Category: Confession

Confessions of a Rookie Novelist #2

Meet my pink piggybank!

When I was born, my dad quit smoking and deposited his cigarette quarters in Miss Piggy. Eighteen years later, those quarters were well on the way for paying for my undergraduate degree.

            A novice at life, I began my career teaching eighth graders language arts at Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville. After four years, I left to dabble in journalism. After the kids were born, I taught English night classes at IUPUI. Later I taught eighth graders at Greenwood Middle School, enjoying the fun staff and memorable but sometimes quirky students.

            As God often does, He transplanted me from my comfort zone and opened a door to work in nonprofit communications, first at my church Mount Pleasant Christian, and then at Center for Global Impact. For the first time, I received a paycheck for writing instead of teaching. It felt good to practice what I’d taught.

            Fast forward to 2019. I wanted my third book to be about the importance of legacy since God had blessed us with three amazing and beyond-cute granddaughters. I thought a Bible study researching the Old Testament’s emphasis on legacy would be interesting. Yet when I sat down that March morning and prayed, my soul heard a still, small voice, “Joyce, what do you know about your legacy?”

            My faith journey had begun.

Confessions of a Rookie Novelist

Every decade or so, I fish through the file cabinet for the original manuscript of my first novel—The Scott Twins in the Jewelry Mystery.  Sound familiar? Especially for you Baby Boomers?

            Yes, my first printed story. Literally, because I hadn’t learned cursive writing yet. In 1961, I’d copied Laura Lee Hope’s Bobbsey Twins children’s mystery format by simply changing names. In second grade, I had no idea what plagiarizing meant. Nor did I know anything about intellectual property.

            This rookie story had seven chapters starting with Snappy’s Find and ending with chapter seven’s A Reward. Can you guess the plot? My seven-year-old mind thought it sparkled, even on the dingy wide-spaced paper whose penciled words and erasures can still be seen.

            At the time, my mother worked at Crane Naval Depot in southern Indiana as a clerk typist. Maybe my work of fiction impressed her or maybe not, but she lent her typing skills and onion skin paper to publish her firstborn’s premiere piece.

            Mom let me cut out photos from our Sears Catalog to paste on a thick brown folder. I still remember the power of using those scissors to find two sets of perfect twins. That my mother trusted me with scissors was even more astonishing.

            Somehow, I instinctively knew each set of twins needed names that started with the same letter. Alliteration, if you can recall 8th grade English. Meet Bonnie and Bobbie, Nancy and Ned. Ms. Hope had paved the way with her plot and characters.

            Why is any of this relevant? A few months ago, I finished writing the first full draft of a historical novel that features my mother as a child and a young adult. My prayer is that our granddaughters will advance past the The Scott Twins and the Jewelry Mystery and someday enjoy reading about their great-grandmother.

            Even still, Mom’s encouragement continues to motivate me to reach beyond what I think is possible.

Make It Personal, Make It Real

Like many of you, I’ve been praying for our world, our nation, our state, those in the trenches who are at risk for COVID-19 and my family. But surprisingly, I’ve lost little sleep over this pandemic. My Father in Heaven has given me peace. Why is that?

I know He can eradicate this virus because He is the Almighty Creator. I also know that nothing that brings death originates from God. His intent for us at Creation was life, not death. It still is. So why, in His sovereignty, did He allow this to infiltrate the world?

The answer is LIFE. Not life in the here and now but forever life. Almighty God wants us to live eternally. He doesn’t want us to live only in the finite where idols sneak in to rule our lives. Things and experiences that we covet and enjoy–new cars, vacations, sports, entertainment, food, fitness, etc.

None of the above is inerrantly wrong. But when those activities and items consume our time and energy, we forfeit how God wants us to live.

What’s our next step? God’s prescription is simple yet profound: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

My role: Humble myself; pray and seek His face; turn from my evil ways (thoughts, actions, apathy, critical spirit, self-indulgence, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-absorption. . .)

God’s response: Hear from heaven, forgive my sin, and heal my land.

photo credit: Thank you, my friends, Adam! Broken Wing via photopin (license)

Tower of Babel

Last week when I was praying for our country, the story of the Tower of Babel came to mind. The Holy Spirit-inspired Genesis 11 account described a whole world with one language and common speech. Sounds like real unity, doesn’t it?

These people decided to build a huge tower not out of stones but out of brick and mortar. Their reason? “So that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole world.” Sound familiar?

Nothing wrong with that! Or is there? God saw the pride they had in their achievements and what it would lead to. Because we are sinful people, our achievements basked in arrogance most likely lean toward evil, even if it’s subtle and seemingly justified by circumstances.

Call me crazy but comparing our nation and the folks back in that primitive time is overwhelmingly parallel. When I hear “Make America Great Again,” I understand that if America was ever great, it was because of God. One nation under God should mean we follow His goodness and precepts.

The political schism we are experiencing could be God letting us go our own way, drifting from unity into a self-created chaos due to our arrogant, Godless actions. Corporate lobbying, despicable labor practices overseas, and the elevation of power over public service have corrupted our democracy. Going back further, dislodging American natives, enslaving Africans, and using abortion as birth control add to our communal confession.

 Consequently, our self-made Tower of Babel is crumbling.

As the 2020 election heats up, meditate on the story found in Genesis 11:1-9. Then confess our corporate sins—ones that are biased, selfish, and stiff-necked stubborn—”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God isn’t Republican or Democrat! He is the God of All and His love extends past our differences. Most of all, He’s called us to love like He does—unconditionally! All of us need to confess our sins and pray for our country to commit to godly obedience.

To quote the great Jewish leader Joshua, “Observe them (God’s commandments) carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”

Deuteronomy 4:6

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