“Why Did You Write a Book?”

booksigning16Recently my phone chimed with a message from a friend. It was one sentence: “Why did you write a book?” Such a seemingly simple question, but I thought about it all day before answering. There are so many reasons I wrote my first book, and few of them are simple to explain. I loved to read from a very young age, and loving books led me to want to be an author. That one’s pretty easy. But the whys of writing this particular book get more complicated. Continue reading ““Why Did You Write a Book?””

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Why I Write

My first book has been out in the world (at least electronically) for a little over a week now. It hasn’t made The New York Times bestseller list, or been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. I guess some dreams (or delusions of grandeur!) I’ll have to let go. But a dream that is in many ways far superior has come true. When I first decided to actually try to get my story published, my hope and prayer was that I could do for someone else what other writers have done for me. At different times, the words of Margery Williams, Phillip Yancey, Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, Frederick Buechner, Marcus Borg, Barbara Brown Taylor, Madeleine L’Engle, Brian McLaren, John Claypool, and other authors have literally saved my life, at least my spiritual one. God used their words to patch holes in my faith, to keep me going while I healed instead of lying down and giving up (like I sometimes wanted to do). There was such power in reading exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed it, of feeling that this person I had never met had reached through the page to touch my very soul and let me know I was not alone. If being an author meant the chance to do that for someone else, I thought, it might just be worth all the hard work and stress and rejection that it takes to finally get a book published. Continue reading “Why I Write”

The Last Thing I Expected

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Last week was pretty terrible. It started with a death that was particularly tragic even by the standards of someone who works as a hospital chaplain, and it would have ended with a funeral, except that I could not bring myself to go. So much of my own emotional baggage resurfaced in the wake of this situation that I knew I would be no good as a caregiver if I went. The sadness weighed so heavy on me that I could hardly get out of bed. And then, mercifully, there was the weekend, and a friend’s birthday to celebrate, and unexpected moments of grace. Yesterday morning was good, in real and simple ways that I don’t want to lose. Continue reading “The Last Thing I Expected”

When Game of Thrones Came to Sunday School

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This was the second week of the Sunday School class I am teaching on Anne Lamott‘s book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. This week we finished discussing the “Help” chapter, and things got really interesting. Lamott writes about her past experiences of prayer, even as far back as her childhood, and in class we talked about our own prayer histories. One thing I love about the author is her honesty; she doesn’t sugar-coat the hard stuff. She admits that it is sometimes very difficult to connect in prayer with a God who is so mysterious, whom we can’t see or touch and whose descriptions in the Bible can be both comforting and troubling. That’s why, she says, God gave us imagination. It can sometimes lead us astray, but it can bring us closer to God, too, and she writes about how we can know the difference: Continue reading “When Game of Thrones Came to Sunday School”

More Illustration Than I Wanted

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Today I began teaching a Sunday School class on Anne Lamott’s book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. My pastor, Don Flowers, asked me if I would do a six-week course to go along with a summer sermon series he wanted to do on the psalms. Having liked the book (and heard the author speak about it when it was first released), I agreed without hesitation. Last night I spent some time going over the introduction and Help chapter one more time, making notes and preparing, before I walked my dog and went to bed early. I am housesitting and cat-sitting for some friends of mine, and knew that it would probably take me longer to fall asleep in a bed not my own. But I was exhausted, and drifted off quickly. A couple of hours later, Hurley, my dog, woke me up to let him out to “go potty.” This is unusual for him, especially since he had just gone before bedtime, but I obliged. Continue reading “More Illustration Than I Wanted”

2014 With No Mistakes In It

It’s been awhile.  If you hadn’t noticed, my blogging has been lagging of late.  Even in the busyness of the holiday season, I had promised myself that I’d post at least once a week, and I was doing it.  The first three Sundays of Advent, I wrote something to go along with the theme of that week.  But the weekend of the fourth Sunday of Advent, I had to do a funeral, and I was traveling to Kentucky to visit my family for Christmas, and to make a long story short, it just didn’t happen.  But even before that, I was having some trouble.  A well-meaning friend had told me after my first few blog posts, “Wow, you are knocking it out of the park every time!”  And instead of being pleased, my first thought was, Well, shit.  Now I can’t write anything mediocre. Continue reading “2014 With No Mistakes In It”

On Not Finding God’s Match For Me

“It’s your turn next!” my friend told me, less than a week after her wedding.  I was amazed at the speed with which one can go from Singleton to Smug Married.  (Sorry if much of my vocabulary in this arena is informed by the Bridget Jones books and movies.  Okay, I’m not really sorry; I love them.)  I wanted to remind her of how much we hated it when other people said such things to us back when we were both single, but I bit my tongue.  “Have you tried that website?” she asked, and proceeded to tell me about a Christian dating site.  You know the one.  You’ve seen their commercials, in which ridiculously photogenic couples hold hands and frolic chastely and talk about how God meant for them to find one another, all to the sound of a song which is actually about falling in love with Jesus, not finding your schmoopie.  No, I told her.  I haven’t and will not try that one.  Based on the commercials and what I’ve heard from friends who have tried it, I don’t think their particular brand of Christianity fits me at all.  I deplore the idea of “finding God’s match for me,” as if there’s one guy out there God designed to fit me, and my ultimate purpose in life is to find him.  I don’t buy that. Continue reading “On Not Finding God’s Match For Me”

About the title, part 3: Lady

I’ve never been a big fan of the word “Lady.”  In my mind (having been raised in the American south), I picture ladies sipping tea on the front porch, quiet, genteel, not a hair out of place.  When I was growing up, all I heard about ladies was that they didn’t do whatever it was that I was doing.  A lady doesn’t run indoors.  A lady doesn’t slouch.  A lady doesn’t talk with her mouth full.  A lady doesn’t interrupt.  A lady doesn’t jump on the bed.  Being a lady sounded like no fun at all! Continue reading “About the title, part 3: Lady”