Sunday, April 26, 2015

God and Garbage Day

I believe that God created each of us as unique one-of-a-kinds, right down to the quirkiness of our individual personalities.

Because He is my Creator, He knows me better than anyone on this earth. He knows the way my brain works, and thank God He does. Because a lot of the time I don’t even know how my brain works. 

Eight years ago God knew it would take Garbage Day to save my sanity. 

I'm the kind of person who needs a purpose to fulfill, be it ever so small. I need steps to follow. Do this step and that will lead to the next step and so on. 

2007 was a stressful year for us. You know those lists - 10 Top Causes of Stress. We were going through about 5 of them at once and I was on the verge of "losing it". In fact, one of the books I read about an illness we were dealing with said that most mothers of children with this illness end up having a mental breakdown. 

Oh that's nice. Thank you very much.

So, middle of 2007. Middle of 5 out of 10 top causes of stress. And I could barely function. It took everything in me just to get up in the morning and get dressed. And then, though there were countless things to do that day, I'd do nothing. Watch TV. Wander around the house looking at all that needed doing and unable to do it. It was too overwhelming. Where to even start!

Then God stepped in with Garbage Day.     

It was kind of a gradual dawning: Oh! The garbage gets picked up on Thursday morning. I guess I could dump all the small garbage pails into a couple of big garbage bags and set them out in the alley. That's one thing I can accomplish by Wednesday night.

Suddenly there was a purpose to fulfill, be it ever so small. But one step led to another:

If that needs to be completed by Wednesday night, then maybe on Tuesday I can clear all the garbage off the counters, and while I'm at it I might as well put all the dirty dishes in the dishwasher...

See how that worked? One small step led to another small step. Slowly, step by step, until I could handle bigger steps and finally reclaim what most people would call a normal life.

God knew I needed one regular, concrete, and very small task to start me on my way back to health and life.

That's why I maintain that God used Garbage Day to save my sanity.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

YAY! I'm a Writer.

The following article was originally published on InScribe Writers Online.

What was that Eureka moment when I knew I was a writer?

Well, let’s start with this:  I don’t think I’ve ever actually exclaimed the word EUREKA! in my entire life. 

I have had some other moments, though. Like the day it suddenly
dawned on me that I hated cooking. What a shock and a relief. That was 
more of a whadaya know? kind of moment. I hate cooking. 
Well whadaya know?   

Or the day in my mid-thirties when I realized with devastation that I would 
never learn everything there was to know in the world. That was a What? Noooooo! kind of a moment.  

And then there was the Huh moment when it hit me that Cap’n Crunch was 
my favourite cereal.

My writing moments have been more of a gradual dawning. 

From my earliest childhood I made up stories. I’d make up stories in my 
head to put myself to sleep at night, or from the back seat of the family 
station wagon as we traveled across Canada every summer. 

I often scribbled away on any scrap of paper I could find. And I became a 
great letter writer from my adolescence on. I WAS a writer, only I didn’t 
know it. I didn’t know I could call myself a writer.

I took the Writing for Children & Teenagers course from the Institute of 
Children’s Literature while my own children were toddling around my 
knees. I wanted to see if someone else thought I might be a writer. 

They did think so. But I didn’t believe them. 

I thought my instructor was too nice and didn’t give enough critique. Her comments were always more positive than negative and I didn’t 
think that was helpful at all. 

I thought I had to be published and well known to call myself a writer. So, 
how would I know I was a writer unless I got published? But if I did send 
something to a publisher and didn’t get published how would I know 
whether it was because they couldn't use it or because I wasn’t really a 
writer? What a vicious convoluted circle.

When my daughters were school age I wrote little stories and vignettes 
for school newsletters and Sunday School papers. I even created an 
entire mid-week kids’ club curriculum for our church. And I still didn’t 
think I could call myself a writer. I didn’t know that having my writing 
in those little newsletters WAS “being published”.

I was afraid to send anything out into the world. But I kept writing. 
As cliché as it sounds, I couldn’t NOT write.

The gradual dawning started later, as I spent time with other writers. 
At conferences and writing groups I found out they were ordinary quirky 
people just like me. They were all at different stages in their writing 
journeys, they each had their own styles of writing and unique voices, 
and I was okay right where I was. As others shared their journeys I 
realized I could relate. 

Indeed, I WAS a writer. 

But I was still uncomfortable saying so out loud. I couldn’t call myself 
a writer.  

Then there was the Spring WordShop where the speaker shared that he 
was an intuitive writer. He never planned ahead of time what was going 
to happen, he just wrote and let the story happen on the fly. 
(Some people call this a pantser) In fact, one time one of his main 
characters got up and walked out right in the middle of the book 
and he had to rewrite the whole thing. 
I thought, “Hey, that’s the way I write! And it’s okay.” 

That was my AHA! moment, which lands somewhere on the spectrum 
between whadaya know and EUREKA! That’s when I knew I could 
call myself a writer.

Since then I have been published in a couple of children’s publications, 
an anthology, FellowScript (a Christian Writers Magazine), and my blog. 
Being able to call myself a writer has given me the courage to 
send out manuscripts whether they be rejected or not. 
It doesn’t matter. I’m still a writer.

It is dawning on me as I write this blog post that THIS may actually be 
my EUREKA! moment. Or as close to EUREKA! as someone like me gets. 
YAY! suits me better. 

Documenting my journey for this post has cemented in my mind that I am 
definitely a writer; that from the very beginning God gifted and called me 
to write, with my own unique voice. And that doing so brings Him joy. 


photo credit: 
<a href="">Light Bulb No. 1</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

 Photo credit: What if I fall

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Right Out the Window

Know your audience.

That’s what almost every writing coach or speaking mentor will tell you. If you want to get your message across with the biggest punch, you need to understand who will be receiving that message, and deliver it accordingly.

When Sweetie and Peaches were ages 5 and 3, I wanted them to grasp how important it was to wear seat belts the whole time they were riding in a car. This was back in the day when kids were out of infant car seats by the time they were 2. The next step was a booster seat, which was basically a raised platform to sit on where the child was held in place by the vehicle’s lap-belt/shoulder-strap combination. It was often uncomfortable.

So one day after I had buckled them into the back seat and before I had started the car, I told them a story that had been in the news that week. I thought it was relevant and timely.

I want to tell you about a little boy your age. He was riding in the back seat of his Mommy’s car. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt. Then, his Mommy couldn’t help it but, the car she was driving crashed and the little boy … he wasn’t wearing his seat belt and he flew right out the window.

Three-year-old Peaches was completely spellbound. Her eyes grew bigger when I mentioned the crash. At the end of the story, her little mouth opened in awe and her eyes grew as big as they could get. She turned to look at the window and then turned back to me.

In wonder she said, "He could fly?”

That’s when I knew my message had gone over her head and right out the window.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

For the Joy Set Before Him

The following phrase from the Bible has been going through my head this entire Passion Week:

for the joy set before Him endured the cross …

The verse from Hebrews 12:2 goes like this: 
 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Another version of that scripture says: 
He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I am no Bible scholar, so in my simple mind I have been wondering … what WAS that joy set before Him? What, besides the fact that He was God, would make anyone endure what He endured? What was the prize?

The verse ends with Jesus sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Could that be the joy He knew was coming? 

That after His gargantuan task of taking on Himself the sins of the world – past, present, and future; of dying on a cross and rising again ... after THAT little mission was complete, He would take His place as God of the universe? 

Maybe. But somehow I think it was more.

From the time Adam & Eve broke the intimate kinship between themselves and God, God had been making a way to restore that close relationship.  

Jesus was the way to accomplish that. 

Because of His sacrificial act, each human being from that time forward has been given the choice to accept His gift and become a friend of God. (James 2:23) 

Or not. 

What if THAT was the joy set before Him that day? 
What if He endured the spitting 
the whipping 
the nails 
the humiliation 
because He knew it would restore that intimate companionship? 

What if I was the prize? 

What if you were?

He is risen!
He is risen indeed.