Category: Blog

Ode to Psalm 129 #April #PoetryMonth

Stair 10 in the Psalms of Ascent

(Stepping Up Study by Beth Moore)

At the beginning of 2008, I participated in a group Bible study on the Psalms of Ascent. I truly miss diving into the word via Beth Moore’s teaching. On occasion, I will take out my box of Bible study workbooks (I once calculated 10 years and over 1000 hours of study inside that box!)

JesusJourney_2001_2011

I will have to write up a reflection on the full lesson related to this poem at a later date. But for now, and in the name of April being poetry month,  here is my personal version of Psalm 129 and how I used the format as a proclamation of my own life as of March 2008…

OPPRESSION DID NOT HAVE THE VICTORY! 

Since I first acknowledged the Word

Forces have tried to destroy me with a sword

Oppression and destruction they wanted for me

Little did they know there would be no victory

When they tortured me and tied me with chains

God knew one day only the scars would remain

May those who despise me, fall short of their goals

May they find all their effort just result in bigger holes

Holes in their hearts they cannot fill

The stuff of this world, from their grasp, further still

May all who witness their great defeat

Never say, “The blessings of God will be your retreat.”

When Failure is Part of God’s Plan

Failure according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1a: omission of occurrence or performance; specifically: a failing to perform a duty or expected action

b (1) : a state of inability to perform a normal function

c: a fracturing or giving way under stress

2a: lack of success b: a failing in business

3a: a falling short (deterioration or decay)

4 : one that has failed

Is it just me, or is the concept of failure taboo these days? Why do we avoid failure like a contagious disease, afraid to admit it, quick to point fingers or blame, and often making excuses instead of acknowledging the obvious? Not even our president can admit failure and I think we are all selling ourselves short as a result.

Failure is not a bad thing! As quoted by Ben Gates in the movie National Treasure, “Thomas Edison said, ‘I didn’t fail, I found 2000 ways not to make a light bulb, and only one way to make it work.’”

Yet, even this quote carries with it a negative stigma regarding failure. But to me, Thomas Edison was pointing out the obvious: He needed to fail 2000 times in order to get it right! Now, what is wrong with that?

When I first started writing, something inside me said that I could not consider myself a “good writer” if I could not create an excellent work with my first draft. If you laughed out loud at this statement, share the Tweet below:

What if authors refused to publish anything except their first drafts? #Failure equals #Success. http://wp.me/p1nUAB-9n

Really, can a young writer be more naïve than I was?

During the past six months, I have tried and failed at many things. I am one to admit failure from the start and see it as a learning opportunity. In addition, I often see failure as a form of direction from God. If and when I fail, I have come to embrace it as God’s way of guiding me toward a success I may not see or understand at the present moment. I do not see failure as a negative thing, but if I confess I have failed, others rarely “fail” in trying to help me to turn around my perspective into a positive light.

In 2008, I failed at obtaining a publishing contract for a novel I wrote. Six rejections and one expensive “acceptance” by a vanity publishing company later, I set the book project in a box and turned to other things. I didn’t know at the time if I was ever meant to have that book published. But I had learned a lot about storytelling and writing in the process and believed that eventually God would reveal when it was time to pursue publication—if at all.

Then in 2012, after an amazing experience at a women’s retreat in the Northern California foothills, the women’s ministry leader told me that God said my book would be published one day. I was working on a non-fiction project at that time, but knew she was referring to my fiction novel. I remembering feeling a sense of peace and patience about all of it, and willing to let God guide me every step.

Several months later, the leader of a writer’s group that took place at our church was seated in the row in front of me. Something stirred in me and I made an effort to speak to him after service and asked him if the group was still meeting. My plan was to present my novel, one chapter a week, seeking feedback and gradually begin to work on a revised edition. My intentions were not to publish at that time, but to look at my manuscript with fresh eyes, improve it as much as I could, and increase the content so that it was at full-length (the original draft was only about 40k words and written as a young adult novel.)

After receiving feedback the first week, I was slightly discouraged. I had failed at creating an understandable introductory chapter—leaving the readers more confused than curious. A couple of the members of the group even thought my historical novel was science fiction until halfway through the chapter!

However, there were also many compliments. They enjoyed my characters and scene-setting descriptions. They commented on my “professional” style and could tell I had a formal education.

So, I decided to stay the course, take their comments, and re-write the first several chapters to create a clear context while still hooking the reader with the mystery surrounding the protagonist’s isolated upbringing.

A little over a year after that first meeting, I was signing a publishing contract that had turned into at least a two-book series!

I wish I could say I have arrived and will no longer fail as a writer or as any other role I play in this life—mother, wife, homemaker, employee, sister, friend, or daughter. I wish I could say that I have learned to avoid discouragement and pick myself up my own bootstraps whenever I miss the mark, but I can’t.

Actually, in recent months, I have felt more discouraged than ever. I have questioned God’s plan and my faith has faltered. I lost my day job back in September and have not managed to acquire adequate supplemental income.

I have failed at getting another job.

I have failed to follow through on numerous commitments due to limited resources of time, energy, and money.

I have failed to plan for my children’s birthdays, holiday celebrations, and even the meals for the day.

I have failed at recognizing all the blessings in my life as they are blurred by what I can’t do.

Failure can give us new perspectives on life. It has helped me see that what I think I want or need may not be the best for my family or me. It can also provide a stark contrast that makes us more aware of the places we have succeeded.

I may not have found another job, but I have written a draft of the entire second novel in my series, made amazing connections with online writer communities, and been able to examine my truest traits and skills.

I have learned to minimize commitments and realized that those depending on me are, for the most part, very understanding and forgiving people. They have lives and commitments as well, and I have put undue stress on myself thinking their expectations of me were more than I could achieve.

My children adjust in miraculous ways, and although it seems they demand a lot at times, they are also easily content with simple solutions. For Christmas, they hardly blinked when we said their wish list needed to be small and simple. My sixteen year old just wanted to have more than one friend spend the night on his birthday. My thirteen year old also just wanted a sleepover and to have the freedom to hang out with his friends all day. They all like hanging out with me and their dad, smiling and goofing off as a symbol of how content they are despite lacking certain luxuries of the suburban lifestyle.

Finally, it is a daily battle to focus on the things that I can control, and learn to give the rest to God and trust that He knows best despite my failures and shortcomings. He has accounted for those as well as my strengths! His mercies are new every morning, and I am more than grateful that He has allowed me to fail time and again in order to recognize the grace and miracles present in my life today.

What about you? How has failing opened your eyes to more important things? How can admitting failure help you to grow and understand your purpose in this life?

Six Things You Need to Know about Your Writer

Six Things You Need to Know about Your Writer

This is awesome! I fight my true urges reflected in these points daily and need to give in to achieve my writers’s potential. Read on if you’re a writer or know one…

Read. Write. Live!

writer girl

So your friend—or, God help you, your spouse—is a writer. Chances are, the more you get to know your writer, the more confused you’ll feel. Writers are odd ducks. We’re fun. We’re irritating. We’re enigmas and amoebas. How are you supposed to make sense of someone who flip-flops more than cheap rubber shower thongs? It’ll help you to know a few things about us that might make us a little easier to understand. Or not. No one says we are easy.

We are extroverted introverts. Writers realize the importance of socialization; in fact, we’re often pushed to network, self-promote, and mingle in order to make the necessary connections to publish our work, or sell it once it is published, so that we can publish again. We can juggle Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, all while texting and providing riotous dinner-party banter. Sometimes we are wildly gregarious, prone to spontaneous road trips…

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My Broken Hallelujah

My Broken Hallelujah

Broken Hallelujah, The Afters [VIDEO]

…this is a time of rapid acceleration and growth all for the purpose of God finding pleasure in me…He is confidant to transform and renew rest—to release my weariness. He wants me to dream— to live on the border of fantasy and believe…and he will push me into a deep place of receiving from His Spirit…

”God said…” will be enough.

God wants me to depend on His desire to see me blessed.

Logic will not lead to my inheritance.

—Words from the Lord during a “Soaking Session”, November 15, 2013



I came across these words, written in a spiral notebook that had since been placed in the “scrap school supply” pile on a bookshelf in my house. During our recent move, I flipped through the notebook to see if there was anything worth salvaging before I tossed it into a storage bin.

I had to read it several times.

Then, I tore it from the spiral binding and placed it securely in the pocket at the end of my journal. So much had happened since I wrote that. I remember feeling so tired and worn that evening I almost didn’t take the 30-minute drive out to my friend’s house. But I knew I needed it. I needed to soak in God’s presence. I needed to hear Him, feel His promise that there was a plan and that my current circumstances were not permanent.

There was nothing highly tragic about my life at that point. My life was full from dawn until midnight with what had become “normal” trials and challenges. It was all about survival, obligations, doing my best even when nothing in me felt like putting in even the slightest effort.

Continue reading “My Broken Hallelujah”

Book Review: Out of the Ruins

Out of the Ruins (Golden Gate Chronicles #1)Out of the Ruins by Karen Barnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With a perfect combination of historical detail and unique characters, Karen Barnett brought life to early 1900s San Francisco. Amid personal tragedy, the 1906 earthquake forces Abby Fischer to face her fears and take risks she never thought she would. I was on the edge of my seat, up late night after night while slowly reading through the final chapters. I only had time to read a couple chapters per day or I would have probably finished the entire last third of the book in a single sitting!

Karen intricately weaves dialogue and description in a way that makes you feel like you are right there with the characters. Emotional suspense, a city out of control, and lives torn apart all led to an unexpected ending. I can’t wait for Book 2!

View all my reviews