I’ll Tell You What’s So Amazing

What’s So Amazing About Graceyou ask? Sweet Moses! Got a year?

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There are some questions we humans don’t even realize we have percolating in our hearts. That is, until we are confronted with the monotony of day-to-day living and we begin to wonder what else there is out there.

Right?

Have you hit that wall yet?

Because, I remember that wall.

It hurt.

At the time I slammed into it, I wasn’t interested in answering The Big Questions. I was, however, interested in scaling those walls. For some reason, I never chose the easy way. Skinned knees and a bruised heart were what met my attempts to climb it.

And author Philip Yancey is genius at distilling answers to life’s biggest questions down to the studs. What’s important?

Love. Love is always the most important.

And once Love found me, I became consumed by the Grace that came with it; both taken in and given out. Considering myself a sinner, and chief among them, I couldn’t get enough of God’s undeserved but freely given grace.

Yancey was the author who famously penned,

“God loves people because of who God is, not because of who we are.”

Indeed!

If you haven’t heard that yet, I’ll give you a minute. Because, truth.

Nothing, and I mean not a thing this side of heaven, will be able to keep you from God’s love and grace, once you want it. It’s like discovering a devil dog dispensary. Once you know it’s there, you can’t help but go back again and again.

And, in this very year, where election politics and race politics and gender politics are tearing at peace like a dog after a bone, I find so much of what Yancey wrote in this book to be a comfort. And a reminder.

“Politics draws lines between people; in contrast, Jesus’ love cuts across those lines and dispenses grace.”

I want to keep cutting across lines, like Jesus did. And I want others to keep cutting across lines toward me, too. Despite writing this book fourteen years ago, the problems Yancey calls attention to – the human problems we all experience – remain the same.

“Religious faith—for all its problems, despite its maddening tendency to replicate ungrace—lives on because we sense the numinous beauty of a gift undeserved that comes at unexpected moments from Outside.”

Lots of us feel “outside” an issue, these days. Grace reaches the hand across and says, “Love,” instead. I’ll tell you what’s so amazing about grace, it’s the outstretched hand.

I like that very much.

I need that even more.

And I always will.

Yes indeedy.

Well well well, this is the last book. I missed yesterday as our sweetgirl came down with a nasty case of Strep. But, I appreciate the grace to finish. If you missed any of the other books I named in this Best Books Ever series that I wrote for the Write 31 Days Challenge, click the button below and check them out. And thank you for hanging out with me (almost) each day in October. 

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Please, Just Don’t

Forget about truth being stranger than fiction, truth is way funnier. It almost always is. And Jean Kerr wrote brilliantly about her truth as a mom. Originally a playwright, Kerr also wrote magazine essays. She parlayed those into books. And she sure had a keen talent for highlighting the laughter in the mundane. I like her style.

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Please Don’t Eat the Daisies was, for me, a perfect example of how our lives are the perfect material for any piece of art we have the desire to create. Whether it’s the feelings that accompany the varied life circumstances that are universal, or the cast of characters who are almost always by our sides (again, universally), a mom-writer will never be short of ideas if they look down about 20 inches to the nearest child.

The thing about humor writers like Betty Macdonald, Shirley Jackson, Erma Bombeck, and Jean Kerr is that they inspire me. For any woman desperately seeking time to mother, wife, and foster a writing career, these women modeled a way. They just took family-life experiences and mined them for gold.

Life is messy and parenting is tornado-level messy, but with quotes like these, I feel mollified when I must loudly proclaim things like, “Don’t lick the mirror!” Because, ew! And please, just don’t.

“The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.”

Truth? Yes indeedy.

Enjoying the books I’ve chosen in my Write 31 Days Challenge series of the Best Books Ever? Missed a few days? Click the button below!

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For the Birds

Reading words that you’ve painstakingly written down on paper or typed out, can be exhilarating. And those same words can flow out of a mind like a waterfall. But also? They can dry up like a creek bed in a drought.

Sometimes, I think to myself, “Writing is for the birds!”

It turns out, it only takes one.

Bird, that is.

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Inspiration is hard to find when the words aren’t there. Or the discipline to just get in the chair and bleed onto the page up and walks out the door. One book I can return to again and again for the proper motivation is Bird by Bird Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott.

Alternating between the drill-sergeant mentality to just get your butt in the chair and write at the same time every day, and the empathetic friendly advice to ‘take it bird by bird’, Lamott inspires. And she expertly provides tools and examples for exactly how to do it.

She also provides laughter along the way. And, I think we all know by now I’m all about the humor in life.

Mostly, though, anyone with writerly thoughts is reminded to start with what is real to you and to keep it that way. Embellishments aside, reality is (if we’ve learned nothing else about modern television programming) vastly entertaining. Emphasis on vastly.

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal.”

I’ve found that most feelings kept stuffed down inside are universal once they finally bubble to the surface.

And the universe is vast, so there is bound to be something to write about.

Yes indeedy.

 We are on Day 20 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. To read other posts in my series, Best Books Ever, click the button below.

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One Thing Better Than High Hair

I attended a rockin’ Twitter party last night.  It was a happy hour filled with flying fingers, cracked jokes, and community building. I was surrounded by a couple dozen amazing women, many of whom I am able to call “Friend”.

And, it was grace.

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.”

– Frederick Buechner

Because, the party wouldn’t have been complete without me.

Without me?

Yes!

And it’s not complete without you, either.

It took me twenty some-odd years to own that.

And, my season of High Hair ushered that lesson in.

One of the most painful memories I have, is of being labeled an outcast by a group of middle school girls that I thought were my best friends.

I could say it was because I developed physically before they did and they were jealous. Maybe. It’s possible that they were acting out of a need to have control over some part of their out-of-control lives. Beauty wasn’t my friend back then; and that didn’t do me any favors, either.

I might never know why they shunned me as they did.

What I do know is that as a tender 12 year old reed, it broke me.

And, I took my broken pieces and receded into the safety of my tomboyish ways. Hunting and fishing with Ahab, skateboarding with Brother, keeping my face in the pool and away from the eyes of those who sought to bore holes into my heart. Those were my survival techniques.

And I surely did survive.

But God wanted me to see Him. And He wanted me to do more than survive.

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So, He sent Grace striding into my life, all high hair and hairspray, frosted lips and Northern accent. That unmerited favor modeled a grace for my fragility. That one longed-for friendship did so very much to repair some of the damage done to my heart.

God tenderly repaired this broken reed and set it straight.

I learned a beautiful lesson that year: sometimes Grace comes through people. And He reminds you that what happened then doesn’t matter near as much as what you allow to happen now. It pours over you and into you and shows you that you are not alone, that you are loved, and that the pain of the past does not have to define your future.

Indeed! While Beauty and I never did make amends, Grace and I?

We’ve become BFF’s.

Has grace ever found you in friendship? Would you share here?

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This is post #1 in my 31 Days of Grace series. The Nester is hosting her annual 31 Days of Writing. If you’d like to check out one of the thousands of unique contributions, click here. You can find my introduction post here.

 

 

 

Life Interrupted

Some of God’s greatest gifts truly are wrapped in unlikely packages. Mine came in all 6 pounds and 10 ounces of baby goodness.  Sweetman and I loved every single inch of this package.  He seemed perfect.  We dreamed of life as parents of a bouncing baby boy.

Two years later, our lives were interrupted by the diagnosis of Autism.  I could try to tell you how I wrapped myself around that diagnosis and accepted it with open arms, knowing that if “God brought us to it, He’d see us through it.”  But I didn’t.  I really didn’t.

Here’s what I did do:

  • I cried out to God for answers
  • I leaned hard and heavy on friends who loved us despite my child’s behaviors
  • I continued to believe God had His hand in this, on us, and around him
  • I learned the power of a desperate prayer thrown heavenward morning, noon, or night

There were moments where I longed  are still moments when I long to be able to take part in those conversations where I talk about the sports that are played, the interests that are pursued, the unique passions that are on display “already”.  But I can’t.

What I can do, however, is to stick with it.

Because there isn’t any easy button for this life interruption.

But God…

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I realize, now, that the healing of this mama heart of mine is going to be a life-long process. And there will be more heartache along the way. But, you know what?  I can honestly tell you that I’m okay with that.

In fact, I say “Yes!” to God because my Sweetboy is fearfully and wonderfully made.  By Him.  For me.

And through it all, I’ve come to understand that this child? He is indeed perfect.

For us.

Oh yes he is.

I’m joining a community of over 24,000 Jesus lovin’ ladies from all over God’s Green Earth for a blog hop today.  We are studying the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study. If you’d like to read some of the other beautiful words from this online community, click the button below.

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