Thursday, March 3, 2016

Over and Over


I'm currently suffering a wave of writer's block. (I can't say for sure, but it's probably buried under a pile of snow somewhere.) All week I've sat with my laptop and a pile of good ideas, but my fingers freeze on the keys. I get scared.

So, I wash all the dishes, even the pans, even the dutch oven with its blackened bottom. I move from room to room while snow falls outside my windows, the confetti of the forgotten, in early March. 

I try again, only managing to squeeze two lines onto the screen, one of which I immediately delete.

And I pull sausage from the freezer. I mince shallots. I dice potatoes. My good ideas sift like baking sugar through my fingers. "There's a difference between having good ideas and being a writer," I say to Cory late that night. "I used to be a writer and now I'm just an idea girl."

The next morning, I huddle up in my bedroom, where it's warmer. I remember last winter, the hours I clocked in here pounding out a proposal for my book, terrified in the end that I'd accidentally made it too strong. The book itself won't ever measure up. I tricked everyone, mostly myself. Those were the lies that piled up in cold heaps around me back then. But I wrote that book, and I'm proud of it. So maybe I can find my way out of this darkened place...

I fold two loads of laundry.

I fry the best pork chops of my life, with a pan sauce of balsamic, white wine, oranges, and herbs. I slice Brussels sprouts on the bias.

My word count burns in the pan. I scrub it clean.

The counter is wiped down, my laptop sits lonely while I pour the last three cups of whole milk, whisk it into cornstarch and chop up a chocolate bar. As it cools, we whip cream into magic, pure as the driven snow.

I've trained my kids to love dark chocolate, and I wonder if it'll keep them up at night.

Crowded together on one wing of our sofa, we huddle around Cory's tiny Chromebook. The internet's misbehaving and for whatever reason, it's the only thing that works.

For the third year running, Calvin wants Adam for his coach, Ruby thinks Christina looks just like Gwen and would take either one, and I sit and stare at Pharrell with his infant skin and his heart that, I swear, reminds me of Jesus.

I wonder if any of my kids will ever be singers. I'd buy that album.

Our spoons clink against our single-serving bowls and I don't give a rip if it's too late for dark chocolate.

I ruffle my fingers through Siley's hair, over and over and over again.

We are a miracle.

God fixed us, and he never stops. He pieced us together with a sturdy top-stitch, six wounded humans who needed to believe. He climbed into our boat, and maybe it took longer than I'd have liked, and maybe this lull won't last forever, but he calmed our seas.

God, in your mercy, restore and heal.


My job isn't to crank out words or shape meaning into my wild ideas. I wasn't created to be an endless supply of inspiration or to collect praise from other people.

I was made to notice God's goodness and reflect His glory.

Sometimes, that happens at my keyboard.

Right now, it happens in my kitchen, in the soul-quiet endless hours when I claw for something that isn't yet mine to hold and instead discover I'm already enough, even when I come up empty.

It's only Thursday, but I know the most important thing I'll do all week is sit with my child on my lap and run my fingers through his hair, over and over and over again.
 

29 comments:

  1. Amen. Just "found" you from The Lettered Cottage and I'm so glad I did. If we had all the answers, then we wouldn't need Him. And His heart's desire is for us to need Him, want Him. I think a "good idea girl" is just the kind of girl Jesus can use :). Blessings from Missouri!

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    1. Hey, new friend! Thank you so much for this sweet encouragement.
      Happy Thursday to you!

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  2. I just love how you keep it real!

    "I was made to notice God's goodness and reflect His glory." How we get lost in all that we "think" we were meant to do is baffling. I'm fighting hard to notice His goodness surrounding me when its much easier to just feel stuck and resentful. I've got mad love for your heart girlfriend! ♡♡

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    1. Girl, ALL the mad love for you, forever and always.

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  3. Tears flow from my eyes this morning as I read this today because I'm with you, I'm in a place of feeling uninspired and kind of feeling like a let down to those around me, but I am realizing the only one who needs to be pleased with me is Him and in His eyes I'm doing the things that He's called me to do and of that I am confident. Thank you for sharing your sweet heart this morning.

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  4. Loved this more than I can say! That is all <3

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  5. Shannon, I'm a quiet friend who has been following your blog for a while without responding. Your writing during this season is meeting me right where I am. I thank you for that, and your faithfulness to Him and to yours!

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    1. Thank you so very much for saying a quiet hello today. I'm honored that my wonky words are somehow finding you!

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  6. Friend. He climbed into your boat and he multiplied all the things. Even in your blocked words, you find a place in my heart to tend the growing I didn't know needed tending.

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    1. Megsie, my friend since the beginning and to the end! Thank you.

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  7. Sometimes you might have too many talents. Who just whips up dark chocolate pudding right in the middle of a sentence? You have hero qualities about you.
    Sometimes, when I'm writing, God is needing some ideas to sink deeper into me so they can melt with some old ideas. I'll stop and read something or grab my phone and post a blog. For me, music is the key to processing. Just me and the angels singing. I'll mull it all over just waiting for his perfect sentence structure. It will come, friend. And they'll all be his words anyway. Just keep your pencil ready.

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    1. You're making me laugh and I love you.
      You're the music, lady.

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  8. "God fixed us, and he never stops." Holding tight to that today...

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  9. "God fixed us, and he never stops." Holding tight to that today...

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  10. Your words are lyrics to the song that lifted my soul. Thank you.

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  11. Easily the best posting of yours that I have ever read. I have followed you for the past couple of years. I felt like I was on your sofa just talking with you about the shove of responsibilities and pull of our loves in daily life. Thank you!!!!

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  12. LOVE. So easy to lose sight of what's truly important. I needed to read this.

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  13. Thank you for the post. I am in a season where I am operating almost in exact opposition to who I thought I was, doing things that are opposite of what I would formerly choose, as one who was previously inspired deeply by words and thoughts and who is now not finding inspiration in any of those things at all. I wrestle and I miss - and yet feel that I am still in God's hand, doing His work. It. Just. Looks. So. Different.

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  14. You have a beautiful soul Shannan!

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  15. If that's what writer's block is like then it's lovely ;) That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

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  16. You are the BEST! Thank you for such beautiful words strung together like white pearls. Those pearls ..... Well I know you know how they are made, an irritant actually causing something of value, worth. This melancholy, well maybe it's an empty spot. You know, a quiet place waiting...... Let me go find something beautiful I read yesterday. Can't get it out of my head.

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  17. This!!!
    It is very hard to allow emptiness to exist in our lives. Emptiness requires a willingness not to be in control, a willingness to let something new and unexpected happen. It requires trust, surrender, and openness to guidance. God wants to dwell in our emptiness."
    - Henri Nouwen

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  18. Shannan, your words are so inspired, as always. I read this at work and actually had to get up and go for a walk to let God talk down all the feels you stirred up. Your way of stringing words together is a true gift, but what really shines is how your messages always touch right where I need to feel Him.

    On Wednesday night I was walking, pondering over how to fix a certain problem in the life of someone very close to me, when I was disturbed from my concentration by the sounds of geese...a lot of geese. So I looked up and I swear to you, there was a line of 70+ geese directly over my head. It was breathtaking. It was God. Of course my phone had died so I couldn't get a picture.

    After that I just walked home in silence, considering that perhaps, as these geese, my friend was on a journey, led by a force bigger than herself.

    Then I see your picture of the geese. Then I read your words under the picture. "My job isn't to crank out words or shape meaning into my wild ideas. I wasn't created to be an endless supply of inspiration or to collect praise from other people.

    I was made to notice God's goodness and reflect His glory."

    Cue the feels. I don't have to fix everyone's problems. My mission here is so much simpler than that. Thank you for unveiling this truth to me. Your words are truly a blessing and God is working through you in ways you could never imagine.

    Jasmine Ryan
    divineorchestration.com

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  19. Truly divine! You are so talented, the pudding got me, too.

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  20. Love the way you always bring us back to the things that are often overlooked but most important.

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  21. You are all the church I need this Sunday morn. Thanks AGAIN friend!
    Can't wait to read your amazing book and appreciate how you share the process right down through the submission jitters.
    xoxo

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