Monday, September 25, 2006


I had an epiphany. Right there in Dallas in the middle of the American Christian Fiction Writers’ annual conference, I had an epiphany.

Before I can explain, I need to give you some back-story—honest! I know the rules about back-story and dutifully am judicious in my writing, but this small tidbit you need to know—I changed jobs at school this year. No longer am I teaching kinders (still love’m though). Rather I am teaching the gifted children of our school. We qualified for a part time position on-site since our numbers had shown more than 20 kids identified. However, that included last year’s sixth graders. Plus, we had to do some redistricting with the boundary lines so, though I got the job for having 20+ kids on paper, the body count was closer to 15. Therefore, I need to test my little brains out to get our numbers back up so I can keep my job.

These kids come in, so excited that someone thinks they are smart. I explain I am looking for a certain kind of smart and ask them if, should they not pass my tests, would they still be smart? Most say yes though some need to think it over. I affirm the yes, they are still smart, just not the smart I’m looking for at the moment. And you got to know, I love these kids. I’m cheering them on and want each one to succeed. Some have even been former students and I really want them to make it into the program. It breaks my heart that so many do not make it. The standard is high. I’ve had kids score a 96% (that means they only missed 3 questions between all the tests in that particular battery) and I have to turn them down.

Anyone in the writing business can see where I’m going with this. There I was in Dallas, mingling and conversing (and learning a few things, too) and it hit me—this is what the editors and agents go through each time they have someone come in for an appointment. They hope they will see something of what they are looking for, an idea of the right kind of "smart." Then the test comes. Is the story compelling? Is the writing stellar? Has this author a track record? Do they fit the pub house? Do they mesh with the editor/agent personality-wise? The standard is high. Oh, sometimes it is just a matter of a different house or editor or agent being a better fit. Sometimes in my class it’s a matter of trying a different test or giving the child time to mature before I test again.

The good news, for me anyway, is that bit of empathy for the editors and agents relaxed me and helped me enjoy my time so much more. I was ready for the take-homes I needed because I wasn’t manic about my assessments. . .er, appointments. I soaked up wisdom from Mary DeMuth on going deep and not letting anyone, including myself, put Jesus in a box. And I had a paradigm shift. I know I write for an audience of One (though you all get to read this, too), but until Liz Curtis Higgs said it, I had never ever thought the following statement:

Jesus is my agent.

Sure, I want a 21st century flesh and blood agent but finding that right fit is in the hands of my number One Agent. And with His guidance, it will all fall into place the way He wants it.

But lest you think the trip was all visionary and deep, I’ve included some pictures at this link. I hope you can tell we had a blast. Sending a special hug out to my roomie, Jen Tiszai who gave a wonderful Late Nite Chat on the art of mentoring. You are the best, girlfriend!

And now, back to the real world.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Questions We All Need to Ask

Well guys, I'm behind on posting--again. The good news, though, is I have something to post (yea!).

First question: Would you like an easy way to see when I've updated my blog? If so, look at the bottom of my sidebar. You will notice a place to subscribe to Abundant Blessings. All you do is fill out your e-mail address where you would like to receive my musings and then you won't have to search over and over only to be disappointed that I haven't written something new. What happens is FeedBlitz will send the post directly to your e-mail. You can click on the link to come to my site or just read the e-mail note. FeedBlitz will notify you only when I have something new. I use FeedBlitz to receive my favorite blogs and like the convenience. Hope you will, too.

With that out of the way, I have some more important questions for you. First I need to set the stage. My pastor has been doing a series titled American Idols where each week he shines the light on things we, as Americans, tend to let come between us and God. Today the idol was Excitement/Pleasure. Pastor Steve asked some deeply probing questions and I want to ask them of you. Here we go:

1. What are you giving yourself to that is significant? (Consider: Life is going faster, but is it taking us to better places?)

2. In Whom are you investing yourself?

3. For what are you embracing sacrifice?

4. If you were to die today, what would you be known for?

As Arsenio Hall used to say, "Things that make you go 'hmmmmmmm'." Only not because of the incongruity but because of the significance the answers mean to our lives, our futures, and those we touch. Pastor Steve also left us with some parting thoughts so I'll empart them to you.

Some people leave lasting investments of their lives.
Some people leave lingering impressions.
Some people just leave.

Abundant blessings,