Why Hope Needs Balance

Like a delicate scale that tips toward the stress side, balance remains a challenge. Work, work and more work – no time for play.scale

Without play, creativity is left to fight against the stress and becomes its own version of writers block.

Not that the words cease to come – thankfully, but the words no longer filter through the divine whisper. Instead, they sound like clichés and the craft becomes lifeless to the writer.

Without play, stress wins because there are always more things to do, more places to go and more tasks to complete.

Play pouts in the corner – unable to garner my attention yet plaguing me with silent screams.

In a corner of my office sits my tote bag, filled with colorful pens, crayons and the latest Mandela. But work calls through the filter of stress, so I ignore the bag even while wishing for just a few moments of playful joy.

In her book about recovering balance, “Finding the Deep River Within” http://amzn.to/1dkf32m Abby Seixas writes, “We must break the cultural habit of sacrificing our inner lives for our outer lives, of giving up depth in deference to speed.”

Stress and its deceptive sister, speed, require that we work hard to complete more tasks. We do them quickly so that we can accomplish more and then check our to-do lists for the momentary satisfaction of achievement.

Yet in that speed, we sacrifice the beauty of rest that ultimately feeds our souls. We give up our need to go deep and find our most intimate selves. We lose our place, sitting in God’s lap where he says, “Be still and know me.”

The delicate scale balances precariously toward burnout.

But the solution is not that difficult. We all have 168 hours each week to figure it out. Yes, work is important. Certainly, work is necessary but then so is play.

It merely takes a smidgeon of self-discipline to stop multi-tasking, to cut away at the distractions and to invite soul time. To breathe deeply, close the eyes against the computer screen glare and embrace solitude.

And in that embrace, we learn to honor our own souls as well as the Divine One who made us in the first place.

To make the decision for more balance brings hope to that inner place where the child still waits for the adult and where memories of laughter, colors and sand castles still thrive.

I commit to that decision. I embrace that hope and if you will excuse me – I must gather my toys and go play.

©2015 RJ Thesman – Author of the Reverend G books http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Image by Flaticon

Liking My Words

As I started editing the third and final book in the Reverend G series, I wanted to be as objective as possible. Besides the work I do as a Life Coach and an Author – I am also an Editor. I know how to proofread for grammar mistakes, punctuation errors and content miscues.

Even with my own writing, I’m ruthless with edits. It doesn’t kill me to delete whole sections – even an entire chapter, if it doesn’t carry the story forward.3D Rev G cover

In fact, I often rewrite the entire manuscript seven or eight – even twelve times, striving for that best word, that a-ha moment and that paragraph that carries an internal truth.

But when I started editing this book, with my red pen in hand, I worked several minutes before I made any marks. I looked for mistakes, knowing that even the most careful writers make them. And yes, I found a couple of typos, but nothing glared at me that needed to be rewritten.

In fact, I quickly found myself immersed in the story of this woman minister as I walked with her into the world of expressive aphasia. I felt the intense struggle of Reverend G who wants more than anything else in the world to communicate God’s love to others, yet she has lost the ability to string common sense words together into intelligent sentences.

This is the world of many Alzheimer’s patients as they grow increasingly frustrated with their inability to communicate.

But for Reverend G, it seems worse. This was a woman who thrived on the ministry of words – the sermons she wrote and delivered, the counseling sessions where she asked open-ended questions and the love notes she left her son, Jacob, and later – the love of her life, Chris.

Fortunately, for me – the writer – I have written this series in the deep viewpoint so I can escape into the mind of Reverend G and know what she is thinking even if she cannot fully express it.

So I read her thoughts – my words – with awe and wonder, is it okay to really like my own writing? Is it helpful for a creative writer to enjoy the cadence of her own voice? Is it all right for a Christian writer to read a paragraph and then say, “Dang! That’s good!”

Maybe I like my words because I really do love this character, this Reverend G who wears leather pants and refuses to be stereotyped within the legalistic jargon of religion. Maybe I appreciate my words because I know how many hours I have put into this series and what it has meant to me when people read my books and compliment me.

And maybe – after over 40 years of freelancing – I’m finally settling on my real voice and becoming the writer God created me to be.

Whatever the reason, I’m liking this book and as much as I enjoyed Book One, I really think Book Two is even stronger and I believe Book Three will be the perfect ending for Reverend G’s story.

So I’ll include a couple of paragraphs here and let you be the judge. Do you like it, too? Are you looking forward to finding out more?

Oh God, my God, why did it have to be words? These were the tools of my profession, the way I communicated with my God, my people and my particular world. The sermons I wrote and then preached behind the special pulpit designed for me, the open-ended questions I devised for counseling sessions, the Bible verses I quoted so easily to bring hope and encouragement to my congregation.

“All these pieces of ministry included words which gave me effective ammunition to further the kingdom of God. Like an important piece of machinery tuned to the Gospel, I found my significance in words. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Holy Word lived within my words.”

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Tribute to Jewel

To find a lifetime friend who will pray faithfully is a rare gift. God granted me such a person about 30 years ago. We volunteered together at a pregnancy crisis center. I edited her books, and we prayed together. When I moved away from that town, she continued to pray for me and my son. Every couple of weeks, we exchanged letters.

“How is your son?” she always asked. “Have you published another book yet?” “How are your writings?”

She wrote about her family so that I could pray for them as well. Our mother hearts exchanged prayers, and we encouraged each other as we waited for God’s answers. I told her about my writing ideas, another conference where I taught or the rough draft of the latest book I worked on. She prayed and asked the same question in every letter.

“Have you published a book? How are your writings?”

She taught me so much about living in joy. Sparks of wisdom danced in her eyes, and every time I saw her – I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Even as she aged, she never forgot how to share God’s love with me. When her back hurt and she needed surgery on her eyes, she stayed in joy. Her faith never wavered. I wondered if her middle name was “Perseverance.”

Sometimes on my way to visit Oklahoma family, I stopped to see her. We hugged and laughed. We prayed together. I gave her one of my latest books and knew in a couple of weeks, she would write me again.

“Have you published a book? How are your writings?”

This Easter, I sent her a card with my letter inside. “I’m so excited,” I wrote. “Guest what? I signed a contract for my novel. It should be published this year. Thank you so much for your prayers.”

But she never opened the card. She never read the letter. Her family sent the card back with a note attached, “Jewel passed away March 19th.”

I wept and still grieve. My special friend and intercessor – the woman who prayed specifically for my words – gone. I will miss her letters and her friendship, but most of all – those prayers.

All I can do now is ask God to tell Jewel how much she meant to me. “Tell her, Jesus. Tell her, please, that my book will be published. Her prayers made a difference in my life.”