Prayer

As a new year begins, a thought to essentials seems appropriate. Prayer is essential for a zillion reasons.

Getting direction from God is the most obvious reason to pray, but probably also the most overlooked. By that I mean that many of us tell Him what we’re thinking, engaged in, worried about. Then we walk away without slowing to hear His responses.

But it can be worse. Throughout my life I have so often galloped into a good thing. When it came to me that I should have talked it over with God, I looked over my shoulder and said, “What do you think, God?” I have only recently realized that makes me guilty of the same thing as Satan. Wanting to be God. Darn it! And yet, because of His love for me and His grace, He longsuffered my ignorant self-interest. I wouldn’t say I’m real good at going to Him first yet, but at least I know I should and do sometimes. That’s the definition of success — heading in the right direction.

Another thing about prayer is that when we pray together, the sharing of each other’s concerns glues us together like nothing else. If the church wants unity, prayer is the answer.

God loves us beyond our understanding. He wants us to turn to Him, always. Any time of the day or night, anyplace. He wants to accept us as we are and give us a secure, purposeful, valuable relationship with Him. A relationship is hard to maintain if you don’t talk.

And finally, Jesus prayed and He taught us to pray, encouraged us. His life bought us freedom — doesn’t seem like much to ask in return. Have a great 2019.

silhouette image of person praying

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

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Life

How’s that for a broad subject? Perhaps a little narrowing is in order.

The older I get the more I think I don’t know anything about anything.  Now there’s the topic.

grayscale photography of person using phone

This is not me, but it could be.

I’m a writer, at least most days. Sometimes I get published, and sometimes I don’t. Am I still a writer when I don’t? Should I just smile and wash the dishes instead?  And since the Bible says what pleases God is when we love each other, care for widows, orphans, immigrants, and so on; are slow to anger, etc., does writing – or any other occupation – even matter? Maybe I should just smile and feed an orphan. I don’t know. My mentor, Ethel Herr, who now looks at Jesus face-to-face, said our books can reach love, acceptance, etc. to a whole lot more people than our small circles of influence. So if I glue my face to my computer and knuckle down, what happens to the hubs, the kids, the friends? Ecclesiastes even says the writing of books is endless.

Maybe it’s about balance. Except, my days can blow up in a phone call. Sometimes the writing bite is huge, and sometimes the relationship bite is huge. Wait, am I starting to see something here?

Or how about truth and grace? I used to think telling the truth could hurt the people I love or cause them to get real angry. So I didn’t bother with telling it, thinking I was giving them grace. I guess I have learned one thing. Grace isn’t grace without truth, and truth isn’t truth without grace. Only, now I have to figure out how to tell the truth in grace, and I don’t even think I’m capable of figuring that out. Wretched woman that I am.

Maybe what’s really going on is that my plans aren’t God’s plans, and my understanding of life, or any part thereof, is way smaller than God’s understanding. What to do? What if I consider interruptions, not interruptions, but redirecting from on high? But wait, am I just making excuses? What if when I don’t have a clue what to do, I ask God? What if He doesn’t answer? Reminds me of when the grownups used to say, “We’ll see.”

Okay, here I go again. I used to come up with great ideas and go into implementation phase before checking in with Him. I’d look over my shoulder, having left Him in the dust, and say something like, “What do you think, God?” He put up with that for a lot of years. Over time, I found myself confused and exhausted a lot. What’s the verse, “Come to Me, you who are weary,” etc.?  I finally noticed the “Come to Me” part of the verse. Take it from an old broad, it’s much better to check in first, get your marching orders, and then strike out.  If there are no marching orders, stay put. That’s easy. Writing this conclusion at Christmastime seems supremely appropriate, now that I think about it. Merry Christmas, every one!

Thanksgiving

man in white dress shirt and maroon necktie holding hands with girl in white dress

So we’ve got the controversy about whether the Pilgrims were the first Americans at all. And we’ve got the truth that without the Native Americans, the pilgrims would never have survived their first winter. And I bet, at the time, neither group gave a thought to who was first or who helped who. Because when you’re in a situation, you put one foot in front of the other and do what you think is right. It’s us who come later who decide you were a hero or a villain.

Here we are in 2018, putting our feet one in front of the other, trying to do what’s right or lamenting the fact that we’re totally incapable of figuring out what’s right, much less doing it.

I think, because we have so much input from all over the world, that we spend a good deal of our time overwhelmed. And that shuts us down. But at this Thanksgiving, I’m going to  blinder my gigantic screen, and narrow down to what I see in the real world. I think it will help me be more aware, and thus more outwardly focused.

I’m going to: challenge myself to love my neighbor, in my heart, but also with my actions;  take coats to the homeless as the weather here gets colder; check on the widows down the street;  slow and listen to people I love;  purposely hug people who don’t get touched often. And I’m going to thank God that He made me able to do these things, a weak woman, who He makes strong.

Late, Very Late, Midlife Crisis

flowers fun girl hat

It’s my sister’s fault. (Does this type look really small?)

So, she told me about this set up where you dress based on your personality. You do your hair and makeup that way, too. I took the test. OK, it hit me right on the money. It said I’m a crash bar person. I like to get on with it. True that.

So I watched the videos, and they made sense. So I cleaned out my closet and got some new colors of Crocs and styles of clothes. Then I got a new haircut that moves and changed my makeup away from old lady makeup. I feel good, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah. (Hear the song?)

People are saying, “Hey, you look good.” I’m responding, “I’m having a late midlife crisis.” I guess midlife really is determined by how long you plan to live. I do not plan to live to 140, so mine’s late.

Now, how much does this matter? It’s a good idea to put your best foot forward, and my foot is looking a lot nicer, especially in the dusty rose Crocs. However, I’m still me, a daughter of God, and inveterate crashbar person. I still put my pants on one leg at a time, albeit in deeply colored pants. I may, however, be loving my neighbor a little more than I used to because spending a little love on myself makes it easier to spend some on my buddies.

Thanks, Sistiyounger!

Platformitis

In these days of rampant technology, writers are being advised to build a platform. This platform, according to the experts, should include a blog – written daily, or at least weekly; and Facebook, Twitter, instagram and some other “presences” I don’t recall the names of, posted with even more regularity; as well as speaking on the subjects about which we writers write. (Do you know how long it takes to prepare to speak?)  I believe this platform-building steals the hope of good writing, especially for those who wish to improve their writing over the course of their lives. There are, after all, only twenty-four hours in one writer’s day, and we all do have to get the dishes done or take out the trash.

design desk display eyewear

Interesting that I’m wiritng this in my blog–kind of an oxymoron in progress. No, not really, though, because it serves to clean my brain of a rant. I’ll just add this. When I was writing nonfiction, research was my biggest “distraction.”  Time-consuming, but far less than my current writing life, then I could spend a fraction of my time on platform.

Now that I’m trying my hand at fiction, there are so many skills  to learn, skills that build on each other and require neverending practice.  This polishing of a writer’s writing should take priority over platform building. If it doesn’t, my writing stands a good chance of being lackluster, ill-conceived drivel.

I know, because I have read others’ who I imagine spent the time they could have polished their fiction — you guessed it, building platforms.

So what to do? Publishers want the platforms so that readers will be drawn in. Makes sense. Perhaps they should consider helping  authors create and maintain their platforms. Or maybe agents should assist with that job? Or perhaps the frequency doesn’t need to be daily or weekly. I’m just advocating for putting the most, best time into the writing.

Rant End.