Sunday, May 3, 2015

A to Z Reflection


When I woke up on April 30th I luxuriated in my bed and relished the pleasure of not having to even THINK about writing a post! I was done with that daily duty, having posted "Z is for Zebedee's Son" before crawling into bed.  But I hadn't rolled out of my bed before I started thinking that maybe I might want to start writing in my journal from time to time. The realization struck me: the habit of composing was upon me! Even though I didn't want to, I needed to write.

Somewhere along the way, the patterns of a writer's thinking had infected me as I blogged along from A to Z. 

It's somewhat akin to the way Jesus worked. He would tell someone to go and do something, and while they were in the process of obeying they'd be changed.  Like when the ten lepers were healed as they obeyed Jesus' odd prescription to go to the priest. And as they went, they were cleansed. (Luke 17:14) Their healing happened while they obeyed!  Similarly, while servants at the wedding feast did his bidding, the water they were pouring into jars became wine. (John 2)

God told me to blog, and as I blogged, my mind became more and more atuned to that of a writer—playing with words in my head, feeling the impulse to record. I realized that I had been changed.

How did this happen? Where did it all begin?

I can trace many slender roots to this story.  But the most obvious one was in Tina's characteristically warm and enthusiastic response to a student's request, "I think studying John would be wonderful!"

She began teaching the gospel of John in January of 2014. But by February, Tina was sick again, and the main teaching responsibilities had fallen on me. Despite the revolving-door visits to the hospital, Tina was set to mentor me during the summer so that I could formally take on the leadership of our Bible study in the fall.

But by the end of August, two unpleasant surprises had invaded my life. Both Tina and my father had become seriously ill and passed away within a matter of weeks of one another. By September, I was moving through a fog. Holding onto the rails of the Word. Leaning on the Holy Spirit for each class.

Beginning with our first class last fall, I tried to gin up support for the April blogging challenge in honor of Tina. It had been so important to her. We'd only need to write a few posts each to cover the alphabet. But by mid-March, as I dealt with health issues with my husband and other family issues, I decided that participating in the challenge didn't make any sense. I didn't need the pressure and no one in the class seemed excited by it. I was relieved that the decision NOT to do the A to Z Challenge seemed unanimous.

Then, early on a Saturday morning in late March, I sat contemplating John 19 and the powerful and emotional story that lay in Mary Magdalene's discovery of Jesus. I toyed with how I would tell that story if I were writing a blog post. Then I saw the problem... M for Mary would happen in the middle of the month, about a week before I got to R for Resurrection.

Could one go from A to Z in the order of the gospel?

I took out a blank sheet of paper and wrote out ABC.
I turned to John, Chapter 1.

Hmm. The Prologue.

A - Announcing!
B - Behold the Lamb
C - Come and See

The titles seemed to jump onto my page.

But would I be able to keep on going?

"D" would be "Disciples Believe" from Chapter 2.

Okay.

I wrote out the rest of the letters from "E" to "Z". In minutes I had the whole plan drafted out. Each letter took a somewhat sequential step further into the Gospel of John.  

"Wow! This would be a great handout for the class! It's like God just gave it to me," I thought. I ran to my computer and typed it in, incredulous.

Looking over the document, I pondered. It's like God just gave it to me.
The next day in church, I was asking God, "Am I supposed to do this blogging challenge?"

Through the next week, I grappled with the question: was God telling me to do this? I would do the bulk of the writing, the class would partner with me mainly through prayer. If God wanted me to do this, He would have to make it clear. I decided to put my toe in the water. I went to the A to Z website to try to understand how it all worked. And that is when I saw the badge.  

There it was... "for Tina..."

I wept.

I knew I had to do this!

With a lot of help from my family, I got a website up and running. I learned how to do the mechanics of including pictures, links, etc. Somehow, I found time to throw words onto the page—words that I didn't know had been living in my head. The house suffered, I lost sleep, a lot of things fell through the cracks. But somehow I got a post up each day.

As the month wore on and the list of remaining letters in the alphabet got shorter and shorter, I was awed by the fact that my initial list (that had only taken minutes to write) was holding up.  Again, I just knew that this was something I was meant to do. The Lord had given it to me, just like He had given me—the Queen of Unfinished Projects—the energy and persistence that I needed to complete the challenge.

So now, like the one leper who went back and gave glory to God when he realized the power of God at work in his life, I can only say Soli Deo Gloria—to God be the glory!

Humanly speaking, I lacked the energy, time and understanding to follow this call, but the Lord was faithful to supply. It's like that old song: "Love supplies, what love demands." My love of God and my love for Tina compelled me along this path. And the God who is LOVE supplied all that was needed. Just as Jesus had promised.


And now, for the requested feedback on how the challenge was administered:

1) Thank you for honoring Tina on the badge!

2) Thank you to Arlee for the amazing inspirations and sunflower pics!!

3) For me, the hardest part of the challenge was the blog-hopping and commenting. Would you consider allowing some folks—maybe newbies—to have a delayed start on that? Maybe allowing them to take the first three days to ease into the A to Z activities and coming on board full force on "D" day (D for the Delay)? Honestly, I think it would help everyone get off to a stronger start, but I can only speak from the perspective of a rookie.

4) It would be helpful for novices to have some tips on comments, etc. Is there an etiquette for that? I was into the second week before I realized how to reply to comments on my blog. In the crush of writing, posting, and hopping, I was totally overwhelmed by the steep learning curve.

5) Is there a place we can go to to report deleted or non-participating blogs or advertisements?

6) I KNOW the hosts pour lots of time and energy into this. God bless you! I pray you do not grow weary in doing good.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! I'm stirred by your reflections. Bless you. I can tell you that I wrote the bulk of my posts in March, lining them up to go live on midnight the day of each letter's due date. I hope that helps in the future. It didn't seem like cheating to me, especially as I also embarked on a challenge to write a novel during April for Camp NaNoWriMo. By the way, you can read about the November's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge on my blog, here:
    http://darlamsands.blogspot.com/2015/04/o-is-for-office-of-letters-and-light.html
    I'd love to see you take part in July, perhaps, when another Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to write whatever you want (like blog posts!) with more relaxed rules than during November. Best wishes!

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  2. Congrats on completing the A to Z Challenge! Looking forward to next year! See you on the Road Trip!

    Mary @ Jingle Jangle Jungle

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  3. Hello there.
    Congratulations on completing the challenge and welcome to blogworld! Now that the challenge is over, we can take our time visiting the other participants...we have until the start of next year's challenge to do so. You are not obligated to visit everyone on the list (I was initially under that impression until I reread the guidelines).

    Death is never an easy thing to deal with, but there is much hope in the scriptures. For example, Jesus would not have talked about the resurrection, would not have performed it as in the case of Lazarus (and others) and he certainly would not have promised it if it was not true. I thought I'd share with you a few verses that give me comfort and hope:
    Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10 - the dead are not suffering.
    John 5:28, 29 - those in the memorial tombs will come out.
    Acts 24:15 - resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous.
    Revelation 20:12, 13 - resurrection of those in the sea and their earthly graves.
    Psalms 37:11, 29 - live on earth forever in peace.
    Isaiah 25:8 - death to be done away with forever.
    Isaiah 33:24 - no one will ever say they are sick.
    Isaiah 35:5, 6 - blind will see and lame will walk.
    Revelation 21:4, 5 - all the atrocities that we face in the world today (prejudice, sickness, old age, ill-health, homelessness, war, even death) will all be done away with.
    Just meandering through today from the Road Trip.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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