Thursday, February 24, 2005

Short and Sweet

“. . .Therefore let your words be few.”
~ Ecclesiastes 5:2b (NKJV)

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

There is a Season ~ Words adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes by Pete Seeger

Brev·i·ty: noun – the attribute of being brief; conciseness of expression; the economical use of words in speech or writing

It’s been said that brevity is an art – one that I have not yet mastered. But starting today, I’m going to try. Yes, I’m turning over a new leaf, because as much as I enjoy pouring my heart out each week, I’ve decided that my columns are simply too long.

Now I can already hear the “Amens!” coming from the audience, as I’m sure many of you agree. (Remember – I’m cutting my teeth on you, so I’m learning as I go.) It’s just that I have so much I want to share and I hate to leave anything out, but I really need to learn how to use my words more “economically,” as the definition above suggests.

Another reason why I need to shorten my column is because of the time it takes to put it together each week. After pulling songs, poems, Bible verses and quotes from all four corners of the earth, and adding my own thoughts, I have to put them together in some kind of order that makes some kind of sense. After that, I edit my article at least three times, marking it up with changes each time. Then when I think I have it just the way I want it, I read the almost-finished product out loud to Keen so I can hear how it sounds. That process usually reveals several other changes that need to be made. When it’s all said and done, it seems like I spend the better part of my week producing my column/mini-book – which unfortunately doesn’t leave much time for other endeavors, including my “other book.” Since I tend to be an “all-or-none” type of person, it is often difficult for me to find the middle ground in situations like this. As a result, I even considered taking a break from writing my column. But then it made me sad to think about not being able to share my heart and life with all of you.

“If I say, I will not make mention of the Lord, or speak any more in His name, there is in my mind and heart as if it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with enduring and holding it in; I cannot contain it longer.”
~ Jeremiah 20:9

Speaking of my book, I just got it back from my manuscript editor, Barbara Lerma and now I have a whole new set of challenges to face. Even though Barbara has been very kind in saying that she hardly had to make any corrections, I can see all the pencil marks on the pages and am left to wonder how I even got the title right! In fact, that may be changing, too!

As an author’s editor, Barbara has been a Godsend at this stage of the project. She has a master’s degree in English from Emporia State University, so she knows all the rules concerning the proper mechanics of writing. While I may be a decent speller and my grammar is fair, the intricacies of punctuation seem to have escaped me. That’s where Barbara comes in.

Barbara has also made some suggestions about format and content. I guess you could say that it looks like a huge mountain to climb because I thought I was nearing completion. Now I realize that the finish line is still a very long way off. In some ways this book project feels like a never-ending marathon with a bottomless pit of steps and stages. But I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” ~ Galatians 6:9

Barbara has also become a great source of encouragement to me. She believes in the value of my project and sees it as an All-American story that’s a movie in the making. In a recent e-mail she wrote:

“[It] really made me want to stand up and cheer for your triumph after the Supreme Court decision. It is so remarkable. Your story has all the ingredients of a great story: description, dialogue, tension, rising action, turning point, falling action and a triumph--and it's all true, although it is almost unbelievable.”

Well, I think I’ve reached my word limit for this week, so I better close for now. Please pray for me that God will give me the ability to focus on keeping my columns short and sweet, and the strength and wisdom to see my book through to the end.
Until next time…

A New Version of Footprints
Author Unknown

Imagine you and Jesus are walking down the road together.
For much of the way, the Lord's footprints go along
steadily, consistently, rarely varying the pace.
But your footprints are a disorganized stream of zigzags,
starts, stops, turnarounds, circles, departures, and returns.
For much of the way, it seems to go like this,
but gradually your footprints come more in line
with the Lord's, soon paralleling His consistently.
You and Jesus are walking side by side as true friends!
This seems perfect, but then an interesting thing happens:
Your footprints that once etched the sand next to Jesus'
are now walking directly in His steps.
Inside His larger footprints are your smaller ones,
you and Jesus are becoming one.
This goes on for many miles,
but gradually you notice another change.

The footprints inside the large footprints seem to grow
larger. Eventually they disappear altogether.
There is only one set of footprints - they have become one.
This goes on for a long time, but suddenly the second
set of footprints is back. This time it seems even worse!
Zigzags all over the place. Stops. Starts. Gashes in the sand.
A variable mess of footprints. You are amazed and shocked.

Your dream ends. Now you pray:
"Lord, I understand the first scene with zigzags because
everything was new and I was just learning.
But You walked on through the storm and helped me
learn how to walk with You."

"That is correct."

"And when the smaller footprints were inside of Yours,
I was actually learning to walk in Your steps,
following You very closely."

"Very good. You have understood everything so far."

When the smaller footprints grew and filled in Yours,
I supposed that I was becoming more like You in every way."


"So, Lord, was there a regression or something?
The footprints separated, and this time it was
worse than at first."

There was a pause as the Lord answered with a smile in His
voice: "Don’t you know? It was then that we danced!”

“And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”

~ Hebrews 12:2a (NLT)

Eileen and Barbara Lerma