Wednesday, November 30, 2011

50,238 words!

Yes, that's right. I've successfully made National Novel Writing Month my...well, I've blown the 50,000 word goal out of the water by a massive 238 words.
And the best part, this story--which isn't much past the half way point of the end novel--is still chugging along. There's a phenomenon called the sagging middle that writers must battle. No, it's not the physical result of too much time sitting still and eating brain food. It's where you get past the start of the book and you know where you want to end, but in between you sort of wander...slowly.
I'm happy to say that this story is firm as Fabio's airbrushed abs. I'm still in it, still loving it, still finding new problems and complications and weather patterns to hurl mercilessly at the characters. (This is a good thing.)
So, since I have never written an acknowledgments page, and won't for some time yet, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank God, the original storyteller, for sharing with us the part of himself that is creative, for this story in particular, for the time to write it, and for understanding family and friends who listen patiently when I ramble and don't get mad when I peace out to go write. Also, I'm thankful for Susan May Warren and her mad skills, who taught me how to write a taught, six-pack story. Also, to my brainstorm friends, Andrea Nell and Julia Matuska who helped me conjure fresh and really intense challenges that my poor characters must face. I could also thank the characters themselves, I suppose, for being brave and bold and soldiering on through challenges that rock them to their cores. I could, but I won't, because that would be weird....ahem.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

While I was out of town for Thanksgiving, winter showed up in Little Rock. I got home last night and turned the heater up to a comfortable 72. I live in a space roughly the size of a bread box, and the air system sounds like a giant humming when it runs. And still, it takes hours to get the temperature to go from 64 up to comfortable. Last night I was sitting in my red chair writing and the A/C was humming away, when a frosty silence fell upon the bread box.
I went to investigate, and the thermostat said, "Lo Bat," which, when translated, means, "It's about to get chilly up in here."
If I were a thermostat, I would give someone about twelve hours of notice before I quit my job. Me and my thermostat don't see eye to eye on this.
I woke up this morning with icicles on my lashes and two cat-pops on the bed. Okay, the cats didn't seem to notice, but my limbs felt like they'd been shot through with frozen rebar. The only part of me not immobilized was my snot glands.
Guzzling hot coffee and a scarf took the edge off, but it wasn't until after a Kroger run for double A's and those fire starter logs that things started to get good again.
As I thawed, with a cozy little blaze in the grate and the A/C giant humming a contented tune, I realized how glad I am to live in the era of central heating and air. If God had called me to live in a time or place where such luxuries weren't available, life would still be good, God would still be love, and I would still have gobs of things to be grateful for. But, today I'm so thankful for this in particular.
Thank you God for starter logs and the brilliant people who formulated them, for  hot coffee, sweatshirts, and most of all for central heat.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The last slice

It's a holiday weekend and I'm celebrating with the fam. You know it's going to be a good day when you have key lime pie for breakfast. I'm grateful for leftovers and that I beat grandma to the pie tin.

Monday, November 21, 2011

OKC in da hizouse

Tomorrow I get to work from home in OKC. I'm grateful for this for a number of reasons.
1) I've just snuck some nanowrimo words in under the line,thus I'm getting to bed late and I don't have to get up in time to do my hair.
2) I will wake up in a house where I'm not the only non-cat resident, so when I chit chat while I have my morning coffee, someone will respond.
3) I GET TO SEE MY FAMILY! Including my sister who has been overseas for 11 months. We've emailed and even Skyped but I've missed that third dimension.

So, thank you Jesus for family, for morning coffee time, and for hugs. And thank you for a job that can be so wonderfully flexible!!!  All my love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For the Love of Outerwear

I have this wool scarf that is pink and red striped, like a cinnamon candy cane. It's from the Gap and it's about ten years old.
I love it.
When I twined it around my neck this morning it didn't just keep me snug from the fall air, it made me feel snug on the inside, too. You see, this scarf and I had a moment ten years ago.
We've all been there, when you see something you just love from across a crowded room, or shopping mall, as the case may be. You're drawn close as if by some accident of gravity, and then comes that first touch. Hand on wool. It's the perfect width, you learn, to wrap your neck. It won't leave you exposed and it won't try to smother you, covering your mouth and nose. It's even two of your favorite colors. You'd given up on finding that.
Your needs, wants, and even desires you didn't know you had, all in one place.
And then you hold it close, look at the tag and...agony among agonies, it's too much. Sure, it seemed too good to be true. Because it was. Now you've gotten involved, felt the warmth of the perfect scarf, the way it molds to you, makes your whole countenance brighter--and your neck warmer--and you have to let go.
Why, oh why?
If only you'd never seen it. If only you'd peered in the Banana window instead of Gap. But now, every time you pass, your eyes will catch the cheerful colors and you'll remember. Your neck will feel the phantom warmth, and your soul will get cold.
Christmas shopping is a bittersweet mission now. You know while you're looking for the perfect set of moose slippers for your brother you'll see the scarf.  But that's nothing compared to the chill of seeing it pass by, coiled around the neck of another.
Then, after you've resigned yourself to a life a little frostier than you'd wish, a friend hands you a Christmas present.
A picture frame? Too light. A gift card to Starbucks? Too big.What, then?
And as the paper peels back and a navy Gap box appears, your heart accelerates. No. It couldn't be.
The top slides back and there, nestled in pristine white paper is the perfect combination of red and pink wool. It's more lovely than you remembered and it's yours. All yours.
You pull it free, loop it around your neck and it's like the separation never happened. As if the scarf knew too, that it was meant to be with you.
That was this scarf for me. It represents Christmas presents, favorite colors, generous friends, and happy endings. And I'm grateful for all of those things in one lovely package.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It is officially halfway through National Write a Novel Month and I'm meeting my goal! Twenty-five thousand eleven words of story. In fifteen days.

Thank you Jesus for inspiration, motivation, Starbucks, peppermint tea, and laptops. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


This weekend my lovely small group girls and I talked about the woman in Mark 5 who had been bleeding for twelve years before she approached Jesus. We were trying to get into her sandals, see what that whole experience would have been like. We talked about living a life if we were considered unclean, to have intense pain and spend all our money fixing it, yet continue to bleed.
It was kind of tough because for some of them, twelve years is their entire life. For me, not so much, but still. And also because in our day and age and in this set of girls, health is usually a given.
But as God would have it, that same day I was reminded of a relevant parallel. Though we may not bleed physically, there are times when we feel like our hearts are bleeding out. Things beyond my control have speared me and though I brace my hands across the wound, the blood of my soul wells between my fingers and drips into a wasted stain on the floor.
Though its probably not quite as icky as an actual trail of blood, it is still off-putting. No one wants to touch messy emotions, they might smear. It's not worth the risk of having someone else's grief stain their happiness. So not only do we stagger about in pain, but often in silence, too, in case those around would back away, lip curled, from the unclean woman.
But not always.
I am so blessed to have in my life people who will pull away my hands, examine the damage, and draw me toward the Healer. And He, through their loving hands, bandages that wound. Though it is not always--heck, not even often--a miraculous about-face in emotional well-being, it is hope nonetheless.
Thank you Jesus for the hearts you have shown me, for the comfort and hope and love you have poured into your people, and the generosity they show by pouring it out on others. May I be your bandaging hands to others. All my love

PS As it turns out I used all the welling emotion to pour into my nano piece, so it wasn't even wasted. I will take the anology no further because it could turn creepy really fast, but thank you, Jesus, for turning pain into positives, and sadness into plot.  All my love, still.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I just had to clean a litter box, which reminded me how truly grateful I am for indoor plumbing.

I just nanowrimo-ed for a few hours, so this is all the words I have to spare today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Side Effects

Its the start of week 2 of Nanowrimo. The words are adding up day by day, the story is emerging, and the characters are evolving. It's amazing and challenging and fun.
And super hard work.
Which makes me think of all the other work I need to do. Like dishes, laundry, and as a responsible pet owner its my duty to love on my pets. When all that is done, I'm ready. But wait, no. There's something else that needs to be done. I'm sure of it.
Ah, yes. That gym membership I have. I've been meaning to use it.
There is a possibility, slight though it may be, that I procrastinate. But, as a result I've done more running in the last week than I did in the prior month combined. I won't say I love running because that would be a falsehood. But, I do love that feeling you get when you finish. Like you can do anything. Like the world is your treadmill and you can take at any speed you like. It definitely gives me more oomph for writing.
I'm pretty sure the movement helps me process, too. So, while my muscles gets stretched and strengthened, my mind gets a creative work out. It makes me remember why I bought the membership in the first place--fitness feels good.
Today I'm grateful for the gym and endorphins, for my story, and for the strange connection between mind and body so that I can justify my time working out as brainstorming.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

5,055 lively words

I fell a little bit in love today. It's the third day of National Write a Novel Month, or Nanowrimo. This means I and all my other story-o-philes who are taking the challenge will bust out at least 50,000 words of a story before December first. 
Um, can you say daunting?
It didn't help that day one was, oh, laborious. On day one,my head was trying to squeeze a large quantity of words out and it just wasn't coming. I got a head cramp. I had to push and push and push, and finally a messy blob emerged. I've never actually given birth, but I imagine this is the mental equivalent of it. I still had a headache when I woke up on day 2.
What have I done, I thought? I've overthought the story. My plot is dead. My characters refuse to speak to me. I know there's a golden story in there, but I can't have it!
What followed was some wallowing, some gnashing of teeth, and a whole lot of prayer. I talked to God and I got all my peeps to talk to God on my behalf.
And then it happened. God, the Resurrector, breathed life into it. I sat down on Day 2 and words came. Good ones! And today, more words!
More than that, I lived the scene with my characters. I saw them, heard them, felt with them. I developed a little crush on the hero.
I'm grateful for story, for words, and for a God who is the Resurrection and the life, both for me, and for our story.

PS I'm about to eat a pizza with seven cloves over garlic on it. Okay, maybe only six. But either way, I'm glad that I'm not going to see anyone until tomorrow, or God might have another body on his hand to reanimate.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What is she doing here?

I lead a small group of incredibly awesome 7th grade girls-- shout out to the Lil' Yaks! (long story on the name...) Last week we talked about Mary of Bethany.  To prepare I used Logos to read the passage through, looked at a commentary, and then looked at the passage in the original Greek translated word by word--shout out to Logos! 
I just adore this passage.  Here you have a woman who's robe was probably low cut. She shows up at a house of the spiritual and social leader on the night of a dinner. The house is full of important dudes in big hats. Their wives probably were there in a separate part of the house passing around stories of her sins as she walked by. Mary's heart is pounding, I bet. She makes eye contact with no one as she works her way through the crowd. It was probably pretty easy, since none of them wanted to touch her, well, in public anyway.
Then she sees Him. The first man who's ever looked her in the eye. Who doesn't glower and leer depending on who else is around. Who looks on her with a pure love and isn't ashamed to be caught smiling at this "sinner." The first man who wants only her soul, but oh how he treasures that. He sees loveliness her her personhood.
And that is worth anything. How do you tell someone how much they mean to you? You give them your best. All men have wanted is access to her body parts. All this man wants is for her to sanctify them before God, to honor Him by keeping herself only unto her Lord. Pure. To be the woman He sees in her. So what do you give him? How do you show that you're madly in love in the most righteous sense possible? That you understand that things are not "sinful" or "righteous," but the way they are used is?
You take something used in your trade, the perfume you wore to lure men, and you offer it for a holy purpose. You give it all up for him. To him.
It's no wonder she started to, as the Greek word says, "rain" tears on Jesus' feet. For the first time since she was little, perhaps, her soul is coming up for air. It's a beautiful image.
And, if I'm honest, an awkward one.
The raw intimacy of it all is astounding. How on earth did she do it? I mean I don't like to cry in public. I close my eyes to worship so I won't consider what others think about my raised hands. I've thought about kneeling in service, but people might stare. And here we find Mary, hunched over the feet of Jesus as He eats, surrounded by people who openly disdain her, and she's raining on him, tears and kisses, wiping his feet with her hair and pouring the whole bottle of scent, perhaps one familiar to some in attendance, over his feet.
I think she didn't see them. The others, I mean. I think she hurried past them until she found Jesus and then....ah, then He was all she saw. Jesus was her focus and the rest were lost in a blur of tears. The two of them there, in the middle of a room, showing each other pure and boundless love.
Mary, in her emotional, expressive response, is honoring her Lord and declaring her faith.
There is often a debate over the truest form of worship--is it emotional or intellectual. I think we all agree it has elements of both, but perhaps the truest form of worship isn't the same for all people. For the centurion who came, faith was demonstrated in his trusting of Jesus to heal without being present. For Peter, it was the knowledge and a willingness to say, "You are the Christ." And for Mary, it was an act born of an overwhelming emotion too big for words. So big it needed to be physically expressed.
I just love that.
I love that our God who made us knows that our hearts beat differently, and thus respond differently to Him. I love that He is too big for one form of worship. I love that He finds glory in the awkward, the mundane, the bold. My God, my dear Lord, oh my heart stirs for you. Give me that moment when you and I love and the world fades away. I so want more of you.  All my love.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

They have what?

I took my two kittens to the vet today for a matching set of runny eyes. I'm thinking pink eye of the feline variety.
Herpes. Of the feline variety.
I'm thankful today that kitties diseases are not communicable to people.
Very, very, thankful.