Ooohh... I love memes

Okay, so Marcus tagged me to participate, so here we go:

Quick: what were you doing ten, twenty, and thirty years ago?


Ten years ago, I was 25, married for two years, had a one-year-old, and was singing in coffeehouses. Lady Jane Grey was in its early days... and I mean very early days: I think, at that point, we had maybe just begun singing songs on our back deck. We were living in a tiny house in Pipe Creek, TX, had no friends, and David was working at a dating service in San Antonio doing telesales. We had no clue what we were doing, what we wanted to do, or where we were going. Oh, and we were poor as Job's turkey. Good times.

Twenty years ago, I was 15 and living in Arlington, TX. My dad had passed away a year earlier from AIDS, and I was picking up the pieces and trying to figure out life as a sophomore in high school. I was thick in the midst of rehearsals: my school daringly decided to take on "A Chorusline" as their spring musical, and I was cast as in the chorus, which required 8 hours of dance practice a week. I loved every minute of it, and I can still remember what the auditorium of Lamar High School smelled like: musty, like old band instruments and carpet.

Thirty years ago, my family had just moved to Texas from Ohio, and I was in the first grade. I was one of the few five-year-olds in my first grade class. Because I was an "October baby" and the schools in Ohio had different birthday requirements fhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifor school than Texas schools, I had already completed Kindergarten, and my mom fought tooth and nail for me to be placed in first grade in Texas. Consequently, growing up, I always felt like the baby amongst my friends...always felt like I didn't "get it," like I had yet to be clued in to information the rest of my peers were privy to. I was always a little "behind" everyone else maturity-wise. Sometimes I still feel like the baby among my peers because of this. Maybe that's why I like youth ministry! :)

Okay, so that's it!

I will tag:

Kathy (my sister from another mister... seriously, I think we were separated at birth)

Sarah (my writing soul friend)

Flo (my non-blogging friend... maybe I can convince her to blog with this? ;) )

David (my dear hubby, of course)

And I think that is all.

Good night.


It's that time of year again... (on why I love NaNoWriMo)

That's right, folks, it's time for NaNoWriMo!

Yep. November 1 is the commencement of National Novel Writing Month.

In short, it's an excuse for us Bipolar/artistic types to have a month long manic episode in which we write like crazy, live in sheer insanity, drink too much coffee, blog about nothing except our novels, obsess about word counts, and try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month's time. It's insane, and why they decided to make NOVEMBER -- the month in which Thanksgiving occurs and the holiday season ramps up in full force -- the month in which one is supposed to accomplish said goal is beyond me. But I do know that it's possible. I did it last year. And I'm going to try it again this year.

Now, for all you haters out there, don't hate. I know that NaNo can be viewed as an event strictly for geeks who write Fan Fic and Emo girls who write vampire novels (and there are certainly many of those present in the NaNo forums), but I think it's an excellent tool for "serious" writers, too.

I do it because it's a month-long excuse to get my butt in the chair. There is a sense of community with the boards and the local write-ins and the podcasts. And there is a healthy, positive peer pressure present (how's that for alliteration!) that spurs me on to get my word count up there... I see my peers' word count graph grow and grow, and I am challenged to keep up.

Anne Lamott, in "Bird By Bird," talks about how, as a writer, you have to only be concerned at first with getting the words on the paper. She says to just get your butt in the chair and "write a sh***y first draft" (her words, not mine). This is why I do NaNo. I have a first draft of a novel from last year, which, incidentally, was my first attempt at writing fiction. I was pleased at the outcome. It needs much revision, but creatively, it was a huge milestone for me.

Last year, I had NO CLUE what I was going to write about until the moment my fingers touched the keyboard the first time. It fascinated me to watch as a story came to me and wrote itself, simply because I allowed myself to get out of the way and let it flow. That is when I fell hopelessly in love with the writing process. I started to view myself as a writer, and I let myself write.

This year, I am a little more prepared: I still have no plot idea, but I have a cast of characters -- rough sketches -- whom I am looking forward to getting to know as the month progresses. Last year's novel was genre fiction, and very plot driven. This year's, I think, will be more character driven.

We shall see.

At any rate, the typing begins on Thursday. I have to write 1667 words a day to stay on pace. Wish me luck.

Oh, and I may be posting excerpts here every now and then... if I feel brave. We'll see about that...



We are driving through the Mohave Desert, and I never knew such a barren place could be so rich in color. The pale tans, blues, purples, and a black that is the exact color of cocoa decorate the mountains on the horizon in perfectly layered lines, while the bleached sand in the foreground is dotted with scrubby trees that are surprisingly green, complementing the color palette perfectly. The sky is awash with a pinkish haze – whether from smoke from the fires in California or dust, I don’t know – and it blankets the landscape, softening the edges.

We were in California for 10 days, but as we make our way homeward, I feel as though I am leaving behind a lifetime’s worth of emotion.

When we began our trip, we left home a family of “four”… the three of us and the hopes of a new baby, whom we found out I was carrying the week before we left. Now, on the way home, we return as a family of three, the dreams of a new baby left behind in San Diego.

Having miscarried at the beginning of the trip, I allowed myself to grieve very briefly during the two days of limbo when we didn’t know whether or not I was going to be able to keep the pregnancy. Like King David, I spent those two days crying, praying, and asking God for healing and deliverance… and waiting. I was sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

On Sunday, then news came. It was over. The first four days of our vacation had been colored with worry, fear, and grief. I – we – decided, like King David, to wash our faces, get out of the sackcloth, rise from the ashes, and enjoy the rest of the week. We did so for Punky, because he deserved to have a good vacation, and we did so for ourselves, because we had looked forward to this trip for a year.

After the hospital drama, we enjoyed another day in San Diego, and then the fires came. We were oblivious to the sheer scope of the flames; we frolicked on the rocks of La Jolla cove as the smoke rolled in and masked the sun, turning the sunset a deep tomato red, and we smelled the smoke and wondered at the ash. We had no idea the fires were so close.

As the latter part of our vacation began, we headed up north towards Los Angeles. The fires in San Diego were raging, and when we left the area, we drove through smoke and ash as the hot Santa Ana winds whipped the fires into a frenzy. Evacuations had taken place ahead of us on our route, leaving the middle class suburbs where we stopped for gas and food quiet and empty, like modern-day ghost towns. The freeway route we were traveling literally closed in our wake as we headed north.

We arrived in Fontana where we stayed with my former youth pastor and his wife, Dennis and Karen. Seeing them felt like home. It was so amazing to get to hang out with them and catch up – we’ve seen each other just 3 times in 20 years. We cherished our time together, and it was water to my soul. Dennis and I sat up till 2:30 am our last night there, and when we left yesterday, my heart was breaking.

Last night we stopped by the Grand Canyon at sunset and stayed long enough for the full moon to rise all orange and plump like a pumpkin over the South Rim. And now we are headed home, and I hear that autumn has finally come to South Texas. This year, it rained more than it has in our whole lives, and the Indian Paintbrushes bloomed all the way through September. They say it will be a mild winter. I hope so.



I haven't blogged in a few weeks because I was pretty busy preparing for a two-week vacation to California. You know how it goes: there's mountains of laundry to be done, cleaning, and then the setting of the office in order so that things will (hopefully) go smoothly while I'm gone.

In the midst of trip preparations, we found out that I was pregnant. We were shocked and excited at the prospect of having a baby after so long (our son is 11 now, so we've not had "baby" on the brain for some time). We started thinking baby thoughts. We started looking at baby clothes. We started thinking about converting our guest room into a nursery. And when we got back from vacation, I was to have my first doctor visit. We were looking forward to that first sonogram and that first heartbeat.

We began our road trip without a hitch and arrived in San Diego on Thursday. I was looking forward to taking Punky around San Diego while David was in his conference. We planned our next few days in the car on the way out to California: one day we'd go to the zoo, one day we'd see downtown, and one day we'd go exotic car hunting in the fancy areas of town.

As soon as we got into the hotel room, though, I had just gotten settled when I noticed that I had started spotting slightly. I immediately began to panic: this didn't happen when I was pregnant with Punky. This can't be good. I called my mother-in-law and she eased my fears a bit. A little spotting is normal. Don't worry about it. I called my doctor in San Antonio, too, and they told me the same thing: Don't worry. Just take it easy, but as long as it doesn't progress, you're fine.

The next day, Punky and I took the train into downtown to look around. I tried to enjoy myself, but in the back of my mind, I was concerned. We walked around for half of the day, and when we returned to the hotel that afternoon, I was exhausted. I laid down for a bit, hoping it would help to be off my feet.

When I got up, though, I knew things weren't right. The spotting had progressed. I went outside to find David, who was waiting at the rental car for AAA — the van had a flat tire! — and told him that we needed to get to the hospital.

So we hired a cab, got to the hospital, and spent exactly 6 hours in the E.R. waiting for the doctor. They took blood, told me to come back in two days to take more blood so that they could compare the levels, told me that I was to be on bed rest, and sent me on my way. Oh, and the doctor said, "If you do miscarry, it will probably happen sometime next week, so you'll need to find another hospital in LA just in case that happens.

I spent all day Saturday in bed, and it was a very low day. Why had God brought us all the way to California for this? Why had we had such a surprise pregnancy — gotten pregnant on the pill, no less — for it to end in miscarriage? Why, when we had spent a year talking about this vacation, looking forward to it, and talking it up to Punky… and now, it seemed, all we were going to be able to do was sit in the hotel room and in hospitals, mourning? Why? My heart was broken.

I picked up my Bible and prayed through Psalm 139. It didn't help. It only made me cry more. I set my Bible in my lap and wept, flipping randomly through the Psalms, asking God for some help.

Then my eyes fell to Psalm 116.

" 1 I LOVE the Lord, because He has heard [and now hears] my voice and my supplications.

2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.

3 The cords and sorrows of death were around me, and the terrors of Sheol (the place of the dead) had laid hold of me; I suffered anguish and grief (trouble and sorrow).

4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I beseech You, save my life and deliver me!

5 Gracious is the Lord, and [rigidly] righteous; yes, our God is merciful.

6 The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He helped and saved me.

7 Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling."

I breathed it in. My self-pity began to vanish. Indeed, God has dealt bountifully with me. And then I read this:

"15 Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones)."

Reading this through the lens of Psalm 139 gave me a revelatory perspective on my situation. God saw what was happening to me at that moment. He was right there. He knew, and was grieving with me.

What a relief. I decided at that moment that I was going to trust Him, and whatever He allowed, I would choose to trust in His perfect sovereignty.

And as I gave it to Him and read the rest of the Psalm, I discovered how I needed to respond:

"17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord, yes, in the presence of all His people,

19 In the courts of the Lord's house–in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)"

I had been in bed all day. I made my choice: I got up, washed my face, got dressed, and went to the evening worship service at the National Youth Workers Convention with David. I knew that my going was symbolic act of trust. I went… and I paid my vows to the Lord in the presence of His people. I offered, through an abundance of tears, my sacrifices of thanksgiving to my God. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

The next evening we went to the hospital and found out that we had lost the baby.

And while it has filled me with sadness, while I grieve for my lost baby, I know that God has a plan. He is the author of life. I have to trust Him.

While I may never know the whys, I know the Who. And if nothing else, this was a fierce reminder to me that I cannot do anything apart from Him. I am His, He is God, and I am not.

At the conference on Sunday, Steven Iverson led us in Taize-style worship. We sang one line over and over again, and I wept as it penetrated my soul:

"Your way, Your will, Your heart… not mine, Sweet Light, not mine."

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