turn my brain off so I can sleep.

And then, I'm so afraid I won't remember it in the morning, I have to come in here and turn on the computer and try to get it all out of my brain so I don't lose it in my sleep.

I'm exhausted.

But, your prayers are working. Keep 'em coming! My first chapter is now a prologue and tonight, I figured out how to work some of the old first chapter into what was Chapter 3 (now Chapter 2). So I'm feeling better about my character development. I just wish this particular flash had come 3 hours ago.

I really hope I don't think of anything else in the next 10 minutes. :-)

And I really, really hope this blog post actually makes sense when I read it in the morning!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brownie Bliss

I had this great idea for a blog post, and I'll probably post it in a day or two. But, I went to my critique group tonight.

I came home and made a pan of brownies.

It's not that they were unkind. They weren't even criticizing the writing. Said it was beautiful and well-written. Said I should totally keep it.

Just NOT as a first chapter.

Don't get me wrong. They don't think I need to re-write it. They think I need to CUT it.

CUT it.

(As an aside, those of you who know me very well know that my neck and chest flush and get all splotchy when I am rattled. I will be wearing turtlenecks to critique group from now on.)

Here's the kicker.

They are totally right.

And, to make matters worse . . . I have KNOWN this for weeks. I knew my precious first chapter, my first attempt at writing fiction, my special little phrases that I have read, and re-read, were going to have to go away. Because there's a lot of "telling" in my first chapter. And that is a no-no. And if I want an agent to read the 2nd chapter, the first chapter has to go.


I like my first chapter. I re-wrote some of it in the past few weeks and I like it quite a lot more than I did before. I like that you meet my characters . . . the very first ones I ever brought to life . . . and that you care about them and that many people who have read the now doomed first chapter actually cried with them. I like that I almost got choked up reading it tonight. Me. And I wrote it.

So pray for me. I'm going to have to do something I do not want to do. And I only have a week to cut it, re-work the necessary facts into the rest of the manuscript and get the new and improved first 40 pages ready for contest and critique submission.

Excuse me while I have another brownie. And maybe some Coke.