Creating Life in the Midst

forest 3Life and writing are not meshing for me right now.

It’s 8:30 and I’m exhausted and I haven’t written a word, I haven’t edited any words and honestly, I don’t have the mental energy to do either one.

Honestly, that’s probably because I’m angry as well as tired – not a good combination for writing or for living my life. And I’m feeling like this because I feel like I *need* to make something happen in my life.

Do you ever feel like that? Like if you don’t do the thing you’ve been dreaming about, if you don’t do that thing that makes you feel like you and that you strongly believe God gave you to do *right now,* you’re going to blow it?

And so I grit my teeth and I snarl at my computer because programs aren’t working correctly and I feel the tension of all this missed opportunity coursing through my veins. And I can feel it there – in the anger and the tears and the fear.

The fear. It’s pulsing through me and it’s chasing my thoughts around; it’s trying to convince me that I’m lost and that this is all there is to my life. Fear wants me to believe that it’s too late and it doesn’t matter and that I’m destined for nothing more than mediocrity and just getting by.

This warped view comes from living in the midst and losing sight of hope and truth.

You see, my days are long, so long and so filled with meeting needs and it’s a constant wrestling match in my heart and my mind, or maybe it’s a wrestling match *between* my heart and my mind.

There’s the side of my heart that knows that pouring into the lives of these two little girls is important, Kingdom-building work. But then there’s the writer and dreamer side of me, or maybe it’s the selfish me, or maybe it’s just the worn out me who feels like I’m missing the mark somehow.

And anger is easy, you know?

If I get angry, I don’t have to address what’s happening here in the midst. I don’t have to address the tension that builds between living and living well; between seeking God’s will and living in God’s will; between creating with words and creating a life.

And there it is: I am wrestling with creating with words and creating a life when, in fact, these two creative pursuits are intimately linked for me. Neither is more important. Neither is more worthy.

Even so, they are not ever on equal footing nor do they hold equal weight at any given moment. These two creative pursuits ebb and flow and tug at me and sometimes, like now, one must be set aside or pursued in the in-between.

Pursued in the midst.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like. But I know that I won’t find the answer with anger and it won’t be something simple; life is too complicated right now for that and the days much too long.

What I do know is that I can only discover it as I draw near to the heart of the One who gave me both creative pursuits. He who created me knows me and I believe He will direct my steps if I let Him.

Only if I let Him.

So, I’m breathing deep and breathing out prayers, prayers spilling over with desperate need for His presence because, yes, I am desperate for what only He can provide.

God Help Me Not Help Them

Five-Minute Friday: Try. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

I am a fixer. Perhaps it is more honest to say that I am someone who likes to be in control (okay, I’m a control freak). But, really, I am a recovering control freak. Please, God, help me not help them today.

Nothing, not even that prayer, changes the fact that I cannot help myself: I want to help them (read: I want to control them, or at least try to).

IMG_4824When someone in my family is trying to do something and it’s not going as smoothly as I think it ought: opening a jar, zipping up a jacket, tying a shoe, replacing batteries; really, it doesn’t matter. Whatever someone in my family is trying to do, I want to help. And by help, I mean, I want to do it for them.

But I mean it in the best possible way when I reach in and take over.

I mean it in the best possible way when they look at me with that look.

I mean it in the best possible way when I step in and don’t allow them to figure it out for themselves, when I don’t allow them to try.

In some ways, I think this is what I want God to do for me.

I want Him to step in; I want Him to intercede and to take over before I have the chance to screw things up. Again.

Yes. I want to try. I want to do it myself. I want to figure it out. Because that’s who He created me to be in some ways. But I know my track record. And I know He does, too, you know? We both know I’m probably making the wrong choice, not doing it right, making a mess of things.

I want Him to stop me.

I want Him to protect me from myself. I don’t want to learn. I just want to be able to do it right the first time.

So I want Him to be more like, well, more like me. To be a fixer. To be the One who steps in and stops me before I make such a mess that the clean up will take far longer than either of us can anticipate.

But, that’s not how God works. He’s the God of free will and choices.

And, slowly, oh-so-slowly, that’s what He’s teaching me.

I’d be lying if I said I’m not a slow learner.

IMG_4450God doesn’t work that way – stepping in and taking over – and He doesn’t want me to, either.

And so I take deep breaths and let my husband be the one to handle the task at hand and let my seven year old try and try and try until she gets things the way she wants them. I stand by and let my five year old try to measure the flour or the salt or the vanilla; I let her try and break the egg; I let her try.

I try to let them try when I want to do.

But instead, I wait. I watch. I itch to step in, but I let them try.

And when I step in too soon? God gives me another chance to try again.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Try)

Writing Sprint: Portals

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: Portals

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it. 

To this prompt, I would add that perhaps the Portal is an object – like a ring or a medallion or a pair of glasses that your character finds and puts on or touches (as in Tomorrowland). Be creative & have fun.

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

The Book of Poems & Legends

“Mia, have you seen the Book of Poems and Legends?” Henry called from the small extra room they both referred to as the library. He began looking over the shelves one more time. “Mia? Mia? Where in the world did she go?” Their apartment was what realtors described as cozy, which translated in Henry’s mind into the square footage of a postage stamp, so the fact that Mia hadn’t answered him meant she must have left without telling him and that’s not how they tended to operate. Henry wandered outside to see if perhaps his sister had taken up her usual garden spot in the hammock, but there were only the growing shadows of dusk.

“Mia, is that you,” Sophia called when she heard the sliding door open next door. She laughed to herself because it was really Henry that she hoped to see, but she almost always asked for Mia rather than Henry. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy Mia’s company. In fact the two had become quite close in the two years that they’d lived next door to each other. But she felt such a deep connection to Henry that she couldn’t quite explain, and she was going to miss him terribly.

“It’s Henry,” he called over. He peeked his head over the fence. “You haven’t seen Mia have you? Maybe heard her go out?”

Sophia shook her head. “But I’ve only been out here for about five minutes or so,” she said.

“So unlike her,” Henry said.

“I can keep you company while you wait for her,” Sophia offered and Henry smiled at her.

“Absolutely,” he said.

“Where do you suppose she is,” Sophia asked once the two were nestled in the cushions of the garden swing. Henry shrugged. With Sophia so near, his worry about where Mia had disappeared to was overshadowed by the anticipated loss of this closeness and connection he shared with Sophia.

***

In the library, on the shelf where Henry kept his favorite books, Mia stood, hands on hips and just half the size of the spine of the worn out NIV translation of The Bible. She knew she’d left the Book of Poems and Legends on the back of the shelf behind the line of Henry’s most-read books because she knew it was the one place that he wouldn’t look for it. Other than The Bible, Henry has cycled through each of these books recently and had moved on to some newer selections from the public library. Still, she couldn’t imagine where the heavy volume had gotten to in the short time she’d been gone. And why was Henry looking for the book anyway, she wondered. But that wasn’t nearly as important right now because without the book, she was stuck as she was, the size of a pen and a great distance from the floor without some ingenuity and perhaps some assistance. She walked the length of the shelf once more, acknowledging the gap where she’d removed the volume and moved behind the line of books that stacked like steps from tallest to shortest until they reached The Bible laid upon its side.

A shadow passed through the room and Mia hugged her arms around herself against a strange and sudden chill that started in her bones and moved up through her spine. She crouched behind the copy of the old worn Bible and held her breath for with Henry and Sophia swinging in the garden, and no other way into the apartment, there was only one other being she could imagine in the library at this moment. One being who could pass through time and space and realms and visions as he pleased and without detections or opposition. She whispered a familiar chant of verse for strength and protection and waited in silence.

The shadow grew darker and closer to the shelves and she was certain she felt the cold air of his breath and fought against trembling that he might not detect her presence. Further along the shelf came a thump and then a sliding and shifting of books and then the shadow lightened and seemed to evaporate. Even so, Mia stayed crouched behind the NIV Bible for several minutes before venturing back along the shelf toward the row of Henry’s favorite stories. Sure enough, just as she had suspected, the thump and the rearranging of books was the returning of The Book of Poems and Legends. Although she hadn’t seen him, Mia felt sure that the One had taken the old volume, but for what reason, she wondered, if he could pass through visions and dreams and time without the help of a portal?

As she pondered this, she wrestled the old, thick volume from its hiding place upon the shelf and let it fall open to the story about the Legend of the Faerie of the Isle and then, as quickly as she was able, she jumped into the painted print of a meadow that bordered a shadowy wood on one side and a cozy cottage on the other. In the cottage the illustrator had drawn with painstaking detail a woman at a piano looking out at the meadow while the blue and gold lights of several faeries danced and played under the falling dusk. As her toe touched the feathery grass, sketched with such vivid strokes, Mia disappeared.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: Portals

C. S. Lewis used a wardrobe, J. M. Barrie used the second star to the right, and Lewis Carroll used a rabbit hole—each a gateway to another world. This week, pick an object that is important to you and transform it into a portal to an alternate world. Write a story about someone discovering the portal and adjusting to life where everything is foreign. Take into consideration where this secret passage is located and what it feels like to pass through it.

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!

Free for a Time

IMG_6589Five-Minute Friday: Free. A single word prompt. Write without overthinking or editing. And go:

This is to all the haters, the critics, the naysayers. Specifically, this is to the ones that live inside my head.

Your time here is done.

You are free to go.

If you are not willing to go in your own power, then I will help you.

But today?

Today is your eviction day. Consider this your notice.

What’s that you say? You don’t think I can do it? You don’t think I have the power, the strength, the ability to call you out and dress you down right here, right now?

You’re right. I probably don’t.

But that’s okay.

I’m not working alone. In fact, I’m not doing this at all.

This is all in His power and His strength and His mercy and His calling.

He made me free.

But even so, I continue to live in fear and doubt.

I continue to live as a slave to you: to the haters and the critics and the self-doubt and the self-proclaimed naysayers.

But today is my Independence Day. (again)

Today, I am liberated. (again)

Today, I am free. (still)

I am free from doubt and from worry and from cowering and from giving in.

I am free from the voices – all of your voices – that try to control me and tell me every day that I am not enough or that I don’t have anything to say or to contribute.

You’re wrong.

I am worthy.

In the words of Mercy Me, I am flawless because the Cross has made me flawless.

I have something to say.

I have words that God gave me and that He wants me to share with others. And maybe even with me.

But I am no longer accountable to you.

Today I am living a life worthy of the Gospel.

And so this is my beginning. This is my moment to break free and to do the things for which God created me.

Your time here is done.

This is my time.

God created me for such a time as this.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Free)

 

Writing Sprint: Cream and Sugar

Writing Sprint Wednesdays & link up

The Writing Sprint prompt appears at the end of this post and offers an opportunity for you to freewrite for 15 to 45 minutes without the so-called help of your inner critic. No overthinking. No stopping. No editing. No worries.

{a quick p.s. If you’re joining the link up, please grab the Writing Sprint logo below and include it on your blog post, along with a link back to this page. Thanks!}

laptopWriting Sprint Prompt: One Moment, Please

The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said…

{Before I get started, I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 45 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 45 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing}

{start}

Cream and Sugar

The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said, “Cream and sugar.”

“You can do this,” he added. She had large brown eyes that appeared even larger as she watched the man with the 9mm currently standing by the window and peering through the blinds at the growing army of police surrounding the diner.

“Remember, cream and sugar, Phoebe,” he repeated almost under his breath as the gunman turned around. He pushed his way through the two-tops still cluttered with the morning breakfast rush dishes. He hoped that she’d heard him and wouldn’t freeze when the time came. So far, she’d held up well given all that they’d been through so far. Her name tag and uniform was smudged with the cashier’s blood, the first casualty of the day.

“Get up,” the gunman told her and grabbed her under the arm, shoving her in the direction of the counter. She glanced back for only a moment and met the detective’s eyes briefly. “Turn around,” the gunman said. “Coffee.” He gestured to the empty pot behind the counter with his gun.

Without a sound, Phoebe poured out the burnt remnants from the pot. Within minutes, the smell of fresh coffee filled the air and, with it, a sense of calm seemed to settle on the girl and the diner, giving Detective Miller a few minutes to think. The gunman sat on the stool closest to Phoebe, his head leaning tiredly against the hand holding the gun. “Coffee,” he said as the brewing slowed.

Slowly, carefully, Phoebe took a cup from the shelf that held several towers of brown and white striped mugs. With only a slight hesitation, she placed the coffee in front of him and then slid the sugar across the counter. When she reached under the counter, he started and cocked the pistol, “Don’t!”

“Creamers,” she told him, her gaze steady.

“Black,” he replied.

“Sure.” She took some napkins and held them out to him. “You’re brow,” she said. “It’s bleeding again.”

He took the napkins from her and pressed them against his head. Even from where he was sitting Miller could see that she was blinking back tears and he willed her to hold on.

“I’d love some of that,” Miller said from his table, and the gunman started again, aiming his pistol at Miller’s head. “Just coffee,” Miller said. He raised his cuffed hands as high as he could from the side of the chair. “Long day.”

Phoebe watched the gunman who gave her a slight nod and finally lowered his gun. As she poured the coffee Miller called out, “Cream and sugar.”

This time, Phoebe started, glancing over at him and then back to the gunman. He was off his stool and around the counter in seconds, pushing Phoebe out of the way. “Where?”

She stood, frozen, and he turned on her, waving the gun again and she flinched.

She opened her mouth and nothing came out. She cleared her throat. “Second shelf,” she said at last and shoved her hands deep into her apron pocket. The gunman leaned down and time seemed to slow down as Phoebe pulled out Miller’s revolver and raised it to the gunman’s back. The gunman’s hand was just coming up over the counter with a large handful of creamers. Phoebe looked over at Miller and back to the gunman. She grasped the gun with both hands, her index fingers on the trigger. Miller closed his eyes willing her to squeeze.

The gunman turned. Phoebe gasped. The gunman’s arm swung up with his pistol. Phoebe squeezed the trigger. The explosion echoed in the metal confines of the galley area.

“Why?”

The gunman fell back against the counter. Coffee sloshed from his cup onto the counter. The question fluttered in the air and Miller wondered if it had been Phoebe or the gunman. Phoebe squeezed the trigger again and the gunman fell forward. His hand grabbed Phoebe’s hair. Miller yelled. Phoebe screamed. Glass broke and windows shattered.

Phoebe grabbed the coffee pot behind her and swung it at the gunman. He let go of her and she dove past him toward Miller who was standing, dragging the chair with him. Cops swarmed in, a tide that pulled Phoebe away from him as the diner filled with chaos.

He couldn’t see her, but he knew the tears she’d been fighting were flowing from her brown eyes. In the uproar he heard her crying and he closed his eyes again.

{Stop}

This Week’s Writing Sprint: One Moment, Please

The detective saw his opportunity. He grabbed the waitress’s arm and said…

Give us what you’ve got with as much detail and dialog as you can muster in 15 to 45 minutes. Most of all, have fun. Free your writer from your inner critic. When you’re done, come back and link up what you’ve got! And remember to give some encouragement to at least one other person in the link up community. You can post to the link up party until next Tuesday night. Hope to read you there!