An Important Announcement

Hey guys and gals, I have kind of a major change in my life to share with you today. This was my last week as a junior literary agent with Metamorphosis Literary Agency. Since I have mentioned on my website previously about this journey, I felt like this was something I needed to share here as well, now that it’s come to an end.

Nineteen months is a short time to dip into the publishing industry, but long enough for me to determine that I underestimated the challenges agents face, and my ability to cope and to adjust to them. It has been a struggle. After prayer and discernment, and looking towards the future, I have come to the conclusion that this is the best decision I can make.

If you have been following me here or on social media and were interested in representation, I can wholeheartedly recommend the nice folks at Metamorphosis to you for your consideration, but I will not be pursuing a solo agenting career or looking for another agency to join for the foreseeable future.

Since I cannot reach out to all of you personally, I wanted to say (here at least) that I am immensely grateful to everyone who supported me in this opportunity, beginning with Meghan Pinson, who I met at a writer’s conference in 2018 and mentioned that Metamorphosis was looking for interns; to Patty, Amy, and all of the other amazing agents at Metamorphosis who embraced me, believed in my potential as an agent, and taught me about the publishing industry; and to Stephanie Hansen, our fearless leader, for giving me the chance in the first place.

I’d also like to express gratitude to every author who ever queried or pitched to me for the honor of getting to know more about you and your projects; to the remarkable editors at countless publishers I’ve queried (I have so much respect for the hard work you do!); to the event organizers who opened up their doors to invite a new agent in; to anyone I may have inadvertently overlooked, and lastly, to all of the clients that I represented on behalf of Metamorphosis. Thank you.

This website and blog is still going to be a space where I talk about faith, writing and publishing (and other areas of interest) and I hope to continue to connect with people who are passionate about these areas. If that sounds like you, I hope you’ll keep in touch.

Dulcimer

I have a story to tell you that is just beginning, of God’s faithfulness. Would you like to hear? If so, read on.

I started writing at a pretty young age and while I appreciate it, I have always admired people who could draw art or play an instrument. I tried a few different ones growing up and none really stuck…piano, didgeridoo, flute.

When I was 10, 12, 13 (somewhere around there), I became aware of a television show set in the Appalachian Mountains about the English and Scotch-Irish who settled that region, and became fascinated by their musical history. As I grew older, I fell in love with folklore and especially, early American folk ballads.

Among them, I was especially drawn to the fiddle and to the mountain dulcimer. Now, growing up, my father had a fiddle we never played, but a year or so ago, I walked into a music shop to get it tuned and tried playing for the first time.

What I quickly discovered is that self-instruction can sometimes result in bad practices of fiddle playing that can be hard to break later, so I abandoned the attempt (for now). But, I have still been curious about the dulcimer, even though I’ve never tried it.

For a little while now, I have felt drawn to getting a mountain dulcimer. I don’t know why at this point in my life I decided to start pursuing it. I wasn’t even sure what they cost. After some research, I had a better idea of what a low-end dulcimer goes for around here.

A while back, I went dulcimer shopping. I experienced what I can only describe as “shopper paralysis” as there were so many options, but with none of them did I feel a stirring in my heart for, and I was horribly disappointed. I left empty handed.

I now had a better idea mentally of what I sensed I wanted. Realistically, it was never going to fit into my budget. I already had a conversation with God that if He wanted me to take this leap and get a dulcimer, He was going to have to work with what I could afford.

It wasn’t until I was woken up in the middle of the night by the devil whispering lies about God’s lack of provision that I started wondering if maybe I should’ve settled and bought a random dulcimer that didn’t fit my list, when I had had the chance. What if I missed out?

I went looking online to see if any of the ones I’d seen were still available, and that’s when I saw it; a dulcimer that I felt God said to my heart, “This is the one I prepared for you.” It was beautiful. It hit some (but not all) of my checklist, and it was the only one there.

Without going into all of the details, getting there to this particular music shop ended up being a challenge and I felt as if God was saying, “If you want this, you need to go today. This is the way.” I ended up walking 4km, up and down two hills, from the nearest transit stop, passing streets named after saints, and a wooden heart someone had nailed to a tree. When I got to the music store, not only was this particular dulcimer still available, but, the website description left off details.

Each of the things on my list, including the ones I thought didn’t make the cut, were all there after all, as if God Himself had seen my checklist and said, “Anything else?” And who am I to argue? And to top it off, the dulcimer and the accessories came a few dollars shy of the price point I’d given God to “work with”. If I’d bought a pair of strings, it probably would’ve rounded up to exactly that. No joke. It seems like God wanted me to own a dulcimer. So, I bought it and took it home.

Now, the very first weekend I had the dulcimer, I was looking forward to sitting down and trying to learn how to play. On the way home from work that day, I was thinking about how much I loved God, and singing or humming to myself songs about God and praying for people, and, I missed a raised slab of sidewalk, and went crashing, hard, and breaking the fall with my hands.

My palms looked like they’d been through a cheese grater. Mercifully, I was able to get home, unlock the house, and shut the door before the shock caught up with me and my brain registered the pain. I’ll spare you the rest of the details but, there was no way with my bleeding, stinging hands that I was going to be playing anytime soon. I didn’t even have gauze in the house to bandage them properly. It was just going to have to wait.

While I was thanking God for not being more seriously hurt, and for making it home safely, I felt His nudge again that I should practice playing my dulcimer, now, bleeding hands and all. So I found myself strumming and trying to read TAB (tablature) for “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, which turned into “Amazing Grace”, and while my palms were freshly opened and bleeding, my fingers were able to press the frets and hold a pick.

It was kind of around that time I realized, maybe I need to start documenting this journey with this dulcimer because, it seems significant, maybe even prophetic, to not only be facing a mild form of suffering but being called to praise God in the middle of it all, which made me wonder, what exactly does God have in store for this little dulcimer in my broken hands?

Arrayed, Victorious

Meditating on the first two decades of the sorrowful mysteries this morning, I had a series of successive thoughts that built upon each other that I thought I would share here.

I saw an image of our Lord, standing before me, wearing a white robe (like a long tunic shirt, but down to His feet), and across His shoulder down to His waist, He had instead of a belt, what I can only describe as a sash draped across, made out of roses.

I came to understand that this sash was a gift from Our Blessed Mother, who like any loving mother, gives good gifts to her children. The sash was fashioned out of the faithful Rosaries of her children, which she wove into a garment for her Son.

I also had the impression that this was not a decorative sash meant solely for adornment, it was like a military honor, gracing Our Lord in the symbol of victory before the final battles have been fought. For He has already won. I’d like to think (but don’t know if this is true), that the rose sash is perhaps the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, preceding His return.

That was the extent of the image as I prayed.

Rule of Life, Quarantine Edition

For the past couple of years, it’s become something of an annual tradition for me to share about my ongoing efforts to craft and keep a rule of life. Since our lives are always changing, it makes sense that this is something that gets adapted as we face different transitions and obstacles to overcome. If you would be interested in looking at past years, you can find them here (2019, 2018) as well as my initial post on how to create a rule of life (here). Today, I wanted to share about how that’s been going so far in 2020, which has definitely been impacted by recent events.

Mornings

I begin my mornings “in the usual way” (as Fr. Timothy Gallagher might say), with a prayer of gratitude in my own words, thanking God for the present day and all that is to be in it, good and bad, and ask for His help, that by my actions, He might be glorified, and my soul further sanctified. This transitions into my morning offering prayer (the Brown Scapular prayer). Usually after this, unless I’ve taken a brief break, I’ve transitioned to my favorite chair where I keep some of my Bible resources and begin other prayers.

This is a new change from last year, but over the past couple of weeks, I’ve begun by reading a bible verse of the day, and offering a prayer for the holy souls in Purgatory. Following this, I now pray a morning Rosary (5 decades) with the closing prayers. I am working on trying to memorize things as I go, like how to pray the “Apostle’s Creed”, or the “Hail, Holy Queen”, from memory. It’s a work in progress. When the rosary is finished, at the advice of a confessor, I have been praying the “Litany of Humility”, and because this felt incomplete, I wrap it up with the “Fatima Prayer” and an “Our Father”.

Most of my good intentions for prayers during the course of the day were completely abandoned unfortunately. That isn’t to say that I don’t pray during the day. I do. But they aren’t structured prayers like these typically. With intercessory prayers, they tend to be whenever it’s needed — either at the point I am reminded of a person or situation to pray for, or, if I’ve decided to pray for everyone at once, then at that point.

Sacramentals

Lately, with the stay-at home orders, there’s been a lot more time for Adoration, which has been something I’ve been trying to do on a weekly basis, or as frequently as is offered and my schedule allows. With the churches closed for the physical sacraments, these fleeting opportunities are ones I cherish. And our regular activities being suspended, it’s been a creative exercise in finding ways to still keep a sense of normalcy with everything going on.

For example, it’s been two months (here at least) since we’ve been able to participate in mass in person. I am very grateful for the live-streaming masses available from pretty much everywhere, but it’s just not the same. I also found the opportunity to go to Confession once during that time, which has been of great help (even with the social distancing requirements in place). And this isn’t a sacrament, but, additionally, my Bible study group has switched to using an online video conferencing system during this time, so that’s been an amazing way to keep in touch with spiritual friends and still discuss the Word of God together.

Evenings

All of my best-laid plans for evening prayer have gone more or less out the window. I still have a few bedtime prayers I say, as a way to end the day with the Lord. One of the things I’d been exploring was doing an evening examen, and that hasn’t happened at all. With the stay-at-home orders in place for the past two months, it’s really disrupted the daily rhythm of my life, and I find I’m going to bed later, and sleeping in longer, and not necessarily an improved change overall.

Other Matters

It’s been a time for introspection, prayer, and for processing a lot of emotions right now, and if I’m being quite honest here, I suspect that perhaps I’m not entirely alone in this. For those of you reading in a similar frame of mind, I’d like to encourage you to try and keep your heart tender to God speaking, and to be willing to act in obedience on His Word.

Cherish hope.

God has not abandoned us.

The Church will triumph in the end.

All evil is subject to God, who is still in control, and the mysteries of how He works are beyond our comprehension.

God bless you all.

Keeping a Prayer Journal

In the times past that I’ve had the most self-discipline when it came to an active prayer life, if I’m honest, it was because I kept a prayer journal. My cheap spiral-bound notebooks (lay-flat binding is a ‘must-have’ feature for me) became a home for daily check-ins as I recorded whether I’d remembered to prayed, what Bible passages I’d read, and record a few paragraphs, sometimes pages even, of conversations with God.

Creating a structured system, in effect, helped me during those periods to establish a rhythm of daily life and the focus to know WHAT I was going to do, and WHEN I was going to do it. Sitting in my chair, I had my journal and a pen, the Bible (in whatever translation I was presently reading), and a few spiritual books — books of prayer, books on the lives of the saints, devotionals, a catechism.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I am not saying that it’s a clinical habit, boiled down to a list of checked boxes. Far from it. But I have found that, at least for me, having some kind of structure does help with consistency, as a kind of personal accountability.

Most recently, I have started a new journal system, using an Erin Condren Petite Planner. It’s essentially their brand’s version of a traveler’s notebook, and this has been my go-to for keeping track of whatever needs to be done on a daily basis. One of the things I’ve found helpful is to portion off a book just for perennial reference items, like recurring lists, and a booklet of prayers. These are all handwritten in, and then referred to on a daily basis, or as the applicable situation which calls for that prayer arises.

What I really like about creating your own book of prayers (within a journal), is not only are you cultivating a reference section of prayers that you’ve found to be deeply personal to you, but, you’re more likely to use them because of the time (and hand cramping, ouch!) involved in scribing them in. Also, there’s something to be said for the act of physically writing something down as an aid to helping you memorize things, so, I definitely recommend that technique — yep, just like you’re back in school.

Otherwise, what I try to do is include the current date, and have a mental idea (if it isn’t written down already) of what the focus of the prayer time for that session is, and usually, I try to keep track of any intentions that I’m aware of (people that have asked me to pray, or world situations that cause me anxiety, or things closer to home I want to talk to God about). I personally find it helpful to not only pray, but to spend time reading God’s Word, because He definitely has spoken through the scriptures. It’s also helpful to meditate on what you are reading or praying about, and really focus in on that present moment, and on God, and LISTEN.

Image from Pexels.

If you’ve guessed that I write about all of those things too, you’re absolutely correct. A prayer journal can be as short or as long as you choose for it to be. But the writing down of things, especially those revelations from God, are the very stuff that builds your life. After doing journaling for a number of years, sometimes I go back to past periods of my life and re-read journal entries, and it’s amazing (sometimes heartbreaking) to see where I was then as opposed to now.

If you find this an interesting subject, I’d love to hear from you. Got a question about keeping your own prayer journal? Leave a comment. Keeping one already? I’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful. Have you written about prayer journaling on your own blog or website? Feel free to share a link — I’d love to read about it. I hope you found something helpful in today’s post. God bless you.