Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Getting through tedious tasks


Jerry and I have both been battling respiratory infections for a couple of weeks (not covid). To add insult to injury, I’ve also been doing a tedious job with a book manuscript. This post came to mind from a struggle with an earlier manuscript. For those of you who are not writers, I hope it offers practices that might help us in other areas of life, as well.

I have a friend who’s spent many years as a missionary in Africa. She bakes her own bread, and occasionally experiences infestations of grain moths. When these critters find their way into her flour supply, she can’t just dash to the corner grocery, so to provide food for her family; she painstakingly removes the moths one by one. Although, she loves where she lives, and her call to missions, this part of the deal is not very appealing.

For a while now, I’ve been sifting through a three-hundred-page manuscript plucking out bugs which some call “weasel words.” Among them, words like just, so, really, only, and that. Words, which add nothing to the meaning of a sentence, but weigh it down. Words, I am sorry to tell you, I love to use in abundance.

 If only I could just tell you how much I really love using words that mean so much to me.

If only.

Important task--this buggy word removal. However, after days of this, my eyes become glassy, and my brain feels like mush.

I want to run.

I want to quit.

I want to get a job overhauling transmissions.

I suppose no matter what the Lord may call us to, there’s always a downside.

So, how do we face the tedious tasks without bolting?

A few suggestions:

1.       Small Chunks. What works best for me is combining the tedious with the creative. Breaking up the times I spend on unappealing tasks with other more creative endeavors.

2.       Staying balanced. I know why I’m so out of sorts right now. I haven’t been taking the time to exercise as I should. It never pays to skip taking care of yourself. I deceive myself by thinking I’m gaining time. My productivity decreases when I don’t do the things, I know benefit my overall wellness like eating right, exercise, and social interaction.

3.       Worship. Earlier today in my writing group, we talked about how all of life is worship if we allow it to be. Keeping an attitude of worship in all we do makes the ordinary and mundane moments glorious.

When I think of worship during the ordinary, I think of Brother Lawrence. The account of how this seventeenth century monk lived in adoration of God all the while working in a kitchen touches me deeply. Entitled, The Practice of the Presence of God, it includes Brother Lawrence’s prayer, “Lord of all pots and pans and things . . . make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates!”

If you haven’t read this Christian classic of conversations with Brother Lawrence, you may read it free online here. It’s only around fifty pages, so you could read it less than an hour. But I think the ideal would be to read one conversation and allow time to meditate on it every day.

Whether sifting grain moths, or weasel words, God calls us to himself. And I for one aim to borrow a prayer from Brother Lawrence during the rest of my editing, “O my God, since thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech thee to grant me the grace to continue in thy presence; and to this end do thou prosper me with thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.”

Amen.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:23).

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Be Strong and Courageous

Marsh Glory, Beverly Varnado

As I’ve written here before, I try to read the Bible through every year-ish. I get behind though and spend the first week of the new year catching up. On the day dedicated to historical scriptural readings, I kept coming across the same phrase in Moses’ instruction to the Israelites, “Be strong and courageous . . . “ We see that phrase again when the Lord exhorts Joshua.

In what ways are we being courageous? It’s a good question to ask ourselves as we face the new year. As we reflect on the year past, one answer to that question for all of us is that we are living through a pandemic. That has taken a good bit of strength and courage to get through.

But individually, what ways are we bravely stepping into the future?

Creatively, I know the ways I’m holding back. For example, I really need to make some of the dozens of small studies I’ve done this year available (Like the one above), because if I don’t, we’re going to have to pitch a tent in the back yard. Storage is becoming an issue. I have a tough time letting go. I posted a few on my Etsy store over a week ago, but didn't post on social media about them. The artists I know who are doing a good job with their work often post their paintings.

Also, I’ve finished another book, but still haven’t submitted it, because it’s in a different genre than I’ve written before. I love the story so much; rejection would be hard.

And, as far as this blog, other writers get more success posting directly to social media rather than just posting a link. Links get shuffled to the bottom of the feed. I’ve hesitated to do that because it’s like walking into a crowded room and saying, “Hey, look at this!!” My introverted self chafes at the thought. And yet, it’s not about me. The reason I do all of this is for the glory of God. A well-known primitive artist once wrote that she knew God was calling her to paint and in response she said, “I don’t want to be famous.” She says God spoke to her heart and said, “Yes, but I do.”

If you struggle with this too, here are a few of the messages that may be in our heads that hold us back:

                You’re not old enough.

                You’re too old.

                You don’t have enough experience.

                You’ve never done that before.

                You will be rejected.

                You’re not qualified.

                You don’t have enough time.

                What you’ve done is not good enough, not good enough, not good enough, ad nauseum.

                And sometimes even—you’re not enough.

In truth, our age, our experience, our past, our fear of rejection, our qualifications, our time limitations, and our perfectionism cannot, should not, must not limit what God would want to do through us.

And as for the “You’re not good enough” message. That’s simply a lie from the enemy and needs to be recognized as such.

So, if, like me, you have a bit of a chicken liver stripe, let’s allow the words the Lord spoke through Moses to speak afresh to our hearts:

 “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS . . . “

And then let’s go forward with these words on our lips, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Here's to all the wonders God might do!

Beverly Varnado is the author of several small town romances from Anaiah Press including her latest, A Season for Everything. All are available at Amazon. A memoir, Faith in the Fashion District,  from Crosslink Publishing  is available wherever books are sold.  Also consider her other books, Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees and Home to Currahee. She also has an Etsy Shop, Beverly Varnado Art. 

To explore the web version of One Ringing Bell, please visit bev-oneringingbell.blogspot.com

Beverly Varnado copyright 2022

 

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