Tag Archives: The Handy Helpers books

The night God erased my manuscript

miracle mileI had been working hard on the second Handy Helpers book all day–first making some important revisions and then focusing on chapter ten. After dinner, I returned to work on it again, eager to finish the chapter. With chapter ten not quite completed, I was forced to quit as my mind was shutting down. Suddenly, the computer screen went blank. I stared at the white screen for a few seconds before deciding that I must have hit a function key and opened a new file. When I clicked the x to close the file, I was asked, as usual, if I wanted to save the changes. Just as I clicked “yes,” I realized I had not opened a new file, but I had actually deleted everything–thirty thousand words gone in an instant!

My initial shock was eased a little as I remembered that every night at eleven o’clock my writing was automatically backed up on a thumb drive. I hadn’t lost everything–only my work from that day. Still feeling the loss and wondering if I would be able to recall all that I had written that day, I went to bed.

The next day I was able to retrieve my backed up work and  easily return to the parts of my manuscript where I made changes. With all the changes completed, I turned my attention to the part of chapter ten I had been working on but my mind went completely blank. Try as I might, I could not remember any of the words I had written. As I struggled to think of something to write, it seemed as if a wall had gone up, blocking my thoughts. Finally, in frustration, I gave up.

Later that night, I was reading my homework for an apologetics class I was taking at church. It was a long reading assignment and not terribly interesting, and I was struggling to stay awake. Determined that I was going to finish, I pushed on through the sleepiness. At last, I completed the assigned reading, but for some unknown reason, I continued to read on. My eyes came to rest on a scripture passage–Ephesians 2:8–“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”

It was at that moment I recognized God’s hand on my writing. I had been working on a part of the book where Beth Anne asks her grandmother to tell her what grace is. Apparently, I hadn’t done an adequate job the first time. Now I had a second chance to get it right. Focusing on the scripture I had been given, I wrote the following:

“There’s one part I don’t understand,” Beth Anne said seriously. “Who is Grace?”

“Grace isn’t a person, honey,” Doris explained. “Grace is . . . grace is . . . well, grace is a gift from God.”

“A gift from God? You mean like a present?”

“Yes, kind of like a present, but the very best present you could ever imagine.”

“If I’m really good, do you think God will give me a present?”

“God doesn’t give us his gifts of grace because we’re good. No one could ever be good enough to earn God’s grace.”

“I don’t understand.” Beth Anne shook her head.

“Let me see if I can explain it.” Doris hesitated for a moment, thinking. “You are holding a gift for your mother, right? Why are you giving her a gift?”

“Because it’s Mother’s Day and I love my mother.”

“Exactly.” Doris let out a sigh. “We give each other gifts to show how much we love each other. But no matter how much love we have, we can never equal the love God has for us. That’s why we can never earn his gifts of grace. He gives us those gifts out of love.”

I’ll never know what words I had written originally. Those words are gone forever–erased by the hand of God. But in their place are words he wanted me to write. I’ll be forever grateful for his gift of grace.

 

2014 in review

On July 15, I posted my first blog. Since then, I have posted 24 more. I have enjoyed writing the posts each week and sharing them with my followers. Please check out my archives in case you’ve missed any. I look forward to even bigger and better things in 2015.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 560 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 9 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I Write the Stories–Jesus Adds the Message.

IMG_0792 (2)I have put off writing about this subject, partly because it’s personal, but mostly because some readers might think I’m weird–okay weirder than they thought.

When I first envisioned the Handy Helpers books–before I even knew what they would be called–I never considered including a Christian element, at least not to the extent that I eventually did. In A Rocky Start, the Snyders are a Christian family that has dinner together, plays board games on Friday nights and walks to church every Sunday. That could have been enough, but it wasn’t.  I needed a Sunday school lesson, so I looked on the internet for some fourth-grade Sunday school topics.  I randomly selected the story of the prodigal son. After hearing about it in Sunday school, Amber relates the story to her parents and they discuss its meaning. That could have been enough, but it wasn’t.  Near the end of the book, Amber is feeling very guilty about some things she’s done. She tells her dad, “I’m like the son in the Bible who wasted his inheritance. I’ve wasted my chance to help seniors.” Her father uses the story of the prodigal son to show Amber how she has already been forgiven. All she needs to do is forgive herself. He goes on to explain to her about God’s mercy. Had I chosen a different Sunday school lesson, the book might have ended in a similar way. I believe I was directed to choose that Sunday school lesson so that the message of God’s love and mercy could be the primary message of the book.

As I planned the second book, Seven is a Perfect Number, I knew it would include an explanation of why seven is God’s perfect number. But there were lots of surprises in store for me as I wrote that book. One surprise was The Servant Song that Beth Anne and her grandmother sing on the way to Phoenix. We sang that song once in church and I thought it was a very nice song. I wondered if there was some way that I could use it in the book. Every week at mass, I would turn to that song in the hymnal and read the words. More and more I began to feel like it needed to be part of the book. Words from the song appear in the book four times and it is crucial to the story. Beth Anne sings it to Mrs. Henry when she is trying to cheer her up. Later, when Beth Anne is alone in the dark on a hillside, she imagines Mrs. Henry singing it to her. Finally, when Mrs. Henry is sitting with Beth Anne in the hospital, she sings the song and Beth Anne wakes up to hear it.

As I said, we sang The Servant Song once at mass. We did sing it a second time a few months after Seven is a Perfect Number was published. I was feeling  discouraged and disappointed that my books weren’t selling as well as I had hoped. In my morning devotions, I talked to God about it, feeling that maybe this wasn’t what I was being called to do. I asked for a sign, some way that I would know that I should continue with the Handy Helpers project. We were in the middle of mass and I needed to go to the restroom. I decided to go during the offertory. Just as I stood to leave, the choir began to sing–The Servant Song. Immediately, I sat down and joined in the singing. I had my sign.”