together we will rise out of our night minds

picture found here

Over the weekend, we finished all of our Christmas shopping. We spent the majority of time pursuing the toy and craft aisles at Hobby Lobby, selecting gifts we thought were equally cute and creative for children currently in foster care. The plan is to either attend the Christmas extravaganza at Oklahome Employees Credit Union tomorrow evening and enjoy free beer and wine and music or to drp the presents off at another time. However they are delivered, we are excited that we had the chance to assist gathering presents for children who might not have received gifts otherwise.

The rest of time was spent looking through the books on sale at Mardel. There were a few arguments and tension thrown into the mix as well. Arguments and tension about the same things there always are.

We've become ensnared in a pattern, and we are desperately trying to break out of it. I think it's a pattern many married couples fall into. A pattern of expectations, failed expectations, comparisons to each other and to other couples, and finally the busyness of life.

This pattern that we are in makes it difficult to have grace with one another. There is some grace, but it does not abound the way it should. Instead it comes with words of hurt and frustration and apologies. We have been talking so much, opening the lines of communication as wide as we can, that we are both sick of the words we say and the way we say them. I am tired of talking about it and am ready for our actions to speak loudly enough that words will not be necessary.

In the midst of this, I began reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. My husband is re-reading it for a second time. Our plan is to discuss it as we read it. I've been hesitant to read this book as I have never read Blue Like Jazz, though is on my list, but it seems like right now is the perfect time for me to dive into a book that talks about writing, stories, and how they relate to our lives.

I'm a writer, and one day, I hope my title of writer will pay the bills instead of the title being only a very part-time job. But even though I consider myself a writer, I don't commit myself to all that being a writer entails. I let days and week and sometimes month pass without revisiting my characters. Then I might spend two days churning out 20 pages only to return to months of silence. It's not fair to the story I am telling or to the characters who are allowing me to tell their story.

In A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller describes God as the great author of all our stories. It's a comparison I have heard (and used) countless times, but the way Donald Miller talks about God as the author has me thinking.

When writing, the characters often times dictate the way the story goes. The author might know best, but the characters have minds of their own and want things to happen their way. The same is true for life. And lately, I'm becoming more and more aware of how much I veer away from the story God wants to tell through me. I discussed this with my husband last night, as we ate chilli, and it continues to resonate with me this morning.

God seems to be showing and telling us both what to do. In many ways, we clearly recognize the steps God is asking us to take. He wants us to follow a specific path in order to arrive at the place He has designed, but just like my characters often do, we're worried about taking those steps and wonder if our ideas are possibly better than His.

Donald Miller talks a lot about saying "no" to God. I'm good at saying "no" as well. I am also good at asking "are you sure" as well as taking my time to move towards the things He is calling me to, the things He clearly places on my heart. 

It's easy enough to talk about, to admit my shortcomings and the things I need to work on, but I still struggle with lifting my chin and taking that first step. Being aware of this inability or unwillingness (or whatever you want to call it) to take that first step angers me. I'm glad to see it but frustrated with the fear that continues to freeze me in place.

This fear keeps me from doing the things God calls me to. It also keeps me from living a life of adventure, a life of joy, a life of meaning. I don't expect life to be easy simply because I am no longer afraid. I think life might be more difficult because there will be more to lose. But my life would be worth reading about. It would be a life worth living. In the book, Donald Miller says that if something wouldn't be worth reading in a book than it probably isn't a life worth living. He says we're a character in God's story and that our characters should be rich and round.

I want that for my life. I want the cycles we are ensnared in to be positive driving forces. We know things need to change. This knowledge is an inciting action for our lives, and now it's up to us to decide what that action will be.

(title from "night minds" by missy higgins)

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