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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pressing On

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)

I reread these familiar verses recently in the wake of a painful rejection of a book project. They struck me anew with the application to a writer's life.

Even with six books to my name, I haven't obtained it. I haven't made it. And I'm far from perfect (as proved by the detailed notes in the rejection letter from the editor).

But I need to keep pressing on, to "take hold," to improve my craft, to become the writer God wants me to be.

To do that, I have to forget what is behind. I need to put past successes, my nomination for a Book of the Year award, numerous contracts and change to a full time, profressional status in the rear view mirror and move forward. I also must set aside the rejection, learn from it, but not let it stop me. I have a set a goal, a goal I believe honors God, and achieving that goal will take pressing on and straining forward.

All of my striving shares one common purpose: the prize, the ultimate gift of serving the Lord who gave everyone for me.

I needed that word from the Lord at one of those vulnerable times in my writer's life.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Exploring Oklahoma

After four months of not moving far beyond the triangle from my house to the assisted living center where Mom is to Jaran's house, I decidied it was time to explore Oklahoma a little bit more. I tried what I did in Colorado. Travel for an hour in any direction and see where I ended up.

Last week I traveled south on I-35 to Paul's Valley and came back via 77. It was a lovely afternoon jaunt.

Yesterday I traveled west on I-44. First surprise (although I should have expected it): it's a toll road that cost me &6.50 for travelling about 50 miles "there and back again." After about half an hour, I decided I was tired and only wanted to get back home. At the time, I was approaching Chickasha. I thought the sign read "next 3 exits," so I was looking for one that that said "food" this exit. I bypassed the MacDonald's because I wanted "real" food.

Big mistake. Only two exits led to Chickasha and the next exit was twenty miles down the road. What could I do? I trundled down the road, exited at Sterling and hoped I could at least find a gas station with bathrooms and snacks. Five miles off the highway, over the crest of the steepest hill I've seen in Oklahoma so far, I think I found Sterling. The main portion of the town lay somewhere to the south of me but I didn't want to get lost trying to find it.

And no, I didn't find any gas station, let alone a restaurant. Thank the Lord I had plenty of gas.

So I headed back for Chickasha and headed for the place a sign advertised for serving "fried pies." I found the stand; but it was closed. But at least I found a gas station. After a bathroom and a nice long cold drink of diet coke and cheese crackers, I felt much revived and made my way home.

Oklahoma, here I come. I think I need to get off the highways and onto the back roads to actually see more than billboards and rest stops.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Missing Jolene

Hardly a day goes by when I don't think about Jolene; but rarely do I brood and cry any more.

Until last week. I was trying to think of an example of someone who shared all news, good and bad, with that one special person. And I remembered how Jolene always called me with the details of her life. Oh, how I wanted the phone to ring and to hear her voice. Oh, how I longed to have her run to me full of joy and throw her arms around me. I cried, hard, for several minutes; and tears continued to spill throughout the weekend.

This morning I woke up from a dream about Jolene. I have stacks of boxes to sort through ... things that belonged to Jolene and Mom, as well as some of my own. In my dream, someone found a quilted black-and-pink purse that Jolene prized. They wanted to throw it away; I wasn't sure.

So Jolene was in my thoughts when I woke up. During my quiet time, I sang, "Draw Me Closer, Lord, to Thee." Jolene again skipped into my thoughts when I sang "I long to rise in the arms of faith." Again, I missed her arms around me.

But then I realized ... Jolene doesn't need to be drawn closer to the Lord. Not anymore. She's as close as she can get. That which I prayed for, she already knows.

All I can do is look forward to the day when I join her in the Lord's presence.