Monday, September 17, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction--September 17, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

September 17, 2012

Update: Busy week with two editing jobs and five proofreading jobs; also taking care of a hubby with a bad cough and—something unusual for him—he put his back out Thursday night. Haven’t been to our weekly critique group in 3 weeks, so am looking forward to seeing everyone this Tuesday. I hope to have some pages ready for my Isaiah 40:31 devotional book: “Pedestrian Grace—So We Can Walk and Not Faint.” As I mention later, we also lost another friend this week, a “young” man only 55 years old.

Thought for the Day:

“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don't get plumber's block, and doctors don't get doctor's block; why should writers have the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expect sympathy” (Philip Pullman).

Laugh for the Day:

            A laddie at college named Breeze
            Weighed down by B.A.s and M.D.s,
            Collapsed from the strain,
            Said the doctor, "It's plain
            You're killing yourself by degrees."

Reader’s question:

“Whenever I read the newest copy of a particular Christian magazine, errors (grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.—even on the cover) pop out at me. For months, I circled them and planned to notify the editor. I meant it as helpful, but then thought it might put a black mark by my name, which could spread throughout the Christian publishing world. What are your thoughts?”

What would your response be to the above question? I’ll list the answers next week, and then tell you what I’d do. This is a good question as we all know that typos are rampant today—in newspapers, TV captions, billboards. Everywhere.

Writer’s Encouragement      

We lost another good friend this week after an 18-month struggle with stage 4 lung cancer. The doctor told him at the beginning that he had only six months to live, but he was a fighter. Two weeks ago he was in church in his wheelchair and oxygen. The father of two teens 14 and 17, he was an inspiration to us all.

We have another good friend in his 80s (I’ve known him since I was born) who comes to church every Sunday even though he doesn’t recognize anyone any more and can barely hear the sermon.

We wonder sometimes why people often live far beyond what we think they will. “Is this really living?” we ask ourselves. It may be that some of you are caring for a loved one who is terminal or whose mental condition has deteriorated to the point where they don’t even know you. And you ask yourself, “Why doesn’t God just take them to heaven?” Maybe the following story from my life will help you:

For Elmer’s Sake

“Lord, why have you let Mother linger so long? You know she’s ready to go.” I prayed these words at two o’clock in the morning in December 1982. Sitting in the tiny, smoke-filled waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit, I thought back over the events of the previous 18 months: my mother’s cancer surgery, the chemo treatments, my eight trips between Arizona and Michigan, and the final surgery that led to the coma in which she now lay.

The week before, the doctor had told me “24 to 48 hours” and I had summoned my brothers and sister who had come—along with some of their children—to be by Mother’s bedside. Day after day, we waited and watched. “She quit breathing,” someone would say and we’d rush to the cafeteria to get a family member. But by the time we returned, her breathing had resumed.

Exhausted, and needing to return home for a statewide Christian writers’ seminar I was leading, I often found myself alone in this little waiting room, praying and questioning God. On this particular night, however, I was not alone for long. A man I guessed to be in his middle 60s made his way into the room, dragging his IV stand beside him. “How are you doing?” I asked him.

“Not too good,” he answered in a low voice. “My doctor told me today I have only six months to live.”

We chatted for a while. “Elmer” asked why I was there and I told him about my mother.

“How did she handle it when they told her?” he asked me.

I shared with him about her Christian faith, which had sustained her all through the years of raising three children alone on a limited income. I also told him that many people had been praying for her.

“I used to pray,” he admitted, “but I don’t anymore. It’s too late.”

“It’s never too late,” I told him. Reaching into my purse, I took out my New Testament and turned to John 3:16. “Listen to this verse,” I told him. I read the words, putting his name in the appropriate places: “For God so loved Elmer, that he gave his only begotten Son, that [if] Elmer believes in him Elmer shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Elmer read the verse again, then looked up and asked, “Does that mean there’s still a chance for me?”

“That’s exactly what it means,” I answered. I explained the gospel message simply and then asked if he would like to pray. He bowed his head and repeated the words I said to him. When we finished, he said, simply, “Thank you,” and left the room.

The next day, walking down the hall, I looked up and saw Elmer coming toward me. His head erect, he shook my hand and said, “It’s okay. I’m not afraid to die now.”

Then I knew why God let my mother linger for so long. It was for Elmer’s sake.


God bless you as you go about your duties this week and may you feel God’s presence and peace whatever you’re going through. Remember, “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.”

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