I’m terrified to write. And here’s why.

Words.

You’d think after years as a poet and a student of journalism and literature and creative writing and a newspaper columnist and freelance writer with three novels under my belt and a fourth in the editing phase, I’d be comfortable with words.

But today, I’m terrified.

Like most of you, I’ve been watching the news and the soundbites cross my social media feeds for the last week. I’ve seen friends curse worse than sailors and announce that they refuse-from-here-on-out to be friends with anyone who voted differently than they did. I saw a mother pack a suitcase for her grade school age son and kick him out of the house as he stood screaming in terror. I saw people threatening to kill police and throw rocks at them in the streets of my home town. And I saw the late night comedian sing a pop hymn through tears, and the voices of twitter and Facebook rose like an off-key choir and their collective

hallelujah

finally broke me.

Because like so many of the words filling our feeds and ears and minds this past week, their

hallelujah

is empty. A pop star dies. The media lassos his song and uses the word

hallelujah.

Redefines the word

hallelujah.

Distorts the word

hallelujah.

And the people believe they are saved by a pop song and a comedian pretending to be a candidate they thought could save them, alongside another comedian pretending to be a candidate half of the rest of the country thought could save them.

Hallelujah

is defined by Merriam-Webster–never mind the Bible–as a word used to express praise, joy, or thanks, especially to God.

HALLELUJAH

the people sing, and God,

well,

–can I have a witness here?–

I believe He weeps. I believe He looks out over humanity beating the emotional (and sometimes physical) crap out of each other in this land of milk and honey the same way Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept. Because the current and resounding

hallelujah

is empty, just like the words we sling at each other because we fail to see the face of the Creator in our enemies, in our neighbors, and even our friends. So yeah, I’m terrified of words right nowbecause a whole lot of people are saying a whole lot of things and nobody knows what any of it means anymore.

Love means

hate

and hope means

despair

and peace means

war

and brother means

bigot

and protest means

kill

and I am undone.

Hallelujah.

Can I at least reclaim that word?

Can I at least suggest those nine letters strung together be reserved for my Savior, your Savior, the one Savior, the only Savior, the only hope for any of us, whether we sit at a piano crying or throw stones or burn flags or vote for the wrong candidate, or whether we are simply alive and breathing, because to be alive and breathing is to be a sinner in need of grace?

Back when we actually knew what the words we were saying really meant, some wise soul coined the expression that the good Lord gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason.

Might require pulling out a dictionary, but we’d all be wise to sit and contemplate what that little phrase means for a spell.

There comes a time when a writer has to write, even if she is terrified, because the same words currently tearing us apart could, rearranged, bring us back together.

Words of hope for a hurting world.

That’s been my mission, my calling, for as long as I can remember.

So I’ll keep writing.

But I’ll sure as heck make sure to listen.

And I’ll reserve the right to sing

HALLELUJAH

for the only wise King.

 

Introducing “Dear Reader,” posts just for YOU! 

Have you read my books?

Then this post, and others like it in the future, are just for you!

I’ve been thinking about better ways to communicate with folks who’ve read my books, and although I already have this blog, I’m not the greatest about “talking” specifically to my readers. Sure, I write poems and post photographs and stuff, but I don’t really TALK to you.

Shame on me, right?

YOU, after all, are the reason I do what I do!

So, while the rest of my posts are sporadic (sorry!), on Tuesdays I will try my darndest to write posts just for you.

I hope to write about things like what it’s like to work in the traditional publishing industry, insider information into different pieces of my books, personal writing habits and quirks, background research, and whatever else I can think of that might interest folks who’ve read my books.

Which reminds me…

…what would YOU, as a reader, like to hear about in “Dear Reader” posts?

Today, I’ll just share a little bit about my third novel, tentatively titled, Lead Me Home, and which will be published next summer (2016) with Tyndale House Publishers. I am so excited about this novel. As different as How Sweet the Sound and Then Sings My Soul were from each other, Lead Me Home is different still. The setting is small town Indiana, and the main characters are a pastor with a dying church and a young man, forced to grow up too soon, who runs his family dairy farm. Each of them struggles with their place in the world…where they are, versus where God wants them to be.

Do you ever struggle with that?

I know I do. It’s the great temptation of most Americans, if we’re honest, don’t you think? We’d rather have our neighbor’s home, job, money, looks…life. Wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure that we are right where God wants us to be? And to rest in that assurance?

This next book, as with the others, is an attempt to reconcile the way the world is with hope and assurance from God. At the end of the day, I think this is the task and motivation of all writers, all artists…we throw words and color and images out of our minds in frenzied attempts to rearrange them into some sort of sense, into something that matters, into something that shows that we can overcome tragedy and pain and the craziness of this world and find hope.

So, dear reader, let’s connect!

Tell me what you’d like to hear me write about.

I can’t wait to visit with you again soon!

and you bloom. a poem for artists.

i am not unlike you, little

dandelion, your honest glow 

a weed, a nuisance 

to be rid of. and so, I get why

the sunshine of your tender face 

turns 

pale and the whole of your being

transforms

into fragile white, pieces falling, 

hoping to be caught

by the wind, an invisible 

river rolling pain away to 

somewhere

a place far away where the soil understands 

you 

better than the place where you first took root 

and there, you blossom.  

the field, wild, 

with flowers once weeds like you, bending,  

grateful 

to the wind for carrying them 

to a place where at last they rest, 

their roots pushing in deep, understanding.

and you bloom.