Writing

The Dash Between the Years

Blog_TombstonesI once saw a beautiful online photo tribute a man made for his wife. It was a series of black and white pictures chronicling their relationship, her battle with cancer, and her eventual death. In the first picture, they’re sitting side by side on the front stairs, soda bottles in hand, full of life. The final pictures are haunting. One looks through a car windshield on a rainy day to the hearse up ahead. The other is of a tombstone.

What haunted me most was the name on the tombstone. It’s mine. And the years on either side of the dash. She was young. Not much older than me.

We never really know how old we are. An eighteen year old might be older than an eighty year old, depending on how much time is gifted to them on this earth. My husband’s dear grandma lived to be 107 years old.  I met her when she was 84 and still going strong, dancing up a storm and smoking her cigarettes backward. (She since gave up smoking, proving it’s never too late to quit!). She was younger when I met her than some of my peers who’ve since moved on from this life.

The question that remains is this: what will I do with that small dash between the years? However short or long it may be, I want to do something meaningful. I want to live fully, to love deeply. I want to give my life for something that matters. Something that will outlast me. I can’t be satisfied to go through the motions one more day.

The woman in the pictures clearly lived a beautiful life, short as it was. She left behind people who love her and feel the pain of the gap she’s left behind. I don’t want to leave this world unnoticed. I don’t want to leave the world unaffected by my being here. But I know it’s not always the big things that matter. More often, it’s the little things that add up to the dash between the years.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath. We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:4-7)

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Didn’t I Just Do the Dishes?

Blog_DishesI’m always amazed how fast the sink fills up after I do the dishes. Or how the hamper fills up so soon after I finish the laundry. And how the floor becomes a land mine of toys minutes after I put them away. Sometimes it seems like everything I do gets undone just as quickly.

There’s something inside me that longs for permanence in what I do. I want the things I invest my time and resources in to last—and not just for a day or two, or even a year. I want them to last beyond me.

Maybe that’s why I like writing so much. As long as the computer doesn’t crash, it’s nice to know my words will still be there even when everything else I spent the day working on is unraveling around me. There’s a satisfaction in completing something and having it stay…complete.

It’s easy to forget that the little things I do for my family are more permanent than my written words will ever be. Dinner may be quickly devoured and the dishes as quickly dirtied, and the clothes I just washed will likely end up in the hamper within hours. But action by action, day by day I’m investing in the lives of those I love and enabling them to one day be all they were created to be.

Someday the book I’m working on will be published. I’m hoping it will last beyond this generation. But I know my children will last, and what I impart in them now through servanthood and quality time and sacrificial love will be passed down generation to generation. I’m writing on their lives things they will take with them and pass down. Every act of love, no matter how small, no matter how seemingly temporary, and no matter how forgotten, will outlast us if only in unseen ways. And that makes everything worth it.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)

Note to Self…Look Beyond

True love looks beyond the current sacrifices, struggles, and doubts

to the good that can come from it all.

Source: Note to Self…Look Beyond

the Giver of Words

Blog_OpenGate

Will not the Giver of Words grant us the right words in due season to speak to the injustices of our generation, and to bring truth and life where there is deception and death? Will not the maker of the tongue loosen it to speak order into the chaos and confusion? If our heart is for the afflicted and oppressed, will he who hears their deepest cries not empower us to labor on their behalf?

 

Source: Blank Pages

Photo Credit: open gate | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Writing Freedom

Blog_PaperAndPenIt’s impossible for one person to combat all the injustices of our world, but it is possible to do something. I may not feel I have anything of significance to contribute to the needs of our day, but even if I give the little I have, I can make a difference. My hands may be empty, but when I open them I will find I have something to give.

The most powerful instrument my hands have ever held is a pen. Through it, I communicate my thoughts. Through it, I can cry out against injustice. Through it, I can write freedom.

Martin Luther once said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” Others have likened the pen to a mighty sword. Words have the power to turn the tides of battle.

Against the backdrop of slavery, a man of great Christian faith wrote words of freedom from slavery. His name was William Lloyd Garrison. He used the power of the press to hasten the liberation of the captives of his day, speaking words of great power in the midst of grave injustice: “Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.”

Words have power to heal or to destroy, to build up or to tear down, to bring peace or summon war. As for me, I want my words to heal, to build, and to bring peace. I want my pen to write freedom.

Teach Me These Words

Blog_KidWithBookMy son piled books on the couch, next to me, until they towered so high one wrong move would send them crashing down. I woke up early that day, anticipating some much-needed quiet time, but my son had other ideas about how I should spend that time. “Teach me these words,” he pleaded, adding another book to the pile.

Admitted: at this point, I was too tired and desperate for some alone time to be taken in by his charming smile and heart-melting dimples. “How about you look through the pictures in your books while Mommy reads her Bible?” I suggested. “We’ll work on teaching you those words later.”

He reluctantly obliged, though my devotional time was consumed with one thought. Among my greatest of missions in life will be to teach the next generation the power of words—how to speak them, handle them, read them, and write them.

I’d spent the days prior at a writers’ conference, learning to hone my craft. Yet what’s the point of writing to the greatest of my potential if the next generation doesn’t benefit from it? Writing is a high calling, but my higher call involves teaching my kids and my students.

Much of what I’ve written has remained in obscurity for twenty-plus years. It’s just now that I’m teaching some of my songs to my own kids, and to the kids in my classroom, and reading them stories written years ago. I’ve learned that my labors were never meant to benefit me, but generations to come.

The same is true in anything we may be called to do. It’s not ultimately about us chasing our dreams, fulfilling our calling. It’s about investing in the next generation, helping them to find and fulfill their purpose in life.

“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD.” (PSALM 102:18)

 

Photo Credit: Child And Book Free Stock Photo – Public Domain Pictures

My Life, Edited

Blog_WritersBlockWouldn’t it be nice if we could always get it right on the first try? No drafts, no re-writes, no edits or overhauls. I’m talking about writing. And I’m talking about life.

Once upon a time, I believed the first draft was the best draft because it came closest to writing from the heart. Not to mention that I hated the editing process. Ugh. Talk about tedious. I believed nothing could be further from the creative process than drowning a manuscript in red ink and transforming it into something unrecognizable when compared to the original.

How I’ve changed.

Since I first started working on my novel, I’ve become a ruthless self-editor—murdering more sentences than an old west gunslinger. I’ve learned the best work takes time and revision, much like a sculptor works and re-works, chisels and refines until the unformed slab of clay becomes a thing of beauty. Art is a process, making progress in small yet significant ways until the greater masterpiece emerges.

Yes, this is about life, too. Because no life is perfect without some editing. Every day, I have to edit out impatience, selfishness, ingratitude, complacency…and more than that old gunslinger could handle in a lifetime of gun slinging. If I’m to live my best life—a life that blesses and benefits others, I’m gonna need a lot of editing.

The good news is that the God who created all the beauty that we see is the author of life. He sees and knows everything, loving us as we are yet caring enough to bring about the change we so desperately need. That our lives can be edited is beyond good news.

Lord, cover my life in red ink! Delete all my inconsistencies and any hypocrisy. Edit out all that’s unworthy of my life story, until only love remains.