Thursday, May 31, 2007

a gauntlet with a gift in it

So I've titled my blog. Whoopie! Whoopee? Whupie? Whatever. Anyway, it's a little obscure, so I thought I'd take a minute to explain...

"God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers,
And thrusts the things we have prayed for in our face,
A gauntlet with a gift in it."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Hmmm... Actually, I think that sums it up pretty much perfectly. What else is there to say?

Friday, May 25, 2007


We ask ourselves,
Who I am to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
ALL of us.

And as we let our light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-Nelson Mandela

A few days ago I wrote about perspective. Mostly, I suppose, because I feel sometimes lately like I’m losing mine. After the Leaves Fall hasn’t even hit stores yet--and won’t for another four and a half months--and still I find myself obsessing… Are people looking at my website? Will they like my book? What stores will pick up my book? Do I look like a goon in my photos? Well, the answer to that last one is unequivocally yes, but all the same, it’s ridiculous to worry about these things so much. I don’t want to be this way…

And yet there is a fine balance to walk, I think. I often shrink from the spotlight because it makes me feel like somehow I’ve got everyone snowed. Why in the world are you looking at me? Or, maybe growing up in Christian circles I’ve learned over the years that “it’s not about me.” That’s true--it isn’t about me--but I’m starting think we’ve done ourselves a great disservice by trying to remove “self” from the equation.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people pray some version of the following: “Lord, empty me of myself so that your Spirit can fill me up…” It has always felt wrong to me somehow. Don’t get me wrong, being filled with the Spirit is the earthly goal of the Christian life, but I don’t think that the Lord ever intended us to be emptied of ourselves. He made each one of us according to his good and perfect will and I believe he wants me to be present in the things he has called me to do.

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Not that I am any of those things by a long shot, but I believe Nelson Mandela is right. Who am I not to be? I think the Lord wants to celebrate with us in our joys, uphold us in our victories. I think he dances over us--and not because we are empty, because we are full.

So, keep my perspective, absolutely. But just this once: I’M BEING PUBLISHED!!! YAY!!! I’m doing a one-legged happy dance. :)

I hope you feel that you’ve been given permission to let your light shine. You are brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and oh my word, you are fabulous.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Oh my word, I’ve written a novel. Scratch that--I’ve written two. That’s over 700 pages of printed text over the course of not quite twelve months. Yikes. Did I really do that? Is Tyndale really publishing all those words? Are they really going to put my name on the cover of the book? Life is crazy, you know that?

So now I have a website and a blog and I suppose I have to keep up with these sorts of things. But I have to admit that I have no idea where to start. I don’t really journal, instead I’ll write a poem or a few lines or a dozen pages of fiction that is in all reality non-fiction. (Aren’t emotions just as real as events? Sometimes more so, I think.) Anyway, so here I am, typing a blog and babbling away even though I can’t imagine anyone will care to read it.

The truth of the matter is, as awesome and unbelievable and wonderful as this all is, I think God is doing a really good job of keeping me grounded. Though Publisher’s Weekly just featured my book in an article (Sparkling Debuts, May 21, 2007), though my Advanced Reader Copies are even now jetting their way across the US and Canada, though my life’s dream is being realized at the prodigious age of 29, I’m still just Niki. I’m a mom, a wife (scratch that--a pastor’s wife; an entity in and of itself, sigh), a substitute teacher, a Bible study leader… It’s hard to see myself as a novelist. Never mind the fact that I recently had foot surgery and it’s difficult to think about anything past the throbbing in my toes and the way I’m convinced I can feel the three-inch pins sticking out of my foot. Disgusting. Hardly glamorous or exciting or any of the things I’ve always imagined being published to be.

But then again, who wants glamour? Aaron and I traveled to Ethiopia the day after Thanksgiving 2006 to pick up Judah, and what we saw there has essentially robbed me of any desire for fame or fortune. Not that I don’t have moments (okay, long, uninterrupted stretches) when I wish more than anything else to be known. “See me! Love me! Think I’m wonderful!” But then something happens in my life that snatches my head out of the clouds and plants my feet firmly on solid ground. I’m thankful for that. It’s a scary prayer to pray, but nonetheless: “Lord, keep me humble.”

It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? When I look in a mirror, all I see is me. When I have the foresight to turn around, the world becomes a very big place and I am nothing more than a speck of sand on a breathtaking, endless beach. I’m okay with that. It’s enough to simply be a part of it. And, speaking of perspective, it does me good to pull up this picture whenever I start feeling special, important: Two little girls begging on the streets of Addis Ababa. Who am I to long for glamour?