Friday, July 31, 2009

Waking Up to the World, and Hope

Waking up this morning to grey skies, and a cool breeze has been wonderful. Reading the news reports has me longing for scriptures. Only God has the strength to prevail in this world. I put my life in his hands. I put my family's life in his hands. He has the only hands big enough to hold us all.

"but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31 (happens to be my confirmation verse)

God is our hope and our refuge, and he makes us soar, helps us run and not grow tired. I love this verse because if fills me with energy, and the desire to run the race God has set before me. Powerful images for me, since I grew up flying in my Dad's ercoupe, and running wherever I went, and racing whenever I could.

So, this morning, as I perused my Submissions file, I took heart in the fact that I have submitted 15 poems and stories to various publications this year, and three have been accepted for publication. So despite odds and obstacles, I keep writing and I keep submitting.

And, that count doesn't even include the awesome support and encouragement I've received from my church home, Peninsula Lutheran Church. PLC published 15 devotionals written by me, and everyone has been so amazingly supportive, I praise God for that support and for the wonderful people in my life. Thanks be to God! I need to put more of my writing into His capable hands, and even though I long to write some amazing, thrilling, adventurous sci fi, I think I'm being called to write some more devotions . . . aah, so much to write, and that is exciting.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Published, Rocked, and Thankful

Everydaypoets.com published one of my poems yesterday. "Unexpected Grace" will be on their site for the next 18 months or so, making its way into the archives after 4 days or so on their main page. Today, it will show up second in the line up, tomorrow third, etc.

It's cool to be published again. Now, I just need to be my writing routine back . . . maybe after Creation Fest. We've been enjoying amazing musicians, inspiring speakers, and fun worship.

Hawk Nelson and Skillet "rocked our faces off" on Wednesday night.

Yesterday we had fun in the kids tent, and heard a good speaker. Stellar Kart rocked the Fringe stage in the afternoon, but we were too tired to enjoy Kutless and Casting Crowns, which is too bad. We like Casting Crowns. 10:30 is a little late for us when we haven't had enough sleep for two nights previously.

I'm so thankful that we are able to be here, and that I'm able to write, and that I've been published. Thank you Lord!!!

Hopefully today we will be awake for more . . .

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bold Requests

Bold requests are ones that I usually think of as arrogant or childish, and yet . . . maybe they aren't.
In a Bible passage that stood out this morning for me, two blind men shout at Jesus, saying, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
Jesus asks them what they want.
"Lord," they answered, "we want our sight."
(from Matthew 20:29-34)

Wow. First they are shouting at Jesus for mercy, and then they tell him they want their sight.
Maybe they had more humility in the way they asked it, but I don't see it in my Bible passage.
Maybe they were just desperate, because who wouldn't be in their position?

How often have I actually shouted to God, asking for mercy? Maybe once in desperation, but it was more like a loud cry than a shout.
Do I really ask Jesus the hard questions? Do I really expect him to heal me?

There is a part of me that thinks yes, but really, here I am with a fractured foot that I'm struggling to stay off of enough, and I haven't asked God for any help. Well, maybe once.

How can God answer my prayers if I don't make them?
I believe that God's Spirit rests in each person who believe in him, so God knows what I need.
But I think he waits sometimes for me to tell him, ask him, and expect him to answer my prayers. That expectation is faith. Trying to do it myself is a lack of faith.
How many times does God have to send that lesson to me before I learn it?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dog Days, and Dog books

Out of all the books I've read in the last few weeks, the three that stand out the most as being the best, first-time reads for me are: The Boy Who Spoke Dog, The Boy Who Returned From the Sea, and My Life in Dog Years.

Yes, I found them all in the kid's section at my local library, and No, I'm not ashamed to read kid books. I still love The Hungry Caterpillar, and Where the Wild Things Are.

Plus, my kids are in the kids' section, so I'm with them, and the books are there just begging to be read.

The Boy Who Spoke Dog is a wonderful tale of a boy shipwrecked on an island full of sheepherding dogs and their flock of sheep. And, as the title suggests, the boy learns to speak dog and forms a special bond with a dog named Moxie. There is danger, adventure, and some throught-provoking twists. In the end, the boy is rescued/captured and he yearns to return to the island.

The Boy Who Returned From the Sea is an interesting sequel with a mysterious, magical villian, and some new dog friends. The fangoes from the first book are redeemed, and all ends well, despite new dangers and a betrayal of trust.

My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet, is a collection of stories about some of the important dog's in Paulsen's life. They are heart-warming, funny, and bring home some truths about human and dog interaction. Paulsen writes frankly about his companions who made his life more meaningful while he was growing up with alcoholic parents, and spending much of his time alone.

So, if you love dogs, or you know someone who does, read these books! They are probably on a 5th grade level, or maybe 4th. I read each of them in approximately one hour. They are fun, easygoing, and yet thought-provoking. I'm planning to read them aloud to my family, so they can't miss out/escape.

And why not? Long car rides are great places for reading aloud, and we've already read the entire Narnia series, the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, some stand alone books, and six of the seven Harry Potter books. So, I'm planning on treating them to some dog days.

Life in the fast lane

Up late, ironed my husband's clothes while he showered.
Biked on the exercise bike.
Chit-chatted with parents when they took my dogs for a walk.
Push ups, sit ups, other back straightening exercises.
Breakfast.
E-mail read - discovered several things that should have been done days ago.
Printer malfunction.
Printer Cartridge found and installed.
Boxes packed.
Company agreement printed.
Everyone dressed, teeth and hair brushed.
Dogs fed.
UPS Store - shipment made.
Pharmacy - picked up prescription, and bought tape for foot.
Library - books in and books out.
Home for lunch.
Pet dogs.
Packed for Zoo camp.
Drove to the zoo, and dropped older daughter off.
Younger daughter drags me, limping, through the zoo.
We watched the walruses heave themselved out of the water to sun themselves.
We watched a fish feeding in the lagoon.
We admired sea horses.
We stopped to rest and snacked.
Fed the budgies.
Walked, rested, walked, rested.
Finally, at the playground. Trisha played, I rested.
Trisha climbed, spun, climbed, swung, climbed, climbed, climbed.
I rested, rested, rested, rested. Watched my ankle and foot swell.
Rested.
Picked up Anna from zoo camp.
Drove home for Trisha's socks.
Pet dogs.
Drove to tap class.
Filled out part of the Dance company agreement.
Filled out enrollment form.
Signed up for Monday Tap Intensive.
Wrote devotional rough drafts - 2. Very rough.
Blogging now.
Soon, will drive to watch the end of the softball game.
Then home for dinner.
Then . . . dogs will need food, and so will the cat.
Then . . . maybe we will rest. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"In all I do . . ."

"In all I do, I honor you."
Singining these lyrics on a Sunday morning, sometimes I wonder how God is going to hold me to that promise. I think of the times that I haven't honored God in my life at all, and it saddens me.
So many times, I have allowed for my own selfishness, and pettiness, to take over "all I do."

Boiling away all the steam, honoring God really comes down to the basics like "the Greatest Commandment" found in Matthew 22:34-40:

"Hearing that Jesus had silened the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?'
Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'"

When I read those words, it just seems to fall into place like the missing piece of a puzzle. A tired cliche, but still fitting. I have a piece of peace, for a moment. And then I get up, live my live, and trip over my own pettiness. Then I read the scripture again, and start all over again. I will never be perfect, because only God is perfect, but I find the attempt to honor God, better than my few attempts to walk away from God. Those were studies in misery. I would rather have my life be a study of flight, even if there are many crash landings in the middle of it.

As another favorite song of mine, sings, "If I get up, I might fall back down again - so let's get up, come on." (Superchick).

Monday, July 13, 2009

art spills

Grape juice spattered on new clothes, vanilla rice milk puddled on the floor, chocolate rice milk flung to the ceiling and the far reaches of the room - these are the artworks that dominate my life.

Searching for frogs in the woods take precedent over my writing, and so I write on my facebook and my blog in little blurbs that just offer me a momentary taste of words.

And here I go again . . . even though I know the frogs are in my strawberry patch eating all the slugs that are trying to steal the fruit. But the woods have an appeal that the strawberry patch just doesn't have.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ender's Game + School Reunion?

Finishing up Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card leaves me hanging, with ideas, thoughts, and characters still rumbling around in my mind. I've read the entire Ender's Game series, and the Ender's Shadow series more than once in the last 20 years. Now that I think of it, it's fitting to read a book from a series that I have loved so much since that same summer 20 years ago.

It all started in Lindon Bookstore in Enumclaw, when a certain guy I knew recommended Ender's Game to me. I didn't like the cover, and I wasn't much of an SF reader then, but his excitement was catching so I bought it, and took it home. I read it from cover to cover in 5 hours, coming out of it like I was coming out of some kind of compelling dream.

I've read a few books that way, but Ender's Game is still one of the more amazing books that I've read. I didn't like the rest of the series very much, but when Orson Scott Card came out with Ender's Shadow several years ago, I read it in much the same way I read Ender's Game. A re-telling of the same story, from a different character's point of view, sort of . . . except it's more than a re-telling. This is the third time I've read it, and I still find it compelling, interesting, thought-provoking, and I still have a hard time putting it down. I started it yesterday, and finished it just a half hour ago, having to put it down to live life, and love on my family a little bit.

So here I am, mentally preparing for my 20th reunion by reading a book from a series of books that I started 20 years ago on a hot summer afternoon in Enumclaw. A book series that highlights the lives of military genius kids who fight for survival, and deal with bullies, and along the way make me laugh, cry and even think a little. What am I saying here really? I'm not a genius. I've known a few people who might be able to claim that kind of title, but I know that I have no gift that way. But I did grow up having friends, and heartbreak, loving the place I live but dealing with bullies. I learned to fight on the elementary school playground and save myself and friends from a gang of bullies that roamed there, but it wasn't any kind of battle school. I hope at least that I've learned to think a little in my life, and I'm glad I've shared laughter and even tears with some wonderful people.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Blessings in Disguise

I was busy playing the world's smallest violin and having my own self-centered pity party, when my sister-in-law told me to count my blessings. So here goes:
1. I live in a country with lots of healthcare options.
2. If I do have ostopenia, then at least I can do something to prevent osteoporosis before it happens.
3. She's willing to help clean my house since her son's birthday party is here tomorrow.
4. At least now I know why my foot hasn't felt completely healed up - because it hasn't and six weeks is not that long of a time.
5. I'll be able to ski next season with complete confidence, unlike last season.
6. I've been given a reason to get my bike fixed up - because I can still ride as much as I want even if I'm not supposed to walk.
7. My foot doc gave me permission/orders to ride, swim, do sit ups and push ups and lift upper body weights as much as possible.
8. One more incentive to lose weight is to get the weight off my ankle and foot.
9. My kids can earn lots of spending money by helping me keep the house clean this summer.
10. My husband is super-man - well, super-husband, anyway. (meaning: he helps me out when I ask him to).
11. God loves me, even when I rebel against all the rest he's been trying to send my way. "He leads me beside still waters," and I keep refusing to rest . . . but then there is that stack of paperwork that needs to be sorted, pictures to put in scrapbooks, devotions, stories, poems, and books to write/edit/finish. Maybe God's just giving me plenty of space and time to get some of that stuff done. Praise God! Even for the darkest valleys, and silliest pity parties.