"Writing is an act of worship. It's choosing perfect words and placing them in precise order. It's downloading and concentrating life's epiphanies to a microchip of influence. The purpose of taking pen in hand to illuminate the face and heart of God; and the result is to aid humankind in the process of being changed into His likeness. I can't write unless I am inspired by nothing less than Him--not my ideas or creativity or thought process or experience. Him." Bonnie Saul WilksIt's a quiet kind of Sunday morning as I head out to my balcony, coffee and laptop in hand, chair already positioned in the shade from days ago. These times are few and far between anymore: the solitude of thought and technology woven with the warmth and peace of the unhurried sunrise.
The past few months have not held a very productive season of writing for me, and this blog shows it. Not because my heart stopped thinking or bits of heavenly revelation ceased to break through into my tiny piece of inhabited earth. Quite the contrary. There's been an abundance of life and countless ruminating moments and God ordained epiphanies. Enough that I could have been here--writing--every day.
But my daily routine--even as unroutine as it is--was flipped on its head when my husband became a full-time presence in our home. February brought unexpected news of company downsizing and with the loss of his job came the surrender of a very appreciated and helpful tool: a company laptop he used both at work and home. Owning only one laptop personally, and with lives that are greatly intertwined with the Internet, decreasing from two computers to one was a pinch deeply felt.
I once had a laptop I called "mine" (although I shared it with our kids) that allowed me the freedom to tackle the technology tethered side of my life as I pleased. Emails, spreadsheets, budget tracking, home school, bill paying, social media, reading, writing, researching, etc. were done throughout my day at will. Flexibility is not only a requirement with my role responsibilities, ironically, it's also a key factor in remaining sane on days where schedules are crazy and I log hours of chauffeur time in the car.
But it's the sharing of this one laptop that has strictly limited my time and access, and in turn, has bound me and my words. Often I am too discouraged to write, for the choice between productivity and creativity always looms.Oh, how a week can change circumstances, even when nothing but perspective is shifted. Let me explain...
Writing has always been about a moment of seized opportunity--a Carpe Diem of words and time--when I can't go one more minute without allowing my fingers to speak through the keyboard, spilling inside-out my thoughts and emotions and God's unveiled truths. Purging is cathartic and necessary. When held within, too many words cause me to feel burdened. Heavy. Writing frees me. Without it, I seem to shrivel.
Sensory stimulus is also a necessary part of thought release; my linguistic spring board of sorts. A desk, an office chair and a static monitor do not stir the pot of words in my soul. Give me an open window, or better yet, an unlocked door to the bounty of life outside these four walls and it is then that I am unleashed, free to roam in contemplation and creativity.
I need to personally witness the occasional hawk soaring among the clouds of the blue sky, breathe in the fresh air, regardless of what temperature the digital thermometer reads, and listen to the harmony of a bird's song and cricket's chirp mixed with the intermittent sound of a car door closing or engine turning over. Every moment out there is the potential catalyst for a new idea recorded here.
But it's the restriction of time with this shared laptop that has bound me, and the heaviness of this word load inside me is beginning to take its toll.
I take a step outside. Butterflies are thriving this year. I don't just want to read about them through a post on someone's wall or see them via a friend's Twitpic. I want to marvel at their spotted wings and tongues that curl like cinnamon rolls with my own eyes. And those birds that are a constant presence on the rain gutter above my living room window? I want to listen to them with my own ears and wonder what they're communicating to one another ... or their Creator. Their song is like a beautiful prayer language. I don't know what is being said, I just know that they are speaking and that God is listening.
It's in moments like these where sight and sound becomes the invitation and inspiration to write.
"Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His divine being." Romans 1:20 [MSG]
I look and listen, asking for mystery to be unveiled through creation; for the Hand of Heaven to reach down and write His Words on my heart.
"God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening. Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded, but their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. God makes a huge dome for the sun - a super dome! The morning sun's a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed. The day-breaking sun an athlete racing to the tape." Psalm 19:1-4 [MSG]
A lone bird has flown through balcony openings between guard rail and ceiling five separate times in just as many minutes. I stop. Always stop and give an audience to the comings and goings of God's creatures. She is "this close" to me. Fluttering, even pausing mid-air, repetitively looking for a place to land. But rest is not found here for her. I want to capture this moment on film, but the thought comes too late. Her investigation has concluded and a subsequent choice to locate a wider beam is made. As she flies away, I wonder if God's creatures are as fascinated with my movements and sounds as I am with theirs? I shake my head in answer to my own question. Probably not. He did not create us for them, but them for us.
I pause to ponder and stop to see, soaking in what can only be enjoyed in moments of intermission, and I realize how much I have missed these writing recesses--deliberate sojourns in my day taken with the sole purpose of becoming and transcribing inspiration--of hearing Him in bird's song, seeing Him in soaring wings and inhaling Him in morning breeze. With this computer in my lap, I record much of what I experience--embers of ideas holding the potential of completed word offerings.
But it's the sharing of this laptop that has bound me and my words and restricted my access to opportunities like these. Or has it?
In April, Anthony and I were meeting with a friend at church (actually he was meeting and I was tagging along). Through our discussion said friend concluded correctly that as a family we were sharing one laptop and popped up with, "Could you guys use an iMac? It's an older one, but I don't use it anymore and would love to bless your family." Whaaaat? Within 24 hours we had the computer in our home and set up at the family desk. Every time I walked by it I was blown away by God's goodness and the utmost generosity of this friend.
What tickled me even more was that four years earlier Anthony had shown me an iMac at the Apple store in Southlake and told me that it was the computer he wanted for our family, but we weren't in a place of needing or affording a new system. Within that time frame we went from four computers to one: two Windows desktops crashed (because that's just what they do) and my MacBook died (because I accidentally spilled some coffee on it), and we've been operating with our lone laptop for the past year.
With this gift, God not only doubled the computer access in our home but, more significantly, He also blessed us with the very computer my husband had desired for our family. That's not just provision but Ephesians 3:20 abundance.
Here's how I tie today's thoughts with the blog above: When we brought the iMac home we had the choice of using it as our family computer or setting it up in our bedroom (which is also Anthony's office) and allowing the family to use the laptop. We decided the iMac was the better choice for the family for three reasons: the MB Pro has years of life on it for both Anthony and me, the substantial monitor on the iMac allows us to easily view what our kids are doing on the internet and it just made sense because it was the very system Anthony had talked about for years. So I moved the files I absolutely needed from the laptop to the iMac and relished, albeit shortly, the opportunity to accomplish my responsibilities during daytime hours instead of waiting until evening when Anthony could relinquish the laptop.
What I quickly discovered was that everything I worked on, from finances to personal email, was visible to anyone who walked by because our family computer is located in a high traffic area and the large iMac monitor puts everything on easy display. On the creative scale, I found writing difficult because "A desk, an office chair and a static monitor (facing a blank wall) do not stir the pot of words in my soul."
Within weeks I curtailed my usage on the iMac until the kids had gone to bed (for privacy) and found myself right back in the same quandary I had previously been in when sharing the laptop: working and writing later in the night, or not at all, because daytime hours contained obstacles and evening hours were filled with dinner, family time and chauffeuring responsibilities. The iMac was a huge blessing and joy for our kids, and for that I was over-the-moon thankful, but it just wasn't working for me. Or was it?
Fast forward 60 days, past April's gift and last Sunday's lament, to yesterday's epiphany that brought a large slice of freedom to our household ... okay, really to me. While working at the iMac God asked me, "Why is the static computer out here and the portable laptop in there (our bedroom) when Anthony is always sitting at the desk working? Wouldn't it make more sense to bring the laptop out here so that you can have the freedom you need to unplug and move about?"
*Insert the sound of God's common sense brick hitting me upside the head*
[And there's a bonus ... the kids don't even have to touch the laptop because we have an external mouse and keyboard attached, and we can still see their movement on the internet because we have a large dual monitor set up next to it.]
"There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death." Proverbs 14:12
Allow me a little latitude with this scripture. I know it references our choices in life leading to eternal death, but on a surface level it fits this situation. For months I had been shriveling (dieing) inside--from a way that seemed right--when the answer was in front of me the entire time. God had not only provided a second computer to solve the laptop sharing dilemma, but had also made a way for the flexibility (life) my soul craved. My eyes were so focused on the what-made-the-most-sense-details that I completely missed the forest for the trees. I can hear Gateway's freedom teaching resounding in my head now: "We have to get you to remove your hand from in front of your face so God can show you the bigger picture."
And yes, in case you doubted, God is interested in and even cares about the seemingly insignificant "life problems" such as how to best share computers because we're told that "the very hairs on our heads are numbered" (Luke 12:7), and that seems like pretty useless information to me.
Hand gone. Vision caught. Problem solved. Freedom found.
I am now unbound.