It's Jesse Tree Time!

For all four of you who read my blog... I'm back. Smile. I just finished a writing marathon. 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days! It's the National Novel Writers Month Challenge. My good friend did it last year and she challenged me to do it this year. And I'm glad I did.  It got my juices flowing.   I already have another fiction novel brewing. 

Apparently one of the fringe benefits of doing this challenge is that I get five paperback copies of what I wrote.  I think that's cool.  I'm not sure five people would read it and if they did I'm not feeling like I'd really want them reading it.  I'm just a tad, I mean, I'm totally insecure about someone else reading it.  Maybe cause it's a little too close to home.  I really drew on my own life experiences to since I haven't done in research in any particular genre to write in.  Next novel I hope will come out of some more time invested in reading and research.

Now that I'm done with NaNoWriMo I can get back to reading Robinson Crusoe.  I want to read Les Miserable before I watch the musical coming out on Christmas so I may have to put Robinson Crusoe away again before the new year.  I'm enjoying Crusoe.  Even though the vernacular is a little foreign to me, I feel what Crusoe is feeling.  I felt really bad last night reading about how he'd killed a mother goat and then eventually had to kill her kid. 

Today after work I pulled out a pair of gloves and cleaned up some dead tree branches I gathered from the ground near our neighborhood park the other day. This is going to be our Jesse Tree this year! I'm excited about it.

This will be my fourth year now doing a Jesse Tree with the boys. I'm not even sure if we'll get a typical Christmas tree.  We'll see.  I like the smell of Christmas trees but I just can't A) Get in the mood of winter and evergreen trees when it's 80 degrees outside and 0% humidity and the tree is turning brown three days after I buy it.  B) See having a cut tree for the sole purpose of decorating for two weeks (or three days depending on how long it lasts) only to throw it out.

I'm sort of leaning towards have a nice "seasonal" tree somewhere in the house and decorating it every season.

But the Jesse Tree is a tradition all its own that I am very into and hope will create some great memories and learning for the kids... and the grown ups.   For me this is a very worshipful time. 

I read a daily reading from an app on my Kindle called the Common Book of Prayer. It's just straight scripture, taken from sections throughout the Bible.  This morning's reading was from Psalm 78:

We will not hide [them] from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done... That the generation to come might know [them], The children [who] would be born, [That] they may arise and declare [them] to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments. - Psalm 78:4,6-7

It's what I intend to do each Christmas.


The saying I shall practice

I wasn't trying to be defiant or difficult. I knew the answer and I believe the answer, I just, I don't know, the cracking dam that wasn't holding back my tears very well this morning was going to totally give way any moment and I had to answer the way Paul did:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  - 1 Timothy1:15

I believe that Christ has made me righteous.  By faith, I am no longer a sinner.  I am a saint.  And I say that with much trembling and feel as though I should say it while on my face.  It is the truth that gives me such hope... that Christ has done it all to make me right.  Righteous.  Yet, I still live in this decaying flesh and am weighed down by the gravity of this fallen world, and out of me still comes the falling short and missing the mark which should result in my judgment, but by the amazing grace of my Savior, I have freely received His perfect goodness and abundant life.  He paid the costly price to put to death all my sin in Himself so that I could live.  I have not earned this.  I still fall oh so short.  More than I fall short of jumping to the moon. 

Some of my sin I can frankly see and agree with Him about, and know He will graciously wash away.  I look to His light to expose my way and lead me.  I feed on His faithfulness and goodness and truth.  I trust that He never ceases to intercede for me.  And even still there are some depraved ways in me that I never knew were there 10 years ago.  Some twisted ways I don't have any idea about are yet to be exposed. 

Today, when I was cleaning my car I stuck the skinny tipped vacuum attachment in a crevice between my seat and the middle console.  There was no way I could see in there, no matter how light it was outside or what kind of contorted position I put myself in to try and visualize where I should put the vacuum hose.  So I just shoved the hose in there as far as I could, moved it around, and out came a fork, a band aid, and a piece of old, dried up something that used to be edible. 

I have fallen for the lie that because I can't see the junk in hidden places in me and seem to be pretty cleaned up that I'm... righteous.  By the grace of God, He's sucked the junk out into the light and shown me that I have no right to call myself righteous based on what I see or know.  When I answer the loaded question, "Are you a sinner?"  I am scared silly to say, "No!"  Even though I know I am no longer a sinner but a saint.  I don't want to give my enemy the open door to tripping me up with self-righteousness ever again.  I know that's not the reason behind the answer, "No," my pastor (who I look to as a loving dad in the Lord) was looking for.  I just need to keep at the very forefront of my mind an answer that will stave off any notions of earned holiness.  I think I shall practicing saying:

 "No, by the work of Christ alone, No!  I am not a sinner.  By Christ alone."

Many forces were at work in me this morning: fatigue, the catharsis of writing a novel based out of some of my own experiences in life, the search for the heritage of grace and mercy that weaves itself through history that I'm finding glimpses of in the women's Bible study, the long obedience in the same direction I'm walking daily in for the past 22 years, years of longings unfulfilled.  Many waters.  Deep calling to deep only expressed in waves of salty tears.

I think I will ask the ladies at our next study to write a doxology with me.  A doxology in response to the truth about God we will have learned thus far thru Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba.  They don't have to read it or share it at all if they don't want to.  But an exercise in putting to words the truth we've been changed by, intimately and individually, would be really good.

If writing a novel is anything like running a marathon I'm in for wall real soon.

I'll take sprinting any day over long distance running. If I'm running fast and hard I can make myself finish 200 meters. But if I know I have a mile or two or more (that's long to me), my legs feel like lead from the first stride.

Hopefully writing this novel won't end up that way.  So far I'm taking it as short sprints each day.   1600 plus words a day is feeling more like a sprint than I thought it would.  So far I'm churning out about 2000 words a day.  I lack vocabulary, but I'm not repeating "Um," or "that" as much as I was thinking I would.  We'll see.  We're only on day 2.

Blogging is sort of my re-living of the day and sharing personal meditations that touched me.  Journalling is my private release of prayers and concerns, even complaints and dreams that I can't share with just anyone and everyone.  So far, writing this novel, is sort of my public release of secret struggles.  I can hide them in a fictional setting and work through them without hurting any of the real people in my life.  I wonder if that's what fiction writers do, at least in part.

I'm seeing this novel as some form of therapy so far.  It feels relieving.

I've been working on our women's Bible study too.  We only have 4 meetings but 5 women to cover so I put Ruth and Bathsheba together in this month's study.  Doesn't seem fair really.  Ruth has an entire book in the Bible, Bathsheba isn't even mentioned by name in Matthew's genealogy.  But I'm finding they fit well together.  They're pillars of grace that support the raw-worshipping shepherd-king after God's own heart. 


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