Pursue the wonder

I have the back-to-school crazies.

If you have school-aged kids, you might know what I’m talking about.

The noise of commercials, piles of junk adds, and onslaught of school-bus-yellow stuff in the front aisles of every grocery, super store and department store I enter is all enough to careen me head first into the valley of distraught and fanatical mothers. You’d think after seven years of it, I’d have found a way to cope.

But I haven’t.

Year after year, I fail miserably at deflecting the gimmies and I-wannas, feeling like a loser mom if I can’t (or just plain won’t) buy my kid a new backback when their one from last year is barely broken in; or that I recycle school supplies; or that I don’t buy all the latest-and-greatest locker outfitting trinkets from the teen catalogs barging into my home.

Yet I want to be different. I want to be content. I want to be at peace with the conservative decisions I make, and I want to leave a legacy of contentment to my kids, teaching them to reduce, re-use, and recycle. Because after school is said and done, life isn’t about what’s in your locker or on your back. It’s about making the most out of what you have; about leaning on God and not over laptops; about being joyful in all circumstances, even when your off-label jeans hang wrong in all the wrong places.

But the pressure lurks.



And I feel the knot of wanna-gimmie-need-it-now twisting inside.

Until I make myself stop and listen and wait for the One who tells me to be still. Waiting long enough, standing still in one place, the goodness–the plenty–comes into focus. And I realize, at once ashamed and relieved, that I am blessed; that my kids have enough if they have a soft place to lay their head and a mama to hold them at night; that the sound of a trumpet vine is louder than any gotta-have commercial ever made, and a butterfly’s wings on our back patio is enough to silence the incessant, materialistic madness.

It’s hard to be different in a world that screams at us to all be alike.

But in that difference lies true contentment.

How about you?

Where do you find contentment during this crazy time of year? How do you avoid  or tune out the suffocating thrust of materialism, and how do you find and rest in God?

Here are a few pictures Middle Son and I took on the back patio this week. Consider the lillies . . . pursue the wonder . . . and the truth that God and His grace are enough.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
       that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ~Psalm 90:14




“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough . . . Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith . . .” ~I Timothy 6:6-8. 11-12 (The Message)

*Also posted this today over at Chatting at the Sky’s Tuesdays Unwrapped–a great place to find joy in the simple things.

On summer

corn rows hugging 


once barrren streets

thyme from a garden

completing fresh steaks

toes in the grass

between precious bare feet

fireflies shoot rays of

hope through the heat

a time for growth

and renewal of land

a time for rest

and His shade on my hand

a time for propping

plump tomatoes on vines

a time to hug my kids

who are home and all mine

 “Be happy, young man, while you are young,
       and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.”

~Ecclesiastes 11:9

This post was written for the One Word at a Time blog carnival on “summer,” and for Chatting at the Sky’s Tuesday’s Unwrapped.

The Art of writing

I’m focusing this week–on my blog and on twitteron writing.

The act of writing.

The art of writing.

The work of refining manuscripts and pursuing publication.

Today celebrates the Art of writing.

Tomorrow features thoughts on publishing, querying, and all the work and preparation surrounding that, including some wisdom from (my!) agent, Rachelle Gardner. (You see, she’s having this amazing webinar on Thursday at 1pm EDT about queries, elevator pitches, taglines and all the ways you sell your work to agents and editors. Click here for more information about that!)

Thursday features two awesome poets, Maureen Doallas and Curtis Honeycutt: 1) because they’re poets, 2) that makes them really cool and 3) poetry is sorely underrated.

Friday offers a re-cap of the week.

Perhaps I’ll throw in some other surprises along the way.

But today, I want to share a piece from a new favorite book I discovered last week. The book, on the craft of writing, is Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

For Tuesdays Unwrapped and all you writers out there, I extend this poem of Mr. Bradbury’s.

Bradbury uses poetry in a way which chisels deep into the heart and explains what I was trying to say last Friday, about how writing is an art . . . difficult, at times . . . causing parts of us to die . . . but ultimately bringing life to us and (even better!) those around us.

May Bradbury’s poem inspire, tug, twist, and embrace the crevices and shadows of your soul, that you might find a way to breathe through your pen.

We Have Our Arts So We Don’t Die of Truth, by Ray Bradbury

Know only Real? Fall dead.
So Nietzsche said.
We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.
The World is too much with us.
The Flood stays on beyond forty days,
The sheep that graze in yonder fields are wolves.
The clock that ticks inside your head is truly Time
And in the night will bury you.
The children warm in bed at dawn will leave
And take your heart and go to worlds you do not know.
All this being so
We need our Arts to teach us how to breathe
And beat out blood; accept the devil’s neighborhood,
And age and dark and cars that run us down,
And clown with Death’s-head in him
Or skull that wears Fool’s crown
And jingles blood-rust bells and rattles groans
To earthquake-settle attic bones late nights.
All this, this, this, all this—too much!
It cracks the heart!
And so? Find Art,
Seize brush. Take stance. Do fancy footwork. Dance.
Run race. Try poem. Write play.
Milton does more than drunk God can
To justify Man’s way toward Man.
And maundered Melville takes as task
To find the mask beneath the mask.
And homily by Emily D. shows dust-bin Man’s anomaly.
And Shakespeare poisons up Death’s dart
And of gravedigging hones an art.
And Poe divining tides of blood
Builds Ark of bone to sail the flood.
Death, then, is painful wisdom tooth;
With Art as forceps, pull that Truth,
And plumb the abyss where it was
Hid deep in dark and Time and Cause.
Though Monarch Worm devours our heart,
With Yorick’s mouth cry, “Thanks!” to Art.