Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It Was a Jesus-Take-the-Wheel Kind of Summer


I didn’t drive for a month.
I never thought it would bother me to give up the wheel. It didn’t even cross my mind until we headed to church the night before my flight to Honduras. My husband drove, and I would ride a bus to the airport and then I would be in Honduras for a month. I’d not drive until I returned.
The first ten days of my trip involved a lot of time on buses. I wasn’t in charge of where we went or what we did. I was along for the ride.
The final three weeks of the trip involved a lot of time in a truck. I rode shotgun, holding onto the handle above the window as we wove in and out of Tegus traffic and flew around mountain curves.

I HAD NO DESIRE TO DRIVE, PHYSICALLY.

I am a timid driver here in America. I’d be a pancake trying to navigate traffic in Tegucigalpa. I am told there are laws about driving there, but I have yet to see any evidence of such. Painted lines are barely suggestions. Lanes don’t matter in the least. I could count red lights on one hand.
Driving in Tegucigalpa wasn’t on my list of daring activities for the summer. I preferred zip-lining upside down in the jungle and playing with monkeys.

THERE WAS SOMETHING DISCONCERTING ABOUT IT … NOT DRIVING.

Or not being able to drive, really. Not having a car sitting in the driveway. Not having a ready-made plan of escape in any given situation and not being able to decide I was hungry and run to the store …
I’m struggling to even write complete sentences for these thoughts. The feeling was simply odd.

I’M A GROWN WOMAN. I AM IN CHARGE OF MY LIFE.

Except, this summer, I wasn’t. I thought I exercised my daring self-confidence by hopping a plane to a third-world country for a month. In truth, I yielded my will altogether.
Jamie and I went where we were told to go. We were welcome to make suggestions and often did, but ultimately, we were not in control of our schedule. In the mornings, I set my alarm so I’d have time to read and sip coffee before leaving for the day, but I didn’t pick what time we left. I didn’t choose where we worked.
I thought daring was all about doing, going, jumping in with both feet and making things happen.

IT TURNS OUT, THE MOST DARING THING I DID THIS SUMMER WAS GIVE UP.

I didn’t just give up driving for thirty days. I gave up on the picture of my future I have held close for at least the last five years. I had to let it go and consider other options.
Lord help me for using a cliché, but this was a “Jesus take the wheel” kind of summer, and I am still terrified of where this Holy-Spirit-mobile is taking me.

ALSO, I AM NOT YIELDING WELL.

I gave up driving a car way more easily than I gave up driving my life. But I am trying, little by little, day by day. I am examining my actions and their motives, and I am taking steps in a new direction, even when I want to yank the wheel to the left and get the heck out of dodge.
I let someone else lead the way, when I gave up driving.
Now, can I give up planning and let the Holy Spirit lead me also in this?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

For Such a Time as This



I'm struggling with how to best use my voice right now.

Writing is my thing. Words are my medium. I want to say things. I want to say so many things.

My Facebook feed is full of articles I agree with and I could repost them to my own wall. I could hoist my current opinions and fears and beliefs onto people that way, but I haven't.

For me (and this is for me, I cannot decide what works best for you), posting too much of that stuff on Facebook feels like a waste of my time and my power. For the most part, people who follow me there either agree with me already or aren't going to be swayed by me sharing the same articles and slogans that everyone else in their feed is sharing.

There are too many fake news stories. If you don't want to believe something you read, just tell yourself it is one of the untrue things the media is currently pushing on the public. This argument is true often enough to work well in just about any situation.

I don't want to be another written-off Facebook friend, unfollowed or unfriended because my opinions make someone uncomfortable. I don't think that helps me or them.

But I cannot be quiet.

Nazis met in large number this week. They met in our nation's capitol, if I understood the news correctly. I watched bits of the footage, but it made me sick to my stomach. It reminded me of my visit to the Holocaust Museum five years ago. I will not link to stories about this event. You can find them on your own. You can decide what sources to trust, because I am sure whichever I share will be the wrong one for some reader or another. Quite frankly, I just refuse to pull the links up on my computer. I won't have that disgusting propaganda in my browser history.

Here is what I want to use my voice to remind my friends and family:

When the Nazi party formed, they were not known as evil. They were a group of people wanting to make political changes. We hear the word "Nazi" and cringe, but it is because of what those people did under that word.

These people call themselves "alt-right," and that isn't a term that makes us cringe. But it should, because they are trying to be exactly who the Nazis became. These are not the "neo-nazi" or "skinhead" stereotypes we are used to. These are men and women in suits and ties, business executives, our neighbors, employees, bosses, and friends. They look like respectable people, but the words they are speaking...

It always starts with words.

Words are power.

Words are power, and that is why I have been so quiet on Facebook over the last few weeks. I have been thinking and stewing and praying and waiting. Words are what God gave me. They are my gift, and I want to use them well. I don't want to lash out with my words and do more harm than good.

My words show you who I am, and so does my silence. So I cannot be silent.

I will continue to choose my words carefully. I will look for ways to use my words well and not haphazardly.

For such a time as this...


Monday, November 14, 2016

Walking on Water: A Review



How have I made it to 34-years-old without reading Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle? I already counted Circle of Quiet among my favorite books, but somehow I missed this one.

The copy I just read had a preface by Sara Zarr. I am normally a skip-the-intro kind of girl. However, Sara is one of those YA authors I first read back when writing YA was a new possibility for me. I admired how she wove faith themes into her stories without writing books that you can only find at Lifeway. I read her preface and felt instantly connected to her, like we could have a cup of coffee and talk.

When you are, like I am, a pastor's wife and a writer, people will often assume you write "Christian fiction." I don't. I used to wrestle with guilt over that, but I've slowly shed that worry. Christian is not an adjective. You cannot use it to describe a book or a movie or a painting. It's a noun, for me. It's who I am, a follower of Jesus.

L'Engle writes about how the world views Christians and how the church has both helped and hindered what society things of Jesus because of how we treat others and approach art and view science. She penned these words back in the eighties, but they are still true today. The label Christian still makes me nervous, makes me worry people will think I am THAT kind of Christian, the hateful kind, the closed-minded kind, the racist kind... whatever the stereotype of the week is.

I'm getting off topic though.

In Walking on Water, L'Engle shares about the process of creating being like prayer, and that is exactly what I needed to remember. I have been rewriting and revising the same two novels for the last couple of years, and it is time to draft something new. I needed to remember to trust the process.

"In prayer, in the creative process, these two parts of ourselves, the mind and the heart, the intellect and the intuition, the conscious and the subconscious mind, stop fighting each other and collaborate."

Any of you who read my blog posts on a regular basis know I have struggled with what I believe over the last few years. I am part of a church while struggling to make peace with the Church. I am praying while struggling to understand prayer. I am reading my Bible while struggling to believe the same things about scripture that I used to believe so easily.

This new project I am facing deals with some big themes, some topics I am still wrestling with myself. Madeleine reminded me of why I am drawn to write in the first place:

"In trying to share what I believe, I am helped to discover what I do, in fact, believe, which is often more than I realize."

This book couldn't have fallen into my life at a better time. It has helped me to dive into my new work. Madeleine has reminded me to trust the process even when I do not trust myself.

I want to frame this cover; I love it so much.


If you are an artist of any kind, I highly recommend this book. 



*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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