17 Aug 2014

when your book launch teaches you what your book is saying

So yesterday was The Book Launch.

publisher's spiel
Here is the publisher sharing his excitement over his trademark and imprint.

I was very happy yesterday. 

The day had begun with the family going to support a local church we know for their anniversary where my husband was invited to preach at. We then drove over to The Arts House and found a free Sunday parking lot (these things bring cheer when you live in the city!) within walking distance from the venue. 

The event was being held at a historic spot - where the Parliament met for more than two decades - a place where words were aplenty, debates were lively and decisions were formed. I love old, historic buildings; and it was not typical to be able to launch a Christian book at such a venue.

Then the people started to stream in. I lighted up. Being the extrovert, I loved meeting people, especially my friends; and especially because city-life and motherhood just don't conspire to make getting together with people happen easily. Every face was so full of meaning and memories for me. One recently-made friend came with her family in tow and I knew it was her determination to come that brought the whole lot. My mind and heart was a-flutter for in each face I saw people who have taught me something from their life; I recount how our paths crossed; what we shared in the time we worked/talked/played/grew up together. I was dizzy with delight!

Yet all the way I was also a bag of nerves.

When the publisher first said, 'we should do a launch", I just wasn't too enthusiastic. It seemed so officious, so self-seeking somehow to go, 'hey everyone! come look at what I've done!'.There was a time I did that often within the chambers of my heart. But these days, it's just plain awkward. In fact, I noticed that I have lost my youthful optimism and blustery confidence as a small still whimper kept coming back, 'people are too busy". Sure, some people have told me they are coming. But we also needed to fill the numbers, and that was just hard for me.

The publisher picked up my nervousness and tried to assure me that there will be people who will support, my husband reminded me that there were people who loved me and cared about my gifts. But I kept having these doubts.

What I have written is so true. Being loved is hard for us. We are so used to working for approval. A book launch is like asking for love-in-advance. They haven't read the book, they may hate it. It may be a huge letdown... who knows? It's asking people to show up and say 'she has something worth saying'. Or perhaps, they came because they were curious (never been to a launch or the the Old Chambers), or they were obliged to (church friends?). It's horrible to think this way and scar a good beautiful thing. But we do it. I do it.

The Insecurity is deep. The soul-enemy loves to drum in the spaces of that crack in our souls and turn up the noise so that love gets drowned out.

I feel sorry to have felt this way. It felt like I let my friends down to have such a thin faith in our affections.

The only thing I can do is thank as many as I can individually for their presence. I know it has taken their time and effort to come be a part of something unfolding. But can I thank them enough for depositing love into my hungry soul and so being strength-agents for my life?

Thank you friends. 

6 Aug 2014

We cannot get the Big Picture -- and it's okay...

We all like to know 'why'.
It stands to reason as we are creatures of reason.
Some of us are happy with a big picture; others need a lot more detail, so social scientists tell us.

Well, I for one am generally happy to begin moving in a direction once I know where the arrow points. But, with some things, details are necessary.... like needing some sign that your kid is really, actually studying, not just being told , "don't worry mom, I'm studying!". Right?

But sometimes, we simply won't get the Big, whole picture no matter how hard to strain to. This is how I found out recently.

My 14 yr old shared with us this year that she feels she is ready for baptism. As pastor-parents, we are delighted! But I must admit that my delight is tainted with some concern. Does she really understand? Is she really ready? I must admit that I agree with a fellow parent here: some of this concern is troubling as what it really reflects may be self-concern that we have done a good job as parents! Ouch!

The sleuth in me began to set to work. What has led up to this point?
You see, my daughter has an extremely questioning mind. When she was six, sitting in the sofa reading something, she suddenly looked up and said out loud, "Isn't it God's fault since He put the tree in the garden in the first place?". This is the first of a long barrage of questions that came, and with each year, they also became laced with a sheen of skepticism.

And then, clear as sky, I could see she no longer read her Bible or prayed. It was painful.

Well, we had spots of light -
she kept asking
she talked and debated with us (rather than turn away)

So yes, I wanted to trace what led to this amazing tipping point.

It wasn't difficult as they were all in the journals of my heart: the moment several years ago I felt God said to "fight for her destiny" and it quickened me to pray and continue creating a home where the spiritual is weaved real into everything and everyday. And then an event or two plus heart conversations... with a river of tears and prayers (mine and several dear fellow-moms) flowing beneath it all....

This is my version of what led to Baptism.

Then, during the service, she went up and gave her testimony. It began, "Hi, I am ...14..and the daughter of not one, but two pastors" to knowing laughter around us. This is all the mention we get by-the-way (the Ouch).

She then goes on to describe what led to this point; and guess what? Her story and mine doesn't fit! Not even an overlap in parts!

I thought God worked and met her in certain ways.
She talked about how God met her in other ways.

I felt a Holy Laugh.

I get it the next morning. My sleuth work isn't bad. It's just what I saw and felt meaningful. Her story is honest. It's what's real to her. And I get it: we cannot get the Big Picture of what God is up to sometimes. But we each have a sliver of it and it is enough for us to take the next step.

Yet moments like these - when we know what we know isn't all there is to know -- well, we bow and give thanks; for that's all we can do!

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are you ways my ways", 
declares the LORD ~ Isaiah 55v8 

As the Psalmist reminds us,
Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord
or fully declare his praise?
Psalm 106v2 {emphasis mine}

1 Aug 2014

Go on, be creative!

-- Why we must all create and be creative.

“I’m not the creative kind” she said to me and handed me the bulletin. I looked it over and knowing she had given it her best shot, replied, “you mean you are not creative in a particular way”.

Most of us think being creative is drawing, splashing colour, wielding the mouse and putting things together to get pretty, beautiful and classy. That is not exactly wrong – just that – we narrow it to
  1. Art and craft variety of creativity
  2. Only some can do it

Afterward, I continue to think about what the staff had said and found a deeper reply for her. Genesis says we are all created in God’s image. We bear some of the traits of God; not in His Godlike-ness but our humanity somehow cradles something larger such that we are not just spectators/participants of life but more. We were specifically called to be missional; to steward; and we are able to do so precisely because that entails qualities that rise above the rest of created order. One of those qualities is our ability to be creative.

Just think food. (some WOW food pictures)

It is mind-blowingly incredible what we humans can churn out with the raw materials we are given. We can mix flaours, tetusres, colours, looks. We can consider nutritional value, seasonal changes, production cycles… Consider with me that majestic animal that strikes terror in our hearts: the lion. Food? It roars back, “toss me a zebra! No dressing required!”

Being creative is essential to our being’s wellness; it is inherent and natural to our design.

Just think blogging.

For many of us, the act of writing, putting together ideas, stringing words and creating a message is life-giving (and it helps if it brings in the income too!). I have been writing now for more than ten years. It began first as a step of obedience, then sheer discipline, and now, it is mostly delight. In fact, many times I have found my writing practically saved my life when I can forge the flotsam of my heart and mind with a solid cord of truth and weird and wonderful creatures emerge from them instead of lurk around like shadows inside me.
Unfortunately, most of creative activity is lost to us. We limit creative activity to arts-and-crafts, and conclude when we did not get an ‘A’ for art in school that it is a lost cause.

In truth, our nature urges us on towards creative activity. This is why many who are in the workforce are extremely disenchanted. Most workplaces (including schools) major on conformity.
Stick to the rules
Appear competent
Push for those sales targets

Some are lucky to find that their abilities and creative energies are harnessed well. Most are not.

This is where hobbies can be life-saving.

But, there is a whole realm of creative activity that is not talked about: the home.

Here again, we think of creativity in terms of design and furnishing. We bring in the experts and pay them a handsome fee.

But in truth, it takes enormous creative energies to grow a marriage and to raise children.

It involves a responsive and creative nurturance of the home atmosphere – to build a haven of peace and openness.
It requires ongoing review and adjustments to creatively relate to children through the stages of life – to build and maintain a strong bond of love and trust.

I have worked in public relations, operations, taught a little, begun ministries and led a church. But the one role that has called for the most sustained effort, and broadened my inner reservoir of creative impulse has been parenting. Sadly, I believe that many women make the mistake of feeling that they are more creative at work. Yes, parenting has a lot of hum drum. There is a daily-ness to it that can drain the life from you; if you do not engage your creative impulse.

We were created to be creative; and in every season and sphere of life, we are animated and feel more alive when we will believe this truth about ourselves --- and . just . create.

A new recipe
Conversations of loving-impact

The list is long. Somewhere on it are things you can do, enjoy, and feel alive.

Somewhere on it, as you and I are willing to step off the treadmill and yell “I’m abstaining from the rat race”, we can be building a different world.

Go on, be creative!