Friday, September 24, 2010

Life Happens . . . Even to an Editor

I got up late this morning even though I planned to write my blog early. Yesterday, my husband Mike decided for the first time to mow the hill in our front yard with his ride-on mower. It flipped back on him and we spent the afternoon in the E.R. No broken bones, thank God. You’ve already heard of my adventures on the way home from ACFW.

Life happens. We plan our days to accomplish something important, but forget to set our alarms; a loved one is injured, and we rush to the hospital; a neighbor goes into early labor and asks us to take care of her small children.

Life. Minutes and hours tick away on eternity’s metronome. Scripture says our lives are but a breath. We only have so many days, so we cram them full of busyness.

We pick our kids up after school and drive them to ballet, or swimming, or soccer, and they fall asleep before their heads hit the pillow. When do children play? They carry planners with them from first grade on. Their lives are so filled with scheduled activities that they lose the ability to dream and create.

I’ve tried every time-management system available. None of them helped me plan for life’s unexpected emergencies.

Life will never follow our well-constructed plans. People are a messy, chaotic bunch of souls. We can either have panic attacks or we can roll with the punches and pray for a better day tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes, and a friend needs to cry on our shoulder.

We need to make plans for the future, but we need to live fully in the present. Our lives are in God’s hands. When we get to heaven, I don’t think He’ll be handing out gold stars for keeping all our appointments and finishing all our tasks. Instead, I think He’ll be pleased that we smiled at a child, or encouraged a friend, or bought a homeless man a McDonald’s combo meal and a large sweet tea.

Our words please Him. Our writing pleases Him. But our obedience pleases Him more. If the Lord has called you as a writer . . . write. If you don’t meet your word quota for the day because you were busy living life, I don’t think He’ll mind. Keep writing when you can.

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Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!


  1. Yesterday as I mowed my ditches I felt for the first time--out of control and that I could tip over. It's not a good feeling.

    Glad your hubby is safe.

  2. This one really hit home. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Praying your husband's injuries were minimal...ugh!

  4. Barbara,

    I'm glad your husband, Mike is okay. I know all about how fragile life is. Excellent thoughts here.

    "People are a messy, chaotic bunch of souls." Amen for our Savior. So needed.
    ~ Wendy

  5. Since I have an autistic daughter who also has seizures, I live with Plan B in my back pocket all the time.

    Glad your DH is okay! And this is the very reason why I refuse to help cut my mother-in-law's lawn. She lives on a big hill and still rides that big mower at age 78. I'm terrified I'd tip the thing over.

  6. Oh my! I'm so glad he's okay!! How scary. :-(
    AS for children...I will never let mine get overscheduled. No way. I firmly believe they need to run and play, to use their imaginations without us trying to fence them into how we think they should play.
    Things happen so unexpectedly. I'm thankful for every moment I have.
    Hope you have a lovely, uneventful night. :-)

  7. Barbara, Glad Mike is okay. I can identify with life interfering with our plans. The stories I could tell... But eventually I've learned that I mature as much as a writer by going through some of these things as I do when chained to a computer keyboard. After all, how can we write about life if we don't live it a little?
    As always, thanks for sharing.

  8. I've had a big dose of life this week! My mother-in-law had a stroke and is in a coma after brain surgery to remove the clot. We don't know if she's going to wake up or go to heaven. It's touch and go right now. Spending lots of time with family this week. Time is precious! So glad Mike is okay.

  9. Barbara, I really needed this post today. A great reminder to let go of "stuff" when unexpected things happen. I'm so glad Mike is ok, but I know it probably scared him--and you! My husband cut the tip of his finger off in June and when my daughter called my in hysterics, it was so hard not to panic before I could get to them. I hope you and Mike get some extra quality time together soon!

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  11. Thankful your husband survived the escapade with the riding mower.
    Sometimes real life interrupts my writing life. And, yes, I get frustrated. As much as I've invested in my characters' lives--they are paper-thin. Real life should always trump imaginary--but sometimes I forget.
    Thanks for the reminder. Now, to step away from the computer and go sit with my 9-year-old who told me her "hug-meter" was almost empty.

  12. I'm glad Mike is okay. This was a much needed post and it was so sweet to experience it tonight with my children and family. It's hard to live fully in the present sometimes but we did tonight and I know my kids and I both will remember the simple time we spent together just playing.

  13. Wow. What a powerful reminder.

    The world's spinning so fast, I think we all need to time some time to ponder this message.

    Thankful the hubby is okay.

  14. I'm so glad Mike is okay. He's one of my favorite people.

    And, we should all take some time to smell the roses.

  15. What a great reminder to hold our plans and goals and dreams with an open palm. I love the saying:

    Make your plans in pencil... and hand God the eraser!

    And how wonderful to know that He Who holds the eraser is the Lover of our souls!

  16. Barbara, obviously you've hit a nerve here. We all feel that crazy-busyness in our lives. Your post is so timely. My daughter called Thursday to ask for my medical advice (I'm a registered nurse.) When she described her symptoms I rushed over to be with her and her children (four of them from 7 yrs to 2 months.) I also insisted she see her doctor. I was right; she has pneumonia... quite bad. She can hardly get off the couch. So I spent all Thurs and Friday with her and the kids. I'm just so thankful we live in an era when we have antibiotics and puffers. And the silver lining in this cloud is that I spent two days one-on-one with my grand-kids and my daughter. Too bad it takes something like this to make us spend both quality time and quantity time with our loved ones.

    You're right... life happens.

  17. Barbara, your words strike home. They remind me of the saying that, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. Life happens and unanticipated incidents were inevitable while raising my very active boys. I'd plan something only to have it thwarted. I've always been so thankful for a supportive easygoing hubby. Glad to know yours didn't have any serious injuries from his fall.

  18. Barbara -- so glad your hubby is OK. I can relate to your post. You never know what the next minute will bring. I wear a bracelet that says Faith Hope Love. It's gotten me through a lot of life's unexpected events.

  19. I clicked to the comment box to tell you I'm glad your husband is okay and to thank you for being so transparently human in your post. When I saw how many others felt moved to say basically the same thing, I knew I was not remotely alone.

    WHY do we feel so driven? Last Spring my husband retired, my daughter moved home, my father spent a week in the hospital, and my mother was hospitalized twice. None of that was burdensome. They were important, and I have no regret about how I spent my time. But I lost a client at work--frustrated that I didn't meet a deadline that existed only in their minds. Since writing for me happens after the paying job is done, you can imagine that progress there was frustratingly slow. I've felt frenzied and lathered all summer as I've struggled to "catch up," but after reading this I wonder if God might say, "Breathe, beloved."

  20. When I sat down at the computer to write this post, I had no idea what I would say. The first words I heard were "life happens." As much as I wrote it for you, I wrote it for myself. So much of my life has been spent on a hamster's wheel that never seemed to slow down. Now that I work at home, it's a challenge to step out of that role.

    Mike's accident reminded me that it's not what we do in life that matters, it's who we love. So often I've ignored him when I wrestled with a work problem.

    And you're right, Richard. What would we have to write about if we didn't experience life to its fullest?

    Beth, I loved that you stepped away from the computer to fill your daughter's "hug-meter." How precious are the moments with our children!

    Since I'm working at home now, Mike and I eat breakfast together and then go for a "prayer walk." It's amazing how much better I feel when I turn my thoughts to others rather than dwelling on myself.

    Lynn, I do believe the Lord is telling us to "Breathe, beloved." He is the breath of life.

    May the Lord bless each and every one of you with His presence today and fill your "hug-meters."


  21. Sorry to hear about Mike's accident, but so glad he's okay. You're right, when someone you love gets hurt or escapes being hurt, it really drives home what's important.

  22. So good to hear a happy ending to this story. And so good to have the affirmation that although our lives do get messy and refuse to get pushed, shoved and stomped into a neat, square-sided box, God is there, understanding and loving us.

    In 2007 my husband fell off a porch roof (3 days before Christmas) when he was putting up heat tape. He broke 11 ribs and had numerous other injuries. His recovery has been a miracle. Our family spent Christmas Day in ICU, but our celebration was so very heart-deep, just praising God that Neil was alive.

  23. Ouch. It's good to hear that your husband is back home and recouping. My husband gets whiplash every time we go past a tractor dealership. We sold our ranch over 12 years ago, yet he pines for his tractor. I did the happy dance when he traded the mammoth monster for a yawn mower. I feared it would buck him off to crush him or hurt his pride. How blessed you and I are to have our partners for another day and time to sip another cup in silent praise. Thanks for sharing how real your life is with us, Barbara.

  24. I have to remind myself many times that it won't be a book or an article that I want by my side or in my final thoughts as I prepare to leave this earth. It's my way of keeping it all in perspective.