Not Good Enough

I realized that I have not written a blog for a while. In all honesty, I have been in a funk lately and I sometimes wonder why I have started this journey of writing. Do I really have anything to say that my readers have not heard a hundred times before? I frequently ask myself, what am I doing here? Sometimes doubts plague me and Satan shouts at me, “You are not good enough for this.”

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

I am going to be vulnerable here and share my doubts. When I struggle to sit and write another page in my book, I think maybe I am not creative enough and my characters are not real enough and my plot is not developed enough. I am not good enough to do this.

When I write about the hurts that my main character has had in her life, I remember hurts I have had in mine. And I think–I can’t do this God. I cannot revisit the pain that I hid for years. But I cannot reveal my character’s pain without acknowledging my own. And my past sometimes shouts at me that I am flawed and not good enough.

The reality is, I am NOT good enough. But today once again I was reminded that God is. God has whispered to me that he is enough. All of my sins, all of my flaws, all of my doubts and insecurities, can be given to him. Because this book is not about me. It is about God and his ability to redeem a person’s life.

My book is about redemption and reconciliation and yes, even, reckoning. And the process of writing this is a reminder that in my weaknesses and feelings of not being enough, his grace can be sufficient and he is enough.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)

Sitting at the Table

Today I attended the funeral of a friend of mine. I tried to remember the first time I met Nancy. Our paths first crossed at a retreat put on by the Christian Campus House of Missouri University. That was in 1971. I did not meet her again until 1978, when I returned back home from living in Cincinnati for four years after college. It was then that I went back to Ferguson Christian Church, where I had helped with Jet Cadets during my college years. That was where Nancy and I first became friends.

Our lives continued to connect as we both moved to the same city, attended the same church for decades, and were recently in the same Bunco group. Over the years, we shared many meals together and when she cooked them–oh, yummy.

At her funeral it was noted that she was a marvelous cook (and she was), and she had a knack for hospitality (and she did). For years she served quietly behind the scenes helping with potlucks, cooking fabulous desserts (her chocolate pecan pie was a hit), and taking meals to the sick.

But the thing that impressed me most was from the time she learned she had pancreatic cancer, in her quiet and understated way, she was an amazing example of staying the course with her faith. She never wavered in her faith that God was a good God. All of those who visited with her came away with the same knowledge that her faith was what sustained her. On my last visit with her, her quiet certainty that heaven awaited her shined through. While I was tearful, she was calm and in her inimitable way, totally Nancy. Her organizational skills were always somewhat amazing, and true to form, she told me she had put everything in order so that her sisters would know where everything was and would not have to go searching for things.

It is a strange thing as we get older and see death more often, watching loved ones and friends succumb to that inevitable fate we all face, that we think about the legacy we will leave when we pass. I think about that more as each day draws me closer to the day when I will see my Savior. In all honesty, I do not feel old, but when I think about it, more of my life is behind me than in front of me!

God has been good to me. And while I have had some ups and downs in my life, the knowledge that He loves me sustains me. I can only hope that when I face my final days and I finally take my last breath here on earth, that I am found faithful and am confident with the same kind of assurance of heaven that Nancy had.

For Nancy, the most difficult thing about being sick was her inability to eat. Nancy enjoyed food, but also worked hard to stay healthy and at a good weight. She lost weight rapidly after becoming sick and ended up with a feeding tube. She told one of our friends that she would frequently dream about eating and she looked forward to being able to eat in heaven.

For centuries the church has taught there will be a great banquet in heaven. That teaching dates all the way back to Messianic teaching in Isaiah 25. I do not know if it is true, but if it is, I know that Nancy will be sitting at the table.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

½ c. margarine                                                 1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sugar                                                          1 c. pecan halves

1 c. light corn syrup                                         ¾ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 eggs

Melt ½ cup butter. Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup (Karo), 4 slightly bean eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup pecan halves, and ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix well. Pour into unbaked 9-inceh pastry shell. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Cool. Serves 8.

If Wishes Were Horses

Today I was looking online at bikes. My sister-in-law has one and she rides with a friend frequently. She enjoys their rides, and they take advantage of the nearby Katy Trail, built on an old railroad track which runs from Machens MO to Clinton MO, covering a large swath of Missouri from east to west. All along the trail you will find bikers and hikers, runners and walkers, and a multitude of beautiful scenery. My sister-in-law and her friend take off on their bikes and frequently ride at least five miles at a time.

I must confess here. I have friends who are avid bikers and some of them ride 20 or more miles at a time. However, If I tried to ride a bike five miles a day, you would need to scrape me up from the pavement, where I would surely be lying after the first grueling mile! That is how out of shape I am.  

But I learned the secret of my sister-in-law’s rides. She had purchased an electric bike, which gives her an assist when the going gets tough. I confess, I had no clue there were electric bikes out there. I had seen electric scooters, and even electric wheelchairs, but I had not seen an electric bike. I was fascinated with this and suddenly, I was seeing electric bikes everywhere. We have a lovely walking trail in my subdivision and this morning I saw one of my neighbors with a new toy–his electric bike. He has been whizzing around the neighborhood daily on his bike!

And I thought to myself, I think I might buy an electric bike. I went to my go to place for anything new—Amazon. The phrase “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride,” was one repeated often by my mother as one or the other of us would wish for something beyond our meager means while growing up. It took me a while to figure out what she really meant, and I frequently wondered where the phrase originated. I found out that “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” is a proverb and nursery rhyme, first recorded about 1628 in a collection of Scottish proverbs.

Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash

Looking at a new electric bike, I felt like the beggar who didn’t have a horse. The bike, while not outrageously expensive, is not in my budget right now. Two vacations, which were planned during last year and took place this year, and one wedding, that is planned this year, have taken care of any excess funds for me this year. And while I am not truly destitute, I do need to live within my means, especially in this economy.

I have decided when I finish my book and it is finally published, I will splurge by rewarding myself with an electric bike. So that means I really need to sit down and write—because this beggar is going to find herself a horse (or a bike) to ride–eventually!

Remember Your Why

I recently watched the Today show and they interviewed a running coach, Ryan Walsh. One of the first points he made was that anyone starting something new should always remember your why. Think about the reason you started, why you wanted to make this change, and what were the benefits of doing it. This resonated with me as I have started two large projects in my life.

My first project is eating healthy. My why was primarily for health reasons, but part of it is also vanity. Quite frankly, I am tired of buying plus size clothing and needing to stop a minute to catch my breath when I am walking any distance farther than a block. Some days are better than others when I make my eating choices. But on my recent vacation? All bets were off! I came back four pounds heavier and I really did make good choices, except for, well, maybe the ice cream. (and I have lost two of it in the first week back).

My next big project is finishing my novel, The Porch Swing. I have picked it up and set it back down more times than I can remember. But this year I picked it up and sent my first eight chapters to a friend, whose judgment I trust. Now she is waiting for the rest of it. I am attending the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in September and I want to have my first rough draft finished. So I had to think long and hard about my why for this book.

My why is to address the amount of abuse that happens in a church and how we respond. Do we believe the person who says she was raped by her youth minister? Or do we hide it and pretend nothing happened, because why would we ruin his reputation like that? I have found this process for working through my writing has been cathartic to me. I was abused by a cousin as a child and it did not stop until I was old enough to realize he was not going to tell anyone (a threat he used with me). Even after the abuse stopped I felt dirty and ashamed. My salvation came from the Lord and all of the old me was wiped away because I knew that Christ did a marvelous thing when he made me brand new.

Scripture tells us that Jesus prayed in the garden right before his arrest. He asked if there was any way to avoid what he knew was coming. There wasn’t. His why was for our salvation. He knew his mission in life and stuck to it even when it meant his death on the cross.

So my why? In actuality there are many of them. How about you? What do you think about when you ask yourself why you have started a project or why you want to do a major challenge. Do you get discouraged and want to quit because things are not happening fast enough? Do you find yourself getting easily sidetracked? When that happens take a step back and remember the why.

Here We Go

I am writing my first novel and I must confess that I have picked this up and put it back down for years! But God is nudging me and saying, “Finish it. You have something to say.” So I have made a goal to set aside July and August for some solid writing.

There are already so many people who have helped me as I have started this journey. I am part of a writer’s group that does a yearly retreat and they are so encouraging. I met with Kent Sanders, a writer in St. Charles MO, and he was SO supportive. I felt like I had just been to an awesome pep rally after spending time with him. If you have never listened to his podcast, The Daily Writer, I highly recommend it for anyone who writes. https://www.kentsanders.net/podcast/.

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Gaining a New Perspective

I recently posted about a “dry fire” I had at my house on Mother’s Day. (https://lindadelaywallace.com/2022/05/13/smell-that-smoke/) It was quite an experience and because there was no soot or ash–only a house full of smoke–insurance would not cover anything. That meant that everything in my house had to be cleaned by yours truly, and luckily some faithful friends and family! It was an interesting two weeks following the incident.

Photo by KWON JUNHO on Unsplash

As I washed every cabinet and closet (and everything in them) in my house, I noticed that I had items I never used taking up space. Some of them were beautiful pieces of crystal that just sat in my upper cabinets the entire six years I have lived here. Some of them were clothes that I wondered what was I thinking when I purchased them. I have a fairly neat house, but when you must take every single thing out and clean it and evaluate it, it gives you a new perspective. My daughter cleaned my spice cabinet and ended up with about half the items I had before, because, well, you do not want to know how many expired spices I had!

After I disposed of expired items, gave away some of the crystal, and took bags of clothes and unused household items to the thrift store, I felt like a burden had lifted. I was unhindered by all of the things in my house that had been bogging me down and I look forward to not needing to “spring clean” or sort through clothes or cabinets. For now. Because no matter how careful I am, somehow clutter starts again, spices get expired, and laundry still needs to be done. But for all the hard work, there is a great freedom in the process I went through after the smoke cleared.

With all of this, I was reminded of a scripture in Hebrews 12:1. The writer of Hebrews is talking about all of those who have gone before us and were witnesses of the greatness and goodness of God. He says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV) Hebrews 12:1

I love the way it is paraphrased in The Message, “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (The Message)

It took a house full of smoke for me to do some deep cleaning. In the same way, in my spiritual life, I need to always be evaluating where I have let sin in my life, always letting go of the things that tie me down to this earth, and racing toward the finish line to heaven. I love the part where it says, “When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls.” Maybe it will take some “dry smoke” for me to evaluate my life sometimes, but it will be well worth it in the end!

How Should We Love?

In the book of Acts we see the infancy of the church. As we read we find that as early as the third chapter of Acts, the body of believers was established after Peter addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 3:42-47 we see the response of the believers, who devoted themselves to the teaching of Christ and to fellowship with one another. Some of the highlights of this passage: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship”, “selling their possession and goods, they gave to anyone who had need,” and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

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No Easy Answer

As with many others, I am shocked and saddened for the people of Uvalde, Texas–a place I had never heard of before Tuesday. There are no words that are adequate to help the wounded hearts in that town. I wrote a post of May 25, 2009 that expresses a lot of how I feel. Just a few months after the original post, my husband passed away unexpectedly and I was left with lots of questions and no easy answers. But love certainly helped me recover and take one step in front of another while grieving.

Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

I could easily talk about all the reasons I think this happened–none of which make sense in light of the carnage–or all the things we need to do in the United States to keep this from happening again. But I will not in this post. The fact is there are no easy answers for the wounded right now.

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Hidden Potential*

When they were first married, my son and his wife purchased a home that was a short sale. When they first brought me to see the house, it was somewhat difficult to look past the dirt and junk. There were piles of toys, clothes, and miscellaneous items that had been left by the previous owners.  In the bathroom, the tub surround was full of crayon scribbles and the toilets were in dire need of a good cleaning and disinfectant. In the basement the refrigerator still had food in it, and the smell was rank when the door was opened. Even trash had been left in the kitchen can.

The outside had ivy growing unchecked around the entire foundation. The large back yard was full of weeds and shrubs that had been allowed to grow wild, not to mention a pile of cinder blocks that served no useful function that we could see. Dead trees had fallen and the decaying logs were lying on the ground.

Most people would have walked away after seeing the first room, and indeed, at first I just saw all of the surface issues. But on a deeper, second look, I could envision the possibilities they saw in the home. As they worked hard at making the house into a home, a beautiful picture emerged.

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Smell That Smoke

On Mother’s Day many families choose to grill something for Mom and a commonly heard phrase is, “Smell that smoke.” It invokes memories of grilled pork steaks (if you live in the Midwest), grilled chicken, or maybe even grilled steaks. They are all typical b-b-q fare where I live.

But on this Mother’s Day, “smell that smoke” took on a whole new meaning. My son and his fiancee came over after church. I started cooking some ground beef on the stove because it needed to be used, and I thought I could fix spaghetti or sloppy joes–something quick and easy. My son quickly informed me that they were going to take me to lunch and so we started talking about where to go where there would not be a long wait. We have a Townsquare Pub close to me that serves good food, so I called to see what the wait time would be. She indicated that right at that time there was no wait. So we got in my car and off we went.

We were seated in the restaurant fairly quickly and had a leisurely meal. When we arrived back home, I noticed a funky smell in my garage, but could not quite identify what it was. Then I heard the smoke alarms blaring. When I opened the door to the house, thick, gray smoke billowed out. Unwise I know, but I quickly ran in and realized I had forgotten to turn off the stove. I turned it off, and ran through my house and threw open windows in every room. My wiser and anxious son kept reminding me, “Mom, you need to get out of the house. You have breathing problems already and the smoke will make it worse.” He was right, but sometimes in a situation you do not stop to think through the wisest course of action!

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