Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Ladies' Meeting

"What am I doing here?  I don't like these things."  These were my thoughts as I arrived at the ladies' meeting at church tonight.  I went only because a girl in my adult Bible study class mentioned that the speaker was her grandmother, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, and I simply couldn't resist the opportunity to hear her.  I've always been interested in anything having to do with WWII.

The crowd was larger than expected and the room was hotter than it should have been.  The opening minutes dragged on over a half hour while we fellowshipped and snacked and the microphones were adjusted.  Then Marianne Fisher took her place behind the podium, all five foot of her, dressed in a snappy pastel pink suit and we were transported to Budapest, Hungary during the 1930's. 

For over an hour, she shared her story in a simple, straightforward style and soft Hungarian accent, interspersed with perky bits of humor.  She related the account of her life during the Nazi occupation, the subsequent Communist oppression and her coming to the States, and how at every turn, God showed Himself strong on her behalf.  Her story was amazing, but even more so was her testimony of faith and love for her Messiah.  Here was true faith - pure, simple and unadulterated. 

After the meeting, I hurried up to thank Marianne for sharing her story and was immediately engulfed in the best hug I've had since my dear little gram passed on.  Then she (Marianne) looked me straight in the eyes and said, "You let God use you."  And that's really what it's all about, isn't it?  When I left the church, I knew the answer to my original question.  What was I doing there?  There's no doubt in my mind, I was right where God wanted me tonight.

12:08 am and all's well!

Hubby is sick tonight so I graciously offered to sleep on the couch - I can't afford to catch anything, having just begun my new job at work.  He seemed so appreciative; I almost felt guilty.  It is not at all sacrifice for me . . . for the simple reason I can stay up as late as I like. True, I will pay for this tomorrow as my glazed over eyes stare at my PC and try to make sense of my day.  But tonight - a few minutes to peruse my favorite sites, study my Bible in peace and quiet, and even enjoy an uninterrupted episode of Monk!  I DO hope he feels better tomorrow but as long as circumstances allow me this small pleasure, I'm enjoying it for all it's worth.  Although all I really have to do is say "novel" and he's willing for me to stay up as late as I wish!  (Novel - ha ha!)

A praise - I guess I could say I started my new job today, which is really just different responsibilities carried out in a cubicle instead of an office with a window.  But I'm not complaining!  I looked at my watch and it was 11:30 am, then 2:00 pm and before I realized it, the 5:00 crowd was walking out the door.  Whereas last week I was counting down the minutes until 5:00 rolled around, it was great to be so caught up in my work that time worked itself away. 

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Breathing Room

This is a continuation of my previous post regarding what makes a novel "Christian." I'm aware of plenty other discussions taking place on this topic, so why don't I just chime in on one of those? I guess I like to just explore things for myself first sometimes, and figure out what I really think about things. Not that it matters one teensy bit what I think - in the end, what matters is what Christ thinks.
I've come to the conclusion that the primary Biblical mandate relating to this would be Paul's exhortation to do all we do to the glory of God. At least for me, that must be my ultimate criteria. In the end, does the book, story, article, movie or song glorify God? Does it exalt Him and lift Him up? Does it point to Him? I like to think of a shimmering lake reflecting the sky on its surface. The reflection is merely a picture, but that picture is all one can see when they look at that lake.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't believe everything I write needs to have an overtly Christian message. I can't picture the apostle Paul designing tents with the fish symbol all over them!  Tentmaking was his livelihood, not his ministry.  Yet I'm confident that in his dealings with other tentmakers and customers, he strove to bring glory to God.  I don't think that fiction or the arts, while they have their place, are the primary means God intended to reach the world.  Nothing can take the place of preaching the gospel and Christians sharing their faith with others. What's important in my writing is that nothing detracts from God's message.
So why the title "Breathing Room"?  I guess I just believe, as Christians, we need to allow for differences to exist.  Each person is at a different point in his relationship with God.  It is not for me to judge another's work or standards.  I am accountable to God for my life alone.  I must answer to Him for what I read and also what I write.  I can't answer for anyone else though.  This understanding motivates me to continually be in God's word and allow it to be the standard of measure for anything I write.  It also helps me to read other authors with grace, realizing that they are people just like me, and we're all at different places in our walk with God.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Slice of Life

I generally try not to make this blog just a recounting of my day to day activities, but I'm doing that today just for the heck of it. I suppose a little venting on my own territory is allowed!  I'm moving my office for the 13th time in less than ten years.  This latest move is my own doing - I asked for the job and the move goes with the territory.  If I was smart, I would have left things alone and probably gotten by without moving for a while, but it didn't seem right to be the only customer service representative with an office and I do want to be part of the team. 

Nevertheless, this will be the 2nd move this month and both were done while I was out of the office.  Good thing I am leaving today for a few days.  I do need an attitude adjustment . . . mostly over losing my window!  My coworker and I have a joke; "Everything's temporary," we say.  He has no idea, not being a believer, how true that is, and yet I'm the one struggling to remember that today!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What makes a novel Christian?

What makes a novel Christian?  This was the topic today on the Faith In Fiction ( blog.  It's funny because a similar thought has been working its way through my mind lately.  I keep recalling the verse in Acts where it says the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.  It doesn't necessarily say they called themselves Christians.  According to Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), this was the name by which the Greeks or Romans referred to the followers of Christ, probably a degrading term.  From Paul's writings, we know that the disciples called themselves "saints" or "brethren."  The name Christian itself is used only a few times in the New Testament. 

What does this mean to me?  Simply this: I believe my Christianity is more about what others perceive me to be than just what I call myself.  Didn't Paul say we could speak with the most glorious tongues and without love, be absolutely nothing?  So what if I do call myself a Christian?  Does doing so make me His follower? Does it ensure that my actions are Christlike? I tend to think not.  I would rather be called a Christian by the unbelievers with whom I cross paths daily than to assume the name myself and not be what I should be.  I hope that, and fear it's less often the case than I'd like, when others look at my life, they see Christ.  In the words I speak . . . and don't speak.  In my actions and in my attitudes.  In short, I don't want to simply proclaim myself a Christian; I want my life to proclaim Christ.  I fall short but like Paul, I press toward the mark and when I fall, I'm reminded that even in my failures He can be glorified.
So what would constitute a "Christian" novel, or play or movie or any other form of media?  I'm still thinking on this one . . . I think I'll save this one for another post.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Blah, blah, blogging!

Blogging is just such a funny word to me.  It actually sounds like an utterance one might make when throwing up.  And to be honest, sometimes I'm afraid that my blog is little more than that - barf!
Besides the sound of the word, the world of bloggers is a funny one.  For the past two nights, I've taken some time to view the profiles of a few bloggers with "Jesus Christ," "Bible study," or "Christianity" in their profiles.  There's this whole cyber-community of Christians out there, blogging their hearts out.  In a way, it was a neat discovery to find so many committed Christian thinkers who take time out to share their voices on the 'net.  It's kind of odd too, how they all link to one another.  I guess leaving comments on someone else's blog invites them to visit yours and voila!  You're linked!  I must confess I was wondering about the whole purpose of blogging.  I mean, besides the ease of use, if no one else reads my blog, what's the use of keeping one?  Except I find it rather cathartic in a way.  Sometimes my thoughts just bang around inside my head until it hurts, and spilling them out offers a bit of relief and forces me to focus on one and follow it through.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

When Less is More

Less is more when it means I have less to keep track of and keep clean.

Less is more when I stop to appreciate everything I have.

Less is more when it allows me time to enjoy the simple things in life. 

Less (time) is more when I remember that work expands to the time allotted.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Thought for the Day: Contentment

"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have."

(Source unknown)

Thursday, July 08, 2004

My So-called Simple Life

This year I made one of those dastardly resolutions. I proclaimed to anyone who cared to listen, "(Read my lips!) This year I'm going to simplify my life."

That was January. For about two months, I purposed to enjoy quiet peaceful evenings at home. I spurned invitations for coffee and shopping and cut back on trips to the bookstore. I wrote. I read. I wrote reviews on books I read, and even tried limiting myself to one book at a time. I was available to offer my husband help and opinions as he hibernated in the gameroom, finishing up a three-year remodeling project. Other than that, I did little but assess my solitude and assume I was achieving my dream of a simple life.

This is July. I'm attending writers' group at my church twice a month. I signed up for a Writer's Digest writing course. I visit the library at least every other week and having approximately 6 books going right now (reading, that is!) I agreed to help with girls' club at church again in the fall. Always a sucker for anything free, I signed up for a Barne's & Noble University course, Writing for Children, and just today I received the materials for starting a reading group based on Nicholas Spark's The Notebook (free, of course!)

You want to go for coffee? I'm there! Visit Borders or shop? Sure, why not? Simple was BORING!

What happened? Did I blow it again? Well, for one thing, I guess if I make the rules, I can break them, right? But really, I think I have somewhat succeeded in simplifying my life. I feel more focused now. I think I know what's important to me: my walk with Christ, my family and relationships, my health and writing. I do try to make sure every endeavor supports one of those priorities. Now my challenge is finding the balance between them all.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Pizza: Crust First!

I have never seen anyone eat pizza like my husband does. His first order of business is always the same: remove crust and eat that first. His reasoning is simple; he eats the part he likes the least first.

Recently I've been frustrated with my lack of discipline when it comes to balancing household chores and other tasks. Weekends and evenings seem to fly by and all too often I wake up realizing that I failed to accomplish the most basic necessities. Clean laundry jeers at me from a five-day old pile and reminds me I'll need to iron everything I let sit and wrinkle. Dust beckons me to write myself little notes on the coffee table; dirty dishes in the sink confirm my feelings that I am, at nearly forty years of age, about as disciplined as my five-year-old nephew.

Somewhere lately I picked up a little mantra and have been reciting it to myself. "Can-do, must-do, should-do, want-to." It's just a reminder that each day brings many opportunities and tasks, some which I must accomplish, others I should do if I get around to them. Lastly are the things I want to do. Prioritizing my time in this manner has really helped. When I do sit down to read, write or take a walk in the evenings, I do so without these must-do tasks hanging over my head and thus, I enjoy my leisure time much more.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Setting Up a Memorial

When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan river, God commanded them to set up a number of stones there by the river bed. Anticipating their questions, God told them these stones would be for a memorial. They would always be able to look back and recall what God had done for them. Furthermore, the stones were sure to trigger questions from the children in years to come, thus prompting the parents to relate God's wonderful works to their children, and preserve their history from generation to generation.

My husband and I are nearing completion of a three year basement project. I'll be honest, there were many moments of frustration over the past few years, as I stumbled over all manner of debris (aka tools) just to do laundry or retrieve something from the pantry. At times, I was sure we'd never finish. I allowed the messy basement to exxagerate itself in my mind, so that it represented all of the projects needing attention around the house. At some point late last year though, I realized this negativity was dominating my entire attitude and God in his graciousness taught me a bit about hope and patience.

As we lay in bed the other night, my husband and I recounted all the efforts involved in this project and how pleased we are with the results. We also agreed we'd learned much through the process, especially about each other. Then I reminded him of the stones by the River Jordan, and we both agreed this completed project will be a reminder in the future of God's goodness and blessings to us.

Friday, July 02, 2004

An "ah-ha" Moment!

Every so often, I get to wondering that question of all questions: what is my purpose in life? I'm not really asking does my life have meaning, because I know in Christ, it does. But rather, is what I'm doing meaningful? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? The other day, it dawned on me, much like the woman who looks all over her house for her eyeglasses, only to realize they're perched on her head, or worse, right on her nose! I've been kind of like the guy who is always thinking about his next meal, rather than enjoying what's in front of him. Maybe God's purpose is just for me to glorify Him in what I'm doing now. As a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, employee, Pioneer Club leader, writer, neighbor - I just need to be all those things to the glory of God. And sheesh - I already have a plateful! Why should I be looking anywhere else? If God wants me to do something else, I'm sure He will bring it my way.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

8 Simple Rules . . . for Myself

I really liked that show "8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter" when John Ritter was on it. Anyways, I've been kicking around a few "rules" for myself:

1.  No reading any writing sites, boards or blogs until I have written something that day. No writee - no readee!

2. With the exception of books on writing, I will write a short review or summary of every book I read.

3. When I sit down to write, no jumping on the Internet until I've written at least 250 words. Come on, piece of cake!

4. I need to bite the bullet and start sending out a few query letters. No pressure, here!

5. I love blogging but my first priority must still be spending time in God's word.

6. As assuredly as there will always be laundry to wash and grass to cut, there will be more good writing websites out there than I need. So I need to pick a few that are most helpful to me, and not allow myself to waste valuable time revisiting the same old sites.  My picks:,, and

7. Likewise, I need to find one helpful writer's board and abandon the others for a while.

8. Don't title blog entries with a number unless I'm certain I have that many points to make!