Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Running Late

The Brewers drop two in a row to the Nationals (basically they played the worst team in baseball by acting as if they were the worst team in baseball) and yet I'm in this good of a mood this morning? That can only mean one thing. Since I'm not in love, I must be writing. I've been typing up the pages I wrote in the last week and decided to do more of that while I ate breakfast today. As I typed, one moment in the narrative jumped out at me as ideal for a little further character development. The writer in me woke up and all else faded from conciousness. Twenty-five minutes later, the tiny digital clock in the corner of the screen catches my eye and I realize I'm going to be late for work! Oops! It's hard to scold myself being carried away when I was carried to exactly where I wanted to be... and wanted to stay.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I've decided to grow my hair long again. I've only had this short, angled bob for a few months, but I miss my long hair so much. It's not as easy a decision as you might think since I've received far more compliments on this haircut than any other one I've ever had. No bragging involved here; it's really just served to make me wonder how bad my previous styles have been. So am I foolish to grow it out again? Maybe. But I don't feel like me with this haircut, so it has to go.

I've decided I will go hiking this Sunday after early Mass. This is contingent on whether or not my friend comes to visit for the weekend. If she does, then you can disregard this paragraph because all weekend hours will be spent with her. In lieu of a visit from her though, I will take advantage of the "scattered showers and thunderstorms" free forecast by hiking.

I've decided to downsize my CD collection. As I flipped through my folders of CDs a few days ago, I realized how many albums I only listen to on my laptop or iPod now, no longer pulling the physical disc out of the folder to take in my car or put in the stereo. That means plenty of them could go. I'm sure Half Price Books will give me a few bucks for them, but the greater incentive is the space I will then have in the folders for new ones... because there will always be new ones needed.

I've decided that by the time my hair has grown past my shoulders, I'll have lost a notable number of pounds. This gives me plenty of time in which to improve my eating habits and amp up the workouts since this head of hair grows slower than a bonsai tree. 3.3 lost of the total goal (which I won't disclose here but will say that 3.3 is the merest fraction of it).

I've decided I like raspberries very much. This did not used to be the case.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Not-So-Daily Update

The daily reporting of writing progress doesn't seem to be happening. But I can sum up the last few days for you: chapter five finished. Yessiree, I wrote the latter half of chapter four and all of chapter five over the weekend.

Still no word from Moody Publishing on their decision about Full of Days. "Patience and fortitude conquer all things," according to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Can you guarantee that for me, Mr. Emerson? Even the chasm between the Land of Dreaming and the Land of Publication?

Friday, July 24, 2009

How Beautiful Is This Song?!

I'm admittedly biased because I love Sean, but really, how beautiful is this song!

The Sweetest Remembrance

Sometimes it just hits me, how much God loves me, how amazing is the gift of salvation. There are moments of grasping comprehension when the joy of it, the thrill of it, sinks in and knocks my inner self off her feet. I do take it for granted most hours of most days. I can't seem to help it. In some ways it is a good sign, for the taking for granted hasn't resulted in negligence. I am not leaving the gift by the wayside just because I'm not conciously thinking about carrying it with me. Rather, I've settled into the regular pursuit of Heaven, nestled into that lifestyle so that I am at home in it. Occasionally though, I am startled by something - it's never the same thing twice. A story I'm reading, a song I'm hearing, a smile in someone's eyes, a glimpse of love between two persons, a horizon of water and sunshine, a flash of hopefulness, or a dozen other things; something occurs in that instant and the awe overwhelms all other matters on my mind and burdens on my heart. For one powerful moment, there is nothing else. Nothing, except the life changing awareness of the gift of my Savior's love. Saved. Saved. I am always capable of forsaking the gift, of choosing to leave it behind by my sin, and yet it is there. It is offered. It is paid for by His blood and presented to me by His hand. Those are the instances of happiness, when I know without doubt that I belong to Him and whatever else comes, it cannot mean more than His possession of my heart, mind and will. It is that which I must remember even if I forget all else.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Time Will Tell

I wonder what might become of me if I only allowed myself one day off a week from writing. What might be accomplished? What might change? Even if it's a mere half hour spent with pen in hand, such a difference it would be from my normally episodic intervals of writing anything at all. Two days in, so we'll see where it goes from here. Perhaps as a matter of accountability, I'll report to you, ever present blogosphere, each day.

Yesterday: 1.5 hours
Today: 1 hour

O Lord, make me steadfast, my hand ever on the plow.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Light of Day

Sorry about that ranting blog last night. I was in a mood, and in that particular mood, I probably shouldn't blog. Then again, it was honest. It isn't as if I'm trying to paint an unrealistically pretty picture of myself on this blog. It's just me, thinking out loud.

This morning I did what I should have done last night, which was to pray. I prayed for a spirit of contentment. For even if my life doesn't squeeze into the custom-cut frame in which I'd like to fit it, it is not meant to be degraded by anger, jealousy or self-pity. God intends for me to be happy; the specifics of the happiness are often not my preferred specifics, but the source and reason for the happiness... well that's established, lasting, incomparable. I have to rest on that when I'm weary of all the waiting, all the trying for the peripheral good things.

St. Peter's words that I read this morning come at me like a command: "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy." (1 Peter 1:6-8) I am not only deserving of better than disappointment, jealousy and selfishness, but I have a call to choose better. I am behooved to rejoice, to endure the tests for the edification of my faith and the glory of God. How can it not be so for one who was "ransomed... not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."(1:18-21)

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Don't Get It

What about me screams, "Confide your secrets in me!" Seriously, are there giant flashing letters adhered to my back or do I emit an aura of invitation for this kind of thing? Not that I don't enjoy seeing my friends happy, or hearing their news; not that I don't appreciate their confidence in me when they are struggling through something or their wish to include me in their happiness. But really, it's starting to get ridiculous. Starting? No, I think it got ridiculous a while ago. I love you but I did not sign up for this role!!!!!!! Maybe I should just stop being friends with guys. I am so tired of being the supportive, encouraging, trust-her-with-your-secrets friend.

Ugh. I know this is about the furthest from the attitude of true friendship as I can get.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Waiting

My heart is heavy today. Not with distress or sadness, but with weighty thoughts and the unshakable need to pray. Yesterday did not end until 2 a.m. today, as I couldn't bear to put down a particular novel I'd started reading earlier this week. The very satisfying ending did so much more than leave me happy. It compelled me to pray, to fall into the Lord's hands and ask the questions I fear asking.

Besides the book, two other things have me asking those questions. One is a potential relationship I'd been excited to pursue until I was stopped in my tracks by a conflicting relationship. I feel I must step back and let it go, though I wish, wish, wish that wasn't required. I am tempted to be selfish in this case, to not think of others with higher regard than myself, as the Scriptures would advise. Secondly, there is the reality that I have yet to hear back from the single, desirable publisher who has said they are considering my novel. No word for what feels like half a year, though it's been a bit less than that, and no new ideas for who else to send the manuscript to when the likely negative answer is received. I cannot pretend I know what to do next.

This morning I read an article that continued the route my heart had taken up last night. The phrase "faithfully serving the Lord where He had placed [me]" keeps circling my mind. The author's use of it had a nature of waiting and of contentment, allowing God to bring more into her life without specifically pursuing the 'more' at the expense of the 'now.' Perhaps it is the discouragement winning out against the drowning optimism, but I am nagged by the question of whether or not I am running from contentment. Do I write in order to avoid fully engaging in the placement the Lord has given me? Do I write because I am trying to create a life of my own planning and pursuit, rather than His? Because it's begun to feel that way. If I gave it up and immersed myself in the circumstances in which He has placed me, would I be glad for doing so? Would I be grateful to be rid of that ongoing frustration of not being able to immerse myself in both? Or would I be sacrificing a calling, shutting down some of the life in me?

My prayer last night (or this morning, rather) ended with the idea of hope. I hope for things unseen, as every hope must be. My hope is for plans and life and love, unseen by me. But not by Him. I guess I just want to be where He prefers me to be, and do what He prefers me to do. I don't want to have my back turned as He's bringing a plan to fruition in my life, as He's opening a door. I don't want to pursue the 'more' at the expense of the 'now', but I do so passionately want more than there is now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Corresponding Perception

On Saturday morning, I took my bicycle to the state trail for a little ride. A round trip of about 16 miles later, I had sore bum, a good sweat and a wish that I'd had my camera along for just one particular moment. There was a white heron perched atop one of several dead and hopelessly regal birch trees protruding from the soft, surface of shoulder-tall grass. It was gorgeous; everything about the scene made me want to capture it and share it with another human being. As I finished my ride, I considered how much I love to take photographs. So much more than the arranged, "everyone pause in what they're doing and look at the camera" pictures that are taken at every gathering or event, I enjoy capturing the candid - candid conversations, candid children, candid action, and candid nature.

The latter is my favorite. All the beauties of the natural world, be they big or small, brief or lasting, are candid. They are not performing for me and my camera; they are not being beautiful for me. They simply are beautiful. When I take the time to think it through, I realize that the instances of beauty in this world can both humble and gratify me. That is, it is up to me to notice them because if I don't, that doesn't mean a thing to them. They aren't under my control and won't wait around for my attention. The rushing water will still pour over that cliff into the river below when I'm not looking. The sun will set in a pillow of pink, yellow and orange clouds on the horizon whether I notice it or not. The white heron will sit on top of the stripped birch tree even if my eyes don't wander in its direction. I am powerless in the face of all the beauty in this world. Pardoxical, then, is the reality that God created this world's beauty for our sake. He desires that we enjoy His displays of color and life. I think He delights in our delight, whether it come with a hike through the woods, an excursion on the lake, a sunset watched from our front porches or any other of the innumerable ways He has shown His artistry in this world.

"For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know Him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to His works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is He who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator." (Wisdom 13:1-5)
That's what it comes down to: I am a fool if I don't see Him in this beauty. If the scenes I capture on my camera don't stir up gratitude to Him, don't incline my heart toward Him, or don't resonate with the irremovable longing I have (every person has) for Heaven; if all this is disregarded and the beauty is appreciated as if it exists independent from its Author, I dishonor God and sell myself short of the hope of eternal, perfected beauty awaiting me away from this world.

So I have decided to begin a little project: the Corresponding Perception Project. I plan to carry my camera with me at all times. It's presence, and a commitment to being willing to use it in any setting and situation, will be the catalyst causing me to notice many more instances of beauty than I normally do. Ideally, the beauty I become aware of will go beyond the most obvious to include the subtler, quieter displays the Author of truth, beauty and life has provided.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Settling Down

I spent this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Lifest, a Christian music festival in a nearby city. A few of my nephews came along for two of the days and we had a grand time rocking out to concerts, consuming festival food and soaking in the summer sunshine. Yesterday, Sunday, marked the turning point for the summer though. June and the first half of July were filled with events and travels, all of which I enjoyed and celebrated and for which I'm gratefull, but the latter half of the summer is scheduled with... nothing. Nothing! It's unheard of! I'm so excited! Naturally, I have a dozen ideas of what to fill the time up with, but they're not planned out and scheduled on the calendar. What a relief that is. The daydreaming is unavoidable. Evenings spent writing more chapters, wide open Saturdays for hiking or kayaking, bike rides and tennis, maybe another Brewers game soon, and taking less than two weeks to watch one DVD from Netflix.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Have a Listen

Another great one from Jake. This is a truly good song, not to mention that I'm a sucker for a sweet piano tune.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seeing It All

Truth be told, I'm not the world's greatest reader. Don't mistake me, I love to read. However, I don't love to read everything. I'm not one who can power through a book simply because I've begun it. If a story hasn't captured my imagination or engaged my mind or emotions by the time I'm through a few chapters, I'll put it down and forget it. I don't read quickly and there are only a handful of books, or less, which I ever bother to read more than once. What I consider a good book (very subjectively) is one that grabs my imagination, descriptive and sincere enough to create scenes, characters and events in my mind's eye. If the imagination doesn't care about what I'm seeing on the pages, then no other part of me cares about it either. I think this is why I also enjoy movies and television so much. Seeing fictional lives play out in front of my eyes is one of my favorite things. I'm a visual person. Granted, the movies and television shows permit my imagination to be rather lazy, but I won't pretend I don't prefer them to a lot of other activities. I get excited when I see a trailer for a new movie and it leaves me with that desirable eagerness to see the full film. I adore television series acted so sincerely and written so well that the characters and their stories become things a person can't help caring about from week to week. My hope with writing fiction includes the aim of creating people the readers want to have in their lives.

I'm excited for this new movie, "Love Happens". Okay, so I'm willing to see basically anything that stars Aaron Eckhart because, well, I love him, but this really does look good. Sappy? Probably. Predictable? Probably. But also warm, comforting and sigh-worthy. This one looks awfully sweet too: "Paper Heart."

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Really Should Know Better

9: the number of days my two fish survived. That has to be a new record for how quickly fish in my possession have perished. I ought to know better than to get fish ever again. I had them on several occassions during college and it never ended well for the fish. It should be illegal for me to take any more into my home. At least these two weren't homicidal. They seemed to genuinely enjoy each other's company. Yes, I've had homicidal fish.

Makes me wonder though, with my proficiency for killing aquatic, finned creatures, might I make a fine fisherman?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Follow Through

Thanks to tennis lessons, I am currently learning the importance of follow through. Where you stop your swing makes a noticeable difference in where that shot lands. So the phrase, "Follow through!" has rung repeatedly in my ears in the voices of my twelve year old coaches. (Okay, they aren't twelve, but they are young enough to make me feel old.)

It comes up off the tennis court as well, like when I sit down at my desk to write. Follow through! I am perceiving that this novel is a real "hand to the plow" scenario; a worthy undertaking not to be accomplished quickly, halfheartedly or without considerable commitment. On Tuesday, I began writing chapter four. The lengthy delay between writing chapters three and four has me pondering my commitment to the task. Except for the occasional interval of overwhelming dedication, this was a struggle as I wrote the first novel too. Instead of being one of the things for which I sacrificed other occupations and activities, time spent writing is included in the category of expendable if other things came up. That's really no way for a writer to function, at least not a writer who ever wants to get past hobby level. Believe me, I am way past hobby level, even if my consistency doesn't always show it.