Saturday, May 28, 2011

Same Blog, New Location

Moving Boxesphoto © 2008 Susan | more info (via: Wylio)
My blog is moving!

As of May 30/11, I will be posting from This Time Around's new home at Word Press.   All the posts made to date here will remain, well, here.  I tried importing everything to Word Press, but some stuff looked a little whackadoodle and with having to set up Google Analytics afresh with the new location, I thought it made more sense to leave here what was set up and formatted for this location.

Please bear with me as I sort out working from a new blogging platform and I hope to see you over at Word Press on Monday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back in a Bit

closedphoto © 2005 Laura Crowhurst | more info (via: Wylio)

There are certain things I've been neglecting in my 3D life for a bit and it's driving me crazy.  Plus I've honestly hit a real dry spot for topics here and, in looking back over previous entries, have found I repeat myself.  A lot.  I'm finding me boring, which is sad.

So I'm off to get caught up on some things, and pray about and think on some other stuff.  I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I'm shooting for next Monday.  I hope to see you then.  ت

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


No, I'm not doing another bona-fide post over here two days in a row. But I did do a guest post over at Finding Beautiful -- a blog I think you will really enjoy.  My guest post is a part of her series (new posts go up each Tuesday through July 5th) on living deliberately.  Please check it out!  I hope you'll enjoy it!

Another "Thank you!" to Julie (Finding Beautiful's blogger) for this opportunity.  :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Musings on Finishing

"Winning isn't always finishing first.
Sometimes winning is just finishing."
~ Manuel Diotte

To-do list © 2009 Justin See (coming back) | more info (via: Wylio)
I'm a pretty great list maker.

My 'to lists' are generally neat and tidy.  They are not overly long and if I can, I'll use brightly coloured ink on a crisp piece of paper or a fun font on the computer to make things look pretty.  And while there is not always a sequential order to the tasks listed, there is something very satisfying about seeing a list of goals or tasks waiting for me to put a tick beside them marking them as completed.

I wish I saw more ticks.  (Not the nasty, literally-get-under-your-skin kind; I mean the pen or pencil check-mark kind.)

No, I'm not a very good list finisher.

I recycle more goals and 'to do' lists than most bottle depots do bottles during a long, hot summer.  It's crazy.  But I've really been trying as of late to a) not look at former lists as 'things I have failed to do' and b)look more at where I need to go from here to get to where I want to be while hoping I'm staying in God's will for my life.  In other words, I'm trying to change my mindset so I can become a better list finisher.  If I'm constantly berating myself for what I haven't finished then I'm not moving forward.  I need to accept that, yes, I messed up but it's not the end of the world.  While I still have breath and life, there is an opportunity to pick myself back up and to keep going.

It's good to have goals, and it's necessary to write them down.  It adds concreteness to things; it makes them more than just dreams from a cloudy day.  But there also needs to be accountability, something to help keep you on track, to keep you going when the road ahead looks like a long, tiring climb up a steep and rocky trail.  And the same thing won't work for every goal in every situation.  Sometimes I can push through a sticky spot in the next blog entry by promising myself some time to read a new book.  But that tactic wouldn't have worked in regards to picking up my strength-training program after petering out on it last week.  For that I had to remind myself I have people to report my success (or failure) to at the end of the month.  There is definitely trial-and-error involved in pushing through to the finish line.

What about you?  How to you push through the dips or tough spots when working towards a goal?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Moving Forward © 2010 Lauren Hammond | more info (via: Wylio)
It's interesting how since I've started thinking about how to live deliberately, about doing things on purpose with a purpose rather than watching life amble on by how disorganized I've become.  Okay, it's not a 'oh look -- a shooting star' type of discovery.  I've been this way for a long while.  But my awareness of it is on hyper-drive, and, as is my tendency, I'm overwhelmed by it all.  It's in the back of my mind that I have to be able to sort through my house, sort through the files on my computer, etc. right this very minute and it all has to be done today.  If everything cannot be accomplished in one fell swoop, in one day, then what's the point of starting?


I never said it was logical.

So for the past couple of weeks I've been rushing to get out the door more often than not.  Various piles are squatting in various parts of my home and the cat is doing daily battle with the dust bunnies.  (Cat - 5, dust bunnies - 1.)  And I seem to finally find my groove ten minutes before I need to be somewhere else.

I was whining to God about it on my way to work earlier this week.  "I feel," I recall saying, "like I"m in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by a shipwreck, and I'm somehow expected to rebuild the whole ship in the ocean, but all my tools have sunk to the bottom.  (God may have chuckled at my dramatics.)  Yes, I was feeling particularly adrift at that point and I was tired of bottling it all up.  On the plus side, I made myself laugh with said dramatics and was feeling considerably less tense by the time I pulled into the parking lot at my workplace.  I was also reminded I don't have to 'fix' everything in the time it takes to snap my fingers.  Nor can I.

What I can do is this:  I can stop, take a deep breath, and sort out where I go from here.  God knew before I was even born I would be at this exact point at this exact time.  He's not sitting on His throne, mouth agape in surprise at any of this while wondering if there is any hope of His will actually being done in my life.  Nor does He expect me to change or fix things all on my own (as much as I stubbornly keep trying to do just that).

So I will stop.  I will breathe deeply in and slowly out.  And I will, with God, sort out where I go from here and keep on forging ahead.

Stalwart walks in step with GOD;
his path blazed by GOD, he's happy.
If he stumbles, he's not down for long;
GOD has a grip on his hand.
- Psalm 37: 23-34 (Message)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Repost: I Know You Are But What Am I?

Today, or rather this morning, is one of those times where the procrastination skills I have not yet quite conquered come back to bite me in the butt.  So I thought today would be a great day to revisit (and tweak -- it's almost as if I can't *not* edit it) one of my favourite posts.  Originally posted April 29/09.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

"In some sense, we are all hypocrites in transition." ~Erwin McManus

I had started this entry a little while ago, but tucked it away as too many other things were bouncing through my head and life at the time, but some things have settled down and others I have settled into so it seems a good time to pick it up again.  Also, how can one resist the following plea from the comments section of my last post?

*pokepoke*  Update please?  *begs prettily*

I would bug this dear woman (and good friend!) about updating her own blog -- Random Thoughts -- but she has recently done just that, soooo . . . I'm left with the option of updating my own or just shutting up.

But yes -- us, hypocrites and transition. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hypocrite is "a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion" or "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings."


But wait a second here . . .  look again at the second part of the definition.  A hypocrite is someone acting "in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings." (emphasis added)

Isn't that, to a degree, what Christians must do on a regular basis?

Take my perception of myself, for example.  I have spent a good chunk of my life battling feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.  Pretty near anyone who knows me could tell you I don't have the best self-image.  It is better than what it has been, though.  And this is why:  I'm finally starting to act in a way which contradicts what I have believed and felt about myself.  Regardless of how I feel, the fact of the matter is before the world was made, God loved me and chose me in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes (Ephesians 1:4, NLT).

Do I always believe this?  No.  Do I always feel this?  No.  I still have days where I have to fight to find something positive to say about what I did or about what happened during the day.  But part of changing my mind involves changing how I act.

So if that makes me some sort of a hypocrite, then that's okay.

Monday, May 16, 2011

No Clever Title

Blogger was down for a bit last week.  Oh, I could still look at my blog, but any thoughts of being able to post an update were merely wishes when I had the time to sit down in front of my computer Thursday night and early Friday morning.

Suffice it to say I'm seriously considering moving to WordPress.

All was not lost in my non-blogging time, however, as last week I joined The Blog Rocket Community. It is proving to be quite the gathering of bloggers.  There are some mad-talented people out there.  Honestly I'm feeling a bit intimidated, but I think it's in a good, 'spur me on to do better' way.  The proof will be in the pudding, as they say, and I think it's a good thing to invest $10/month in.  Certainly friendlier to my waistline than the two schmancy drinks at Starbucks that money probably would have gone towards.  ;-)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

There's a Map?!

Outlines and I didn’t get along very well in high school.  I’m pretty sure my English teacher was on to my ‘clever’ method of getting around doing them too, as I’m sure it wasn’t exactly a new trick to write the essay and then do up the outline.  So I almost did a little dance when I found out author Meg Cabot writes her books minus an outline:

“If I really like the idea, I don’t outline, because I’ve found that when I do, it feels like I’ve already told the story, and then I don’t have the excitement about actually writing it . . . People call that “seat-of-the-pants-writing.”  I think you can end up getting in trouble doing that, because I often will get midway through, and I’m like . . . I completely screwed this story up, and this could never happen.  And then I get really frustrated and eat 10 pounds of candy, and I’ll end up watching the Lifetime channel for 10 days until I figure out what I did wrong.  Then I have to go back.  But that’s the only way I can work.”  ~Meg Cabot in The Writer, April 2010, pp. 21-22

But while the above method is doable for writing a novel (Meg Cabot has penned over 50 books which include the successful Princess Diaries series), it doesn’t apply so well to pursuing one’s goals.  It becomes far too easy to become distracted or to lose one’s way completely when travelling by the seat of one’s pants.  I’m finally starting realize this as I am in the early stages of actively pursuing a couple of goals.  In the process, I’m becoming aware of a seeming myriad of things that distract me or trip me up.  As playwright Sidney Howard said, “One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” 

So I have to find some things I can get rid of, and this time a ‘backwards outline’ won’t work.  Hmmm . . . what to do, what to do?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Can't Make Me (But You Can Help Me)

I didn’t want to get up this morning.  Between staying up a bit on the late side last night and a cat who was up a lot on the early side this morning, it would have been very easy (and was incredibly tempting) to sleep in later than I already had.  But then I remembered my running buddy.

Yes, I and a long-distance friend (she lives States-side in Tennessee, I am north of the 49th parallel in Alberta) are each doing a ‘Couch to 5K’ program, and on somewhat of a whim last week I decided to see if she’d like to be my running buddy.  Happily, she agreed.  Now I’m no stranger to the ‘Couch to 5K’ program, having downloaded the app on my iPhone last year but petering out when it turned into a rather rainy spring after about three weeks.  And I think one of the key reasons that happened is I wasn’t accountable to anyone.  Not my husband, not any fellow exercisers, nada – just me and my will power, both of which will pick ‘warm and dry’ in a pinch when faced with lacing up the running shoes on a drizzly day.

Hence my ‘somewhat of a whim’ suggestion to my friend that we team up to conquer our respective programs – I realized I needed to be accountable to someone.  So now we follow up with one another via Facebook posts and in the process, I’ve made myself accountable to more people as other Facebook friends now ask how things are going.  It’s a great big ball of accountability.  I hope I’ll use it to help keep me going right over the finish line.

And it reminds me of Paul’s admonishment to the church in Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJ):

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner
of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more
as you see the Day approaching.

What are some ways being accountable to other people is helping you with an endeavor or goal or project?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Authentically Unoriginal

I recently heard some things (very good things, by the way) about authenticity, about how nothing we do is truly original.  We’ve all stolen something from somewhere, added maybe a dash or two of ‘us’ to the mix and then ran with it, whether it be a story or our personas, our faith or our songs.  The idea is not to be ‘original’, but rather to be authentic as people and as Christians.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” wrote the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 1:9, and he was – and is – right.  In my own life, I only have to look at many of the stories I have written.  As much as I may like to think they 100% fresh, new, never-before-penned ideas, I know such is not the case.  I’ve taken bits from television shows, movies, other stories, songs, and even real life, added hopefully a bit of me to the mix, and then put pen to page (and more often, fingers to keyboard), dashing away to a place I hope others will follow me to.

My faith has (and is) being built in a similar way.  I didn’t come into it all on my own. There are the pastors and teachers, family members and friends, strangers and even fictional characters who have helped shape and mold my view of God, His kingdom and His ways.  Much of it, I believe, has been good and right and true.  Some of it is distorted*.  And all of it comes together to make my faith, well, my faith.  It’s sort of like a patchwork quilt.  Bits and pieces are collected, stitched together, cut out if necessary and scrapped while something new is added in.

So it may not be original, the things that we do.  But may they be real, may they be something worth imitating.  And may they even be something worth stealing.

*My aim is not to point fingers.  As I mentioned in a previous post, sometimes I simply don’t hear what is really being said.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Faults & Fears

Between saying and doing
many a pair of shoes is worn out.
~ Italian proverb

I accepted an excuse for being late to today’s writing session I know any employer would never accept from an employee:  I couldn’t find my brown eyeliner.  And things basically snowballed from there.  I had to finish doing my hair, then make a cup of tea, then mop up the tea that sloshed over the rim of my cup onto my desk and then I had to settle my nerves because my house is a mess and so on and so forth.  Gone was the satisfaction of being up in time to do some preliminary writing work before making a lunch for my husband (a little ‘derp’ moment), and then getting in half an hour of exercising. 

This morning is, when I think about it, actually a variation on how the last couple of weeks in particular have been going.  The initial adrenaline rush of making some tweaks and changes has worn off.  The need for what seems to be tedious work has set in.  Reminders of all that needs to be done are plenteous.  Impatience looms, questions and doubts build, and the temptation to write recent pursuits off as a trip down a rabbit trail, to switch back to merely plodding through life snatches at my heels.

Hard work is worthwhile . . .
~ Proverbs 14:23 (CEV)
But I can’t.  Just as I can’t call the coffee from a popular Canadian franchise good after having some truly good coffee at another coffee house, I can’t go back to plodding through my days, simply letting life happen to me.  It’s not a good life.  It’s not a sort of life that testifies of the bigness and awesomeness of the God I serve. 

I don’t mean to say I have aspirations of becoming some sort of a celebrity, of seeing my name in lights (though seeing it on a book jacket in Chapters would be pretty sweet).  No, I’m talking about me (and you) living life on purpose.  Of not sitting on the sidelines watching other people be great at whatever it is they’re great at – whether they’re full-time moms, janitors, teachers, pastors, secretaries, salespeople.  Whatever it is they do.  Whatever it is we do.  We can all do it well, and we can do it all as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). 

So onwards and upwards it is, then.  In spite of faults and in spite of fears because the One who calls you and me will complete the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).  We just need to remember it’s not a passive experience on our end, either, and give it all we’ve got too.  I have a hunch it’s something we won’t regret.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oh Bother

My weekend was a good one, but constantly spinning away in the back of my brain like an over-caffeinated hamster on a squeaky wheel was some stuff that happened at work on Friday.  It’s nothing earth shattering, but it is irksome to say the least.  I’ve spent most of my morning trying to properly sort through it so I can take the steps I need to this afternoon to begin to resolve it.  Or at least do what I can so I can honestly say I’m trying and doing my best.

So yeah, there you have it.  (Or not, as the case may be.)

Catch y’all on Wednesday!

"Give us the tools & we will finish the job." ~Winston Churchill

Friday, April 29, 2011

Which is Bigger?

Then [Samuel] brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the LORD,
and the family of the Matrites was chosen.  And finally Saul son of Kish
was chosen from among them.  But when they had looked for him,
he had disappeared!  So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?”
And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”
~1 Samuel 10:21-22 (NLT)

Saul, who stood head and shoulders above everyone else (1 Sam. 9:2, 10:23), did not exactly have an auspicious official start to his kingship.  Hiding amongst the baggage?!  And this was after God had confirmed His call on Saul’s life through the fulfillment of the signs the prophet Samuel had outlined to Saul (1 Samuel 10:2-9). 

And how often we do the same.  Granted, I can’t speak for your situation, but I can say I have a pretty hefty pile of baggage I like to hide behind.  There are things I’d like to do, things I believe I’m meant to be doing and I know I’m meant to be doing, but oh, there are so many reasons for me not to be doing them.

Motherhood?  Yes, well, that sounds great but I’m approaching 40 and am getting a little old for such things, wouldn’t you say?  The medical profession certainly does a good job of wigging me out in part . . .  O_o

Writing full-time?  Yes, well, that would be lovely but maybe I’m to keep my day job (my tent making, if you will).  Plus I’m not terribly disciplined in how I use my free time and perhaps this is just meant to be a side project or a hobby.  That is, if I’m in God’s will and/or doing it with right motives in any way, shape or form.

Teaching kids?  Yes, I’m currently doing that, but again with the discipline thing.  And there are so many things I really can’t teach them about well because I’ve messed up so much myself. 

I could paraphrase Saul’s plea (for he does sound almost bewilderedly desperate) to Saul in 1 Samuel 9:2 to fit myself quite nicely:  “But I’m only the middle child from a prairie farm family, I am small, and the least important of them all!  Why are you talking like this to me?”


I think I can almost hear God chuckle (but with mercy and grace – He’s God, after all).  Here is why:  Because God doesn’t look at us and see us merely as we currently are.  He sees us, crouching behind all our excuses, as He has called us out to be. Think about Saul’s successor – David.  He didn’t focus on the fact he was the youngest and the smallest in his family.  He kept his focus on the bigness of his God.  And what about Saul?  Why was he so focused on doing his own thing, often under the guise of ‘it’s what the people want’?  The following verse is telling:

And Samuel told [Saul],” Although you may think little of yourself,
are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel?  The LORD has
anointed you king of Israel.”
~1 Samuel 15:17 (NLT)

I’m not trying to reduce Saul’s choices to a neat and tidy pop psychology analysis.  But his view of his self certainly did not help.  And his focus, it would seem, was not on the bigness of his God, but on pleasing the people and his own inadequacies. 

So you and I have a choice.  Do we focus on our own inadequacies or on the bigness of the God who has called us?  Do we kick down the piles of baggage, the excuses we’re hiding behind and step out into the wild, bold, amazing plans God has for our lives?  Or do we stay crouched down and hidden? 

I don’t know about you, but my legs are cramping.  And I’m tired of my current view.  So c’mon – lets go for it with God.  It’s going to be wild, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to be full of Him!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In Case the Cat Was Still in the Bag

Many of you who know me know I really enjoy the writings of Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like (the blog and the book) and the upcoming (and highly recommended) Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job.

So today I thought I'd share a recent post from Jon's blog where he compiled -- based on readers' votes -- the top 10 posts from Stuff Christians Like.  Feel free to click on the link and take an often funny (and sometimes serious) look at this journey we're all on.  I'm tickled to point out my two favourite posts made the top two spots!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Content (But Not Complacent)

In what was perhaps not the wisest of moves, I went to sleep last night struggling a bit with remembrances of missed opportunities and wonderings as to whether or not certain ships truly have sailed away for good.  I know, I know – I’ve been trying to put such things to rest for a while now, but my brain is not an Etch-a-Sketch.  I cannot give it a really good shake and have all those things disappear, never to be heard from again. And it feels a tad more difficult ‘to let bygones be bygones’ when I get caught up in thinking I’m surrounded by people whose lives are moving forward whereas I keep tripping over the same stones time and again.  But I’m not privy to all their struggles and questions and fights, so who am I to say I’m alone in these struggles?  I know, even though I lose sight of it sometimes, I am not alone.

So I’ve been fighting a little bit of the blues this morning.  But as I’ve seen my husband off to work and taken care of a few non-writing things, I have (however slowly and repeatedly) cast my cares on the One who cares for me.  The Message expresses it beautifully:

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs.
God’s strong hand is on you;
he’ll promote you at the right time.
Live carefree before God;
he is most careful with you.
~1 Peter 5:6-7

And as I give my head a shake, take a deep breath, and make the conscious decision (and effort) to keep moving forward, I rejoice in the One who made it all possible for me to have another fresh day with another fresh start. 

Oh, and a little ‘banjo music’ (my husband grows tired of it . . .) courtesy of “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons doesn’t hurt either. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Empty Tomb, Thankful Heart

This is how much God loved the world:
He gave his Son, his one and only Son.
 And this is why:
so that no one need be destroyed;
by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son
 merely to point an accusing finger,
telling the world how bad it was.
He came to help, to put the world right again.

~John 3: 16-17 (The Message)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Bit of Whimsy

“For everything there is a season,
A time for every activity under heaven.”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)

Awhile ago a friend and I were sharing what music we were currently listening to and I, in all innocence, asked her if she had heard the song Fireflies by Owl City as I had (and still do) enjoy it.  To put it mildly, she had heard it a few too many times thanks to The Disney Channel repeatedly playing an ad using that very tune.  (She either wanted to punch someone in the teeth or the throat should she hear the song again.  O_o)

I was listening to the song again on my way home today after a busy day at work and thinking about how life can get so busy and hectic.  We’re running here and there, trying to sort through a million different things and figure out what’s a priority and what isn’t while wondering if we’re doing what really matters, what really counts in the light of eternity.  It can be easy to get bogged down with weighty issues and thoughts.  And I’m not saying any of that is bad.  No, it’s a good thing for me to make sure my priorities are in order, that I’m not being distracted from those things which do matter the most in the long run by what is ultimately frivolous fluff. 

But as my husband can attest to, sometimes I do need a bit of whimsy, something fun and fluffy to keep me from becoming too serious, too worried about this, that and the other. And I agree.  Everything has its season – work, rest, contemplation . . . and even some whimsical songs.  

Do Not Adjust Your Sets

Blog entry in progress . . . check back this evening . . .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bits of the Picture

The clock is ticking, the cursor is blinking in my Word document, and I’m sorting through a few things (or trying to) as I sip at a cup of herbal tea.  So far, nothing has gelled into a cohesive entry.  And I don’t blame the lack of caffeine, as I normally don’t have my first cup until I start my office job after lunch.

No, it’s something simpler.

Today I decided for the first time in about a week and a half (not including weekends) to not get up early to write.  I didn’t prime the pump, as it were, and I’m sort of regretting it.  I don’t 100% regret it, mind you, as having a good night’s sleep was great (I’m still working on the getting to bed earlier bit) and I got a good number of things done this morning.  Brought the car in for an oil change, got some groceries, started some laundry, that sort of thing. 

But I do regret my later rising a bit.  Did I choose ‘happiness now’ over ‘happiness later’?  I would say so, yes.  At the same time, I’m sorting through some things I have been learning the past little while in church.  Things such as not pursuing happiness over pursuing truth, rekindling a hunger and desire for God and godly things, ways in which others and myself are intelligent (‘It’s not how intelligent are you,’ my notes read, ‘but how are you intelligent?’).  As such, I’m wondering for perhaps for the bazillionith time if I’m in God’s will or if I’m merely trying to get Him to bless my will.  But, thankfully, even with such questions bouncing around I’m not doing what I would normally do, which would be nothing or close to nothing while waiting for a TBD sign from the heavens as to what to do next.

Because I do know some things which I should never quit doing, thanks to the pastors and teachers I get to learn from on a regular basis – things such as seeking God, worshipping Him and talking to Him, reading my Bible, serving others.

And as Steven Furtick wrote in his April 14/11 blog entry, it’s often in the midst of doing those things we find the other answers we are looking for.  After all, Jesus called His disciples while they were busy in their ‘everyday’ tasks.  God came to talk to Gideon while he was threshing wheat, Elisha was plowing a field when Elijah found and began to disciple him. 

So who knows when God will reveal the next step to you and to me?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Further Musing or Two of an Uncaffeinated Mind

 If you don’t create change,
change will create you.

It’s interesting how when you start hearing about an idea or concept, you’re suddenly hearing about it everywhere and thinking about it a lot more.  Or how you can hear about something for probably years when suddenly it’s expressed in such a way that it clicks inside of you and you have your ‘Now I get it!” moment.  Or maybe you finally hear what’s being said properly, clearly and it’s like someone threw the switch in a previously dark room. 

Such things have been happening to me recently in regards to living life on purpose vs. simply letting life happen to me, as it were.  And some times my focus is where it ought to be, too, so I don’t become self-serving, where the temporary weights and struggles of self-discipline are borne with grace.  Other times I choose ‘happiness now’ over ‘happiness later’ only to later struggle beneath the much-heavier weight of regret. 

There are many things to weigh and consider and ponder, times of prayer and reflection and meditation and honesty that are required to take initiative and to live life in such a way that (as clichéd Gandhi’s words may be) we are the change we want to see in the world. It takes work and effort, it means getting back up and dusting ourselves off no matter how many times we fall.  But I do believe, in the end, we will find it to have been worth it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Not Stupid

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself – some Christian fiction drives me crazy.  I have read many stories about people who as soon as they decide to become Christians never make another wrong decision or do another stupid thing in their lives.  They are completely selfless, respond correctly in every situation, never complain, and are never frustrated about anything or anyone.  They never become distracted by the things in this world or snap at their spouse or children, bosses or coworkers.  They are martyrs and saints walking among us mere mortals, awing us all with their wisdom and grace.   


Now I don’t mean to belittle these authors or the characters they have created and the stories they have told.  Honestly, it’s good to have ideals and goals and a picture of how great things can be if we would all really do what the Bible says.  And for the most part, I have enjoyed reading these stories, even if I have felt inadequate in a few or several areas of my life when I’m done reading.  Because there are times, too, where I have honestly been spurred on to do better in my own life by the time I’ve reached the last page.

But I don’t think I’m wired to write such stories . . . or not very many of them at any rate.

And that has got me to thinking the story ideas I have bouncing around in my head, in my heart, aren’t all necessarily stupid, pointless bits of fluff.  That I can use them to encourage others and maybe make them laugh or go “Hey, I do that too!” Maybe I can make them think about something new or help them to see the part of God I was made to reflect.  And maybe even give them some time away from some hard (or simply ‘not great’) circumstances in their own lives via some silly fluff.  (I like to think of it as hot chocolate with whipped cream for the soul.)

We’re all wired in unique ways, with a combination of gifts, talents, abilities and interests no other person has in the exact same measure.  So rather than look at how we’re not measuring up to what someone else is doing, we (and I!) need to keep our focus on God, to go where He would lead us and to let Him use us – rough edges and all.  After all, Jesus didn’t pick twelve perfect men to be his followers.  One was a bit of a loudmouth, another was a thief and His betrayer, and two others were more concerned with getting good seats by Jesus in heaven. 

And this pattern is seen time and again in the Bible – Samson had a weakness for pretty ladies; David took another man’s wife; Moses insisted he could not do what God was asking him to do; Jonah literally tried to run away from the call of God; the apostle Paul, while he was still Saul, was very zealous for God but was missing the mark.  All imperfect people, all with dreams, and all used by God.

It’s like my pastor says – God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.  But here’s a footnote – He does use the uniqueness of each person to fulfill that calling as well.  David’s time as a shepherd gave him a unique perspective as a king.  Saul-then-Paul’s zealousness was a force to be reckoned with when he properly directed it.  And God can use our uniqueness, too.  He put it all in there, after all.  It’s not silly nor is it stupid.  The key, I think, is to not waste it or use it selfishly. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Priming the Pump

"You have to kind of prime the pump sometimes." -Bob Day

Yesterday I heard how in springtime (with its warmth and brightness and freshness) the temptation is to sit back and enjoy it, to go fishing or walking or biking, to simply do things that are fun.  But springtime is also a time where work needs to be done, where seeds need to be sown so there is a harvest in the fall.  So all play and no work at this time of year would be a most unwise route to take (as enticing as it may be after a grey, wet winter).

Too often I swing into the ‘play first, work later’ mentality that I was warned about.  I want all the easy stuff to come right now (or yesterday), to have the fruit of my labours without any labour.  And it’s not like I was raised that way; it is a bad habit I have gotten into and am working on getting out of. 

Part of the problem, I think, is too often we (because I can’t be the only one) look at work like this:  

We would prefer for it to look like this: 

I fell into the ‘American Gothic’ vision of work last week while longing for a ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ party when I got up early one morning to put in some work on a writing project or two.  Not much was accomplished.  As I wrote on a message board I’m a member of “. . . my brain was so confused by this action . . . [but] it was only the first day I’ve done this . . .”  Wah, wah, cue sad trumpet sound (even with the moment of clarity at the end).  Then a friend posted a response that I’ve been chewing on ever since:

You’ll get in a writing groove . . .  You’ll have to work that pump for awhile before the water will gush out.

In other words, I’m going to have to keep working at developing better work habits.  I’m going to have to see the opportunities, dressed as they are in overalls and looking like work (to loosely quote Thomas Edison), and, well, work to take advantage of them, even when it’s not all fun times full of happy tunes.  I have to not only sow seeds, but also tend to them so they can grow and produce a harvest.  In other words, I need to keep getting up early to work on writing projects so I can also clean my house before going to my job and spending time working on growing solid relationships with God, my husband, family and friends. 

Time to go work a pump or two (or three) some more. 

Friday, April 8, 2011


There's nothing like a good 'bazinga' (or three -- it's getting late and I have to hustle!) to get the morning going.  ;-)  Enjoy your Friday and the weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Musing of an Uncaffeinated Mind

It’s 6:11 a.m. as I begin to type this, and I point it out for no great reason, other than to illustrate it really is on the early side and I really have not yet had any time for a cup of coffee.  I need to be at work in less than two hours, I still need to get ready for said work, and it would really be swell to eat a proper breakfast before tackling another day.

So why up so early when I can barely string a coherent sentence together and I had to look up how to spell ‘uncaffeinated’?

Because in order for me to get what I want, where I want, I need to become someone other than a snooze-button pusher who barely leaves myself the necessary time some mornings to get out the door in good time.

I need to learn the secret to being selfish . 

5:30 a.m., may we meet for real tomorrow (with some coffee).  

Monday, April 4, 2011

La-la-la! I Can't Hear You!

I know a man who once was told God wanted to heal him of his hurts.  “The Holy Spirit,” said the prophet visiting our church that day, “says you are a candidate for healing.”  And I remember being very excited for that man when I heard those words spoken to him.  But I later learned that is not what that man heard.  What he heard was this:

“You are bad.”  As in ‘stuff is wrong with you and it needs to be fixed, you bad person, you’. 

One person heard words of hope and help.  The other heard words of guilt and condemnation. 

Funny, eh?

Now before anyone (myself included) is tempted to run off and say how silly that is and possibly sad and how they would never do anything like that, I would caution you (and me) to plant the feet and zip the lips.  Then take an honest inventory of any time when you know the words you heard and the words that were actually said or truly implied by those words did not match up.

I was struggling with such words recently.  I heard good, honest words about how it’s better to read the Bible than fictional novels not as ‘God’s Word is life and health and good for you, so read it often!’ but as ‘you wanting to write fiction is stupid and a waste of time.’

Then, oh-so-self-centeredly, I heard words meant to encourage another as a discouragement to me.  “You’re not really smart,” I heard, “you only think you are, you show-off.”  (A bit of time and a chat with my husband helped me see I was really just being silly with that one.  And oh yeah – it’s not all about me, either.  Whew!)

The thing is it’s easy to say something to a room full of people and have each one hear something different.  As I’m learning and seeing, our respective circumstances, our experiences, our baggage, colours how we see and hear things.  It’s like the kid who had an ‘okay’ or a terrible or absolutely no relationship with his or her dad trying to understand exactly what God looks like as a good Father.  He or she may keep trying to approach God as the Father whose love they have to earn, not as the Father who stands, watching and waiting day after day for His wayward child to return home so He can hug him and kiss him and forgive him before having an amazing party (Luke 15:11-32).

We’re all thinking different things in our hearts (Proverbs 23:7, NKJ).  That we’re winners who are capable of much . . . or that we’re losers who will never amount to much.  Or maybe we think about how we’re loved by an amazing God . . . or we think we’ve disappointed Him too many times.   It could be we’re thinking our dreams are good and right and doable . . . or that they’re selfish and wrong and not worth much of anything. 

Come again, Chief?
And people can say all the best things, the most encouraging and right and true things, but we’re not hearing them.  Not really.  There’s too much static coming over the line.  But (thankfully, mercifully) God is patient, His Word is sure and true and He does not lie. I keep coming back to Jeremiah 29:11-15a, and with each reading it is etched deeper into my heart and gains more volume over the static of the noise that would try to convince me otherwise:

I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for
When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me, I’ll listen.
When you come looking for Me, you’ll find Me.
Yes, when you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”  GOD’s Decree.
I’ll turn things around for you.
~ The Message (emphasis added)

Amen and amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One Step!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Confucius

As has become the custom at the office I have worked at for the past few years (I’ve worked with the same company for almost 6 years, but switched offices), I have worked full days between Christmas and New Year’s as opposed to my normal 1-5 PM shift.  And as is the custom for offices where many co-workers and customers are otherwise engaged, things were quiet.  Last year was no exception.

So I did what I could to keep busy.  I straightened/cleaned my desk in-between the work-related tasks I did have to do. I drank coffee.  I may have exchanged an e-mail or two with a co-worker from yet another office within the company.  And I thought about a blog post I had read from one of my favourite bloggers – Jon Acuff.  He was asking for help with his next book.  You can read the original post here:  I need your help with my next book.

I don’t remember exactly when I read the above post, but on Thursday, December 30, 2010, when the phones were quiet and my work for the moment was done, I sent an e-mail.  (And I realized just now I never did include my phone number.  Hey, I live in Canada and Jon lives in the States.  I was being conscientious of long distance charges.  Yeah, that’s it.)

Anyhow, here is most of what I wrote:

. . . my husband and I are both in a “I’m _____ but _____” time of our lives . . .

I presently work as an administrative assistant, but would like to be a stay-at-home mom who writes devotional-type pieces and fiction . . . And as I get closer to 40 (I just turned 39) I wonder if it’s even fair [to have kids now] considering the statistics that stick in my head about older women having children.  Couple that with too may reminders that our parents are getting older and my sisters’ kids are getting closer to being adults themselves and . . . yeah.  I wonder if our time is past for such things.  I also wonder if there is validity and real worth in regards to writing fiction.  It would be easy right now for me to blame my questions and doubts in that regards on what other people have said about it, but that feels like a cop-out.  It’s easier than dealing with my own lack of discipline.

So in a nutshell, that’s it.  I do remind myself God has His perfect timing and can use all things for good. It’s just really hard to wait sometimes and to let go of my own flubs and failures and questions as to whether I have basically messed things up too many times.

With a degree of trepidation, I hit the ‘send’ button and wondered if anything would ever come of it.  Jon’s blog has a wide readership, and lots of people have infinitely more interesting “I’m ____ but ____” stories.  (That’s not to be down on myself – it’s just the truth.  There are some amazing stories out there!)  So I more or less put it out of my mind.  Well, the forefront of it.  Hence I was surprised and excited to receive an e-mail on Monday, February 28, 2011 penned by Jon asking people to fill out an online form to help them (them being he and the people he works with at Dave Ramsey’s company) get to know my story a little better.  I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I do remember allowing myself to hope I’d be one of the ‘select group of people’ who would get ‘the entire manuscript’ of the new book to read in advance and then offer feedback on it.  Once again, the ‘send’ button was hit with a degree of trepidation. 

One week and one day later, I almost squealed out loud with excitement at work upon making a quick check of my home e-mail account.  I WAS GOING TO ‘BETA-TEST’ JON ACUFF’S NEW BOOK!!

Then came the longest week of waiting for said manuscript to arrive.  It was harder than the countdown to Christmas when I was kid.  But then I pulled into the driveway at home after work on Wednesday, March 16 and there in the mailbox on our fence was the best present ever left by the UPS delivery driver:  the manuscript!  As soon as I was able, I sat down and began to read.  I had until Friday to read the entire thing and offer my feedback via an online form. 

I finished the book – Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job – and the form at approximately 8:30 PM, MST the next day.

And it is a great book.  Seriously.  I’m not just being kind or trying to get good comments or anything.  It is a challenging, insightful, honest book and if you can in fill in the “I’m ___ but ____” statement, you should read it.  In fact, it is available for preorder on Amazon with a release date of May 10th.

Naturally, I thought that was it.  The manuscript was read and the form was filled out – finito, right?  Well, besides having to return the manuscript as per the nondisclosure agreement I read and signed off on.  (Because I was worried lawyers from The Lampo Company would come after me like the dudes in that one Stride gum commercial if I didn’t return it ASAP.)

But it wasn’t.  That one, seemingly small step I took back in December still has some more to follow it.  In the form of a conference call with Jon Acuff and other beta-testers of the book next week!  As I posted as my Facebook status update on Monday: “. . . "Über-excited" about covers it.”