They say that confession is good for the soul. God’s Word tells us that it is a necessary part of forgiveness. We cannot be forgiven if there is no confession. There are many confessions I’ve made in my lifetime. Some silly. As a girl I used to pray that Bo Duke was in my closet when I woke up. Some not so silly. This morning, for instance, during a conversation with the friends we are currently staying with, I made a comment about my children (with them sitting in the room) that was completely inappropriate and not at all how I really felt about them. Our friend was horrified that I’d even said it. Really, that should’ve been a big red flag in my face. Because in reality, as soon as it was out of my mouth, I knew it was wrong. What did I do instead of instantly apologize? I did what we as humans often do in the face of our mistakes. I tried to justify it. But God wouldn’t let me off the hook. All morning my comment kept replaying over and over in my head, like a record with a big scratch in it. With each skip, each repeat, my heart hurt more and more. Did I make it right? Nope. I stubbornly, doggedly, kept on justifying. Finally, however, I could take no more. I called my children into the room and apologized for saying it. The ironic thing is that they hadn’t even heard the comment to begin with. But I felt better.
           We’ve been traveling around to various area churches, sharing with others about our calling to minister for the Lord in Mexico City. In the services, my husband has preached the same sermon, so I’ve had the opportunity to hear them many times. As much as I’ve enjoyed the sermons, they’ve also been painful for me at the same time. I’ve had call to discipline my children many times--one of them just today, in fact. It’s sometimes an everyday part of life. And it’s the only way they learn how to behave, and grow. Just as a mother corrects her children, God corrects His children when they stray. So here’s another confession for you: I’ve strayed. Whenever I read about the Israelites’ tendency to worship other gods in the Old Testament, I shake my head and wonder how this can be. The God of the Earth has selected you as His chosen people and you willingly choose to serve man-made gods?! What I often forget is that I do the same thing. The only difference is that I don’t serve the pagan gods like Baal. But what I do serve is very much a god in its own right. Self. I argue all of the time that I don’t have time for daily devotions. You gave me four kids to raise and educate, God. And I have chores to do. And cooking to do. And cleaning to do. And I have to make use of this writing gift you’ve given me. And I really need to get some exercise in, too, God. And sleep. You want me to be rested, right, God? The list goes on. The sad fact, however, and something that both of us know full-well, is that if I really wanted to spend time with Him, I’d make the time. Just like I make the time to read my favorite book. Or just like I make the time to watch my favorite TV show. As much as I loathe to admit it, I am no better than the wandering Israelites of the Old Testament. If you really think about it, I’m actually worse. I supposedly have Jesus Christ residing in my heart. They did not. They had to have yearly sacrifices offered for their sins. I can turn to God in an instant to have my sins forgiven. I can even (and again, supposedly have) have that sin nature purged from my soul by God in the act of sanctification.
           We are only 52% funded. What I’ve come to wonder this week is this: am I in part to blame? I may hold up John 10:10b--”I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly”--and tell people that I want to tell the people of Mexico City about the abundant life in Christ. But how can I do this when I’m not living it? Should God be in any hurry to see us funded and turned loose upon His lost children? I wouldn’t be. What in me is there that would serve to draw others to Him? I’m like a dull mirror at best. Oh, there is some light being reflected. But not enough to light up the room.
           I do not doubt that we are called to minister in Mexico City. Not for a minute. Nor do I doubt that God can provide the funds we need tomorrow. But maybe He is keeping us here for a reason. And maybe it’s so that I can really grow to know Him and be afire for Him before we are released.
           I want to be that person who draws people to Christ like a moth to a flame. I want them to be able to, in a single glance, know that there is something different about me. Someone different in me. And I want to be afire for Him. I want to hunger and thirst for Him that I cannot get enough of His Word and of Him.
          Obviously, there is much I need to learn and change. Please pray for me as I learn to cleave anew to my Father, and that my heart will not be turned again.


My God is a Creative God

I stand on a lookout perched atop a small hill. The air is cool, the sky a mix of clouds and sunshine following a brief afternoon shower. The very earth drips around me. I shade my eyes against the piercing rays of the sun and gaze in awe at the vista surrounding our aerie. Mountain upon mountain--layers and layers of them--all clothed in autumn’s finest colors. Deep reds. Vibrant oranges. Vivid yellows. It is so stunningly beautiful that I am at a complete loss for words. Tears stream down my face. My God is a creative God. These words keep echoing through my mind as I admire the majestic view. Only God could create such hues. This cannot be the work of anyone else but God. Not for the first time, I’m baffled how anyone can witness the same beauty I have today and doubt God’s existence. Do they not see with the same eyes I have? Are they blinded by something? Something that prevents them from seeing things as they truly are? As if they are looking through film-covered lenses, perhaps.

The Bible tells us that although some of mankind refuses to glorify God, the rocks and mountains cannot help but declare His majesty. This afternoon, I have never seen a clearer example of this truth. Although it is actually silent, it is as if the mountains around me are practically shouting out their joy of their Creator.

I close my eyes. Quiet my heart. And join them.


A Storyline Issue

I've mentioned in previous entries that I've been skipping around a bit in my story line. Today I was all set to write the engagement scene. (Because of course my characters get married. What kind of romance novel would I be writing if I didn't allow my characters to be together at the end?! Certainly not one I'd want to read!) And without giving too much away, I was trying to establish a possible time line for this but kept running into problems. One of the crises I've put into the book is a major health issue for the primary male character. It was meant to serve as a "wake up call" for my main female character. But now I'm concerned that it could potentially serve as a major life changer. With a long-lasting effect on the characters' lives. That's not exactly what I'm going for. I wanted drama, but not that much drama. So now I'm trying to come up with a different solution. Something that will bring about the desired effect without completely sabotaging my poor character's livelihood.

I'm beginning to see why the experts all strongly urge newbies (in particular) to thoroughly plan and research their novels ahead of time. Before a single word is written.

Oops. Maybe next time.


On Your Mark, Get Set, WRITE!

I cannot write with a house full of noise. Yet, I cannot write with utter silence, either. I must have music. But not just any music. Upbeat, fast-tempo music does not really serve to inspire. To be really creative, I must have slow, melancholy music. Depressingly melancholy. Y'know, the songs about breakups and heartache. Even when working on happy scenes. Seems weird, I know.

An author friend asked me recently how my writing was going, and I was forced to admit that it's not. Things have been really crazy lately. Excuses and all that. Today however, my husband will be taking the children camping. They'll be gone all afternoon, all night, and probably a large portion of tomorrow morning as well. Yes! A house all to myself! To write! Or not!

I started feeling a little guilty that I hadn't written anything in awhile, so I pulled up the manuscript on my computer and started reading through what I've written so far. Every time I do this, I always find things to fix or correct. A way to word a paragraph or sentence better. (At this rate, I'll never be finished.) And of course, I had to listen to my iTunes playlist of favorite 80s and 90s music.

As we've already established my criteria for music to write by, however, I soon found I was skipping several songs in a row because they were too.....happy. The only solution, of course, was to create an entirely new play list of songs. Which I did. Now I have 3 full hours of all the melancholy music I could ever want to listen to. I suspect that after listening to it though, I'll be in serious need of Winnie the Pooh or something equally cheerful.

No matter what does or does not get accomplished today, I'm satisfied knowing that I'm at least in the story. It's not put away. My characters are staring me in the face even now, waiting for me to give them some forward motion.

While depressingly awesome music plays in the background.