Tag Archive | blogging

The (Unnecessary?) Agony of Decisions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt my church I pray with people. A person can come to the back near the end of the service and ask for prayer, and we pray together. I’ve noticed a very common prayer has to do with decisions. A person stands at a crossroads and wants to know which path to follow.

We’ve been doing that in our life, too, my husband and me. We’ve had some decisions to make about where to live, what to do–big decisions. And yet, the more I think about decisions, the more I think most of us fail Decision Making 101.

First, we usually start with the assumption that there is both a right and wrong answer to every decision we make. Sometimes this is true. Should I cheat on my husband? That decision has some definite right and wrong answers. But we’re not usually asking whether we should sin or not. The question has to do with God’s plan–God, what do you want me to do? Should I choose door A or door B?  Or maybe we should admit it–the real question is God, which path will give me the most successful, least painful outcome?

Honestly, God has used hardship in my life. Often. I have made decisions–and not sinful ones, just regular day-to-day decisions–that have led to hard consequences. And it’s easy to think that means I made the wrong decision. A good decision results in a good outcome, and a bad decision has a bad outcome. So we ask God to help us make the decision with the best outcome, even though He might want the bad outcome because there are lessons to be learned. His views of success and mine aren’t always the same. So it’s not easy to know even in hindsight whether we did the right things or not.

Also, I get the feeling most of us have this idea that God has it all planned out, and if we make the wrong decision, we mess up the whole plan. If I move to the country and I was meant to live in the city, God has to rewrite the entire script. In truth I suspect my decisions, even the huge ones, don’t cause God to scramble and rearrange history.  I can’t unravel the tapestry by living in the wrong place or taking the wrong job or going on the wrong vacation, not when they all have the same moral weight and aren’t sinful. He will weave our current circumstances into the tapestry regardless.

Sure, we can ask God’s direction. And sure, we can look for answers. As my husband and I make decisions here in the future, we’ll look to godly people for advice. We’ll weigh pros and cons. We’ll talk to God and see what he puts in front of us. But in a lot of cases, there won’t be one solid winning path. Then we simply walk forward and remember God is with us always.

Takes some pressure off to know I don’t have to read God’s mind to stay in His will. I have to love Him, obey His commands, and simply keep moving. A wrong step can’t destroy the fabric of the universe.  And sometimes what seems like a wrong decision in the eyes of the world may be exactly what God wants to use to grow me closer to Him.

So. There’s my views on making decisions, in a nutshell. We have to seek God’s direction. But seeking it and finding that He still gives us space to choose–that’s okay. Not every decision has a clear winner. God can use any decision we make to help us, to help the people we love, to help people around us. And that’s a relief. God doesn’t want us to agonize and second guess every time we have to make a decision. Now to put that into practice…

Smoldering Bones

file000535737211Seems blogging these days is largely the domain of young moms. Beautiful, spunky young moms who seem to have a lot of answers. Or very educated men, professors and scholars of all ages, also with answers. Or how about those with a bone to pick who want to steer a person in the right direction. And, of course, those people have lots of answers.

Then I toss my hat in the ring. Woman in her forties. Children mostly raised. Not an expert at anything, and glaringly lacking at answers. But here I am.

I’m also not the greatest sharer (is that a word??). Being vulnerable isn’t easy, but I’m working on it. Might be the biggest reason God wants me to do this. Having no answers also isn’t easy, not when it seems everyone else knows something. In my four decades, what I’ve learned best is that I don’t know much. But that’s what I have to share, so I need to do it.

I graduated with a degree in writing. Summa cum laude. With honors. I could write sensual romance, and I would make money. I could join the ranks of DIY bloggers or budget bloggers, and I might have large followings and be able to monetize my blog. Perhaps my dream of moving out of the suburbs and onto a big piece of land, my dream since I was eight, would come true. (See? I can share after all!!)

However, like the prophet Jeremiah, every time I open my mouth, God comes out. My fiction includes Christian romance with teen/college-age heroines and heroes. I write historical fantasy with a Christian bent. Let’s get real here. Nobody does that. It’s writing career suicide. And yet, Ruins on sunset over the ocean. Nature composition.whatever my plan when I start, most of the stuff I write comes out that way. It appeals to few. (I do have a couple non-genre-bending series in the works, including a contemporary Christian romance series, so perhaps God has taken pity on me, and I will put out something with more mass appeal. We’ll see.)

I don’t have a great niche for blogging except I’m old. No international adoptions in my past. I don’t have ten kids; I have four. No special needs kids. No time spent living abroad in missionary capacity. I don’t homestead or live off the grid. The only reason to read what I write is that God keeps saying Write Down Your Story. Maybe that means someone out there is supposed to read it.  Or perhaps I’m supposed to read it, and God will use my story in written words to speak truths to me that I missed the first time around.

Parents today like expert advice. They like new techniques. I don’t have those, but I can tell you what worked for me. And what didn’t. There are fancy new Bible studies out there with lovely photos and poetic prose about living the best spiritual life ever. I can tell you about falling on my face a million times but still sticking the course. I can talk about failure. I can talk about doubt. I can talk about victories and silver linings. I can say it with correct grammar and decent sentence structure, but beyond that, all I can do is keep it real and put it out there.

If you want all the answers or young, pretty bloggers or great inspiration, this isn’t the place. If you want someone who some days wants to throw in the towel and write what sells, envies success, you’re closer. If you want to read about a common soul with a lot of miles, including regrets, defeats, victories, joys, and tears, then welcome. It’s not always a pretty course, but it’s mine. I’d love to hold your hand and walk a few miles in the sunshine–and the rain–and chat about things.

And even if you don’t, I’ll still be here saying them.  When I don’t, it’s a fire shut up in my bones, or so says Jeremiah (chapter 20), and holding it in is worse than letting it out. I’ve quit blogging more than once, but I always get sent back here. So here I stand. Better than having smoldering bones.

A young girl shows a man where to put the boxIf you want to try my genre-bending fiction, check it out on this site or visit my author’s site www.JillPenrod.com.  view Mt Merapi from cangkringan, sleman, Indonesia