Archive for November, 2012

Your Most Bizarre Fear

The other day after returning from lunch, we were all walking (read: very slowly) back to our offices to resume our normal workday, when somehow (the rabbit trails we chase are impressive), the topic of getting sick came up.

It probably came up because currently there is all manner of viruses floating around and we’re all terrified of being the next victim, but anyway, I readily admitted to the fact that vomiting is one of my biggest fears.

The rule here at LPM is if you are sick: STAY HOME. Thank you very much. We love you, but we don’t love your germs.

I won’t go into detail on here out of respect for the fact that some of you might be catching up on the blog during your lunch break, but needless to say, there is nothing worse in my book than getting a stomach virus that produces this kind of reaction.

Lord help me if I end up being one of those that suffers from you-know-what during pregnancy. Speaking of that, I’m going to start asking the Lord to have a little grace on me in that area when that time comes. I’m believing God.

Anyway, once I admitted to that bizarre fear, she who will remain nameless, admitted another strange fear that may or may not have involved a parking lot.

I let she who will remain nameless expand on that if she wants.

We go so tickled that I immediately thought of how quirky we all were and then I thought of y’all. For some reason I have this feeling that if I asked you what your most bizarre fear was, you would deliver.

So, spill it.

Now, I realize we all have legitimate fears, but if you have something out of this world weird, we want to know.

You are in good company.

Oh, and for the record, the fear of vomiting has a term. (Could this post be any less girly? Laughing. Sorry, y’all. Just being real.)

It’s called Emetophobia.

Boom.

You’re welcome.

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The Power of With

If you were to ask me what my favorite part about working in ministry is, it wouldn’t take me two seconds to tell you that meeting up with girls one-on-one is easily at the top of my list and is such a delightful privilege. I am a naturally relational person, so I can never get enough face time. These meet ups don’t happen near as often as I’d like, but sweet mercy these girls are busy!

A few weeks ago I got together with one of my regulars (I sound like a barista greeting a customer) and it happened to be just a couple weeks after she and her boyfriend broke up. Typically we start out by shooting the breeze, but I didn’t let one minute pass before I made her spill the every last bean. It goes without saying that she’d been having a hard time and I wanted her to know I was all ears, but I was also hoping I could bring some encouragement to her.

Listen, I may not have an expert advice when it comes to dating relationships, but I’ve lived vicariously through enough of them that I feel like I could write a book.

Ironically, two close friends of mine had also been through recent break-ups, so this topic was very fresh to me.

After she lamented the details of the break-up and the sadness she felt along with the negative thoughts towards him (don’t judge, we’ve all done it), I made her tell me the one thing she missed most about him.

I know, why in the world would I make her rehash such a fresh wound? But, I had a goal in mind.

It took her a minute to come up with the one thing (I only wanted her to tell me one so as to not throw her back into a tizzy), but when she did, she admitted to the fact that she missed being adored by him.

Oh, I so get that. Don’t we all?

What girl doesn’t long to be adored? Chosen? Known? Cherished? Loved? Valued?

When we know what we’re missing, it has the potential to hurt even worse.

After she was able to express what she missed most, I challenged her to get a journal and tell the Lord all these things.  I know journaling may come natural to some of us, but if it isn’t routine for you, then this discipline wouldn’t be your first instinct.

If being adored is what she missed most, then why can’t she ask the Lord to reveal to her ways He adores her? And then receive that.  And so on and so forth.

I realize it sounds like I’m preaching to the single girls of the blog, but I want you to know first and foremost, I’m preaching to myself. After challenging her to do this, I had to get honest with myself and what I was lacking and ask the Lord to fill that longing with Himself. However, this isn’t just a post for the single, this is a post for you, the reader.

This past Sunday we had a guest preacher and he talked about Immanuel, God with us. It goes without saying that this was appropriate for the Christmas season that is now upon us, whether we’re ready or not. One thing he said that I haven’t stopped thinking about is, “We know the power of “with” because we know what it feels like to be “without”. Amen and amen.

A week ago I sat at a funeral of a man I’ve known since I was little, two days before Thanksgiving. Talk about hard. Although that family has the hope of Christ, it doesn’t take away the sting of moving on in life without him. We know the power of with because we know the power of without.

If I’m being honest, and well, I’ve never learned anything from anybody that had it all together, so I don’t want to pretend that I do, I can tell you that whenever Thanksgiving hits, everything in my flesh wants to have a pity party. It all stems from my selfish desires of not having what I want. Y’all, I’m weak.

However, as I was getting ready the morning of Thanksgiving, and I’m almost certain it was while I was applying my mascara, I heard the Lord whisper in my heart, Lindsee, be thankful for this day. You don’t know what future Thanksgivings hold. Simply put, be thankful for that day, this Thanksgiving and don’t complain about one thing I’m without.

Why? Because I don’t know what the rest of my Thanksgivings will hold. And quite frankly, throwing a fit isn’t going to change anything. I learned that as a little girl when I wanted to rent a movie in the worst way. I threw the biggest fit right there in the middle of Randall’s and walked out empty handed.  How am I supposed to enjoy the future if I can’t delight in the present? It may seem like the silliest, most elementary revelation to you, but it did wonders for me. I enjoyed every minute of that day. And it was good.

What do you find yourself lacking? What do you find yourself most longing for? What is something that you miss? I could be wrong, but I think it’s safe to say that the holidays can be some of the most painful days for some, and some of the most joyful days for some.

Maybe it is your singleness. Maybe you’ve just lost a loved one. Maybe your marriage isn’t all roses and sunshine. Maybe your family is falling apart. Maybe you find yourself unemployed. Maybe you feel lost in a big crowd. Maybe you’re lonely. Maybe your health is spiraling out of control.

This I know: He sees you. He hears you. What do you need Him to be? Tell Him. Cry out to Him. Be honest with Him. He knows your longings, as they are never hidden from Him. Ask Him to delight in you along the way, then receive it, however big or small it may seem. He is always mindful of you. You are dearly loved.

How do I know you are loved? Because as I recently heard a gifted teacher say, love sends and comes for you, love initiates, love stays and love sacrifices. God did all of that by sending His one and only son for you. He sent. He came. He sacrificed. And friend, He’s not going anywhere. It’s a promise.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,
 and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

“Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You.” Psalm 38:9 

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A Snapshot From Your World

Hey, Girls!

I’m sitting on the back porch on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Queen Esther is a few feet from me hugging a yellow tennis ball with her front paws and huffing and puffing with a wide, toothy grin in the afterglow of about 30 good cross-yard throws. I use one of these thing…

…for two really good reasons:

1) I wear out long before Star does and I don’t mind saying I don’t wear out all that easy. She never gets enough ball time. Never. I’m no math wizard but hurling that thing twice as far means I only have to throw it half as often.

2) In a word: dog spit. Well, that’s two words. Or let’s just make it a hyphenated word: dog-spit. She may be the Queen but spit is still spitty. I don’t care how lovely the original Queen Esther was, Xerxes wouldn’t have given her a second look with spit all over her chin. It’s just not ladylike. The whole story could have slipped and fallen on it.

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that I’ve gotten to have a few days mostly to myself. I hate to even mention those words to you moms of young children but it will happen for you someday, too, and sometimes you’ll be glad it did and other times you’ll pine for those babies like every fine day of your life is long behind you even though you know better than that. That’s when it’s a really good idea to have grandbabies but, unfortunately, it doesn’t always get to be your idea.

My man almost always heads to the ranch Thanksgiving afternoon after the meal.  It was the deer lease before he got some hunting acreage of his own.  I don’t pout about it because I don’t mind and it wouldn’t do much good anyway and it’s simply the way we’re accustomed to doing life. We were laughing at the table a few days ago when he admitted that, in the early years, he’d go to a little extra trouble to be a handful this time of year so that, the second he mentioned heading to the deer camp, I’d yell, “Gooooooo!” and kiss him goodbye in an anxious fury. Anyway, Keith’s idea of closeness has never been clinginess. Sometimes, if he’s been cooped up too long around here, he’ll retreat a tad into his own world like a lot of men do but 30 minutes after his truck tires hit I-10 West (or at least by the first Buccee’s) he’s often calling me and telling me why he ever fell in love with me in the first place. It makes me smile every time.

My man and I do better on this schedule: a lot of time together, a little time apart, a lot of time together, a little time apart, a lot of time together, a little time apart… And that’s how we’ve made it 34 years this coming December 30th.

Instead of getting my nose out of joint when he’s gone (it wouldn’t be a pretty sight anyway), I play like I own the place. I get up a bit later, read a little more, have longer quiet times, come and go as I please, and get with friends (and family, of course, but family is something we do on a regular basis anyway), walk in the woods all by myself (with Star) and I watch movies he’d probably hate.

Yesterday I decided to spend most of the day by myself doing this and that and, lo and behold, I got in the Christmas spirit. I tried to find where our Christmas decorations got stored in this new house last year when we made our monumental move to the country but, for the life of me, I couldn’t find a single box. I don’t know how to navigate the attics yet so I’m sure they’re up there. If they’re not, believe you me, you’ll hear about it. There will be heck to pay by somebody, especially if the stockings I handmade and tediously beaded from a kit for Keith, Amanda, Melissa and myself back in 1982 don’t show up. It was my last act of seamstressness and, without it, there is not the least whiff that I ever walked in craftiness. I’ll not have it.

But I did indeed know exactly where my Christmas dishes were. They were a gift from my “Other.” You know. We girls have a mother then many of us who live in a wide enough circle of women also have an “Other.” I mean, who really gets enough nurturing in this life from one older woman? Spread the love around. She doesn’t take the place of the one who raised you but sometimes you can tell her things you can’t exactly tell your M-Other. That was Miss Mary Helen to me. I have many things from her and most are beyond a retail price but these dishes are the most beautiful ones I’ve ever owned and I have 12 whole place settings. I bet a number of you have this same Spode pattern or one similar. It was the ultimate in Christmas dinnerware to our mothers and grandmothers and, to traditionalists, it can hardly be outdone.

It’s too big a waste to set them aside only for Christmas Eve or Day so I try to get them out nice and early and put some of them on this stand Miss Mary Helen gave me so we’ll use them everyday through the season. It’s a happiness to me.

And that’s all it took. Next thing I knew, I’d downloaded a new Christmas album on my iPhone. I don’t like it yet but I will before long. You know how we are about Christmas music. It’s the memories that surround them that make them our favorites but I’m ripe for some new memories anyway. Bring them on!

Actually, I got on here today just to say that I’d love to hear about one of your favorite moments from your Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Any of the four days will do. It doesn’t have to be life altering. Our community here also appreciates a snippet of simplicity. Just capture something you keep picturing from the weekend. An expression. A taste. A conversation. A sight. Write us up a little snapshot of it so that we can picture it through your words and through your beautiful eyes. Not too long, remember. We bloggers are notorious for ADD, myself included. It’s rare that we really read a long one. I’m so mindful when I write a long post that, by the end of it, I’ve lost most people. Sometimes it’s worth it because I’m working something through but, most of the time, I’d have been the wiser to have been the briefer.

Oh, Amanda snapped this picture of her Daddy and me on Thanksgiving afternoon so I might as well throw it in, too. He’s wheels are heading East and I’ll be mighty glad to see that handsome face. We Moores love you guys. Christmas will be here in exactly one month whether we’re ready for it or not. You may as well not fight it. Tie that house of yours up in red and green and slam the door on your Scrooginess. Don’t be a fossil. Make some wassail. Tis the season, Sweet Thing. Let’s celebrate us some Jesus.

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Broccoli Rice Casserole or Else

Hey, my most beloved blog community! I TOTALLY LOVE THANKSGIVING WEEK. Anybody else? It’s big on celebration and gratitude and small on peripheral stress. (i.e. gift-hunting, buying, wrapping) I dearly love Christmas, too, because of God’s incomparable gift to us in Christ Jesus but, man oh man, do I ever have a ton to do before then. SO, let’s stick to right now. I thought it would be fun and easy to share our biggest crowd-pleaser dishes over the next 24-hours. I started to wait until tomorrow but, by then, it’s almost too late to go to the grocery store for the extra ingredients. Let’s try to stick to recipes on the simple side so that we can fit some in at the last minute.

For my family, next to cornbread dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy, their must-have-on-that-table-or-else dish is the retro (circa 70’s) version of broccoli rice casserole. It’s the one thing both my daughters will ask me about in advance because, if I’m not going to make it, they’ll need to prepare themselves so they don’t go into shock and awe in front of the relatives.

Here is the recipe which I have to double into a Moore-der. Of course, a lot of you already have it or have moved on away from it but we also have lots of young cooks among us here in our blog community. You guys might want to throw this together and watch it disappear. It’s not sophisticated or trendy, but, Girlfriends, it is comfort food at its finest.

Broccoli-Rice Casserole:

1/4 cup of butter

1 medium onion, chopped

10 ounces of chopped broccoli (I always get the frozen version)

1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup

8 ounces of Cheese Whiz

2 cups cooked white rice

1 8-ounce jar of sliced mushrooms, drained

1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and sliced (You’ll usually find this in the section for Asian foods in your grocery store)

Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the chopped onion and saute it. Add the broccoli and cook it until tender. Usually five minutes is sufficient if it’s chopped in small enough pieces. You don’t want small trees in this dish but you also don’t want the broccoli to totally disintegrate. Add soup and Cheese Whiz and stir until smooth then stir all of this into your cooked rice. Add the mushrooms and water chestnuts. Pour into a prepared (buttered or Pam-sprayed) casserole dish then bake at 350 degrees for half an hour or until it is heated through and through and bubbly on the edges.

And, for whatever insane reason, many years ago my sister, Gay, and I started eating it with a tablespoon of our mom’s homemade blue cheese dressing right to the side of it. That will put you right over the edge so don’t try it the first year. Grin.

Oh, mercy. Surely you guys know how much I love you. The wonderful thing about being a community of women is that our relationship has all sorts of dimensions to it. We’re committed to women’s ministry around here and let’s face it. There are holiday occasions when food is your family’s favorite ministry.

I am so thankful for you guys. I wouldn’t trade you for anything. Let’s have a little 1 Peter 4:9 this week, Sisters! Let’s show hospitality without complaining! And that means even to our husbands under our breath. No kitchen martyrs. Happy attitudes make for happy holidays. Let’s not get ourselves all prepared for offenses. Overlook them and choose joy. Maybe even hilarity.

Happy Thanksgiving, Darlings. I’ll try to hop on here later in the week.

 

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Girl A to Z: A Call Back to Faith

Oh, ladies! Before I say anything else, I just have to tell you that all of Houston is on cloud nine because our weather has been out of this world gorgeous. Coming from the high 80’s last week to the low 40’s this week has put a skip in our step and is undoubtedly preparing us for the upcoming holiday festivities. I don’t know about you, but I like the week of Thanksgiving to have a little bit of chill in the air. It just feels right.

Enough about the weather, though. Mercy, y’all hear more about our weather than anything else. It’s just so fickle that we (and by we I mean me) get really caught up and obsessed with it.

Needless to say, I am thankful for our current temperatures.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I’m trying to imagine what we’ll all be doing about this time a week from TODAY. Whoa. I’m looking most forward to my post-turkey nap. It always delivers.

Moving on.

I spent last weekend with a handful of middle school girls and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still in recovery mode. They are pure gold, but our energy levels don’t even compare. They are like the energizer bunny while I am more like a turtle. I like to take things slow and steady. Them? Not so much. I know those of you who work with young girls are laughing. You get me. I’m still trying to decide if they are more concerned about One Direction’s newest single or the truths we talked about this weekend, but I’m claiming the truth that God’s word never returns void, so I’m praying the Word sinks deep in them. Of course, you know I’m kidding about One Direction. Kind of. But if I am going to get in with the young girls, I have to know what they’re currently obsessing over, and well, One Direction has certainly hit a nerve.

(To chase one more rabbit trail, for those of you who have no idea who One Direction is, to put it very simply, it’s a pop boy band.)

Can I just encourage you for a minute? In a world where we hear more negative than positive regarding the younger generation, I want you to know that listening to these girls sing their hearts out during the most simple worship set, and watching them put pen to paper taking notes during each session was by far the biggest delight of my weekend.

Y’all, there are some jewels out there and it is our job to speak truth and invest in them. How are they supposed to be our future leaders if we’re not pouring into them now and showing them the Way now? It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. And you can never start too early.

Oh, how my heart for these young girls beats fast. They need us. And we most definitely need them.

Anyway, I’ll step off my soap box so I can share with you what I really got on here to say. (Sorry for the rabbit trails.)

What I really want to say is, we have something new in our product store that might spark some memory or interest for some of you.

And while I’ve  now set this post up to make you believe it’s a resource about the weather or something for young girls, I want you to know that it has nothing to do with either of those things. I do apologize.

For those of you that have asked if you can get your hands on a copy of the LPL Simulcast message: “Girl A to Z: A Call Back to Faith”, today is your lucky day. Our desire on the blog is never to promote a certain this or that, but we’ve gotten so many calls and emails from those of you asking about it, that the easiest way for us to get the message out is through the blog.

The message from the simulcast about forsaking fear and gaining faith was so powerful that I’m still looking over my notes from that weekend, and I know many of you are, too.

If you are one of the ladies we’ve heard from about getting a copy of the message, you can get it by simply visiting our product store by clicking here. We have made it available as an audio MP3 download only. We hope and pray it speaks life into your bones.

We count it an absolute honor and privilege to serve y’all. Thank you for letting us do so. We love you!

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Lewiston LPL – Recap Video

Good morning, Siestas! For those of you who think we forgot about the recap video, rest assured, we did not. Here it is! I can’t believe this is the last recap video I’ll be posting until the 2013 Living Proof Live schedule starts back up. So crazy! Enjoy every single minute of this and we hope you have the very best Monday. We love y’all dearly!

Living Proof Live Lewiston Maine 2012 from David Lowe on Vimeo.

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To New Writers, With Love

After a fourteen-month break and a gracious God willing, I’m about to duck my head back under a stack of books and commentaries and drain a heap of ink cartridges dry as I peck, type, and tap my fingernails on my desk toward another Bible study. When I was 30 years old, the thought of the first one never occurred to me. After that one was finished and originally placed on a shelf, I didn’t imagine a second one.

It’s not that writing had never crossed my mind. I’ve been obsessed with the feel of a pencil sliding across a page since my earliest memories. My young childhood years were spent on a hill in Arkadelphia, Arkansas in a small house splitting at the seams with eight people and tickled in the ribs by pine needles. I must have swung a thousand miles on the stuffed burlap bag my dad hung by a rope from an oak’s flexing bicep. I’d twist the rope as tightly as I could then hop on the bag and twirl around in dizzying circles with my head reared back, rope unwinding, and hair flying. And life has gone by pretty much like that ever since.

Because my maternal grandmother lived with us, my mom wasn’t obliged to stuff all of us kids in the station wagon every time she went to the grocery store. On occasion, however, I’d beg to go with her and she’d let me. There was a little gray plastic horse with a red saddle and loose brown rein that I’d befriended at the auspicious entrance to the Piggly Wiggly. Most of the time, I’d stay perched right there on his rigid back until the checker dug herself out from under an avalanche of groceries, can by can. A child was safer to let go of her mother’s skirt in those days. While she was inside fetching buttermilk, pork ‘n beans, and light bread, I was outside hugging that plastic horse so fiercely that sometimes flecks of chipped paint would stick to my arms and legs until my next scrubbing.  That would occur the next Saturday night.

We, of course, were forced to bathe or shower every day and we often did so two by two, rather like a reverse Noah’s Ark. The youngest of five girls in the house, I might get thrown in with anyone from six years old to seventy-five. A disembodied voice would yell, Can I throw Bethy in there? Then the next thing I knew, a hand would appear ex nihilo and snatch me through the heavy veil. But there was a fearsome thing in our household called “the Saturday bath.” You didn’t come out of that one unscathed.

What skin you had left when it was over was usually exfoliated by the brisk drying off. It was something akin to the flaps in a car wash. The other six days a week I don’t even recall dry-before-dressed being a top priority but, come Saturday night, cleaning was a near killing. The water, however, was only phase one of the ritual. We girls then sat in a row at my mother’s feet while she pin-curled our hair so tight our eyes would turn to slits. All this was so that we’d look fancy for church the next morning. She also pin curled Nanny’s hair and had done so for years. That Nanny only had about 73 hairs left on her whole head was no wonder to me. I often pictured waking up on Sunday morning, crawling out of bed, and the pin curls remaining right there on the pillowcase completely intact, broken off at the roots.

Years passed before I realized that the horse outside the Piggly Wiggly would have rocked back and forth for the better part of a minute if somebody rolled a nickel into it. My mom could still laugh herself into a coughing fit about that very thing till the year she died. That old stiff beast wasn’t my only motivation anyway. I also hitched a ride for the Big Chief Tablet. If my four siblings and I hadn’t frazzled Mom down to her last nerve and pitched her into an absolutely not, I could usually harass one out of her with incessant incantations of pretty-pretty-please. There could also be measurable success if we kids had managed to break her will.  You had to play it just right since she was like most moms. Sometimes you didn’t know if it was resignation or rage until you were decidedly sorry you’d asked.  However I attained it, as soon as I had that tablet in hand and back home on the hill, I’d snatch a pencil from the kitchen drawer, sharpen it, and scribble for hours until every single line was filled on every last page.

Five and six years old, I wrote fastidiously in my own brand of cursive. Mind you, I hardly knew how to spell a word with basic print, let alone write in cursive but how could any literature be taken seriously in disjointed characters? So, I made up my own script, big on curlicues, loop de loops, ocean waves and dolphin fins. This was not the stuff of Christian books penned with a fury there in the dark red shadow of the Big Chief. My books were more inclined toward elementary romance novels. They involved characters like Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza and probably me, and Barbie’s dark-plastic-brown-headed Ken and probably me, and a host of doll babies or trolls and probably me. I would stare off into space a little while, mutter and ponder, then throw my head down dramatically and scribble for all I was worth.

Writing came easier back then.

As I grew up, my interests widened. I loved English and social studies and student government. I eventually got my undergraduate degree in political science with thoughts of going on to law school and threw in a teacher’s certificate to boot but, with any musing time at all, I still scribbled and doodled on every bare inch of paper. My official writing days were now long behind me, leaving soirees with Big Chiefs in a smattering of dust. I’m not sure when it first hit me that I might write a Christian book but, even then, those pages were scribbled out of a romance – the most enduring one I’ve ever had – and not without copious curlicues and loop de loops.

I’ve never mastered writing. I read the works of others and say with much admiration, now that’s a real writer.  But this many excursions in, I am no longer naïve about what these many months ahead are going to take. So, I’m steadying myself, taking a deep breath, and whispering underneath it, “Well, here we go again” and all with that inseparable mixture of stomach-churning dread and it’s-great-to-be-back hope. This is what I love. And this is what I sometimes hate. Well, that’s not true. Hate is too strong a word but on occasion it does occur to me that there are work-lives that could be substantially less stressful and less dependent on an endless list of variables like mood, atmosphere, weather, relative-quietness-versus-too-much-quietness where you can hear the clock ticking louder and louder until it sounds like an ear-splitting gong in a torture chamber. Under most circumstances, you need just the right inspiration for just the right amount of time, not to mention exactly enough pain to stir up some passion but not so much that you consider killing yourself. Or at least seriously.  And that’s another thing. You have to read and reread any whimsical sentence you write for fear that someone will take what you said too seriously and pass a kidney stone over it.

Writing can be a hard, grueling profession. It has moments of beauty, mystery, and emotion so strong that you can’t see the screen but, nipping at their very heels are harassing fears that you might not have another. That you’ve started a book you can’t finish. And worse yet, you told someone you’re writing a book and now it appears that the devil could die of frostbite before you can construct another intelligible sentence.

I feel this strange sensation of dread and hope every time I start to write something of any length but only in the last few journeys have I thought intently about you.  About you new writers, you lovers of words, stirred of heart and mind to lasso your swirling thoughts onto a page, let them be still, and wonder if anyone on earth will care to actually read them. And, if they do, will they ridicule them? I think of you now because of the groundswell of obstacles that have emerged out of a giant social earthquake. A dazzling mountain range has jumped in the path between the first word of every decent book and its last. Its lung-searing climb, its slippery summit, and harrowing descent are woefully beyond the muscle of the weak-willed.

Many of you are young enough to know no other writing world but this one. Others of us have been around long enough to recognize the glaring climate changes. A dyed-in-the-wool sanguine, I feed off a social frenzy with all the patience of a crackhead just like other people-persons do. I love it. I crave it. I’m just saying it’s next to impossible to actually eek out a decent book in the batting eye of it.  Long-term writing has always been difficult but these present winds, they are a-blowin’, and those of us who insist on keeping every window wide open will have our pens whipped into knots and our floors swept by swooshes of blank pages.

Because one thing will never change.

A decent piece of writing demands concentration.

It’s hard – not impossible but hard – to bring it to completion with a semblance of originality and, Lord, help us, anointing amid the constant cacophony. Amid unhindered choruses of…

Oh, for a thousand texts to ping.

Or

There’s a tweet, tweet spirit in this place.

Others are more qualified to speak to this than I. Obviously, I’m just putting off the first sentence of a project with one last rabbit-chase. I have no great word on lasting penmanship in a frenetic climate. My take on the subject comes from my own subjective experience and perspective. For that handful of you who have hung on this long, however, I’m going to throw a few things on the counter that I have learned along the way (true to frustrating form, the hard way). This is why: because I believe in you young writers and in you not-so-young-but-new writers. I see great men and women of God out there with things to say that need to be documented into a format with a shelf life longer than an iPhone upgrade. So, here goes.

Writing a book will be harder than you think and take longer than you want.

You very often will lose passion for the project somewhere in the middle of it and even sprint mentally in a mad blaze toward a new direction and new title. Expect it. It’s completely normal and, on occasion, projects really do need to be abandoned. Maybe God’s just not in it. Maybe it was better off as a blog post or a thought-worthy entry on Tumblr. Maybe we didn’t think it through and mistook it for a long-term project. It just wasn’t the right direction. We miss it sometimes. But, more often, the maddening ebb is part of the writing process that you must work and pray and cry and press through until the fire returns because, if you don’t? Well, if you don’t, you will start fifteen books and finish none of them. And, if you do, your blaze for the project will often boomerang with a satisfaction that plunges all the deeper because you fought the demon and won. In the immutable words of Hebrews 10:36, you need to persevere.

You have to factor in more than writing time. Decent writing requires much more time than it takes to actually type the sentences. Decent writing requires thinking and spinning and mulling and living and watching and listening and experiencing and reaching. These bring the strokes to the page that turn the transfer of information into true connection.

Limitless opportunities have come with the global blast of information and communication. What believer couldn’t entertain the notion that God may have foreordained all this access for the purpose of Gospel wall-leaping? It’s a gorgeous thing. But omnipresence is a burden only God can bear. Insisting on being ten places at once for twenty hours a day for weeks on end will ultimately make aloneness almost intolerable. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean we’ll never hear from God since He can well reveal Himself in corporate contexts. It just means that we will less likely sense what He’s trying to communicate to us personally and use us to communicate to someone else. The Biblical art of meditating can turn a parched cistern into a fountainhead.

I meditate on all You have done; I ponder the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land. Psalm 143:5-6

Turn to the psalmists and trace with your fingertips the times they talk about meditating on God and His precepts, His ways, His acts, and the human condition with and without Him.  Study the contexts. See the results. The loss of such an art may be gradual but make no mistake. It will also be incalculable.

The NIV translates Jesus’ words in John 12:49 in terms that stand up on the page like a pop-up book for any believer hoping to communicate.

For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

Only Jesus is capable of speaking solely what the Father has commanded but a concept dripping from it like honey is enough to wet the tongue of the driest human mouth: Communicating is not only about what to say. It’s about how to say it.

That takes pondering. And pondering takes time. The word “Godspeed” may be the most overlooked oxymoron in the English language. He rarely does. Speed, I mean.

Panic only exacerbates inevitable waves of writer’s block. I don’t care how elementary and predictable this piece of advice is going to sound. When it happens – and it will – get up from your desk, down on the floor, tell God your struggle and pray for Him to move you past the block. Then, as you get up from the floor, thank Him for His kindness and mercy and complete dependability. The block may pass right away. It may not pass until the next day. Or week. Or month. But, if the project is from God, the boulder will most definitely tumble from the path and, when it does, you’ll know who kicked it. Appropriately, God wants us to credit Him with every victory. Hasten to it.

Do the work. Study. Prepare. Don’t have all of your research done by someone else. The discovery itself is often the gift.

God will most often take the message we’re writing and prove us genuine by hammering the themes relentlessly on the anvil of our souls. Does it say anything that I had to type the word “anvil” very slowly to keep from writing “advil”?  Knowing how much time to allow on the manuscript due-date for a holy hammering is hard to navigate but, whenever it’s finished, it will be ten times the untested version. Oh, I know, I know. We all hope we’ve already lived the process in advance which is why we feel qualified to speak to it in book form but, from my experience, that’s a sweet dream.  If we sow to our flesh we’ll reap the flesh. Only if we go to the extra trouble to sow to the Spirit will we reap something of authentic, eternal spiritual value.

Submit to the angst of decent editing. That means we have to let our works and ourselves be critiqued. Criticized. Questioned. Challenged. A good editor can be a solid gold pain in the neck that we oughtn’t to want to trade for all the e-book space in the universe. Think of all we’ve gotten in trouble for saying, then think of all we could have said. Lord, help me. An editorial cut can sometimes swerve you right out of the path of a flatbed trailer full of fertilizer. If we don’t trust our editor enough to give us some pretty solid advice, we really do need to seek a new one. Some statements are well worth fighting for and it can come down to finding a different way to say them. Other times authors might get their way with an editorial disclaimer we shouldn’t take lightly: “Ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” A number of statements along the way have been worth some controversy to me but some of the things that have hurled me into the hottest water weren’t even important to me. Many words, much folly.

Perfectionism will snuff the flame. Period. Give it up. It’s cheating us out of hearing your genuine voice.

These are a few reasons why we may never read books by some of the greatest writers on the planet. Some are too narcissistic to take the criticism, too undisciplined to see it through the dry spells, or too committed to greatness to settle for publishing something good.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. We don’t have to strive for fabulous. Purely doing some good can be really great.

Just one more.

Don’t just think twice before you sign a multi-book contract. Think fifty times. Resist it at all costs (see below) unless God writes a go across the sky. As tempting as the sight may be, God may not spell go like this:

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

 
God can lead His children any way He pleases. You could flourish under conditions that I find crushing. But, for me, there’s nothing like the pressure to write that leaves me with fewer things to say. God is all-powerful, compassionate, mysterious, and sometimes almost humorous. He freely admits to the enjoyment of showing the wise foolish and the foolish wise. He can do anything He wants any way He wants but, as a general rule, holy passion is a better guide than human pressure. It is dangerous to sign contracts for unwritten books. And taking money for them can burn a hole right through the lining of your stomach.

So. I guess I’ve put off the process long enough and will go get to it. Maybe all this rambling was just a reminder to me. Thanks for giving me the space to hash it out.

 

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says, Of making many books there is no end.

 

And I – more reader than writer – for one am glad.

Write on, sister or brother. Don’t wait for a publisher or a book deal. A true writer has to write even with no one to read. Scribble down rogue phrases and incomplete sentences as they come whether or not they seem strung together. Write on the backs of sales receipts or the palm of your other hand. Just write! That book is in there somewhere.

If it seems slow, wait for it. (Habakkuk 2:3)

And when it comes, may God speak.

 

 

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Say It Today, Pray It Tomorrow

Hey, my dear loved ones!

I believe God has placed something on my heart for us to do here in our community for the next several vital days on our nation’s calendar. It will take place in two parts.

Part One: Today and for the next twenty-four hours in comments to this post, those who are willing are going to comprise prayers drawn from Scripture for our new president and the nation he will lead. These Scriptures incorporated into prayers don’t have to be limited to the ones we’re most accustomed to seeing for leaders. By all means, look at those but also consider a Bible-full of precepts that speak to character and integrity and the many qualities that comprise a great leader.  See how the Holy Spirit might lay them on your heart and turn them into intercession. Also consider Scriptures that speak to issues like protection from harm for our president and for our nation and wholeness of heart.

If you need a launching point for your thoughts, think about how you’d want people to pray for your husband if he were elected president tomorrow. Go from there. Make it any length from a few sentences to a meaty paragraph but not long. Remember what Jesus said about those wanting to be heard for their many words in prayer. Keep it succinct and sincere. This is really important and you’ll see the reasons why during Part Two. The comments to this post will be limited entirely to prayers. Please add no other words or comments or even greetings or replies to one another on this one. Let’s just do the thing that really makes the difference. Refrain from signing your name to the bottom of it because you’re going to see in Part Two that others will be using it. Just sign off with an “Amen” or similar benediction but do indeed list any references for the verses your prayers were based on.

The most important discipline of this process is writing our prayers before we know who our president will be. Needless to say, other petitions specific to the man who is elected will be vital throughout his presidency but for this public format and for this 24-hour period of time, we’re going to write our prayers without knowing who it will be. I think (and hope!) we will find this approach very effective and helpful in our focus and prayer-direction throughout Part Two. Oftentimes, heightened emotion and opinion cloud focus, clarity, and wisdom in our prayer lives, especially with so much at stake. It’s hard to pray according to the Holy Spirit when our flesh is inflamed. Remember at the end of all of this, our God is sovereign and at no time does He lose control.

Your prayer will need to take this basic skeletal form:

Address God the way you feel led (Dear Father in Heaven or Creator of Heaven and Earth or Sovereign Lord, etc.)

Write the petition for our new president and for our nation.

Conclude it “In Jesus’ Name, Amen” or with something of similar intent and assigned authority.

List all Scripture references that your prayers were drawn from or based on. (Just the locations. You do not need to write them all the way out.)

Part Two: 24-hours or so after this post opens for comment, it will be closed. In other words, by mid-morning Tuesday, November 6th (Election Day) there will be no further way to leave additional comments but you will have full access to all of those already written. (Comments that come in after work hours this evening will all be posted before the 24-hour closure so don’t worry. If you write a prayer before the 24 hours is up, it will get posted when Lindsee is able to complete all moderations. It takes a while.)

After the election results are in, here’s what I’m suggesting. This is the time we get to reap the harvest sown in Part One.  Come back to this post and start voicing a number of these prayers that resonate most with you. More importantly perhaps, consider voicing the ones that may be harder for you but you know they are godly, sound, and Scriptural. If you’re less sure about some of them, look up the Scripture references the intercessor listed and see if the context gives you any insight or direction. You can use this as a resource for your prayers not only in this 48-hour period but in days to come. Consider praying several of them per day until you work your way through them. That’s what I’m going to shoot for. I’m hoping to print them out and stick them in my prayer journal and voice several at a time over the weeks to come until I’ve agreed in prayer with practically all of them.

I’m not remotely suggesting this is the only way to pray for the next few days and in the weeks to come. It’s just one way but I really do believe this is the approach God placed upon my heart for our blog community. I’m looking so forward to harvesting some of this fruit in the coming days and there is no doubt in my mind that it will help direct my petitions and cause me to intercede for things I would have overlooked. I am continually inspired in my prayer life by the powerful prayers of others. Aren’t you? Let’s do this, Sisters. I think blessing awaits us and, far more importantly, awaits our new president.

I love you so dearly, ladies. My word, we’ve been around long enough to spend our second election together. I pray with all my heart that God will be pleased with this community and will use it to encourage and edify the Body of Christ in a way only He can empower or explain. He is so worthy of our trust and He is well able and willing to respond to earnest prayers that align with His will and come to Him through the glorious, saving Name of His Son.

Before I sign off, all three Moore-Jones-Fitzpatrick girls could use your prayers! We are all headed to the other side of the world and to two different locations. Later today Melissa and I will board a plane for Greece for a dual-purpose trip over the next 7 days. (Voted early) As guests of Nick and Christine Caine, we will have the privilege of seeing some of the work of the A21 Campaign (Abolishing Injustice in the 21st Century) from a much closer angle and attend (and serve at) a conference there. I love nothing better than seeing what God is doing around this globe. God is using this time on the Kingdom calendar to expose horrendous injustices – particularly in the areas of human trafficking – that need to be fought by the Body of Christ. (See Isaiah 58!)

Melissa and I are also beginning a new Bible study journey together and, with the help of a guide, will be doing research in some very strategic places involved in the series. You will not waste a prayer on us! Pray for God to show us great and mighty things that we do not know (Jeremiah 33:3) and bless us with powerful encounters and insights and help us to serve people effectively and affectionately there amid such cultural differences. We are certain they will be a blessing of God to us but we want so much to also be a blessing of God to them. THEN, Amanda follows right behind us two days later (on Wednesday) heading to India for a very important mission trip with the organization “As Our Own.” Even in our very different destinations, all three of us will be serving in areas where human trafficking is appallingly prevalent and believers are being mobilized slowly but surely to cry out and labor for its end.

So! As usual, you won’t waste a prayer on the Moore-Jones-Fitzpatrick women and our families. (But don’t write them into your comment. Laughing. Don’t let me, your very own blog mama, get you off course with our purpose today! Only prayers for the president in your comments please.) Thank you so much, dearly loved ones.

Though I will be far from home, I’ve already prepared some blog posts for you in advance (look for one on Thursday) and Lindsee will be also be holding down the fort. So, have no fear, Siestaville! The city doors will stay wide open here throughout! Watch for the three of us on Twitter if you want to keep up with some things we’re experiencing in real time. (@bethmooreLPM, @AmandaMoJo, @MissFitz77)

You are dearly loved and prioritized here, Sweet Things. Now START WRITING PRAYERS!

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Autumn Giveaway

Ladies! I think a Friday afternoon deserves a celebration. We’ve almost made it through the entire work week! Woo hoo! We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is always the hardest part of the giveaway because we’d love to gift all 3,911 of you, but alas, we cannot, which I guess is what makes a giveaway so fun. With that said, join me in celebrating our SIX beloved winners for this fabulous giveaway. Believe me when I say we here at the office are coveting each of the gifts and almost threw a fit when we realized we couldn’t enter the giveaway ourselves. We love fun stuff like this just as much as you do!

So, without further ado, congratulations to…

Grand Prize Winner: Cara Koski

Second Prize Winner: Ansley DuRant

Gift number 3: Victoria Gelberg

Gift number 4: Kim Tipton

Gift number 5: Anne Dailey

Gift number 6: Leslie Wood

If y’all would please email me (Lindsee) at blog@lproof.org with your mailing address we willl get these prizes to you ASAP. We love y’all so very, very much. Thanks for playing along. Hope you each have a beautiful, fall weekend!

 

 

 

DEAR SIESTAS! THE MERE THOUGHT OF YOU IS MAKING ME GO ALL-CAPSY.

It has been FOREVER and then some but I have been thinking about you. I know I haven’t been in this here blog-space much recently but I can assure you that I’m still at LPM. My days are full since I’m working and going to school part-time. AGAIN. Yes, again. Somehow even when I vow to walk away for good, I end up right back in the classroom in some capacity. This time around I’m working slowly on a M.A. in Biblical Languages at Houston Baptist University. When I’m not researching something for a project at LPM, I’m taking a Greek class in the Septuagint and a Hebrew readings class in the Joseph narrative. Oh, and how could I forget to mention Winston Jeffrey Fitzpatrick?! A little over a year ago Colin brought home a baby rottweiler and our life has never been the same since (even when I desperately want it to be!). Winnie is SO, SO bad but we love him madly.

Here is W posing in my dining room. Or demanding a filet mignon cooked over medium, I’m not really sure.

Here he is again furious about having to wear his birthday hat:

But really, enough about us.

I want to talk about YOU and a fall giveaway we are doing because we love you and appreciate you.

Now, I should mention at this point that if you are one of those people who is SO OVER all the talk about pumpkin-flavored anything, then you will want to run for your life.

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.

Do I have a faithful fall remnant?

This weekend we had our first legit “cold-front” here in Houston. It was even down in the forties one night. Glory be! The crisp cold air in my lungs got to me in the best way possible and, of all things, I wanted to cook. There’s just something about fall that always brings me back to the kitchen. Nothing better than listening to a little Norah Jones or The Civil Wars with the windows cracked open, cool breeze dancing through the house, while a chili or stew simmers on the stove. I thought just maybe fall might do the same for some of you so the grand prize winner will get a red Le Creuset signature round dutch oven (red not orange like the one on the box).

I love it passionately and do not want to let it go. I even enjoy posing with the beloved dutch oven:

The second prize to be claimed is a $100 gift card to Pottery Barn because, let’s be honest, Pottery Barn during the fall season is heaven on earth:

Gift number 3 includes an amazing decorative pillow, fall flower arrangement, and Hill Country Home candle.


Gift number 4 includes a fun little clutch from Anthro, a scarf, several pairs of boot socks, and some gorgeous MAC makeup in fallish colors.

Here is Lindsee modeling the scarf. Love her and she can work a scarf better than anyone I know:

This MAC stuff is tough to photograph but fantastic (includes three eye shadow kits and two lipsticks in shades of Russian Red and Viva Glam III).

Gift number 5 has a bunch of fun stuff: Cook’s Illustrated Fall Entertaining magazine, kitchen towels, mulling spices, Hill Country Home candle (again this is one of my faves!), autumn cupcake decorating set, beautiful engraved silver dish, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin bread mix, and more.

Gift number 6 comes with a fun autumn welcome mat, potpourri, decorative kitchen towel, and my favorite ever mulled apple cider candle. DIVINE.

Here is Mom sorting out all the gifts. Isn’t she cute?

So dear friend, for a chance to win one of the six prizes, please leave a comment with your first and last name and tell us something you love about fall.

We love you so much,

Melissa

(Lindsee not pictured here ONLY because she was out of the office when we snapped this photo)

 

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