Saturday, November 14, 2009


I told Ken yesterday, "If I didn't write maybe I could keep a neat house. But I don't dare ask God to take the writing away because I think it's part of me. It's something that I was born with, maybe even something that was a part of me while I was still in the womb. It's something that I feel God has given me to do."

But how do we, as writers, balance our lives between living life and writing about it?

I've thought of putting a sign on our front door that says, "Novel under construction; Please forgive the mess," then just let things pile up while I go on with my writing.

That's what I have to do a lot of times anyway, to get any writing done. Ken doesn't seem to mind that as much as I do. He works a lot outside, cutting two acres of grass, blowing or raking leaves, cleaning out the pond, working on projects in his woodwork shop or in his garden, etc. It doesn't seem to bother him to sit at the diningroom table with a brother or buddy, drinking coffee and talking with books and papers stacked all over the table. But every now and then, when things start to get too bad, he'll get out the vacumn cleaner and go to cleaning house.

I thank God for an understanding and helpful husband; for my home and my family; for my writing which brings so much joy -- when I stop worrying about stuff. And, as a line in an old hymn says, "I thank Him for the strength He daily gives me." For, when it comes down to it, it's really chronic illness (two of the chief characteristics of lupus are weakness and fatique) that takes my strength and slows me down more than trying to balance writing and daily living do.

My three children were ages 6, 8 and 12 when I was first diagnosed with a chronic illness. I was busy with them and their activities; Ken and I were church youth leaders; I worked full-time as a bookkeeper and office manager. I thought I didn't have time to write -- or to be sick.

On the night that I became deathly ill, I prayed, "Lord, it would feel so good to lie down in your shady green pastures and rest. But I don't want to die yet. I want to live to raise my children, and grow old with my husband."

Then a voice, so clear it was almost audible to my ears, added, "And write."

To me, that was a promise from God: I would live to raise my family and grow old with my husband, but I must get back to my writing.

While I was still recuperating from that bout of illness, I began to write again -- and to publish in newspapers and magazines. Through following years, I continued to write, while struggling with bouts of illness. I was unable to go back to work full-time or to keep up with an active youth group.

Some twenty years after that initial diagnosis, I found myself in the hospital, diagnosed with lupus and seemingly close to death again. Ken had stood beside my bed every day for a week, feeding me ice chips, the only thing I was allowed to have by mouth while tests were being run. Then he had a stroke there in my hospital room and was rushed down to the ER. After a day in ER, he was put to bed, still hooked up to tubes, on the floor below me.

Now I prayed, "Lord, what are we going to do? What's going to happen to us?" and the answer that came back to me was "I'm still answering your prayer."

"What prayer?" I asked, and then it came to me: the prayer I had prayed over twenty years earlier. I had raised my children, even had young grandchildren. I didn't consider Ken and me old yet. I was still writing. I was assured again that everything would be alright.

And it was. Effects of the stroke cleared up completely; medications -- and prayers -- got my lupus under control; and God kept sending me writing assignments.

Recently, I spent several days in the hospital again, two of them in the Intensive Care Unit, after being transported from home in a "911" ambulance.

But God is still answering my prayer. By most people's standards, Ken and I are probably considered "old" now. Our children are almost old enough to be considered "Senior Citizens;" we now have 5 great-grandchildren. And I'm busier than every with my writing.

If I were to stop writing, would God's promise to me over forty years ago become void? Does the answer to that long-ago prayer hinge on my willingness to keep writing for Him?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I don't want to stop writing to find them.

I think I'll go put that sign on my front door.

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