Monday, November 19, 2007

A Failure and a Wound

Hey lovies,

This blogging every day thing has been great, but I'm afraid I've overextended myself. Again. You didn't really think I'd make it to the end did you? For a moment I did. Really! But now I have to burrow deep into the work of this novel, and it's going to take everything I have.

Sorry I didn't make it til the end.

My deadline for Wounded is November 30th, and I'm going to go down under and not come up again until I'm done. I'm limiting email, IMing, everything. Until the 30th it's just going to be Jesus and me, and this task ahead. I'll meet you back here on December 1st.

Here's a taste of Wounded. I hope it will remind you to pray for me.

Pax et Bonum! And Happy Thanksgiving, and beginning of Advent!

Coming September 1st, from David C. Cook.

Chapter One

Ash Wednesday

Gina Dolores Merritt

I was sitting in church at the Vineyard when Christ first wounded me. Just minutes earlier Ben had fingered a cross of ashes onto my forehead.

Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

Sounds like a plan, I thought, and shuffled away from him.

Throbbing pain in my knees heavied my steps--that and the grim mood of my fellow Vineyard pilgrims. The way we trudged back to our seats you’d think Ben had forced us to peer in into our own caskets, our footfalls a solemn largo cadence on the red, flecked carpet, and our movements as stiffly ceremonious as mourners in a funeral procession.

For the heck of it, I pictured my tombstone:

Here lies Gina Dolores Merrit,
the world’s oldest twenty-four-year-old.
Mother of Zoe.

I filled the blank space after Zoe's name with all of the love and lovers I didn’t have.
I could’ve throw down a punch bowl like Florida Evans did on Good Times when her husband died, shaking my fist to the heavens shouting Dang! Dang! Dang!

She didn’t say dang, but I don’t cuss.

That was my darkest moment during the whole service, and it had more to do with my life.
We didn’t do somber much at the Vineyard. Not that we were shallow, but lets face it, joy themes garner more enthusiasm, one notable exception being Ash Wednesday. Today until sundown those of us who’d gathered together in Jesus’ name would wear our dustings of ash like nuns and monks wear habits.

I sat back down in my seat in the near empty balcony, thinking of how our Ash Wednesday service made me feel so happy, deep down in my ragamuffin soul. I could practically hear the dulcet sounds of Donny Hathaway’s crooning, coursing through my soul with the slow ease of the opiates I used to take for pain.

“Take it from me someday we’ll all be free.”

Amen, Donny!


One day I’ll lay down my pain-filled body and bipolar brain, stuttering between dancing with glee and lying in sackcloth and ashes. I’ll take off the cheap polyester dress of corruption, and put on glittering incorruptible resurrection couture. I’ll be with Jesus. Face to face. That’s all I wanted. All I wanted in the whole wide world.

Now seated, I closed my eyes to press the mute button on my senses and surrendered to the sweet delights of silent contemplation—if you can call our worship band softly playing Hillside praise songs silent. But I could contemplate with that. Ben had already darkened the sanctuary so we could focus on an image of Jim Caviezel hanging on the cross. The audio/visual team had projected him onto a giant screen hovering above the worship band.

I definitely wanted to avoid looking at stills from The Passion of Christ. Personally, I found Caviezel way too good-looking to play Jesus, especially when he smiled—which I’ll admit he didn’t get to do much of in the movie. I mean, come on, he played J-Lo’s boyfriend in Angel Eyes for crying out loud. If I looked at him, I’d never get my holy groove on.
So, having avoided movie magic, I did what old, black, charismatic folks sing about and kept my mind stayed on Jesus.


I hugged my arms to myself and wrapped God’s peace like a soft, soothing blanket around my fibromyalgia-broken body. Exhaled. Burrowed my weary soul deep within the consolation of Calvary.

There’s my comfort. The only reason I’m still alive.

Unlike the other crosses in my life, the marking on my forehead, that looked more like a plus sign to tell you the truth, caused me no discomfort. The migraine headache clawing its way up the base of my neck however, raged on like the great tribulation. My limbs burned like they’d been injected with liquid fire, and my knees, two circles of misery, heralded “ouch!” like a couple of talking drums.

I didn’t use drugs, not even prescription ones. None of them—and I do mean none—worked once the “honeymoon” period passed. Now just a few simple words kept me sane in chronic pain, if you could call a bipolar sistah with fibro, who took prayer over Percocet sane.

My prayer?

Share with me, Jesus.

A breath prayer I’d come up with as homework when Ben decided to do a series on the Spanish mystics, St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the cross. I dug my little prayer because it was my way of asking Jesus to bear my cross, while at the same time opening my hands to receive a little bit of His.

Yeah. I knew I couldn’t really take on the suffering of Jesus. But if even the desire to give Him a modicum of relief from the agony of the cross pleased Him…

Heck yeah.

Once again I opened my eyes to see if the image on the big screen had changed.


Jim Caviezel still looked like ground chuck. I squeezed my eyes shut again, my thoughts flying back to Jesus.

You could have could have pulled rank, being God and all, and busted up out of there, leaving the cross far behind You.

But You didn’t.

You knew nobody would take care of our sin problem like You would. And there you hung, naked and nailed through the hands and feet. Your side pierced by a sword. And though none could see it, except maybe your mama, your very heart impaled for the love of us.

Oh, my precious, magnificent God.

Share with me, Jesus.

I could understand what happened if there were something special about my worship, but I don’t think I did anything different than what everybody else gathered there had done. Yet, torrents of luxuriant peace flooded my very being. The grace of it spread through me so profusely that I opened my eyes from the shock of it, and found Jesus, not Jim Caviezel standing right in front of me.

His countenance shone with such blazing brightness tears filled my eyes and I blinked to shy from the pure light of His radiance. All the colors of the prism danced within His body. I think I heard music, unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It felt as if my heart stopped dead.
My breathing ceased and my thoughts, a tangle of questions, halted as if I’d finally found the center of centering prayer. All awareness of anything and everything else in the room vanished.

Time stood still.

Angels must have froze and watched with stunned silence.

The Son of God Himself knelt before unworthy me. He picked up my hand and his mouth descended, then Jesus, with the gentleness of an ardent lover kissed me, leaving a perfect red rose in my hand.


Elysa said...

WOW! I'm sitting here thinking that its no wonder you're worn out...completely spent. I can't even imagine what you've gone thru to write this....and I don't mean just what you're dealing with right now, I mean all the years of living that got you to the place that THIS could be written by you.

Oh my dear Mair...I think God's creating a masterpiece. Actually, I KNOW He is...YOU are His masterpiece, and I'm pretty sure this book is going to be a direct reflection of that.

Praying for you precious one as you fight to write this book. Satan's going to be coming against you even more rabidly because I'm thinking that WOUNDED will be used to heal a lot of wounds, and we know he does NOT want to see that happening.

Oh Lord...I pray a hedge of protection about Mair. Not because I have power, but because YOU have power. I pray that your strength will be with her. That your rest will be with her. That your annointing will be on her. That NO weapons formed by the evil one will be able to stop her from carrying out the work that You've given her.

Thank you Lord that YOU who began a good work in Mair will be FAITHFUL to complete it. Thank you, Lord, that by YOUR stripes we are YOUR stripes MAIR is healed.

Hold nothing back, Lord.

Give her ALL she needs.

Make your provision supernaturally mighty.

May all marvel at your wondrous deeds.

May ALL this be used for Mair's good and Your glory.

And most of all, may love prevail.

Thank you, Father.

I pray all this in Jesus' name and on behalf of my wounded, tired sister.


Alison Strobel Morrow said...

Oh wow. Seriously Mair. Wow.


LOVE this. Good luck these last few weeks, sister. You have a beautiful story going here, and if this chapter is any indication it's going to be one powerful story.

Elysa has inspired me...

Father God, hold your Mair in your hands, surround her with your comfort and peace and love and protect her from the physical pain that haunts her so often when she answers your call. Bear her up, fill her well of creativity to overflowing, give her solid sleep at night and crisp alertness during the day. Give her peace at home and rest in her mind so she can focus on the task at hand. Flood her with encouragement and confidence in this story. Speak through her to your hurting children.

In the name of your perfect son, Amen.

Niki said...

PLEASE tell me I get to help promote this book!!! WOW. I feel a little inadequate to leave you this glowing comment. Besides, I'm speechless...really. I CAN NOT WAIT to read the rest. May God bless you as you finish it up. Peace to you friend! Blessed Peace!

Elysa said...

Still praying, Mair. You have been in my thoughts throughout the day.

Joe said...

Pardon me, but, uh, is this the SAME "ragamuffin diva" that I've been conversing with over a period of time through blogland? Holy crap, Claudia!! I didn't know you were so gifted, talented and a published author, to boot. (Well, I know you are gifted and talented ... but WOW!!)

It's been a long time since stopping by and saying something. I've been living "life on life's terms" and I've been doing a crappy job at that, too.

But 'tis the season to be jolly. (Eh, OK ... whatever.)

I am so happy for you and your success. You are an inspiration to me. Keep going and I'll gently remind myself that God loves me no matter what or how or where or when I screw up.

Grace and peace,


Anonymous said...

Chapter ONE.......absolutely beautiful. Thank you for that.

Elysa said...

BTW, can I be honest and tell you that I'm tired of seeing that "FAILURE" above your post? You are NOT a failure! You are being smart and doing what you need to do to accomplish the task God has put before you.

So you better quit talking bad about my friend, Mair, you hear now?

Rachelle said...

Come back, Mair, I miss you!

Paula said...

This writing is the essence of the beautiful woman I'm privileged to know. I can't wait to read it. It's going to be the real you in ways your other books have only hinted at. (And I've loved everything you've written.)I can't wait, dear friend. Not just to read it, but to take the journey with you. I'll bet I won't walk it without being changed. I feel the Lord ready to meet us there.

Breath through Claudia Mair. Let that Spirit which resides in her fill her. May Your presence be tangible as she writes this missive. I see Your anointing all over this week. Protect Your daughter as she writes. Give her Yourself in new and beautiful ways. Draw her close and empower her for this work. Don't let her cower. Don't let her be afraid of it. Give her supernatural faith in what YOU are doing in her and through this work. A confidence in it like nothing she has ever know. Silence the one who would push her down, hold her back, and gag her mouth so that the truth You want spoken would be squelched. Give her a strong, loud, confident, prophetic voice. Let it resound above the noise and in the quiet places of her heart let it be real and true. May You be glorified through Your daughter.

Mair--as I was praying I had this sense of God cloaking you in a soft, warm blanket. Wrapping you up in love and gentleness and protecting you from the cold and hail outside as Your write. A sense of His incredible love for you and of the sweetness He feels toward you. He's right there with you as you undertake this task.

Danica/Dream said...

This is wonderful! Praying you've been able to come up for air now and are able to enjoy yourself.