And the Cherry on Top is the Big Apple

shutterstock_129949166Finally I get to tell you a bit of what’s really been going on in my life.

For many months now I’ve been in a state of limbo. That feeling you get when you sense one season is ending and another is coming—but you have no idea what it means.

Dave has felt the same way. And yet over the years, we’ve learned to trust that inner knowing. So this summer, we began to make long-needed upgrades to our house. New exterior paint. Adding a bathroom upstairs. Shoveling out eight years worth of accumulated junk.

This fall, we learned what we were really up to. We got news that Penguin Random House was moving one of its imprints—Convergent Books—to the New York City offices, and was inviting Dave to move with it. As many of you know, Dave helped to launch Convergent a couple years ago while working as an editor for WaterBrook Multnomah.

On Tuesday, Crown Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House, announced the move, along with some other changes at the company. An article in Christianity Today noted, “Convergent, which focuses on books for ‘progressive and mainline Christians who demand an open, inclusive, and culturally engaged exploration of faith,’ will be led by David Kopp.”

Since I write out of my life so much (a nice way of saying I’m good at spiritualizing my self-absorption), it’s been tough to blog when I couldn’t give you the scoop. Even once I knew what was coming down the pike, it had to stay a secret until it was officially announced. Now that it has been, I’m not quite sure how to explain what I feel.

Honestly, I vacillate wildly between sadness and excitement. I’m devastated about leaving my community here in the Springs—those precious, amazing friends I’ve made both inside and outside of recovery. And moving away from my oldest son will be very hard.

But I’m also anticipating good things. In recent years, I’ve found so much help and encouragement among the tribe of Christians Convergent Books was conceived for. So in many ways, this move represents a kind of spiritual convergence for me personally. I can’t explain it all now, but I think it’s going to free me up to write my next book.

In the meantime, it comforts me to remember that I can carry all of you with me to New York.  And after seven years of learning how to form true connections in recovery, I get to take my friends here in Colorado Springs with me, too. Used to be, when I moved away, I moved away. Out of sight, pretty much out of mind.

Recently Dave and I had one of those long conversations about the trajectory of our life, marriage, and careers. We came to the conclusion that God is a genius for bringing us together, that life has always proved right in the end, and that moving to the Big Apple just might be the cherry on top of our dreams.

This morning, my eyes fell on a book title by Anne Lamott that pretty much sums up my feelings and my new prayer mantra as well: Help. Thanks. Wow! 

P.S. Check out the amazing  Convergent Books blog when you get a chance. Right now there’s a great video by Kathy Escobar on her new book, Faith Shift. 

P.S. S.  I’d love to hear from you today. Please forgive my being so behind in answering emails.  I’ll get there!


The God Box and Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott (photo credit: Sam Lamott)

Do you ever pre-order a book you can’t wait to read and then forget all about it? When the unexpected book arrives in the mail in its sweet little cardboard box, you rip it open and it’s like: Oh yeah! I forgot I ordered this! Yippee!  

 That happened to me Friday. The book was Anne Lamott’s newest, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.

I pretty much devoured it over the weekend. One section I particularly enjoyed was where she talks for pages about using a God box.

The first time I ever heard of a God box, a Kleenex-sized container with a slot at the top was getting passed around at a recovery meeting.  The woman next to me whispered an explanation in my ear. “You can write a note to God and stick it in the box.”

Why would I do that, when I can just pray?

 In her new book, Lamott explains:

“The willingness to do such a childish thing comes from the pain of not being able to let go of something. The willingness comes from finding yourself half mad with obsession.  …With a God box, you’re finally announcing to the universe that you can’t do it, that you have ruined things enough for the time being. Imagine the burlesque look of surprise on the universe’s face! The great cosmic double-take; then a fist pump.”

I don’t know about a cosmic fist pump, but I do think God is always a little surprised when I finally give up.

Every Tuesday, I go to a recovery meeting in a beautiful, old church around the corner. We light a candle and meditate for the first ten minutes. At some point, we pass around a God box, only we use a basket. Now and then, we have to explain to someone new what it’s for. I sometimes nod toward one of the guys and add, “Yes, and when Larry gets around to it, he reads them all.”

Of course, I’m joking.

Over the past few years, I’ve put a lot of slips of paper in that basket—naming people and situations that I couldn’t seem to release by ordinary means. For some reason, taking that simple, concrete action often does the trick.

Sometimes, I almost mistake the God basket for the “donation” basket. I’m about to put my dollar in it when I realize my mistake.

But maybe it’s not really such a mistake. Putting a prayer in the basket is a little like putting an offering in the plate at church. It’s a sacrifice of faith. It’s a way of saying to God, I trust you to do with this exactly as you see fit.

(And if I try to take it back again, please gently slap my hand). 🙂 

I’d love to hear from you today. Have you ever used a God box—and if so, did it help?

Lamott’s new book is available here.