A Tale of Mr. Lizard and Redemption

So, tonight I was enjoying a lovely evening with my mom, puppies, and Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama (How cute is her hair in that movie, anyway?) when suddenly I spotted an unexpected guest on my multicolored doormat: Mr. Lizard.

I should begin by saying that I've had a great sensitivity to life ever since I was a child. At the mature age of five, I decided I wanted to become a vegetarian--soon as I realized what meat was. And guess what? I've been meat-free ever since, almost twenty years now.

So you can imagine my chagrin when I see Mr. Lizard, who usually greets me from the wreath outside my door, inside my house. I like talking to these creatures, not touching them. He scurried into the closet and inside the bottom compartment of the vacuum cleaner. So I took an old t-shirt, wrapped it around that part of the vacuum so he couldn't escape, and proceeded to carry the whole thing outside. Foolproof, right?


I carefully set the full-sized red vacuum outside, and all I could see at this point was the tip of Mr. Lizard's tale. I brushed it with a random Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon I happened to have laying around, and the lizard doesn't move.

So I brushed the tail again. And again, and again. But he still didn't move.

And then I realized what happened. When I moved the vacuum cleaner, I smushed him.

I carried the contraption back inside the house, returned it to the closet, and slumped into my couch. Then I looked at my dog Schroeder and explained the whole thing. He looked back at me, so concerned, and I started crying.

I kept picturing Mr. Lizard's tail and how it didn't move when I touched it, how I was the one responsible for that. It would've been easier had I run over him accidentally with my car, because then I would've had to keep going, and I never would've seen him. But I did see him, and he was motionless, and something about that was terrifying, particularly because I knew I was at fault.

Then, because I sometimes get irrational thoughts, I figured I'd check just one more time to make sure he was still dead.

And guess what?

He wasn't.

His little green body was clinging to the side of the closet wall, and I swear he looked terrified. I was shocked. Here I was, confessing my heart to Schroeder and even crying over Mr. Lizard's tragic passing, and meanwhile, he was having a little party as he tried to decide whether he wanted to squeeze inside the Apples to Apples box or the Lord-of-the-Rings-themed Risk. And let's be honest, how do you choose between those two?

What followed was a string of rescue attempts--including but not limited to my using a hanger to help him down and screaming like the stylist dyed my hair orange when he actually climbed onto it. Ultimately, though, you'll be relieved to know Mr. Lizard found shelter in last year's Easter basket, into which he ran directly before I carried him and the Easter basket safely to the front porch.

And I realized, what I was mourning, God was in the process of redeeming.

Okay, so maybe that sounds a little dramatic...this is a lizard we're talking about, after all...but the lizard is really more of a figure than anything else.

Is there anything in your life that you've given up on because it looks like hope is lost? Maybe it's a lot more serious than a lizard in the house. Don't despair; God is always in the process of redeeming that which we've lost. It's only when we really give up control that healing begins.


Fiction Family

This post is kind of writing related... I mean, it has the word "fiction" in the title.

Okay, so not really, but I had to share--today I found out that Jon Foreman, my favorite singer of my favorite band, Switchfoot, has another band called Fiction Family. The only other band member is Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek.

Yes folks, this is pretty much the best duo of all time, short of Taylor Swift joining up with one of the guys from Jars of Clay.

I even considered joining the Street Team but then realized that, like shopping in American Eagle and wearing bright-colored bangle bracelets, that's probably something I'm not longer allowed to do now that I'm in my midtwenties.

But, ahem, just in case you're interested, here's the link. And if you sign up for the e-mail list, you get a free song download.


To Become A Better Writer... Watch TV?

Hope all you readers are doing well and are enjoying the cool temperatures. Down in Florida we're still wearing short sleeves.

My husband and I really love the show Lie to Me. It's about this man named Cal who is an expert at discerning whether or not people are telling the truth, so he starts this organization called The Lightman Group that uses facial expressions and verbal cues to solve mysteries and crimes.

We're only on Season Two, but we've been watching the episodes on Netflix non-stop. Last night while we were watching it, I asked myself what about the show I like so much. Several things I came up with are the character development, the interesting plots (subplots and main plots), and the fact that I feel like I've learned something when I watch it. So basically, don't try to lie to me because I'm now well-versed in my ability to detect what your scrunched eyebrows and grimace might mean. Just kidding, of course. Kind of.

What are your favorite books, movies, and shows? What have you learned from them that has helped your writing?

God May Be Calling, But What If The Line's Busy?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what happens when God places a call on our lives, but we're a little too busy with all our good efforts to pick up. Who's on the other line? Well, it's probably not Satan incarnate, unless you are really outside my typical blog audience.

More likely, it's those nice folks at church, asking if you can volunteer for a few more service projects. Or maybe it's a coworker who wants to know if you can pick up a few extra hours.

Or if you're like me, maybe it's yourself. And no, I'm not schizophrenic.

I've seen this happen to friends who hold the idea of their "ministry" so close to their hearts that they are inflexible when God Himself brings a change to their plans, and I've done this many times personally when God is telling me to relax and I feel the need to explain how concerning and significant my efforts are.

The conversation goes something like this, "God, I know You're listening, and I know you care, but this stuff I'm doing here is pretty important, so please help it work out the best way it possibly can, and please give me strength as I work so hard to exhaust every possible avenue to make this happen."

When really, the prayer should be more like this: "God, I'm listening. And I'll follow."

The. End.

I challenge you today to live in faith rather than in a form of faith that's really driven by self-imposed, false humility and a legalistic, works-based salvation structure. Remember that it is by grace and grace alone we are redeemed, and all we are that is good is because of Christ's work in us.

So stop trying too hard to BE that person, whatever he or she looks like in your mind, and realize you already ARE if Christ is at work, living within you.


A Hint--Okay, Maybe a Handful--of Sparkle

So, I was watching Dancing with the Stars a couple nights ago. If you know me at all, you know I've always had a secret dream... well, maybe it's not that secret... of becoming a professional dancer and figure skater. And during the show, I thought to myself, "Man, Cheryl's dress is sparkly."

See, I love anything with sparkle, anything that says, "Hello world, I have pizazz!" I'm one of those women who shamelessly wore sparkly bangle bracelets until my early twenties when suddenly I realized the accessories might have a minor impact on my credibility as an instructor.

So naturally, I notice things with that Wow! factor. You can insert your old-school Batman jokes here.

The question is, how do you get your writing to sparkle like Cheryl's dress? For me, the trick is adding Southern charm and humor. Know how I stumbled across that? By realizing that in the first draft of my book, the setting was virtually nonexistent. I'm not kidding! After I started paying more attention to adding a setting in revision, it really came alive and has now become one of the cornerstones of my brand.

But I want to hear from you! What tricks and tips do you have for making your own writing shine and giving it that wow factor?