Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Told the Mountain to Move

Patricia Raybon grew up in the church. She was a good Christian lady. But when her husband was rushed to the hospital for life-saving emergency surgery, and her daughter had left the church to embrace Islam, and her relationship with her mother had deteriorated into an obligation, she started praying. She studied the masters of prayer, Andrew Murray, R.A. Torrey, Mother Theresa, Richard Foster and many other men and women of yesterday and today who had learned to pray. And she sought the Lord for herself and poured over the pages of Scripture, struggling through the issues that seemed like immovable mountains in her life.

It is out of this experience that she wrote the book, I Told the Mountain to Move: A determined struggle to learn how to pray; a triumphant lesson in learning to love. Patricia Raybon is utterly honest; I'm sure I have never read a book by an author more transparent than Raybon. A journalist who teaches at University of Colorado at Boulder, she is a fine writer with a unique voice. A powerful voice. A voice that draws the reader into her mind and her heart.

The book is made up of twenty-four prayer lessons that Patricia Raybon learned through the years covered in the book, lessons with names like "Love Each Other" and "Be of Good Cheer," simple words but often foreign concepts. I Told the Mountain to Move describes the amazing changes that occurred in Patricia herself as she learned to pray from the Lord himself.

I found the most impressive change to be the transformation that occurred in her most significant relationships. As the book began, her marriage was in disarray, she felt compelled to preach to her daughter, and she and her mother could barely be in the same room together. The Lord restored each of these relationships as he taught Patricia about love and prayer.

If you struggle with prayer, if your relationships lack grace, if you have unsurmountable problems, then you are right where Patricia Raybon started out. Let her take you on a journey that will teach you to pray the kind of prayers that make mountains move.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Today's Post

You'll find me today at Northwest Healthy Mama, where I talk about my Northwest Healthy Dad who just turned 90 a few days ago. Stop by and take a look!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Growing as a Writer

I've been writing all my life. Three pieces from my grade school days come to mind, two poems—one a retelling of the Christmas story and the other describing an idyllic community with tree lined streets and lots of churches, a place where I thought I would like to live—and a fanciful tale in which I described the noses of the people who got off the bus while I waited to get on. My childhood diary was less interesting, featuring entries such as,"This morning I played at Gretchen's house. I had tomato soup for lunch." Clearly not all writing is equal.

With term papers in high school and college, essay tests, and letters, lots of letters, I had many opportunities to pursue my love of writing. Years later, when Tom and I found ourselves in a rural community where jobs were as scarce as hen's teeth, we decided to start our own business. Tom's background in graphic arts and publication design at Boeing and my writing experience led us to create a publication of our own, a magazine we called Family Scrapbook. We put up a half-wall in the huge living room of our hundred-year-old farmhouse, making it possible for us to keep an eye on our two preschool sons while we created our 40-page bi-monthly magazine. It was a venture far beyond our previous experience and proved to be just the creative challenge we needed.

Now, twenty years later, I look back through the seven issues of Family Scrapbook we published before the cost of producing a national magazine overwhelmed our resources, and smile deep inside, remembering the joy of working with my husband on a project so completely satisfying.

Christmas letters and an occasional article made up the bulk of my writing for the next fifteen years. Then one morning I awoke with an urgency to start a blog. I could hardly wait for my son to get off the computer so that I could get started. I lept onto the computer and hardly came up for air until I had my first post up. That was September 17, 2009. I've loved blogging–sharing things I care about while honing my writing skills. I joined Northwest Christian Writers Association (NCWA) and love hanging out at the monthly meetings and various writers conferences with folks who, like me, want to write to the glory of God.

Our Critique Group -- Members (left to right, standing) Me, Joan Husby, Diana Savage,
Agnes Lawless, Sylvia Stewart, (seated) Marjorie Stewart

A year ago I was invited to join a critique group. Of all my writing adventures, this is by far the most stretching. These women, these beautiful, creative, amazing women, have become dear friends and colleagues to me. Being with them for a year has inspired me to work harder and write better. It is a group who pours themselves into one another's writing and after the critique session ends we share our joys and concerns over brown bag lunches.

Each of these women is an accomplished and prolific writer and every time we meet I learn more about the breadth of their writing skills and the depth of their faith in Christ. I am grateful to have these lovely women in my life.

Are you a budding writer (or artist, or musician, or actor, or...) who wonders if you will ever really get good at your craft? Do you feel like the years are slipping away and you may never become accomplished and God will never use you? I have often felt that way too. But as I look back over the years I can see that the Lord was growing me as a writer all along. The childish poems and school essays, the letters to my camp friends, the magazine and the blog—these things were years apart but they were what I could do at the time. If you have a dream in you heart that the Lord put there, He will nurture it. Keep at it; find support through NCWA or another group; take a class; hire a mentor.  Bring your dreams to Jesus. He just may show you how He has been growing you over the years. And don't worry about when and how He is ever going to use you. Chances are, He already is.