Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How Intentional Have You Been Lately?

How intentional have you been lately?

I’ve been hit-or-miss.

Mostly miss.

Which is a shame, since INTENTIONAL is my word for the year.

As we discussed last week, there are a lot of areas in my life where I feel like I’m wandering. Housework, motherhood, writing, etc. And as we discussed, not all wandering is bad. Sometimes, wandering is the direct will of God.

But some of my wandering is not as out-of-my-hands as I pretend that it is.

Sometimes I’m just lazy or distracted.

I want to read a book, watch TV, or chat with a friend. All nice things. Just not always the best choice.

Of course, this is where the slope gets slippery.

At least it does for me.

I can easily be so attached to my schedule that I blow a gasket whenever the day goes off in an unexpected direction.

But, at the same time, having no plan at all often results in days, weeks, or months where I go through the motions of life but make little or no progress toward achieving the dreams I believe God has placed in my heart.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt this tension in my spirit—as if I’m inching along the edge of a deep chasm. I’m trying to figure out how to balance my need for order and structure with my desire to live each day—each moment—submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I’m planning and scheduling and even (gasp!) outlining (for my writing). I’m writing Bible verses on my calendar and posting reminders to myself to lean into the Spirit rather than on my own understanding of how each day should go. I’m making some progress.

But I know I have a long way to go.

So I want to ask you—how do you do it? If you’re a planner, what tips can you share for not making your schedule into an idol? If you fly by the seat of your pants, how do you ensure that the most important things get done? I’d love to learn from you! Please share with all of us in the comments!

Proverbs 16:9 ~ The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (ESV)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Currents :: 09.22.12

Books: All things Tolkien. September 22 is the birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. I think we should all eat at least eight times today to celebrate. Who’s with me?

Writing: I just discovered that my heroine is an engineer. I thought she was a lawyer. Sigh.

Home: We’re doing some redecorating at our house. By “we” I mean I’ve found someone with impeccable tastes to tell me what looks good and then I’m buying it. It’s going great :-)!

Food: I made grits out of cauliflower. And they were good. Pretty sure I’ve lost my mind. Or maybe had my tastebuds taken over by an alien life force.

Movies: (See note above about books). Can’t wait for The Hobbit. Which is unfortunate…it doesn’t come out until December.

TV: Clemson vs. Florida State. 8PM. Need I say more?

Wonders: Emma has joined the Drama Club at school (those of you who know her can appreciate how appropriate this is). This week, I met some of the sweet things who have taken her under their wing—a group of adorable girls who were quick to tell me that Emma had “done great” and is “so sweet” and had fully participated! My little “Emma bug” never ceases to amaze me.

Weirdness: I’ve been watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy in honor of Hobbit Day (Sept. 22). Pretty sure that will earn me a gold star for my nerd wall. :-)

May your weekend be filled with wonders and weirdness!

Grace and peace,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

I’m a wanderer.
I feel like I’m wandering in my own personal desert. Walking in circles. Retracing my steps. But never getting anywhere.

I wander in my home. I had all the laundry caught up a few days ago. And I get to do it all over again today. I fixed supper last night. And I get to do it all over again today.

I wander as a mother. Didn’t I just address this attitude issue? How many times am I going to eye my children with that universal look that says, “You’d better say thank you or you’ll never taste another piece of candy?” How many diapers will I change before I suffer from permanent olfactory nerve damage?

I wander in my writing. I’ve written a book. Did you know that? I have. A whole novel. I didn’t know it at the time, but writing that novel sent me wandering into the dark forests of publication. It’s fun. Except for when it’s not. Like when you realize that all the writing you’ve done for the past six months will never see the light of day.

I don’t like to wander.

I have plans and dreams and it frustrates aggravates drives me insane when things don’t happen the way I think they should. Wandering feels like such a waste—of time, energy, and resources.

It feels like I’ve dropped the ball. It feels like I’m lost.

But “not all those who wander are lost.”

Take Joseph. In Genesis, he’s dreamed some big dreams. And he’s got plans. So when his father sends him in search of his brothers, he sets off with purpose. He knows where he’s going. He’s going to Shechem.

But his brothers aren’t there and Joseph wanders around in a field for a while before someone tells him they are in Dothan. (I am not making this up—you can read it for yourself in Genesis).

It’s a tiny detail. The kind of thing an editor might cut from the story. But God left it in.

He left in the part about the wandering.

You know the rest of the story, don’t you? When Joseph found his brothers, they decided to kill him—and they would have if his big brother hadn’t convinced them to throw him in a pit instead. And then, some Midianite traders show up and Joseph is sold as a slave in Egypt which turns out to be a crucial point in God’s redemptive plan for His children.

What are the odds of those Midianite traders showing up at that exact moment? And what if Joseph hadn’t wandered around for a while before heading out to Dothan?

That wandering? It saved Joseph’s life. And it saved the children of Israel.

Joseph may have been wandering, but he most certainly was never lost.

Sometimes God gives us big dreams…big plans…big hopes for the future. And then He lets us wander around for a while.

Not because He’s mean. But because He’s maneuvering all the pieces into position so He can do something even bigger than what we could imagine.

If you’re wandering, don’t despair, don’t panic, and most definitely do not give up. Who knows? Someday when the story of your life is written, this little "wandering" detail may be the one no editor would dare to cut.

I am indebted to the Bible study we are currently doing at Southside Fellowship, Read the Bible for Life, where the beauty of this part of the story was highlighted.

And in case you are unfamiliar with it, the quote is from The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien...

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Gap

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you how God had been revealing Himself to me—in everything from lost earrings to scheduling conflicts. I was thankful. I still am.


Why is there always a but?

But what happens when everything goes wrong?

We don’t like to talk about that part. Because it isn’t pretty.

Just a few days after that post, our upstairs air conditioning system failed. I started out OK, thankful it had held on through the summer and that our house hadn’t burned to the ground (which, disturbingly, is not hyperbole on my part).

But when it came time to pay the bill…

Well, this is the not-so-pretty part.

Paying that bill put me in a foul mood (”foul” might be an understatement). Never mind that I can see how God held off this expense until we were out from under a double mortgage, or how God kept the sparks in the fuse box and later in the A/C unit from causing a fire, or that the repair guys were able to come fix it the next day.

I had plans for that money. And those plans did not include replacing the upstairs air conditioner.

In my mind, that money was labeled “fence for the backyard” and “new furniture” and “pedicure”… well, you get the idea.

I tried to shake off the gloom and my mood had improved until I got in my van on the following Saturday afternoon and—I promise I’m not making this up—the A/C went out.


I felt sick to my stomach. And more than a little put out. (Again, “put out” might be an understatement).

When I got to church on Sunday morning I was reminded that we often have a gap—apparently in my case a huge gap—between our confessional beliefs (what we say we believe) and our functional beliefs (beliefs that guide our perception of events and influence our behavior).

I believe God is in control and that the money is His to do with as He sees fit. But that deep down belief that says that the money is mine reared its ugly head, accompanied by the notion that God should make my life easier since I’m trying to live for Him.

It’s been a sobering lesson. I’ve started noticing the gap—the disconnect between what my head knows and the way my heart responds. And when I find myself standing in that gap, I’m asking God to show me the sin—the deeper sin.

Like I said, it isn’t pretty.

My short temper with the kids shows the gap between my head knowledge that children are a gift from the Lord and my heart belief that these tiny tyrants are going to be the death of me because they are keeping me from doing what I WANT TO DO (write, read, sleep, etc).

My perfectionism reveals the gap between my belief that I have worth because of who I am in Christ and my lifestyle which indicates that I only believe I have worth if I never mess up.

The list goes on.

But God…

Oh, I’m so glad there’s always a but!

God doesn’t show me the gap and leave me defeated by the length and depth of the chasm. Instead, He points me to the Gospel. To the truth that my sin is great, but His grace is greater.

The Gospel changes everything.

Especially me.

And I am so thankful.
Ephesians 2:4-9 ~ But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Love's Reckoning

A few months ago several of my writer friends mentioned that Laura Frantz writes great historical fiction. So when the fine folks at Revell gave me the opportunity to review her latest, Love’s Reckoning, I decided to see for myself.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Love’s Reckoning drew me in, transported me to post-Revolutionary Pennsylvania and reminded me of how much I love U.S. History.

I was thoroughly impressed with the little details…the choice of words, the customs of the day, the traditions and challenges of life in the late 1700s…all combined to paint the backdrop for the rich and detailed story that unfolds.

I used to read a lot of historical fiction, but in the past few years, I’ve shifted to reading more contemporary suspense and political thrillers. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from the plot.

It was far more detailed, twisty, and in some cases, shocking, than I was prepared for—and I loved it!

Eden and Elspeth Lee are as different as two sisters can be. When Silas Ballantyne signs on as an apprentice to their father, he steps into a home where nothing is as it appears, where secrets are kept, and where the truth just might ruin them all.

I stayed up past midnight to finish Love’s Reckoning. And when I closed the book, I experienced that magical moment—the one where you are deliciously satisfied with the ending but are left yearning to stay in the story world just a little bit longer.

Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a copy from Revell in exchange for my honest review. I was not obligated to provide a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why There's No New Post Today

I had a blog post *almost* ready to go for today.
But I got distracted.


Can you blame me?

Sometimes, the best thing this mommy can do is step away from the computer and go outside to play! (Even if it's been raining and the new-to-us playset is sitting in mud and everyone needs a bath when they come back inside). :-)
The first swing, the first slide, the first smiles...those are moments not to be missed.
Grace and peace,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Currents :: September 1st

Books: I stayed up until midnight last night reading Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz. I am now officially a fan. If you like historical fiction, this needs to go on your to-be-read list. Check back next week for my official review.

Family: My calendar has FIVE firsts next week.
  1. James’s 1st day of K-3. He was annoyed with me last week because I wouldn’t leave him when we met the teacher. Not expecting him to shed a tear come Tuesday. He’s so much like me it’s scary.
  2. James and Emma’s first night of Cubbies. I’m thrilled about this and so thankful to be a part of a fellowship of believers who are excited about making Cubbies an option for Emma!
  3. Drew’s 1st day of mom’s morning out. I might be sad on Thursday, but right now, I’m giddy with anticipation. A whole 4 hours to myself—somebody pinch me!
  4. Emma’s 1st day of gymnastics. I’m hoping she’ll love it. Her RTS-sister, the adorable AnnaKate, has been going for a year and it’s one of her favorite activities.
  5. James’s 1st soccer game. This is going to be fun. At his first practice, he was more interested in running off the field to get a swig of Gatorade than he was about playing. But I’m not sure if there’s anything cuter than him running around in his soccer shorts, cleats, and shin guards.
TV: Watching college football in HD is awesome.

Scripture: We just started a new series in Jonah on Sunday mornings, so I’ve been reading the book every day for the past week or so. Amazing what you start to see with some repetition. (And seriously, have you read Jonah lately…that last verse? I’m really looking forward to our pastor explaining that one!)

Wonders: Turns out, I like cauliflower and cabbage. Who knew?

Weirdness: I saw a sign on the side of the road offering business loans from $5K - $5Million. Seriously? Has anyone in the history of EVER actually taken out a $5,000,000 loan from a business that advertises in the weeds off of I-385? (I almost called, but I didn’t want them to have my number. I might call from a pay phone…if I can find one.)

May your weekend be filled with wonders and weirdness (and may the Clemson Tigers win!)

Grace and peace,