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Toes in the desert

It is time to pick up all the dropped balls.

I had a really good excuse for letting them drop, but Michael is home now, so I must return to my world of responsibility and initiative.
Darn it.
As stressful and exhausting as single parenthood was, I have to admit that I relished the freedom of letting things go. I enjoyed skipping practices and meetings, and the fact that my house was a sticky, cluttered disaster actually made me a tiny bit happy. “Sorry,” I told myself, “you have neither the time nor energy to clean. Let it go. Here, have some chocolate.”
So when I examined my calendar this morning and read the entry marked EXERCISE, I naturally thought ah, skip it. Skipping it is fun. Skipping it is easy. But my good excuse vanished with the arrival of Michael’s flight home. Now I have to jump back on the wagon of productivity. So I probably shouldn’t skip it anymore.
I need to wash the dishes. I must sweep the floors. I should fold the laundry. I cannot ignore the practices and meetings. I don’t have the luxury of letting those things go anymore. I unknowingly spoiled myself into laziness. But now it’s time to pick up the balls.
My ball-dropping mindset has spilled over – or perhaps simply accentuated my greatest character flaw. I am lazy. I do not possess the slightest hint of ambition, and I prefer the easiest path of least resistance.
The road less traveled? No thank you. I’ll veer this way. This path looks well-worn and familiar. The clear boundaries allow safe passage. Nothing ominous lurks in the shadows. Yep. This looks good.
Yes, I’ve done hard things. I married a first year medical student. I moved 800 miles from our families and friends while nurturing a medical resident and two babies. I’ve stayed married to a surgeon. I’ve picked up the slack so often that I don’t even notice. It’s just what I do.
But those circumstances weren’t exactly choices. Life tossed me headfirst onto those paths, so I stood up, dusted myself off, and walked. What else could I do? If given the choice, however, I will always choose The Easy Way.
If given the choice, I will choose a grade-level math class over an honors class. I will choose Physical Science over Chemistry. I will choose the SAT over the ACT.
I never had grand career ambitions. I never figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up – and I still don’t. I am a wife and a mom and an occasional writer and creator – but a career? Where would I even begin?
In the deepest, darkest corner of my heart, I want to write a book. I want to compile all of these thoughts and essays posted here, clean them up, add a little here, subtract a little there, and publish a book. And if an agent or publisher or editor rang my doorbell and declared, “I LOVE YOU! PLEASE WRITE A BOOK FOR ME!” I wouldn’t have to think twice. I’d jump.
But it doesn’t work that way. Not even close. My dear friend, Caroline, attended a writer’s conference last weekend (which I had planned to attend, but that ball got dropped), and she came back with an overwhelming amount of information about book proposals and blog analytics and all that goes into the long process of publication. 
I want to write a book. I’m just not sure I’m ready to jump. I’m perfectly content sitting here on my couch, stringing words together that I pray will be exactly what you need to hear today. I like you. You say nice things about what I write. I don’t need a huge audience. While I would love for my words to encourage more fellow sojourners, more readers opens up the possibility of more mean people and nasty anonymous comments. 
Where I am now is safe. It’s comfortable. It’s somewhat predictable. It’s easy. I like it here.
How pathetic is that? When I picture someone admirable, someone worthy to be imitated, I don’t think of a person who fears risk. I don’t imagine complacency and contentment. I think of someone who pushes the envelope – and herself. I think of someone who sees the wilderness and charges into it.
That’s so not me.
(I also picture someone of authenticity, who isn’t afraid to be honest about her weaknesses and fear – so maybe I have something going for me.)
I recently began a new Bible study with a group of ladies I’ve known for years. I’m crazy about them. We’re going through Priscilla Shirer’s One In A Million. Two million Israelites left Egypt with Moses. Two made it to Canaan, the Promised Land. Hence, one in a million. Priscilla’s premise for the study is embracing the life of risk and abundance in order to experience the fullness of God and His blessing.
So these Israelites:
After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. (Exodus 13:20)
They camped at the edge of the desert.  They stopped before they entered. They looked north – which was the shortest route to Canaan – but Moses was leading them south. The scenic route. The forty-year route through a vast wasteland. 
No, thank you.
That’s where I am. Standing at the edge of the outstretched, mysterious, scary desert, thinking, Hmm. Not sure I want to go there. Looks kinda dry and dusty to me. 
So I stick my big toe in the sand. Pull it back. Sit down. Think. Pray. Stand up. Stick my other toe out. Pull it back. Sit down.
For now, I will do what I know to do. I will write. I will pray, and I will write. I will continue reading about writing, honing my craft, collecting constructive criticism, and I will write again. I will collect thoughts and stories and ideas until my backpack is full and I sense God’s voice, nudging me to step into the sand.
Maybe I’ll pick up a few balls along the way…

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2 thoughts on “Toes in the desert

  1. Thanks! I needed to read this and the twenty year reunion post! I'm no writer but my physician husband and I just returned from my 20 year reunion. I'm afraid the ball I've dropped most often in the last couple of weeks is the Beth Moore Bible study that I'm supposed to be working on! I'm going to file away One in a Million to look into suggesting to our group next! Thanks, again for reminding me that no one is alone in the juggling and always feeling that there's something else that needs to be done!

  2. okay… I just read this..AFTER I read your 'Tooshy' piece. You used the same words I did about honing your craft, but I didn't know it until now. hmmm.I don't think that's an accident.go Jennifer. You ain't gotta jump off no cliff. Just keep doing what you're doing-with thanksgiving- and everything will fall into place.I know it.xxxxxoooooo

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