Inside the American Embassy in Iraq

When I was in Baghdad in November I spent many hours inside the American Embassy, including Thanksgiving dinner in the Dining Facilities. Here’s a slideshow of the embassy for a better perspective:

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/02/07/world/middleeast/20120208-BAGHDAD.html

The US Embassy in Baghdad from above

Writing is like placenta turned inside out. Gory and beautiful all at once.

“Writing is like placenta turned inside out. Gory and beautiful all at once.”

– Dawn Richardson

Discipline motivated by love is beautiful. This bit of truth I learn daily these days; these writing days. I am writing a book. I am aiming to get said book done this month. This means seven pages daily on weekdays which is about five hours of writing each day. It’s challenging. I am reminded of a couple years ago when I watched a friend deliver her baby and afterward the midwife asked if I wanted to see the placenta. I did. I’m obsessed with life and building long-term structures which promote life, OF COURSE I wanted to see the placenta! Anyway, I saw it. I was mesmerized. Sometimes turning something inside out, which is a bit of the way the placenta appeared, rips your own substance toward worship. That moment sure did.

So, I’m writing. I met my seven page quota today. I’m feeling a bit inside-out, having peered back at the year 2006 and held it in my writing hand for wisdom’s sake. Inside-out can be a screamingly thankful state.

I girded my writing courage today by reading some writing quotes. I thought I’d share some favorites. Dare to hold your story, your life story, in your hands again and see it from the inside out. Maybe you need to do some writing too, or some talking  – with another human being who will let you process your thoughts. If so, do it. Let’s make 2012 supercharged with life every single day. And when necessary, let’s write about it.

** You are welcome to add your own writing quotes in the comments too. That’d be grand. **

~

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Good writing is like a windowpane.” – George Orwell

“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.” ~Anaïs Nin

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”  ~Anaïs Nin

“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  ~Toni Morrison

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”  ~William Wordsworth

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”  ~Vladimir Nabakov

“When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.”
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

“The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody’s head.”  ~John Updike

~

One Thousand Gifts – Tell me what YOU are thankful for!

As the New Year grins its slightly secretive, mostly extroverted grin, it is a good time to plop into a thankfulness beanbag and meditate on the gifts already in one’s life. It’s a good time to observe blessings and pick them up: like caterpillars on a walk in the woods: think about their many legs, their funny fur, their itsy-bitsy eyes, their specific place in the universe, their unique role in the ecosystem.

Be outlandishly thankful. I once read a quotation that was something like, “If you want to see a promise sprout, bury it in thanksgiving.” THAT is a great image!

Here are some things I am recently thankful for:

1. Hearing a helicopter at night and remembering my time in Baghdad

2. Serendipitously running into a friend and having lunch with her

3. My desk: a friend gave it to me and it’s larger than my last one

4. Having English as my first language: it’s useful and makes me more travel-ready

5. Fingernails. I think my fingers would be able to do a lot less if their tips were more squishy.

6. Having a dishwasher

7. My sister Dori is dating a Palestinian. (It’s so amazing to have the Middle East IN my family.)

8. My sister Dana & her husband work with kids full-time. This keeps them ultra-creative and fun.

9. The internet. I can keep in communication with friends all over the globe.

10. Knowing we are going glory to glory.

11. Hot water

12. The option of buying chemical-free dishwashing detergent.

13. The small tree outside my apartment. It’s sweet.

14. My car. It’s 20 years old and still alive and adventurous.

15. Living near a river.

16. Growing an appreciation for sparkly things.

17. Being able to read Arabic (albeit slowly).

18. Two people this week used their own gift certificates to buy me lunch. The gift that keeps on giving.

19. Being part of pastors’ prayer at my church

20. The archways on my apartment building.

21. Having spent two years in Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. It’s like having learned a new language.

22. Friends who broaden my perspectives.

23. The online catalog of my local library.

24. Freedom.

25. My parents’ courage to support me whilst I go to war zones.

I would LOVE it if you would share 5-25 things YOU are thankful for in the comments below. THANKS!

More thankfulness inspiration here:

And if you want to join Ann Voskamp’s JOY DARE check out January’s Joy Dare

if Mary & Joseph used Facebook

I really like how this portrays the way their friends and family may have reacted to the news of Mary’s pregnancy etc. I also like that it brings the characters to life. I am newly aware of the poignant, “unbelievable”, and communal nature of Jesus’ birth. I LOVE GOD’S WAYS.

Enjoy!