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!