How He Sometimes Strips Us, or What Writing Means to Me (Part 8)

This past weekend, in celebration and remembrance of our engagement that happened on St. Patrick's Day last year, Kirk took me to our favorite Orlando hotel, the JW Marriott, which I have shared about a few times before. (For those inquisitive types out there who may be somewhat new to this blog, you can read more about those times here and here.)

We spent time at the pool, enjoyed the luxurious bed (I can never get over the splendor of their fabulous beds!), and shared a fantastic meal on Saturday night. It was a meal replete with soul-stirring conversation, a glorious bottle of wine, and melt-in-your-mouth desserts.

The restaurant was a new experience for both of us and, like I said, a fantastic one. The place is high-class, and they serve perfect portion sizes of the most perfectly prepared food, all of it organic and grown either in the garden right outside their doors or brought in from local farmers and fishermen. (For those of you un-health-conscious types, this is not to say that "organic" and "locally grown" translates into "boring" and "blah" food. On the contrary, actually. I enjoyed a very light and tasty shrimp scampi linguini, while Kirk enjoyed fall-apart-in-your-mouth sea scallops and asparagus spears. Yum!)

That was one fantabulously perfect meal, I tell you. I would love to re-live it again.

But the most important aspect of the weekend was quite outside all these things. The most important part of the weekend was the way God showed up when we asked Him to. On our way there, as we were driving away from our home toward the yet-undisclosed-location, I said a prayer out loud in the car that invited God deeper into our time away. We had previously voiced that this weekend was set aside as a devotional one, filled with worship and closeness in Him and the seeking out of His face, so I prayed that He would reveal the deeper heart of His plans for us over the course of the weekend, no matter what that might mean. And in His faithful way, He did just that.

He did this in a number of ways, but I want to share one of the life-crashing ways He did it with me. For some context, I should say that for the past two and a half months, I've been committed to a writing partner I have never met. She contacted me through a mutual friend toward the end of last year, and she lives in Iowa. We agreed to work on "pages," as we've come to affectionately call them, and to send them to each other for review at regular intervals through the mail. Just what this agreement actually means to both of us has morphed several times in the near-three months we've worked at it, as each of us have had to clarify again and again to ourselves what, exactly, our projects are. It has been exciting at times, and it has been flat-out exasperating at others. We've said things to each other like, "I resent your presence in my life, even though I choose for you to be in it" and "I like the way e-mail can keep me from dealing with you." All said in the most affectionate of tones and with the greatest of respect, of course.

The truth on my end of things, though, is that I've dried up like a stick. I'll commit to a project, write ten pages on it, send it to her, and hit that infuriating wall. So then I'll commit to a different project, tell myself, "Yeah -- this is what I should have been committed to doing instead," distance myself emotionally from the previous project, only to slam up against that blank wall of a page a few days later. Pretty much, it's awful. Pretty much, I hate it. Pretty much, it makes me loathe myself.

You know what it feels like? It feels like I've gone all the way back to that writer-poser self I thought I had so successfully sloughed off of my skin. (You know, the one I wrote about here and here.) But as I've faced the fright of the blank page with absolutely nothing soon in coming, the terror of having nothing to say has grown worse and my resistance to sitting down and continuing to try has only grown stronger.

Has my worst nightmare descended finally upon me, I've wondered slowly. Am I a writer with nothing to say?

All of this came to a head this past weekend. As part of our commitment to the devotional aspect of our weekend, Kirk brought along some ivory cardstock cards and proceeded to lead us in a time of giving-over on Saturday night, after we'd returned to the room after dinner. As we sat with these cards, we kept asking ourselves the question, "What would He have us commit to His care and His lordship?" We then would take turns writing things down on the cards before signing and dating them.

On my second card, I wrote, "My writing -- whatever it's meant to be and to be for." I signed and dated it. I put it in the pile. I affirmed in my heart that He means my writing for Him and that He wants to dictate what it becomes. I brought my will into agreement with that belief and went to sleep peacefully upon it.

I did not, however, realize what was waiting just around the corner.

In the morning, Kirk and I left the hotel and stopped by a restaurant for breakfast. We had a great conversation that stirred up a bunch of energy and excitement, and so we decided to stop at Starbucks before going home so we could work out some of that energy in productive activity. He was going to work on his business idea, and I wanted to work on my writing (even though I had no idea, at that point, what that actually meant anymore). But as we drew nearer the Starbucks, the more my enthusiasm faded with every mile and turn. I felt a sinking in my heart. I felt a dense, cold, clay rock begin to ball itself up in my stomach. In actuality, I wanted to throw up.

We decided to sit outside, and Kirk went inside to order our drinks. I pulled out my laptop, opened it up to a brand-new blank page, and stared blankly at the screen. I blinked a few times, since the sun was hitting it, then moved around to a better angle. I stared at the screen some more and then realized: I didn't have anything to say.

Kirk came out with our drinks. I made an effort to smile. (It was a pitiful effort.) Shortly afterward, I closed the laptop and asked if he could pass me a notepad from his backpack. Perhaps if I write it longhand it will come, I thought. Nevermind that I hadn't written in longhand in probably at least six years, but maybe this would do the trick in freeing me up to land upon an idea.

I wrote about a paragraph that was a puking, mewling attempt at prayer. It was riddled with complaints and cries. It testified to my very lost self. Pretty soon, I gave that up, too, and began drawing in the margins with my purple felt pen, making designs and then blotting them out. Kirk watched me for a while and then gently suggested we make our way on home. I shrugged and then let him lead me to the car like I was a blind girl who needed to be steered.

When we got home, I curled up on the couch and faced the wall. I pulled a blanket over my body and closed my eyes tight. I have nothing to say, I admitted to myself in a tiny, tiny voice. I want with everything in me for this not to be true, but it's true. I don't know what to say.

You want to know the point of this whole story? It's to say that even though, in theory, I wanted my work to be God's, what I actually wanted more was to have work. To have written. To have something to say.

"I want to be shiny," I confessed to Kirk a little later, after I'd come to grips with this truth inside myself. That about sums it up.

Because He loves me so much, I believe God is allowing me to come to the end of myself through this whole process. I believe the point is to begin to realize how insufficient I am to control or dictate my own life, and even my own measly words. I believe it's to have absolutely nothing left so that all I have is this big gaping hole that needs Him and Him alone. Because that is His greatest joy: our need of Him, His own sufficiency.

I am only beginning to scratch the surface of what this might mean. But I have hope that the surface is there, that I'm scratching it, and that it's leading to more. I hope you'll accompany me along in the journey. Amen.

What Writing Means to Me (Part 7)

I've written bits and pieces of my journey as a writer in this series, but I haven't talked much about actual progress. Or actual projects, I should say. This is where it gets comical and highly revealing. In the interest of authenticity, and in order to shed light on where I am today, I thought it high time I shared.

As I've already detailed previously, I took a creative writing class geared toward short stories in my senior year of college. (Rebecca took that class with me, too, in fact.) I wrote three short stories that semester, all of them pitiful, and left the class in a greater quagmire of self-loathing and confusion than when I began. I had officially entered my "tortured artist" phase.

The following semester, I took a class on writing for children. Besides reading lots of great contemporary children's lit, our first assigment was to come up with five high concepts for children's novels, which basically means creating story ideas that can be boiled down into a sentence. After this, we had to pick one idea and develop it into an outline. Then we had to write the first 30 pages, pitch a query letter to an actual publisher, and wait and see what happened.

Mine was one of two novels that got a favorable response from a publisher: Scholastic wanted to see the full manuscript -- wow! The only trouble was, I had written just 30 pages. I was about to graduate from college. I was looking for jobs and trying to finish a senior thesis. I didn't have much time for writing a novel.

So I asked my professor for his advice.

"Do you realize how rare it is to get a response from a publisher?" he asked. "Especially when your query was unsolicited and unagented?"

"I think so," I said in a small, small voice.

"You have to finish it," he said. "How could you possibly not?"

I agreed with him and kept on writing. I took a graduation trip up north to do extra research on land deeds and farms. (My novel was set on a farm in Central California during the Great Depression.) In all, I wrote about 30 more pages but then stopped. I got stuck, or I got feedback -- I don't know which -- and never finished. I still wonder how things would have turned out if I'd actually finished that book. Maybe someday I will.

Over the next two years, as I was working out my thoughts on calling and vocation in real life, I started a new novel about a girl who -- surprise, surprise -- was working out issues of calling and vocation in her life, too. I moved to Missouri and, while there, petitioned into a members-only writer's group and kept plugging away at this book. When I moved back to California not long after, I gave this entire book up. I had, again, hit the 70-page-mark wall.

I should probably mention here that I was living in my writer-poser phase this entire time. I was enamoured with the idea of being a writer, being an editor, and being in publishing. I was stunned by the freedom of expression I could find in writing, since I had been a rather shy, repressed person in my younger years, but I didn't know what this meant. You can't just move from sharing nothing to sharing anything and/or everything in one fell swoop, you know. At least, I couldn't. I felt tortured, totally hung up on my own hang-ups and unable to see my way out of them.

Along about this time, after I'd moved back to California, my writing aspirations went underground and my hopes for an academic life bubbled up. This post here details the way I was led eventually back to the page in that long saga. And if you want to know what I've been up to ever since, you're going to have to stay tuned . . .

What Writing Means to Me (Part 6)

(Continued from Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.)

Prefatory Note: In the last couple posts of this series, I have been telling things that happened 7-8 years ago, when I was a junior in college, recently married, and discovering my desire to write and edit books. I was also starting to get my life flipped upside-down spiritually. (And in every other way, I should say. Can anything not be termed spiritual?) In this installment here, you'll find that we've taken a significant leap forward in time. I am telling about things that happened about a year and a half ago, when I was recently divorced and had been turning my interests to the more intellectual life of the written word. Where this story picks up, I have no longer been asking questions about my dreams for a writing life. Those were dreams that, I guess you could say, had gone safely underground.

About a year and a half ago, I attended a C.S. Lewis conference in Oxford and Cambridge, England. (You can learn more about that conference here.) Before I went to the conference, I had been planning for my life to be about academics -- first with a PhD stint in literature, then on to a teaching post at university, and then on to writing articles that would extend the literary conversation in those academic circles forever and ever, amen.

But I had, a few months prior to the conference, been denied a graduate studies spot at Baylor University. This had rocked my world at its core and left me aimless, confused, and even despairing. I had just come out of a divorce and was living on my own for the first time in my life. I was loving it, as I was getting to make my own decisions about how to spend money, spend time, and spend life. I was getting to decide what my life was going to be about, and I had decided that it would be about academia -- something I had always done well.

In pursuing this goal in the preceding months, I had turned my interest in the novel on its head and decided to pursue programs that would let me think and write about how our theologies of creation affect our theories of creativity about the novel. With a proper determination to do things "right," I proceeded to conduct all the appropriate online research for schools, write all the appropriate e-mails to faculty, and even take a few of the appropriate out-of-state jaunts to visit programs I liked. After all that work, I was positive Baylor was the place for me. I was, I thought, finally on my way to the life God had always wanted for me.

Until I got denied entrance.

Like I said, this completely unglued me. I started questioning all the things you're bound to question in these sorts of situations. Things like "Did I misread God? Do I really know how to hear His voice? Will I ever be able to trust myself to make a big decision again? Does He even care about me anyway? How could He let me get so lost?"

When I had the opportunity about five months later to attend this study conference in England, then -- a conference that was academic at its core and filled with opportunities to hear from PhD after PhD after PhD -- I was ecstatic and intensely hopeful that something meaningful would come from it. I was still caught up in my hopes for an academic life of teaching and writing journal articles. And I was especially excited to learn that the keynote speaker was none other than one of the key figures from Baylor who had drawn me to study there in the first place. I looked forward to connecting with him again and learning from his lecture.

Once I got there, however, God had other plans in mind. The plenary sessions with the PhDs began, and my heart dried up to a crisp. The academic life became dead to me, right then and there, as I sat in my cushioned seat at St. Aldates. What real impact could it have, I wondered, when there are people walking up and down the street outside these doors who just need a real conversation? Who needs the theoretical jargon when it comes to connecting with very real people living very real lives?

It all started to crumble around me, right there on that very first morning, and after that first lecture I sat in my chair and began to cry. At this point, Kirk was good enough to lead me out of the building and down the road to the nearest coffeeshop in order to disassemble what was going on inside of me. Basically, I sat there crying and staring at my dried-up heart on the table until I was finally able to ask the question, Could God really pick my life apart yet again? (And the obvious answer is, of course He could.)

As the conference went on, I realized I was absolutely willing to let Him pick my life apart again, but who even knew what that meant? I thought about C.S. Lewis -- the man around whom this conference had been inspired -- and marveled at his ability to write for the common man. Here was this brilliant man who studied at Oxford and taught at Cambridge but published books that almost anyone can pick up and read and get even today. His books change real lives. They are so accessible, even though they're so smart. There has to be a way to reach more people the way he did, I thought, and I want to be someone who does.

And just like that, my life changed. Gone were my illusions of a life in academia. Gone were my intentions to dissect the classics until I could do nothing but eat, breathe, and sleep them. Gone were my desires to get caught up in conversations only 1 percent of the world was likely to join. I wanted to find the source of bubbling life and offer it to everyone else!

Kirk was a Godsend at that conference (for more reasons than one), particularly by the way he helped me step into my new skin through this whole process. On my own, I wasn't really able to see what all this was supposed to mean. But a couple days into the conference, when we were walking behind Christ Church toward an outdoor French cafe for lunch and talking about how our individual experiences of this conference were blowing the roof off the measly ideas we'd had for our lives beforehand, he asked me to share what a day in my ideal life would look like. Though my idea of this ideal life has changed a little bit since then, at the time I said that I would spend my mornings reading books by great thinkers and jotting down thoughts and impressions about what they said in a journal and then spend my afternoons writing creatively, either in essay or story form.

"Hm. Interesting," he said. "And where would you find time to teach in this plan?"

Um, I guess I wouldn't. That's when I realized I had been trying to fit myself into the life of a college professor without having any real heart to actually do it.

The next week, when we stepped off the coach in Cambridge to begin the second week of the conference, I finally embraced my identity as a writer, and here's what I mean when I say that. Up to that point, whenever I thought of becoming a writer, it always felt like something I was putting on, like something I was trying to be, like a persona. But in the exact moment of stepping down from the coach onto the pavement, surrounded by the old, old buildings of the colleges and the fantastic shapes, sizes, and personalities of its old, old trees, I just knew: I am a writer.

It's not something to be proud or arrogant about. It's not something that makes my life more privileged. It's something that just . . . is.

Later that week, Kirk gave me an antique brooch that's a curio of (we've both decided) Jane Austen. It's diamond-shaped and silver, with the oval-shaped curio in ivory with a black background right in the center. I pinned it to the side breast pocket of my aquamarine-colored corduroy jacket, where it remains to this day. Every time I wear that jacket, which I have since named my "writer's jacket," I am reminded of that transformative moment stepping off the coach in Cambridge and Kirk's good heart toward me in God's surprising plans for my life.

What Writing Means to Me (Part 5)

(Continued from Part 4.)

Okay, I lied.

I told you that we would continue this series with a discussion of the writer-poser, but I’ve tried writing that part of the story at least five times and have decided I just can’t do it.

It’s not that I can’t confess what it was like to be me in that place—that part of the story is definitely going to “go public” real soon—but instead that I can’t plunge into a description of the writer-poser self without detouring into the spiritual upheaval God began working in me at about that same time in our story.

Along about my junior year in college, right after I had gotten married and right before I discovered the path to creative writing and editing, God flipped my life upside-down. Really.

I should stop here and say that this is not the sort of thing that’s good for a brand-new marriage. But when God begins flipping your life upside-down and you’re 100 percent sure that it’s Him doing it, it would be kind of pointless and self-defeating—in the truest sense of the word—to ignore Him, brand-new marriage or not.

So, I listened. And here’s what He did: He had me read a book.

An adjunct professor I had during my sophomore year of college knew a guy who wrote a book. The guy was Clifford Williams, and the book was Singleness of Heart. This was a book about the spiritual journey, my professor said, that pulled from lots of great, classical works of literature in its explanation of the spiritual life and the human heart. Since my instructor knew the author, he had tons of copies of the book, and he was willing to give a copy to anyone who wanted it—free—so long as we promised to read it.

Free book? Spiritual journey? Great literature? Where do I sign up?


When I finally picked the book up, a few months after I got it, I had no idea I was holding in my hands a ticking time bomb, just waiting to explode. And of all the things I learned from that book, here are two of the most mind-blowing realizations it created for me at the time.

First, I came to admit that I had no real understanding of grace, didn’t really believe I needed it, and, since we’re being completely honest here, didn’t see what the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, had to do with me. Ouch. Who admits these things, really?

Second, I came to see that I had been living with doubleness of heart my entire life. (Remember the title of the book? Singleness of Heart. The goal of the book was to get you to see your own doubleness so you could, with God’s help, find the path that leads to singleness instead.) Despite what I knew about the traditional stream of doubleness—namely, the path of the hypocrite who lives an out-and-out existence of perversion without shame—this book defined a subtler side that shined a mirror back at my own face.

You could be double-minded, Williams said, and not know it. You could be double-minded, in fact, and still love God with what you thought was your whole heart. And you could do this in one or two ways: through the unwitting mechanism of ambivalence, which means living with an authentic proclivity and aversion to someone or something at one and the same time, or through the equally unwitting mechanism of illusion, which means thinking you want or act on behalf of something you don’t actually want or act on behalf of.

These are incredibly simplified ways of describing what are quite delicate and complex ways of being—and without any of the author’s helpful, more thorough explanations—but the truth basically boils down to this: You could be living a life of doubleness, via ambivalence or illusion, and be completely ignorant of this fact. And that was exactly me.

Thus, the sturdy boat of my life began to leak and, eventually, break. Thank the Lord God above.

What Writing Means to Me (Part 4)

(Continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

So how did I get from teaching to writing? Well, first I had to go through my writer-poser stage. Here's how it all went down.

Along about my junior year in college, I grew increasingly aware that teaching kids was definitely not my thing, but I had no idea what was. Until one day I happened upon a number of print ads and billboards and books that had typos in them. I began to wonder what someone with an eye for these details could do.

That's when I hit upon book editing.

It all came clear so suddenly. I mean, wasn't I the girl you could find with a book in her hand in practically every place commonly known to man? At the dinner table, in the high-back chair in the living room, in the back seat of the car, at large family gatherings and holidays, in restaurants, and even in department stores, as I waited for my mom to try on clothes. My family would joke about it, but I didn't care. In my opinion, books were the best invention in the world, and learning to read the best gift ever given me.

Besides reading books, writing in my journal and writing essays for school were my favorite ways to pass time. That, and solving algebra problems. Oh, and maybe playing piano.

With this new direction, I took off running. I dropped the elementary education emphasis and began loading up on as many English classes as I could fit into my schedule. Which means, first, that I enrolled in a short-story creative writing class and made quick to let the professor know my plans. I appointed myself the learned and savvy editor of the class -- something I did without asking permission or even letting my peers know -- and committed more crimes against my classmates with my arrogance than I now want to remember.

I wrote some horrible stories.

In my heart and mind, I was headed toward New York or Boston as quickly as I could manage. I read Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner at least three times. I read Book Business: Past, Present, and Future by Jason Epstein. I read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird at least five times (and counting). And I discovered Emerson College, with their M.A. in Publishing and Writing. I visited and fell in love with it, and with Boston, wwhich is still, by far, my favorite metropolitan city in the States.

Along the way, I tried to write.

What began to emerge -- and become the bane of my existence for at least six years -- was nothing short of schizophrenia. I could not determine what I was: a writer or an editor? I had so much to say, had been clogged creatively my entire life, and wanted to let things out. But I didn't know how, no matter how hard I tried.

What happened next, in the midst of this manic schizophrenia, was the pained and crude development of my writer-poser self. We'll talk more about her in the next installment.

What Writing Means to Me (Part 3)

Journalism lasted less than a semester. Less than a week. Okay, if you want to get really technical about it, it didn’t even make it through the front door of my new college life.

That’s because the School of Journalism closed, suddenly and irrevocably, two weeks prior to my arrival. In favor of Theatre Arts. In a letter that hailed the new program on two sides of a memo but denounced the old one in fine print on the back. Did I want to join the new program instead, they wondered?

Of course I didn’t want to join the new program instead. I was, after all, a news writer with my integrity to uphold. (Who knows to whom my indignation here was directed. I had, ahem, just one semester of high school journalism behind me and a couple of years on the yearbook staff. Promising news life ahead, indeed.)

But one thing was certain. There was definitely no room in the very important plans I had in view for my life for traipsing around wooden stages in purple and green nylon stockings and big fluffy hats with feathers spouting out the top!

So I blundered my way into education instead and proceeded to spend the next two and a half of what I now deem wasted years doing . . . well, something. I must have been doing something those two and a half years I spent in that major, I’m sure, but all I remember now are a few of the kids I taught, a lesson plan I made about illustrating scenes from Goosey Goes to Market, and the many frustrating days I endured trying to explain abstract math concepts with the likes of hardened kidney beans, paste, and popsicle sticks.

I just wasn’t -- and never have been -- good at teaching young kids whose frames stop short of five feet tall.

And let’s face it. I just wasn’t -- and never have been -- interested in teaching young kids at all. I never knew how to talk to other kids my age when I was one of them, never hit upon the knack my sister innately had for baby-sitting and playing mommy to all the little kids down the block, and didn't really enjoy the company of wee ones. Why did I somehow think all that had changed when I got to college?

I don’t know. So goes the first set of “wasted years” in my life.

As a disclaimer for those quick-to-be-alarmed-at-anything-sounding-unorthodox types out there, let me be quick to point out that I know nothing is wasted in the hands of God. Those years weren't really wasted; it just feels like they were. He used that time in the classroom, I’m sure, to help those kids and myself. At the very least, he used it to show me at least one thing I am not and perhaps shine some rays of sunshine and love into the lives of those otherwise needy and lonely inner city kids with fathers in jail, uncles on bail, and brothers in hardened and streetwise gangs. And he used the next stage of my life -- the “writer poser” stage, into which we step next in our story -- to wrap me in the skin of a real aspiring writer, finally.

I thank God every day for the mercy He extended to me in leading me out of some darker -- and, albeit, somewhat embarrassing -- phases and into His marvelous light: the wide open fields of true and unimagined and unparalleled identity in which I now walk today.

Stay tuned for the next bit of news in this story of grace, coming your way later this week.

What Writing Means to Me (Part 2)

When I was in elementary school, it seemed like everyone knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. One time, in a conversation with friends, all the girls in my group said they wanted to be doctors or lawyers or teachers or moms. I remember being amazed they all had an answer, whereas I had never even considered the question.

I couldn't imagine the girls actually wanted to be the things they said they did. They hated school and all things school-related, so how could they want to do 10 more years of law or medical school beyond regular college, if they even went to college?

Whereas I, on the other hand, was the smart and capable and studious one in the group. I knew I could do school for a long, long time, and I knew I could make a career at something big and important in life, like law or medicine. Except I had zero interest in the sciences or being something like a big-shot scary lawyer. Hm.

So I started telling people I wanted to be the first woman president of the United States.

This is funny to me now, considering 1) I had no concept of politics, 2) if I did, I wouldn't have been interested, and 3) what could a 5th-grader possibly know about what it takes to run a country?

But, hey, why not shoot for the top, right?

I actually took this route because I didn't know writing could be a profession. Books were my life, and writing was my love -- just ask my family to tell you the stories, or maybe I'll tell you some later -- but it never crossed my mind that these could be a real part of my life in any real way beyond reading and my journal.

But then I discovered journalism just before I went to college, and I decided I was going to be the next Katie Couric. I was going to be an international correspondent, and I was going to be good. Chase all the "hard news" and stuff. All this, despite my never sitting down to read the newspaper on my own.

I think it had more to do with the smart-looking business suits and cute shoes than anything else, to be honest. But at least I was on the writing trail, and God wasn't done with me yet.

Stay tuned to hear what happened next . . .

What Writing Means to Me (Part 1)

I've been reading some stuff by Donald Miller again. I read his third book for the first time, Searching for God Knows What, which made me re-ponder a lot of things that are already important to me, like how to read the Bible as an unfolding narrative about real people and a real God, and about how propositional theology doesn't move or change people the way myth and story do.

Reading that book motivated me to re-read his second book, the one that made him famous, the one called Blue Like Jazz. And it's the first paragraph of Blue Like Jazz that I could re-read again and again and never grow tired of it because of its absolute beauty. I've only read the book twice, but I've read this first paragraph at least six times or more by itself. Here's what it says, and I hope you read it slowly and let it move you:

"I once listened to an Indian on television say that God was in the wind and the water, and I wondered at how beautiful that was because it meant you could swim in Him or have Him brush your face in a breeze. I am early in my story, but I believe I will stretch out into eternity, and in heaven I will reflect upon these early days, these days when it seemed God was down a dirt road, walking toward me. Years ago He was a swinging speck in the distance; now He is close enough I can hear His singing. Soon I will see the lines on His face."

The first thing I want to say about what writing means to me is that it means talking face to face with God on a blank page and saying the things that are true of Him in the best, most worthy way I know how. Writing, to me, means worship. It means telling the truth.