December 2010 archive

1000 words a day – Two – Harder than I thought. 1000 is a lot!

When we learned to write and understand stories back in elementary school, we were taught to consider the “Who, What, When, Where and Whys.” Why did Charlotte write words in her web? ? Why did the story happen in a pigpen? The stories were fiction. I’m trying to write non-fiction based on everyday life. There are plenty of times I’ve considered those same questions as life has unfolded. Out of all of these question words, there is one that experience has taught me I don’t really need to ask much anymore. That question is Why?

If asked to conjure up a picture of a child asking, “Why?” you would have no problem doing so. They ask all the time. Why is there a moon at night? Why does your tummy have wrinkles on it? Why can’t I have cookies for breakfast?

Recently while speaking to some moms of teenagers, we discussed the question why. Was, “because I said so,” a valid answer? I thought we did need to explain the reason behind our choices. We did need to tell why. It helps our children to become better decision makers as we explain our thought processes we use when we make decisions. I appreciate that God has been gentle enough to show me the whys of some of the hard times I’ve experienced.

My mom divorced when I was two and remarried when I was three. I had a wonderful father that raised me, but I always felt different. I didn’t like that.

I moved my senior year. It stunk.

I wanted to be pregnant and couldn’t conceive for a while. It was so hard.

We moved and didn’t sell our home in another state for 3 years. I cried.

My mom died at age 63. She had aggressive brain cancer. I hate that.

Sometimes we never know the whys when we are living out a non-fiction story. I have been able to see why these things were truly for my best. I didn’t necessarily believe that when I was in the circumstances, but I do now.

Why would I say that these hard things were best? They built resilience. According to the book, The Only 127 Things You Need by Donna Wilkinson, resilience is one of the few things you really need. It can’t be developed unless you face challenges. You don’t know you have it unless you go through a hard time and make it to the other side. And knowing that you can make it through anything, allows you to have hope especially when times are tough. If you are a parent, this really makes you think doesn’t it? We spend so much time protecting our children from anything hard. We can still hate it for their crushed hearts when they have a disappointment, or have to go through a hard time of their own making, but we can be strong for them knowing that this experience is building something in them that they need to live. We wouldn’t think of not giving them nourishment or shelter. We need to allow them to face challenges, which are like vitamins keeping resilience healthy.

You pray for something, asking for your deepest desires and yearnings to come about. Things don’t go the way you planned. You have a decision to make. Do I believe that God is good? Do I believe He loves me? Do I believe He is not holding out?

As I look back and understand many of the whys of my life, I do believe. When you hear Natalie Wood repeat, “I know it’s silly but I believe” in the movie, Miracle on 34th Street, you hope alongside her, wishing her dreams into reality so her faith will be confirmed. They find the house she dreamed of. Her mom decides to marry the man that Natalie’s character wants for her father. Her hopes did come to fruition.

God knows the big picture. I do not. This fact helps me to still have faith even when I don’t ever understand why.

Looking back on hard times and seeing His orchestration of events for my ultimate good, helps me to believe – to have faith. I can begin to see the good in the hard, or at least to believe it is there. God doesn’t say IF we have hard times, He says WHEN you encounter trials have JOY. No, I’m not happy when I’m sad or mad or disappointed, but I can joyously believe that this will pass and is ultimately for my good. How do you know you have faith if it isn’t challenged? My faith is given a booster shot as I go through the living out the prayers that didn’t go my way.

So, when you are waiting in traffic, when your family fights, when your plans don’t turn out as planned, have faith. If you are tempted to ask why, answer with this, I am resilient. I can do this, and someone bigger than me is taking care of things.

My last post was 1000 words. This one is exactly 900. Why? One of the books on writing that I have read said that editing is your original work minus 10%. So 900 is it. Hoping for you this holiday season that your moments of crying out “WHY” are gentle ones and that they are reduced by 10% from last year☺

A Plea to My Friends

First 1000 Words – a plea to my friends

It’s quite common to have a bucket list. I have a long one. For many years, I have been busy with various jobs, volunteer opportunities and raising a family with four children. While some things on my list have been checked off, it seems I am adding items faster than I can accomplish them. Our youngest child is a high school senior. If you’ve had one of those, you know they are very busy, self-reliant and gone a lot. I now have time to start emptying some items from my bucket before I “kick it.”

When I think back to the resolutions I have kept and the goals I’ve actually completed, I find that I do best with a purpose, a partner, or both. When I want to get back to running, I have to have a race in mind to work toward. When I set out to write a book, I can honestly say it would never have happened without my friend, Jenny Black.

Knowing my M.O, I’m asking for you to be my partner, and I’m going to describe my purpose. I’m hoping that you will help me with one of my list items? I would like to develop my writing skills. How do I do that? Practice. For the next year, I am going to write 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. Once a week I will post something on this blog to keep me honest. That is where you come in. There will be a notice on Facebook that I have posted something on my blog. (If you are reading this and are not on Facebook, send me your email, and I’ll make sure you get the message.) Please read my post and let me know what you think. I’m not asking for editing, although I’m sure you’ll find a lot that you could contribute. I’m asking for your thoughts and reactions to the ideas. This particular blog post will be longer than most, but there is a purpose behind that. Read to the end to find out why it is lengthy. Some of you may have already guessed. How is that for a teaser?

Ahh, the content, what will I blog about? I’ve been reading lots of books about writing. Many of them say, “Write what you know.” This led me to make another kind of list, a list of what I know. I know that it is easy to forget who you are in the midst of raising a family. I know how to help you remember who you are in case you have forgotten. I know it is important to accept yourself and to find your purpose. I know how to help people do that. I know what it feels like to think that you are just not as smart as other people, or not as nice or pretty. I know what it feels like to fear that you are losing any beauty you did have. I know how to find joy in every day. I know the thrill of believing that God just spoke through you because you just said something you didn’t know a few minutes before. I’m sure as I write my way through each day, there will be many things I come to know in the process that I can share with you, my bucket list buddies.

Over the next year there will be many changes in my life. As I stated, we will begin the empty nest phase of life. Our oldest child is getting married. One child will receive a master’s degree and will be looking for employment; one will begin his senior year of college – lots of transitions. As you respond to me, you will be sharing what you know. We may not get college credit for the lessons we learn together, but I’m hoping things will be thought provoking and most of the time a lot of fun.

Those of you who know me well, know that I can say 1000 words probably without taking a breath, or giving anyone else a chance to say a word. Boy, will this be different. As I have written this, day one of my 1000 words a day attempt, I found myself wanting to divide compound words into two separate words. My daughter told me a trick she has used in college. There have been times when a professor assigned a paper and designated it to be a certain length and font size. If she has written what she thinks is a complete paper, but her paper just doesn’t quite take up the allotted space, she somehow highlights the periods in the paper and makes just the periods one font size larger. It adds a little length without anyone being the wiser.

About now, I find myself wondering if there are any tricks like that I can do to create more words and still write properly.

As you may have guessed, I wanted this first post to be exactly 1000 words. I thought briefly that maybe I’d try to make the length of each week’s post exactly 1000 words, until I sat down and started typing. Each time I checked my word count I realized how many words 1000 really is, especially on one topic. So thanks for sticking with this entry for all 1000. I hope you are intrigued. I’m happy if you are even a willing friend, or just someone who has a hard time saying no. Thanks in advance for your support. Let me know if you choose to help and when you do let me know, tell me one item that is on your bucket list so that I can begin hoping alongside you, hoping that you get to check off some items soon. Sign up to follow this blog if that will make it easier, and if I can ever partner with you to empty an item from your bucket please ask.