Mosaic of Grace

writing about grace

God is with us, always. God is with you, always, God is with me, always.

God is with us when he answers prayer. He is with us when it feels as though prayer is not being answered. He is with us when we can’t find words for our prayers – and He with us when we don’t pray at all. That’s because neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Bloggers have been challenged by James Prescott, the author of the upcoming book, Mosaic of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives, to blog about what grace means to them. A section of my own book, Everything to God in Prayer: A Writer’s Weekly Devotional, shares exactly that. Here it is.

mosaic of grace

In January 2013, I needed to have 18 inches of my colon removed. Although the surgery was unpleasant, I was assured that it was successful and that I’d soon be feeling much better. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. And, by the time the resulting complications were discovered – over the Fourth of July weekend – the surgeon told me that, without emergency surgery, I might not survive the night.

It was a holiday weekend, remember, so the surgery department was closed. As I was being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon was flipping on light switches and the medical team was bustling about. My body was bloated with disease and all was uncertain.

I briefly closed my eyes and, although I could still hear what was going on, I felt instantly transported to a sunny beach, sitting crossed legged on warm sand under a bright blue sky. I could hear the waves lapping against the sand and I could smell the earthiness of the beach and the tang of the water. I felt myself scoop up two handfuls of sand and hold them up to the sky.

As the crystalized grains of sand slowly fell back down to the earth, I felt myself saying, “It’s all in your hands, God.” In my vision, I felt myself smiling and, although I never saw any image of God, I certainly felt the reassuring returning smile.

So, I was totally at peace going into my surgery, which was an amazing gift. The eternal truth that nothing can separate us from the love of God – well, at that moment, I could touch that truth, see it, hear it, taste it, smell it. It was that real and nothing has been the same, ever since.

mosaic

I love the concept of a mosaic of grace – and here is what I had to say about mosaics in my book:

My hometown – Lorain, Ohio – is known as the International City in honor of the large numbers of immigrants who settled here because of manufacturing jobs in steel, ship building, auto assembly and more. Although many manufacturing plants have closed or shrunk in size, Lorain remains rich in ethnic and cultural diversity.

One well known Lorain native who takes pride in this diversity is Nobel Prize-winning and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Toni Morrison. She has also been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – and so our city is justifiably proud of Morrison, as well, naming the reading room at the Lorain Public Library’s main branch after her.

In 2015, the library decided to decorate the reading room with a mosaic. They contracted with a mosaic artist but, rather than having her create the artwork, she oversaw the efforts of community members who came in to each create their own small sections of the mosaic.

My son, Ryan, and I participated. While you were working on the mosaic, all you could focus on was your own little area of blue or green or brown, intently gluing your shattered pieces next to other broken pieces. But, if you climbed the stairs to the second story of the library, you could begin to see the formation of the waves of lake water, the expansiveness of the sky, the gleaming of the sun.

You could see people enjoying a boat ride down Lorain’s Black River, smile at the birds soaring above the Bascule Bridge – and appreciate the open book added to the mosaic as a reminder that books connect us to our world. In other words, the jagged pieces/parts began to look like a full picture from this higher perspective.

Think how wonderful it would be if, in life in general, all you needed to do was take a few steps back or climb a set of stairs to see the full picture! Think how many hurt feelings this could prevent, how many arguments it could save, how many dead ends you could avoid. But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The reality is that only God can see all. The challenge, then, is to continue to develop trust in God, even when life isn’t going well, relying on fellow Christians for support – and then supporting other people whenever you can.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12)

Praise God for the unending gift of grace!

 

 

Shock the Clock: Time Management Strategies for Writers & Other Creatives

shock the clock book review

I first met Jeanette Levellie where I often meet other writers nowadays: on Facebook. Amid all of the sea of posts, hers stood out for me because she has a combination of traits that I find very appealing: a strong faith and a joyous attitude. Jeanette is serious about her faith without feeling a need to take herself too seriously.

We began commenting on one other’s Facebook pages and I ended up interviewing her twice for Gate Beautiful, an Internet radio program for Christian writers: once about her book, The Heart of Humor – and then about her book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top.

Each contains plenty of insightful, delightful material, devotionals best described as inspirational humor. The story I remember most? When she went for an outdoor stroll with her husband, a pastor, to discuss how they would handle points of disagreements more maturely in the future. Then, they both bent over with laughter realizing that, well, maybe not. Jeanette is fully willing to show her human foibles, no doubt, which makes her material so easily accessible.

I’m now looking forward to her next book, Shock the Clock: Time Management Strategies for Writers & Other Creatives (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) – and the timing is perfect since I’ve made a commitment to be more efficient with my writing and the business aspects of my writing career.

Why did Jeanette write this book?

She’d read all sorts of other time management books that were based on the writer’s personality type (“mostly Choleric, or Type A,” she says), which doesn’t work for writers who are “introverted or ditzy.” So, Shock the Clock offers strategies for writers throughout the spectrum of personality types.

30-second book blurb from Jeanette

time management book review

Get more writing done!

“If you got an A+ in procrastination, can’t find your car keys, and might need a lifetime pass to Clutterbugs Anonymous, you can benefit from this lighthearted approach to managing your time and getting more writing done.”

That’s especially appealing to me as I am one of those cliched writers who has a place for everything, but . . . you know the rest. I forget what place.

More about Shock the Clock

She planned the book using time management material that she has presented at writer’s conferences. The info was well received, so she used that as a foundation, then “threw in some funny articles on clutter control, a list of 40 tips and secrets I’ve discovered (the hard way) for saving time, and a bunch of fun cartoons drawn by my artist son.”

She says that she tattles on herself a lot in this book, “so my readers can relate to me and know I’m not looking down on them; we’re in this together; let’s see what we can learn from each other. And if my mess ups can help you, I’m happy to share them with you.”

The book is very affordable, too, and would also make a great gift for the creatives in your life. Here’s where it can be found on Amazon.

 

Everything to God in Prayer Mentioned in Presbyterian Witness

Everything to God in Prayer: A Writer’s Weekly Devotional was mentioned in Witness, the e-newsletter of the Presbytery of the Western Reserve.

Presbytery's Witness e-newsletter

 

 The text reads as follows:

Kelly Boyer Sagert became a Presbyterian elder at the age of 16 and is currently serving as an elder at Heritage Presbyterian Church. She offers free spiritual writing classes to the community each month and will be providing leadership training in March and April at three locations for people wishing to start their own spiritual writing ministries, the latter thanks to a Presbytery Vital Congregations Network grant. She recently facilitated the “Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography” seminars at the Presbytery’s EmPoWer event.

Her recently published book Everything to God in Prayer: A Writer’s Weekly Devotional (Loconeal Publishing, December 2015), contains 52 devotionals targeted to writers and other creative types, with each one containing traditional devotional elements along with writing exercises to delve more deeply into the concepts presented. This is Kelly Boyer Sagert’s thirteenth book and the foreword is written by the Honorably Retired Reverend Lou Will.

Devotional book review

Order the devotional book in paperback, hardback or e-book (Kindle or EPUB). Contact me if you’d like for me to speak to your conference or group.

In the News: Ruby for Women

I’m grateful for the attention I received in Ruby for Women! I encourage you to check out my interview on page 59 — but also the entire site, including its online magazine and blog.

Ruby for Women

Christian Writer’s Conferences & the Critique, Part 3

writer's conference feedback

Offer feedback on the writing itself, NOT on the writer

No matter what style of critique you choose to include at your conference, it’s crucial to set guidelines for how to critique. One hard and fast rule of mine is that everyone must stick to offering feedback on the piece of writing NOT on the writer himself.

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Christian Writer’s Conference & the Critique, Part 2

If you decide to include critiques at your conference, here are options:

constructive criticism

It’s all about constructive criticism . . .

  • Let everyone who wishes to read have a chance and have the facilitator share what resonated best about the text.
    1. Advantage: everyone gets a positive affirmation about his or her work, which encourages more sharing, especially among newer writers.
    2. Disadvantage: some people may be left wanting more.

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Christian Writer’s Conferences & the Critique, Part 1

open mic critique

Should you or shouldn’t you? Offer critiques of other people’s work as part of a Christian writer’s conference, I mean — whether written comments on submissions or as part of a discussion.

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Spiritual Writing Exercise: On the River’s Brink

spiritual writing: river

Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the beauty of the river.

Step 1: Experience Water Directly

Pour yourself a refreshing glass of cold water. As you drink, notice how it feels on your lips, on your tongue, in your throat. Touch the water. Splash some.

There is something so compelling about water, isn’t there? So life affirming.

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