Monthly Archives: December 2012

If You Give a Writer an Assignment

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Just using the word “writer” in the title of this post makes me cringe. I don’t consider myself a “writer,” especially since most of my words stay in my head and never see the light of day. But occasionally, people who know I like to play with words invite me to work on writing projects. I hadn’t really worked on anything in years, but a couple of weeks ago I was given an opportunity to help with an assignment.

I knew I hadn’t blogged or journaled or written much more than a grocery list on a regular basis in awhile, but I had no idea how out of writing shape I was until I sit down to actually write.

I love to write…in my head. The words come fast and freely. To actually get the words out of my head and into a black and white form that can be shared with others isn’t as easy. I don’t have ADD, but when I sit down to write, I am my own biggest distraction.

I thought I’d share with you this play-by-play account of what happened last Wednesday when I sat down to work on the new project:

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Told kids I had a project I needed to work on for half an hour. Asked them to find something quiet to do so I could have a little bit of quiet space.

Sat down at computer to write.

Checked email to make sure nothing urgent was in my inbox that needed my immediate attention. Found four emails that needed a quick response. Responded to the two easy ones and ignored the rest.

Decided I should check Facebook so I wouldn’t be tempted to check it later. Spent way too much time rewinding through the newsfeed.

Refereed fight between kids. Made an idle threat or two.

Clinked on link to an article someone posted on FB newsfeed.

Clinked on link to another article that was mentioned in the first link.

Opened document file to begin writing project.

Began first paragraph.

Wasn’t sure about the punctuation in the first sentence. Went online to google punctuation rules. Disagreed with the references I found.

Remembered I had a book downstairs that might support my punctuation opinion. Ran downstairs to get it.

Saw plate of cookies on kitchen counter. Grabbed one for energy.

Found book. Looked for punctuation rule that used to be in there and discovered it must have disappeared.

Ran back by counter and grabbed another two more cookies.

Noticed someone had made a comment on a post on my Facebook wall. Responded to comment.

Went back to paragraph. Changed punctuation of the first sentence.

Decided that maybe some background music would be inspirational and might chase out the song earworm that has been burrowing in my brain for three days.

Pulled up Spotify and decided maybe listening to the song earworm would actually help. Listened to song. It didn’t help.

Remembered that I want to teach the kids a Christmas carol in Hawaiian, so I looked up a few on Spotify. Realized that iTunes would have more options, so  pulled up iTunes.

Found several that were promising. Decided to compare the songs between artists to see which one was better. Couldn’t decided so downloaded several.

Googled the Hawaiian lyrics. Made a new document file to cut and paste lyrics and tried to print them out only to find out that the black ink cartridge was empty. Changed cartridge.

Attempted to print lyrics again.

Cleared paper jam.

Last try to print lyrics was successful.

Listened to songs while reading the lyrics to make sure they matched. Some didn’t. Researched lyrics that would actually match the song. Found them. Cut and pasted them into document.

Attempted to print revised lyrics.

Cleared paper jam.

Printed revised lyrics.

Oh, yeah! The writing project. Wondered if my lack of focus and discipline could be why it takes me so long to write one stinking article.

Wondered if my friend Deb who is an actual writer gets distracted as easily as I do.

Sent her a  ridiculously long message on Facebook chronicling all of the above events to ask her if she gets as easily distracted as I do when she’s trying to write. She does.

Remembered that I didn’t actually take the chicken for tonight’s dinner out of the freezer.

Researched Pinterest for quick supper ideas.

Realized that I had none of the ingredients needed for any of the quick supper ideas I found.

Gave myself ten more minutes to work so I could go downstairs and try to salvage supper.

Decided maybe the time pressure was effective because I was finally getting in the flow and making some headway.

In the middle of the best sentence ever written in the history of words, was called downstairs because the kids had locked us out of my bathroom.

Knew the answer to the “why” question would leave me wanting, but asked anyway. Was left wanting.

At the scene of the crime, discovered that in their attempt to “fix it” so that I would never know, they had disassembled the doorknob so that it was hanging on by only a screw.

Tried to use my calm voice to explain to children that this is not what I had in mind when I asked them to find a quiet activity that wouldn’t disturb me.

Sent the children repeatedly to and from their father’s toolbox to bring me various and sundry screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, chisels, and the like.

Felt a little guilty for telling the child who did this that if a locksmith had to be called, the money would be subracted from his Christmas.

Assured same child I wasn’t serious and that all would be well. Hoped to myself I just hadn’t told another untruth to the child.

Remembered  Sus had recently survived a similar lockout with her closet door and texted her for advice and encouragement. She didn’t have much.

Miraculously and undoubtedly because God is kind and must like my kids, used some mysterious combination of tools and actually unlocked the door.

Thanked God that being a military wife has made me resourceful.

Patted myself on the back for being so handy.

Pondered a good theme song for the DIY show on HGTV that was surely in my future.

Thanked God again for helping me out in my time of need, even when I have a tendency to take all the credit.

Decided to work on the project another day.

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In Silence and Support

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by | December 18, 2012 · 12:00 am

Welcome to Our World

Like you, I am heartbroken over what happened in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday.

My hugs have lasted a little longer this weekend. I’ve been more intentional about the words I’ve spoken to my children, knowing I have no guarantee they won’t be my last message to them.

I’ve relished the ordinary minutes that were routine on Thursday, but for parents who will never have them again, seem almost holy.

I’ve wondered if I’ve taught my kids enough about how to handle loneliness and anger and disappointment and how to be a friend. Do they know enough to keep them safe? I’ve worried about what danger might be just around the next corner. And then I’ve tried to remember to let go of the things I can’t control.

Like you, I have questions. My Facebook newsfeed and email inbox are full of people sharing videos and sermons and pictures and poems trying to make sense of something that’s senseless. I have seen many things that make me think, but nothing that answers my questions.

I don’t really know why this happened. I do know enough about grief to know everyone handles loss differently. And sometimes grief makes us feel angry and instead of bringing us together it causes us to argue with each other about anything and everything.

I am hesitant to add my voice when so many  have already said so much, but I heard this song on the way to church yesterday. This song has always been very special to me, but yesterday, it was as if I heard it for the first time. It didn’t answer my questions, but it brought some comfort to me. I thought I would share it in the hopes it might do the same for you.

“WELCOME TO OUR WORLD”

Tears are falling.

Hearts are breaking.

How we need to hear from God!

You’ve been promised,

We’ve been waiting.

Welcome, Holy Child.

Welcome, Holy Child.

Hope that you don’t mind our manger.

How I wish we would have known,

But long-awaited Holy Stranger,

Make Yourself at home.

Please, make Yourself at home.

Bring Your peace into our violence.

Bid our hungry souls be filled.

Word now breaking Heaven’s silence,

Welcome to our world.

Welcome to our world.

Fragile finger sent to heal us,

Tender brow prepared for thorn,

Tiny heart Whose blood will save us,

Unto us is born,

Unto us is born.

So wrap our injured flesh around You.

Breathe our air and walk our sod.

Rob our sin and make us holy,

Perfect Son of God.

Perfect Son of God,

Welcome to our world.

(Lyrics by Chris Rice. Sung by Michael W. Smith)

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt

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Ever made an impulse buy that you regretted later? Maybe you saw something  you just HAD to have, only to get it home and think, “Why in the world did I get this?”

It’s happened to me, but I don’t think I’ve ever turned a purchase I regretted into an opportunity to change people’s lives.

Amy Bennett did.

She bought the cutest belt at Anthropologie, but after she got it home, she wondered if that had been the best use of her money. She was in the middle of a read-along on a mutual friend‘s blog. They were reading David Platt’s book Radical, a book that challenges its readers to examine their lives and “forsake everything for the Gospel.” As she sat down to write her reflections on what she’d read, the cuteness of her new accessory was overshadowed by the guilt that the $28 she spent for that belt could have been used for a greater good. Unfortunately, she couldn’t return the belt so what could she do?

She decided to sell the belt for what she paid for it and donate the money to Blood:Water Mission, a group founded by the music group Jars of Clay that raises awareness and funds “for the provision of clean blood and clean water in sub-Saharan Africa.” One of her best friends eagerly agreed to take the belt off her hands, but then Amy and her friend wondered if maybe they couldn’t do more with that little belt. Out of their discussions, Amy created The Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt. She offered girls a chance to “buy” the opportunity to wear the belt by making a $28 donation to Blood:Water Mission and thus become a member of The Sisterhood. Amy bought a journal to accompany the belt and asked each of the belt’s “owners” to make an entry before she passed the belt on to the next person on the list.

Here’s what I love about Amy’s story. First, I love that guilt didn’t win. Guilt is easy. I’m good at guilt. I can always find a reason to kick myself for something I’m doing or not doing. But I think it’s important to know the difference between guilt and a calling to do something different. Guilt is usually a nice place to wallow. It rarely spurs me to action and it doesn’t ignite a passion in me. Guilt doesn’t want me to be better, it just wants me to not like who or where I am. A call to do something different may start with that same uncomfortable feeling that I’m not where I want to be, but whereas guilt leaves me there, a calling ignites a fire under me to move from where I am.  I think God may convict us to change something but I don’t think He guilts us into doing it.

 I love that Amy found a creative way to make a difference. She says she felt silly at first and hoped she’d find at least 28 people who would be willing to participate in the Sisterhood. I think she hoped the belt would make its way through her friends and maybe to the friends of friends. I heard about the belt through our mutual friend’s blog and knew I wanted to be a part, so I added my name to the growing list. I’m not sure how up-to-date the list is, but by my own count, I’m at least the 57th Sister to own the belt.

The belt hasn’t had an easy journey. Somewhere along the way, the original belt and journal were lost in transit. Amy sent an email to the people who were still waiting to join the Sisterhood asking whether they wanted her to purchase another belt and continue, or let that be the end of the story. Overwhelmingly, we wanted the Sisterhood to continue, so a similar belt was found, a new journal was purchased, and the chain continues.

The other thing I love about this story is that everyone has a belt. I don’t mean that in the sense that everyone has a belt they should “sell” in a chain letter fashion to make money for charity. Nor am I saying that God doesn’t want you to own cute belts.  But I do think we each have something we can do, however small it may seem in our own eyes, to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

For instance, I have a friend who believes God wants her family to include a little girl named Joy who currently lives in China. Adoption is expensive, so to raise money, she’s used her talents to make beautiful necklaces.

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 They’re $12 each and they’re available in her Etsy shop: TheJoysofLife.  They’d make great stocking stuffers, don’t you think? Anyway, the point is, I’m now on the look out for ways to use the me God made to do bigger things for Him.

Thanks, Amy, for allowing me the opportunity to be a member of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Belt.

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Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share with my kids some important life lessons about creative ways to be big in the Kingdom. Who knows what Kingdom creativity you’ve inspired?

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If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Sisterhood,  you can find more information here and sign up here.

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