Cruising Along

>> Monday, August 27, 2012




The other day I had lunch with my great-niece and aspiring writer, Bethany, who turns thirteen today.

She lives out of state and we don't see each other often so it was a special treat to chatter like magpies about our shared love of putting words on paper.

I showed her my NaNo certificates, binders of written material, and dozens of computer files. She oooed and aahhed over my published works and peppered me with questions about my work-in-progress novel.

Best afternoon ever!

At one point, she asked me about using a pen name and I explained that during the short time I used one, I found it cumbersome and complicated.

I’d signed up for FaithWriters with it, never dreaming I’d actually meet any of those people. So when I turned up at the conference, I had to frequently issue disclaimers about who I really was.

I also told her about the legal and financial implications. I’ve always pictured getting my first contract advance and not being able to cash it because it’s in my pen name. (Come on, a girl can dream, right?)

The bottom line is that for me, it was starting to be more trouble than it was worth.

She seemed satisfied, but soon I realized I needed to tell her the whole truth…the REAL reason I used a fictitious persona:

Fear.

When I first started to write, I was too terrified to tell anyone. What if people laughed? Or worse, what if my writing stank?

Over time, my confidence grew along with my abilities. Joshua (in the Bible) became my hero and I often chanted, Be strong and courageous, Be strong and courageous.

And then there’s my blog, a direct result of putting on my big girl panties and moving forward.

To some, it may appear that I’m nothing more than a struggling blogger whose been working on a novel for years (and seems like it will NEVER get finished.)

But the difference, I told my attentive pupil, is that I’m doing what I’m supposed to, no longer held captive by fear. Then I shared a little confidence builder I read about in a book on writing:

"Every day, jot this down:"

I Am A Writer.

Then I showed her a pad with about a dozen lines filled in with this sentence.

“Every day?” she said.

“Yup. And eventually you’ll believe it.”

Happy Birthday, Bethany. I Love You 
and Yes, You Are A Writer!

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W(h)ine, W(h)ine,W(hine)

>> Monday, August 20, 2012


My quest to acquire cooking skills continues.

I’ve learned much through trial and error and if practice makes perfect, I should be ready for Top Chef any day now. But seriously: I’ve improved.

Really.

I’m not a fan of recipes as it seems I always rush through, mess up some measurement, or completely skip an ingredient. And end up feeling stupid. But recently I decided to try something new: a simple (?) recipe for sauce to put on steak. It seemed easy enough and I even had all the ingredients on hand… except for a bottle of wine.
 
I’m not a drinker. Never have been, never will be. So for me to buy alcohol is a big deal. I carefully noted the exact kind and off to the store I went.

Who would have thought that Wal-Mart would have fifty different kinds of wine? I must have stood there for at least twenty minutes, but finally put my hands on the right one and left feeling pleased as punch (so to speak.)
 
So I get home and start to prepare the recipe until I ran into my first stumbling block: the bottle had a cork.

For those rolling their eyes, give me a break: it’s probably the first bottle of wine I’ve opened since Boone’s Farm back in high school.

Of course I have no cork screw and reached for my iPhone instead. A few Googled minutes later, I had a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a screw poised for cork removal greatness. I carefully tightened the screw into the cork then tugged on it with the pliers.
 
Chortling with glee when the cork started to unwedge, the pliers slipped (not once but twice) and pinched my finger full force, creating a lovely blood blister-type wound.

Eventually the cork came out and soon the sauce simmered while I multi-tasked a sweet potato and prepped mushrooms for pan frying like an old pro.

By now I was feeling pretty cocky…until I noticed that the burner on the stove top wasn’t pre-heating properly…because I had turned on the wrong one.

A stack of potholders was on the verge of bursting into flames, but fortunately, I was able to snatch them up just in time. (No burns were incurred in the making of this meal.)

Dinner turned out pretty good despite the drama and the sauce? It was okay.

Next time I’ll stick to Heinz 57.

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Loss for Words?

>> Monday, August 13, 2012



 This week I'm honored to have my pal Lisa Mikitarian guest posting. She's a sweetheart, funny as all get-out, and one heck of a writer.
Lisa and Dorian Gray

Months ago, when I offered to guest post on Kim's blog, I was pretty sure I was going to talk about something fun and not too "Jesus-y"—as I like to start conversations where Jesus started them—person to person.

I mean, why pigeon-hole one another before we even have a chance to connect?  Later on we can slap all the labels we want onto ourselves or onto one another, because I guess categorizing is important to mankind.

But then last week happened.  Last week was not a good time to have a last name like Mikitarian in the land of Millers and such. There are five of us listed in the entire state.  So when one of them gets into trouble, people know where to look.

But this is also not a guest post about that one Mikitarian who is in trouble—though we would ask you to cover him (and everyone involved) in love and prayer, without tsk-tsking.  In a world inundated with sexual messages, technology, and stupidity among young people (a generalization), accusations often don't tell the real/whole story.  And yet, God uses those accusations, and every other miniscule detail to work in the hearts of all the imperfect people He loves. 

Meaning all of us.

This is a guest post about miniscule details.  Because God dwells there and it has taken time for me to believe that, to know that.  And the longer I live, the more I become convinced that it is in our gifts/talents/callings where He shows us that nothing is unknown to Him and nothing is beyond His use to draw us closer to Him.

There are so many things about which I know nothing, and if God connected with me in one of those places, I might certainly miss it.  But I love words and writing—and that is where God reaches me.

Which brings me to a couple of weeks ago, and how He prepared me for last week—which in case I haven't mentioned it—wasn't such a stellar week.

I've been blogging for two years, and have been on Facebook a little longer than that.  I have never wanted for words.  I have enjoyed writing status updates—playing with words.  Most times they included humor, some were profound or insightful or pithy or whatever.  The point is I've never lacked for one.

Until a couple of weeks ago.  As if a faucet had been turned shut, I was dry.  Completely.  I felt "status-less-ness," and reported it in a status update—which to some disproved my point.  A few days later, I thought I had an update (a pretty cool one at that), when Maddie asked me to take it down—it wasn't meant for public knowledge—and no, she's not expecting.  Then I asked for friends to guest post on my status updates—which is ridiculous.  But my friend, Holly, obliged and wrote a clever little limerick:

There once was no update for status
The muse, it seems, went on hiatus.
The keyboard was mute
Her thinker kaput
So she begged, “Please, friends, fill it in, gratis.

During this same period, my blog disappeared.  *poof*  Gone—have no idea where it went. 

Then came the week that was oh-so-not-stellar which I may have mentioned.  And the thought occurred to me that I didn't have to worry about what I was going to say on Facebook or the blog or anything—because I'd already established my absence.  I thought that was kind of cool.

But it was going to get even cooler.

A few of my friends began sending me Bible verses to remind me of truths I know, but which are so easy to forget when your heart aches and you feel like sinking into a hole and never coming out.  And one day I had the desire to post one of those verses.  And the next day, I had the desire to post another one.  It took me three days to realize that God had wanted me empty of my own trite/witty/pithy/self-aggrandizing words, so that He could fill me with His life-giving, soul-saving words of love and redemption.

He revealed Himself through something as unremarkable and as miniscule as a Facebook status update.  It felt like He was offering Himself as my (Holy) Ghost Writer. 

That is the message of this guest post.  God meets us where we are and with what we understand—where we can note the nuance of His interaction with us.  He reaches some through words, some through music, some through nature—the possibilities are endless. 

He connects with the Millers and the Smiths and the Joneses all the way down to those strange Mikitarians. Even the one who got himself into trouble. 

And He can (and does) reach out to you before you ever know Him or love Him.  And you might look around and say:  did anyone else just notice that…

And no one else will have noticed because His message was meant for only you. 

His beloved.

How's that for a label?

That is our God.

And that is the end of this guest blog.

I have yet to find my own blog—if you find it, please let me know.

All in Goodwill,
~Lisa

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"More, More..."

>> Monday, August 6, 2012

My life has turned into one big contrast:

Happy-Sad
Crisis-Status Quo
Good-Bad
Fun-Chaos

Every time I think, “Okay, now we’re on the upswing,” something else happens to blow apart my tidy world.

Oh, I know: Things happens. Get over it.

But I’m a person of consistency (which is a stuffy word for structured/anal) so when my earth tilts, sometimes I find myself sliding off the edge.

Make that ‘most’ of the time.

Church has always been a place where I get my batteries recharged. It helps me learn and grow, the worship a balm  to soothe my weariness. But due to vacation, I ended up missing services two weeks in a row.

And my stability beast reared its ugly head.

Couldn’t wait to get there yesterday.

While I was driving, a song by MercyMe came on the radio. It’s called, “Jesus Bring the Rain.” Here’s the chorus:

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

The song reminded me of the whopper thunderstorm we had Saturday night. It blew in 30 mile an hour winds and unleashed buckets. The temperature dropped so I threw open the windows to take advantage of cool breezes.

It was awesome.

And while wind damage, loss of electricity, and downed trees could have been an issue, I found myself cheering, “More, more, bring it on…”

Can't say I've done the same during the “rainstorm” my life has become. Cries of "bring it on" haven't come out of my mouth although a few rants of  "less, less" have.

I’ll admit it: When winds of chaos swirl around me and I’m drenched in discouragement, it’s pretty hard to stop and praise God.

Yet scripture says:

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.”
(1Thes. 5.16-18   The Message.)

I don’t think "be cheerful" means I’m going to be happy about what is going on. But it does give me hope. Hope that he will help me though. That he's in charge. And that if I look hard enough, I can see him at work. Even if it's just the fact that he's given me breath to endure for one more minute.

And then I won't drown in the rain.

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