Lissa Marie Niederer

Thoughts about faith, family, books, and how I'm trying to make them all fit together!


Count It All Joy

March and I are not friends. I just decided this.

First of all, there is the obvious trouble that all Mainers are experiencing, which is that winter doesn’t seem to want to take a rest already. I’m pretty sure that the snow, which most years I usually like (Am I getting old?), is going to last until Independence Day. They might have to plow for the parade. And the freezing rain this morning wasn’t really on my list of things I like to wake up to. The Australia-sized pothole in front of my house has been a vast ice rink for a good few weeks. But that is all old news, and I guess we’ve all said our piece about the weather.

Second, I have recently started a lovely new job, and I feel like I have had to call out or leave early almost as often as I have worked. Why? Because my family had THE PLAGUE. I would say we had the stomach flu, which would be inaccurate because flu is a respiratory illness, so I will use its proper name: gastroenteritis. And since I am a not-so-closet emetophobe (I’m DEATHLY AFRAID of the dreaded tummy bug!), this was terrible news. I have often said I would endure a cold for the rest of my life if it meant I would never have such nightmarish ailments as those that come with gastroenteritis again. I don’t know that I actually mean that, but I say it when I’m feeling dramatic about recent episodes of involuntary bodily fluid ejection. And since no one has ever asked me if I wanted to go through with the trade, I guess I can keep on using the proclamation as testimony to my complete and utter abhorrence of said illness. It has been one week and one day since onset of symptoms, and though the worst of it was over in a day or two, my poor family was down and out all week (on top of the kids all having colds, mind you), and today is the first day I have felt even 99% percent of my usual self. I missed my best friend’s surprise 30th birthday brunch. I have scheduled and rescheduled and rerescheduled no less than fifty doctor/dentist appointments, fitness classes, work obligations, and parent-teacher conferences. My husband, (poor man), who had the (second) worst case of the plague in the house, also has a huge project due for school in approximately twenty-four hours. Not to mention, the galley and cover proofs of my book needed to be… well, proofed and signed off on to keep this ginormous, heavily-weighted publishing ball rolling. Did I mention the baby is potty training? If I were a swearing woman, I’d probably insert a few expletives here. Some good ones.

Somewhere, however, between the snow, sleet, freezing rain, endless loads of sour laundry, the restocking of my barren refrigerator, and my feeble, post-sickness climb to the top (bottom?) of Mt. Dishmore, I remembered something. Count it all joy. There are people in the world going through so much worse. People who have lost loved ones, their jobs, their homes, their freedoms. People who are suffering, I mean real suffering–the kind my little brain can’t even really fathom because I haven’t been there. No, being sick is not fun. Stress is not fun. Anxiety is not fun. But if I take a few minutes to turn back to God’s word, I see that in it, He asks us to do something that is really, deeply difficult: to consider our trials a blessing. James 1:2-4 says,  “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Even if you are not a Bible-believer, you’ve heard the old adage: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”

So, March. I count you joy. You were exhausting. You were temperamental. You made me think about packing my family up and moving to the Equator. (And I know I’m not alone in that!) But you also reminded me that this life, complete with all its hardships, is a gift, and that each day I am working towards a better version of myself.

The kids are back at school today, tomorrow is April 1st, which  means Hans’ project will be done, and I just received word that The Sky We Walk Upon has gone to the printers. Hooray! There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s called the sun, and tomorrow, when it comes out, there will be an Australia-sized puddle in front of my house for the baby to stomp in. Count it joy. Count it all joy.


No Pressure, or To Blog or Not to Blog, or Let’s Be Friends

Boy, when you sign up for one of these blog thingies, they sure don’t waste any time, do they? It’s like, Hi, we have your email, choose a pretty flower picture, now WRITE something.

No pressure, right? And yet, there is this definite sense of pressure as I look at the blank blog entry because this is my first ever post! Isn’t it supposed to be spectacularly important somehow, or at least informational? Am I supposed to tell you who I am? What I do? Where I came from? Am I supposed to choose only one thoughtful, descriptive title? Because I chose three. You can pick which one you like the best and pretend that is what I wrote. Okay? Okay.

I didn’t really want to start a blog, for a number of reasons. #1. I’m kind of a perfectionist. It took me an aeon to write my first novel because I would write one sentence and then edit it to death before moving onto the next one. Starting a blog feels scarily time-consuming, considering my anal-retentiveness when it comes to “finishing” a book/chapter/paragraph/sentence. (Is anal-retentive a swear? I hope not.) Starting a blog also makes me feel scarily vulnerable, which leads me to reason #2. Starting a blog makes me feel vulnerable. This is kind of like my little lupine-clad diary from when I was eleven, except there’s no cheap miniature padlock on it to make me feel like my secrets are safe. For some deranged reason, I have been convinced that my thoughts will be interesting to the faceless general public that is cyberspace. But, what if they don’t like me??! my inner voice is screaming right now. They jimmied my plastic padlock with a bobby pin!  #3. I don’t have a ton of spare time. (Like anybody does, right?) I’m a wife, stay-at-home mother with three very smart, adorable kiddos, a first-time Christian novelist in the middle of the very long process of getting published, and a part time employee at a children’s discovery museum. Some days I wonder if I will have time to find a pair of matching socks, let alone write a blog entry x-number of times a week.

But, all that being said, there are a number of reasons to blog also, and lately, the proposition has been rearing its head every time I turn around. With a new book coming out, it will be fun to document the process, and maybe connect with others who are on similar journeys. Getting in the practice of writing something on a more regular basis can’t be a bad thing, right? WRITE something! And perhaps opening the diary of my no-longer-eleven-year-old-self will help stretch me in ways I haven’t thought of yet. I read a quote by Dr. Steve Maraboli on Facebook this morning that said, in part, “You were not put on this earth to remain stagnant.” I don’t really know who Dr. Maraboli is, but the quote spoke to me. It’s like my irrepressible need to rearrange a room in our house every few months. Aren’t we all trying to be better? Day by day? So, stick with me while I stumble through this, huh? Let’s be friends.