*I like good strong words that mean something…
I read Little Women in third or fourth grade, and have been channeling Jo March ever since.
*Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and fall into a vortex, as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace.
Even though I chose a career more pragmatic and pay-grade worthy than writing, I still felt compelled to fill piles of notebooks with wild stories, character profiles, and silly poetry–I couldn’t not write. Anytime I felt lost, my fingers unearthed a map by way of a keyboard or pen. When I started blogging (on a whim), I found you guys, and my world opened up to lifelong friends, inspiration, and happy places to share my ramblings.
Then, I got ambitious and egocentric. What if I could do this for a living? People were reading my gibberish and seemed to like it–why not publish?
*I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.
In Little Women, I was most drawn to the chapters where Jo crafted stories and fashioned her manuscript parcels. I have always been about the process–whether it’s training for a marathon, planting tomatoes, or building a story. In the garden, I am drawn to the plot graphs and seedling calendars. My arms and legs itch for the act of plunging seeds into the soil, hoeing weeds and watering plants. The harvest? While lovely and inspiring, that is icing, er…carrots on the cake. (Though, we all know how I love frosting!)
The joy for me is finding inspiration in the ordinary tasks. The enlightened realization that a garden is rich with life lessons and metaphors. I love uncovering my next blog post in a pile of compost or under a cabbage leaf. I also crave the calm that surrounds more mundane tasks. Cleaning out closets, chopping wood, preparing a meal for the family–all of this makes my heart happy.
*The humblest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them.
With all the hype around publishing, had I forgotten the simple pleasures in writing? After gentle nudges and discussions with close friends, I took an honest look at my last six months of blog posts.
*You have grown abominably lazy, and you like gossip, and waste time on frivolous things, you are contented to be petted and admired by silly people, instead of being loved and respected by wise ones.
Okay, well, my friends weren’t that harsh, but you get the gist. Other than the stories from my most recent (beautiful) guest posters, it’s been all about me, and writing a book–blah, blah, blah. Building a platform–bleggh! Getting a newsletter mailing list, and networking with other writers. I have enjoyed the process and the research and the networking, (oh my!) But, in the furor of activity and self-promotion, I neglected something vital.
*I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle, something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.
The realization rocked me, so I decided to shut up and listen to some other voices. I took May (and June and July) to reevaluate and decide what I want to put forth into the world. Have I been real and authentic, or just rolling around in the process of publishing and publicity? How can I help someone other than myself with these words on a page? Then, it happened. I got a story published. In a real book with my biography and picture in the back pages.
And, I wasn’t ready for it.
In June, my story was one of 365 other stories published in this internationally bestselling book. Instead of expected elation, I felt unworthy to be a part of such a beautiful and soul-filled project.
Before you disagree or think I’m throwing out a humble-brag fishing lure, let me speak my peace. I am thrilled to be an author contributor and am so thankful to Monica for introducing me to the husband/wife, author/collaborator team of Jodi and Dan. But, I still feel strange in writing about grace; more so, publishing it. It’s like I got invited to a cool party, made a scene, and am now taking the walk of shame with heels in one hand, and car keys in the other. I am clumsy, spiritually shy, and awkward in this space.
*Well, I am happy, and I won’t fret, but it does seem as if the more one gets the more one wants…
What could I ever have to say about grace? I struggled when writing the published story, and now I’m struggling with what to write about it in this post. So, for inspiration, I read the first passage–Three Angels and a Tire by Rani St. Pucci. And then another–More Faith, Less Worry by Monica Wilcox. And another after that–Sown on Rocky Ground by Chris Anderson. Do you know what I found? Evidence of grace, and more than two hundred other authors who have had their struggles and shared their honest stories.
Here is what Jodi and Dan have to say about 365 Moments of Grace:
Grace can show up in many ways. It’s in the tangible signs showing us that our world is truly magical. It’s in the intangible feelings reminding us that we’re never really alone. It’s in every moment when the universe lets us know how loved we are, how loving our world is, and how connected we are to all that is.
In this book, over 250 beautiful souls – including bestselling authors Jodi Chapman, Dan Teck, Arielle Ford, Kristine Carlson, and Christine Arylo – each share a moment of grace they’ve personally experienced with the hopes of inspiring you to open to grace in your own life.
While the experiences themselves vary greatly, each of these moments transformed the authors and connected them to something much bigger than themselves. These true-life stories (one page each – for quick inspiration!) were written with love and infused with the intention that you’ll be on the lookout for moments of grace to show up in your own life…and that you’ll be open to receiving them when they do!
After some stalling, I read my story, too. On page 10 in chapter 1–Discovery in Grace Canyon. Each author was allotted 250-350 words, so I wrote a simple story about uncovering grace in a space right in front of me after years of searching for it. It was short, honest, and full of grace.
Hmmm…maybe I do belong in those pages after all?
Maybe you do, too.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank the friends who read about it in my newsletter and who have already purchased this book. My dad, who had a heart attack last month, has been reading the book–one passage for each day of the year. When I’m writing well, it’s because I write inspired by the people I love. My dad has helped me remember that and I hope you’ll see further evidence in stories to come.
For those of you who are looking for grace in the hidden spaces, this book would be perfect for your bedside table, morning meditation, or evening devotions. You can order your personal copy here.
Care to stumble through the rest of the crazy, grace-filled, messy life with me? I’ll carry your shoes 🙂
*Jo’s breath gave out here, and wrapping her head in the paper, she bedewed her little story with a few natural tears, for to be independent and earn the praise of those she loved were the dearest wishes of her heart, and this seemed to be the first step toward that happy end.
Special thanks to my blogger bestie Christy, who always helps me write (and do) the hard stuff.