Tag: Personal

On track…

So I’m a slouchy blogger these days. Sorry ’bout that. I guess I didn’t realize that I’ve been running on nothing but fumes for weeks (i.e. the tank is empty). I’m tired, kaput, frayed at both ends, wasted. But I’m also very happy… My sixth book is turned in to my agent, Beneath the Night Tree will be sneaking into stores any day now, my children are healthy and well, and Aaron bought me a French Beaujolais at his layover in Brussels. What more could a girl ask for? Smooches from this little guy, of course. Yup, that’s what I’ve been doing: lots and lots of snuggling.

Anyway, I’m starting to get back on track and looking forward to catching up with many of you in the days and weeks to come. I just wanted to pop in today to say “hi,” and let you know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. Though that actually sounds kind of nice. 😉

Coming up soon: a sneak peek at my next book Far From Here, my all-time favorite holiday recipe (it should be a family secret, but I’m not good at keeping “fun” secrets), a top-ten list of my favorite books of 2010, and much, much more.

Thanks for reading! And hey, make a girl smile and take a minute to say “hi.” What have you been up to? I feel so out of touch…

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2010 in Review

Happy New Year!

I know, I know, the new year is already old news. But I’m just coming up for air and realizing that I can’t write 2010 on my checks anymore. Not that I write so many checks, but you know what I mean. 2010? Seriously? I feel so old… and strangely anxious. Isn’t the world supposed to end soon? 😉

Anyway, I realize this is so cliche (everybody’s doing it!), but I have to take a few minutes and reflect on the past year. I just have to. I’m a creature of habit, not to mention a firm believer in the value of meditating on where I’ve been. And, oh, what a journey…

In 2010 I…

  • signed a new book contract with a new publishing house
  • completed my fifth book (Beneath the Night Tree–releasing soon!)
  • completed my sixth book (Far From Here–I’m still tweaking; more on this soon)
  • gave birth to a beautiful, healthy little boy that has stolen my heart, my time, and sometimes my sanity (I don’t mind one bit!)
  • celebrated my eldest son’s seventh birthday and my middle son’s 4th (sniff-sniff)
  • traveled to Alaska for book research and Lake Shetek, Minnesota for a week of family fun in the sun
  • gave myself approximately 240 injections (to help sustain my pregnancy)–something I never thought I’d have the courage to do
  • wept with my husband over the decision to quit pastoring at Bridge of Hope and accept the position of Dean of Chapel at Dordt College (of course, we’ve celebrated this change, too!)
  • single-parented three kids for over two weeks while Aaron traveled to Liberia for our non-profit (One Body One Hope)
  • said goodbye to our sweet, first home and moved into something with a bit more space
  • mourned the loss of my stillborn nephew
  • watched my good friend battle cancer and emerge victorious
  • experienced a lifetime–or at least, felt like I did

Yikes, what a year it has been! So full of change, but so, so good. God is so good. Life is so good. Mmmm… even the coffee I’m drinking is pretty darn good. Did I mention I love a new year?

Your turn: What was the highlight of your 2010?

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Extravagance

*Although I have my old blog archived here, from time to time I’m going to dust off a post from those files and feature it on my new site. Some of you may have read it before, but others are new to my blog, so I think this may give you a bit more of a taste for who I am and what sorts of things we talk about at Girls in White. Since today is Christmas Eve, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about gift-giving. About extravagance. Blessings to you this Christmas, my friends. May your cup be filled to overflowing. Thanks for reading!*

As a pastor’s wife, I get to attend more than my share of weddings. Truthfully, I’m becoming a bit immune. What used to elicit a tightening in my chest, even a random tear or two, is now sometimes little more than mundane. Well, I guess that’s not an entirely fair thing to say. I have yet to experience that incredible moment when the bride walks down the aisle without catching my breath…

Anyway, yesterday Aaron and I witnessed the marriage ceremony of good friends. Aaron counseled the couple and officiated the ceremony, but he asked them not to give him an honorarium. They slipped him a check in spite of his request, and in an act of what I initially considered utter lack of judgement, Aaron went out and bought them a gift with the entire amount. What did he buy? A bottle of wine. Okay, I love wine. I’ve even been privileged enough to taste a $50 bottle of wine. I considered that extravagant. But this 2002 award winning Cabernet Sauvignon blows that “cheap” bottle of vino out of the water.

“Wine?! You spent that entire check on a bottle of wine?” I smiled blandly, trying to keep my expression amused even though I was thinking, “You are completely insane.” It’s not that we needed the money or even that we wanted it. But I couldn’t help thinking that there were easily twenty things that would make more sense to buy. Make a donation to a charity in their name! Buy them something nice for their home! Help them out with their first month of rent!

I shook my head at my silly husband all the way to the wedding. And then the ceremony began and everything changed. Instead of lighting a unity candle, the couple elected to participate in a traditional Jewish engagement ceremony where the prospective groom offers his beloved a glass of wine. If she drinks from his cup, they are engaged and he will go home to prepare a place for her. (Sound familiar? Overtones of eternity?) It’s all about commitment, love, acceptance, vulnerability. It is a beautiful, holy thing. I listened to Aaron speak of their marriage and how, if they are planted in the Lord, in the years to come their love will only get better with age. Like fine wine. Suddenly that bottle of wine, that extravagant, ridiculously exquisite vintage became symbolic, sacred even–a reminder of how unique, how consecrated this covenant between a man and a woman is. It reminded me of another time that someone was chastised for the unapologetically lavish nature of her gift (John 12:1-11).

It saddens me sometimes how quickly I diminish the hand of God as he weaves lives together, levels kingdoms, lifts the heads of his people… How often do I miss the sacred in the every day? A “routine” wedding ceremony is nothing less than God’s plan being revealed one life at a time.

Believe it or not, this does have much to do with writing. It struck me yesterday at that moment when the couple kissed, when the witnesses throughout the church erupted in laughter, cheering, rejoicing, that as an author who is a Christian I can do no better than to allow my readers a glimpse of such beauty, such extravagance through my writing. We forget. We forget how sacred our lives are. We forget how each moment is an act of worship, whether or not it is the Lord whom we worship. I am so thankful for moments when I am allowed the smallest taste of the richness of heaven. It lifts my soul, it deepens my hope. It makes me want to keep trying to capture little pieces of the eternal and pin them to my paper, if only for a moment. It makes me long to taste the wine at the wedding supper of the Lamb.

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Identity

*Although I have my old blog archived here, from time to time I’m going to dust off a post from those files and feature it on my new site. Some of you may have read it before, but others are new to my blog, so I think this may give you a bit more of a taste for who I am and what sorts of things we talk about at Girls in White. Thanks for reading!*

I’m a Newsweek girl. Have been since… oh, I don’t know. Forever, I guess. I remember being really young and paging through the glossy magazine in search of photographs that would elicit a chill–either from the sheer beauty and truth they encapsulated or from the juxtaposition of the unexpected, like a child’s body floating facedown in a calm pool, white shift fanned out in a soft cloud. Can’t say I like those images, but they do have the power to show me the depth of my naiveté. It’s ponderous, I think.

Yesterday my mail bundle contained a fresh copy of Newsweek, and I (procrastinator that I am) promptly sat down and devoured it cover to cover. Back cover to front cover, of course. It’s the only way to readNewsweek–all the light, artsy articles are in the back, with the political and international hard-hitting sob stories near the front (I like to ease my way in). One of the final (first for me) articles was called “Generation Diva: How our obsession with beauty is changing our kids.” I was hooked after the first paragraph:

There’s a scene in “Toddlers & Tiaras,” the TLC reality series, where 2-year-old Marleigh is perched in front of a mirror, smothering her face with blush and lipstick. She giggles as her mother attempts to hold the squealing toddler still, lathering her legs with self-tanner. “Marleigh loves to get tan,” her mom says, as the girl presses her face against the mirror.

Are you kidding me? I don’t have a daughter, but come on, that’s just not right. Jessica Bennett, the author of “Generation Diva”, goes on to catalog spa days for five-year-olds, laser hair removal instead of shaving, and Botox for girls barely out of training bras. In one staggering statistic she claims that by the time your ten-year-old daughter is fifty, she’ll have spent “nearly $300,000 on just her hair and face.” That’s no typo, there are five zeros in that staggering figure.

I’ll admit I was hyperventilating a bit at this point in the article, though what Jessica revealed next came as no big surprise: we’re priming our girls to be perpetually dissatisfied with themselves. More so, we’re creating an entire generation whose identity is tied up in what they look like. I am nothing more than the sum of my clear skin, pouty lips, slender hips… Sigh.

Oh, it breaks my heart for a million different reasons. And yet, this morning I hopped on my computer, checked both of my email accounts, my blogger profile, and my Facebook pages (both personal and public), and felt a little stab of discontent when nothing interesting was going on. No emails from fans, agent, or publisher. Nothing new and noteworthy. Sigh. And all at once it struck me that right now my identity, my entire identity, is hopelessly wrapped up in my writing career. Part of this is because I have a book releasing in a couple weeks (things always get a little crazy around a book release), but I don’t like the feeling all the same. I don’t like believing that the worth of my existence is tied to my success (or lack thereof) as a writer. How is that any different from some poor tween believing that her beauty lies in the shade of her highlighted hair?

Yuck. The things we do to ourselves.

Anyway, I have a question for you today. What do you base your identity on? Where do you find your affirmation? I realize that this answer can change from day to day, but take a moment to ponder where you’re at right now. And then remind yourself: I am so much more than this. I am not what I look like. I am not an extension of my job. I am not simply a wife/mother/daughter/sister or husband/father/son/brother. I am not just a friend of so-and-so. I am not what I do. I am not what I don’t do. I am not always who you think I am…

But I am created for a purpose. I am significant. And I am beloved by God.

Have an awesome weekend, Beloved.

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Once Upon a Dream

I recently watched a cute movie (Morning Glory). It wasn’t anything I’ll remember forever, but it was nice. How’s that for a rave review? 😉 Anyway, though I’m likely to forget the movie, I don’t think I’ll ever forget a conversation that took place right at the beginning.

The main character, Becky, is talking to her mother. Becky has just lost her job producing a small morning television show, and instead of encouraging her, mommy dearest apparently feels it is her duty to strip Becky of her dreams.

Mom (about Becky’s life-long desire to be a big producer): “It was adorable when you were 8. Inspiring when you were 18. Now that you’re 28, it’s a little pathetic. Don’t let it become embarrassing.”

*Gasp!* It’s a stab to the heart! Can’t you just feel it? Now, I know Becky is a fictional character, but I wanted to crawl through the screen and give her a hug. To say, “Don’t you listen to that nasty woman. She’s so wrong. Dreams are never embarrassing.” Well, I guess I can’t make a blanket statement like that. If I still clung to my childhood fantasy of rock-stardom, that would be rather pathetic. But Becky’s dream was realistic to me… She was working in her field, doing everything in her power to translate her dream into reality. It didn’t seem so far-fetched to me.

Anyway, that conversation got me thinking about dreams. About those tightly held aspirations we secret away in places where we sometimes pretend they don’t exist. (Because we’re scared? Embarrassed? Worried about what people would say or think?) I’m happy to say that many of my life dreams have come true. I’m married to an amazing man, I have three gorgeous children, and I’m writing books (something I still have to pinch myself about from time to time). But that doesn’t mean I’ve run out of dreams. It only means I get to dream bigger.

I confessed to you all a few days ago, but these admissions are even harder than divulging that I bite my fingernails. Yikes! Here goes… I would like to live overseas someday. I want to own a horse. I’d love to win an award for my writing. I long to see my boys grow into strong, godly, kind-hearted men. I want to watch Liberia transform before my eyes, and for the children in the orphanage we support to grow into leaders and reformers in their land…

Your turn: I don’t care how old you are, your dreams are never pathetic or embarrassing. Care to share? Even a little one?

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