Sunday, March 6, 2011

1000 gifts: marching on

It's March, which makes the marching on through winter blues a little easier. We'll still have a lot of wintery weather here in Laramie through April, but the days are longer, and there will be more warmer days to count on. Meanwhile the Lord helps me see little gifts almost every day, blessings that I'm thanking him for:

212. Lego creations.
Blaze and Dreamer got creative with legos and created these "tractor cars" - Dreamer says hers can fly. I took the picture to send to their Grandma and Grandpa - Grandpa B. has a whole collection of toy tractors.

213. Praying on your knees.
My mom told me recently that she's been on her knees praying for my dad. His health is poor (Parkinson's) and he's depressed and hard to get along with. Seeing him slowly deteriorate has been hard on both of us, especially on her. But she's seeking God more.

214. Foster parents.
My friend Heather and her family are in the foster-parent program. Incredibly, a newborn baby was abandoned at the hospital. She and her husband had less than a day to decide about taking the baby, about living with the uncertainty of how long they'd get to keep him - or maybe even adopt him (they already have four kids). What an emotional roller coaster! But she told me that they both felt the Lord was calling them to do this. I cannot think of a better family for an abandoned baby to find love in. 

215. Listening for God's voice.
I have been trying to listen to God more, to hear his voice and direction as I read the Bible. I asked him what verse to memorize next for Beth Moore's scripture memory challenge, and he directed me to Isaiah 30:15 - it's so neat when you know, really clearly, that you've just got an answer to a question. "This is what the sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.'"

216. Christian role-models.
I had to travel up to Casper to teach again, three days this time - too long! - but Nicole's parents, who live in Casper, invited me over for lunch, and that was a really nice refresher. I adore Nicole's mom. She is one of my examples of a great Christian woman.

217. Being content with what I have.
The second night in Casper I was sick of the hotel room so I went to the mall and browsed around. It was fun looking through all the cool electronic "toys" at Best Buy - the iPad, the laptops, netbooks, tablets, smart phones and high def TVs. But the really cool part? Not being tempted by any of them. Being able to say "I don't need any of these, my life is just fine with what I have." (not that I wouldn't turn down an iPad or an iTouch if someone offered me one!)

218. A friend checking up on me.
Also one of the nights I was gone, I got a Facebook message from Gretchen, a new friend at church who knows I'm struggling with depression and hadn't seen me at church that Sunday (it's easy to miss people, our church is getting that big) so she just wanted to check up on me. It was heartening to know that I was in her prayers and thoughts.

219. When something breaks so you can "hear" an important message.
On my drive back from Casper to Laramie (3 hours), my CD got stuck in the CD player, and then I couldn't find any good radio station to listen to. KLOVE is my station of choice, but it wasn't coming up, and the only other Christian station was playing really old-fashioned music (I like a couple songs, but I can't listen to choir songs for 3 hours). But then a preacher came on, a guy called Darrin Patrick, and gave this amazing message about experiencing God's will - it was so good I was riveted, and afraid that I'd lose the station (in the big empty spaces between towns in Wyoming, it's easy to lose cell coverage and radio signals). But the message played clear as a bell all the way through - only after it was over did the station finally fuzz out. So then I pressed the play button on the CD player and the CD started playing again, no problem. Almost makes you wonder if God had a little hand in that "coincidence"? Like he wanted me to hear that message. It was so good that when I got home I looked up Darrin Patrick on the internet and downloaded the message I'd heard and several others of his too. You can download his messages at

220. Homemade gifts.
When I got home my four girls were thrilled to see me. Blaze had made me a beaded bracelet with a clever beaded flower on it that she'd brainstormed herself. Dreamer was not to be outdone and made me bracelet too. The twins were all excited to show me their "bed." Starlet grabbed my hand and pulled me to my own bedroom - where I discovered that B. had put down a mattress next to our bed, so that between the two mattresses all four of them could sleep with him while I was gone. Of course they wanted to continue the sleeping arrangements, but they've learned momma is not quite as soft-hearted as daddy in that respect.

221. Writing progress
My work on my novel has been progressing - it's not been easy (the further I get along in the story, the harder it is to keep all the plot threads going) but I'm up to almost 75,000 words - I fell just a couple thousand short of my goal for March 1st, but I'm still really happy about my progress. One weekend I wrote 4200 words and the next I added another 4000. Being productive with my writing is a big mental "yay!" and a great defense against the blues. I was hoping to have the book finished by 75,000 words, it's going to be more like 85 or 90k at this point, but still - the end is in sight!

222. Old story, new twist
Also, speaking of my novel, I had a couple interesting ideas that I think will really help the plot of the book - make it more of "high concept" plot which many agents/editors are looking for these days. "High concept" is hard to define, but it's like putting a twist on a familiar situation. For instance, poor boy rubs a lamp and discovers a genie - we are all familiar with that story. But you add a new twist or dimension to it by asking a "what if" question. What if instead of a genie in the lamp, the boy (or the girl, in my case) finds two geniis in the lamp - two geniis that work at cross-purposes to fulfill the girl's wishes. Now my story doesn't actually have a lamp in it (I've made up something called a livingstone). No geniis in it either, but different magical beings. The situation is similar enough that audiences will relate to it - be reminded of Aladdin and his genii - but also be intrigued by a new twist on an old idea.

Well, that's the theory, at any rate.

223. Sharing ideas
N.L. is also working hard at her novel, and we are hoping to exchange them soon - in the meantime it's been fun bouncing ideas off each other, sharing my new ideas with her and hearing the new things she's coming up with for her story. She usually pops by the house at least once a week, and her visits always cheer my heart.

224. Truly seeing light
N.L. also never fails to find great quotes to send me via Facebook: we think this one is from C.S. Lewis' space trilogy, but not sure. It's still a beautiful image, and one that makes you wonder: "We do not truly see light, we only see slower things lit by it, so that for us light is on the edge—the last thing we know before things become too swift for us."

225. Twitter.
Yes, as if I don't waste enough time already online, blogging, looking up factoids on Wikipedia, checking Facebook and email, now I am twittering. It happened when I mentioned my March 1st writing goal on my writing blog, and another writer said, "I'm trying to reach my March 1st goal too. Let's twitter each other goals every week." So I started tweeting #writegoal and #weekendchallenge - and then picked up another writer looking for writing motivation along the way too. It's been such a help! (and not time-consuming. Well, not as bad as blogger and Facebook, at any rate).

226. Early is not always best.
"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." This isn't exactly a quote, but I saw this funny saying on an office door in the building where I work, and it was cute enough that it changed my perspective from another ho-hum day to a happy day.

227. Pooters.
The other night when I was checking email on my computer, Serious comes up to me and asks "are you working on your pooter?" I love her word for computer.

228. Favorite hymns.
A wonderful morning of worship and communion today at church. One of those days where I felt God was so close enough I could reach up my hand and touch the train of his robe. We sang two of my favorite hymns, "It Is Well With my Soul" and "The Love of God." Just have to share these wonderful lyrics from "The Love of God."

When hoary time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

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