Chat and a book title

Confession: On my schedule for this evening is this task – BLOG.

Come on. Write something. Produce, Shari.

I wish writing were something I could package up fit into neat chunks. Most times, I am decent at this – accessing the muse when the clock says go. I always have a few ideas simmering. These days, between pushing a book deadline hard, journaling, and staying current with my healing workbooks and people, I am fresh out.

So here is a chat fest, a few of the things I am doing and thinking at 8:00 pm on a Tuesday evening.

Beside me on the couch sits a child in an upside-down angle we might call somewhat unconventional, reciting antique words at high volumes. “What’s that?” I ask. “The Preamble of the Constitution. I memorized it in third grade,” she informs me. (She’s now in fifth.) She’s at the part “…Ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense… and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…” I basically have no idea, but it sounds good to me. She says she is doing it because I told her to rattle her brain out before I hear her Bible memory again – Romans chapter 12 entire.

Upstairs, an eighth grader is playing with a preschooler, on requirement for fifteen minutes while we practice. Ryan and Aarick are at the fire station for training.

Near me is snoozing the most adorable puppy. We decided we love raising dogs, and we added another female Shih Tzu to our collection. (Total of two, nothing too grand yet – and it will probably be a good year and a half before we breed this one.) She’s a cutie. She has an adorable habit of hanging the tip of her tongue out of her mouth, and her name is Chelsea. Meanwhile, Skye is expecting another litter of puppies, due within two weeks. We can’t wait to meet them. She’s like a barrel. Any pictures I take of her look slightly obscene. So here’s Chelsea again.

I’m pretending I’m listening to Romans again but I’m actually typing. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit…”

A week or two ago, I got an email with the subject line “Title for your book.” I had trouble breathing until I could get to reading it. My publisher gets final say on title and cover image, and I had some understandable angst about this. But guess what they picked. Peanut Butter and Dragon Wings: a mother’s search for grace.

Oh MY. I told you guys parts of that story long ago, and incorporated it into my book as chapter ten of twelve. It’s my favorite chapter at the moment, to be honest, and the folks at Herald Press haven’t even read it yet. They like that title because it is vivid, and because it holds “the everyday tasks of caring for children” set against “the luminously beautiful moments that sometimes appear in the midst of the everyday.” Isn’t that gorgeous? They asked, “What do you think? Can you live with that?” and I said YES.

I really like the subtitle they created. Better still, they are listening to what I am trying to do, and I love that about them.

It’s a strange thing, but writing has given me new perspective on a few of our stories that didn’t make sense at the time. I’ve had to go back and write them over with new knowledge. And over. I wonder if all stories are like that.

Only two more weeks before turning in the manuscript for editing. I’m almost done with Lap 1, and I’m grateful. Last week, when I was working here on the porch, Jenny came to see me and fell asleep in my arms while I wrote.

Now Chelsea is sacked out on Jenny’s muslin blanket. Jenny will be five at Christmas, but she loves that blanket. If she were my first child, I would have put a stop to it long ago. She is usually required to leave it at home or in our vehicle, although occasionally I forget and she sneaks it into church on a particularly emotional morning. I cannot tell if I am becoming a better or a worse mother, but both I imagine.

I made biscuits and sausage gravy for supper, only Regan baked the biscuits that I prepared ahead, and Aarick fried the sausage, because I was late getting home from talking with my mentor. It’s been a hard month, with old secrets and new fears. My body is tired and I muscle my way through my tasks, and then nap, or sit on the couch with Jesus on the days I can’t get started working. It’s not a bad way to live, but it takes energy.

Lots of emotion going on. The things that should make me a little bit angry scratch open all the anger and make me livid. Not violent livid but silent calm livid, which is worse in some ways. The things that should make me a little bit stressed crack open all the stress and I bite my skin and run the same circles over and over and over on the tracks in my mind. The things that could make me worry just a bit start edging themselves near to straight-up panic.

But today I powered through outdoor work, a huge chunk of it I was determined to get done. I’ve been pushing off tasks for days and maybe weeks. Painting the puppy bed. Cleaning the garden. Doing a quick trim-and-weed on four flower beds. I repotted a magnificent mum from my friend, and planted spring bulbs I picked up in Holmes County, hyacinths and purple-mix tulips. That feels good.

I came away from talking with my mentor with new hope. I don’t know if you realize this, but there are no irredeemable things in Christ. Did you know that? I forget and need reminding from time to time. His blood is able to make foul things clean, cheap things precious, broken things whole. Bless his name.

My preschooler is snuggling her blanket and leaning into me. “Crackers and milk, mom, how ‘bout that? How ‘bout that?”

Alright then. Bedtime snack for kiddos, and after they are in bed, the luxury of a silent hour of darkness, with tea.

I hope you had a good day. Did you?


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3 years ago

I’m so glad you have a book in the making, a publisher, a good editor, opportunity–all those good things. Not to mention puppies, sleeping daughters, and an upside-down person reciting the Preamble.
That these good things come at a time of “The things that should make me a little bit angry scratch open all the anger and make me livid. . . .The things that should make me a little bit stressed crack open all the stress and I bite my skin and run the same circles over and over and over on the tracks in my mind. The things that could make me worry just a bit start edging themselves near to straight-up panic,” is evidence not only of the utter randomness of life but also the sovereignty of God, who does not wait until everything is perfect to tap you for the next assignment.
May the book say what you want it to, and may the wounds burst open and heal.

Lucille Martin
3 years ago

“The luxury of a silent hour of darkness, with tea. . .” Amen. Somehow every evening is better for a deep breath of quietness before I go to bed myself. Thankyou for the irredeemable comment – always good to remember. Best wishes on the book – I can’t wait to read it!

3 years ago

Thank you for this peek into your evening and your life right now. I enjoyed it immensely!

3 years ago

Run the same circles over and over and over the tracks in my mind… I can identify with that thought though maybe in a different way. Seems I think a lot about one thing almost all day every day and if we get it figured out I wonder what I will think about then …????
Like that about whether one becomes a better or worse Mom. Guess with the ever changing seasons and stages of family life it’s a challenge to know????
With working at decluttering my house this fall – I want to also work at decluttering my heart, mind, and soul.

Kim Z
3 years ago

Praying for you dear sis! ????????☺️

3 years ago

I love (and can relate to) “It’s not a bad way to live, but it takes energy.” Blessings, Shari!

3 years ago

I love the redemption of Gods heart. I have needed it so much… to regurgitate (is that the right word?) our life and its pain is a #10 on the pain scale. I am glad glad with you that the book process is going well

Janice N.
3 years ago

His blood is able to make foul things clean, Cheap things precious, Broken things whole. Bless His Name.
The beauty of redemption!
Thanks for sharing your day…Blessings on the book!

3 years ago

Thanks for sharing!! The book… Can’t wait to read it! And the chat about your journey… You say so well what I know so much about! Maybe someday I’ll get to meet you. May Jesus hold you today!!

Wanna B. Writer
3 years ago

Ahh… the paragraph about lots of emotion going on caused my chest to involuntarily tighten with the excitement of understanding myself and feeling understood. I’m in the same disconcerting place, sister! The smallest slight- real or imagined, old or new- has the power to rock my equilibrium for a week. What’s wrong with us?! Is it a by-product of going to our anchor men and finding they’re consumed with battles of their own and we flounder to be big girls and work through the tough stuff without their shoulders to lean (and cry) on? Maybe the small things is where all the angst against the unchangeable things comes out.
The past 5 months (I’d call it years if there were no calendars to set me straight) my husband has been in the relentless valley of nervous illness. And still it drags on. I think the loneliness… the controversy surrounding such needs…. the mounting tension of needing to unload, yet needing to protect… makes it the hardest thing I’ve ever been through; but trials are unwieldy things to quantify. But… God has sprinkled redemption throughout our valley, also. He is Awesome like that ! ????
Thanks for touching my life with those words. If nothing else it comforts me that I’m not as weird as I imagine myself to be. ???? Blessings on your journey- the healing, the book deadline, and all the dailies that force their way in between.

Wendy Zook
3 years ago

The following poem/song is what came to my mind today as I thought about your post.

My God, I Thank Thee

My God, I thank Thee, who hast made
The earth so bright,
So full of splendor and of joy,
Beauty and light;
So many glorious things are here,
Noble and right.

I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made
Joy to abound;
So many gentle thoughts and deeds
Circling us round,
That in the darkest spot of earth
Some love is found.

I thank Thee more that all our joy
Is touched with pain,
That shadows fall on brightest hours,
That thorns remain;
So that earth’s bliss may be our guide,
And not our chain.

For thou who knowest, Lord, how soon
Our weak heart clings,
Hast given us joys, tender and true,
Yet all with wings;
So that we see gleaming on high
Diviner things.

I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept
The best in store;
We have enough, yet not too much
To long for more:
A yearning for a deeper peace
Not known before.

I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls
Though amply blessed,
Can never find, although they seek
A perfect rest;
Nor ever shall, until they lean
On Jesus’ breast.

Adelaide Anne Procter

You are often in my thoughts!

Love you!

3 years ago

I understood this so much. Especially the part about running the same circles over and over on the same tracks in my mind. ???? Redemption is God’s speciality and I am grateful.

Tabitha Schmidt
3 years ago

I loved this post, Shari, and this glimpse of your everyday life. The line that got me was “I don’t know if you realize this, but there are no irredeemable things in Christ.” I need this reminder in my everyday life.

Lucinda J
3 years ago

I am looking forward to reading your book. Chelsea is adorable.

As to my day…so far so good. Although I cried because I stupidly took the wrong road to deliver something to my husband, who was waiting for me. I and had so badly wanted to get it right, had prayed I could find the right place and not get lost like I do so often. I think my worry tensed me, scrambled my brain. 🙂 A silly little story, but it reminded me of how broken I am, a part of larger broken humanity. Doesn’t matter how brilliantly I am performing in a certain area…there will always be those moments when I take the wrong road. And it’s okay.

Beth Russo
3 years ago

I can’t wait to read your book, Shari! What made you decide to write a book? I think it’s a fabulous idea and I was just wondering what the motivation was. I have a book by a Mennonite woman (Barbara Classen) called ‘Prayers and Peanut Butter: The Mother Book’ and I loved it. I’m not Mennonite, as you know, so whether she was or wasn’t didn’t matter to me. If you want to read it, I’m happy to send it to you. Thanks for sharing your day. XOXO

3 years ago
Reply to  Beth Russo

I have not read that book – the title is very similar! And I’ll check with the publisher about that.

An acquisitions editor from Herald Press reached out to ask me if I had book ideas I’d like to discuss with her, and it went from there. 🙂 It’s not something I was brave enough to reach for on my own. I’ve enjoyed my work with them so far!

Twila Smucker
3 years ago

I look forward to buying and reading your book. You have such a candid way of expressing what the struggle of life is really like.

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