Friday, November 30, 2007

The Season of Advent

As I mentioned earlier this month, my writers' group put together an Advent devotional for our church. The introduction and Day 1 are now available online here, and the rest of the devotionals will be uploaded each day throughout the season of Advent. Try incorporating the devotionals as part of your daily routine to prepare your heart this season.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The 5 P's (Revised)

When I was in high school, my junior English teacher repeated a mantra about the five P's that stuck with me: "Poor Planning Prevents Proper Performance." If I remember correctly, she liked to respond with that phrase any time a student complained that he didn't have enough time to finish a project. In other words, procrastination equaled failure.

I don't like to be one who is caught off guard. I want to know what is around the bend and what I need to do to be prepared for it. So, I find myself constantly looking at the calendar and trying to plan what tasks I need to get done in order to be ready for events that are days, weeks, or months from now.

I try especially hard to implement the five P's as the Christmas season approaches. I want to be ready. I want to have my Christmas letter done and my shopping done so that I can enjoy the events ahead. I usually feel like all my planning pays off and allows me to relax and take in everything that is going on. But sometimes, I have to wonder if I'm missing out by not enjoying the here and now. This very moment.

Last week as I pondered this, I came up with the new five P's: Persistent Planning Prevents Present Pleasure. It painted a whole different perspective. One that made me want to throw away my calendar.

I'm not sure how to strike a balance between the two versions of the five P's. Thankfully, I know where to take this problem.

Father God, as the Christmas season approaches, show me how to balance planning ahead with enjoying the present moment. But most of all, help me not to miss You during this time.

Friday, November 9, 2007

An Advent Announcement

For all those who listened to me whine about having deadlines and writer's block, good news is here: Our writers' group's Advent devotional is at the printer and will be posted on our blog beginning November 30! The process was an amazing one as we got to see how six women were called upon to use their different gifts to shepherd this idea into a published book. Thanks to Tina's work on the blog, the cover of the devotional (which Andrea designed and which features pictures taken by Tina) has already been posted as a little enticement to get you to come back and read what's behind it. So be sure to mark your calendar and stop back by our blog on November 30!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Right Words

I’ve noticed how my words have changed. My spoken words over the years have fallen into the trap of using teenage lingo, graduated to cool college catch-phrases, matured into legalese, and then succumbed to everyday “normal” language. Obviously, part of that is age; I no longer feel like I’m required to say “ma’am” or “sir” because most of the people I encounter are in my age range.

My written words have also meandered. Sometimes I read papers that I wrote while in high school and college and have to wonder where I came up with such big ideas. I even question whether I have “dumbed down” over the years since college, despite furthering my education.

Tonight, as I am indulging in a leisurely evening of being entertained by the Country Music Awards, I am amazed at the lyrics in all the country songs. The words stick to my mind. Maybe it’s because the songs remind me of home. Maybe it’s due to the melodies. Or maybe it’s the words themselves, telling stories.

I recognize that words have incredible power. The power to encourage, to uplift, to motivate, to inspire. They also wield the power to harm, to hurt, to damage, and to destroy. It is the positive power that I want to tap into when I’m writing and speaking. But often, I find that the potential to slip up and use wrong words keeps me from saying anything at all. This fear of writing or saying the wrong thing often paralyzes me.

Yet, I realize that I should not fear words. After all, I know The Word. And as long as I am tapped into Him, I pray that my mind will be able to transfer life-giving words to those who cross my path.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Life By The Numbers

I’ve had a thing for exactness for most of my life. It developed before I was even two years old. My mom caught me lining up Q-tips end-to-end in the crevice of the border around our coffee table. With that stunning feat under my belt, it was not surprising that I did well in math classes and math competitions in school. Nor was it a stretch when I majored in accounting while in college. But processing life by the numbers at my age . . . it’s a bit odd.

Take for instance the fact that I know how many times the cross-walk signs blink “Don’t Walk.” Or that I often count people at events. Or that last week when Bar Exam results came out, I went straight to the statistics page (after checking the names of the few people I know who took it).

With this weird counting trait, I began to feel a little like Rain Man (or make that Rain Woman). I questioned whether I needed some sort of help. After all, most of my friends do not have near the affinity for numbers that I do.

Then, it hit me: If I am made in God’s image, and He knows the very number of hairs on my head at all times (Matt. 10:30 & Luke 12:7), then maybe, just maybe, I’m okay. Maybe only God and I get a kick out of counting. But, I’m okay with that.