Tuesday, April 17, 2012

He Is {still} Risen

I forgot to share my Easter card here...but better late than never!  Besides, we celebrate each day that He is risen indeed.

{But it's nice when someone super cute reminds us of it.  Have a wonderful week!}

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Post :: Another Writer's Schedule

Note: since my schedule post was pretty popular, I thought it would be fun to see into other writers' lives!  Also, I know that my days of naptime are limited, so I'm curious how others do it.  Today my dear friend Sydney is guest posting with how writing fits into her busy days!

When Michelle asked me to write an entry for her blog I was excited and bubbled the news to my husband. The engineer asked, “So you’re going to write about writing instead of writing?”
“Of course! Isn’t that wonderful?”

Michelle and I became friends shortly after she and her husband moved to our area and got involved in our church. We visited at young adult fellowships (I no longer qualify, except as a host) and ladies’ Bible study. At the time, she had just graduated with a degree in English and I was (am?) a writer-want-to-be. Husbands and children aside, our conversations always circle back to faith and writing. 

Sydney's treadmill desk

Writing is not something I set out to do; it’s not something I’ve chosen. It’s just part of who I am. It happens. I love words and ideas: teaching, reading and writing.

The highlight of my 7th grade year was reading my father’s Louis L’Amour collection nestled in a fuzzy recliner while Tchaikovsky boomed from speakers on either side. The next three summers I spent rare afternoons without campers sitting on a log porch listening to Tchaikovsky and reading while thunderstorms rolled across the Big Horn Mountains overhead.

Michelle asked how I find time to write with my “busy, busy, busy” schedule. My husband I have four children (ages 10-18) and live on farm.  I am a substitute teacher, women’s Bible study leader, Good News Club coordinator, and president of the Fine Arts Booster Club at the high school. I think that’s what she meant by “busy, busy, busy.”

And the writing? Like many young writers, I kept a journal for thinking therapy throughout my teens, though never consistently. I graduated from college, taught and we started a family. But within a year of receiving our fourth child, I fell into depression, a world of shadows. I remember picking strawberries that June through a haze of sad weariness. It continued through the morning of our church’s Easter breakfast. Then, as I lay awake in the dark of night, words tumbling in my head, I stumbled downstairs to a glowing monitor and returned to the world of writing.

That year I saw four articles published. In the process of growth, my pure motives twisted as I began to attribute success and accomplishment to my own efforts.  I met with publishers from Moody, Harvest House and Kregel about a book proposal. And God said, “No.” He did not allow me to continue at that time. Since then, He has continued His faithful work on this unwieldy lump of clay and I am actively writing again.

When do I write? I begin every morning, after turning on the coffee pot and feeding the cat. Pulling my Bible off the shelf, I prayerfully read a passage, recopy a meaningful verse, and write out an interpretation and application for the day. Then I follow this verse: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I meet with my husband for breakfast and prayer, get everyone off to school, start laundry, sweep floors, straighten shoes and pillows, and/or go to work. On days I’m home (like today), I carry my laptop to the basement, prop it on the platform my husband fashioned for the treadmill, walk and write. On a good day, I get in a couple of hours. Some days, I don’t write at all. 

Crazy, right? But awesome!

The writing is God’s project and I trust that He will both prompt and provide based on His timetable. My job, my goal, is to be obedient to the priorities He’s given: serving Him first (Mark 12:30), my husband second (Ephesians 5:22), our children third (Deuteronomy 6:7), and so forth. I am the first to admit that there are moments of failure and meltdowns, but writing is not my first priority. As it pleases the Lord, He makes it happen.

The last six years I’ve been working on a young adult work of fiction. I hope to finish the editing process this spring and see where the Lord takes it. Until then, I take to heart Jim Elliot’s famous quote, “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Sydney is a wife and mom, active in teaching and serving as God gives opportunity in her home, local church, and public schools.  She blogs at Heart Quencher.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

#4. Diligence doesn't mean doing it all.

For Everything, a Season
Last time, in our definition of diligence, we saw that diligence applies to what is undertaken.

What have I undertaken in my life?  To follow Christ.  To marry my husband.  To raise my baby girl.  To write books.  Those are the things that fill this season of my life.

So why do I feel guilty when I look at a box of odds and ends that could become sewing projects...but they aren't?  Or see websites advertising that my toddler could be reading before she's able to pull up her own pants...but she's not?  Or that I could be serving gourmet, organic, grinding-my-own flour meals to my family...but I'm not?

Because I still cling to the myth that I can do it all, all the time.  But is that really what God had in mind?

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.  He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame (10:4-5).

The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing (20:4).

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest (6:6-7).

Season Mom, Not SuperMom
If I had a garden outside my door (oh, how I long for that day!) and went outside right now, in April, and started to plow under my flowers and just-about-to-bud strawberry plants...wouldn't I look pretty ridiculous?  Wouldn't that seem...unproductive?

To everything there is a season, says the writer of Ecclesiastes.  In our modern times, we feel the pressure to do everything at once because technology and the convenience of help make it possible.

I could be doing some heavy book marketing these days.  I could crank up my social media time, send out emails and letters to churches and bookstores like crazy, I could travel and speak and gain a following.  And most likely, nobody would give me funny looks like I was plowing under a flower bed.

But this season of my life is for the things I listed above: my God, my man, my little one, and way after all those important things, I write.  And when things are really quiet, I can pick up my knitting or bring out the sewing machine or make a dinner that's more involved than spaghetti or something in the crockpot.

Diligence is not for doing everything; it is for doing the best things, the here and now things.  Will you join me here, now, in whatever it is your season calls for?
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