Monday, February 27, 2006

Onward Ho!

I've been a little...unfocused lately. Sadly, I am deadline driven and without a deadline, I've been aimless and fairly unproductive. And yes, I've tried the "give myself a deadline" thing but really, I know that it's just me giving the deadline and my boss-self has been way too lenient on my employee-self - allowing long lunch breaks, unfettered access to the Internet and afternoons spent only reading e-mail.

It's all gotten completely out-of-hand.

But yesterday one of my Act One friends came to have lunch with me. What a breath of fresh air! I don't know what it is about communicating ideas "out loud" that energizes me so much, but it does. I've been struggling with a piece (that's code for "not working on") and in the midst of the conversation I randomly mentioned an idea I had last year for a movie. She loved it and the more I thought about it the more excited I became. I feel more confident tackling this new story than I did the other. (Especially after the Horrible Review of my last screenplay). It's an idea that is commercial and could work well.


Here's the best part.

We've set minimum goals before we met again. While my boss-self will be lenient with my employee-self, I draw the line at humiliating myself for not having done something that I agreed to do. There are some areas that a little bit of pride can help in the productivity department!

So I have a new movie to work on. A deadline to complete the treatment and outline. And a sense of excitement for telling a new story.

Amazing what one lunch can do!

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Jonah day

I love Anne of Green Gables. No seriously, here. I wore out my set of VHS tapes a long time ago. I have been hinting around about the DVD's to my husband. (If you're reading this honey, then I've officially moved beyond hinting and am crossing over into the begging stage) So far, no DVD version. He's got a good heart but is not always so great at the hinting thing. I identify with Anne in too many ways to go into today.

Well, in Anne of Green Gables, she has a terrible day when she dies her hair green and gets teased and gets in trouble at school and when she describes it, she says it's been a "Jonah Day". I've always loved that. Sometimes we think of Jonah as an example of someone who was disobedient to God (which he was) but overlook the fact that he really had a no good, very bad day.

I haven't been having a Jonah day really, more like a Jonah year. When all sorts of things just keep going wrong. Little things. And big things. It started back when my Dad died of pancreatic cancer within three weeks of his diagnosis and went on from there. While that was the most painful thing to happen, I've had more than my share of moments when I just wonder where God has gone.

Yes, I said that.

Now I know God hasn't GONE anywhere. He was with me, even when I don't feel it, and even when I can't see or hear the answers to my prayers. He is with me in the waiting.

But to be quite honest, it doesn't always feel that way. It's sunny outside today and I'm not feeling down or depressed (despite the fact that I ate a doughnut this morning - again - that would need it's own post). The Bible talks about "when you've done all. Stand." And that's where I am at this moment. Just standing, knowing to whom I belong. Sure of my place. And completely not getting what the heck is going on! How long Oh Lord, before you rescue me?

One of our biggest struggles in the past year has been financial. It would actually be comical if it weren't so scary! We'd breathe a sigh of relief at an unexpected blessing only to watch it go right out the door with an equally unexpected bill. Over and over again. One step forward, two steps back, and never feeling like we can get ahead of the mess.

But while I'm standing, I also have this undeniable sense of...anticipation. That MUST be God at work because I have no reason to feel that way. I've been praying and expecting things to change for a long time and I'm still here. Yet, the anticipation niggles at me, makes me smile unexpectedly, even though nothing has actually changed.

Our Deliverer IS coming. (And I have this sudden urge to watch all six hours of Anne Of Green Gables.) Jonah eventually got spit out of the belly of the whale, and hopefully we will too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Go Figure!

I've been watching figure skating since I was a little kid. I remember when Kristi Yamaguchi wowed crowds and went on to watch the Tonya-Nancy debacle. I've see Michelle Kwan grow from an awkward little girl to a beautiful woman.

I love everything about it. The artistry, the music, the athleticism.

Last night was the ladies short program. I still don't truly understand the new scoring system, but whether it's 6.0's or numerical scores, the short program still counts a great deal towards winning, and sasha came out in (barely) first place.

All three of the American ladies went out there and gave solid performances. But Sasha Cohen was nearly perfect out there. Sasha has a little diva history - changing coaches, being difficult at times, a flair for the dramatic - but I think that's why I enjoy her so much.

She's got a lot of talent and has always brimmed with potential, but has never been able to quite reach the heights that ice skating fans all know she's capable of. Her career has been filled with near-wins, and she has often played the bridesmaid, just never the bride. It could be her time to shine. But not because anything in the competetion has changed, or even because she's not up against Michelle Kwan - but because she's changed.

She said in a news piece last night that, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten." It's a quote (Anthony Robbins) but boy is it ever true.

How many times have we wanted things to be different than they are?

And how often are we willing to make the changes that could effect a real change?

I know that's something I struggle with. I say I want things to be different, but do I do what it takes to change them?

And if I don't - then what does that say about what I really want?

So, tomorrow, I'll be rooting for Sasha - that her newfound maturity will reap real rewards. At a time when the whole nation will be cheering for her.

Maybe that's what I need to change - a cheering section and a fan club....hmmmmm

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Of Grandmas and Movies

I just finished watching the movie "In her Shoes". I always love to try to catch these adaptations to see how they move the story to the screen.

But I wasn't prepared for something.

In the movie, the younger sister discovers she has a grandmother that she's never met, then flies down to meet her.

The strange thing is, I have a grandmother I've never met as well.

I don't think about it very much. I never even knew she existed until several years ago partially because I didn't know my dad was adopted until I was in college. He just never mentioned it. Then when I got married, he decided to hire someone to find his biological family. They did and he met them, even found out he has some half siblings.

His father had died years before, but for some reason, my sister and I were never introduced to our grandmother.

Maybe she didn't want to meet us.

My family has serious communication issues sometimes and the subject just never came up. Maybe it was painful for my dad to face or perhaps he felt rejected all over again. Whatever it was, we never met her and now my dad is gone.

I would be the one that would have to pursue it if I'm ever to find anything out.

Sometimes the unknown is a safer reality to live in. But tonight, I'm wondering who this woman is. Does she ever think about me?

Is it a door that should be opened? Or one that should remain closed?

I just don't know...

Thursday, February 16, 2006


As a watcher of reality shows -
(I know, I know. I won't even take the time to defend myself)
I often get very discouraged with the Christians that show up on these shows. Instead of being excited to see a Christian representative, I tend to cringe and watch squinting through one eye and I bet you all know why.

Because most of the time Christians get on these shows and act like idiots. No, Christians are not perfect, yada, yada yada, but I'm "not perfect" at home with people who care about me, and that I can personally apologize to when I mess up. I take issue with Christians who go on TV, spout the name of Christ, and then proceed to be the most embarrassing type of ambassadors. Ones that actually make me feel embarrassed FOR God. I know God can handle it and this is just yet another reason why He is God and I am not.

The family edition of the Amazing Race had the Florida team who were constantly talking about God, yet they're saying mean things, being snarky, throwing stuff out of windows, you get the point. They said people din't like them because they were Christians. Not exactly - people didn't like them because they were obnoxious.

But last night - wow! A beautiful black woman named Mandisa came on TV and shined the light of Christ in a beautiful and authentic way. Simon had made a joke about her size during the auditions saying that "we'll need a bigger stage". Well, you will Simon, but not because of the size of her body, but because of the size of her heart. She same into the room where they were doing the final cuts and lovingly told Simon that he hurt her because of what he had said and that she had cried. But that she chooses to forgive him because if her savior Jesus Christ can forgive her of her sins than she can certainly forgive someone else whether or not they said they were sorry.

Simon did, in fact, apologize later, but wow! I was beyond thrilled to see someone walk out Biblical Christianity right there on American Idol. Such humility, such gentleness and such a great witness. Christians get hurt - but we are meant to respond differently than the world. And she did.

So way to go Mandisa - you'll be getting my votes. I'm just glad you've got the voice to be a real contender in the contest.

(Though to be perfectly fair, I have several people I'm keeping an eye on and I've never actually voted on American Idol. I may have to change that this year, but by voting I'm actually admitting to - well - the phone company - that I do in fact watch the show.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Winter Bugs

I'm writing again today and I have to tell ya - it feels good. I'm working on two fun projects as I await word on what my next...paid project...might be.

I find that there is a rhythm with me and writing...and me and everything else. When I get used to doing something, I find it easier to keep doing it, then to stop and then start again.

For example. I had a great exercise routine going and then the kids got sick, then I got sick...and after a couple of weeks of not doing it, it just seemed easier to keep not doing it. For days now I've been thinking - "I have to get back to it, I have to get back to it." Today, I finally did. I know that I have to create that rhythm again, and keep it going.

It's the same thing with writing. With no deadline looming over my head I find myself scattered, wasting time on random things that when put together don't add up to much of anything.

But the last few days, I've been tackling my new novel, a little bit everyday - it feels good to be moving forward on something again. Back in the rhythym of writing.

And honestly - I think we also have to find our rhythm with God as well. Frankly, when the "baby season" began, my quiet times never looked the same again. I still have an almost three year old at home with me - and I still get very little actual alone time. I think God has grace for us moms - knowing that prayers and laundry and making dinner just somehow have to fit all together. But lately, I've been craving some alone time with God - with no distractions and no one asking me to make them some juice. I've gotten out of that habit simply because of the reality of my life. But as my kids grow older, I have to adjust, to make changes, and I sense one coming. That season of grace has turned into a sense of God calling me back to Himself.

Now I just need to be obedient enough to follow through. And make sure my little prayer closet is ready for those moments that will surely come my way.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Not on the list

After weeks of anticipation...and praying...I pulled up the Kairos Prize site and was horrified to find that the semi-finalists had been announced. Since no one had contacted me, I already knew my name would not be on the list. But I scrolled through anyway, looking at the titles of screenplays that were obviously better than mine.

What did they write about?

What did I miss?

What was wrong with mine?

The thoughts tumbled around. It brought me back to the day of tryouts for Grease, our high school musical. I had paid my dues for two years singing in the chorus, I was ready for a part. Yet that day as I scanned the cast list for my name, I found it missing from that list as well. I wasn't even in the chorus.

All dressed up for a ball I'm not invited to.

It's all the harder because I really believed I was supposed to enter. I don't usually enter contests. But when I read about this one I had that sense inside me that I was supposed to write this screenplay, supposed to enter it. I did write the screenplay, I did enter it. And now - it's over? It just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm not sure what bothers me more, not making the cut, or feeling like I missed God's voice somehow.

Sitting here, it doesn't make any sense. In this temporal place, I cannot see the grand design God is working. Could I have just missed God? Sure. I'm a fallible human being after all. Perhaps my own hopes and dreams went out ahead of God. Or did God really tell me to do it? Maybe. Maybe He did, knowing something that I don't know yet. Maybe it was simply a lesson on obedience. Or a challenge to my faith to believe in Him, His voice, no matter what the circumstances say.

I could let this stop me. It's probably exactly what the enemy would prefer I do. I could give in to all those whispers of "You're a failure" and "You just don't measure up."

I could, but I won't.

I don't understand it. At all. But sometimes we have to roll with the punches and trust that God can see the big picture well enough to navigate us through the disappointments.

Meanwhile - well, I have a novel to work on...and kids to hug...and a life to live that is not valuable because of anything I do or don't do - but simply because I am His and He is mine.

For today, that has to be enough.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

An Itch that must be Scratched

I belong to a lot of Yahoo e-mail groups. It's sad really and I'm not sure what I did with my time when I wasn't compulsively checking e-mail and reading discussions about all sorts of topics. All that to say I felt the need to ponder one of the discussions that came up this week.


Ha-ha, yes, I know I'm a writer but lately very little of my time has been spent actually writing. I've been searching the Internet, writing up informational letters, compiling stuff for my writers group - and obsessively checking my e-mail - but no real writing.

I do try and market. I really do. I even went to my local Borders in the beginning of the year to talk to them about a booksigning. They seemed interested, gave them all my information and...nothing. I send out letters - not mass spam or anything - but specifically targeted stuff and...nothing. I work on my website and...nothing.

I really don't feel like anything I do makes one bit of difference. In fact, the only reason that I'm even worried about my book sales is because those numbers will follow me around like a scruffy, smelly homeless dog. And frankly, I just want to keep writing books. I'm just not a numbers girl. When I got into this publishing thing, I said that if my books affect just one girl out there then it will have all been worth it. Well, I've heard from dozens upon dozens of girls whose lives have been changed by God through Beka's story.

I mean wow! That's God at work. It has nothing to do with me. And it has all been worth it.

But I feel this....pressure. Pressure about the bottom line. Pressure about earning out. Pressure that I should be out there marketing more, traveling around to bookstores, letting everyone know about the books. Yet, I hate doing that stuff. Do you know how hard it was to actually even talk to Borders about a booksigning? And now I have to go follow-up? Ugh. I'd rather have my teeth drilled.

Some things I love to do. I love doing interviews - but hate trying to set them up for myself. I love speaking - but hate trying to let groups know I'm available.

I wish I could just write.

And that led me this weekend to a strange epiphany. I really just want to write. I'm a mom. With three very little kids. I'm a wife. I have a home to take care of. And a church to serve at. That leaves me, what, an hour, maybe two, left to actually write in. I can only do so much. I won't ignore an open door for marketing, but I feel like I need to shake this pressure off of me. To relax and trust God with the results. I'd have to hire a full-time staffer to do all that I "think" I should do. And since that's in the realm of fantasy, I have to be content with what I realistically can do.

I was digging through my files today and ran across a book I started almost two years ago. And while I'm waiting on a word from my agent about what will happen next, I'm going to tackle this book again. I feel that drive again, that sense of purpose. It's what I feel I'm really supposed to be doing.

It's a challenging novel - different from anything I've ever done. And that puts me at the mercy of God to show up and write with me. God, I'll type it if you'll write it. And that's a good place to be.

The rest of it? Well, I feel like the last twelve months of my life have come down to two simple words from the Lord: Trust Me. So that's what I choose to do.

Here's to writing!