Friday, June 08, 2007

The let me in!

Often people ask me to submit work, and I do it most of the time. The funny thing is, I always assume my work is going to be rejected. I mean, every writer gets rejected. Dave Long rejects me so much I just automatically assume he's going to do it. Well, I used to. I will never, ever submit anything to Dave Long again. Ever.

Of course, one should never say never. I may send him something later on tonight.

Anyway. When I was with NavPress, I was crazy about the Editorial Director Jeff Gerke. We'd volley hilarious emails back and forth, and even now we still keep in touch. He wrote me one morning and told me that Jay Payleitner was accepting submissions for the One Year Life Verse Devotional Bible and that he wanted editors to send him writers. Jeff asked me to submit something.

Me, in a Devotional Bible???

Yeah, right. But I thought about it, and decided to take the challenge.

Have you ever thought about what your life verse is? One of my best friends said her life verse is Psalm 16:6, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Another friend didn't say that was her life verse, but she was telling me she had a good life. She always felt like her testimony should have had a few more rough edges. I thought that could be her life verse, too. I'm glad for friends like these. Boundary lines that have fallen in horrible places suck. God knows they do.

I knew right away what my life verse is when Jeff challenged me to submit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:3. Sometimes I know what it means. Sometimes I don't. I think I will spend my whole life learning it. I've spent my whole life so far, just beginning to know it.

I wrote about what it's like to worry when you send your kids to school with holes in the knees of their jeans that child protective services is going to come after you. And you know, it didn't occur to me to sew those pants. I was too depressed to think of that. Or do it, God help me. I wrote about how we always ran out of food stamps before the end of the month. I knew this reality before senators or congressmen "experimented" and found out how hard it is to feed a family on those rations. And I worked while getting the food stamps! Real live jobs. And I have a college degree, beloveds. I still couldn't make enough to live well on, and I'm not alone. We weren't living in luxury, either. Well, we were compared to people in other parts of the world. This is American poverty, and it isn't even Appalachian mountains American poverty. But that wouldn't have been much comfort on days when I didn't have much to feed my kids, and I was working. But God always provided. I did feed them, even if it was a lot of ramen noodles. Some people don't get ramen noodles, or even clean water. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. I was rich at my poorest compared to some.

I wrote about Jesus entering into poverty with me, and gathering my harvest of sorrows to Himself, always beckoning me to come to him. He is rich, but became poor for our sakes. For all of our sakes. He knows what it is to have less than is expected of you. Yeah. Let that penetrate your mind. Come on, what is more humbling than the incarnation? God in a diaper.

Anyway, I wrote my short entry for The One Year Life Verse Devotional Bible, and then I got back a cryptic email six months later that told me a whole lotta nuthin'. So, I assumed I was out. I always assume I'm out, but tonight I got a "final" email that said my entry was selected. In my bio I said I was "a second generation welfare mother struggling to get out of poverty with grace--and a little chuzpah." Ken will have a stroke if he ever sees that bio. But it was the truth at the time.

You know what? Things are different now. I'm not on welfare at all. I actually am a rare bird. I'm a CBA writer who makes a living, a lean living, but a living just the same, writing novels. I remember when I met my agent, Chip MacGregor. I said, "Help me get off of food stamps." In less than a year he did. I am free, by God's grace, and maybe more than a little chuzpah, from any government assistance. I am praying the cycle of welfare dependence stops right here and that my kids will never have food stamp cards or babies born on Medicaid--unless we live in a country where all citizens have Medicaid, which I believe we should.

I'd change that bio, but it reflects where I was when I wrote it. Maybe it will give hope to people who are broke and broken that they too can be chosen to write devotionals. Ha! I don't know. I just think we all need a voice. It just can't be the middle class white folks saying they're piece. And that's what it is too often in the CBA. Lord, help us. Anyway, Jay Payleitner said the book was going to the typesetters, and if I tried to change the bio now he'd probably have a stroke. At least I'm here to take Ken to the ER. I don't know who Jay has around to help with medical interventions.

Anyway, that's just a bit of newsy news from my big fat literary life. You can pre-order the Bible at this ridiculously long link:

Here's the blurb:

Is there a verse from the Bible that has special significance to you? Maybe it’s one piece of Scripture God used to inspire, challenge, or rescue you at a turning point in your life. Maybe it’s a verse you learned as a child from a grandparent. Or one you recite each morning to begin your day. The One Year Life Verse Devotional contains stories of well-known authors and speakers, athletes and entertainers. Uncover how these key verses helped define people’s role in God’s plan--whether they are Bible characters or ordinary people. Discover God’s revelations to his people through Scripture, including your very own life verse.

Hey, tell me what your life verse is. Or what you think it could be.

I love y'all


lisa said...

woo hoo!!! good news, my friend!w

relevantgirl said...

I have several verses, but the one that stands out the most today is that 1 Corinthians one where Paul says God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

I was foolish, needy, small, weak. And yet God stooped for the likes of me. He rescued me so He could shame the world through my weakness.


ragamuffin diva said...

Thanks, Lisa.

That's a great translation of that verse, Mary.

Shanna said...

The first time I heard the words "life verse," I was fascinated. Still don't know what mine is. Maybe I'm not listening. Sometimes, though, it's harder to hear one's own message.

Congratulations, Mair! What a nice surprise.

Shaula said...

I have recently stumbled upon your blog. Your writing is beautiful, very transparent,and moving. I have not read any of your books, but apparently I need to.:) Thanks said...

Claudia Mair,

Have I ever told you how much you rock? Congratulations on a well-deserved literary coup.

Mine's Phil. 3:16: "Only let us live up to what we have already attained."

and Isaiah 18:30: "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!"

Those were the first verses God quickened to me, as I was turning in repentance and digging into the Bible. He really loves me and doesn't forgive grudgingly.... It's awesome to know that.

violet said...


My life verses are definitely Philippians 4:6,7 - "Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

I think I've said those words so much, they're rubbed into my tongue.

(And congrats too to your graduating son - very fine!)

Robin said...

Mair, chil', don't you know you've got what it takes? You have what "it" takes, and until you realize that fully and completely, praise God for these moments of validation. Congratulations on the inclusion :).

My "life verse" changes because life changes...sometimes at a snail's pace, sometimes mock speed. These days Romans 8:28 is what makes sense of life--"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Isaiah 55:8-9 helps make sense of life, too. I'm GLAD God doesn't always make sense...if He did, He'd be waaaayyy too normal ;).

Joni said...

Congratulations to you! That's quite an honor. You are much-deserving. Don't tell yourself any different!

One of my many life verses (because, like Robin, mine change with each season of life) is from 2 Corinthians:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation [comfort] also abounds through Christ." (2 Co. 1:3-5)

It helps to know that no matter what I'm going through, someday God will allow it to be a channel for me to minister to someone else who is going through something similar. He allows my pain to be a healing ointment in the life of another.

Thank you for being ointment in my life, too, Mair.

Tee C. Royal said...

Greetings Mair, and thanks for sharing this heartfelt look into your life. I'm not quite sure how I ended up on your page (as I was doing research), but I am so glad to have come across it. It is are an inspiration.

I don't have your book(s), but I will definitely be looking for them.

Congrats on your inclusion and continued blessings to you!


Paula said...

You are the perfect person to write about a life's verse. I love it.

Mine? When I was a little girl and feeling very sad one day I opened my Bible to Romans 8:28. I hung onto that promise for years--that God was going to work all for my good, even the stuff that made me unhappy.

In my 30's I grabbed onto the vine verses from John. I wanted desperately to be attached to Jesus--to abide in Him, to remain in Him, to be nurtured in Him and bear fruit.

I also hung onto the one that promises that His mercy is new every morning. I knew I couldn't be perfect and I'd spent so much of my life under a cloud of guilt for my failures. Waking up to new mercy each day changed my life.

Then, about the time I started writing for publication He gave me this one: "I will lead you on the best pathway for your life. I will guide you and watch over you." (Psalm 32:8) I've clung to that through a bunch of disappointments and discouraging times in my "real life" as well as my journey to publication. Sometimes the crap of life wants to overwhelm me, but I try to hang onto the truth that My LORD has His best in mind and is leading me on the path HE has chosen.

upwords said...

Oh yeah! Congrats. :)

Jonea said...

I think that my life verse is Micah 6:7. I read it in the King James Version when I read it so that is the version I like the most it says: He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
I guess it is my life verse when I was trying to do all these things to make this Christian lifestlye work for me. I was trying to sort through people's voices and God's voice and my voice. It was a really confusing time in my life and I cam upon this verse, not by coincidence I guess and it just hit me! "This is the purpose of my life to love others, to serve others and to humble myself before God! What more can a person want from life?

Candy said...

How cool is this! You are perfect for writing a devo for a life verse. I'm so very glad they included you.

Today my life verse is Jeremiah 15:16. "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty." It reminds me who it is that keeps me alive and where to go when I'm hungry.

Dee said...

My life verse is Hebrews 11:1. It helps me calm down when I can't see my way through. And it whispers to me that I don't have to see my way out just believe.

Congrats, girlfriend!

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