Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: writing (page 1 of 2)

stuck

the words, they begin to form  coheasive, clear, deep.

placing the last dish on the rack, i reach for the towel, dry off and grab my laptop.

it takes time for it to boot up, time to sit.

such a short amount of time, really.

and yet.  the words they have left.  gone.

staring at the blinking cursor.

i have no idea where to begin.

why?

sigh.

ok.

i hear the birds.  through these old windows, i hear them.

this sabbath day, calling me out.

to sit.

quiet.

am i willing

to shut it all down again

and wait on the Word made flesh?

i guess, for now

while it’s quiet here

i can be found outside listening to the birds

waiting.

Kingdom Come/things i learned this first month of 2016

writing has been so very hard this month of new beginnings.  thoughts mingle with beautiful sentences inside my head, but when pen hits paper or fingers touch keys they fly away like ornery fireflies, refusing to be captured.  snippets here and there, but nothing of length and so what better way to persevere than to gather the threads up and bring them to emily’s month end gathering.  it seemed hopeful to me to do so, and doing something hopeful feels a little like winning don’t you think?

caroling, cancer and first and second things.

someone we love was too weak from her cancer fight to make it to Christmas eve services.  when i heard the news the first thought that entered my ordinary small brain was this; “we should go caroling to her.”  always so quick to deem my inner thoughts silly i left them there, but the Spirit had His way with another and the message made its way among the congregation.  after worshiping in our church building, we took it outside and drove over in the dark to her front door to bring ‘tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.’  singing to one so very weak and frail assaulted all of my senses and through tears i lifted my head up to heaven and cried out; “what is in fact the point of this?  she will still have cancer in the morning.”

a few days later i’m stirring chicken soup on her stove listening to her family share how much the caroling ministered to their very souls.  he says he will remember our singing for the rest of his days….days that will soon be spent learning how to live life without his dear beloved wife.

january 1st she  went home

and the One who welcomed her into His arms whispered to my soul; “curing cancer is a secondary thing.  ministering to the spirit of My beloved?  that is a first thing work.  singing at her door those tidings of comfort and joy brought My Kingdom Come.  child, keep learning to trust Me.”

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the parable of the merciful servant

he’s next to me in the car telling it all.  “my friend wanted something i had.  i said no.  my friend was mad.  my friend choked me and my neck got stuck in my zipper. ”

he keeps saying; “my friend, my friend.”

i know this ‘friend’ without my son ‘naming names.’  i am familiar with his ways.  my son’s choice of words gives me pause, i know he means what he says but i don’t understand.

two days later i’m standing on the playground watching  boys playing at football.  my son waits for this friend of his to be open and throws the ball to him.  i know it is intentional.  he’s shared many a time how he just wants this boy to have success.  to make a play, score a touchdown, have something to celebrate because he’s so often in trouble.  he misses the ball and my son calls out encouragement and building up words.  to the boy who choked him.

and the One who bled for these boys whispered to my soul “Kingdom come.”

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who do you think you are?

there has been this inner struggle that i’ve not been able to put a name to.  the One who knows my frame knows it, and knows just how to open my blind eyes and help me to see.  i saw that emily freemon was hosting a webinair on how to write a book proposal and i was drawn to it which didn’t make any sense at all.  i’m not writing a book or a book proposal.  i signed up anyway.  when she spoke the words naming a writer’s real fear; “who do you think you are?” the tears flowed freely.

one piece of the current struggle-not just in writing, but in being fully myself in the presence of others -has been exactly this.  a subtle accusation whispered and payed attention to.  what now, now that i see it?

well, the prayer went like this:

Lord, i still can’t do it, i still can’t write.
it doesn’t flow,
i still feel stuck.
kingdom come.

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a study in hope

Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it.  I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave-that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful.  It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing.

Marilynne Robinson | Gilead: A Novel

There is a way in which the jesusy folk tend to write (I do it, too), and that way feels so disconnected from my real life that I could scream. I don’t feel disconnected with my Jesus, no, but I do feel disconnected with the pull inside me to sound this way or that – or with the pull of what others are doing so successfully to point to the kingdom of God. Maybe some perspectives are done; they’re processed, cooked up, and plated well. My perspective is still raw. I’ve barely cleaned these veggies.

Amber Haines | An Uncooked Story

People will tell you to put down your books and join the real world, for heaven’s sake. They will remind you that you live in a university dorm or an apartment reached by only a sliver of light or a temporary rental and do not even think of wasting time or money on land you do not own, but you would do well to smile and say nothing. Go on. Read. Read your books and dream your dreams. You are storing up treasures in heaven.

But after I tucked them in bed and in between her sobs and up the stairs and down, ushering children into jammies, I prayed a new kind of prayer. Prayer was no longer discipline, I was desperate. Tired and needy and confused. And weak. Really weak. There were no books to tell me what to expect from my child, with her particular history — her cocktail of losses and grief, who was wedged into our particular family. Even the best parenting strategies were not sufficient. I needed Him.

We were the kind of weak which many Christians spend their entire lives training themselves to not be.

Sara Haggerty | I Think I’ll Choose Weak, Today

 


thank you dear reader, for your gift of time spent here.  let’s continue on in hope, shall we?

may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

romans 15:13

 

for when you are waiting to be seen

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“so what do you do?”

there are people who are able to put a nice boxed up title around what it is that they do.  i am not one of them.  and feeling a bit lost in my identity just plain goes with the territory, boxed up title or not.  i know that my identity is in Christ and not in what i do, yet what i do is deeply connected to who i am.

here in this tiny little corner of the big wide web i write.  there are other small things i do in my brick and mortar life, but my answer to the person who most recently asked this question were these two words;

“i write.”

“oh!  what do you write?”  she responded, genuinely interested in me and my mysterious life.

“uh….i don’t really know.”

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i’ve questioned the time i spend blogging, we aren’t a family with large resources and it would not hurt for me to get a j.o.b.  one will be heading off to college in the near future and the other two following close behind.  who am i to think spending time on this writing is adding value to anyone?  the voice of my college creative writing professor rings loud and clear-he said i had no talent.  it was ok, i was in school to be an engineer anyway.

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 There is a lost art of studying the works of others to find your own style. All of the “masters” were first apprentices. The apprentice sat beside the “masters”, listening to their process, paintbrush in hand, mixing paint, creating strokes that told a story, and stirred their creative spirit.

Jeanne Oliver Studying Under the Master’s Art course*

my painting daughter has a large oil painting that was due last friday.  the professor gave everyone an extension for monday.  she painted all. weekend. long.  yet only half of the stone church sits below the glowing sunset above it.  she brought in what was done and her professor’s words stand in contrast to mine; “hannah, you are one of my most talented students.  many painters spend a year on a painting like this, you can turn it in whenever it is finished.”

the point is, dear hannah, to keep painting.   keep studying the masters and their process. grow and shift things around when needed.  but by all means, don’t quit.

we don’t live in an apprentice culture anymore, but the concept has value to me when i let it.   my perception of an apprentice is one who works long and hard hours without pay, status, or tangible outcomes.  they are behind the scenes, unseen.  they do the work because of a hope for what is not yet, but will be.

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unseen.  hope for what is not yet, but will be.  apprenticing.  the slow process of growing into a truer version of myself.  this is what the writing life is for me.  it’s still unseen and in process.  it takes an immense amount of courage and patience to do the apprenticeship work, to believe that the One who knit me together has value to add to this world through words i compose.  small work is challenging in it’s hidden-ness no matter what form that work takes i think.  but there is One who entered the world He created through the smallest way possible-who arrived as an ordinary baby, in a tiny little corner of the big wide world.

He is the God who both sees and knows what it is to be unseen.

the point is, dear me, to keep writing.  let it take years if it needs to.  but by all means, don’t quit.


*Jeanne Oliver’s Creative Network is free to join, and the costs of the courses offered vary.  even though my art does not involve paint, i’ve taken a couple of her courses and had the privilege of meeting her when my daughter took one of her classes.  she is inspiring, delightful, and such a gift to the art world.  i highly recommend visiting her site no matter what kind of artist you may be.)

i’ve found paying attention to other artists and their process to be extremely valuable.  most recently i joined hope*writers, a community of fellow writers hosted by author’s that i trust:

A community of people who write about hope, who value encouragement and practical advice about writing as craft, business, and calling.

The community is called hope*writers. We believe we do our best work when we have good support. We want to help you skip the learning curve we’ve had to struggle through.

-the hope*writer’s team

 

October’s lessons

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October, with all her glory in the leaves a changing and writing for 31 days straight has taught me a few things.

  1.  the leaves will change and beauty will appear whether i’m ready for it or not.  i can not press pause until i’ve time to take a walk or take a picture.  so i need to press pause on something else and take that walk or that picture.
  2. i am not able to publish everyday and run.  i didn’t get out for a run or walk the entire month.  the topic i chose didn’t lend itself to simple words or brief posts.  writing everyday was exactly what i needed, i’ve known that for some time and the challenge to post gave me the motivation to make it happen.  but in dedicating time for writing i let exercise slip away.  i’m entering into November with eyes looking for what it looks like to do both.
  3. i’ve more loyalty to everyone else around me than i have to myself.  i pushed myself every day to publish because i said i would, even if it meant neglecting my home, family, or self.  i already knew this-remember this summer how i wouldn’t quit on my daughter, but if she hadn’t been in the equation, i would’ve quit on myself.  entering the 40’s a few years ago i realized how much more effective it was to work with myself instead of against myself.  since i know this loyalty thing to be true, i’m praying over how i can work within it to both write and exercise-two things that are specifically for me.
  4. reading good authors can usher in fear and super strong temptation to quit writing.  reading good authors also ushers in inspiration and strong courage to write.  it is a real battle for me. sometimes i have to abstain from reading until after i’ve written.  other times i need to read so that i have courage to write.  i can’t predict one from the other, except that i’ve grown in my ability to sense the stirring of either fear or courage and respond accordingly.

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linking up with Crystal Stine for write31days and Emily Freeman for things we learned in october.

a bit of housekeeping

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it’s been nearly a full two weeks since the last day of school and each and every day i have had  an idea, a plan of sorts, for our waking hours.  and i have yet had one day go according to plan.  i sit here on the fence between establishing a scaffold for our time and resting in the One who is actually in control.  these things need not compete with one another, but daily disappointments need tender tending if i’m not to grow cynical and give up all together.

i intentionally planted those pansies.  the squirrels intentionally uproot them and drag them outside of the pot.  i wake to find them strewn across my yard and re-pot them.  i can not make the squirrels stop.  eventually i cry uncle and let the pot be.  but then i see, there in the upturned dirt, with roots barely even covered, this plant fights back and blooms.  so i tuck it back in a bit and bask in the beauty.  and i allow the Spirit to work in my heart, enabling my eyes to see the beauty planted in each of these unpredictable days, to keep plugging away at the work though the progress is slower than i’d hoped.

progress.  it’s always slower than i hope.

so it goes here.  i’ve multiple drafts for the life series, among other things.  and i’ve begun work on some of the technical aspects of this space as well.  over there in the sidebar there is now a way to sign up to receive posts in your inbox.  i know my writing is not predictable, and this will allow you to receive an email with the post each time one is published.

i appreciate all of you who stick it out with me and this space, thank you thank you.  if you try out the e-mail thing and find anything not working, drop me a line at mel at lucashome dot net.

and may you know that deep comfort from the One who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them by name.  Because of His mighty strength and great power, not one of them is missing, not a one.  He is keeping track of the stars, and oh so much more, He is keeping track of you and me!


to draw further in: Isaiah 40, quoted above is verse 26

 

5 things i learned about myself in 2014

As the calendar takes a turn to the new year, it feels apropos to reflect back on all that this year held.  unless i make myself write it all down, anything i learned will float about in the air and i will forget and whatever it is will be lost in space.  when i force myself to do the work of organizing my thoughts and writing them down, i am more likely to remember.  and when i forget, i can look back and be reminded-and eventually new found freedoms stick!

Here are some things i learned about myself in 2014 along with a few of my favorite pictures from the year!

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 1. The idol of being understood is not worth its price.

it is a breath of fresh air to be understood and quite painful to be misunderstood.  this isn’t really news to me, but the awareness of how much energy i waste on anxiety, fear, and stewing over it along with other sins i commit because i’ve made being understood into a god was a new area of learning. i’ve decided it’s not worth it.

Harney Peak, S. Dakota

2. I can be the boss of our money.

i learned some new lessons on being the boss of our finances rather than the victim of them.  just like it is in the management of my time, saying no to some things means saying yes to others.  This year we more fully owned some of our choices to be frugal and thrifty in some aspects of our budget so that we could be extravagant in others.

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3. I have tendencies towards recipe living and series writing.

my eyes were opened to ways i’d reduced prayer to a recipe.  somewhere along the way i bought the lie that if i could just fine the right ingredients i could control the outcome.  once i saw this i began to see other ways i’ve applied the recipe principle in my living.  catching thoughts like; “i thought if i loved them well, my children would grow up secure.” when i hold that thought in my hands and turn it to see all of it’s sides, i get to the bottom of things and can speak to myself what is true; “loving them well is important, but they will still need God.”  Because raising children and living a life of faith and prayer, etc. etc. etc. is colorless when reduced to a recipe, i’m pulling away from that and entering instead into the Love Story life is meant to be.

i also began to notice how often i find myself un-intentionally writing a series-one that i did not plan.  the only time i plan a series is when i’ve taken on a 31 days writing challenge.  those challenges stretch me-not just because it’s writing everyday, but because it is writing within a planned series.

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4. I enjoy the company of other writers.

there are things about me that i never knew were a part of a writer’s make-up.  when i attended the Writer’s Barn Event there was a lot of; “What? you too?” moments.  There were so many parts of that Barn day that will forever enrich my soul and this was a big one of them.

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5. I don’t have to pick a word for the year for there to be one.

i didn’t pick a word for the year.  i’ve never picked a word for the year.  But the One who has engraved my name on the palms of His hands chose one for me, and i didn’t even know about it until just this week.  As i spent time looking back, there bookending my year was the word Wonder.  I began the year writing a series on Wonder.   And i ended the year doing the same.  i didn’t connect those dots.  The One who chose the dots for me did the connecting.  that sense of Wonder that i longed for is no longer lost.  at least not today.

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Goodbye 2014, you’ve been a Wonder-ful year!


 i am thankful for the community link-up;  What We Learned in 2014 over at Emily Freeman’s place, it’s just the thing i needed to follow through and do the work of remembering!

for understanding | composition

Her eyes give away the anxiousness mixed with anticipation.  in her thoughts she reminds herself that her God is both good and sovereign and can be trusted with what He gives and where He leads.

quilt sillouette

Photo taken at a Quilt Show in 2011. I do not know the artist’s name.

composing  those words and this picture amidst a scene of other excited travelers embarking on a wonderful week-long artist retreat in Normandy France  would carry the statements about God into a specific place in a receiver’s heart.

composing those words and this picture amidst a scene of bomb-destroyed rubble and other weary and frightened travelers embarking on a long journey to a refugee camp would carry the statements about God into a very different place in the receiver’s heart.

same words, same picture.  different understanding.

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the places that the Lord is inviting me- you know, those places of feeling inept, the pain of being misunderstood, of struggling with communication.  i have become aware of a myriad of ways this is playing out in my life these days.  Providentially showing up it seems everywhere i turn.  and so my Father has my attention and i am seeing various places for tearing down idols and building up strength in Him.  so here i am with another unplanned series.

today is a lesson in composition.

i have mastered enough of the English language to effectively use words to communicate.

however, that composition thing-the way words filter in through the composition of a person’s life and land where they will within that– Jesus alone is master of the skill of weaving words perfectly and personally, getting to the individual heart of things.   He is also the master of the skill of giving enough detail in such a way to gain understanding.   me-i am inept at all of that.  and so if anything i say is to be understood the way it is meant to be understood-He will have to intervene.  and if anything i say is to be understood the way HE means it to be, He will have to intervene there too.

…”for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

silouette river

and so the Master Communicator invites me to pray over my words….

….and then release them into His capable hands.

growing quiet

sky and trees

i sit amongst a group of folks and attempt to share a glimpse of hope from my tender Father.  the response is clear-they don’t get it. in fact what they hear is completely opposite of what i am actually saying.    it’s important to me, so i try again.  i give it a third go.   driving home, sifting down the frustration  and i can name it-misunderstood.

i resolve that i must be inept and unable to communicate.  and so i grow quiet. everywhere.

later, i’m back amongst these folks and 4 people, yep 4, share the very glimpse of hope i was attempting before and everyone, yep everyone gets it.  i resist the temptation to declare (read shout) “That’s exactly what i was saying!”  but i don’t.  instead i write in my journal-what am i going to choose to do with this?  What are You inviting me into here?

i am very well aware of the churning and battle going on that is specific to me and there is no coincidence here-this pain of misunderstanding, this awareness of my lack in communication-it is purposeful and i know the Lover of my Soul is inviting me into something other, something new.

so i do what makes the most sense for thinking deeply and processing through what is going on in my heart…..

i clean odd and random places; the drawer under the stove, the top of the fridge

i dash outside facing off that wind blowing the fall out and winter in and rescue a few branches with leaves on them…you know to decorate with.

i sit down and read one of the Anne of Green Gables books.

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Gilbert had finally made up his mind that he was going to be a doctor.

“It’s a splendid profession,” he said enthusiastically.  “A fellow has to fight something all through life…..and I want to fight disease and pain and ignorance…..I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne….add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all the good men have been accumulating since it began.  The folks who lived before me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by doing something for the folks who will live after me.  It seems to me that is the only way a fellow can get square with his obligations to the race.”

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily…..

-Anne of Avonlea p.53

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me too, Anne, me too.

 

 

food for thinking on

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God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life. The wasted life is the life without this passion. God calls us to pray and think and dream and plan and work not to be made much of, but to make much of him in every part of our lives.

-John Piper

Starting anew

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shortly after the Barn Event came the 31 days challenge and i’ve been immersed in the concept of prayer.

today there has been some churning within.  i turn on Pandora and Christa’s Frame the Clouds is first.  because of course it is.

and so i’m taken back to that Barn and all the tending of my soul that was done there.  i’m being led to a new place of trust with my Guide-always a new place of trust.

Christa takes the depths of my being and crafts words and music around it and the result is this; have a listen.

 

that’s all this space is really, simply my attempt to “frame the clouds”

Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14
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