Refreshing Hearts One Sentence At A Time
It’s been a while since I just had time to write. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to make my own schedule where my ideas and plans made the priority. It’s been a while since I slept for 8 hours in a row; 10 months at least.
But now I find myself in a season where I have some “time off” from my regular list and I am insisting on making this a season that is purposefully devoid of obligations. Life won’t always be like this, and honestly, I’m not even sure how long I can stick to my newfound goal. But I think I need this, I think I need to have some recovery time, because it has been a long while since I was able to steer my own boat.
I have been able to read two whole novels recently. Can you believe it. I am as shocked as you. I love reading. No, wait, let me add a clause: I love reading good books. Sometimes I read a book that does not fit my style and I think, “Maybe I don’t like reading after all.” Each of us unique human beings has a bent toward a certain style of book or reading, of entertainment, and of mental stimulation. I also love going out to the movies. I also also love to lounge on the couch and watch fun television series. When I can do these activities with someone I love, I am in my element. When my oldest daughter was younger and I’d go visit my mom, around 4:00 PM we would sit down with coffee and watch Gilmore Girls or some other tv series or Hallmark Channel movie while the kiddo slept. For some reason, those are some of my favorite memories. I don’t know why, but they are. And the memories after my kiddoes were born, when my mom and I could sit down with coffee while the babies were sleeping, and watch a show or movie, those are just happy times.
But I digress.
Speaking of digressing, what’s up with the title of this little post. In having conversation with a person here or there, I’ve decided that books fall into two categories (and this can apply to movies as well): guy books and girl books.
Girl books are a bit flowery, lacy, and wordy. Girl books poof with allure, and wade into the story with a casual, jaunty air. There is some flirtation with disaster and intrigue, and often involve a soft, caressing nuzzle of souls searching for love. Girl books often use 100 words when 10-20 will suffice. Sometimes, girl, I ain’t got time for that.
Guy books are explosive with electricity and currents of mayhem. Guy books jump head first into action and mystery, clinging vehemently with a viable force to the writhing plotline. There are usually explosions, and guns, and action of epic proportions. And any friends can be the guys, just like, “Hey, guys, you should read this book.”
These two categories apply to most works of fiction, blogs, lifestyle, and even diet and nutrition books.
Which are you partial to? I usually prefer a guy-style narrative. Particularly with recipe posts on blogs or lifestyle or memoir-type narratives. Wham bam, thank you, man. Just let me get the crucial information and let me be on my way. I find highly annoying the recipe blog posts that begin with a story. Excuse me, I just googled, “Coffee cake,” I did not google, “Ancient and current historical accounts of bloggers who want to share their every memory of making and eating coffee cake for friends at holidays and events.” Girl, like I said, I ain’t got time for that. Gimme the recipe.
I would like to share a quick book review on a quite enjoyable work of fiction. I am not a book reviewer, so I won’t have the fancy, snarky language that book and movie reviewers employ. And I will keep it quick, because that’s how I want to roll.
So traveling back to the “thithers” and “shant’s” was a jostle in the first few chapters. Like a proper Girl book, the beginning is a bit flowery and idealistic, with little description of the characters themselves, other than they are “dashing.” So those first couple of chapters I was hesitant of liking the book, and told myself, “Okay, let’s finish this so we can get to another book.” However, about four chapters in, I was intrigued. The dual plotline is carried out so the reader experiences two sides of a story, and those connect in a captivating climax. There is danger, there is a little murder, there is a lot of whodunit. There is a little flirtation, a little insight into the characters, and a lot of mention of tea, coffee and macaroons. It is a very good middle-of-the-road guy/girl book; enough action to keep the reader in suspense, and some witty repartee among the characters as they travel to foreign locales.
Apparently The Counterfeit Heiress is book 9 of the Lady Emily series, and I definitely want to read the rest of these books!
So, guys and girls, grab this book. It is a very enjoyable read. I assume more females will want to read it, because there are no explosions……….or are there?? Wink.
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“Maybe this is a time to learn how to forge ahead when there is no plan, when all direction seems to be short-lived or silent. It’s a time to search, to seek, and simply enjoy.” There are ups and downs to being a writer, a work-at-home mom, and a Cleaner Of All Laundry And Things Washable. Do you struggle with purpose, with resting in the hands of a Providing Rescuer, or sticking to a plan? Me too. That's partially why I wrote this book, so that we can journey together and remind ourselves of God's goodness.
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The tickets were purchased, the map was defined, supplies packed and ready, clouds parting in the sky to reveal a cosmos so blue and sunny that tropical islands yawned in jealous torment; the adventure was set to begin in three, two -- and wait. Hold on.
Pause for a moment.
The phone is ringing.
It's the realtor, and we have a closing date! It is.... tomorrow! Tomorrow? Tomorrow!? That means I need to call -- I need to pack -- I need to unpack -- I need to text Mom -- I need to go to the --
And a new adventure began instead.
"Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on him, because he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:6
Let's get a few words out of the way before we go any further. The word, "exalt," means 1)honor, 2)fill with sublime emotion, 3)heighten or intensify, 4)raise in rank, character, or status. Humble is both an adjective and verb, meaning 1)inferior in station, 2)marked by modesty, 3)of low station, 4)cause to be unpretentious, 5)cause to feel shame or hurt the pride.
I like to make plans. I like to make lists. I like to make plans that incorporate my lists, and then check off the boxes in order. And yes, my clothes closet is ordered by the colors of the rainbow.
Sometimes I make plans for my life. Sometimes I say, “I will go to the park tomorrow,” or “I will get groceries tomorrow,” or “I will watch Bones today.” I am learning that the long-term plans are the ones that seem to fall through. I am learning that not all of the boxes get checked off in order. I am learning that I don’t like it when my boxes are not checked off in order. Where is the excitement in last minute changes, and where is the thrill in flakiness? Um, I’m really not as stuffy as that last sentence makes me sound. I just like an order to the chaos. An order which I create.
But do I look for the adventure?
What if there is an order in the chaos, and I’m simply unaware of it?
I don’t think people plan for loss, broken water heaters, floods, earthquakes, bug bites, and job changes. I don’t want to speculate that most people plan their own worst-case scenario. Do you plan your own worst life? Do you look for ways to hurt others or yourself? I don’t, so I’m going off of my own ideal world. Mine is one similar to that of Neverland or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, where there are lush, green, open fields rolling in the distance, and parks with flowers, and laughing friends nearby, ready to do something fun.
So there’s a gap between the real world and what-could-be.
Because in this real world, the adventure has been filled with rain clouds, plane rides, tears, shiny skyscrapers, hugs with my daughter, bitten nails, crashed computers, divine lunches, and inconsolable loss. The adventure included boat rides, beaches, bridges, boxes, and paradise. The darkness crept nearby, watching with dollar signs in its eyes. He imagined destruction and whispered threats of loneliness. The new adventure was unlike anything I had imagined.
But I did get to ride a camel in the sand.
He moaned at me, arching his long, tan, furry neck toward me, groaning and baring his crooked, yellow teeth. His trainer smacked him smartly on the neck with a small brown stick, demanding some unknown command in Arabic. After a few more moments of groaning, lips quivering and teeth snarling, he began arching his back legs to a standing position. I gripped the saddle horn as the back-end rose higher, and his front knees eventually began to quake and burst with movement upward. Then he was walking, one slow step after another, moaning further, shaking his head in disagreement, as if he was done with the pony ride. I sat far on his back, gripping the old leather, ten feet in the air, on this beast towering above the tourists below. He roamed in a slow circle around the hot, sandy area, guided by the man in the khaki tunic. The camel settled in his spot, front side first, bowing into the sand, folding his legs under his thick, hairy torso. Rocking and quaking, I settled back on the ground and climbed off his back.
And all too soon, I had to fly away from those shiny buildings, sand dunes, and my sister’s warm hugs.
What can I say about riding a camel?
Hold on tight, especially when starting out and ending, because the fall forward could be a hilarious sight to see, though painful for the fall-er.
What can I say about the new adventure?
Hold on tight and a grab a ginger pill, because there’s turbulence up ahead.
Another part of the new adventure was moving to our first house, then turning around and helping my parents leave their house – my “home” – of 25 years. So in between the boxes, airplane rides, boxes, broken computers, leaky house fragments, boxes, shimmering anniversaries, and golden hotel rooms, the year 2013 has been --- an adventure. It’s a tale of remorse, angst, distilled silence, and fresh morning sunshine streaming in through the window. It has been salted and spiced with hummus, take-out, large bills, extraordinary views, pecans, boxes, emptiness, and tears. In the preparation of moving, unpacking, moving, packing, and readying for flying, there was teaching classes, coordinating ministry events, and home-making.
And since the first leg of the adventure, the shiny drama has dissipated into unmotivated laziness. I partially think I’ve earned it. The Big Year is not even halfway over, but all the oil is used up. The Tandoori powder is prepped but the chicken is already eaten.
My husband – my sane half – says this unmotivated feeling is just a let-down after vacation. He says that it is post-year’s-worth-of-suspense-leading-up-to-an-adventure. Now that we bought the cow...we have to care for it. Now that we’ve been to paradise…we have to live with central Texas in a drought.
Not that I’m complaining, really. I’m very grateful to have seen what I’ve seen, to be able to hear the sounds of foreign instruments, to have tasted authentic food, to have stayed up way too late talking with my family, to have stood on the tallest floor on the planet. And I’m grateful for the home I get to come back to, for the soft carpet underfoot, the warm sunshine and cooing doves out the back window. I’m just trying to figure out the emotions that roll along in this tidal wave. What do you say when the grey seems dimmer and the silence seems louder?
My heart has been heavy, my arms weak, and my legs sore. And not just from working out. Although that is a factor.
The clock has been winning recently, ticking along merrily, leaving me behind. The adventure continues into chapter three, and I’m still trying to figure out what happened in chapter two. Each page-turn I fall a little farther behind, and lack the motivation to read along. So I watch tv. Because it is happy. Because it is easier. Because it is observing, rather than having to react myself.
I’m riddled with fear, with this deep sadness, sometimes, when I think about how this adventure continues on, and I’m not ready for it to do so. I’m content with the springtime, and yet the wind continues to steadily blow across the field. Who am I in the midst of this changing planet, this controlling government, this judgemental society? Who am I, that one little session of dusting or creating a website will add to an eternity of importance? What are my words that my viewpoint will help others carry on?
I’ve avoided writing lately. It’s the motivational thing, but also some other feelings of inadequacy that have been whispered into my ear as of late. I was wiping up the mud on my kitchen floor today, the mud my daughter tracked in after playing in the muddy backyard, after the plumbing guys had left the hose in the open back door, after which they had told me we would need a new hot water heater, after which we had found water seeping up in our bathroom. I was wiping up the mud by hand because the Swiffer vacuum is broken, and have been waiting for the next payday to get a new one because I didn’t see room in the budget to get one. It’s a good thing we didn’t have room for a $40 gadget. I’d sure hate to have to buy a new water heater or something.
And I thought, you know, I really want to be dramatic about this. I want to be depressed at how we have had to pay for a rushed passport, and a computer that the cable company broke and refuses to pay for; I want to be depressed that we will not get back the deposit from our apartment because of some silly miscommunications; I want to be depressed and dramatic because this whole new home-owner experience has been just as expensive as I expected.
But there’s a measure of sanity in the back of my mind that speaks the truth of, “God will provide.” Cast all your care on Him, because he cares about you. He doesn’t just care for me and my silly and expensive broken water heater, he cares about you and your dust bunnies, your sunny day, your bad choices, your sore back, your justified goals, your fears. He cares, and he has a plan.
I want to be dramatic about the many ups and downs on this rollercoaster ride. I want to sit back in silence and let the game play itself out. I want to have more money in the bank.
However, this adventure is more than dollars and cents. This adventure is a cliff-hanger, where the reader isn’t sure if the traveller will be required to dive into the deepest, darkest, underwater caves, or if this is the chapter of flashbacks to the good ol’ days. Is this the chapter where the audience gets a little insight into the protagonist, or is this the chapter where the protagonist gets thrown into the tar pit and has to fight off the monster alligator-dog?
Regardless, the protagonist has to endure it. Why? Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a very good adventure story.
"Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on him, because he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:6
I hear a lot about having humility. I think it’s a good practice. But I think there’s a fine line between having just enough, too little, or too much humility. Because I know God has a better plan than I can ever make, but he gave me this adventure so I can become a better version of myself. I can’t be timid, shy, or a quivering sack of dirt. I have to have grit, heart, and spunk. There has to be determination, tenacity, and guts. Who really wants the alligator-dog to win? I think the audience would rather see the under-dog win. Therefore I will remember that I am a character in the story, but one written into the story with purpose and creativity. Because He cares about me.
And remember, he cares about you, too. He has a mighty hand, a mighty plan. So if you have to scrape the dirt from your floor, on your hands and knees, wondering what kind of cents all of this makes, notice that you aren’t alone. And maybe the wind will whisper the promises of a steadfast Creator as you wipe. Use the grit and be refined as a more steadfast being. The chapter continues to play out, and sometimes the reader’s speed is breath-taking. But the Author controls the storyline. He will honor you; he will lift you out of the pit; he will fill you with peace; he will strengthen your character. Use this crazy adventure to become more like your Author. Maybe one day soon he will allow you to see more of his storyboard.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
Sara's Lemonade Stand