The Real Problem   1 comment

I had an epiphany.

I’ve had this project I wanted to work on, for over a year. But every time I had a chunk of space, I couldn’t get into it. And not even just couldn’t get into it. I mean I had this feeling like I shouldn’t even be thinking about it even though it’s a project that I love and can get fired up about and can be turned into a vehicle to get more of my writing out there. All of the positives of this project meant nothing, when the feeling came up to make me feel bad about the project. Now, some people might say “That’s God telling you not to do it.” Those people would be wrong. In fact, I’ve very clearly received a kick in the pants from God on this very issue. It surprised me, because I hadn’t realized until that moment that God had anything to do with it. The writing didn’t seem particularly godly, and the person I’d be working closely with is not a Christian, so it never dawned on me that it was of interest to God beyond the principle that all things should be done as if for the Lord.

So it wasn’t God holding me back. What was it? It would seem like something God wanted me to do, once I knew was something He wanted, would be pretty high up in the priorities, right? But still that feeling nagged at me. And finally, I figured out what it was. And once I really truly figured out what it was, I was able to unpack it and examine it and put it away. But just in case it should plague other Christian writers, I wanted to speak about it here.

BookshelfI was a writer before I was a Christian. Whether you count from my childhood decision to follow Christ or from my adult decision that led me back to God, the fact remains that I was a writer first. I learned to read, so that I could write. I have a vivid memory of being about five and I was writing something, but I didn’t know a lot of words, so I had to ask my mother how to spell just about every single word that I wanted to write. How she was so patient, I will never know. What I was writing, I have no idea. But I remember the incident very clearly.

All that to say that many of the stories locked in my head are not “Christian” stories. I would estimate that about 90% of my characters are not Christian. Do I love Christian fiction? As long as it’s good, yes. I have a great appreciation for Christian romance novels because I feel like I’m getting two love stories for the price of one. There’s the love story between the two individuals and the love story between God and Man. They are often very beautifully written and I love the way the chosen Scriptures speak to the conflict. But I cannot write Christian romance. I have tried. It is not what God has gifted me with. It is not inside me to produce. And that is the real problem I’ve been having.

Several years ago, a member of our church was asking about my writing and asked if all my stories had the Gospel in them. I said no, because that’s the truth and their response was to ask “Why not?” And the unspoken part of that question, the part that I heard, though it wasn’t said, was what kind of Christian writes stories that don’t contain the Gospel? What kind of Christian writes stories where the express purpose isn’t to convert the masses? What is the point of writing, as a Christian, if it’s not to bring others into a greater understanding of God’s desire to be in their lives?

And all of that unspoken junk has kept me from really seriously writing since then. I was in a lull at the time and even when I’ve attempted to break from that lull, that sense of shame, of not measuring up, has pulled me back. So, here, for others who may struggle with this, or for me, if I should need to hear it again in the future, I answer those questions.

All of Heaven and Earth proclaim the glory of God to those who have ears to hear. Everything beautiful points to God. He does not have to sign his name at the bottom of the painting for us to know the strokes of the Master who created it. I do not have to shout to those around me for them to see Him at work in my life. In fact, many won’t listen unless you speak softly. Christian literature is for Christians. Atheists and agnostics do not purchase the latest Love Inspired titles. They do not read Karen Kingsbury books. Christians do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for those works.

There is also a place for the works of Christians that do not keep to those tight restrictions of content. There is a place for works by Christians that are relatable for non-Christians. There is a place for Middle Earth and Narnia, worlds where perhaps the Gospel is there, but it isn’t obvious and it doesn’t beat you about the head. That place is where my foul-mouthed, gypsy-cursed Hungarians belong. That is the place where my timid, pyrokinetic redhead belongs. That is the place where my genetically-altered government assassin belongs. That is where my writing belongs. It belongs on a shelf not labeled Christian, where someone might pick it up, and believe that it is beautiful and be interested in the soul that it came from. And when they go looking for that soul, they will find this place. This little spot on the internet where I have poured out my heart about what God is doing in my life. And I have been vulnerable and imperfect and I’ve shown a true face to the world. And maybe, on that day, they’ll believe.

And maybe they won’t.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that all things beautiful show God’s face to the world. And I want to write beautiful things. And no matter what I think a Christian should be writing doesn’t matter. Because a Christian should be writing what is inside them to be written. Especially when God tells them to.

Posted February 18, 2015 by maidenfine in God, Writing

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Posts Not Written   1 comment

It’s been a weird year. And I’ve thought of more posts in the last few months than I normally would in a whole year. But I’ve been struggling. What is worth writing? What matters enough to put out into the world? I’m sure these are questions every writer asks (probably over and over and over and over). But more than any other time, I’ve been answering those questions with “When in doubt, don’t.” Sadly, that means not much going on in the post writing department.

Another hurdle has been my relationships with other people. I feel like I’ve spent the last year or two putting more effort into my relationships. For that reason, most of what I want to write about involves other people. Where is the line between writing something thoughtful and writing something that will hurt people close to me? How many of my thoughts and observations are not appropriate to be shared because I wouldn’t just be sharing me, I’d be sharing them too? Private things about me, don’t necessarily bother me to be shared because it’s my choice to do something public. But my husband didn’t start this blog. My mother didn’t start this blog. My children didn’t start this blog. So when my life intersects with theirs, it become hard to decide if what I’m writing is okay to share, or if it needs to be in my own personal journal instead.

These are the things that stop me from writing. These are the things that have left countless blog posts as simply wanderings in my own mind. I am hoping to get some things started in 2015 and hopefully they will lead to more blog posts here from me. But no guarantees. Life is good. God is good. But not everything about it all is meant to be shared. And I’m trying to figure out where that line is.

Posted January 4, 2015 by maidenfine in Writing

Aaaaand I’m Back!   Leave a comment

So I’m back, in more ways than one. I’m back writing, and I’m also back at my free WordPress site. It was an interesting foray into paying for hosting and all that, but it was too much pressure. Pressure to keep to a set schedule to try to build a following so that I could maybe make money from the site in order to pay for the hosting I couldn’t afford. Pressure to write, even when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, because there was a bill to pay now. I greatly prefer free, where I can write when I need to speak, and not worry about it when life gets crazy or I feel like I have nothing to contribute.

I spent a few hours yesterday moving as many posts from the last two years as I could get. I didn’t get a backup saved before my hosting expired, so I had to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to retrieve the posts from old copies. There were still a few I couldn’t get. And most of them with pictures no longer have them. But somewhere on my netbook I know I have them all, so I’ll find them and put them back eventually. Maybe. I may just call it good enough that I retrieved all that writing.

It’s been a very tough couple years. I’ve learned what it truly means to trust God to provide for your family. And what it truly means to surrender your future to Him. I’ve had moments of profound thankfulness that I homeschool, and moments where I wondered if it was the right thing when our life has been so hectic. But that same craziness that made me wonder if my daughter would fare better with the regularity of public school, would have meant changing schools enough times that it would have been even more traumatic. I pray that our life will be mostly restored soon, but I know that in some things, we still have a long way to go.

A quick look at the last couple years:

September 2012 – My husband, under the leading of God, quit his job. A debt collector, attempting to collect on one of our medical debts, garnished our bank account (i.e. wiped it out), causing us to be behind on our house payment. Despite turning in over $3000 worth of past due bills to his 401(k) in an attempt to receive funds for economic hardship, they approved around $300. That didn’t even catch up the house, much less the utilities that were near being shut off. When he quit his job, we were able to cash out his 401(k) and catch everything up. We hoped this would be a short time of unemployment, since we were being obedient to God and he’d been working for 8 years there, so we figured he had established himself as reliable.

20130413_142226January 2013 – We ran out of 401(k) money. Thankfully, we were able to get our taxes done quickly and with our large refund, we floated a few more months.

May 2013 – Despite our best efforts, we lost our house. We moved out and into a house with my father-in-law. It’s actually a little bit painful to look back at posts from our old house. There were problems with it, but it was ours, you know? I cried as we drove away for the last time.

July 2013 – After a mass of crazy paperwork stuff, we got my husband’s pension money. Our tax refund had run out in May. We got the money just in time to pay rent on the new place we’d been living with my father-in-law (he’d covered our first month there).

August 2013 – We discovered that I was pregnant. In July 2012, we had felt God calling us to let him be in charge of our family size and He had promised us a son. I was beginning to think the promised son may be a long way off when I started being fatigued and occasionally nauseous. I ignored it for several weeks until my husband insisted that I was pregnant. I took a test. It was positive. Very few members of our family met the news with happiness.

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October 2013 – The pension money was gone. We were going to lose yet another place to live. I prayed nonstop for God to keep us from being homeless. Nothing happened. Then, I owned up to my fear of homelessness. I gave God control and acknowledged that even if we became homeless, He could still care for us. The hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord, grew exponentially more meaningful.

November 2013 – In the midst of moving, after 13 months of unemployment, my husband finally got a new job. As a pizza delivery driver, making less than minimum wage part time. I was struggling with fatigue and morning sickness and my husband was working every hour he could get as we tried to pack and find a place to go with no income to pay for it.

December 2013 – A member of our church family took us in temporarily. Our landlord, feeling that we had taken too long to move (despite the fact that she never evicted us or gave us a deadline to get out), changed the locks on the home we were leaving. She refused to allow us to get the rest of our belongings. The value of the belongings was such that we will require a lawyer to take he to court in order to resolve this. We have yet to find a lawyer.

We also have yet to find a plElijah Paulace to live. We applied with public housing, but have made very little progress. On April 1, 2014, we welcomed our promised son into the world. Elijah Paul is the spitting image of his big brother. Unlike his big brother, he has a working thyroid (and that is literally the second question people asked after what he weighed and such). He is a very calm and mellow baby who took to breastfeeding right away. He has brought me such immense joy.

So, we’re still technically homeless. Or maybe it’s technically not homeless. I’m not sure. And when we get a place, we will have no dishes or pots and pans. We lost a large portion of our school supplies and all of the children’s books. But we have our family, and we’re healthy, and in the last 7 months, my husband went from delivery driver to assistant manager to store manager. It’s pretty much unheard of. When I was younger, I worked as a delivery driver for 9 months and couldn’t even get a raise when a coworker commented on how hard I worked. Most of the managers I had, had been working in the industry for several years. We know that his advancement comes from God. And we are very thankful, especially since it means that we no longer need to wait on public housing. We can being to set aside money and start looking for a new place to live. I am hopeful that if we continue being faithful, we’ll be in a home of our own again by the end of August. God has seen us through times that made me weep more intensely than I ever have in my life. But in those moments, I felt Him so strongly. There were days that I literally felt Him changing me. And it was painful and beautiful and intense. But I am better now for all of it. And despite the fact that we’d hoped to be on our own again before the baby was born, I was so thankful to be somewhere that I could get help with the older two as I recovered from childbirth. On our worst days, our church family has been there for us. They are most certainly the arms of Christ wrapping around us in our need.

You Are Worth More   Leave a comment

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything, but this has seriously been crawling around in my brain insisting on coming out. So here I am.

Over the last week or so, I have seen a certain movie trailer at least a half-dozen times. Probably a lot more than that. The whole movie looks like something I wouldn’t be interested in. It hasn’t hinted at any plot and looks like it’s basically just a thinly veiled excuse to spend a couple hours watching people get drunk and do stupid things. But that seems to be the trend these days, so whatever. That doesn’t so much bother me. But there’s a short exchange in the trailer that got my attention every time. It goes like this:

Boy 1: She’s cute, right?

Boy 2: Yeah, she’s cute, but she’s not my type.

Boy 1: What’s your type?

Boy 2: Girls that want to have sex with me.

Then both boys appear to laugh at what is supposedly a joke. The first time I saw the trailer, I rolled my eyes and the cynical part of my brain that grew up in the World said “Ugh. That is so young guys these days.” The second time I saw the trailer, something just didn’t sit right. And after 4 or 5 times, that part of the trailer actually made me a little angry. Because I realized what was being said, not just between those two characters, but to every young man and woman watching the movie:

Girls, you are only as attractive to a man as your willingness to have sex with him. Boys, you are only worth as much as your ability to get girls to have sex with you.

Well, I have something to say to all the young men and women who are going to see that movie and hear that message, and you’ll have to pardon my language a little, because I’m just not sure I could get it across any other way.

Dammit, you are worth so much more than sex.

Girls. You are not the sum of your parts. You are not a vagina and a pair of tits and some legs. You are not just a blond or a brunette or a redhead. You are intelligent. You have hopes and dreams and fears and weaknesses. You enjoy hobbies. You probably like certain books. You have a family that has shaped your life. You have a past that has made you who you are. And you deserve to have a man care about all of that. You deserve someone who will meet your family and listen to the stories of your life growing up. You deserve someone who will 1402028_45685628value and respect your intelligence and encourage you to pursue your hobbies. You deserve someone who will be interested in your hopes and fears. Who will work to make your hopes come true and protect you from your fears. You deserve more than sex. And any man who thinks you aren’t his type because you don’t want to immediately have sex with him, does not deserve your time.

Boys. You are not the sum of your parts. Your worth is not measured by your penis or how it looks or how many women it’s been with. You are not measured by your likelihood to become an underwear model. You are intelligent. You have hopes and dreams and fears and weaknesses. You enjoy hobbies. You probably like certain books. You have a family that has shaped your life. You have a past that has made you who you are. And you deserve to have a woman care about all of that. You deserve someone who will meet your family and listen to the stories of your life growing up. You deserve someone who will value and respect your intelligence and encourage you to pursue your hobbies. You deserve someone who will hear your fears and weaknesses and not think less of you for them. You deserve someone who will hear your hopes and dreams and inspire you to achieve them. You deserve more than sex. And anyone who tells you that you aren’t a man because you haven’t had sex with enough women is leading you astray. You are worth more than the notches on your bedpost. Manhood is less about sex and more about taking responsibility for your actions.

I know that millions of young people across the country will see that movie. And they will hear those lines. And many of them will laugh. But it is far from funny. It is wrong. It sends a message that devalues every person that believes it. There is more to life than sex (and drinking). And you deserve to have all of it.

 

P. S. I know that there are those who will dismiss everything I just said at the mention of Jesus, so I’m putting this down here. But in my life, I have never found anyone who could give me all those things I deserve. I love my husband and he loves me, but neither of us are perfect. Jesus Christ was. And He knows you, down to every cell in your body. And He loves you more than any person will ever be capable of. If you don’t know Christ as your Savior and Lord, I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have or discuss it further. But if you don’t want to drag Jesus into the discussion, still know that you are worth everything I said and more.

Posted June 21, 2013 by maidenfine in God, Movies, Randomness

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Found Mommy, Following God   Leave a comment

This has been a hard post to make myself sit down and write. Not because the subject matter is difficult, but just because the very nature of what I’m going to say doesn’t lend itself well to being written. But, if I’m going to continue on this blogging journey in any form, this post has to come first. Because the last thing I posted was talking about making a decision about whether or not to continue blogging. And that question needs to be answered.

When I changed my blog from Maidenfine’s Musings to Finding Mommy, Finding God, I had a mission. My mission was to explore who I am and who God wanted me to be, while also trying to strike a balance between being a mother and wife and my writing. And while I could continue to write here, I can’t really continue on that mission. Because I feel like I’ve found the path that God has for me. And I feel like I’m living the life he wants. And I feel like I’m not just someone’s mom or someone’s wife. I’ve found my own identity again.

My sister, mother, and me at the Rock and Worship Roadshow in November 2011.
My sister, mother, and me at the Rock and Worship Roadshow in November 2011.

 

So what do you write about after you’ve reached the goal you set out to achieve?

I suppose the answer to that is. . . whatever I want. But I’m not wanting to hold myself accountable to some posting schedule that a social media expert said is the minimum for blog growth. I don’t want to force myself to produce, even if it means producing junk. So I’m going to keep going. But I have a few other things that I want to do that don’t necessarily fit here. And I don’t want to sacrifice those things for maintaining a writing schedule here.

So, I’ve set up a MailChimp mailing list. I’ll still write here as the Spirit directs. But I’m working on other things. Things that will require a hefty chunk of my time. And I don’t want anyone who’s interested to miss my posts here. So if you want to keep reading as I’m inspired, sign up. It’s not likely to be a lot of emails, but there will be some.

Posted February 1, 2013 by maidenfine in God

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A Decision To Be Made   Leave a comment

Something is going to be cut out. I’m not one hundred percent sure yet what it’s going to be, but I’m leaning toward the blog. I enjoy it. But I don’t always have time for it. And the only way to be a “good” blogger is to be a consistent blogger, so when I realize a week has gone by without a post, I feel shades of guilty and wonder if I should be apologizing, or if, since it’s my blog, I should just do whatever I feel like and who cares if other people decide not to read anymore because I just wasn’t feeling it for a couple weeks.

I’ve been enjoying doing the book reviews. Though I’ve slowed down considerably in my reading. I had a couple weeks in there where I was just devouring anything I could get my hands on. And while I’m still reading, it’s not as much, or as quickly, and the couple things I still need to review just haven’t grabbed me like past items. The urge to share them with everyone right now so they can get their own copy just isn’t there. So the reviews haven’t been written.

Then there’s the computer issue. For various reasons that make me want to spank every single person that lives with me and then go find the electrician who wired our house and spank them too, my netbook battery is fried. So it will only work when plugged in. Which is, unfortunately, more difficult than it sounds. The plug-in that’s hidden enough to actually keep the thing plugged in, is part of a group of things that like to randomly have power outages that leave the rest of our house unaffected. Plugging in to an outlet not affected by this random wiring issue that I hope doesn’t burn our house down before we have a chance to move out of it, means using an extension cord that my children then step on because if there’s an empty room with one small item on the floor, they will find a reason to step on that small item. Please tell me this is not restricted to my children.

The result of all that is that I haven’t been spending much time on my computer. And when I’m on there, I usually have a bazillion emails that need to be dealt with because I can’t do a lot of things on my phone so any email that requires an action gets left for me to deal with “Later, when I can get on the computer.” And then there’s the fact that I’m the education director for my church now and I have this grand plan for our front bulletin board. But it requires me to spend some time making the various elements to put up. And then, through God’s crazy workings, I’m the Sunday School teacher for kindergarten through 3rd grade, and that is definitely a class that requires preparation. They are so easily distracted, if I don’t know what we’re doing, they’ll have us dancing around listening to music for the whole hour.

Plus, we’re getting ready to move. Sometime. We have to wait for someone else to move out before we can move in, so right now we’re just waiting and hoping we don’t lose our house before we can move.

And while all of this is perfect fodder for blogging, and I seriously have moments when I’m out and think “I need to write this down so I can blog it,” the reality is that I’m too busy living it, to blog it. Maybe if I had an easy way to get things from my Kindle to my computer, I could do it. But I don’t currently have an app that would allow me to create a document on the Kindle and get it to my computer. And I hate handwriting stuff that I want to blog because I just don’t have time to do the retyping later. When you barely have time to write, you don’t want to cut that in half by making yourself repeat work.

So. All that to say that I don’t know how long I’ll be trying this. And really, my hosting runs out at the end of November, and unless life takes a drastic turn for the prosperous, I can’t afford to renew it. Which means going back to wordpress.com. Not a completely unhappy thought, since I actually rather liked all the things they took care of for me (like having an email list where people could get updated when I post or keeping really awesome statistics regarding visitors and such). But in the blogging world, it seems you’re not a “real” blog if there’s a “wordpress” or “blogger” in your blog’s address. But maybe I can upgrade from wordpress.com and get my own domain name without paying an arm and a leg for it. If I decide to keep going. I still haven’t decided that.

For now, I’m going to keep giving it a go. Next week, hopefully I’ll get around to talking about what we’ve been doing in school. And how in the world I ended up teaching the age group that frustrates me most. And I still have a couple reviews to write.

Should be good times if I can get myself to the computer to write it all out.

Preparing To Move   Leave a comment

The beginning of things is the fact that we can’t afford the place we live. When we decided to purchase our current home, we were allowing a woman who was eight months pregnant to make our decisions (yes, I’m talking about me). And the fact is, our last place had mold from a hole in the ceiling and I was freaked out. If I’d spent an extra five minutes looking at our finances, I would have known we couldn’t afford it. And if I’d spent another five minutes beyond that praying, I’m pretty sure God would have told me to do something else. But I didn’t, and we’ve spent the last two years struggling to make our house payment and lot rent every month (yes, we have both). Because a mobile home isn’t really all that expensive (in terms of houses), our loan was only a 7 year loan (much like a new car). So if we’d been able to keep it up for another 5 years, we’d be down to just the lot rent and life would have been fine.

But then the owners of our community decided to sell the place. And the new owners sent everyone a letter indicating that they are going to be raising rent in the next 30 days. Our precarious balance (that wasn’t balancing very well due to medical debts) was gone. If the lot rent goes up, we go from barely making ends meet to not making ends meet. So we’ve decided to move. We’ll attempt to sell our house, but if it doesn’t sell quickly enough, we’ll just have to give it back to the bank. Which sucks on your credit report, but not as bad as foreclosure, which is the other option.

Finding a place that would actually be affordable for us, wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped, or as hard as I’d begun to fear once I got started. The biggest problem with moving, is motivating myself to get started packing. I may or may not have mentioned that I went to 13 different schools growing up. And each of those schools involved at least one house. Sometimes more. And then if you add in the places we lived before I hit school, and the places I lived between high school and getting married, I’ve probably lived in close to 30 places. I may not remember them all, but I remember enough moves to know that I hate moving. Really hate. So even though I know that procrastinating makes the problem bigger, it’s hard to get started. Because I hate the whole thing so much. Not to mention, we’re not 100% sure when we’ll be able to actually get into our new place. So I have no idea how much time I have. Which makes it all that much harder to plan. But I am definitely figuring out that I need to get started. I need to make a plan, even if it’s not an accurate timeline yet.

This week is Elisebeth’s birthday, along with a couple cousins and  family friends. And there’s a baby shower. And then Labor Day weekend is my birthday. And all that really means is that without a plan, I’m sunk. We have too much to do for me to be putting it off.

So, in an attempt to get myself going, I’m going to hop over to flylady.net and get her moving tips. And I’ll just put it on a two-week timeline, since that’s probably the shortest amount of time we’ll have and if we end up with more time, then it’ll just be a bonus. I can do this. I will do this.

Posted August 31, 2012 by maidenfine in Randomness

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