On Writing…and the Rock

When I was fifteen, a tragic event made me pick up a pen and write for the first time. It was my own style of poetry. It was balm for the sadness, the loss, and the memories.

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I hid those writings because they were private, for me alone. I had no plans for it, but it was satisfying. I wanted to continue writing. That was fine until my mother found one and brought it to my attention. I was horrified that anyone would read something I wrote. It was something from deep within me, and in those early days I found it hard to express. I was young and inexperienced. I never kept a good diary as a youth, but Mom encouraged me. I took a writing course, and kept on writing.

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Eventually several of my stories were published, but I’m not concerned about publishing as I once was. My greatest dream as a young person was to write historical novels and become famous!

Fast forward many years later…

As I grew older my goals changed. Oh, I still have a dream of writing and publishing a historical novel, but my greatest goal is to tell truth.

In 2012, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month in November. I sweated out a novel in a month. The next year I sweated out another, and they both sit there—staring at me.

Edit, edit! They say…as they stare at me from the corner…collecting dust. And I am at a loss.
How do I stay on task through a lengthy project? How to I know when to stop writing, stop editing? So I’m stuck.

My blog keeps me busy posting once a week, and sometimes it’s tedious. It draws me away from the long goal. It’s quite possible I can’t keep my mind on both.

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I just finished a long essay on a difficult time in our lives that has haunted me for years. It was a huge changing point for us, and it took many long years to come to this place of peace. As I wrote it, I could finally see what God was doing for us, through us and to us.

Though after fifteen years I could say I had finally “let it go”, it still haunted me until I wrote it all down.  I relived that time in my dreams.

All the events in our lives are ordered by God, even though we make our own choices in life, God knows the way we will go. He has prepared everything for grace, and grace is given, as it is needed. We needed a ton of grace then, but I didn’t always see Him walking with us.

It all has unfolded into seeing years of His faithfulness. His patience…his unfailing love! It is a lesson I never want to repeat, but he engraved it upon my heart.

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I’m sharing this hard piece with a small group of writers in a few weeks. I have never met but two of these writers and I found it very difficult to push the send button to their emails. I felt like I was fifteen again.

It’s scary to spill your guts. It’s unnerving to say what is deep within you and then wait for a response. Those questions in my mind…

Did I really say what I was feeling?

Did I make myself clear?

Did I run on and on and on?

Is it good writing?

What are they going to think?

God reminds me when I’m being too hard on myself. I know because I am too anxious and he wants me to rest. He wants me to remember that He is the Rock upon which I need to cling.

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big rocks

At my desk I have a smooth, nearly egg-shaped rock from one of my favorite places—Lake Ontario. It sits on my desk to remind me of the Rock of my Salvation. (It also makes a great paper weight)!

It’s smooth and shiny, but when you pick it up, you see it has small pits or holes in it. It could be the rock was tossed against others as it rolled in the lake. If you went to the same beach where I found the rock, you would find many similar shaped rocks.

I like to think we are those rocks rolling in the waves of life. We are beat upon by swells and go under. We beat upon each other in life and come out with bruises.

But God always delivers…

 

“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God.” I Samuel 2:2 NIV

 

 

Tradition!

Bleary-eyed, I came in the kitchen today with my first thought: “What will I accomplish today?”  What was worse, I was saying aloud to my husband, “I didn’t really do anything yesterday…”

At the same moment, I realized what I said…it wasn’t true, and my husband knew it also. Yesterday I did the very thing God asked…to encourage.

I went visiting.

For me, it takes a lot of mental strength to visit a nursing facility. It is mostly because of memories. I watched my own grandmother retreat into herself and fade away in a short time. But physically, it’s the smell of Ensure everywhere—as if they clean the floors with it. Ensure triggers memories.  But it’s all the smells…then the looks…

White-haired, bent over people,  asleep in the dining room chairs and it’s 10:30 in the morning. I saw angry people, sad people, and all shells of who they once were.

My aunt looked remarkably changed since I had seen her last, and she had a very painful weekend. She was so anxious it was difficult to have a bit of conversation. She cursed, and fidgeted the whole time. Every part of her was conscious of the aches and pains in her body, and it was her only focus.

I went away discouraged, as if I had done nothing to assist her, no comfort for her pain. Teary-eyed, I drove away with thoughts of the depressing end of life for those who have to go there.

I made an unscheduled stop and talked with a relative who had no physical pain, but  pain was of the heart. She was hurting…a culmination of many years of hurt, which came to a turning point.

Did I listen—yes. Did I encourage?

I hope so.

I am compelled to visit, even though nursing facilities are hardest; and every time I come away drained. Does it matter to me?  What matters is that I went along with God’s plan that day and not my expectations.

Why do I constantly worry about whether I am of any use or not? It only turns into a inward focus instead of resting on God. Why do we constantly think he expects so much from us…more than we possibly can give?

This morning when I had the short discussion with the Umpire, I thought about yesterday.  I went with expectations of encouragement, but I realized the results are not up to me. I just had to be willing to go.

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All morning I’ve been thinking about Old Testament traditions. Laws set forth that no one could possibly keep in order to please God. That’s enough to recognize that we can work hard forever and always fall short.

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But then Christ came and took care of the law, and yet we have years of church traditions, right down to the order of morning service, how many hymns to sing, and how many times we go to church in a week. I wonder if this is what God had in mind.

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The traditional roles of men and women and how we perceive their roles in life are far different from when I was a child. Women were meant to be keepers at home, make babies and pretty much not have intelligent opinions. We are not so far removed from this thinking, but I realize how it is instilled in me to keep this regimen.

The Umpire never demands that dinner is laid out when he gets home. Even if I got behind in cleaning, or errands, he doesn’t get angry, or ask why it’s not done. Then why do I think I have to “keep up” these traditions of keeping a perfect house?

Why should I only feel worthy if I am doing it?

Why do I get stuck in these ruts and think it is my only purpose in life?

Because we learned these things when we were young and and it sticks to us hard. It’s easy to keep up repeating the same thing, instead of thinking out of the box.

But it’s not living freely…it’s not living lightly. It’s not asking God what he wants of us each day. It’s not rest, and it is definitely—boring.

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Maybe we need to rethink all these learned practices, or rather…each morning ask what God has planned for the day and be flexible!

Live freely and lightly! Honor God in all you do and know that doing what he requires of you is real living.