November Whirlwind

A dizzying whirlwind of laughter, tears, and craziness… that’s how I would describe November.

In October, I released a short story on Amazon, submitted the first few pages of book one to a contest, and blissfully anticipated a quiet November, where most of my time would be dedicated to suctioning out the first draft of book two. But my plans were not God’s plans.

November became a month for life-altering changes: deaths, a birth, a new job, and planning a move back to my home state.  Beautiful and haunting moments filled with intermittent flashes of grief, joy, and a deeper appreciation for family and the people with which we choose to spend our limited time on Earth.

My heart aches for all those facing empty chairs and empty beds this Christmas.

Celebrate every tiny measure of joy with those you hold dear and when the rain comes, splash in the puddles, throw your head back and twirl in the downpour. God’s got you.

 


Transform or Conform

None of the following thoughts were in my head until, a few weeks ago. I came across an article about Francis Chan leaving his church and the reasons behind his decision.  For some, his leaving is old news, it happened in 2010, but for me, it wasn’t.  I had no idea until I came across that article and started to dig.  God reveals in His own perfect timing.

Here’s a video where he discusses it in detail.

Francis Chan’s words stayed in my mind, a seed planted.  As the seed began to germinate, I noticed things that I didn’t notice before.  (Partly, because God put me in a position with a clearer view.)  What I saw was a lot of people working for God, in some capacity, but they were being starved of the bread of life.  Some were aware of the effects but others, long deprived, weren’t.   These people were working for God, but their focus was no longer on God.  Deceived, they had gotten caught up in the machines of this world, applying the same practices as secular organizations in an effort to compete.  Instead of being transformed by the Gospel, they were conforming to the world, one step at a time.

This led me to question what else might be happening and the impact on other Christian organizations, both big and small.  Should Christian organizations operate the same as their secular counterparts? Aren’t we just recreating the what the world is doing, only labeled as Christian?  Adding a daily prayer session and Biblically centered training is a step in deviating from the world’s ways, but it is only a step. Shouldn’t everything we do be transformed by the Gospel as we grow closer to God?  Why do we assume that excludes business practices and church operations?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.  Only God knows the answers.

Please don’t think I am condemning any particular person or organization.  I’m not.  I am also not telling anyone to do anything.  I am sharing my thoughts and asking questions.  You want directions, seek God.

We are ALL SINNERS in a FALLEN WORLD.  I am a sinner.  You’re a sinner.  They’re sinners.  ALL OF US.  We are in this together.  Let’s own our ugly, sinful nature so we can confess it and let God transform us and all that we do for His glory.

Let’s open our Bibles and pray.

Update: Francis Chan’s Multiply Movement with David Platt details >>


Divine Failure

I thank God for my failures.   Each has changed me in some way.   Yes, the experience can be challenging, even painful.  But, ever so often, it becomes clear it was necessary and, yes, a blessing.

I received a professional critique of my first manuscript at the Minnesota Writer’s Workshop back in February.  In short, the idea was good, but the execution was not.  I had created more problems than I had solved with my initial revisions.

Why was that a good thing?   I had sensed a deeper problem in the first draft, but my lack of experience made it difficult to pinpoint. The problem evaded me at every turn.

As I dug into the notes from the critique, it became apparent that the problems went beyond the surface.  There were underlying structural issues within the novel.  It forced me to put the manuscript aside and approach it anew.

Doing a third rewrite was daunting.  But in the end, it transformed the storyline in amazing ways.

I have an opportunity to pitch the revised manuscript at an upcoming conference.  My days for the next month will be filled with editing, critiques, one-sheets, proposals, and prayers, lots of prayers.

I know God is with me, and this is the path He set for me, but that doesn’t guarantee success or an easy road.  Sometimes it’s just about the journey, the ways it changes you and the people around you.

Thank you, Lord, for my failures and hardships and for being with me every step of the way.