Wednesday, June 30, 2010

M & M #2

I find it interesting how the verse I am memorizing almost always seems tied in to what's going on in my life. I'm certain that sometimes I choose a verse based on what I'm feeling and experiencing, but every now and then I will choose one that I like (for no other reason than that) and by the end of two weeks it fits.

The past 2 weeks I have been memorizing Romans 12:11, Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Written from memory - I'll have to see if it's correct after I hit publish. That's only fair, I think?) Well, wouldn't you know it, but this past Sunday both Pat and I took the same message to heart from the sermon - God called us, but we allowed ourselves to grow comfortable and lost our zeal; it is time to restore that fervor by serving Him as we were called to do. Coincidence that I selected this particular verse two weeks ago? I think not.

How did you do with your memory verse these past two weeks? Try typing it from memory into the comments. (It's okay if you don't have it down perfectly! Keep reviewing it all summer as you learn more verses, and by the end of the summer you will.)

Which passage of Scripture are you going to tackle for the next two weeks?

(If you want to join our small posse in Scripture memory this summer, just let me know in the comments of any M & M - meditation and memorization - post. You are welcome! No need to try to "catch up" by memorizing extra verses, just join in whenever. But don't forget to leave your verse in the comments.)

The verse I will be working on until the 14th of July is:
If God has been generous with you, He will expect you to serve Him well. If He has been more than generous, He will expect you to serve Him even better. Luke 12:48b (CEV)
You'll probably be more familiar with the NIV version of the verse. I also love the way it's worded in the Message, Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities. I figure that if God is reminding me to serve Him with passion, I ought to keep on reminding myself not to let myself be lazy about the gifts He's given me and the ministry He's called me to!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On Daddy's Shoulders

One of my kids' favorite places to be is up on Pat's shoulders. When chubby, little legs tire of walking, up they go! When big, round, peering eyes cannot see what's up ahead, Daddy hoists them up.

There comes a point, though, in each of our children's lives, when they can no longer ride on Daddy's shoulders. It usually happens somewhere in the fifth year of life, when that 50 lb mark is attained on the scale. At that time, it becomes awkward and cumbersome to get the child up there and keep him or her safely perched.

I thought of this as I listened to the lyrics of a song by Francesca Battistelli, "Free To Be Me." She sings:

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I'm so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me.

I have heard this song, sang along with it hundreds of times. Yet never caught on to that phrase, "on Your shoulders I can see." But the other day, it just struck me and stuck with me, and I've been mulling it over ever since.

All too often I find myself navigating through life as a blind woman. I hold my hands out in front of me and ask, This way, Lord? Bump. This way? Crash. Which way do I go? Where do I turn? What can I do for You? Where am I? Who am I??? I want to do it right, but on my own and in my own strength, I am nothing more than a bumbling mess still trying to "find myself."

If I would just stop flailing around in the dark for a moment and ask Him, Daddy, will you put me up on Your shoulders? I would see. I would see that He has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11); I would see that He has purpose for me (Psalm 138:8); I would see the person that He created me to be (Jeremiah 1:5); I would be free to be that person.

What about you? Have you found yourself bumping into things, trying to figure out who you are and why you are here?

If so, try taking one of the three Scriptures listed above and meditating on it. Ask God what He wants to say to you through that verse.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Framed and Stoned

Early in our marriage, I established an annual family tradition - the Rowan family photo session. Over the years, "annual" became a flexible term, depending on finances, motivation, and scheduling. Family photo day, though, has often been a day of dread and obligation for our crew. Why is it that people who spend hours of their day hamming it up for the camera at home are unable to do the same when their mother needs them to?!

It has been two years since our last family photo session, and I could not let it pass by any longer! Children change so much in these young years, and I want to have that growth documented. On Sunday, we headed out to a construction site in hopes of capturing all the little faces in a smile - at the same time - just once.

Thanks to my beautiful and talented friend, Loni (of Loni Bourne Photography), our photo session was absolutely painless! Loni was FAST - in just over half an hour she got at least 300 shots. She was able to capture each of the kids in moments when they were posing themselves, so we didn't need to beg and cajole anyone to "stand here" and "look there." For their awesome cooperation and participation in mommy's annual tradition, the kids earned themselves a yummy ice cream.

I find that our daily lives are full of frame-able moments. I would love to capture the moment when an older sibling imparts words of wisdom to one of the younger ones. Or the silly, giggling faces around the dinner table as we each try our hand at being the joke-master. Those moments in our lives when we know we have just witnessed the hand of God over our family. But those instances will have to live on as still shots in my mind, because by the time I get the camera the perfect picture has vaporized.

Instead I will take our latest 11x14 family shot and put it in the frame on the mantle, tucking it in front of the photos from years before. As I do this, I will gather the family around me to wander through the years. And we will remember as many moments as we can, captured in one still frame.

Lord, your faithfulness goes on through the generations! Thank-you for these children and for every moment with them. We praise You and You alone for where our family is today, and how You brought us here.

While I may not be able to take a snapshot of every instance of God's faithfulness in our lives, each family photo will be as a pile of stones - an altar of worship and praise - representing our family's journey with the Lord for the past year. The Rowan family Gilgal.

Friday, June 25, 2010


My friend Mama Bird has been answering questions on Fridays for a few weeks, and this week I could not resist joining in on Five Question Friday.

1. Do you know how to play a musical instrument?

Long ago, in a life far, far away, I briefly played piano, clarinet, and flute. I still do a stellar version of "Heart and Soul" on the piano. I've regretting giving up on piano for many years, but my pre-teen self was not too keen on the strict practice regimen.

2. What is your pet peeve while driving?

Texting while driving is my most recent pet peeve. But for years I have been driven crazy by the fools who brake for green lights as if they are yield signs!

3. Would you rather have a housekeeper or unlimited spa services?

Housekeeper. Absolutely. I had a housekeeper briefly when we moved, and the saddest thing in the world was when I had to take over my own housework. Even now, it brings a tear to my eye.

4. Is there a song that you hear that will take you back to the moment, like a junior high or high school dance?

Grade 7, Jennifer D. and I, anytime we were together (but especially walking around the school yard at recess.

5. What song best represents your life right now?

As I journey with my friend Deb (aka invisigirl); as I wait and hope and pray for provision for She Speaks; as I pray for so many friends and family bearing burdens (financial, cancer, teen pregnancy, unsaved loved ones), this song is the one that dominates my thoughts and prayers.

And if our God is for us,
Then what can ever stop us?
And if our God is with us,
Then what can stand against us?

Our God is greater,
Our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other!
Our God is healer,
Awesome and Power!
Our God! Our God!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Don't Have the Energy for That

I've noticed that us women who have struggles with anger, frustration, and impatience in our parenting seem to have one common refrain, "I know they need consistent discipline, but I just don't have the energy for that right now."

I have said it. I have heard others say it and nodded and "mmm-hmmm"ed my understanding. Today, I am compelled to call it what it is: bullcrap! (Yes, I said that on here!) The fact is, believing that I am too tired (or too ill, old, alone, worn out, beaten down, abused, hurt, whatever) to actively parent is - for most of us - buying into a lie straight from the pit of hell. (Here is where I will insert the caveat that I am referring to the general population of mothers, not to those who are in the throes of critical illness or family tragedy. In those instances, I have no doubt that "I can't handle it," is the absolute truth. These are the circumstances where family, friends, and especially the church must step in and help.)

If I am nitty-gritty honest, when I say "I just can't do it anymore! I'm so tired," what I really mean is: I am too selfish, I am too lazy, I am too busy. Too selfish to set my own agenda aside, to stop what I am doing, to focus on child-training. Too lazy to get up from the couch/office chair or walk into the next room in order to exact discipline. Too busy with my stuff (housework, ministry, writing - ahem) to take a break from the task at hand in favour of raising good people.

Funny thing is, my selfishness, laziness, and business ultimately create more work, cause me to expend more energy, and take up more time than active parenting. By being selfish, lazy, and busy, I am leadiong my children to be needy and demanding. "Mooooom, will you/ can you/ I need/ I want!" When I am doing my own thing too often, the kids will do what they can to garner my attention. Attention-seeking children can quickly turn into patience-sucking monsters, and next thing I know I am bellering at the top of my lungs in hopes of regaining control.

Out-of-control children = out-of-control mommy. But as James Dobson says, "Trying to control children by screaming is as utterly futile as trying to steer a car by honking the horn."*

So, how does one find the energy to dive wholeheartedly into the murky waters of active parenting, immediate discipline, and an in-control household? Well, I'm working on that! I'd love to hear the strategies you use, both for training your children AND for motivating yourself. What works in your home?

* Dr James Dobson, The New Dare to Discipline, pp.36

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Family Funnies

Our family has been telling each other jokes for years. Dinner time last night was spent practicing our humour on one another. I thought I'd share a few of our favourites and see if you can add any good ones to the mix.

What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs, floating in the water?

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana again?

What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs, laying at the front door?

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Ya who?

What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs, hanging on the wall?

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupting cow wh...

Of course, I always love the classics that the little kids come up with when they're first learning how to joke. Here's Kai's new funny:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Elephant who?
Heavy elephant.
(This one is faithfully followed by gales of laughter from the rest of the family.)

As you can see, we've got a few standard jokes kicking around. Do you have any favourite family-approved jokes we can borrow?

* This post has been linked up to Tiny Talk Tuesday at Not Before 7.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Couple Life Lessons I'm Learning

To be a good leader: Lead in such a way that those you are leading become empowered and equipped; do your job in such a way that it can be taken over with ease. In other words, work yourself out of a job.

To be a good friend: Love in such a way that shows you are willing to sacrifice personal selfishness for your friends; make yourself indispensable. In other words, work yourself into a lifelong job.

Ministry: When God calls you to a ministry, it becomes etched in your heart. Even without a formal "ministry," you will find yourself ministering. Even if you try, you cannot turn away from the group of people whom God has given you a passion for. Also, ministry should fill you up. If you feel drained, perhaps you and God should have a chat about where you're supposed to be serving. For example, serving in the church nursery is not where I'm supposed to be (the babies and I have all learned that one together!).

Marriage: No matter how long you've been at it, it is always work. It is a constant battle between selfishness and self-sacrifice. Having a good marriage is not easy, you have to invest lots of time and energy to make it good and even more to keep it that way.

Parenting: The only rule that matters is consistency. Love and cuddle consistently, regardless of behaviour. Discipline firmly and consistently for any and all wrong behaviours. Have a consistent schedule, no matter how busy life is. Our kids are programmed to watch for weakness, and they will attack if they see any break in consistency. Also, yelling never really works (each time you yell, you have get louder in order for the little darlings to respond; this equals way too much wasted energy). FYI, parenting makes you tired. I think it's supposed to be that way.

Homemaking: Housework is no fun, but a messy house causes stress and makes it hard to show hospitality. Figure out one or two tasks that make the house look clean and make you feel calm, without having to do the whole cleaning routine. For me, clean floors and an empty sink help me relax and keep me chill if unexpected guests show up.

I'm no expert. In fact, most of the time I find myself failing in several of these areas at once. That's where the lessons get learned - in the failures. Hopefully, I will eventually remember these lessons and be able to stop learning them over and over again.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I am an Orphan

I was conceived, and the boy-child God chose to be my father made his own choice. He left. Discarded. Leaving my mother, barely more than a girl, to be both mother and father, nurturer and provider. Once in my growing years and twice in my grown years, I implored him to accept me, acknowledge me. I was told that he did not need a reminder of his sinful past. Despised.

There was a "Dad" in my world for a short hiccup in time. At least that was the name I called him. But a name does not a father make. My childhood memories of him are laced with the lingering sting of disappointment. Unloved. As a woman-child with baby growing inside, I pleaded with him to love me more than he loved his whiskey. That baby, now 12, knows nothing of this man I once called "Dad." Unwanted.

I was a teenager, and he tried to be "Dad." But in my heart I knew the truth about men. He would leave me, too. He didn't have a chance. Rather than risk more heartbreak and rejection, I turned away first. He gained the disdainful title of "step-dad" and his efforts were met with sneers and defiance. I already bore the names Discarded, Despised, Unloved, and Unwanted; I would not take the name Rejected. Instead, I gave it to him.

Time passed, life's pages turned. In the irony of this world, I chose a man who was destined to leave me. We started out a mess, did everything backwards and upside-down, we believed differently and lived as polar opposites. He didn't leave, and today he is Dad with a capital "D" and husband with a capital "L-O-V-E." But that is a story in its own right.

Time passed, life's pages turned, and he (the "step-dad") remained. I was a broken and bitter orphan, and his mistakes were repeated assurance to me that he would leave. But he did not leave. Though I named him Rejected and even Hated at times, he remained, he endured, he waited, he loved.

In my children, as all good grandparents do, he grasped onto the opportunity to rewrite his mistakes. He has laid on the floor smiling and chatting with each of my babes. He has driven remote control cars, put on pretend make-up, danced in the living room, built bird houses and sandboxes, cuddled, and wrestled. In those twelve years of seeing him be Grandpa to my brood, I watched and realized two things:

1. He will not leave me.
2. He is Dad.

I wasted many years keeping my distance, not trusting, being afraid. But the Lord is true to His Word, and He says, "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten." (Joel 2:25) A swarm of locusts came in and devoured my trust in men, yet God gave me Step-Dad to restore that devastation.

For those of us left orphaned, God is Father to the Fatherless. (Psalm 68:5) We can (and along the way I did) find our strength, love, and hope in His paternity. He renames us: Indispensable, Esteemed, Loved, Wanted, Accepted. But every now and then, He sees us in our hopeless state and determines to go to great lengths to show His love. In my case, He did that by giving me the desire of my broken heart - an earthly Dad.

While I may still call him Lee, his very name writes the word "Father" on my heart. He chose to be the Dad he didn't have to be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Not long ago, while Malakai and Shea were spending the week at Grandma and Grandpa's house, I had the pleasure of overhearing the following conversation while on the phone with my mom.

Grandma was getting the kids into the bath, and just moments after she helped Kai get in we both heard him tell her, "Gama, I peed! Gama, pee!"

Before Grandma could say a word, Shea chimed in to reassure Kai, "It's okay, Kai. I do that all the time."

Needless to say, our telephone conversation was effectively over. It would have been impossible to talk over our hysterical gales of laughter.

Note to self: Make sure little people go pee before climbing in the bathtub.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Secrets to Make a Marriage Last

We are coming up on 11 years of marriage next month and the past 5 have been great! So what secrets did we unearth along the way to make things go from unbearable to enjoyable?

1. Grow up. Arguments went unresolved for days, issues were brought up over and again, and the goal was not to find unity, but to win. Eventually, we both realized that it could not always be about who was right.

2. Communicate. A little-known fact about communication: it is a two-way conversation. And the hearing part is much more important than the speaking part. I always thought communicating well was about presenting my argument better, convincing him of the superiority of my perspective. We learned that it is okay to let disagreements rest unresolved, as long as we both felt that we had been "heard."

3. Learn to speak Klingon. We all know men are from another planet, so why do we expect them to speak the same language as us? I may say "I love you" by doing his laundry or making his favorite dinner and thus expect him to say he loves me in the same way. But he prefers to say "I love you" by asking me to sit by his side and watch hockey with him. Learn what makes him understand your love, and try showing it that way. It is also okay to ask him to do the same for you.

4. Assume the best. My emotions tend to get the best of me, especially during a particular week of the month. My emotional response to careless words is, "He hurt me. He doesn't love me. He doesn't know me. He never did." My entire world shifted on its axis when I began to tell myself, "He didn't mean to hurt me. He loves me. It was not intentional. I should just forgive this and move on."

5. Laugh. We struggled with keeping our emotional cool during arguments. Things would move from heated to inferno with two misplaced words delivered on a raised voice. It was a cycle we couldn't break. So if things began to feel out-of-control, one of us would shout "Pickle!" in the midst of it. We would laugh, realize we needed to take a break, and schedule a time to revisit the issue. Annoyed by his bad habit of dropping dirty laundry on the floor, but knowing (through trial and error) that nagging would not change his habits, I offered him an apology. "Honey, I am sorry that I constantly put the laundry basket just three feet away from the spot where you'd like your dirty laundry to go." He laughed. Interestingly, the laundry is in the hamper at least 90% of the time.

6. Date. I've said it before - never underestimate the power of having time alone together doing something fun! Our dates nights help us remember that we actually like each other.

7. Absence does make the heart grow fonder! Spend time with friends. Encourage him to do the same. Same-sex friends provide an outlet that is completely different from the marriage relationship. We have found that we enjoy our time together more after having some time with friends. (As long as the time of absence is not greater than the time of being present, which is generally not very helpful for the marriage.)

8. Bless him. Recently, Pat was beyond busy at work and he was stressed. I knew that I couldn't do anything about his work, but I could reduce his stress here at home. So for those couple months, I took over the "blue" job of doing the garbages. Pat knows that I hate cooking, so on days when I'm particularly tired he frequently takes over for me.

9. Pray. For him to be the husband God wants him to be. For you to be the wife the God wants you to be. For a strong marriage. Together, if possible. We are still growing in the whole praying together thing, but I am certain that I can feel God's pleasure when we step out of our comfort zone and do it.

10. Don't neglect your "ministry." (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) If that was a bit too vague, perhaps it will help to know that this is the only ministry you will ever do fully un-clothed. (No personal examples here.)

I can't guarantee that using our secrets will work a miracle for you, but I wouldn't be surprised. After all, the fact that we are still married and happy is an absolute miracle for us!

holy experience

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

M & M with me?

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. ~Romans 12:11 (NIV)
Last weekend, while visiting the church my Aunt and Uncle attend, a banner sporting this verse caught my eye. I thought to myself, "Yes! That is what I want! I want to have zeal and fervor!"

When I come across a verse that resonates with me as this one did, I like to spend a few days meditating on it. This helps me take God's Word to heart and apply it to my life. This morning, as I begin meditating on Romans 12:11, I'm bringing you along for the ride. I am unsure if there is any proper theological basis in my method, but it works for me (and maybe it will work for you).

First, I like to look up the verse on to see if there is a particular translation that I prefer. I love the word usage in the NIV for this verse - zeal and fervor are awesome words, but I gain new understanding of those words from the NIRV ("Never let the fire in your heart go out.") and the WE ("Do not hold back.") translations.

Next, I write out the verse on an index card. I stick the card in my pocket, so it's handy wherever I am. I will read and re-read the verse over the course of a few days - nothing passes the time waiting in lines better than rolling the Words of Scripture through your mind.

My usual third step is to take the key words from the passage and define them. Zeal is defined at as: Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, ideal, or goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance. My shorthand interpretation: Enthusiastic devotion coupled with tireless diligence. Fervor (also at is: 1. Great warmth and intensity of emotion, and/or 2. Intense heat. My version: On fire for the Lord.

My fourth step is to meditate (or reflect) on the passage. Like I said, my preference is to take the verse with me. Other things I've tried include posting the index card somewhere I know I will see it (computer, fridge), tucking it in the book I'm currently reading, sticking it on the sun visor of my car. Sometimes, if I feel as though I'm just not "getting" what the Lord is trying to tell me in a passage, I will write out numerous copies and do all of the above.

One of the keys to meditation is not simply to read the verse over and over. I need to ask myself (and the Lord) questions about the verse. I'll give you a few examples. How would zeal look in my life? Are there areas where I am currently serving the Lord with passion? Are there areas I am serving but lacking in passion? Do I have spiritual fervor? If not, how can I gain it? What is God trying to say to me through this verse?

The final step I take is to memorize the verse. I generally stick to reciting the verse, out loud, over and over during my morning quiet time. As the words flow from my mouth more easily, I look at the index card less. My brain isn't as quick as it once was (yes, I am getting old!), so I find that it will take me a good two weeks of daily practice to feel confident that I am quoting one verse of Scripture correctly without looking.

As instructed by Beth Moore, I keep all of my verses for the year together (she uses a little spiral-bound index card pad, I use a big ring clip thingy) and once I'm done practicing my current verse I will go back through all my previous verses for the year. This keeps them fresh in my memory, and because I have also spent time meditating on most of them their meaning stays fresh in my heart each time I review.

If you don't generally do any Scripture meditation and memorization, I'd encourage you to give this simple method a try. In fact, I have a summer-time challenge for you! If you would like to join me in 3 months of m & m, there will be prizes on September 15th for those who push through! (Okay, if there are a few of you. If, by some strange act of God moving in lots of hearts, there are more than 5 girlfriends joining in, we'll have to have a draw or something.)

I realize it's short-notice (which is almost insurmountable for a planner like me), but let's start today! If you want to join me, just stick your name in the comments of this post to let me know. Then, pick a verse (it would be handy if you posted that in the comments as well), work on it for two weeks, and we'll gather again on Wednesday, June 30th with our next verse. Don't be discouraged if it's not coming easily! Persevere. If you need to work on one verse for a month to get it deep into your heart and memory - go ahead! The important thing is that God's Word will be "alive and active" in you!*

Even if you are already in the habit of m & m, I'd love for you to join me this summer. (Keeps me accountable!) And if you currently do m & m or have in the past - do you have any special tips that work for you?

* from Believing God, Beth Moore

Friday, June 11, 2010

Because Lists Make Me Happy

As if you didn't already know that!

1. For the life of me, I cannot seem to get through "If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat." It's good, yet I am not getting into it!

2. I am missing all the good TV shows. Good-bye Jack Bauer, good-bye Jack Shepherd, see ya later Jethro Gibbs, congratulations Daris.

3. My family is going on their first camping trip in our new travel trailer without me this weekend. I'm a bit jealous. I may be also just a wee bit concerned (the two-year-old is FAST).

4. Totally the best post I've read this week:

5. If you are interested in helping my friends Andrew and Deborah financially as they weather the next many months, we have set up a trust fund in their name. Email me for details.

6. My Grandma is 85-years-old! And she's as spry as she was at 65.

7. I have not managed to get myself to bed before midnight since May 28.

You got any totally random things to share?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Do you have a tribe?

Imagine if you were in need, think of the people who would rally around you. Those people are your tribe.

I've always thought I had a tribe that consisted of certain people, but I wonder which ones would really be there and stick with me through the worst that life can dish out. I might be surprised to find that my tribe is made up of different people than I expect.

What if you don't have a tribe?

Look at the people around you. God has put you in proximity and relationship with each one of those people for a reason. Take time to get to know those people. Do nice things for them. Listen. Build your own tribe.

Seeing the many people caring for my friends reminded me of the importance of having a tribe. It's amazing to me - their tribe is made up of some people they've only recently met and some who were friends 10 years ago. Men, women, family, friends, co-workers, pastors. They are deeply loved by many. They are loved because they have loved others. They have invested time, energy, prayers, finances, and more into fostering relationships. I don't know if they've ever had an acquaintance - everyone they meet is a friend.

I always tell Deb that I want to be like her when I grow up. Even more so now. To have invested wisely and reap the benefits of all the seeds of love sown - that is what some may call the good life. Relationships make life's hardships bearable. And there is an absolute guarantee that those hardships will come. Your tribe will help you survive.

Do you have a tribe?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Writing, It's In My Blood!

About a year ago, I was telling someone about the book I've been (ever so slowly) working on. She said to me, "So, you want to be a writer, eh?" I smiled and said, "I hope so." But inside my heart was pounding in my ears and I knew something I had never acknowledged before: I already am a writer, I always have been. The only difference was that I had begun pursuing becoming a published writer.

From the moment I was able to identify words on a page, I was obsessed with reading. I would devour book after book and in-between books I would weave together stories in my head. I fancied myself an aspiring novelist - probably a romance novelist. For a sixth grade writing project I submitted a 10-page short story complete with switching back-and-forth between simultaneous scenes (at least I learned something from all the after school soap opera watching). I journalled, I made up songs, I played with poetry. Toying with words was an addiction.

Somewhere along the road of life I learned that writers don't really make any money. Kinda like artists. And in my pursuit of an actual career where a predictable income was earned I went to university for my psychology degree. I did school and work and motherhood, eventually "settling" on motherhood for a season. I re-discovered God, began living my life with Him in mind, and found myself called to ministry. All the while, this writing gene lay dormant.

A few years back, a trendy and innovative friend (thanks Louise!) introduced me to a crazy thing called "blogging." My inner rebel (the one who refuses to join into anything that's "in") wanted to resist, but I was helpless against the siren song of the written word.

My old blog started out as a G (maybe PG) rated version of an online journal, but it wasn't long before I knew I wanted to write words that had purpose. Because if - ohmygoodness - there were actually people reading my words, it mattered to me that my words would somehow point them to Jesus.

I don't know if this book in my heart will ever make it onto a publisher's desk. I don't know if I will ever be able to build a platform large enough to satisfy the publishing world's requirements. I don't even know if, when it's all down on paper, the words will make any sense whatsoever. But I do know this - writers write. It's what we do. Not necessarily because we have a project to finish or a deadline to meet. We write because it's part of us.

My hope and prayer is that the message God has placed in my heart will get out there, that it will help others, change lives, and draw women closer to God. So I will pursue that dream. (But even if it doesn't come to pass, I will keep on writing.)

As one small part of the work toward the goal of getting published, I have registered for She Speaks - a conference that offers equipping for writers, speakers, and women's ministry leaders - for the second year in a row, this time with the focus of learning how to build my platform (though I have still requested publisher meetings because, well, you never know!). While I know there are bigger things going on in the world, I would like to humbly ask for your prayers. I registered for this conference, feeling the nudge by God to do so, but knowing that we did not have the means to cover all the costs involved. Right now I sit in a place of waiting on the Lord, believing that if I really should be there He will provide. So I ask that you pray for me to be patient, to have peace, and to trust. Because I tell ya, waiting is hard!

By the way, if any publishing people out there are reading this post, I would like to assure you that my sentence structure is much more correct in book format. :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

In the Trenches Together

Do you have a friend that you would move heaven and earth for if she needed it?

I have a couple people I love so deeply that when they hurt, I hurt.

Last week I spent every waking hour with one of those special women. My home was the ICU waiting room, her friends and family became mine. I fought a few battles on her behalf and dried a few tears. I cracked inappropriate jokes to make her laugh and said curse words to share in her anger and frustration. We spent a week in the trenches together, and it was sad and beautiful all in one breath.

Lots of people are telling me that I'm so great, so sacrificial, such a good friend. But the truth is, I'm not any of those things.

I am not great, I am weak. I offered my weak efforts of encouragement, prayer, grief, and laughter. But so many others came into that place strong - warriors ready to stand and fight, intercede, and more. I was just sitting beside my girlfriend.

I am not sacrificial, I am selfish. I wanted to feel like I was doing something - needed to feel it - so I went. I certainly missed my family this week, but the greater sacrifice was offered by all those who cared for them while I was away. My husband and his dad held down the fort here with 3 school-aged kids and a dog. A kind friend served them dinner one evening. My mom and dad took care of the two little kids, as did two blessed friends during the daytime hours. My father-in-law stood in the school gym watching one child receive an award at school. My parents held down a wailing child as a doctor wove two stitches of thread through a head-gash. While I spend hours in the company of a dear friend, they did all the hard stuff.

I am not a good friend, I am a pathetic friend. So pathetic that I needed to be by her side just as much as she may have needed me there (maybe more). I took my comfort in being there, hands-on, "in the loop." In fact, there are these tiny twinges of feeling as though I'm missing out on something very special now that I am no longer having girlfriend sleepovers every night.

I can't possibly be considered great, sacrificial, or a good friend when I gained so much more than I gave. I gained a deeper, truer, realer (I know, not a word) friendship. I gained a brother and a whole bunch of extended family. I gained perspective on what and who is important. I gained wisdom about planning for the future and protecting our family in the event of crisis. I had the joy of fellowshipping (another non-word) with my old church family. I saw and heard of hundreds of miracles. I got the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from being appreciated and needed.

It was a blessing to me, this past week. I felt so loved, so needed, so special. I thank you, Deb, for the privilege of being your friend. I am honored that you trusted me to be there with you and advocate for you. Seeing so many people love you and your family made my heart grow. And seeing your husband look at you and your kids with love in his eyes (following several days of unconsciousness) was an exceptional moment in my life. Our God is so big that I cannot possibly fathom it, but by allowing me to share in your first week of a long, long journey you allowed me a glimpse of the Miracle Worker at work. I miss you!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Going on His Strength

I'm sure lots of people haven't noticed my absence this week, but for those few friends who have I thought I'd let you know where I've been.

I am spending my time in an ICU waiting room. My friend's husband was in a serious accident, and I am here with her. Days are long and emotional. Nights are short and restless. The food is, well, hospital food. But the fellowship is blessed, the prayers are anointed, and the humour is bordering on ridiculous.

I have a thousand blog posts stirring in my mind, but limited computer access on a 15-year-old computer. (The above paragraphs took me 8 minutes to type on this sticky, old keyboard.) So they will have to wait until next week to move from my brain to my fingertips.

I ask that you be in prayer for my beautiful friend, Deborah and her family. Andrew's injuries are extensive and he has not yet regained consciousness (accident was Sat AM). The children - 5 of them - are worried and waiting. If you would like to pray specifically and be updated you can become a fan of the facebook page "Pray for Andrew Carpenter" or send me an email to be added to the distribution list. If you want to help the family, you will also find information (on facebook) about how to contribute financially and help keep things afloat for the many months of recovery and rehabilitation.

I'll be back later. Thanks for hanging out on this here blog space with me. Each and every one of you readers is a blessing and an encouragement to me. I love you like I know you!