An easier way.

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I’m on a solitary writing retreat, thinking about my daily rhythms of life and what helps me versus what hurts me. This morning I meditated, prayed, exercised, showered, and read a chapter in a helpful book. It is now five minutes to 7:00. I feel like I’ve cared for myself. I feel like I’m ready to work. Normally I’ve already tried to get an hour of writing into this time, so it makes sense that I don’t do this every day, or does it?

I don’t do it because of the feeling of walls around me in my life.

There is so much that we don’t do because of the feeling of being fenced in. There are these cramped boundaries we give ourselves. I don’t have enough time. Twenty minutes is all I or you need to do the next thing, so we kinda do have time.

We do have natural limits. I’ve learned this in the past year, as I moved closer to burnout more than I ever have before. However, because the day feels wide and free today, because I am on a retreat, I managed to take care of myself fully, and still end up at the page earlier than I might normally, if I was overwhelmed and procrastinating or avoiding my work. And that means that the time limits are sometimes in my head.

I’m thinking about an easier way to live.

I think it connects well with my faith, with Jesus, who said, “Do not worry about anything, for which of you by worrying can add a single day to her life?”

Or which of you by procrastinating and anxiety can eke another hour out the day?

Or which of you by not playing or taking care of yourself can save up enough for what your children need?

Or which of you by obsessing can control the world and take care of all the needs around you?

Where is this easier way?

Actually, every day is wide and free. Tasks don’t close me in. My thoughts close me in. Thoughts that say, don’t exercise or work on your writing right now because you have a meeting in six hours and its probably better to walk in circles and think about all the things you have ever done wrong.

Work is not the problem. Work can always be holy in a trusting heart. Each day is full of possibility, of walking in the glittering shadow of God, who creates as easily as he breathes. The Creative Wild Spirit of God, ready for me to give her enough room to turn every conversation into a sanctuary for kindness. I am not in some godless boring world where every act is doled out by me in a scarce approximation of building a house, brick by brick.

Jesus invites me to create with him. To continue what has already been done for eons, this continuing creation in love that floods the devastated places.

I can admit that I don’t come to peace naturally, but perhaps a hard won peace is still precious.

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. A new Patron only post (An Illustrated List of Good and Inspiring Things) is up now.

How it goes.

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I always start my days with writing.

I’m working on a new project, one I will tell you about soon. It’s a new series of books and at first I thought I would write under a pen name, but I have decided to accept the tangle of genres that I write, and publish these books as myself.

My plan is to finish the first draft of the book I am working on and then jump right into the first draft of World Whisperer Book 5. It’s helpful to work on something different in between, actually. It’s like the ginger in between bites of sushi.

After I write new words in the morning, I move into writing blog posts or newsletters. I’m working on a couple doozies of blog posts now, so I go into those documents and fix a few things, add a few lines, try to make them live a little more, then write a few lines of a newsletter. I am easily overwhelmed. I do my best writing little bits. 

Then Isaac waltzes into the studio and it’s time to get up and shift gears, to get him some breakfast and make sure the clothes he’s wearing are somewhat suitable. To make sure the other kids are getting ready for the day, eating, drinking tea, finding their school books. Isaac goes off to school and other kids come over for readalouds and English class. Or maybe Chinua handles that and I go off to guide meditation. Or it is a gardening day at Shekina, so I buy some plants and drive around the hill to plant them.

The day is in full swing. It careens around until bedtime, when I lie flat on my back staring at the ceiling, or when I fall asleep lying next to Isaac, his warm little arm around my neck. 

Often, these days, when I’m driving on the motorbike, I get lured away. After I bring Isaac to school, I might find that I need to see the sky from a different direction, or the view from the next hill. The sky is so perfectly blue. The branches so jagged and they reach, reach as far as they can. The road bakes in the sun and the breezes lift my hair off my neck, and I am reminded of beautiful days and years from the past, and all of it is almost too much. 

Eventually I come back home, to joke and puns and boys with springs in their legs. We comb through tangly bits of offenses and hurt feelings from siblings. We dance. We make a lot of messes. I can be grumpy and easily overwhelmed. And there is so much love. Love and words and blue skies. I am thankful.

Demon's Arrow, World Whisperer Book 4 in stores today!

A poison arrow. A prophecy of two sisters. A journey into the heart of the resistance.

While Isika is preparing for her future role with the Maweel, members of the Karee tribe come to ask for help with the problem of masses of disappearing people. Meanwhile, Aria grows weaker daily from the poison arrow lodged inside her, and time seems to be growing short.

A disturbing Karee prophecy might contain more answers, and as Aria is pulled deeper into the Desert King's trap, Isika races to find a healer who might be able to save her sister. In the most dangerous places, she finds more help than she expected, and the group of friends grows and changes as the Resistance enfolds them all.

Isika has resisted the power of the Desert King, but will Aria fall under his sway?

Buy it here.

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This book has a great big part of my heart in its lines. I’ve loved following Isika, Ben, Aria, Jabari and Gavi along. I really hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for being so supportive as I continue to put books into the world. I’m so thankful for this space: you have taught me to write over these years. You’re the best readers who ever existed.

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Some patrons at Patreon get this ebook for free. Dolphins and higher, you can find your ebook here.

Life is so interesting.

The weather is growing cooler and the nights are lovely. I’ve started lighting a candle by my bed in the evenings, so I can sit and journal in a tiny pool of light. I’m trying to be kind and hopeful. I’m trying to learn to rest. 

Today there is an unseasonal rain, which is annoying and beautiful. Annoying because we have just come out of the rainy season and were excited about the sun, beautiful because no rain is wasted on this earth, especially if the river is not too full. A few more rains in the garden are more effective than our pitiful hoses can ever be. 

My heart is full. There is so much fear and worry, so much happiness and excitement about the future. So much love I can barely stand it. So much sorrow for the world and all our old systems and institutions that are steeped in selfishness and fear. I think it’s okay to walk through the world with a heart that is full like this. It is not comfortable, but in a way I don’t have to change anything. I can feel all those feelings, one after another, all day long. (“No feeling is final,” as Rilke says.) 

I offer them to God like stones, as I come across them. “Here,” I say, holding my hand out. “I found another one.”

We’re back at school and I have new kids coming to read and write together. They are welcome. To have the peers we need for our kids, we basically just have to throw our doors open. Right now we’re doing a workshop, writing a story together. It’s so fun. These kids are creative and quirky, so brainstorming sessions are the absolute best. 

I’m busy, so these quiet moments in the morning and night are the most important ones. Soon Isaac will trip into my studio and ask me to make him a cup of tea. I’ll get up and do it, and then I’ll find that the kitchen is messier than I like and I’ll clean up. I’ll make a smoothie and remember that I need to make the kids’ homeschool charts. Then I’ll think about dinner and what to buy for that. And we’ll roll into the day and a thousand conversations. Surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Somewhere right now, the city of the Living God, thousands of angels in joyful gathering. A consuming fire.

And a bowl of cereal, little boy, cup of tea, dog who needs to be fed. Life is so interesting.

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Have you checked out the Shekina blog and podcast? I have a post up there today. And the podcast is buzzing along.

Demon’s Arrow is coming out on Thursday! 

Some patrons (Narwhals and Blue Whales) on Patreon already have their advanced copies, and Dolphins will get their copies on launch day. I ordered the print copies to send to the Narwhal patrons today. I’m so excited to share this book with you.

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work. Thank you to this month’s new patrons, Jemma Allen and Julie Wells. The patron extras from last month are up. Here are last month’s extra blog post, Thoughts after 17 years of marriage, and the September Creative Update Video.

Canada Day Sale of A Traveler's Guide to Belonging

Right now, A Traveler's Guide to Belonging is on sale for $1.99 on all major ebook retailers. Hooray! Get it here. 

Also, have I ever been in such mud with a book as I am right now? Yes, yes I have. I am SO CLOSE to writing The End on the fourth World Whisperer book, but this book might kill me. And then I'll need to be resurrected to write Book 5. I think it's worth it though. 

And Chinua is in Sweden playing music. He's been gone for about two weeks and will be back on Friday. Send help. And chocolate. And noodle salad. We miss each other badly. Thankfully I have these great kids to hang out with.

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Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts. A special thanks to new patron, Teresa Q. I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work.