The Knowing

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Relationships are funny things. They run the gamut from friendly banter exchanged between barista and coffee aficionado to intimate secrets shared between friends to understanding (and loving) your spouse’s sighs, head tilts, and vocal inflections. On a daily basis we engage in a number of relationships. Some require nothing more than a smile and a “Have a nice day”. Others are open arms at the end of long, trying day. Arms that hold on while you sob quietly into them. Arms that don’t care that dinner is burning in the oven or on the stove because the embrace is more than dinner.

And then there’s our relationship with God.

If you’d like to read a deeply powerful and piercing foray into a person’s relationship with God, I HIGHLY recommend you read Paul’s series “To see GSHJ less darkly” over at just me being curious. His words gave me so much to ponder.  If you are a shallow swimmer, you might want to grab your scuba gear because his posts burrow into the deep end of the ocean. Just a forewarning: pack extra tanks, because you won’t want to come up for air for awhile.

My relationship with God is very different than Paul’s. As I’m sure yours is as well. That’s what is so beautiful about it. God meets each of us where we are and He works from there.

Relationships are a process. They take time to develop.

Just because I read all of CS Lewis’ books or sing along to every Mercy Me song does not mean I am in a relationship with them. Just because I research someone on Wikipedia or read every biography on Napoleon does not mean I know everything about them. Just because I sit in a pew on Sunday and listen to a sermon about Moses or David or Paul or Jesus, does not mean I know them. Because what I’ve come to realize is that knowing about is not the same as knowing. And relationship, REAL relationship, is in the knowing. Not the knowing about.

My relationship with God began when I accepted Christ as my Savior.

I walked into the room, a single chair in the center with a spotlight illuminating it from above. I hesitantly crawled to the chair, feet leaden, legs wobbly, heart crescendoing into a fortissimo. “Hello?” I called. “Anyone here?” No answer. “Am I too late? The notice said the meeting starts at 7:00 and my watch shows it’s ten till.” I wondered where they had the table of cookies and punch, because I eat when I’m nervous.

“Sit down, please,” a voice called out.

Normally, I would have jumped, but there was something comforting about the voice, something familiar.

“Hello? Do I know you?”

“Not yet. But you will.”

I sat in the chair and looked around the room, hoping to see at least one other person. “I’m not sure this is the right place. I’m looking for the S.A. meeting?”

The voice laughed, a pleasant laugh, like warm apple cider on a wintry day. “Yes, yes indeed. You are in the right place. This is Sinners Anonymous. And we are glad you are here.”

“I expected more people,” I said, tears welling in my eyes. Could I really be the only one who needed this?

“Don’t be afraid. Be strong and courageous, my child. You are making the best decision of your life.”

Just as quickly as the tears started, they stopped. I sat straighter in the chair, courage replacing the feelings of hesitation and awkwardness.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes,” I said. And I was. Instinctively, I said the following words, “My name is Heather, and I am a sinner.”

God bellowed from above, “Hi, Heather!”

“Hi,” I said. “Nice to meet you.”

“I’ve been waiting since the beginning of time for you to come, Heather. And I’m so glad you did,” He said.

I didn’t grab my purse, get up from my chair, flip my hair, and walk away from the room suddenly cured of my desire to sin. I wasn’t spontaneously armed with the necessary tools to be strong and never waver in a world saturated in sin. I didn’t automatically put God first, put His will ahead of mine, crave Him with every ounce of my being. Actually, I felt a little queasy because I understood that my life would forever be changed. I would no longer be the Heather of yesterday, keeping God “out there” somewhere at a seemingly safe distance. I didn’t want God out there anymore. I wanted Him in here, in me, alive and active and working in me and through me.

As with any addiction, I knew my first step was admitting I needed Him. I had no idea what plans God had in store for me, but I knew that the path would not always be easy.

Staying in my chair and facing God was difficult, but I knew that in order to understand myself and my sin and learn how to walk with God, I had to stay. I had to remain in Him. Because God had the answers then and He still has the answers today.

My journey with God began several years ago and every day is a beautiful, scary challenge. Perhaps I will share more with you about my journey from knowing about to knowing. But first, there’s something I need you to know. My name is Heather and I’ve been a sinner all my life.

There. I said it. Now that that’s out of the way, nothing I say should shock you. Well, it might. If so, then I hear there’s a meeting down the hall for righteous naysayers called “Pharisees Anonymous”.

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Writer in training

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My good friend, Mike, over at A ‘Mike’ for Christ revealed his writing process in the post, “The Most Persnickety Writer You Might Know” . He asked me to discuss my own writing process.

Let me start by telling you I don’t really have a process. I’m what they call in the writing world, a “pantser”. That means, I write by the seat of my pants. No plan. No outline. Just go-with-the-flow writing. This doesn’t always work well when it comes to production. That’s obvious from how infrequently I post. Probably why I never finished those thriller novels I started, either…

I have noticed though, that as my relationship with my Father grows, He is developing a process of sorts in me. He is showing me how He works in my life, how He encourages the unleashing of my creative tiger, that voice of authenticity that sounds its “Yawp” from the rooftops.

Of  Seeds and Happy Dances

God plants a seed. It usually takes a few times before I realize I need to pay attention. Sometimes I can almost hear Him happy-dancing His way across Heaven, calling out, “She finally got it!”

Before proceeding, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I love words. OK, OK, it’s not a secret. But words are to a writer what art supplies are to a painter. I love stuffing myself on all-you-can-read buffets. I read incessantly. My hubby says I have a sickness and should seek help (is there a Book Lovers Anonymous?) because I salivate when I see a bookstore. He’s joking. Kinda… I think he just doesn’t want to have to build me any more bookcases.

I have notebooks overflowing with new words and their definitions or words used in unique ways (Don’t get me started on my notebooks! I also salivate in office supply stores. Sigh.). Pages and pages of word pairings from a game I force, er, urge friends and family to play (Adjective/Noun game…oh how I miss you!) fill random spirals and restaurant napkins. Not to mention the thousands of pages stuffed with thoughts, ideas, journal entries, Bible studies, and the random things that pop into my head. Perhaps I am a word scavenger, subsisting on consonants and vowels. God created me that way, after all.

God plants His word-seeds through:

  • a whisper
  • an advertisement
  • a blog post
  • a book
  • a conversation
  • a song
  • an article
  • the nooks and crannies where words linger

It’s About Time!

My “process” for blogging is quite different than my process for writing my novel. So for now, I’ll focus on blogging.

Once God plants the word-seed, and I feel it nestled in the soil of my heart, I start the feeding. I spend time reading, researching, praying, and having a lot of conversations. I love talking out my thoughts with Lady Di and Cori over a cuppa coffee and an open Bible in our booth.

I don’t like to write the word-seed right away because I need time to work out the kinks. Not the word’s kinks. MY kinks. I still consider myself a “new” Christian. So I want to make sure I “get” what God is sharing with me before I share it with my readers. I want to be true to Him, true to His Word, and true to who He created me to be.

All Systems Are Go

It can take days of feeding the seed before I post. Sometimes weeks or months will pass before I am ready. I know that God’s timing is not my timing. His plans are bigger and better than mine. So I wait. I remain. I still the chaos around me or the excited kid inside me. I listen. I hope.

And then, I feel God tap me on the shoulder, and badda-bing, badda-boast out pops a post.

Sometimes I look back over my posts and I can’t remember writing them. Those are the ones that I know I followed God’s process and not my own. Because when I try it my way, I force the words, I fret over the smallest details, I try too hard.

But I’m learning to listen to Him. I learning to wait for the tap.

Thanks,  Mike, for inviting me to share my process.

Stormy weather

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Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley (five minutes north of the border of Mexico) meant we had two seasons: Summer and My-Sunglasses-Melted-In-The-Car-So-Can-We-Please-Get-Back-to-Summer Summer. When temperatures dipped into the mid-60s for all of five minutes, people donned parkas and Uggs. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the non-scorching summer months. God blessed us with the rustling of palm fronds from Gulf of Mexico breezes. The occasional hurricane saturated the soil but foretold that God would kiss the air with the decadent aroma of orange blossoms and grace the trees with lemons, grapefruits, and navel oranges. After I left home to attend college and attempt adulthood, I lived in the Hill Country, Austin, and eventually settled northeast of Dallas. The further north I journeyed, the more seasons I enjoyed. I even experienced snow a couple of times! We had a saying in Texas: “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute…”

In the Valley, that saying didn’t apply because temperatures vacillated between tolerable, hot, and ghost-pepper hot. But in the Dallas area, the saying made sense.

Than I moved to Oklahoma. And I am pretty sure the “Texas” saying finds its origins here, in the Sooner state.

Exhibit A:

Cerulean sky

Cerulean sky

A couple of weekends ago, God smiled on us with this picture-perfect sky. The clouds danced, regally, elegantly amidst the cerulean canvas. I grabbed my camera, snapped a few shots then went back inside.

I placed my camera back in its case, sat in my chair, picked up my book and the door opened with my hubby beckoning me outdoors to take in the magnificent sky.

“Saw it,” I said. “Even have the pictures to prove it.” (I’m an indoorsy person, so I have to take pictures to prove I’ve actually ventured outside…)

“Not that sky. The new one,” my hubby said.

New sky? Seriously?

“And bring your camera,” he said, closing the front door behind him.

Book down, camera in hand, I headed outside. Again.

Exhibit B (or what I saw…):

Something's a brewing

Something’s a brewing

Maybe three minutes had elapsed between the first and second pictures.

Three short minutes turned dancing clouds into rumbling, boiling, churning clouds. My brilliant blue sky lie buried beneath an angry black and grey bruise.

Seeing such a rapid transformation made me realize just how quickly our personal sky can change.

A car accident, a prayed-for pregnancy, cancer test results, a marriage proposal. From one minute (or second) to the next, our world is different.

The disciples experienced this in a very literal as well as metaphorical way when they were on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. One minute, everything was blue skies and peace. The next minute, the storm rolled in and knocked around their boat and their faith.

They panicked and woke the sleeping Messiah. Rather than address their obvious lack of faith in Him, He commanded the storm, “Silence! Be still!” (Mark 4:39a). One commentary I read said that “Be still” in the Greek meant to not only calm down, but to remain calm.

That is interesting to me. Remain calm. Though He was speaking directly to the storm, He was also speaking to His disciples…and to us. No matter the weather, we need to remain calm.

Once the wind and waves obeyed His charge, He turned to His disciples and asked why they were so afraid. “Do you still have no faith?” He asked. After all they had witnessed, all Christ had said and done, they still wavered, doubted.

It’s easy to get caught up in the stormy moments of life and let the diagnosis, the test result, the breakup, the accident dictate our actions and reactions. But we need to remember that underneath the black and grey sky waits a sky of peace and light. If only we could remain calm.

If only we could never lose faith, and remember that, though Christ may be sleeping, He will still the storm.