Walking the Sea

Walking the Sea: September 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rock Check-Up

So it's been five days since I dumped the jar and I thought I would give you an update.  Let me tell you, it's hard to keep the other rocks from slipping back into the jar.  I've been invited to go country line dancing, to a concert, and to a potluck, all things I would enjoy doing.  However, I have said no to them all because I know my time is best spent at home working on getting the books ready for publication.  Normally, I would give myself more play time, more time to frolic, the rocks would be in better balance.  But right now these books need my attention.  I tell myself, yes, it is only two hours here and three hours there but wouldn't you rather be hours worth of work further along with the books?  After an intense week like this, in addition to working three other jobs, I am fraying a bit around the edges.  I admit that. Last night, I did go help celebrate the birthdays of two friends for two hours, I needed time to relax and have fun with them and it helped quite a bit.  Tomorrow Deborah and I are driving up to Vancouver for Deanna's house warming party so that will be fun too.  But if I do a bunch of small and fun things, as great as those are, all those fun things, those little rocks, will drop into the jar and fill it right back up.  It's not that those things are bad, they are good things.  It's just that I'm choosing the better thing. 

I'm still working on making sure I take time to read my daily Bible chapter and time to talk to God about what is on my mind.  I always read the chapter at some point but I'm trying to do it in the mornings which means getting myself out of bed on time.  It's not as easy as it sounds.

My problem is I also need to keep in mind the rock of time for myself.  I need to remember that the fun time is important too but it cannot take priority over the rock of writing and publishing.  It will take a while to bring the rocks into balance.  I know that.  But I'm learning and that's okay.  It's takes a while to learn the right balance to ride a bike.  It takes a while to learn the right balance to live a life.  I'll fall, I'll make mistakes.  The important thing is to keep riding.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Thing's First!

So I actually did it. I made the space for change. (Earlier post can be found here.) I realized that now fall has begun with work in the schools and house sitting, that I was pushed to the very edge of my margins and that once again, what needed to be done, namely reprinting the books and writing the third, was not getting done. There was no time for it. I have struggled with this theme, as many of you know from reading this blog, for months. Thus, also the fewer posts. It's a scary thing to live your life but to never do or be the thing God has called us to.

I see my time in the mountains this summer as a wake up call that I had to JUST STOP and recalibrate myself to a slower pace where my feet weren't frantically running out from under me so much of the time. My time living in Vancouver for several weeks while house sitting for a friend was my time to live this out away from all the demands being home brings on. But now the rubber has met the road and I have to make the hard choices about what to keep in my life and what to let go of.

Picture a glass jar in front of you with piles of various sized rocks nearby. Up to now, people have put rocks in my hands and I have all too easily dropped them in the jar while the rocks God has given me sit on the table neglected. Soon the jar is filled with these rocks from others and I am trying quite unsuccessfully to cram the God rocks into the jar, the rocks that give me life. So I finally realized how futile this whole thing was and how stupid I was being to think it would work. I wanted many of those rocks, they were nice rocks I had been given. But I wanted the rocks God had given far more. It was the difference between what is the best and what is good. Thus, I at last made the choice I have been struggling to make for some time. I dumped the jar.

With the glass gleaming, empty and clean, I contemplated the jar and the rocks beside it. First I took the rock of relationship. The most important thing in my life is my relationship with God. If that rock isn't in the jar, nothing else should be, not even my ministry. Without a relationship with God, my ministry counts for nothing. This rock involves reading my Bible. I have decided on a chapter a day to be read in the morning, two if I life, and to think about one idea I can take away from that section. My first book to go through in this way is Isaiah. I'm getting to know God's character this way. I also sit or lay down with God and talk to him about what is on my mind, what I am concerned about or want to talk over. I am still working on remembering to make room for these practices every day, but I feel much better about my relationship with God than I have in a long time by simply following the shocking idea of making time for it. It's steps in that best of directions.

The second rock I put in the jar is the rock of ministry, or writing and publishing. This fall I want to reprint all three of my books in addition to another project I'll be announcing shortly. (It's not the third poetry book, that's in the writing stages.) I have known for years this is the beat of my heart, my purpose in life. I am a writer. So I am taking time to write. First I'm actually taking time to publish, writing the third poetry book will come after that. But I am making sure I have room to do those things. If this was so important to God that he gave me these gifts, than it should also be that important to me to use them. And again, if this rock isn't in the jar, then nothing else should be.

Yesterday, I kept the entire Saturday free and unscheduled. I turned on the fireplace, listened to the rain fall outside which it did all day, and worked on the three publishing projects I have in the jar. After fifteen hours of working on the books, I felt like I had come miles from where I started. Huge progress was made and I feel like I have a much better handle on my timeline of getting these out before Christmas and now that I'm making the time for the books, I know the rest of the steps will get done. As I wrote to a friend on facebook, one book takes over your life. I am printing several.

The third rock I've placed in the jar is the rock of friends and family. It's so vitally important to be in relationship with those we love, to spend time with them, talk with them, to delight in each other's company. I love meeting people for coffee or tea, going to events with them such as festivals or concerts, playing games or just hanging out. I love to make them laugh. Time with my friends nurtures me, gives me joy and I learn so much from them.

You may by now, be asking about the rock of paid work. Yes, that is in there too but work must be done alongside these four other rocks. If work interferes with one of these four, then you need to reevaluate your employment. These four rocks come first.

Now that these five rocks are sitting in my jar, I can then add the others people offer but I must choose carefully. I will have to say no to things to make sure there is space for the first five. There also needs to be empty space around the rocks, the margins of life so I have space to move and breathe. For a while, I am going to be saying no to more things while I practice giving the first five all the time they need. I need to form these good habits of spending daily time with God, with my writing, with my friends, taking time for myself, and working before I can put any more rocks in the jar. It's going to be hard for me to say no. I know that but after yesterday, I also know how good it feels to put first things first, to know that what needs to get done are the things actually getting done.

Yes, there are other things that won't get done. People will be disappointed with me that I will no longer do what they want me to but as I am doing what I need to be doing, I am okay disappointing them. I am who I am. I have to be true to that before anything else. I have to put the God rocks in the jar.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chwele Yearly Meeting Youth Choir

This is a video of one of the children's choirs with us at the Young Quaker Christian Association of Africa triennial conference last December.  I now believe any conference without two such African children's choirs just isn't right and is in fact, far from being a complete conference.  When I get back home from house sitting, I think I'll have to post some more of my own videos.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

New Kenya Template

I told you I was going to be fiddling with the layout...  I like the pictures from Kenya myself, I hope you do too.  Let me know what you think!

Adult Friend - The Inescapable God

Last winter I wrote five lessons on the Psalms for Barclay Press' "Adult Friend", a quarterly Bible study they edit and publish for classes and Bible studies around the United States.  Delving deep into these Psalms was a joy.  Exploring and searching them out for the reader and for myself was an experience that rooted my soul into God's, a much needed connection after just having returned from Kenya.

"The Inescapable God" is now available for purchase at their website if you would like to read what I and the other two writers wrote about the character of God.  They cost $3.35each.  If you would like to purchase the additional lesson material for teachers, you can buy both together for $8.30, described here: "The Inescapable God: Discover the nature of God as the first person of the Trinity, by looking at Old Testament texts from the Exodus narrative and from the poetry of Psalms. A four-page folded leaflet of leader materials for each of the 13 lesson along with a copy of the student booklet."

If there is interest, I am considering buying a stack of copies to have them on hand for people to buy without having to order them from Barclay Press.  If you are interested in this option, please let me know via the comments.  Thanks and enjoy your reading!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

"What is your problem with chocolate??? "

This is a comment I received today on the post: "Peanut M&Ms in Relationship -Submission Part 3"

"So, um, you know, I really really like the general direction of this post and some parts of your metaphor really work for me, but WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM WITH CHOCOLATE??? I am not sure I want to hear, "read the whole book..."

I mean it's not really like you're talking about ecology or fair trade production or the power and wonder of chocolate in small and measured doses. It's just that no chocolate at all is not at all a leap I think a lot of relationships can sustain. Here I am not seeing the path away from chocolate mess and into the GOOD parts of chocolate."

First off, let me say I LOVE hearing from you in the comments.  I love the feedback and it inspires me to keep writing.  Thank you RantWoman for writing! Because of the nature of your questions, I thought I would address them publicly in a post of it's own. 

Let me tell you: I like chocolate, dark chocolate.  It's not something I love, as in I drool over the case of truffles in the candy store, but I do enjoy dark chocolate.  This is a case of growth and change.  Up until my mid-twenties, I preferred milk chocolate but as I lost my sweet tooth, I lost my taste for milk chocolate.  Then, several years later, Adria introduced me to dark chocolate and I could hear the angelic choirs singing their praises to God in the halls of Heaven.  It actually lasted only for a bar or two, but I have been a dark chocolate fan ever since.  I am still not a big candy fan though so dark chocolate is not something I buy for myself but I enjoy the treat on occasion when offered. 

As for the chocolate metaphor, it's not meant to disdain chocolate, but the original M&M was made with milk chocolate which is indeed, not good for you.  Neither is the candy coated shell.  The peanut is in fact the only part of the candy that has any nutritional value, just like the image of God inside each one of us is the truest part of ourselves.  The reason the M&M metaphor is used is because it is something most people in the west know about.  If I was teaching this in Kenya, I would probably use another metaphor.  I know Katie and her team have taught this in another country. The next time I speak with her, I'll ask her if they still used it. If I recall correctly, I believe they brought bags of the candy with them for the students to see and eat.
I have been thinking about a new installment of posts under the Imago Dei series about the drama triangle.  I love that material too!  Thank you for the feedback!

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A New Look

Yes, this is the same blog, but with a new look.  I've had the old design since I began this blog and I have been thinking about trying a new one out for some time now.  You would think that someone who has traveled to the other side of the world wouldn't be so nervous about changing a virtual design format but I am.  I liked the old colors and how it split up the posts better but it's time to make it more interesting.  You'll probably see me changing pieces of it here and there until I've settled into something I really like.  This picture, I believe, is taken in England on the Cliffs of Dover, a place I have actually been.  It was beautiful.  I chose green as the background to symbolized nourishment and growth, things I pray my life are marked by.  

I would appreciate your feedback as I change things around.  Is it readable? Is it easy on the eyes?  Do you like looking at it?  Does it suite me and the content of the blog?  Thanks!


The Rumors are True!

Those rumors you have been hearing are indeed, very true.  I know it's hard to believe, I know it's been a long time in coming but yes, what you have been dreaming of so often, longed and yearned for with all your might will soon be a reality!  I am reprinting.  Feels like Christmas doesn't it?  I bet you have wondered where Sarah went and never imagined she had her nose in a book (yeah right!).  Because so many of you want your own copies of my first two poetry books and because I'm pretty much out, and the fact three of you have already paid for them, I have gone back to the drawing board (computer screen) to reprint them. 

There are several aspects of this project and to help you be patient with me, I thought I would explain what is involved here.
  • Several years ago, I purchased the Adobe Creative Suite CS2, a suite of computer programs that includes Indesign, a  program for layout design, with which to layout the books. (I had been using Page Maker.)However, learning the different Adobe programs is like learning French when I have only spoken English so to this end, I purchased the "Classroom in a Book" books to help me learn the ins and outs of the suite.  These have been immeasurably helpful and I am actually enjoying learning how to better do what I love.

  • The first poetry book, "Learning to Fly", is actually being redone in several ways.  There are eight new poems in the book, a new illustration, a second introduction, and a brand new cover.  I am about half-way through adding all this new material but am still hunting for a good photograph for the cover.  I have found several people who know Indesign who are willing to help me get the cover and contents ready for printing.

  • My illustrator for the second book asked if she could improve upon some of her illustrations so I am giving her some time to work on this.  The rest of the book, except for updated biographies, will remain the same. 

  • I am working on figuring out what quality the illustrations are in the program and whether or not the originals need to be rescanned.  This has yet to be determined.  This question alone will determine when the books are ready.

  • I wanted to find a new printer for the books.  Though I really like the one that printed the second book, "In His Eyes", I wanted to find a printer focusing solely on printing books and after a great deal of research, I have selected Gorham Printing located in Centralia, Washington to reprint them both.  I am happy with my choice and am excited to see the finished product. 

I will let you all know when I have a better idea when the books will be ready for delivery but I can tell you for certain it will be this fall. 

Thank you all for your support of my writing.  It has meant more to me than I can possibly express and I am extremely grateful. 

For more information on the books, go to www.SpiritWaterPublications.com.

Photo Study of Faces

Many times throughout my posts I have mentioned Ecclesia, a house church I am a part of here in Salem.  A week ago we went camping on the beach and while there, I had the idea of creating a photo study of their faces, a style of photography I have often admired in the work of others.  Most of the photos I left in color, a few I put in black and white.  Now at least, you can have faces in your mind when I mention them in future postings. 

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