Monday, March 5, 2018

The Child

The child ran through the park - moving from swings to slide to monkey bars.  The sun was shining, the sky was blue.  It was the type of day that only exists in childhood memories.

A shot ripped through the perfect canvas of that day.

The child froze. 

Another shot.

The adults came running.

Another shot.

They checked the child.

No physical harm had been done.

Where were the shots coming from?

The adults ran throughout the park, trying to identify and isolate the cause of the shots.  The child remained rooted in one spot.  Each adult would return to the child to check in, to reassure, to hold onto.......more for themselves than for the child.  Then back out they would go.

As the sun began to lower in the sky the adults returned - one by one - to gather around the child.  Out of their fear, they began to argue.  Their shouts filled the park and rose above the child.  Their protective circle turning into boxing ring where they began to throw punches with their words, turning on one another rather than towards one another.

Blame was cast everywhere - the hope being that it would land furtherest from where they were standing.  Anywhere but upon themselves. 

On and on it raged while the child cowered below them.

The arguing continued for quite some time. 

And then..........there appeared a man. 

He weaved his way through the angry adults who by now had organized and had picket signs and the media had come and was filming the adults as they shouted and protested and argued with one another.  He seemed to create space all around him as he moved that allowed him to find the child in the midst of all the anger, fear and confusion.  He knelt down next to the child and drew a tic tac toe board and a big "X" in the middle square.  This man was kind but he was not dumb, he knew the best place to start.

The child looked up and grinned.  He knew this game.  He drew an "O" in the top left corner.  The man drew an "X" at the top in the middle.  The child drew an "O" in the bottom middle in order to stop the man from winning.............but then the man drew an "X" in the top right corner.  Victory was his.

They played again and again while the adults continued to shout and rage.  Each time the man won the game.  Soon the child became bored of the game and looked at the man with questioning eyes.  The man simply nodded.  He turned to write a few words in the ground with his finger, then he grabbed the child's hand and led him through the crowd until they were free of the throng of people.

It had turned dark by now and so the man turned towards the child and offered him his hand, beckoning him to follow him.  The child grabbed ahold of the man's hand and allowed him to be led towards the lights at the far end of the park.  There beneath the lights the man and the child sat on the swings - seeing who could go higher, who could twist the most times and taking turns pushing one another when their legs grew tired from pumping. 

The shouts and the anger born out of fear seemed to grow more and more distant as the man and the child played.  The child began to tell the man about his family, his life, his school.  The man just listened.  The more quiet the man was, the more animated the child.  Soon he began to share his own fears and worries........and the man listened.  It seemed that no matter what the child said there was no reaction from the man.  He just continued to listen. 

Then another child appeared.

And another.

And another.

And another.

They began to swing and play and have contests.  There was a bit of fighting for attention, fighting for swings, fighting for "the win" but eventually it would get sorted out in the presence of the man who listened and loved well. 

The children began to tire and yawns began to multiply and soon it was time to leave............but there appeared one more child.

The child's head drooped down, their chin touching their chest.  Big tears dropped from their face and yet this child's fist was clenched and when they raised their head, their eyes burned in their face.  There was such rage in those eyes. 

The child's other hand held a gun.

The children froze.

The man stepped forward, shielding the children.  Slowly but without hesitation - his eyes filled with love and his arms open wide - he walked towards the child.............








 




Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Bricklayer

The bricklayer shaded his eyes and looked up at the sun.  The temperature continued to rise.  He should have started his work earlier but there were too many things to move - all the possessions he had collected over the years had taken longer to move than he had expected.  

He had started early in the morning and moved his treasures to just outside the city limits.  He stacked them carefully, one on top of the other.  He lovingly wiped off every speck of dust, polished every surface and placed each thing just so.  They would finally be safe.

He got to work.....one brick at a time.

He had spent his life laying brick and could work quickly.  This would be his final job, the pinnacle of his life as a bricklayer.  He was building a tower which would hold him and all his possessions.  He laid each brick with conviction - conviction that he was a success, that he was right, that he would be safe, that.......well, that he was better.

"Whatcha doin', mister?"

Huh?  Who was that?  The bricklayer looked down.  There stood a small boy with dirt on his face and a worn out teddy bear with one eye dangling from his hands. 

"I'm building a tower."

"Whatcha doin' that for?", he asked as he wiped his nose with the back of the hand not holding the teddy bear.

"Kid.  You need to go home.  It's not safe here and it's hot and I need to get this done today.  Go."  That's the problem with the world today....no one taking care of these kids.  Where are this kid's parents?  Who would let him out on this hot day by himself and without any water........HMMPH.

The bricklayer grabbed a bottle of water from his cooler, took a long drink and got back to work.  Just a little while longer now and his tower would be built and he would be safe and his treasures would be safe.

"Hey mister.  I got something for you."

Not again.  Sigh.  The bricklayer looked down.  Both of the boy's hands were now filled - one with the sad-looking teddy bear and the other with a raggedy-looking bouquet of dandelions.  "Kid.  I told you.  GO HOME."

"I just thought you might like these for your fancy dinner table you have in that tower.  It looks kind of empty.....kind of, I don't know.....plain?"

"Sure, kid.  Dandelions.  That's what I need on my table.  Thanks.  Now go on.  Get out of here."  The bricklayer tossed the flowers aside as the boy turned his back and wiped an invisible speck of dirt off of his prized-possession - the Tufft Table.  No dandelions would grace this fine table.  Kids nowadays have no respect, no appreciation for beauty.  He walked back to his work, stepping on the dandelions in his eagerness to get finish his tasks for the day.

Brick after brick was laid.

The tower grew higher as the sun sank lower.  

The bricklayer arched his back and wiped his brow as he stepped back to take a look at his work.

Just another layer and he would be done.  

"Hey, mister.  Looks like you're almost done.......wanna play?"

The bricklayer looked down once more and once more the small boy was back with both hands filled - one with the teddy bear, the other filled with small rocks.

"We can play tic tac toe or throw these to see how far they can go.....there's lots you can do with rocks......so you wanna play after you're done?"

Sigh.  This.  This is what drove the bricklayer to build this tower.  Isn't this kid supposed to be in school?  Where are the parents?  What are these schools doing, anyway? All this kid wants to do is goof around.....hasn't anyone taught his to work or to not talk to strangers?  It's all seemed to be getting out of control and the only thing he could do is to protect what he had.  Once more he waved the boy away and kept building.

The last brick was held in place.  His task was accomplished.  He pulled the cigar out that he bought  the day he started as a bricklayer.  He had dreams even back then  - dreams of proving that he could, he would and now he did.  He had saved it for the day he would lay his last brick and today was that day.      

He allowed himself a moment to sit back and look upon all the accomplishments of his life - all that he had built, all that he had become.  He struck a match and held it to his cigar.   He flicked the burning match to the ground and was about to stamp it out when the flame caught on a dry leaf and then another and another - the heat of the day making everything so very dry....the flames made their way to the tower.  He scrambled from his sitting position but it had been a long day and the bricklayer was older now, his reflexes not so quick.....

The tower door was open......and it seemed to take but a moment.

His brick tower had become a brick oven.......what was meant to keep out, also kept in.

There was nothing to do but to watch his life's work go up in flames.  

He sat back down, tears streaming down his face making tracks in the dirt on his cheeks.  He looked around just wanting to throw something, to hit something, for somewhere to place his rage and anger and sadness and frustration......he scrambled to grab as many rocks as he could to fling at that tower.

"Hey mister. You ok?"

He looked into the eyes of the dirty-faced boy with a hand full of rocks and a teddy bear dangling from the other.

It was as if he was looking in a mirror........a mirror to the past.  And he remembered.  He remembered being that kid.  He remembered the yearning, the discarded gifts, the lonely days, being made to feel small and insignificant.  He remembered that day......buying that cigar and burying that boy deep inside.   That day he became the bricklayer.

He lowered his hand that was full of rocks and wiped the tears from his face.

And as the flames continued to burn and the sun sank in the sky, he asked the small boy:

"Do you want to learn how to build?  I used to do this all the time when I was a kid."

And so by the light of all his possessions the bricklayer and the boy began to build castles and towers as they created a whole other world with their rocks.......just as the bricklayer had done so many times as a small boy.




Only this time he was not alone.






Thursday, January 26, 2017

Two Sides of a Coin

I used to be THAT teacher.......

The one who brushed the knotted hair in the morning, putting in a ponytail or simply letting it lay flat.

The one who sighed over missed homework, unsigned papers and full bookbags.

The one who brought in extra snacks and even extra clothes at times.

The one who gave big hugs and sneaked in a kiss on the head.

The one who reassured parents that it would be OKAY......don't worry quite so much.

The one who came early and left late.

The one who always brought her students home with her - telling stories and hurting for them, loving them and praying for them.

The one who saw the ones left out, the ones taking over, the ones who needed extra love, the ornery ones, the I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING PERFECT ones, the hurt ones, the needy ones, the better keep an eye on them ones.

The one who planned and prepped and graded and researched and created.

And now, well, I am THAT parent........

The one who sends the child in with knotted hair.

The one who misses homework and loses permission slips.

The one forgets a snack for testing day.

The one who trusts the teacher to love her children well while they are away from her.

The one who worries that is SO WON'T BE OKAY.

The one who rises with the kids just in time to get them to school fully clothed and fed....sometimes rushing to get there at the last minute.

The one who has 3 students and no more - asking about their favorite part of the day.

The one who tells her children to look for the ones left out, the ones taking over, the ones who needed extra love, the ornery ones, the I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING PERFECT ones, the hurt ones, the needy ones, the better keep an eye on them ones.

The one who leaves the planning and prep and grading and research and creating to the professionals.

The one who is so thankful for ALL THE ONES who through the years have filled in the gaps, who have wiped away tears, who saw in my little ones kindness and generosity, intrinsic motivation and intelligence, love and bravery, confidence and care when all I could see was my own fear that perhaps they were NOT OK.

Mrs. B.  Mrs. Frantum.  Mrs. Case.  Miss D.  Mrs. Cook.  Mrs. Mongiardo.  Mrs. Mitchell.  Mr. Frederick.  Mrs. Roth. Mrs. Burchfield.

Thank you.

You are so much more than just teachers.

You are our gap-fillers and dream makers, identity shapers and every day protectors.








Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Unexpected Dreamer

I saw you today - singing, a look of pure joy and love on your face.

Oh my.  You are so beautiful.

Truly.

It occurred to me today that you are my dreamer.

The one that sees things as better, brighter, more beautiful than they might be at the time.  Yes, you are practical and sensible and a rule follower like daddy but you, my darling, are a dreamer, too.  I see it when you dance, when you sing, when you sigh big sighs because your heart is full.

I see it in how you are always encouraging us to love others and in how you love us so well.

I've seen you wrap yourself in a blanket on the couch and scrawl private words into journals, notebooks and on scraps of paper.  You pour your heart out through your written words and actions.  You love and dreams seep into our every day and we are so lucky to know you and have you in our lives.

I see glimpses every day of who you are becoming.

I am unbelievably proud and astonished and in awe of who you are becoming.

It is such a privilege that for this time, for these years that I get a front row seat to all that you are and all that you are becoming.

In you I see glimpses of me, glimpses of daddy but so much more than that I see glimpses of Him.

I see your care for others.

I see the genuine joy that is derived from walking in step with someone, leading them but leading them in a way that empowers them to be successful in their own right.

I see kindness.

I see gratitude.

I see beauty.

I see precision.

I see an desire for excellence that comes not from ambition or recognition but that comes from genuinely desiring to do the best you can.

I see poetry and dreams and that you are so good with words, in all ways.

I see that you are careful without being scared.

I see wisdom.

I see silliness.

I see respect.

I see so much in you and for you as you grow even more into who He created you to be.

Today I am so grateful for the glimpses that I get of you.

And well..........as for me?  My dreams?

There are many but you, in so many ways, have been a dream come true for me.

You continue to be my heart.

But now I know that it's not a heart to be broken nor to be tossed about or weakened.

You are my strong and steady and sure heart.

I love you Fia.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

14 Hours

14 hours ago I sat on a darkened porch lit by white lights and lamps............there was praise music playing and the atmosphere was one of peace and joy and God present.

14 hours ago I scrawled colorful words on a canvas that spoke of a good and gracious and loving God.  Words that pointed me to Him and reminded me that He is FOR me and WITH me.

14 hours ago I was with God and with others as we sang and prayed and laughed and talked on a rainy night while our children slept.

14 hours ago I was restored and ready and knew that compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace was mine.

That was 14 hours ago.

Then I came home.

And I remembered that the next day was picture day.

But, listen, I was RESTORED, people.  I was filled and I felt at peace.

Yes, I came home and there were no lunches packed and clothes weren't laid out and folders not gathered and, yes, the eldest needed to take a shower in the morning but NO MATTER.  It could be done tomorrow.  For God is good and gracious and compassionate and loving and I can reflect that in my life especially to my darling children.

It's like I completely forgot every other picture day EVER.  It's as if I forgot who I was.

Fast forward to this morning.

7:30am:  I arise refreshed and looking beautiful (It's my story, it can go however I want it to.) I float out to the living room as if walking on clouds and carrying sunshine with me.  Nico is perched on the couch covered in a blanket and playing on the Kindle.  Girls are still asleep.

7:40am:  My coffee is made and pancakes are cooking.  I begin to make lunches and gather folders - still in the fog of goodness from last night, confident that this day will be a beautiful one.  Francesca comes out, mumbling and whining, as she grabs me around the waist.

7:50am:  Fia comes out and we sit down to eat breakfast.  The pancakes are hot and fluffy and delicious.  The day is still on track.  We talk about the day ahead, everyone is pleasant.

7:55am:  The first crack appears.  I look over at my eldest.  The need for a shower is real.  I say you have to get a shower as soon as you are done eating.  "WHY?!?"  This is always the most ridiculous question to me.  Why?  Why do you have to clean your body?  Why?  It's PICTURE DAY.  "So?" she says.  Your hair is greasy I reply.  Nico agrees and to prove his point reaches out and touches it.  The compassion is waning all around the table......................

7:56am: Fia begins to chew her pancakes VERY SLOWLY.  She knows all the passive-aggressive moves.  I tell her she better get chewing and get in that shower NOW.

7:59am:  Fia is in the shower and now it's time to tackle the outfits.  I start out confident.  we have eaten, folders are ready, lunches halfway packed and we still have about 55 minutes til we have to leave.  WE GOT THIS.

8:04am:  WHY DO NONE OF THESE CLOTHES MATCH?!?!  WHERE ARE ALL THE CUTE OUTFITS THEY WORE THE FIRST 3 WEEKS OF SCHOOL?!?!  Clothes are all over the floor.  Nico is sitting on his bed REFUSING to wear the one pair of non-athletic shorts he has and now it is a thing and this is a thing that I WILL WIN.    "I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL."  Ok, I say.  Fine with me.  "I AM NOT LEAVING THIS BED.  I AM GOING TO SIT HERE."  Ok.  Fine with me.

8:10am:  I find a dress for Francesca.  It looks adorable.  She hates it.  I give in on this one because it's pretty fluffy and fancy and I get it.  I pick out another one that's sparkly and pink and has comfy material and looks awesome.  Plus she can wear her new dark pink sweater with it.  She looks beautiful.  EXCEPT FOR ALL THE TEARS AND SNOT STREAMING DOWN HER FACE.  "WHY DO I HAVE TO WEAR THIS?  It's TOO fancy!  I DON'T WANT TO WEAR THIS.  MOM.  MOM."  Then from Nico in the other room "Just sit on your bed and refuse to go to school, Francesca."

8:11am:  Francesca is still crying and screaming.  Nico is sitting on his bed.  Fia gets out of the shower and is standing there dripping wet.  There is still no outfit picked out for her.

8:12am:  You are both going to wear those clothes.  If you choose to stay home THAT IS FINE BY ME.  ONE DAY A YEAR I ASK YOU TO WEAR SOMETHING NICE.  The compassion is gone.

8:13am:  FRANCESCA YOU NEED TO STOP CRYING.  YOU CAN, TOO, RUN IN THAT.  NO IT IS NOT TOO SMALL OR TIGHT.  YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL.  The calm and patient voice is gone.

8:14am:  WELL, FRANCESCA IF YOU KEEP CRYING THEN YOU CAN JUST VOMIT ALL OVER YOUR DRESS AND THEN YOU WON'T HAVE TO WEAR IT.

8:15am:  Nico decides to just wear the shorts and an Ohio State jersey.  He decides it's not too bad.  The kid is smart.  He knows when the ship is going down.

8:20am:  Francesca is more resilient and keeps up the crying and snot.  I ask her ever so politely to leave the room because I CANNOT TAKE ONE MORE MINUTE.  I offer her the space of my room and ask her to SHUT THE DOOR.  She leaves.

8:23am:  We have 20 minutes til we have to leave.  Lunches aren't all the way packed.  Fia is still not dressed with hair wet and Francesca is a screaming basket case.

8:26am:  We pick out an outfit for Fia.  It's wrinkled beyond belief.  Out comes the iron.  I realize Francesca's sweater is a bit wrinkled and so I enter into the room of sadness and despair to get the sweater.

8:29am:  She is still crying.  To which I responded with compassion and goodness and mercy and kindness and said FINE.  FINE.  YOU WANT TO WEAR SOME WRINKLED, STAINED, NOT MATCHING OUTFIT.  FINE.  LET'S GO.  She nods her head.  I go to her room and throw out two random pieces of clothing and say HERE.  HERE.  WEAR THIS.  YOU CAN SHOW ALL YOUR PICTURES TO EVERYONE WITH THIS OUTFIT.  At this point Francesca's eyes are opened to the fact that mama HAS LOST IT.  She thinks that she will just wear the outfit she has on and take clothes to change into.

8:35am:  Ironing a sweater, dress and jean shirt.  Nico tells everyone to get in the car, he's ready.  How quickly he moved from the bed to getting into the car.  If you have ever met his teacher Miss D you might understand the motivation.  I don't think she has ever spoken above a whisper yet maintains complete authority.  I imagine she is looking pretty good to Nico at this point.

8:40am:  The girls are almost all dressed...........and now shoes.  OH MY WORD.  SHOES.  It's tennis shoes every day for my girls.  PLEASE LORD IN HEAVEN LET THIS NOT BE A BATTLE, TOO.

8:43am:  Apparently the crazy had hit a level that they were not willing to push.  Out came wedding shoes with tennis shoes and socks packed for later.

8:45am:  Fia's hair is still wet and lunches need to be finished.  We have to leave in 10 minutes.  WE CAN DO IT.

8:53am:  WE ARE OUT THE DOOR.  Everyone looks amazing.  Hair is shining, clothes unwrinkled, THE CLOTHES MATCH, Francesca's eyes have died down to a slight pink rather than angry red, we survived.

8:54am:  Everyone is buckled.  The radio is turned on and "Because I"m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, Because I'm happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, Because I'm happy clap along if you know what happiness is to you.............."  And we clap and sing and dance and smile and jam.

14 hours later I sit in a van..............with praise music playing and the atmosphere one of having survived and joy and God present.

14 hours later we sing loud and sigh with relief over getting through the morning and I apologize and we laugh.  And I am reminded that we are FAMILY - FOR each other and WITH each other.

14 hours later the van is filled with screaming as we pull in and Fia says SEE MOM not everyone is dressed and I scream and make exaggerated sounds of horror as I imagine a whole slew of kids showing up not dressed and everyone dissolves into giggles and shouts.

14 hours later I am restored and ready and KNOW compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness and grace is mine.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Author

POUND. POUND. POUND.

The author's finger pounded the computer keys.  She was tempted to use her middle finger - proving the strength of her anger and frustration.

DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.

She had been at this for weeks now, months is she were to be honest.

She was working on her next book.  She had experienced a bit of success with her first effort, minor success with the second and was now working on her third book.  She never had thought of herself as an author before.  It seemed a bit too lofty of a goal for this ordinary girl........well, now woman.  Her aspirations were a bit quieter, a bit more personal and private.  And not everyone would consider being an author a worthy or unattainable goal, it's not something they would value or look upon as special.

But she did.

And now she was stuck.  She was stuck in the middle of the book.  Every day she would wake up and there was a plan to write a few pages and be done.  After all, she was a wife and a mom and in charge of meals and making sure there was just enough underwear for the day.......sometimes it was pulled out of the washer and worn wet but it was worn.  So you see there was time set aside for being an author and then there was time to be wife, time to be mom, time to cook and keep up her part of the house (Have no fear the author had a husband who wrote checks and made appointments and did bills and fixed things and it all sounds very 1950s but trust me when I say it's best for all involved.  There is no right way but there is a best way for each family and this is simply their best way.  It doesn't have to be yours.)


There was a time and place set aside for writing and she liked things to stay in their places.  It was more comfortable for the author.  The overlapping and intersecting of lives tended to complicate matters and make her head hurt.

Literally.

Her head hurt when so many things piled up in a day and people and things and tasks filled to overflowing so she mapped out space and time for her tasks.

The problem was each day when she sat down to write she didn't know what came next.  She would sit down at her desk.  The kids were taken care of - sometimes by the grandparents, sometimes by books from the library and sometimes from every parent's best friend MEDIA - and she would have the quiet she needed to think and write and plan and her hands would be poised over the keyboard and she would write.

The words flowed and the ideas would come and the mental pictures would all be there.  She would write and write and write.   Her goal was a chapter a day.  Truth be told she would like it to be more but a chapter seemed the most reasonable to her - in light of her other responsibilities.  That was the plan.

The author loved plans.

Her blocked off time would come to an end.  She would go back and reread what was written.  It was always good.  Really good.  (I never said the author wasn't proud of her success or talent, it was just unexpected :) She knew it was good.

But it didn't fit.  It didn't work with where the book was, where she was at in the story.  It just didn't sound write.  She didn't have much experience with technique.  She had never studied writing or took classes or anything, it was more of a feeling.  A feeling based on years of reading - both the good and bad - that something was not right.  In fact, it was wrong.

POUND. POUND. POUND.

That was where she was again today.

DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.

She was at her wit's end.  The kids came running into the room.  Today was a timer set kind of day.  Go read, play, run outside, BE AWAY FORM YOUR MOTHER and when the timer buzzes you may come and get me, said the author to her kids.

The timer had gone off.

It was time to for the author to turn into mom.  She went and got dinner started - filling the pan with water, turning on the stove, chopping tomatoes, cutting up spinach.  The kids got out the plates and silverware and began to ready the table for dinner.  Within 20 minutes dinner was on the table, dad was home and the house was buzzing with the noise of a family.  The book was left behind for a few hours as life continued and there was running outside and reading of books and readying for bed and other things involving a wife and a mom.  She talked a bit of the struggle of all the ideas and the writing of the chapter and the eventual pounding of the keys and deleting of the words but the immediacy of her family called attention away from the now far off possibility of a new chapter.

Later on that night as the author's husband was putting the kids to bed, though, the frustration was back.  The anger at not being able to move forward.  The irritation at not having a plan for what's next in the book.  It all came back as the noise and activity of the house died down.

She decided to call her editor.  She was sure that he would have some ideas or words of encouragement, some get up and go speech........something of that sort.  After all their futures were kind of tied together.  If she didn't produce, he wouldn't get the goods.  No chapters.  No profit.  She just needed some good old, hard-core motivation.

Hi.  Glenn?  It's me.  Penny.  Yeah, I was calling........well, yeah I guess it's a penny for your thoughts...........HAHAHAHA!

Silence.

I know, I know.  I promised never to say that again when I called you.  Ok.  Anyway.  I'm stuck.  I can't get passed the third chapter.  I have all these ideas and thoughts and things I want to happen with the main characters but when I write it out.........well, it just doesn't work.  It's starting to freak me our a bit and I am getting frustrated and AHHHHHHH.  It just needs to happen.  I need that fourth chapter to be written.

Why?

What do you mean WHY, Glenn?  I can't finish the book unless I have a fourth chapter.  I really just want to finish this book.  The first book I wasn't even thinking when I wrote it.  It just sort of happened.  It was good but it wasn't great or anything, it was more just something I did because my husband convinced to just write everything down.  The second book was a bit more of an effort but it just seemed as if I fell into writing another one.  I want THIS book to count, I want it to be something that is GOOD.

Ok.  So what's the problem?  

GLENN.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?  The PROBLEM is I can't get past the third chapter.  I have this plan and it's a chapter a day and that seems doable and reasonable and all that and it's just not happening.  I will NEVER get this book done if I can't get past the third chapter.

Ok.  So you want to write a third book?

YES.

And you want it to be good because you are writing it with the actual knowledge that you are an author now and it's not just dabbling anymore?

YES.

And it's not happening fast enough and within the confines of your neatly organized plan?

YESsssss.......I mean, Glenn, when you say it like that it seems a bit ridiculous. BUT IT IS SO NOT.  I just...................sigh.........I just..........I don't know.

Penny.  What made you want to become an author in the first place?

I don't know.  I don't think that I ever had that thought until after the second book.  An author.  It still gives me the shivers.  I don't know that I can even wrap my head around it now.  I just know that I love books.  I love how they make me feel.  I love that you can get wrapped up in them for hours.  I love that they inspire me.  I love that I can get lost in them.  I love words.  I remember that moment when I discovered that I can write.  That I can write things worth reading, only I am not sure I ever had the conscious thought that someone would want to actual read my words.

What do you love about writing, Penny?

It's exciting.  It feels like ME.  I'm good at it.  It allows me to be creative and dream and there are so many possibilities when you write.  A blank page is simply a canvas on which I get to create whatever world I can imagine.  It's so much fun.

Ok. So what's the problem?

It's almost as if the things that first made me fall in love with writing, with the idea of being an author are holding me back.  I hear myself answering your questions and I think that once I was able to fully see all the possibilities and all the blank pages and I was able to believe in my ability to fill them with good things I wanted to fill them all RIGHT NOW.  It's almost as if completing the book was more important than all the words and ideas and beauty found on each and every page.

Oh my.

Penny................

I know.

Enjoy the book you are on, the page you are on, the words you are crafting.  There is a time to plan.  That time was before.  The before when you couldn't even imagine starting.  That time?  Remember that time?  You were so unsure of yourself.  You called me and you wondered if I had time to look at some stories you had written...........I thought you were going to hang up before I could even say YES.  You spit out the words and were about to put down the phone.  But I said YES.  Penny, your stories were lovely.  The words were filled with a tentativeness but there was beauty in those first words.  Now?  Now you have conviction.  You have the knowledge that YOU CAN.  You have some experience.  

And Penny?

You have TIME.

There's no pressure from me.  Go slow.  Get it right.  Pound away.  Delete a bit.  Edit a bit.  Dream a lot but don't try to skip ahead.  I will be here when you finish - in 2 days or in 2 years.  

SIGH.  GLENN.  Ok.  Ok.  I hear you.  Go slow.  Get it right.  Delete. Edit. Dream.  Don't try to skip ahead.  Thanks, Glenn.

Oh and Penny?

Yeah, Glenn?

This is just the beginning of the series...............I saw a contract with your name on it in the office the other day.  10 books, Penny, 10 books.  Just enjoy the ride.

GLENN!!!

Dial tone.






Thursday, June 4, 2015

Seeking God in a Google World

Answers.

So easy to come by these days.

What's the definition?

What have I seen her in before?

Where do they live?

Where do I want to live?

What's his name?

How do I  ____________ ?

Answers.

At our fingertips.

On our phones.  Our laptops.  Our desktops.  Our Kindles.  Our every device.

Sometimes I forget what it feels like to wait.

Sometimes I forget to EMBRACE uncertainty; rather than reject it in favor of KNOWING.

Sometimes I find myself reaching for my phone, looking for answers that can't possible be answered by Google.

And it's frustrating not getting what I want.

Answers.

They don't come.

They aren't found.

There is no way of googling "What do I do next?" or "What will my life look like in 5 years?"

I tried.

It turns out other people have done the same.

The answers weren't great.  Or helpful.

Then I remember.

To seek God first in this Google world.

To seek FIRST.

To seek FULLY.

To seek, not only answers, but seek HIM.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."
                                           - Matthew 6:33-34


And perhaps I will discover that Google is NOT the ultimate search engine..........


"Search me, God, and know my heart;  test me and know my anxious thoughts."
                                           - Psalm 139:23

Lord.

You know.

Help ME to know.

Know not the answers but to know YOU.

Help me to seek YOU first.

I love you.

Amen.