be careful what you pray for…you might just get it (and not in the way you’d expect)

I’m a writer.

Not a published one or anything (unless you count a letter to the editor in a magazine years ago and several stories posted to the internet), but I write. A lot.

I finished the first draft of a novel last year, and I’m now in the editing/revising process.

I love stories, and I believe in their power. Stories connect us to each other. Stories touch our hearts, change our minds, shape our communities. When I was a kid and first declared that I wanted to be a writer someday, my brother told me to write something meaningful. I guess it’s stuck with me all these years because that it is what I want more than anything–to write a story that would matter to someone. A story God could use in a person’s life–a story that might, in some small way, point them to Jesus.

So I’ve been praying for a while now that God might choose to use my writing in this way–to somehow bring Him glory and to speak words of life to someone who needed it.

Recently our pastor preached a sermon on evangelism. The lovely lady and dear friend whose son I baby-sit during the week later told me that the sermon had inspired her to pray for me. She was praying that God would use my writing as a witness.

Well. She is clearly one of those righteous people whose prayers are effective (James 5:16).

See, I always thought I’d polish up this novel and get it out in the world somehow, and THAT would be how God would use me. Or maybe I’d write devotionals or Bible study helps or something similar for magazines and journals, and THAT would be how God would use me.

That isn’t exactly how it happened.

Those stories I mentioned posting on the internet? They’re fan fiction. They’re good fun to write, you get to play in a universe you love, you get valuable feedback to improve your craft (because internet readers are brutally honest), and I’ve made friends in the process. An all-around win.

You also post a brief bio, to let people know a little about who you are. Just a short little thing that most readers don’t pay attention to.

I got a private message from a reader of one of my stories. She’d read my bio, and she had a question. She wanted to know why I mentioned being a Christian there. Certainly that tidbit has nothing to do with fandom or fan fiction or anything else. Why had I felt the need to include it? Did my faith really matter that much? Did it really affect my life that much? And if so, why?

So I’m doing my best to reply to her questions. Absolutely nothing whatsoever may come from the exchange. But it’s an open door, an opportunity. And I’m laughing at myself for thinking God would ever do anything the way I expect. Really, you’d think I’d know better by now.

So yeah…God answers prayer. And it’s not always with a yes. And sometimes even the yes you get isn’t the yes you thought it would be.

color me de-stressed

Like most things, I first saw it online. Someone was talking about some new coloring books they’d gotten.

These were not your children’s coloring books.

Next I saw a sizable collection of coloring books for adults at Books-a-Million. They looked pretty cool. Patterns designed to help with focus or to be calming–couldn’t we all use some of that?

And suddenly adult coloring was everywhere.

Amazon. Facebook ads. Even an author-entrepreneur I read was talking about “cashing in” on this hot trend.

Several of the health problems I struggle with mention the importance of stress reduction. I’ve never been all that good at dealing with stress, to be honest.

So I’ve printed a few of the freebie pages I’ve found (I don’t have a real book yet). They are quite relaxing. I enjoy them.

I see some people who post their coloring work, and they are far better colorers than I will ever be. They know which colors look good in combination. They make pretty patterns. They get these fantastic pieces of artwork when they are done.

That isn’t me.

I have no concept of color or design–I just use the colors I like. Lots of pinks and purples, truthfully, because I like pink and purple.

No one’s ever going to hand me any awards, but the process is enjoyable and the results make me smile.

Which I think is probably the point.

(You can see where the two-year-old scribbled a little on this and also a smudge–I don’t even know what that is! This is real life, baby!)

A Facebook friend posted this article. I found it interesting.

Another friend of mine loves crayons and bought herself her own set to use for her coloring, much like the article recommends. I have colored pencils that I use.

But every time I print a page for me, my two girls request that I print copies for them too. My older actually has more artistic talent than I do, so she may be posting those pretty pages one day. She uses colored pencils as well and puts a great deal of time and effort into it.

The younger uses markers and ends up with about what you’d expect for a six-year-old. But she enjoys it. And again, isn’t that really the point?

the kingdom belongs to such as these

I had a headache yesterday. A I’m-trying-not-to-cry-because-it-will-only-hurt-more, I-hope-I-don’t-throw-up-or-maybe-I-do-because-I-feel-better-afterward, don’t-ask-me-to-do-anything type headache.

It stinks. You probably know that.

And it reminded me of this post, which I started weeks ago (after my last headache).

I started it on a Sunday, then never got around to finishing it, then completely forgot about it.

So, many days late and several dollars short, here it is.

I have two children. Some days, due to migraines or menstrual issues, I’m not capable of being a very hands-on mom.

As a result, I’m quite familiar with mommy guilt.

Someone told me that my children would learn empathy and compassion.

I caught a glimpse of that today.

I had a headache yesterday and spent most of the day on the couch. I felt well enough today to go to church. The official medical term for the period following a migraine is “postdrone.” I just call it a migraine hangover–far more descriptive, don’t you think?

I definitely had that today.

I arrived at church and took my usual seat in the back of the sanctuary. The band started to play the first song.

It was loud. Painfully, unbearably loud.

My husband runs the sound board, so I know it wasn’t really as loud as it felt to me. He keeps a tight rein on such things and is good at his job. But oh, for my post-migraine self, it was torture.

My ten-year-old noticed me wincing. She knew what that expression meant.

So she brought me a pair of the earplugs that the sound booth stocks.

I never asked her to do that or told her I was hurting. She just saw me and brought me something to help.

I’m grateful.

Sink reflections

I know, last week I posted my view out the side kitchen window. This week I’m posting this:

Yeah, it’s my kitchen sink.

I promise not to stay stuck in the kitchen every week, okay?

But I love how shiny and clean it looks once the dishes are washed and out of the way.

It gives me a sense of accomplishment–the work is finished. The dishes are dealt with. This pretty, shiny sink is smiling at me for a job well done. (Or done, at least. Maybe not always well.)

Still, I have proof of my labor. And it makes me smile.

Mundane, to be sure.

But still quite lovely.

practicing gratitude

I saw a challenge for bloggers titled “Mundane Monday.” The task was to find beauty in something completely commonplace, snap a picture of it, and post it.

I admit to not being much of a photographer. Most of the pictures here are quick shots taken with my iPod.

But I like the concept.

I especially like slowing down enough to be in the moment, to notice what you might ordinarily overlook, to appreciate what you would usually ignore. Mindfulness in a culture of frenetic multitasking is a rare but important discipline.

I thought I might tweak the challenge just a bit. I’m still going to look for beauty in the mundane, but I’m also looking for something that inspires gratitude. So often I am prone to take my blessings for granted–especially those commonplace, everyday blessings. Things that are so much a part of my daily routine that I don’t pay much attention anymore.

So this challenge should help me get my week off to a good start, by forcing me to slow down enough to notice the ordinary beauty and to pause in gratitude. A double win, I think.

The above is my view from the side kitchen window each day. Not the best picture, since I was taking it through the window, but I think it still shows how much loveliness is right outside my house. I can pause while cooking or doing dishes and go to the window for a quick refresher. Often there are deer. This morning we even had a whole flock (do you call it a flock? The internet can’t seem to agree on one answer) of wild turkeys hanging out. I wasn’t quite quick enough, but that would have made an excellent picture!

So I’m grateful for my beautiful surroundings, even though I see them every day (and sometimes during pretty mundane tasks!).

I’d love to hear what ordinary or commonplace things captured your attention with their beauty or reminded you to be grateful today. Let me know in the comments.