Hi, Ladies. I'm coming up for air after finishing the first "skinny" draft of the novel I'm writing about a young woman who self-injures. You may remember me talking about that, inviting you to share stories with me if you wanted to. Several of you did, bravely and honestly. You were all with me as I pulled "Kirsten's" story together.
As always, I appreciate you hanging together during my I-gotta-meet-this-deadline periods. I sometimes think you could carry on indefinitely without me, but don't plan on that happening, because I like it here too much!
One of the last things we talked about in a post was the banner contest. You submitted some great photos for the banner that goes across our blog, some of them even with words, and you voted, and then voted again when I completely messed that up. And then . . . my virtual assistant Leah discovered that none of them had the right resolution (right number of pixels or something like that) for them to work. Sigh. We're back to the proverbial drawing board, though we're pretty sure our own Crystal has some photos that will do the job. We all know what an amazing photographer she is, so I can't wait to see how this unfolds. By the way, you were so precious to ask her how she was doing. She's an important part of the team.)
But I'm so sorry we couldn't use any of your pics! Here's what I'm going to do, though. Each of my next six posts (including this one) will feature an entry submitted by one of you. Today's comes to us from MAY, and it was very popular with you all. What a great eye you have, May. Are you thinking about graphic art as a career at all? I know why I think those Converse tennies (are they Chucks?) are the perfect image for this group, but I want to hear your thoughts on that. If you want to post a comment, please share those.
A couple of other things before we move on.
(1) Don't forget our LIVE BLOG PARTY on Friday, August 24. I originally set the time at 4:00 pm - 6:00 but I think 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Central Time would allow more of you to make it. Will you be there?
(2) For all of you aspiring writers (and I know there are a lot of you), I'm holding a conference for people who want to write for children and young people. Here's the info:
Writing For the Ages
Conference for Children’s and Youth Writers
October 14-17, 2012
Glen Eyrie Castle, Colorado Springs
We always have teen writers at Glen Eyrie -- some of you have been among them -- because it is an awesome opportunity to have one-on-one time with great teachers, have your work looked at not only by them but by a panel of Kid Critics, and be inspired by the Castle, which if you haven't been there is an amazing thing in itself. They say God doesn't live at Glen Eyrie, but that's where God spends most of His time. I kind of believe that. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions.
(3) Our hearts and prayers go out to you, Melody. Such a loss is so difficult, so please know we're all here for you.
(3) You've been so insightful in posting your obstacles to a life of real connection with God, I have to list some of them:
* Past mess-ups and failures (as NICOLE put it), things like eating disorders and self-injury -- yet most of all our failure to accept God's forgiveness and move the heck on (BTW, Nicole, you can go ahead and knight me as Lady Perseverance)
* Pride, or as RACHEL says it, "Your life revolving around achievements", including (and I can't say it any better than she does), "thinking I have to be sparkling white, the very incarnation of piety and love and prayerfulness" before she can go to God. That of course leads to, "Why even bother trying?"
* Fear . . . anything that isn't truth
* Trying to fix everything ourselves -- which goes along with lack of trust (as KATIE put it)
* Being upset with God because we can't understand why certain things have happened
* Feelings of friendlessness
As AMY said in her comment: "Maybe the question should be, what ISN'T the obstacle?
(4) So how do we get past them. We are not, after all, Olympic hurdlers (did you SEE those people?)
* MELODY posted a beautiful, heartfelt suggestion about journaling, one of my own most effective ways of getting over the humps.
* ABI told us how she writes out her prayers (which I also do as I'm journaling) which helps with becoming distracted by, oh, everything! (including hiccups, apparently)
* Several of you found insights in the Hannah story -- her gentle correction (when it would be more natural to have said, "Drunk? Are you serious?"), no longer being able to internalize her pain (nicely put, MELODY) and having no choice but to take it to God without waiting for the right, beautiful words, not hesitating when she needs God, having a firm grasp of where her worth comes from. As RACHEL said, "Could God speak to me any more clearly?" than in this passage. Seriously, Scripture helps SO much when we dig into it that way, and we'll be doing more of that, since you're so incredibly good at it.
Here's one more thing that I hope will be helpful.
I was struggling with an obstacle of my own recently, and that is just simply having more to do than can possibly be done. That's evidenced by how sporadic I am sometimes in posting for you, when there are few things I enjoy more. I was, to use a very old word, fretting about it, to the point where my journaling turned into lists and possible ways to manipulate my schedule, and my walks, usually so contemplative, were nothing but small journeys to the same place: I can't do all this! Even centering prayer, which I practice twenty minutes a day and which I look forward to because in those twenty minutes I don't have to THINK, wasn't bringing me the peace it so often does.
But I kept doing my spiritual practices AND I kept fretting (seriously, isn't it a great word?), until one day when I was sitting here staring at my tickler file in which every folder for every day was bulging with stuff to do, I had an experience I only have once in a very great while. I heard God's voice -- you know, in that still small way that sounds like me in my head but clearly isn't? And God said, so kindly I actually cried: "Why won't you let me help you? Let me help you."
That didn't shorten the to-do list or make the folders any thinner. But it changed my entire attitude. Why DIDN'T I let God help me? Who the Sam Hill ELSE was going to help me?
As the days passed and I kept remembering those kind words, ideas came to me. Why not think of social media as Soul Media instead? Why not walk down to the lake with the dogs when I get tired and stressed instead of pushing forward? Why not start every day with the question, "How can I let God help me?" instead of "How am I going to get all this done?'
So that's what I propose to you as you face your obstacles to prayer and a close relationship with God. Ask yourself, how can I let God help me? Then share with us, okay? And maybe we can all let God together. After all, as BETHAN said: "I feel like we all have each other's backs in prayer." And as she adds, it is "brilliant" to know that.
I can't wait to hear from you, my brilliant friends.