Saturday, March 29, 2014

stephen king was correct

Stephen King was correct:

Reading does, however, have a way of slowing down the process when you're hurrying to make a deadline. In fact, my latest project, "Beyond Belief--The Extraordinary Faith of Ordinary People and What We Can Learn From Them" has required a truckload of reading... two books on how to write a non-fiction book proposal, and two more books on faith I just ordered.
This is followed by hours of reflection, and only then, hesitant writing. Here is a short blurb about the book:

~Beyond Belief recounts the stories of people who have endured some of life's darkest moments--a child's death, a friend's suicide, a cancer diagnosis--and gone on to forge a strong faith in God. They don't blame him for their trials. They don't question his motives or his intentions. Instead their stories help us reconcile the contradictions between what we have been taught to believe about a merciful and all-powerful God with what we experience in our lives. Beyond Belief explores the extraordinary faith of ordinary people, and what we can learn from them.~

These ordinary folks are friends of mine. Some were patients of mine. Some are family. You, too, probably know people with stories like these. Perhaps you're one of them, someone who has weathered a faith shattering tragedy or crisis. How did it change your image of God? Your relationship with Him? Your faith?

If it is a challenge for me to write the narrative that introduces these people, they may have agreed to attempt the impossible for me--to put grief, anger, fear, and guilt into words the rest of us can understand and learn from. 

Sometimes the reading part of the process feels like procrastination, as though I really should be getting words on the page instead. But there is no substitute for knowing your subject. It's the only way you can bring your own heart to it. 

How do you balance reading and writing? Dreaming and doing? 
How do you feed your soul?

A sure sign of spring: it's raining, not snowing as I write this...

Monday, March 10, 2014


It's as though we're all holding our breath this morning...waiting. Waiting for the sky to clear and the snow to melt. Waiting to shed our coats and scarves. The birds are quiet. Not a blade of grass has come to life. It hasn't occurred to the trees that they should be in bud by now. Last year they were. By this time last year the woods were coming to life:

This year all we can do is to wait and hope:

In addition to waiting for the arrival of spring, I'm waiting for the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Conference to begin next week. I'm hoping to pitch my WIP which is quite a departure for me...from literary fiction to Christian non-fiction. This means I have to pitch my book proposal, not the final manuscript...meaning more waiting and hoping as I move ahead with the narrative. Here is an overview of the book:

"It doesn’t take a degree in theology, philosophy, or medicine to make sense of the problem of pain. We can learn everything we need to know from ordinary people.

Beyond Belief recounts dozens of stories from people who have endured some of life’s darkest moments—a child’s death, a friend’s suicide, a cancer diagnosis—and gone on to forge a strong faith in God. They don’t blame him for their misfortune. They don’t question God’s motives or methods. Instead, their stories help us reconcile the contradictions between what we have been taught to believe about a kind and merciful God with what we experience in our lives.

This book does not pretend to interpret scripture. It has nothing to say about the ancient philosophers, nor does it rely on convoluted explanations of theoretical physics that argue for or against the existence of God. Beyond Belief suggests that we abandon the futile quest for the answers we want from God--Why me? Why this? Why now?--and instead, embrace what we need from him--strength, solace, and hope.

Beyond Belief is about the extraordinary faith of ordinary people, and what we can learn from them."

What are you waiting for? What keeps your hope alive?

Don't let this happen to you...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

let's pretend

Let's pretend.

Today I'm pretending I'm eight years old again and today's snow storm is the first one of the winter. You can't imagine the joy in my heart! The excitement! My father and I have carted our skiis into the kitchen and set up shop. There are rites to be observed on this occasion. We set the flat iron on the stove to warm. We take a file to the edges of the skiis until they are sharp enough to cut paper. Then we rub them down with wax and run the iron over it. Before the wax cools, we spread it out evenly using a piece of cork. The smell of melted wax fills the house. My father tightens and oils the bindings while I dust off the boots and poles. Mother has pulled out a chest full of hats and mittens and scarves. Tomorrow we'll hit the slopes.

I'm pretending that the creek is frozen over. It is a cold, gloomy day but that doesn't discourage us. My brother and I have lugged our ice skates and a couple of shovels through the woods to a place that, just a few months ago, served as our summertime swimming hole. The stream widens here and the water deepens. The ice is thick and smooth. We push last night's snow off to one side, strap on our skates, and wobble out onto the ice. Today I am determined to learn how to propel myself backwards. Peter gives me a boost and the crowd goes wild.

I'm pretending that this is the day we decided to hike through the snow for no better reason than to prove we could. The snow is up to our knees, the drifts up to our waists. We take turns leading the way, blazing a trail across the field, up the hill, and and into the woods. There is snow in our boots. It has worked its way up under our jackets, and has soaked through our gloves, a piddling price to pay for what we find. The woods are silent, the air is still. A dog barks somewhere off in the distance. A squirrel runs for cover. At the top of the hill we survey the valley below. Nothing stirs.


If you have had it with winter...if you can't take one more snow storm...take a minute and pretend you're a child again. Step outside for a moment and catch a couple of flakes on your tongue. Get a mug of hot chocolate and stuff it full of marshmallows. Be a kid again.

"I prefer winter,
when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.
Something waits beneath it;
the whole story doesn't show."
~Andrew Wyeth~
Me, too, Andrew.