Friday, October 29, 2004

In the Roar of Waterfalls...

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. (Psalm 42:7, NIV)

Sometimes, when I'm brittle, parched and every next thing looms over my head, threatening to snap me into pieces, I get still, often just for a second. It takes at least that long to tune out my droning thoughts, my thumping heart, my growling stomach, to hear the song of my heart, whispering softly in the rush of many waters.

"Praise the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me . . ." says the whisper as I stop fighting, stop trying to swim and allow myself to be swept upstream, pulled toward the thunder.

Toward the waterfall.

The surge of it deafens me, frightens me, thrills me. The aching emptiness, the two-drops-below-E shallow in me calls to the depths of that pool, so close but so far, just over the edge. The waves wash over my faults, my lies, my fears. I close my eyes and wait for it, this plunge into the pulsing cold, fall into the depths of Jesus . . .


"Hello, this is the RepublicanDemocraticParty with a message from JohnKerry'sUncleBarbaraBushTheThinkTankFromMars reminding you to vote early--"

I hang up the phone, try to dive, swim, anything, but it's too late. My heartbeat is the thunder now. My fears the thunder. Maybe if I can just--

"Mom! The baby bit me!"

"Honey, I'm sure he didn't. He meant to kiss you I'm sure--Baby, don't do that. Come here--"


As said butt dives in my direction, I prepare for the collision, balance the baby on my other hip, still trying to reach for my Bible. The phone rings again. I freeze. It's probably the Bush twins calling to see how my day is going. Or Al Sharpton calling with a friendly voting reminder. Still, it could be my editor . . .

"MOM! It's the dentist! Says we're supposed to be there now."

I let the butt-biter slide to the floor and check my trusty notebook. "Nope. That's tomorrow. The 27th."

Said kid laughs. "Today IS the 27th."

Blank stare. "Tell her we're on our way."

Before heading for the shower, my daughter conveys the message, hangs up the phone and shakes her head with that "and these are the people who run the world" look. For once, I'm thinking maybe she's onto something.

But then, as a lego bangs my temple, I hear it, coming from the bathroom, muted, but just enough--the sound of waves and breakers, the roar of waterfalls, the voice of God. I pause, whispering my river words.

"Praise the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me . . ."

It's just a moment, but enough. There'll be prayers in the car, I can take the Bible to the dentist--and I should really try and work on those edits too. How long will we be there?

The freakout child realizes the situation and comes wailing down the hall. "We're supposed to be at dentist? NOW? I mean how are we going to do that? We've got ballet and she's got volleyball and didn't daddy say to--"

"Find your buddy and get in the car." I have to stop her before she hyperventilates. I have no idea where she gets it from. Yeah right.

With that, I stab my toes into my shoes, sidestep Mount Fold-Me, and make up a song about fractions to sing in the car. A song about taking an empty, dirty glass and filling it a little at a time.

That friends, is pretty much how my life goes . . . on a good day. :) Still, one of my favorite authors, Lisa Samson, seems to think that some of the things I write here are deep? (the other three people who read this thing know better). LOL

I am neither deep nor wide (spiritually speaking, the hips? another matter). I'm just a manic mama trying to reach for her dreams while holding on to her famiily, her faith and her friendships. A shallow puddle on the way to the waterfall.

So come often and splash around on your way to the River of Life. Jesus will clean everything away, even the muddy remnants of me from between your toes.


... and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:2, NIV)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ignore this...

People who live in houses never get it, but street people know: Fall begins on the fifteenth of August, at the exact moment when summer's at its peak. It happens like breath, the exhale being the seed of the inhale. There's the first yellow leaf. A tiredness comes over the green. The smell of snow rolls down from the mountain, and your bones remember the cold that's coming.
--Janis Hollowell, THE ANNUNCIATION OF FRANCESCA DUNN, William Morrow

Isn't that an amazing paragraph? I'd forgotten that I read it, but in gathering my notes from this summer when I was preparing to speak at ACRW, I found this paragraph. I think these sentences provokedthe forest you've been walking through if you've been here lately. Isn't amazing how words can sprout in the darkness of our minds, dropping roots into our souls? Wow. God is so wonderful like that.

Still though, ignore this post. LOL It's writing related. :) Several people asked for the notes of a talk I did and I promised to put them on my web site. Since my Contribute software is acting whack and I can't update my website, I'm going to post the notes from my ACRW late night conference chat here. I said a lot more than this that I can't remember and it wasn't taped, so if you were there and can think of something important that isn't on this skeleton outline, post it in the comments. :) There were also a few timed writings based on selections I read aloud. I may post them here also so you can try it if you want to. If anybody has what they wrote and want to share it, feel free to post it in the comments or send it to me and I'll post it. Oh yeah and there were bookmarks, magnets and prizes. All scriptures mentioned were read aloud by members of the group. We also had a timekeeper who "chimed" every eight minutes. If you were there and want to share what prize you got, do that too. Speaking of which I think I owe somebody one. Hmm... :) Forgive any formatting problems.


Finish the Book: 8 Minutes at a Time

I. Setting the Alarm-2 Corinthians 8:10,11
Completion, not perfection. The difference between an author and a writer? A book.
A. Get a Grip
B. Get a Goal
C. Go for it!

"This above all - ask yourself in the stillest hour of the night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple 'I must,' then build your life according to this necessity..."
--Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke

II. Minute One-READ IT!

A. The Word-Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 138:2
1. Daily devotional lists
B. Classics-get a high school reading list
C. Books inside your genre
D. Books outside your genre
E. Your prayer journal-remember God’s faithfulness

"The writer studies literature, not the world. He lives in the world; he cannot miss it. If he has ever bought a hamburger, or taken a commercial airplane flight, he spares his readers a report of his experience. He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, because that is what he will know."—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Writing exercise: Oral excerpt and followed by eight minute freewrite

I'm no newcomer to strangeness. I've had it all my life. It's my curse and my blessing that I can smell things other people can't. Ican pick up the rotten sweetness of infection from across the street. Anger coming off a person is an acrid, mustardy thing, not unlike the odor of ants, and lying has a cloying, soapy smell that makes my mouth pleat. In the past, when social workers and do-gooders discovered my gift, they sent me to shrinks who gave me the latest antipsychotic. I tried to take them, but the drugs always made me go dead inside. Each time I ended up deciding to carry on intact, smells and all, rather than live in that pharmaceutical twilight.
–Janis Hollowell, THE ANNUNCIATION OF FRANCESCA DUNN, William Morrow

III. Minute Two-WRITE IT!- Psalm 45:1

A. Copy God’s Word
B. Draw a map of your setting
C. Journal from one character’s point of view
D. Keep a notebook handy
E. Just write and see what happens!
F. Outline the books on your keeper shelf
G. Sing your scales to find your voice. Write something!
H. Scan your outbox for gems you missed

“We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.”—John Holt

IV. Minute Three-SAY IT!- Psalm 107:2
A. Speak God’s promises/David preached to himself
B. Read previous work aloud
C. Read dialogue aloud into the mirror
D. Sing a psalm
E. Find voice recognition software and listen to your story.
F. Books/Bible on tape or CD
G. Recite poetry
H. Practice for public readings
I. Practice pitches

"One of the strongest characteristics of genius is the power of lighting one’s own fire.”
—John W. Foster, clergyman (1770-1843)

Oral readings

Depressed? Stuck? Read this daily.

A Godly Writer’s Confession

I am anointed, beautiful, confident, disciplined, energetic, fearless, generous, highly-favored, intelligent, joyful, kind, loving, master of my emotions, noble, organized, patient, queenly radiant, submissive, talented, unique, virtuous, whole, x-traordinary, youthful and zealous

Yolanda Callegari Brooks Copyright 2003. Used with permission.

Or better yet, make up your own (the appendices in Write His Answer are great too)!

"A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff."--Tony Hillerman

V. Minute Four-PRAY IT!-1 Thess. 5:17, Eph. 6:18
A. Prayer journal
B. Pray for your readers, editors, agents, fellow writers and favorite writers
C. Record God’s answers
D. He’s the Author and Finisher. Ask for help!
E. Get others to pray for you
F. Only one thing is needful. Choose the greater part. Sit at His feet and let Him tell you the story.

If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

VI. Minute Five-MOVE IT!-Acts 17:28
A. An active mind needs oxygen
B. Good posture and reflexes
C. Body moves, brain births
D. Not about losing weight, about gaining ideas
E. Break a sweat in 8 minutes
F. Move your mind with music
G. One song is usually around four minutes
H. Let the music play and the words pour out!

Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen. Even so does inactivity sap the vigor of the mind. -Leonardo da Vinci

VII. Minute Six-PROVE IT!-Hebrews 12:2
A. Share the work with somebody
B. Critique group/ partner?
C. Editor/agent
D. Revisit the goal and make it happen!
E. Don’t bluff!
F. Check your goal. Is it SMART?
1. Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Tangible.
2. finish draft1 by next conference or revise mss by January vs "write a book".

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doint it.”—Joel Barker

Writing exercise #2-oral excerpt, eight minute writing
"You smell that?" she said excitedly to the back of the cabdriver's head.

"I don't smell nothzing, my cab clean, lady."

She yelled at him to stop then and she rarely yelled at people like cabdrivers, elevator operators, the ones who vacuumed the carpet at the special-needs school where she was principal. Figured she'd be working thus if Rowe's large hands hadn't rushed in and broken her fall when she'd tumbled from her heightened station in life. Told the cabdriver to stop right now, let her out, she needed to get out.

"You sure, lady? Here? That lady who tip me said I wait till you in your door."

She leaned into the cab window, whispered into the driver's face, "My aunt says if you smell butter on a foggy night you're getting ready to fall in love." She made her eyes go big, lowered her voice even more the way her aunt would do. "And if you're walking alone when you smell it-"

"Yeah? Yeah? What happen?"

Verdi didn't know the rest, when her aunt got to this part her face would glaze over in an oily sheen, she'd start fanning herself and shaking her head. Lord have mercy is all her aunt could say after that. "It's just better that's all," she said to the cabdriver as she turned and started walking toward home.

Diane McKinney Whetstone, BLUES DANCING, HarperCollins

VIII.Minute Seven-REST IT!-Genesis 2:3
A. Keep a sabbath heart
B. Don’t isolate yourself/schedule fun
C. Take a break after meeting goals,not a vacation
D. Maintain relationships while writing, reward friends and family with an “end of the book” event

“Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”—unknown

IX. Minute Eight-BEST IT!-I Cor. 15:58
A. You guessed it! Start all over again.
B. Assess what worked and what didn’t
C. Identify time distractors
1. no email, phone or tv until after you write? Address your weaknesses
D. Find YOUR rhythm!
E. Thank God for what He’s done
F. Messed up? Didn’t quite make it? Start over!

“You can make all the plans for the fight you want, but when the lights come up you’re left to your reflexes. If you cheated during the dark workouts of the morning, you’ll be found out under the bright lights.”—Joe Frazier

Question: Who would you rather listen to, a musical prodigy who practices when it rains or an average artist who practices daily and moves from last chair to first? Think about it. You’re asking both editors and readers to pay hard earned money for your books.

Find your rhythm and play it to THE END.

Other stuff I remember saying—
Get your family on board, pray with them about where your writing should go

figure out what motivates your family, what irritates them

Every time I get a check we all go to WalMart and everybody gets one thing, I pay my older kids for extra duties during deadlines

get DESPERATE!, let them see that you want this

ask for a book for Christmas, YOUR BOOK!

where will you be at next year’s conference?

don’t blame the editors or trends, BE a trend!

Come back next year with a full heart and open hands

come with the work done and pull somebody up with you

most people wrote two pages in 8 minutes tonight, Francine said she writes 4 pages; you can’t write like her, but you CAN write!

how long do you spend on email? Open one and write it to yourself about your BOOK

Be humble and hungry, this ain’t for the faint of heart…

there is only one YOU and somebody needs ya, get at it

Jesus will help us. He's good like that. :)

It's only eight minutes.
Don't miss it.
Not even for the world.

Off to take my own advice...

Friday, October 15, 2004

Rain from Heaven

Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds of the air touch them by day or the wild animals by night.
When David was told what Aiah's daughter Rizpah, Saul's concubine, had done, he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had taken them secretly from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land. (2 Samuel 21:10-14, NIV)
I was talking to a friend recently and she shared a message that her sister-in-law had preached on the scriptures above. (She comes from a family of preaching folk--daddy, brother, sisters, the in laws--these people ain't no joke. LOL) My friend said that she was ready for her issues to get a proper burial, that she'd been fighting the birds back for many months and it was time.
I agree.
Rizpah had a hard way to go. As the concubine of an ill-tempered, often absent and perhaps even demon-afflicted King Saul, all she had was her sons and her place in the palace. Now Saul was dead, her sons gone and her already second-place womanhood defiled by Abner, who'd gone over to David and left her too. All she had in the world were the bloody, exposed corpses at her feet.
And the vultures were circling.
She didn't have any spears, any strength, any help. All she had was her grief, her need. And she used it. Shuffling, shouting, waving those arms who carried the burden of a too proud king, shaking those hips that had once housed his future. From October to April, she beat back the birds, with no thought to her life, no regard for the cold, the hunger. . .
She'd taken a lot of things in her day, but this was too much. Until her last breath was spent, her arms no longer able to wave, her voice not able to scream, her eagle eyes couldn't see, only then would her spirit give in to her body's weakness. Through it all, she believed in God, hoped that somebody, somehow would help. Somebody with some land and a shovel and a strong back would come and put her corpses to rest.
I'm feeling Rizpah today. I've been beating back birds from April to October. She waited for the rain of spring, water from heaven. This year's spring rain brought me tears. Now it's harvest time, my usual period of mourning, hurting. I'm too tired to hurt. My voice to hoarse to cry. My shoes worn through from stomping the earth beneath me, from trying to leap to the heaven above me.
It's harvest time, Lord but I'm going to pretend it's a different day. A day of latter rain. I'm going to look past the black sky into the far corner to that small cloud, the breezy one that's been floating toward me lately. The cloud that Elijah saw after the drought.
The cloud shaped like a man's hand.
So I offer myself to you, Jesus. Me and all my mess, all my failure, all my faithlessness and disbelief. All my issues with God and men. Come to me, my King. Come to me and move my bones, still my heart. Come and give my rottenness a proper burial. Rouse my love for You, my Darling. You have stood by and held my hand, loving me through my brokenness. You did not chide me or speak. Thank you for waiting, for sprinkling me with Your Word, with Yourself. May Your Spirit move through this place like a flood.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

A Tree's Flourish

All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.
" 'I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.' " (Ezekiel 17:24, NIV)

I'm on the run today, but can't seem to get away from thinking about leaves and trees. I got some beautiful tree quotes today from Bruderhof and I had to share a few of them quickly while everyone is occupied (or so I hope...)
I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it; and, though fast rooted, they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space—heaven knows how fast and far! - John Muir (Isn't that amazing? I had to read it twice.)

What is sour in the house a bracing walk in the woods makes sweet. - Henry David Thoreau (Ain't it the truth? There's a book in that.)

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky. We fell them and turn them into newspapers that we may record our emptiness. - Kahlil Gibran (Wow. What else can I say?)
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:3, NIV) (I threw this one in for good measure)

This field trip to the forest is now complete. It'll have to be. I hear an eerie silence in the other room that can only mean destruction. (Aren't I optimistic?) Anyhoo, if anybody knows what you have to do to prepare the ground for a Christmas tree you can plant in your yard after Christmas let me know. Or I can not be a slug and google it myself... LOL
Sorry for the weird format. Blogspot is playing tricks on me again. I know, I know. Typepad. One thing at a time. I haven't updated my website since June. :X Wrote a book and a proposal since then though. You can't have it all. Or in my case, you can't have much of it. Thank God that He is exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think clause.
Have a green and glorious day . . . even if you're in the desert.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Less Like Scars

Less Like Scars by Sara Groves
copyright 2004 Mantle Music and Northern Heart Media
It's been a hard year/But I'm climbing out of the rubble/ These lessons are hard/ Healing changes are subtle
But every day it's Less like tearing, more like building /Less like captive, more like willing/ Less like breakdown, more like surrender/ Less like haunting, more like remember
And I feel you here/And you're picking up the pieces /Forever faithful/It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation /But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt/ Look less like scars and more like Character
Less like a prison, more like my room /It's less like a casket, more like a womb /Less like dying, more like transcending /Less like fear, less like an ending
And I feel you here /And you're picking up the pieces /Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation /But you are able /And in your hands the pain and hurt/ Look less like scars
Just a little while ago /I couldn't feel the power or the hope/ I couldn't cope, I couldn't feel a thing /Just a little while back I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come /And I need you /And I want you here /And I feel you And I know you're here /And you're picking up the pieces /Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad, bad situation /But you are able /And in your hands /the pain and hurt /Look less like scars (x3) /And more like Character
I heard this song on the radio today and cried like a baby. Don't know why... but it was cleansing. After "It's been a hard year," I just broke down.
It has been a hard year. Beautifully difficult. It started out with joy, selling books, signing contracts and then . . . well, let's just say things got tight like a bad suit. But at the sound of those lyrics, I admitted to God and myself that some of it was just pain rotten, but looking less scars and more like a bracelet, a necklace, a jagged elegant thing.
Off to CBD to order the CD, but I had to share. Sara is really becoming one of my faves in a Maggie Becker sort of way. And to think that two days ago, I was on a total Donnie McClurkin binge. What can I say? Praise opens me, beckons for me to open my reluctant rose of a heart. I want to write the way they sing. One day.
I am so strange...and wonderful. Just like you.
May your day, your week, be more like dancing barefooted in an open field of joy, dancing to the rhythms of grace.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Mumble Jumble

Driven into the ground, you'll speak, you'll mumble words from the dirt--Your voice from the ground, like the muttering of a ghost. Your speech will whisper from the dust.(Isaiah 29:4, MSG)
Okay, I'm just posting today without even the sixty seconds of my usual consideration. My brain is too fried by proposals and revisions to make much sense anyway. I'm feeling like a slug with a big fat "F" on my forehead (for failure in case you're wondering. I seem to think that's obvious. LOL) Isn't it funny how the enemy never comes with anything new (well, sometimes). But for the most part with me it's the same questions--Has God truly said? Are you really a mother, wife, writer, friend? You sure don't look like one.
In truth, I don't. I can't even find stuff in my own town. My husband had to take on of the kids down to Gainesville for a dental appointment and I had to get us to a volleyball scrimmage. (I hear you laughing already) I COULDN'T FIND IT!
In the dark everything looks different and we were about to run out of gas and somebody had to pee and an amazing idea came to me at the red light and...well we went to Dairy Queen instead. And my daughter apologized to ME because I missed Women's Bible Study to take her to the game.
Kids are amazing like that, overlooking the slugdom of their mothers.I felt good for a second, until my husband called from the school wondering where we were. He'd timed his trip exactly to make it back for the game. He's good that way. Normal. :) I, on the other hand, am basically writing-only material. I guess that's a good thing. It sorta narrows down the options.
Anyhoo, pray for me if you think of it. I just realized that Christmas is bearing down on me along with a revisions, deadlines, church stuff and all that. Every year I say I'm going to have some mythical Martha Stewart holiday where we do the entire advent calendar, put the tree up before Christmas Eve (a family tradition from my side that drives others crazy) and send ALL the Christmas cards before New Year's. 2006 is looking like a good year for it to happen...
Oh yeah, I read a really good book this weekend. I devoured it in a few hours (at red lights even. That was a first, and not a very safe one). It's called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It's a young adult novel that I've been meaning to read for a while. I see why it's won like every award known to man. Reminded me in some ways of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. YA is such a treat, especially when you're a grownup that can't find a junior high gym.
This episode of MumbleJumble has now come to an end. Unfortunately, if you tune in next week, you'll probably catch another episode.
Can a poem redeem this post? I so doubt it, but here goes:
This is a whisper/sister/mumble
As I follow/hollow/crumble
Close my lies/eyes/tumble
Ears to hear/fear/rumble
YOU kiss a sister/whisper/humble
"Forget your guilty/wilty/jumble
Lean on Me and won't/don't/stumble
I specialize in whisper/sister/mumble"