This is a pre-scheduled post. I will be checking e-mails during the sabbatical, but if if you leave a comment and it doesn’t show up right away, it is because I am not on here to moderate and approve it. Don’t worry, I will read it even if I don’t respond right away and it will show up eventually. If you are a regular commenter or have commented at least once, your comment may also appear immediately.
All my life I have been a writer (and by that I mean, a person who likes to write and is good at it, not a person who gets paid to do so. (Yet) Writing was such a fundamental activity to me, that it never even occurred to me that it was actually my gift. That’s me. Always figuring things out in reverse. I remember watching the Waltons. John-boy at his desk, writing in his journal at the end of each day. The poignancy of that made an indelible impression on my heart. I think that may have been where I got the idea of keeping a diary. Before I was a writer, I had a love of reading. I didn’t know that about myself either, until one day my friend Delilah and I were together in the library in 2nd or 3rd grade. The school library inspired awe in me the very first time I walked in there in first grade wearing my red corduroy jumper with the giant oval mother-of-pearl buttons in 1970. (My Mom made that dress for me).
I remember being in that library with my friend Lila, and we were somehow given some liberty to just walk around and browse on our own. Being a timid kid, that was exciting all by itself, but when Lila went straight for the “big kid” books, I can remember a flush of excitement like entering forbidden territory. I was leery at the same time, afraid we might get in trouble. She started pulling things off the shelf, and saying “oh, this is good, you would like that story”. I looked what was surely a 100-page book, and back up at her her with some incredulity and more than a little awe, and asked: “You’ve read that?!?” Nonchalantly, she gave a one-shoulder shrug and said “sure, I’ve read all of these too“. She continued to pull things off the shelf, and with rising urgency I nearly shouted: “We can’t take out 3 books!”
“Sure you can, dummy! You can take as many as you want!”‘ (She is the only friend I have who is even more blunt than I am, and it’s my favorite thing about her!)
Well, I took every one she recommended. Island of the Blue Dolphins, Betsy, Tacy and Tib, The Boxcar Children.
I lugged them home and read every one of them in a week, and couldn’t wait to go back for more. And that is my “how we met” narrative of my love affair with words, writing, and books.
Fast-forward a few decades, and I have figured out that I have a natural flair for articulating things. My ability isn’t broad. I’m strictly non-fiction. There is simply too much richness in what is real and true, for me to want to go into fiction. Though I can certainly understand the appeal of the challenge which must accompany fiction-writing. This cookie just wasn’t cut that way.
After all that I have lived through, there is definitely a story in all of that, stored in my head and waiting to make it’s way out here. My problem, and this transcends just the dilemma of writing, is that I have a lot of facets. Only, I would describe my facets more accurately by using the word “fragments”. Though my trials and tribulations are nothing, compared some of the horrors through which some people have lived, there is, I believe a singular value in my particular bag of troubles and experiences. It adds up to something from which others may glean encouragement, if I will share them. And that is the hard part.
You see, that is the catch in having God turn your fragments into a mosaic. You have to offer them up.
And so, you see, those of you who have been here from the beginning, this blog is much more than a news site. Though I have longed for heaven since I was a little girl, my longing in more recent years, has been ever-increasing as my body and mind grew wearier and wearier. You might say, “well, you should have taken your burdens to the Lord”. Oh, I did. I do. Again and again. It is easy for you to say “leave them there”, but I am wagering that a good many people who will read this, who have faced down their own giants, will tell you that there is a hollowing-out that takes place, which can never this side of heaven, be restored.
But think about that a minute. The Bible never tells us the life of the Christian will be carefree and happy. Wasn’t Paul’s goal to be “spent”? Is there not an inner man who must die? Perhaps it is only the overly- sensitive who are aware of this process like those people who can feel the cutting of the surgeon even while under anesthesia. I don’t know. It is a fact that I am ultra-sensitive in so many ways. But God made me and others like me, that way for some reason, even if we might be kind of rare.
I don’t say that as a boast. Believe me, I have spent my life wondering why I see things differently than others, which often leads to frustration and genuine bewilderment on my part. This is one reason why I love Aspies. (People with Aspergers). Relatively deficient in their ability to read social cues, they struggle with recognizing the extremely subtle cues which indicate mood and emotion and meaning. Like squinted eyes when someone is suspicious, drawn-together brows when angry, (well, those aren’t so subtle, so maybe not those, so much as the less obvious ones like body language, and intonation of speech). As such, Aspies have to work extra-hard analyzing, guessing, gauging, re-calculating, and then feeling coerced by society to portray by means of carefully-learned mimicry, a similar array of emotion in response, when all of it is foreign to them. (Aspie readers please feel free to correct my conceptualization of what it is like for you.) Though Aspies don’t generally effusively emote, it does not mean they don’t feel. In fact all the Aspies I’ve encountered are pretty empathetic and very sensitive. Yet they are devoid of any falseness, and very plain-spoken, so they can come off wrongly seeming callous. But you have to stick around beyond your initial impressions to find that out! So, I guess it is that sense of struggle that I identify with. I perceive a lot, and I thought I had always done well at correctly sensing what others are feeling, because I have always had a deep, deep longing to understand others and be understood by others. My real struggle came about after (or with) the chronic illness. Whether that was a product of the isolation, or of the altered brain chemistry/terrain that is part and parcel of prolonged untreated sleep deprivation, or what, I do not know. I know that when I lost the friendship of one of my dearest friends over a misunderstanding, that was very nearly the straw that broke this camel’s spirit. No matter how I approached it, every word and signal was received as condemnation. I could not fix it. The only way to stop hurting her was to stop talking. Somewhere between leaving my mouth (or hand) what I said (or wrote) seemed to apparently mutate into something else altogether. She lives in another state, and it’s pretty far from mine, so talking, messenger, text and e-mail were our only means of maintaining the friendship, other than a brief once-a-year visit.
Though I have written journals for years and years, as things got bad, they became a place to pour out my hurt, anger, and all the negative feelings, etc, so I eventually threw most of them away. (I cut out the really precious stuff like what I wrote when I gave birth to my babies, and things like that). I mean, keeping them would be like carefully putting your garbage into the trash can, and then pulling the bags out and letting them pile up in your garage, never letting the trash man take them away. I suppose an alternative title for my book might have been “Jesus Is My Trash Man”. You know, shutting down emotionally for the sake of survival, works the same way. You take a great risk of cutting yourself off from all good emotion, while shielding yourself from the bad, because, well, your feeler is your feeler. It doesn’t let you pick and choose, “this one on, that one off”. If you turn it off you don’t feel anything. It takes a lot of courage to turn it back on. And after a time, the pattern of shutting down takes place all on its own. It is a truncated way to live. Not what God intended, but certainly necessary in many cases. The trick is how to un-learn the process if you are blessed enough to survive your traumas. Jesus said “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full”. I have just about come to the conclusion He was only talking about having it to the full in the hereafter.
Anyway, last March while I was out of commission, I began to pray seriously about what the Lord wanted me to do with “my book”. Which at that point consisted of the couple of notebooks stuffed with notebook paper and typed sheets, pieces and bits I had written which I deemed worth holding onto. Not just good in the quality of writing, but good in that while they remained true to my non-fiction genre, they also express some hope, or else have value in accurately articulating what it feels like in the midst of the hopelessness. Not as a monument to misery, no, just as a credentialing, of sorts, from the school of hard knocks. You can encourage people with kind, positive, flowery expressions, but I think you can encourage people more when you roll up your shirt in the back and show them your scars, and they see you lived to tell the tale.
As you may have noticed just from reading my blog, I am a little dis-jointed, not-exactly-organized in the way I go about things. Some of that is my nature, and some of it has come by virtue of the fact that when you have chronic illness, you lose most if not almost all, of your ability to plan something and then follow-through. As a result, I have become an expert at “winging it”. I fly best when I fly by the seat of my pants. When my friend Michelle had a gift-basket and themed-wreath raffle at her church, the ladies worked on it for days. As the deadline drew near, they had bits and pieces left over that they didn’t want to waste, but were stumped for how to weave them together into something, so what did Michelle do? She said, “I know, I’ll call my friend Sandee”. Her nickname for me is “Ms. Random”. I went in, and I think I pulled another 4 or 5 wreaths or baskets together. I heard exclamations like “What? How? It took me 3 days just to make my 3!”.
In a similar way, I have historically been “johnny on the spot” in an emergency, the cool head that prevails, takes command of the situation, and delegates to get it done. But the day-to-day kicks my ever-lovin’ butt! That is a huge disadvantage of chronic illness. If you have never seen the video “spoons” you should look it up. It is the most apt description I ever heard and it has gone way more than viral.
I realized after watching a few of my friends write their books (and working as an editor or proofer on two of them), that I just really do not have what it takes for that process. Especially the patience. (I can edit others, but for myself, I will over-think, and end up either so wordy that the reader gets bored before he gets the point, or I over-edit in my weird brand of extremely flawed perfectionism). The consistency and meticulous re-drafting required to write the book I would want to write, ain’t in the stars for this Sistafish™. And conversely, though I have spoken in previous posts about my shaky self-esteem, when I am “up” on myself I tend to very easily swing wide the other way toward prideful-ness. I know this about myself. It is probably the number one reason God keeps letting things pile-on. And that is why I have honest gratitude for the trials. If that is what it takes for God to make me what He wants me to be, then here I am, Lore, break me. You wanna make a real pretty mosaic, you gotta break that fine china. When I talk of other people’s busy-ness, and harken back to the day when I “used to have a plate”, I have to remind myself that my plate has been surrendered for the greater good. And that it is safe in my Father’s capable and oh-so-creative hands.
So I prayed about it all, (“Lord, what do YOU want me to do with my writing?”) And instead of the book, the Lord led me to start the blog. Though I still treasure the joy of holding a book in my own hands and reading it, that is a dying sentiment. More and more folks do their reading electronically these days. Well, I posted probably 30 items on my “pages” the first day or two of blogging. All that stuff in the sidebar. That was stuff in my notebooks. For the first 10 days I put that stuff up, and wrote original stuff too. Talk about something poised and needing to break out! I had started my book, previously and had planned to include all of that anyway but meanwhile it was molding away in notebooks on a shelf, doing no one a lick of good. Most of the rest of my book was (is) still in my head. (Lord knows I better get it down before it gets hopelessly lost in there!!!) I did experience a rush of joy in those early weeks of blogging. It felt so great to “put my stuff out there”.
Besides my love of reading and writing, my love of my previous work in nursing, and my most favorite occupation of being a mom, nothing else is more intriguing to me than watching prophecy unfold in the daily news. So when my creativity goes through a dry spell, like it did August through February while I was grieving, my focus here gradually shifted over to that almost exclusively. I also discovered there are a LOT of other people out there who love it, as my numbers reflected a surge. I hope those who came for prophecy news will stay for the self-revelation, as those who came for the initial self-revelation have stayed for the prophecy news.
And I am not intending to abandon that, but the Lord seems to be leading me to get back to those roots and not let this other part just fizzle out. I can not predict upon what sort of schedule the next “chapters” of this book will come together. But I do have a story that I feel God wants told. And so, fortified by the fact that I have managed to keep this blog going for over a year, (and much to my surprise, you guys keep coming back for more) and also by the fact that I have “e-met” some really special folks who have become like “e-family” to me, I am resolved to go forth and write.
But I can guarantee that before this actually gets scheduled and posted, I will have changed it several times, and will still have a period of sheer panic after I hit the publish button. The self-recrimination will start. “Why? Why would you think anything good could come of your publishing your private struggles.” And worst than that, as soon as this gets published, I will begin to doubt my ability to follow-through. I really do operate like someone who has different personalities, and when I get a surge of ambition and confidence, there is always this piece of me that stands apart wringing her hands, and another piece that is deriding me for having the gall to think I can do something.
So I humbly ask for your prayers. I am asking for prayer partners. You don’t even have to tell me who you are, but you can, and there are some I know it goes without asking, you’ll pray. Even now I have the sneaking suspicion that I have a few readers I don’t even know about. Especially since I yammer on so much that my multiple posts clog your in boxes and I have outright said it is truly ok to un-subscribe and just log in whenever you take the notion to read. Truly, this blog is not mine, but God’s. Though I do feel strongly about writing it.
So, I guess that’s all. Pray for me. Pray for God to speak through my fingers and my story. I don’t have to ask you to pray for Him to keep me humble, because I know He will. But you can pray it anyway for good measure. Pray like we do for the missionaries, that foremost my own relationship with God will remain healthy and sound, for my life to be balanced and keep the proper things in their proper place and order. Thank you so much for all the prayers you have already lifted up on behalf of me and hubby and our boys. Pray for my boys. (They have me for a mom!) Pray for healing for my husband. And of course, healing for me too. Again, not so much physical, although I’d take it if it were offered, but internal. I know soon enough that we’ll all be whole. And that is probably the most compelling reason for going ahead and writing my story in a blog. If it manages to touch someone, it will do so instantaneously. Stay tuned for more to come.
Much love to you all!
Sandee/Sandy/Sandra/S.T. Lloyd, Shekinah419 (and all her broken pieces)