From a previously published author. Apparently my sense of urgency was not something imagined. I can't help but wonder what six or even three months difference would have done. I also can't help but wonder how mine compares, though I'm also fearful to find out. What if I read both and they are good-ish and I get so discouraged I can't write anymore? Maybe such feeling will be the reality check I need to just move on with my life. Or what if they are rotten and I feel bitter? Bitter is a very bad place to be.
(On a lighter note, speaking of other writers doing the same thing I am, but having a wider audience so they actually get read--try this. I'm probably biased, but I think my own parody stacks up pretty well. It might actually be worth reading Eclipse again just to chunk out another one of these.)
I'd like to say I'm working on something original, but my latest pet project with the most potential is a fairy tale retelling. It is true that the fairy tale is a bit obscure and I haven't ever seen this particular story re-told, but I have this nagging fear that when it is finally ready to send out there will be three of the same circulating out there in the black hole of books never published. If this sounds a bit like discouragement, well, that is because it is a LOT like discouragement. This too shall pass.
All of this rambling, believe it or not, is leading to something.
I've been thinking about 2010 resolutions. My thoughts in recent months have been much on personal revelation.* Several discussions here have led me in that direction as well as these three talks from the latest General Conference. There are some things right now that I am struggling with--questions for which my own experience and understanding and knowledge have not provided answers. I listened again to the talked titled "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance" again this morning, and the end of Elder Scott's talk really hits home to me. The italics are my own:
"Have patience as you are perfecting your ability to be led by the Spirit. By careful practice, through the application of correct principles, and by being sensitive to the feelings that come, you will gain spiritual guidance. . . as you pray with all the fervor of your soul with humility and gratitude, you can learn to be consistently guided by the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life. I testify that you can personally learn to master the principles of being guided by the Spirit. . ."
I've lately begun to think that the greatest test of our lives, and perhaps the most important thing we can learn how to do, is to first LEARN and then secondly DO what the Lord would want us to do. Receiving revelation is a both a gift and a skill. It isn't just something that happens at random times without any work on our end. And like with any skill, practice makes you better. I have had times in my life when I have listened closely to the Lord's promptings and then acted on them. Sometimes the blessings for doing so have been immediate; sometimes those blessings take longer to come. But they always have come. I need to get better at both listening at at acting.
To that end, my 2010 goals are fewer in number than last year, and all relate to the BIG goal of fulfilling the plan the Lord has for my life.
1. I will get less hung up if my Martha tasks are unfinished and concentrate harder on the Mary tasks. (Luke 10:38-42) Oops, there goes my Etsy store.
2. I will re-establish the habit of meaningful prayer in my life.
3. I will record the spiritual impressions that I have.
4. I will continue my current course of scripture study, which has been wonderfully effective for me. (In the spring I bought an inexpensive set of scriptures that I have been cross-referencing to the conference talks and the footnotes. It is fascinating to see patterns emerge and passages of scripture that get continual emphasis.) I need to establish this fledgling habit more firmly so that it is a part of my life at least five days each week.
5. I will work harder to maintain harmony in my family relationships--particularly towards and between my kids.
6. I will attend the temple between six and 12 times this year. At least every other month, if not every month.
7. I will get more sleep--my greatest lifestyle barrier to making the others more successful.
I vowed to post contest winners here today, but this post is lengthy enough. Besides, I haven't determined a winner yet. I guess you'll have to come back again.
I've found that putting my resolutions on my blog is a really great way for me to be more diligent about them. While certainly nothing earth-shattering or unique, their nearly daily reminder on my side-bar helps to keep me honest with myself. Feel free to add your resolutions here, or to add your own thoughts on keeping the channels of communication with God open.
*It has come to my attention lately that there are some regular-ish readers here who don't share my religion. Aspects of my faith, perhaps, but our practice is different. A post such as this, with its deeply personal, spiritual outlook and terminology that may be unique to the LDS tradition can seem alienating. Today's discussion is about "personal revelation." This concept might also be termed insight, intuition, conscience or spiritual guidance. And yet, I think it is something beyond all of that. The first two on the list imply that you have some instinct that guides you a certain way based on your experience and personality. The idea of "conscience" is more about simple decisions between right and wrong--a moral compass that guides our actions. The last is closer to what I'm getting at here, provided that the spiritual guidance is coming from without, and not from within. The Mormon story, from its very beginning, is about the importance of reading, studying and learning, but then coming to a place where you ask God Himself to place knowledge in your mind and in your heart. This knowledge seldom comes in dramatic or miraculous ways (though it does), but is more likely to come quietly. For an excellent tutorial on LDS theology regarding this concept, please read this talk/sermon by Vicki Matsumori. She helps to facilitate programs world-wide for the children in our church under the age of 12; in this particular talk she speaks very clearly, concisely, and lovingly about the ways in which our Father in Heaven communicates with us.