Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Challenge on Middle Places

When people find out I am a writer, they almost always ask about my book. What is it called? Where can they buy it?
One day, I will be very glad for this, because I will be able to give them the title and tell them where to buy it.
I’m not there yet. I’m still here.
The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.” 1 Kings 5:18 (NIV)
It took a long time to build the temple, and before they ever laid a brick, they had to prepare the wood and stone and gold and silver.
The journey to publishing is long, and few outside of the industry have any clue how it works. I can’t blame them for that. My brother-in-law is a chemical engineer and I sure don’t know how to ask him about the ins and outs of his job. The best I could do is ask what project he’s working on. Probably, it’s something I won’t understand. Or else it’s something I couldunderstand if I listened to him explain it in detail. I’m sure there are aspects of his job I would never imagine in a million years.
Right now, I am preparing to go on sub again. To “go on sub” is to have my agent actively submitting my manuscript to editors. How I prepare for this is by revising said manuscript. I need it shipshape for him to send out. This is one of many steps in the very long process of getting a book published. This particular manuscript is one I drafted two years ago. I have drafted other manuscripts since, but I have also returned to this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

You Prepared on Middle Places

2016 has been all about preparing.
As I write, I am in the middle of preparing for a move. I am in the middle of preparing for next week’s worship experience. Preparations are in full swing for spending the summer in another country.
The problem with all of this preparing? Sometimes, my thoughts are so set on getting things ready for the future, I don’t stop to enjoy the present.
I prepared for today, for moving to Olive Branch, for helping my husband plant a church, for revising my manuscript, for working as a substitute teacher, etc. All of my yesterdays were spent preparing for today, and all of my todays are spent preparing for tomorrow.
Will I ever be finished making preparations?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Currently: March Madness

Current Books: I'm about halfway through Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey and I just started Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. I'm listening to the audio of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein at my father's suggestion and started reading a Kindle book Daddy sent me, also, Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell.

Current Playlist: "Océanos (Donde Mis Pies Pueden Fallar)" by Hillsong United and "Por Siempre" by Generición 12

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I want to say not taking a sub job today and staying home to catch up on writing and blogging work, but I did TRY to take a sub job today.

Current Color: Our new house has grey walls. The bedrooms are a pale grey, almost white, and the rest of the house is darker grey. I adore grey and white for walls and trim, so this is perfect. I am now working on choosing a certain pop of color for each room. In my bathroom, I've chosen shades of teal and am collecting candle stands to go around the white marble tub. I will probably add teal bathmats and towels eventually.

Current Food: I spent spring break in South Carolina, and Mama made her meatloaf. It is one of my favorite meals ever. I may have to try my hand at it soon. I have made it before but it never turns out as good as hers.

Current Drink: I finally bought a cheap coffee grinder, so now I can enjoy my coffee from Honduras each morning.

Current Favorite Favorite: We took the boys to Senoia, Georgia on our way to South Carolina. It was about an hour out of the way, but worth it. They had so much fun (and so did we) snapping pics of Walking Dead sites. It took me years to give into the Walking Dead fandom and my sons are only just old enough that we let them start watching. I love sharing that with them. I bought a travel mug that says, "If Daryl Dies We Riot."

Current Wishlist: Some routine. I thrive with a loose routine to guide my days and I haven't had that in months. Substitute teaching does not lend itself to a routine schedule. Church planting is anything but routine. I haven't been writing like I want to be, because I am out of the habit.

Current Needs: I need to make eye appointments for me and both kids. I'm nervous I need new glasses already and I don't want to go to Honduras and start getting sick. When my vision changes, I deal with nausea and headaches like you would not believe.

Current Triumph: Last time I subbed for my favorite school, the teachers on the hall made me feel so appreciated. I wasn't sure I could handle subbing for elementary school, so knowing I had done a good job was a big deal for me.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Finally getting a few minutes or hours that I could use to write or clean the house or do just about anything productive and being too exhausted to do any of it.

Current Indulgence: I'm going to Target in a little while. In theory, I am just going to pick up a gift card. Yeah... right.

Current Mood: I feel pretty good lately. Confident, even when I am tired.

Current Outfit: A new pair of jeans Mama gave me and my 1984 sweatshirt from Out Of Print, plus tennis shoes. It's cold here again.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He drove us to SC for Spring Break and spent most of the time corralling our kids so I could enjoy time with my family. Plus, all of the people who have donated to my Honduras trip. I am almost to goal, and I will do a post about the trip soon.

Current Quote: “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” ― Anaïs Nin

Current Photo:

Quarantine cell from the prison, on loan from AMC

Title: Because duh. My basketball bracket is broken. Of course. I always pick Kentucky. I can't NOT pick Kentucky. But my book bracket... that still has a chance.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Love at First Sight on Middle Places

I went to work as a substitute teacher with a couple of thoughts in mind.
Neither of them were love or death.
First, I need a whole month free to live in Honduras this summer. Most jobs I could apply for right now would turn me down when I mention being out of the country for all of July. No students in summer means no subbing in summer. So I’m good.
Second, I have been reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and she is adamant I can’t rely on my art to pay bills. It puts too much pressure on my art. I’m torn here. For years, my husband’s job has paid our bills, so I haven’t expected my writing to do so, but I have said, “If I could just sell a book,” more times than I can count. Any financial stress has me wishing I could get a book contract. So I am, in a sense, placing pressure on my creativity. My energy is minimal after spending all day teaching, and there are still dishes to wash and floors to vacuum and worship services to help build by Sunday. I’m not sure how working to pay bills will affect my creativity.
Regardless, here I am, a brand new substitute teacher. New in this town at least. I did this job a decade ago in another town. Back then I mostly subbed for high school. I was requested often for Advanced English and Theatre classes. Rather than draining me, that work energized me. I have high hopes of finding a similar niche in this district. Only time will tell.
I arrived for my first day as a substitute teacher in fifth grade math, and neither love nor death were part of my reasoning for being there. But, that morning as I dressed for work, I heard the news that Alan Rickman had passed away. So maybe I was a little sad. Maybe my brain snagged a little on the mournful side of normal.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Old Flame on Middle Places

It’s easy to forget you love something.
If you’d told 12-year-old me I could forget I loved something, I’d have laughed at you. Back then, love was this mystical idea of perfection. Love was all strong men sweeping women off their feet and so on and so forth.
That isn’t the kind of love I mean though. There’s a lot to be said about forgetting you love someone, but I am talking about something.
We all have objects or activities we love. An object might go missing and we forget it and then, months or years later, it turns up and we feel nostalgic and excited. We forgot how much we loved that book or sweater or pair of earrings.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Always Time on Middle Places

The Bible is pretty clear there are times for things, right times to do this or that and right times to do other things:
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

What it isn’t so clear about is when those right times are. Sometimes, I sit with a problem and think, “Well, Jesus, is this the time to rip out or the time to mend?” And, yeah, I do wish He would audibly answer me. Wouldn’t that be convenient?
There are some things, one thing in particular, I think it is always the right time for.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

12 Steps, Outrage, and Daring

I will get a "Currently" post up for March soon. Lately, our house has been plagued by minor illnesses. Corey had a sinus infection and then I caught strep and David caught a stomach bug that he passed around. Haydn had the flu and I am just now recovering from that stomach bug David shared with us. I'm looking forward to Spring Break and hopefully starting to feel human again.

In the meantime, I have been writing for Middle Places, as usual, and here are some posts you may have missed:

I did a series of posts on the 12 Steps. You can find those here:

Step 1 and 2
Step 3 and 4
Step 5 and 6
Step 7
Step 8 and 9
Step 10
Step 11
Step 11 Part 2
Step 12

Also, back when everyone was flipping out over Starbucks red cups (or flipping out about other people flipping out), I weighed in on the subject with THIS POST about "the Luxury of Outrage." It finally got written because of the red cup debacle, but it is a post that had been brewing in my brain since I was in Honduras in June of 2015.

Then came January, with the theme of "Daring." I will include excerpts and links below.

Somehow, I didn’t see the movie Love, Actually until this week when someone mentioned the actor playing Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead was also in Love, Actually. I was curious, so my husband and I watched it after the kids were in bed. I have been thinking a lot about daring to love, daring to believe in love, and so the opening monologue felt very personal to me. Especially this part:

“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” 

As I said, I’ve been thinking a lot about daring to love and believing in love. I started because I noticed something about myself. For a while now, I have felt the urge to qualify my Christianity. You know what I mean. Some of you do it too, or else you’ve heard someone else do it.


I don’t listen to music very often, not like I did in high school and college, when every song on the radio had some meaning to me. All of them reminded me of a person or place or event. I dated band boys and swooned when they sang to me on stage or wrote songs based on my poetry.

Nowadays, I rarely know the songs on the radio. I listen to audiobooks and podcasts more than music. I’m not sure when that happened, but it did.


In Genesis 6, we read God is fed up with humanity. The Message says, “People thought evil, imagined evil – evil, evil, evil from morning to night.”

When I read that, I wonder, how much different are we today than the people were in Noah’s time? The world around me feels awfully dark most days, but God has not destroyed us.

The cynic in me says, why should He? We are doing a blasted good job of destroying ourselves. But another part of me knows better. Another part of me remembers our friends, Mark and Lori, working for change in Honduras, building homes and empowering women. I think of my friend Melissa and her family in Papua New Guinea; the unpaid workers at Helping Hands in Tupelo, MS, the people who volunteer through Literacy Midsouth, helping people learn to read and speak English; and the group of friends here in Olive Branch that have started Together Ministry Center.


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