Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter

Hey, friends! Hop on over to my "Embracing Life" blog to see my latest post! Here's an excerpt:

"I walked into the counseling office, barely holding my heart together as, little by little, I felt it shredding inside my chest. When had things gone so wrong? How far do I travel back in my history before finding where the pain all began? And at what point did my heart start to go off the rails? ..." 

When the Darkness Closes In

I sat down to a little research before moving forward with my WIP on Gethsemane. I picked up my commentary and began reading about Jesus being fully God and fully man ("The Christian's Reasonable Service" by Wilhelmus a` Brakel, p. 503-510). Powerful stuff! The quiet of my house was a little too quiet, so I opened iTunes and clicked play.

Casting Crown's "Oh, My Soul" sucked me in, reminding me that I am never alone. I thought of Jesus in Gethsemane. As he lay face down on the garden floor, he knew he would suffer in a way no other child of God had ever or would ever suffer (Mark 14:32-42). Yes. He would take our place. We would never, ever have to face the darkness alone. No matter how abandoned we might feel at times in our trials, in our sufferings, we are never truly alone. God promised his people that he would never leave us. He would never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5b). Instead, the Father would forsake Jesus as Jesus took our sins upon himself at the cross.

Jesus knew this was coming. He knew the cup of the Father's holy wrath would be poured out upon him. He knew this would separate him from the Father in a way he had never before experienced. Prostrate on the garden floor, his tears, sweat, and blood soaked the ground beneath him as he pleaded with the Father to find another way. 

"Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me (Mark 14:36)." 

Does this sound like a familiar refrain? How many times have we prayed this very thing? For Jesus, this was too much to bear. This impending, unfathomable, unbearable horror of the Father's wrath and rejection - the separation from the Father and his love, was too much to bear. The Father who had said of him, "This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased," would turn his back on him (Matthew 3:16-17). And all for you and me.

I cannot imagine facing anything in life without the love, mercy, favor, and presence of my Heavenly Father.  But Jesus faced that very thing. And he did it for us. For all his pleading, when it came down to it, Jesus uttered that well-known refrain: 

"Nevertheless, not my willbut yoursbe done (Luke 22:42)." 

As I listened to my pastor, Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas, preach on this breathtaking passage, curious questions niggled at my mind. Why? How? As the darkness closed in on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane that day, what was the tipping point for him? What caused him to utter those words, "not my will, but yours be done?" This is the question at the heart of "Through Gethsemane's Gate." What, do you think, took Jesus from utter anguish to unwavering submission? And while we will never experience the wrath of God and utter darkness that Jesus did on that day, how do we respond to our own crises? Is there a tipping point for us when we say this with Jesus?

"Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."

*Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references quoted are from the ESV.

Brainstorming Content and Titles - A Must for Every Writer

Working Title: Through Gethsemane's Gate
As I sit to fill my current manuscript pages, I realize how important it is that there be certain fundamental beliefs that should be clear in order to understand the significance of my subject matter. My brain starts firing and I start to go off on one tangent only to think of three more things I should include in this manuscript. That's when I stop. I pull away from my keyboard and think. What is truly needful for this book? Focus is always hard for me when it comes to writing books, articles, or even school papers. I am a very detail oriented person. This is a gift, yet it so often feels like a curse. Rather than struggling to come up with words, I struggle to limit my words. But that's what I must do. Every great writer knows which words should remain and which words require the delete button. I am an organic writer which means I have ideas in my head, but there is no outline. I sit down and I start writing as things come to me. This form of writing requires that I edit each section as I write before moving on to the next scene or chapter. And while this is a nonfiction book, the rule applies. I did do some brainstorming and wrote a list of 25 things I'd like to discuss in this book. I'm quite sure I'll have to pare it down, but the list makes for great writing prompts when I'm not sure what to write next.

My brainstorming also led me to check Amazon to see if there were any other books with the title, "Through the Garden Gate," and of course there were six of them. This caused me to backtrack and figure out how I could change the name to something less generic that would still encapsulate what I wish. I pared it down to "Through Gethsemane's Gate." This is still a working title, meaning the publisher can change the name if they believe there is a better name to be had. However, I searched Amazon and there is not a single book titled, "Through Gethsemane's Gate." So, for now, it's a win! One of the reasons I work so hard to come up with a solid working title is that is helps me to keep the necessary focus of the book. As I write, I continually go back to the title, reminding myself the purpose of the book, and realign my writing accordingly.

Writers: How do you remain focused? How do you come up with a working title?
Readers: Is there a particular book in which you really like the layout? What makes a book easier for you to read?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

My Silent Pen Awakens...

My pen has been rather silent over the course of the past 4 1/2 years. God has faithfully walked me and often carried me through some very dark seasons of life and these past few years have been some of the darkest. I can't say that the dark days are gone forever. As long as we live in this world, there will always be dark days, dark seasons of life. We so often ask where God is in the midst of our suffering. I hope we will be able to answer this question in such a way that the Lord will lift us above our circumstances to find the joy with which Jesus seeks to fill us.

This is the working title for my nonfiction WIP.
"Through the Garden Gate" is about what Jesus' experience in the Garden of Gethsemane tells us concerning the trustworthiness of God in the darkest moments and seasons of our lives. It has been through life experiences and the faithful preaching and teaching of God's Word that an understanding of this particular moment in the life of Jesus has been born and my faith is built up. I write about it in hopes of developing an even deeper understanding of God and the building up of both my faith and yours. Won't you join me in this journey through the garden gate?