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Had you told me, back when I was a kid, that someday I’d be doing all my writing on a laptop computer, I never would have believed you. (Also, I would have asked, “What’s a laptop computer?” Those were simpler times, folks.) Even during college, I wrote out all of my papers — no matter how lengthy — in longhand before typing them up. My brain-to-pen connection was strong. Nowadays, everything flows through my keyboard. Even prayers.

What is it
that emanates from you:
enters, moves and exits,
dances my digits
across lonely letters,
forming whole words,
little acts of creation —
a platypus, perhaps,
beaked but mammalian,
spare bits that somehow swim —
or a perfect petit four, iced
elegance, consumed in a gulp?
Is it the stuff of charlatans,
tapped alphabets, levitating tables?
Or is it you, yourself,
hunting and pecking,
posing a sort of code,
and do I even interpret one word in three?
Whatever this holy magic is,
please may it always be.

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This Post Contains Spoilers

To be a writer, you need skin thick enough to withstand the rejection of publishers, agents, potential clients – none of whom know you, but all of whom are making assumptions about you.

Comparing you to the best-selling authors they are truly seeking. Extrapolating – based on the length of your resumé – that you might be a tad long in the tooth – one might say – and perhaps aren’t current in terms of topical trends and social media.

But you also – simultaneously – need skin thin enough to feel life as it flows through you so you’ll have something to write about. To be sensitive and sentient. To be a risk-taker. An open-hearted soul-explorer.

The same paradox holds true for those of us who profess faith.

Sometimes I think my own ideology is somewhat – let’s say – idealized. I want to believe in the goodness of humanity. I want to believe that it will all make sense one day. But I believe that faith is a muscle, and it must be stretched – and that’s just what happens when we experience loss, feel doubt or go through hardships.

It seems sometimes that the hardest part isn’t the pain, but the struggle to stay human.

Spoiler alert: God’s still in charge.

I believe with all my hopeful heart that it will work out for you in the end.

People may try to pigeon-hole you, stereo-type you, or call you a “work-in-progress.”

They may passive-aggressively say they’ll “keep you in their prayers.”

But you know who you are. And you know whose you are. You won’t be constrained by hyphens. You can’t be contained by pain. You are God’s own. You’re not alone.

You write the story as you go – published by Providence and ghost-written by Grace.

Here’s to a hope-filled happy ending!

I’ve always thought of myself as possessing unlimited imagination, a riotous garden abloom. But just as weeds choke young flowers, so anxiety seizes me from time to time, strangling creativity before it can blossom. I get scared, see. And nothing does that more effectively than conflict.

My problem is that I want to be liked by everyone. But no one can be. People are far too variable in their affections, oscillating from fast friendship to loathing, allegiances twitching like a needle on a seismograph. Knowing this does not help; I still want everybody to be happy all the time. And where two parties’ happiness is diametrically opposed — aye, there’s the rub.

Simple answers present themselves: God loves me. Being loved isn’t my mission in this world; doing good is. You can’t make everybody happy. None of these truisms helps me sleep at night. (Okay, maybe the first one.) I am a perpetual middle child, always seeking harmony, always on edge.

All of which is to say that I have nothing to say. I cannot hold up any platitudes for you to embrace. I am all out of stories illustrating God’s Providence in the world. And you know what? That’s okay.

Being empty is also a state of being ready to be filled. And even in my darkest hours, I know this is possible, as I have been filled endlessly — to overflowing — by God’s movement in my life, over and over again. To say it can happen is to acknowledge that it will happen. And so it does.

Conflict will come and go; people will always resist the urge to let their gears mesh smoothly, often for very good reason. All I can do in these times is offer a place of peace. And when all peace has been drained from me, I can frankly and freely offer my empty cup to Christ. His peace is flowing like a river. He will always have some to spare.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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