The Comfort Zone

The Comfort Zone

Maven and I can hang. We’re comfy sitting in the same room, with her lounging on one end of the sofa and me on the other, reading, writing, drawing. We share the same space, if not the same orbit, without saying a word to each other. All alone…together. The Earth and Mars. Sadly, there hasn’t been much tent pitching around here this week. She’s had to go out a lot for classes, field trips, museum visits, Bible study, and play dates, and I’ve been spinning crazily right there alongside her. It’s all good stuff, and it satisfies the needs of the extroverted among us. Maven and I, on the other hand are done, physically and emotionally. The sofa is surely calling our name. But God has been calling us by our full name, like what my mama uses when she really wants my attention. He knows how I like my comfort zone. I’m productive there. And my voice and index finger work quite well from there—there’s even wi-fi. But if He’d left me in my comfort zone I never would’ve had seven children, I wouldn’t be homeschooling, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful—and not-so-wonderful—people in my life, I wouldn’t be counseling other homeschool moms, I would never have tried hummus, I wouldn’t have ridden a horse up a mountain while holding an infant, I wouldn’t have been inspired to work on another book. I wouldn’t have had the courage or the means to tell you all about any of this. Perhaps God is calling you to step out of that safe place, to start traveling in different circles,...
Dotting Every “i”

Dotting Every “i”

My little people know all about my penchant for pointing out important things like missing commas, double negatives, redundancy, and the oft-misused “I/me” in both the written and spoken word. I’m glad to crawl out from under my rock to discuss all things book and writing related. When you cut me, my blood flows red—not just because of the interaction between oxygen and iron, but from the abundance of red flowing from my pencil. I think I’m drawn to writing because it’s something I think I can control and that’s why I’m so frustrated by the rejection (but that’s a subject for another time). Today was no different—until it was. I had just spent almost thirty minutes talking about writing and the publishing industry with a young woman, a self-professed atheist, who I see from time to time. I encouraged this young poet, advising her how to apply for copyright protection, looking up writing contests for her to submit to, volunteering to edit her work, and reading and listening to her verses, when the Lord nudged me. “What about Me? You should talk to her about Me. Trying to set a good example is not enough.” “But…but I don’t want to offend her. I don’t know how to bring that up. I’m not sure about the right way to initiate that conversation and I don’t want to turn her off with my ineptitude.” (Okay, maybe I didn’t use ineptitude with God, but you get the picture.) He and I engaged in that way for a minute or two before I simply got up the gumption, swallowed, and said, “Is...
Jesus Took the Wheel

Jesus Took the Wheel

Do you think it’s possible to take both your common sense and your navigation program along for the ride? Sometimes, I wonder. Saturday night we packed up everybody and then some for a family movie night in the park. We had to take two cars because of the extra little people with us, so armed with my trusty Maps app and a truck filled with the nine-years-old-and-younger group, I led the way. Forty-five minutes and sixteen miles later… Now, only God knew where we were headed—and I mean that literally, because basically all I had was the name of the park. But after pressing a few buttons—voila!—I had an address and several routes to choose from. I opted for the shortest distance and rejected the shortest time, figuring I could make up minutes on the back roads and avoid possible traffic on the busier ones. Well, after almost an hour on the twisty-turniest route possible I was more than a little stressed. For one, Hubby had dubbed me fearless leader and I’d hoped to show off my navigation skills. Secondly, I was getting tired of questions like “When are we going to get there?” and “What time did it start?” and “Did we lose Daddy?” Finally, and most important, we were meeting new friends who hadn’t yet been exposed to my love-hate relationship with the clock. I wanted to make a good impression and also give our families time to connect before the movie. Brown Sugar and crew certainly had the right idea with their backseat rendition of “Open the Clouds,” because I definitely needed God to shine down...
The Rock in a Hard Place

The Rock in a Hard Place

The little people and I have been studying Numbers, and there’s been a lot of head shaking going on. We just want to reach back and take our spiritual brothers and sisters by the hand and—in the words of M&M—exclaim, “Seriously?” Over and over they doubt the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; God Who kept Moses afloat on the Nile and safe in the desert; God Who plagued Pharaoh who enslaved them and parted the Red Sea that blocked them; God Who led them by pillar and cloud; God Who rained down manna and meat and fed them with His spoken Word. It’s hard to believe they would let a few tall people stand between them and the grapes, pomegranates, and milk and honey flourishing in the land that God promised them. But then again, maybe not. I stumbled over a mirror while wagging my finger and shaking my head. All I needed was a pair of dusty sandals and a staff; otherwise, I was quite indistinguishable from those unbelievers. I can hear myself now, sounding like Anne Baxter in The Ten Commandments: “Moses, Moses! Surely you didn’t give up all of Egypt only to face those giants!” Yes, I see giants everywhere in my life: at the doctor’s office, in my datebook, at work, on the scale, in the laundry room, on college applications, and in rejection letters. They attend my homeschool co-op, sign all my rejection letters, and utter, “What if..?” and “Maybe…” and “But…” in booming voices. When I’m in that moment my goal seems impossible, insurmountable, and unachievable because I’m not strong enough, fast enough, social...
Good Intentions

Good Intentions

“I wish you would…” I think every Southern mama knows what that phrase means. As a child I remember hearing, “I wish you would roll your eyes” or “…say another word” or “…walk out that door” or “I wish I would let you go to that party.” We all knew exactly what she meant: we’d better straighten up and fly right. Mama certainly meant for me to keep my eyes looking straight ahead, button up my lips tight and in a hurry, and stay right where my feet were planted. And surely, she wasn’t letting me attend anybody’s party. I use that phrase in my manuscript, and an editor once questioned its meaning. She didn’t get that it was an implied threat; that there was an “or else” running deep through those words. Needless to say, that particular editor wasn’t interested. (And I wish I would omit that scene.) As for me, I don’t use those particular words of my Mama’s much in my day-to-day parenting—I’ve got my own elliptical, yet meaningful go-to phrases. One in particular—the topic of recent discussion—usually follows outcries like, “But…I didn’t mean to spill the water!” “I didn’t mean to lose my book!” “I didn’t mean to miss trash collection!” And so on and so on. My response? “Then mean not to.” Believe me, my little people have provided me scads of opportunities to use this winner, but recently, Songbird finally admitted she didn’t get it. What does it mean to “mean not to do” something? I explained that it means to be intentional. Be purposeful. Watch what you’re doing. Meaning not to do something...
Saved and Sound

Saved and Sound

I was lost. I searched everywhere. Maybe the real me was thinner, wore contacts, painted her face, and got her hair done regularly. But when I presented this missing persons photo to others they replied, “Nope, I’ve never seen her before. The woman we know homeschools—where are her acid-washed mom jeans, head bands, and glasses? So, my hunt continued. “Look within,” one corner of the world counseled. “Meditate.” But no amount of humming, zoning, or internalizing helped me find my hiding place. “Keep yourself busy! Speak it—you—into being!” the other corner preached, but my frenzied activities and whirling dervish imitation only kicked up a dust storm, further obscuring myself from view. I could only “see in a mirror, dimly…” (1 Corinthians 13:12) For a while I used my book and my website to mount a search party; I could be there and here at the same time. I wrote and re-wrote hundreds of pages of fiction, posted week after week, and entered one writing contest after another, hoping to ferret out myself through the hunting lenses of others, but I couldn’t read myself between the lines. My work. I just knew it would be there I’d find “me.” After all my complaining about not having time for myself or room to breathe, I just knew I’d open my computer and out I’d spring, like a flesh-and-blood Jill-in-the-box. What emerged instead were frustrations, missed deadlines, rejection letters, and time wasted on unseen eyes and ears. Retreat! Submit! Time for this angel to look homeward. Surely if I manipulated my seven little pieces I would somehow win the Where’s Mommy? game....