Tag Archives: writers

31 Days of Living by Faith, Day 6 – What are you waiting for?

blog button 31 Days of Living by FaithThere’s not much that takes more faith than waiting.

Thank you Patti for being my guest for these 31 Days of living by Faith and for showing us faith in waiting.

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What Are You Waiting For?

Waiting…

…for an acceptance letter.

…for that phone call.

…for critiquers to finish proofing so you can send out the next great American novel.

Waiting…

…for the doctor’s report.

…for her to take her last breath.

…for your child to come to Christ.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

As a writer, I’m constantly waiting on something. This week, it’s a response from publishers. Next week, it’ll be my agent’s okay on a new proposal. Too often, I waste energy on what I don’t have and ignore percolating ideas because it’s just too hard to keep going with so many of my favorite nouns and verbs scattered about cyberspace, just waiting for someone to pick them up. How can I work when I need to support that tag-along friend named Waiting?

My dilemma’s no different than anyone else’s, as the examples above surely showed you. In this world, we will all wait for something. It’s the attitude with which we face the waiting process and the reaction thereto that will make all the difference in that climax and dénouement to our story. Speaking of stories, wanna read a sad one?

She couldn’t wait to…go to first grade, ride the bus, never again ride the bus, get braces, get the ugly wires out of her mouth, be a teenager, have a boyfriend, get engaged, get married, get pregnant, get skinny again, get the brats out of the house, get the kids married, get the kids back…get it…all over with.

Ouch.

You’ve heard enough about waiting and vow to stomp her into your rug with the rest of your ground-in dirt OR never go there. So what do you do next? How can you rewrite a scene you’ve been living for way too long?

In the Bible, God addresses our dilemma by painting a vivid scene and teaching a great truth:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).”

 Only with the Holy Spirit’s help can I persevere through hindrances (a slow or non-responding publisher, a delinquent endorser) and run with perseverance the life God has ordained for me. As a novelist sailing in the uncharted waters of 2012 publishing, I can choose to be shipwrecked by the waiting process, or I can hoist up the sails and write that devotional, send that encouraging e-mail, post a blog that I hope God will use to inspire others, or start that novel’s next chapter, though no one but God and my loyal crit partners may ever read it.

Are you a “can’t wait until I get to the next step” person or a “take it in stride and enjoy every moment” person? Does your “waiting” tolerance fall somewhere in between?

Does the Nike slogan, “Just Do It,” irritate you or get you off the couch more times than you would like to publicly admit?

What are you waiting on now?

 

author patty lacyAt the age of fifty, Patti traded in her grade books for a writer’s pen after the Still, Small Voice encouraged her to novelize the story of her best friend. Patti’s first three novels, An Irishwoman’s Tale, What the Bayou Saw, and The Rhythm of Secrets, explore the secrets women keep and why they keep them.

Patti’s fourth book, Reclaiming Lily, a Bethany House title, transports readers to the steps of a Chinese orphanage, where two cultures and two women collide. Claiming writers as diverse as Francine Rivers and Jodi Piccoult as influences for this novel, Patti weaves a story of grace and God’s mercy with an insidious hereditary disease and a rebellious teenager. Reclaiming Lily transports the reader from Fort Worth to China to Boston in a quest journey of faith, of love…of Joy.

Currently Patti’s juggling three projects: a friend’s memoir, an 1860s historical romance, and a series set in Patti’s home town, Normal, Illinois. Patti soothes her itch to teach by leading seminars, facilitating writing classes, and speaking at women’s events. Patti and her husband, Alan, a college professor, have two grown children and a dog named Laura

anything, part two

To read anything, part one click HERE.

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In her book, Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul, Jennie Allen tells of the time she and her husband prayed anything.  They offered themselves, their possessions, and their family up to God for His service.  Their decision wasn’t made lightly, and did not come without fear and opposition from loving family and friends; however, when they offered God anything, He took them up on that offer.  Sometime the very thing God wants does not make sense to us or our loved ones, but God wants our hearts, not just our minds.

When we’ve got our lives in our gripped hands and we consider handing them over, most of us get that feeling – fear mixed with adrenaline mixed with nausea.  It feels as if we might die if we jump.  But when I prayed anything, what I feared would bind me set me free.  It stung like death and it still feels like death, but that feeling is the key turning in the lock.  On the other side of the pain is freedom, peace, joy, hope, the loss of control, and it is how I was made to live.

Jennie tells how God used others to inspire her in this faith walk that trusts God with everything, anything.  She began reading a blog written by a young woman who gave up her lattes and fancy clothes for a life sold out to God.  This woman works with children in Africa and lives life to the very fullest, right on the edge where only God can catch her if she falls.

We press through the doubts and the fears and we trust because God is trustworthy, and he knows how life is best lived.  The more we jump and see our God come alive around us, the more we jump without fear – and the bigger the cliffs get.

Methodically, Jennie and her husband began praying through their possessions and their lives, offering up each thing as a sacrifice to God.  God didn’t want many of their things just yet, but He took them up on their spare bed, and they ultimately adopted a young African boy.

He also asked Jennie to use her gifts, the talents He’d given her.

One of the clearest things God said to me and to Zac that week was that I needed to start using my gifts.  I needed to start writing and teaching.  It was not clear what that meant, but I knew this wasn’t about me.  I was to be the pawn here – not because I was special, only willing.

Jennie went on to write two DVD Bible study curriculum’s Stuck and Chase.  I know I’d love to make these the next two Bible studies I participate in.    In Jennie’s writing, the one thing that really impresses me is her openness.  She doesn’t sugar-coat her words and make herself out to be a great martyr or warrior of Christ.  She is a woman just like you and me, struggling with the same sins, fears, and insecurities.  She just decided that living a sold-out life for God was worth anything.

I tremble as I write this, but if he allows one of my children or my husband to die, or if I get cancer, or if we lose all we own to bankruptcy, will I take this back?  Will I wish I’d never said God could have me for anything.

That’s the bottom line, isn’t it?  Or worst fears in pen and ink.  We all think it, she just had the courage to speak it.

A day is coming when our eyes will close and there will be no more chaos.  No one will be preaching or writing books about God to help us remember, because we will be alive in that world with him forever.

Anything is nothing in light of that.

In light of forever.  In light of him.

What about you?  Is God asking for your anything?

I’d highly recommend getting this book and reading it.  I wish I could share it all with each of you.  My highlighter bled all over the pages of this book, because I kept thinking, “I have to share that, and this, and THIS!”

Anything:  The Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul by Jennie Allen, Thomas Nelson publishers.

anything, part one

What if you told God you would do anything – and He took you up on it?

That’s the question Jennie Allen asks in her book Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul.

I don’t do many book reviews on my blog.  I love to read, but I’m sort of finicky.  I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it.  So when I get an email from a publicist or a publishing company asking me to review a book, I usually say no.  This time I said yes.  I don’t know why, but I suspect God was moving in me and it was more His decision than mine.

Jennie Allen’s words hooked me from the start.  I identified with her writing, her struggle with knowing God and surrendering to His will, and her quest to do anything.  Once I started, I couldn’t stop reading.  Anytime I had a minute, I grabbed the book and devoured chapter after chapter, shaking my head and saying, “That’s right!  I believe that too.”

This is part book review and part testimony, a different kind of post than I’ve probably ever written.  It’s longer too.  I may as well warn you now.  You might need to read it in more than one sitting, but I’m going to ask you to please read it.  Maybe you’ll see yourself and your own relationship with God reflected in Jeannie’s words.  I did.

Jennie begins her book by explaining her feelings about God.  All the words in blue are Jennie’s.  Unfortunately all the other words are mine.

Honestly, I felt neutral about God.  When you grow up with the stories and songs and lessons, you accept everything; you aren’t trying to explain God if you grew up hearing about him since birth, like Santa Claus.  I knew what I thought I needed to know.  I didn’t feel much, for the most part, when watching people talk about him.  I don’t remember it feeling very real.  In fact, I remember God feeling a little plastic.

I love her honesty.  God was nothing more to her than a plastic figurine, much like the Santa we put out at Christmas. She goes on to describe the time when God became real to her.

But that night I saw him.  I saw my sin and how it put him there [on the cross].  I saw the cost.  I saw his mercy, and my heart moved.  What Christ did on a cross – he bought me; he died so I wouldn’t.  My plastic god broke, and a new, unsettling God rushed in.  I felt him.

There comes a time in all our lives when God has to become more than just a story, more than someone we thank for the food, more than our parent’s God.  He must become real to us or we have nothing.

Because of training and ministry and God’s leading, Zac and I moved, and moved some more.  And because of all of these moves, I longed to settle again…Curtains hanging in a window became a symbol of stability for me.  It wasn’t the actual curtains; it was a deeper desire to belong somewhere, for my family to dig roots.

I could have written this paragraph myself.  I married an electrician, not a pastor.  I said, “I do” and planned on staying in one place for the rest of my life.  That place was Limerick, Maine.  I had a broken down old house that I poured my hopes and dreams into, a chicken coup filled with feathery, pecking creatures I never thought I would like, much less raise, and a bunch of friends who became family.

I had just given birth to my daughter, our second child, when my husband pulled the car into a grocery store parking lot one night after church and told me God was calling him to be a pastor.  I didn’t want that.  I wanted to add rooms and babies to my old house, and maybe even a white picket fence that I’d spend the next fifty years painting.

I wanted my life to be mine, and I wanted to live it for myself.  Oh, don’t misunderstand; I did good things by the plenty.  I worked in the church nursery and taught a children’s Sunday School class.  I made food for traveling missionaries and even let them stay in my house sometimes.  I just wanted to be the one who fed the missionary; I didn’t want to actually be the missionary, unless by missionary you mean the one who invites her neighbors to church.

I wanted to do God’s will on my terms.

I was afraid.  I was afraid I’d have the life I’m now living.  Worse, I was afraid God would send us to a third world country.  I guess I’m still afraid of that, but my life is pretty good, not always easy, but good.  I’ve seen God work in ways I never would have thought possible, and because I saw His faithfulness, I’ve learned to trust.  That learning is ongoing, because let’s face it, I can trust Him with my life, my children, and my future one day and freak out over trusting Him with my refrigerator the next.  I think a big part of faith is remembering and deciding – remember what God did in the past and what He’s promised to do in the future, and then deciding to trust Him no matter what common sense or your queasy stomach tells you.

What would be the very worst thing that God may allow you to suffer?  We all would say his character is loving and good, but do we really trust that he won’t get crazy and dish out the same life he gave Job?

America (I can’t speak for the rest of the world) is held captive by fear.  Anxiety paralyzes intelligent and talented people every single day.  We make decisions, usually bad ones, based on fear.  We allow fear to control our lives and steal our joy.  We have no peace.  We are a slave to the “what if’s” of this world.  We are made useless by something that is not real, something fictional that may or may not ever happen to us or to those we love.  I think (and this is only my opinion) that fear is one of the main things Satan uses to make Christians useless, especially Christian women.

So you know how I know this?  It’s because I struggle with it every single day and so do most of my friends.  I am only recently learning to face my fear and look at it in the light of God’s word, in the light of truth.

The ironic thing about believing in God and supernatural things is that the invisible stuff is actually the most trustworthy, the most stable.  So the concrete things we can see and touch, they become the wind, they become the things we try to catch, and over and over, as they pass through our fingers and souls, keeping us empty.

Sometimes in the middle of our very worst times, the times we wrestle with God, our beliefs, and the very core of our faith, we realize that God hasn’t forsaken us.  We understand in a whole new way that God is truly good.  He is comforter, healer, peace-giver, lover, transformer,  Savior, and friend.

No matter what happens, I am loved by a holy God full of grace.

We love our earth.  we love our people.  We love our stuff.  We love our schedules.  We love our short lives here.  And God is saying, Look up. This is going fast.  Your life here is barely a breath.  There is more, way more.

We are so shortsighted.  I am so shortsighted.  All I can see is the now, and I want to fix everything about the now.

Somehow I thought most of my life following God was not supposed to be too costly.  Following God is flat costly.  It always has been.  It doesn’t make sense to us, but since this life, these few years, are not the climax from Gods perspective, he’s okay throwing a little wrench into the short plans we have to be normal here.

So many times I felt like the world was caving in around me and it’s because I couldn’t see the big picture.  I couldn’t see God past my circumstances.

Somewhere along the way, even with grace sung all around me, God had become morality to me.  God had become the American dream.  God had become a white Republican, and he wanted me to have a nice home, and a nice family with a fence to keep us all safe.

We said that!  Not those exact words, because we’re not that articulate, but oh so very close.

It was a date night.  We sat in the parking lot of The Red Lobster and wondered if we got it all wrong.  Somehow in our imaginations we got the idea that a nice house, a white picket fence, two decent (but not too pretentious) cars in the driveway, a white clapboard church if you’re in the North and a red brick church if you’re in the South is Godly, but what if it’s not?  What if that was never, ever God’s plan?  What if we’re confusing God’s will with the American Dream?

Money and a good latte protect us from a lot of things.  It is too easy in this country for blessings to become rights, for stuff and money to become what calls the shots in our lives.  And before we know it, God’s gifts have replaced God himself.

About seven years ago we lost everything material that we thought was so important to us.  It was stuff we thought defined us, help to make us who we were.  It wasn’t fancy or expensive, but it was ours.  It was memories and life built day by day, but then it was gone.  It wasn’t taken from us.  We let it all go and willingly.

It’s a long story, but I got really sick and we ended up getting rid of almost everything, except for the absolute essentials.  I cried when boxes of my books were brought to the curb.  I sat right down on the stoop of our rented house that wore the scars of a recent hurricane, and I cried over stuff.  Stuff I loved way too much.  It’s kind of funny now.  We laugh about it, but back then, it wasn’t funny.  I was mourning my material world.

The irony is once it was all gone, I felt so free, more free than I ever had in my life. I learned one of the most important lessons of my entire life.  I learned that everything I have is just stuff.  Some stuff is more treasured than other stuff, but I don’t really need it, not any of it.

I was certainly not willing to do anything then, but I can say a lot died for me.  It was another step in letting go – a step in dying to my picture of normal, my picture of a perfect nursery and a perfect life.  Little deaths always feel like big deaths until you let go.  After you let go you wonder, what was the big deal?

Once when I was a teenager, I told God I would do anything.  I think I really meant it then, but I didn’t understand what that anything might include.  It’s so much more than a stealth covert mission.  It’s not a one time deal.  It’s not a portion of my life.  Doing anything God wants IS my life.

anything, part two – coming soon.

Feel free to share your story in the comments.

This One is Personal

Today I get to be a guest on my friend’s blog, The Alliterate Author.  I’ve known Alissa and her family for about twelve years.  Her sister babysat my son when he was just a wee little lad.  Now he’s on the verge of the terrible teens and my friend is a newlywed.  She and her hubby make the cutest couple ever.

It’s shocking how everyone around me grows up while I just keep getting younger. It’s a phenomenon I do not understand, but choose not to question.

Despite the name of her blog, she’s fully literate and writes some great book reviews.  My critiques tend to consist of the phrases “I like it” or “It stunk”; however, I tried to step up my game today and give you a real book review.  Well, as real as I can write one.

I do hope you’ll join me over at The Alliterate Author.  I’m talking about a book that may change the way you think about certain people, subsequently altering your actions and reactions towards them. I don’t want to give it all away, so come on over and read.  This one is personal.

I know you’re dying to find out why, so click HERE to read.  Let’s give my friend and new blogger lots of comment love today.  Hope your weekend was everything you hoped it would be.

Happy Monday!

Don’t Judge a Book or a Mom by Her Cover

via Pinterest by ffffound.com

This weekend I did something way outside the box.  I signed up for a literary tea.  I mean, I’m literary.  Aren’t I?

Although I wouldn’t classify this here blog as a literary masterpiece, I do occasionally play around with words and get them to line up in  semi-coherent sentences.  I also read.  And above all, I drink tea.

Win-win.

While I was doing my hair, my son came and stood in the bathroom doorway.  He asked where I was going, and I did something stupid – something a mother should never do.  I asked my son a probing question about my appearance.

“So, do you think I look like a writer?”  I asked.

“No.  You look like a mom.”  He said.

“Really?  Because I was going for the writer look today.”

“Well, then you need a fancy suit and a desk and glasses.”  He informed me.

“I have glasses, you know.  And I’ve been telling your father that I desperately need a desk, but writers don’t wear suits.  Why do you think that?”

“They always wear suits and fancy glasses in their pictures – the ones on the backs of the books.”  He told me.

“Well, writers dress a lot like me.  Most of the time they wear fluffy bathrobes and slippers and sit in front of their computers.”  I felt I should exonerate myself.

“Maybe if you dry your hair and put some makeup on it will be better.”  He said, trying to be helpful.

“I’m wearing makeup.”

“Oh.  I don’t know then.”  And he left.

In comes child number two.

I looked at her in her penguin hat and asked my second stupid question of the day.  “Do I look like a mom or a writer?”

“A mom.”  She said without hesitation.

“But why?”  I asked.  “I mean, I love looking like a mom.  Being a mom is my favorite thing ever, but I was trying to look more like a writer today.”

“It’s because I’m standing right next to you.  See?”  She moved in, right by my side.  We stood looking at our reflections in the mirror – I in my mom suit and her in her penguin suit.  “Now when I move away.”  She stepped outside the door.  “You look like a writer.”

Hot Dog!  I love her logic.

Writer it is.

Off to my literary tea I went, where as it turns out, I was the only person not dressed in black.  I guess I looked like a mom after all.  Silly me, writers do not wear brown.  Nope.  Moms, we wear brown from time to time.  We also look like moms, even if the kids aren’t standing next to us.

Moral of the story:

Getting dressed is way overrated.

OR

Go buy a desk and a pair of fancy glasses.

Have you done anything outside of your comfort zone lately?

Please do share!

Oh Vanity of Vanities – Fiction Friday Revived

You may need a little background before you read this excerpt from my larger work of fiction (still very much in progress).  I drew inspiration from my own bad hair cut, wrote about it, and continued the story line.  It’s all purely fiction, but you can gain a little understanding if you go back and read about my bad hair cut.  Then you’ll understand where this entry picks up.

Not My Life is the story of a pastor’s wife, Patty, who believes privacy is for fitting rooms and confessionals.  She wants to share her story with the world, even if it’s sometimes at the expense of her dignity.

That’s as basic as the story line gets.  Yes, I draw from personal experience.  No, this is not my life.  It’s fiction.  Aka – imaginative, made-up, full of untruth.  It’s a story, plain and simple

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March 27, 2012

I promised myself I was not going to leave the house today.  I asked God if one day of sulking would be too much to ask, and He reminded me of Jonah.  Jonah sulked after Ninevah repented, and I figure spiked bangs and chopped locks damaged my psyche nearly as much as being swallowed by a whale.

I cried for an hour yesterday afternoon.  I couldn’t help myself.  Frank still laughs every time he catches a glimpse of my hair.  I’ve asked him to please stop, but he says it’s out of his control.  It’s automatic, like a reflex.  He sees my hair, thinks back to the now famous ‘Cut of 2012’ and falls into uncontrollable giggling fits.

If I could just take my head off and leave it home…how I wish!

I stood at the bathroom mirror for forty-minutes today trying to fix what’s left of my hair into a style presentable for Easter Sunday.  Did I tell you I’m singing on Easter?  A solo!  After using half a bottle of mousse, I knew this haircut is God’s punishment for my vanity.  As I stand before our congregation and sing He Arose, I will wish with all my heart that an empty tomb will open and suck me into oblivion.  Oh vanity of vanities!

I never suspected things could get worse.  I’m already suffering the trials of Job himself, if he were a woman.  Since my hair is too atrocious for taming products, I resorted to using Jane’s miniature claw clips.  When I finished wrangling my hair, I looked a little like Lady Liberty, only my spikes were pastel.  An entire row of rainbow clips framed my face.  If I were an Easter egg, I might be styling, but I am the minister’s wife!  I am singing on Sunday.  God (and maybe miracle grow) is the only one who can help me now.

So I turned to Him in prayer.

An Easter bonnet.  I’m sure he spoke that thought right into my very heart. So I grabbed my windbreaker from the hall closet and slipped one of Frank’s Yankee’s caps over the line of rainbow clips in my hair.  Swinging my bag over one shoulder, I headed out the door. To Macy’s I would go!

Walking through the door, I scanned the the brightly lit aisles filled with the pinks and greens of spring.  God bless Macy’s.  I didn’t see a familiar soul on the entire first floor, so I ventured in.  From three aisles away, I spied the perfect hat, wide-brimmed and floppy.  It was the color of not- too- summery butter-cream.  As my eyes locked on my millinery savior,  holy hands flew to the sky.  Unfortunately I quit paying attention to those around me and crashed right into the back of Mrs. Merryman.  Her generous skirt rose like a hot air balloon, and she landed on my left foot with a thump that rumbled the second floor.  I looked down and noticed my shoes – lime-green, cheese-thin flip-flops, and that’s not the worst of it.  My feet were cold early this morning, so I borrowed Frank’s wool hunting socks.  Apparently in my haste to hide my hair, I forgot to take them off.

Our jumble of hands and skirts attracted an extremely large crowd of eyewitnesses.  Frank would have been jealous.  I had a larger audience than he does on a pot-luck Sunday, and you know how many people show up for food!

Mrs. Merryman forgives me, or so she claims.  She was quite miffed sitting in her heap of pleated skirt and store bags.  I can’t blame her.  I barely forgive myself.   She didn’t utter the words “I’m sorry” until I swallowed my last little bit of pride and took off the Yankees cap.

Actually, her hand flew to her mouth.  It was hanging like she had loose hinges on her jaw, and she said, “Oh, my lands!  Who did that to you?”

Before I could tell her, she sucked in a breath that seemed to deplete all oxygen from the air, and muttered in a barely audible whisper, “It was Helen. Wasn’t it?  I’m so very sorry my dear.”

One single tear walked from my right eye to my chin.  Then it fell on my water-proof windbreaker. Macy’s went silent.  I swear I heard the tear-drop hit the floor.

Thankfully Mrs. Merryman can still walk.  She said she’ll be in the third pew from the front on Sunday, waiting to see me on stage in my new hat.  I’ll look like a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Lady Gaga.  I wonder if I’ll make headlines in the Happy Valley Herald?  I only hope Frank will thank me for the publicity, otherwise, he’ll probably call Helen back to finish scalping me.

It’s So Not My Life,

Patty

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Now, I’d love for you to join me in Fiction Friday.  If you’d like to share a little fiction today, please leave your link in the comments.  This weekend I will take the time to read all the linked posts.  I can’t wait!

All I ask from you is that you grab my nifty Fiction Friday button my sidebar and proudly display it your post.  Also, please link back to this post.  Thank you!

Hope you all enjoy your weekend.

P.S.  I created a facebook page for The Domestic Fringe.  I thought it might make staying in touch easier.  You can click the “Like” button in the upper right corner of my sidebar and we’ll be friends forever.  I promise to “Like” you back. 😉

NaNoWriMo: 50,000 in November

I jumped write (pun intended) in and joined over 200,000 other writers world-wide for  NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.  The point of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month, November.

It almost seems like an impossible task, but I think that’s what will keep me motivated for the entire month.  It’s like the greatest brain challenge I’ve had in long time.  This project is giving me a purpose for November greater than simply finishing every last piece of Halloween candy.

The best part is that by December first, I’ll have a novel written.  Oh, now I know there will be re-writes and all that, but I’m choosing to live optimistically, at least for a month.

Can you imagine how great writing The End will feel?

And it will only take 30 days to get there!

You know the start of my story.  I’ve already let you read the first few pages.  I choose to hope that you’ll finish reading this story holding a paperback book with my name on the cover.

I’ll probably be a pretty lame blogger over the next month, but please understand, it’s for a good cause.  It’s so I can say, I’ve written a novel.

Wanna join?  It’s not too late.  I only made the decision yesterday and I already have 6,521 words.

Come play.