Friday, March 27, 2009


Did you ever have to shepherd your children into “bed” in jungle hammocks, on the darkest of nights, in the midst of pouring rain, deep in a tropical jungle? I did. Honest.

The TV weather people this evening tell us we’re going to have storms by morning. What is it about storms that makes us gravitate towards shelter? Why are we that afraid of getting wet? That night during our jungle training in southern Mexico doesn’t seem like thirty-five years ago, nor does the next day when we walked nine hours in rain to get back to camp. Having survived those experiences, do I now relish getting caught in the rain? Do I hold my head high so the rain can fall on my face? Sorry, not I. I still duck and run.

Sometimes we do enjoy storms, but it is usually if we can do it tucked into a cozy place, snuggled under a blanket with a favorite person, or watching safely behind solid glass. We have fun songs about singing in rain and raindrops falling on our heads. A favorite memory is watching my grandchildren delighting in a rainy afternoon in their little boots and colorful raincoats. But generally, it seems to me, those are exceptions.

And then there are the storms of life. In addition to storms that make us wet, there are those that bring us pain, that challenge our fortitude and endurance, or occasionally bring us to our knees in defeat. Then again, if we are blessed, we may come through storms that bring out courage we never knew we had.

Some of the most challenging storms we humans ever face are those that affect our children. In recent days we’ve been watching some precious family members dealing with that kind. As they’ve walked their beautiful little girl through the early traumas of cancer, they’ve shown us what it means when faith has an anchor. This journey for them is just beginning, but they already have an army of warriors behind them, praying for them and watching for the grace, comfort, and strength they will need from their God.

Those incredible jungle hammocks provided us shelter that night, but more important, God in His infinite mercy never sends us storms without being our divine Shelter.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Plunges and Risks

Forgetfulness is not the reason I haven’t written in this blog for three weeks. With my husband recovering from surgery and sixteen days in the hospital, life has not been much under my control. I have been very aware of needing to write here. I’ve mulled over idea after idea, but none seemed worth the time it would take me to write or for anyone else to read.

Something big happened during those three weeks—-in fact, less than a week ago. I rustled up the courage to hit the Send button and submit the synopsis and sample chapters to the two publishers from whom I had invitations. Before doing that, I went through the usual writers’ trauma of worrying that the “baby” wasn’t perfect enough and, in the process, finding all kinds of imperfections. Many of them were legitimate, and one was quite serious. But eventually I took the plunge.

One might expect me now to be wound tight with anxiety over the responses I will get. Submitting is always a risk, but surprisingly, I am not up tight. I’m not totally sure why. Maybe it’s because I’ve been through this before, and yes, at this stage in life I’ve lived through many disappointments. I have learned that, being me, the best thing I can do to prevent going to pieces when hit with a big one is simply to expect it. This is the approach I took when I faced a cancer diagnosis nine years ago, and it helped.

What works best for me goes something like this: “If it’s bad news, I need to have prepared myself for it. If it is good news, I won’t have any trouble knowing how to respond.” So I’m not holding my breath or planning my book signings (that doesn’t mean I never daydream about them).

Two weeks ago I felt overwhelmed with all that was on my plate in addition to doing what I could to help my husband recover. I had a missionary newsletter to write and print, not to mention several dozen that needed notes plus the stuffing and stamping he usually does (the letters went in the mail today). I needed to get the submissions off, and I wanted to get on with the revision of Tangled Strands. I haven’t made as much progress on that as I would have liked and as I need to in order to be done with it by the end of the month. But I have gotten past that beginning and had a chance to get an overview of what lies ahead. I’m really eager to get on with it.

Something else happened at the end of these three weeks. Two days ago marked the first anniversary of the day I launched this site. The fact that this is the first time I have gone this long without writing is gratifying. I’m glad I took that plunge and the risk because writing here has turned out to be both rewarding and satisfying.