Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Messy Desk? Sign of Failure or Success?

I once heard a preacher say that he could tell if a fellow minister was going to succeed in ministry by looking in his top desk drawer. If it was messy, the man was doomed to failure as a pastor. If it was tidy, he would succeed. Because this was a Bible teacher I trusted and admired, his assessment scared me a little. My husband, a pastor, has a messy desk. Although I keep my desk at my paying job tidy, my writing desk at home cannot seem to stay clean for more than a week. Does this mean we are destined to fail at our careers? Or that I can succeed at managing an office, but not at writing?

Recently I saw the photo below, and was greatly encouraged.

Can you guess whose desk this is? (I'll tell you at the end of this post)



I also read the list below, and was further encouraged:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Sigmund Freud

According to David Freedman, co-author of A Perfect Mess, “Some people claim that having a messy desk is a sign of being a more creative person. I don't think it's true that someone who has a very neat desk is necessarily an uncreative person, and I've seen accountants with very messy desks and artists with extremely neat desks. But it's true that creativity is largely about making surprising connections, and a messy desk is certainly a way of mixing and matching things in sometimes interesting ways.”

So, if you have a messy desk, take heart. You can succeed at your chosen career. Just like Albert Einstein, the man whose desk is in the above photo.

If you keep a tidy, clean environment, I applaud you.

And if you think you are so messy you qualify for major help, you may find it at Messies Anonymous.

How does your desk look today? Do you have areas of your life that are messy, and others neat, like me? What do you think this says about us?

Monday, September 27, 2010

What Abou YOU? Favorite Singer or Band

Every Monday I ask a question, to get to know YOU better. Ready for today’s? What is your favorite singer or band?

For pure worship, I vote for Michael W. Smith every time. His music moves me into the presence of God like no one else’s. For musical versatility and revelation of the Lord’s mercy, Nicole C. Mullins. I’m also crazy about Third Day.

If you can narrow your fave down to one, I applaud you!

Your turn

Friday, September 24, 2010

Randomness: God's Way of Shouting, "Surprise!"

Randomness intrigues me. I believe it’s God’s way of jumping from behind a bush and shouting “surprise!” with a fresh idea. Here are a few random thoughts for a Friday…

• Ever since I returned from Colorado, I’ve been disappointed in the almost-blue sky of Illinois. The sky in CO. is azure, brilliant, striking. Ours looks anemic in comparison. Is it the difference in altitude, or what?

• I think the ideal age for a kid is five. They can communicate with you, can feed themselves, even do a few chores. Yet they still possess a fresh innocence from God that makes them say clever and cute things you want to write down. Do you have any kids in your life? Any five-year-olds? May I borrow them?

• I love gazing at trees as they clap their hands to the Lord. Never embarrassed at the thought of someone watching them—they simply delight in the gift of saying, “Thanks” to God for life and sunshine. May I be more tree-like in my worship.

Do you like random thoughts? Will you share one today, please?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cleaning Lady

Please don’t hate me when I tell you that I have a cleaning lady.

Because I find cleaning uncreative, boring, and well… dirty, it’s worth my hard-earned money to pay someone to dust my coffee table and mop my kitchen floor. And if I didn’t have a job, it’d be worth my husband’s hard-earned money to pay someone.

Recently I was de-cluttering the dining room, pulling sweaters off the backs of chairs and hanging them in the closet. “What are you doing?” asked my husband. ”I thought Wendy was coming tonight.”

“She is, but I don’t want her to see what a mess we live in.”

He chuckled and shook his head. I think he quit trying to figure me out about thirty years ago.

“It’s pretty bad that I only clean house right before the cleaning lady comes, huh? But I guess it’s good I have her, or I’d never clean.”

He left the room at this point, so I talked to myself as I threw away old mail and wiped the table. “Cleaning is like editing. If I want to write for only God and myself, I don’t worry about cleaning it up. I end sentences with prepositions, tell instead of show, and use tons of passive verbs (I feel sorry for passive verbs, since writers have gone on strike against them. But that’s another article).

“Now, if I want to share my writing, I need to clean it up, so my readers won’t be appalled at how messy I am. I edit my fingers to a frazzle, making my writing as perfect as I’m capable of, so an editor—the cleaning lady, if you like—will fall in love with it and buy it. Then I can make more money to pay my housecleaning lady. See how tidily that works?”

I pretended he heard me, and that the sounds coming from his den were chuckles of agreement. I rather think he was enjoying the John Wayne movie he was watching, while creating more clutter for me to pick up before Wendy came.

Do you ever write for yourself and God alone, as well as for others? For the writings you clean up, how long do you spend editing vs. writing?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Abou YOU? Nothin' Doin'

Every Monday I ask a question, to get to know YOU better. Ready for today’s? Do you allow yourself the luxury of doin' nothin'?

As I watched my husband walk accross the parking lot to zip into the market for some fruit, I wondered what I could do for the five minutes I was alone in the car. Grab the novel I'd started and find out how Martina escaped? Journal? Pray? I decided on nothing. Exhausted from two long trips in a row, I was emotionally and physically spent. Surely I didn't need to cram every minute full of activity.

How yummy to sit and DO NOTHING. Although it only lasted five minutes, I felt refreshed and relaxed when Kevin returned to the car with my grapes. I should do this more often. I think I may be more productive if I allow myself time to think once in awhile.

What about YOU?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You Get to Choose

“So, what are you going to do about it?” Uncle Dwayne’s question jerked me out of my puddle of imagined helplessness. Although I was only fourteen, he was teaching me a lesson I could take with me the rest of my life. He was showing me that I have choices.

No matter how bleak our picture seems, no matter what abuses we’ve suffered in the past, God always presents us with options.

Even if you’re reading these words from a prison cell, you can decide what kinds of thoughts you’ll keep and which you’ll discard. You get to choose what words will exit your mouth and which ones you’ll never allow the power to help or destroy. You say what books you read, what TV shows and movies you watch, and which friends’ advice you follow.

Our destiny is more up to us than we may realize.

The devil wants us to believe that we can’t help the shape of our circumstances, that we must tolerate whatever mess we find ourselves in today. That is a lie.

God wants us to tap into the power of His Spirit within us, and make choices that will propel us forward in our relationships, our health, our careers, and our ministries. Will we accept His challenge?

Like Uncle Dwayne, He asks us, “What are you going to do about it?”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to the Army for more (Humor) Training

Please join me today at the Army of Ermas for a humorous look at shopping from a catalog on a plane.

If I tickle your funny bone while you're reading, I make make no apologies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What About YOU? Your Impossible Dream

This week's What About You question is on Sunday, instead of Monday. Ready?

What is your Impossible Dream?

Possibly because we’ve lived in parsonages most of our married life, I long to own some property and our own home. My dream property will abound with trees who clap their hands in praise to the Lord. I will pray among them, write in the comfort of their shade, and glory in the turning of their leaves when fall comes.

Your turn…

Friday, September 10, 2010

Random Questions for Writers

If you are a writer, please answer any one or all of these random questions rattling around in my brain:

What is the ratio of time you spend writing vs. social networking?

Do you attend a writers group, either online or in person?

Has social networking aided your writing career?

What part does prayer play in your writing?

If you could turn the clock back five, ten, or twenty years, what would you do differently?

Thanks for letting me x-ray your grey matter. I can't wait to read your answers!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


When I climbed into the saddle for the first time in over forty years at Deer Valley Ranch a few weeks ago, I felt confident and secure. Until the wrangler who sounded like his voice had barely finished changing told me what I was doing wrong. “Don’t let Buttons eat. She’s supposed to be working. If she tries that again, jerk her reins straight up, to make her uncomfortable.” I failed to tell him it was too late—while he was saddling the other fourteen riders, Buttons had stripped half the hillside of grass.

During the hour-long ride, another wrangler barely out of diapers used me as an example of what not to do. “Buttons is thrashing her head around because she’s agitated. You need to pull the reins back toward your belly, not straight up into the air.”

I whined, “But the other boy, I mean man, told me to jerk it up, so she wouldn’t keep eating!”

“Yes, she likes to eat. But you need to show her you’re in charge, or she’ll take advantage of you.”

Now I was as confused as a pogo stick at a triathlon. Jerk the reins up to keep your horse from eating; jerk the reins back to keep your horse from getting agitated. I wanted to jerk the person who gave this hungry, ornery horse to wimpy me.

I never did excel at discipline. One day I let my kids eat Lucky Charms, skip their baths, and stay up ‘til ten. The next day I’m yelling, “We eat too much junk around here; Have this carrot stick and like it. Is that dirt I see behind your ears? Baths twice a day from now on. You have dark circles under your eyes; bedtime is now 7 p.m. until you go to college!” My Who’s in Charge Meter kept changing its mind. I couldn’t seem to strike a decent balance between allowing the kids to be kids and setting healthy boundaries. Riding Buttons was a thorny reminder of my inability to take charge without being a dictator.

Although the stinging sensation in my eyes threatened to turn to tears, I joked that riding Buttons was like trying to get a two-year old to co-operate. Everyone laughed, and I snuffled the tears away. Then later that evening on my way back to the cabin, the Lord surprised me with a prickly thought.

“You think Buttons was hard to manage today, Jeanette? She reminds me of you. Always champing at the bit to eat when I need you to work, trying to lead Me rather than following. Yet I continue to be patient with you, gently guiding you with My spirit. I will never give up on you, My child.”

Wow. No wonder He’s God and I’m not. While I’m ready to pitch a plan, a project, or even a person because I’m impatient with things not going the right way—which usually means MY way—the Lord is barely tapping into His storehouse of longsuffering.

Just like me with Buttons, He needs to jerk the reins repeatedly to keep me focused on His purpose for me. The major difference is, He doesn’t get discouraged after 100 jerks. He doesn’t cry in frustration when I won’t listen to Him. His mercies are new every morning, and His love never fails. His investment in me is eternal. So, He’s willing to wait until I finally “get it,” and obey His lead.

I’m not there yet. I still need more jerks on my reins than I’d like. You, too?

But let’s not get discouraged that we aren’t learning as quickly as we’d like. Instead, let’s rejoice that God never gives up on us. And let’s pray that we’ll learn to obey better than Buttons.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Take me Back to Tulsa

Please join me as I guest post on the Hartline Literary Agency blog Saturday, Sept. 4th.

Apart from that, I'll be unplugged this weekend; visiting these guys.

See you Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When...Then What?

When a few of your dearest friends don't get your calling;

When someone you love is jealous of your success;

When you are jealous of others' successes;

When everything your spouse does annoys you;


What helps? I need some answers, folks.