I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Biggest Loser

I’m a loser.

With just nine days left before the end of November (and a big holiday weekend between now and then) it has become painfully clear I will not be a winner in the 2011 NaNoWriMo. And I was so optimistic back in October!

So here I am, 70% through the 30 days of November, with a mere 5% of the 50,000 words necessary to succeed. So, if 59% is an F, what letter do I get for 5%?  It feels suspiciously like failure.

Failure. I don’t like it. What happened?

Well, I spent one weekend of November with my husband at Fusion, a children’s ministry conference. I spent three days learning new ways to help the children in our community better understand how much they are loved by their Heavenly Father.

In addition, I celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and attended my son’s first football banquet. I spent some quality time with the three beautiful redheads (Allison, Jeshua, and Kaylin) who call me Grandi and love my spaghetti. I spent Friday nights with good friends, sharing dinner and watching Fringe.  

I baked chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bars, and snickerdoodles for my boys. I made dinner for my family almost every night. I read my friend Lisa’s first book, Lakeside Reunion.  I helped my husband with his Algebra homework. I even made my first pie.

But I didn’t write.

In thinking about today’s blog, I ponderered success and failure and writing. I thought about a few of the writers in the Bible and realized they were also some of the Bible's biggest failures. 

Moses. He killed a man, and he disobeyed God in the desert. Then he wrote the first five books of the Bible.

David. He committed adultery and had his lover’s husband killed. But he was a man after God’s heart, and he wrote some of the most beautiful poems of praise and thanksgiving.

Paul. He persecuted the early Christians and kicked against the goads. And then spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel to the gentiles and writing most of the New Testament.

As Amy wrote in her Friday blog, we’re all in different seasons. I really wanted November to be my “win NaNoWriMo by writing 50K words” season, but God wanted it to be my “focus on the people I love” season. And no matter how I kick against the goads, God’s way is always the best way.

If I look at November through God’s eyes and His plan for me, it was a success. I am thankful that He is in control, and I'm thankful for the opportunities He gave me this month to love my family. In fact, I wouldn’t trade a million best sellers for the experiences I shared in November with the people I love.   

Now, bring on JanNoWriMo!

I realize my last three blog posts have contained a recipe. I thought I'd make it four!   =)

Pumpkin Bars
3 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 29-ounce can pumpkin (NOT Pumpkin Pie Mix)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
 ¾ tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp clove
1/8 tsp cardamom

For Frosting:
4 ½ ounces cheese cheese (not light), softened
¾  cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
Pecans halves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, oil and butter. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cardamom. Stir into batter until well combined, and mostly smooth. (Don’t over mix.) Pour batter into an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

For frosting, in a medium bowl, combine softened butter and cream cheese using a mixer. Work in the powdered sugar with the mixer. Finish by blending in the vanilla. Frost and cut into bars. Garnish  each with a pecan.

~Heidi Larson Geis


  1. What a beautiful post, Heidi. And a sweet testimony of your priorities being right where God wants them to be. I hope your JaNoWriMo is a great success!

    I'm looking forward to trying this recipe.

  2. Heidi! Love this post... especially since I didn't even get 5% written. lol And I'm with you on the JanNoWrMo! By then maybe I'll be finished with my current WIP. And thanks for the Pumpkin bars recipe.

    Hope to see you at DT!

  3. Heidi, having been in your home (too briefly), I read God's Seal of Approval all over this post. These invested experiences are precious seeds He is planting in you that will bear abundant fruit (& words) at the right time.
    Meanwhile, be aware that in scripture the number 5 (as in 5% of 50,000 words) stands for Grace--much grace--abundant grace. So Selah to you, which is interpreted as "Pause and think calmly of that."

  4. Heidi, your name and failure do not fit in the same sentence. I'm awed by all you do, especially how quickly you are to spread your love to others.

    Beautiful post. Especially during this season. It's so easy to focus on our to-do lists that we forget to focus on the One who blesses us daily and on those around us who support our dreams.

    Thank you for reading Lakeside Reunion. I'm copying this pumpkin pie bar recipe and making them for Thanksgiving! Thank you for sharing your heart. You are so precious.

  5. Awesome post, Heidi!

    I just made pumpkin bars yesterday for tonight's bible study. Speaking of which, while others are doing NaNo, I'm trying to get back in shape and kick some pounds. Ask me how well I'm doing with that...?? :) Hmm, maybe this just isn't my season to eat healthy...hehehe

    Lovely post, and you rock!

  6. Jeanne~

    Thank you! It is absolutely crazy to me how quickly November has passed. When I first sat down to write yesterday, I was focused on the fact that I had barely dented the 50K, and I was past the point of being able to catch up. Then, that small, still voice encouraged me to think about all the things I DID do, rather than the one thing I didn't.

    What I didn't mention in the post is how difficult my car accident injuries make it to do things like cook and clean, especially this time of year. So I felt especially blessed to have accomplished all that I did. You know, once I stopped focusing on the fact that I didn't write!

    By the way, I LOVE your new picture!! =)

  7. Pat~

    We should try to organize something for January. I would love to have some company! I'll be praying that you complete your WIP. You can do it!!

  8. D~

    You are always such an encouragement! I especially appreciate your words today. Given how quickly this past month has passed, it occurs to me that the remaining years I have my boys at home (they are currently in the 8th and 10th grade) will be gone in the blink of an eye. I don't want to miss any of it!

    I believe that when it is truly time for me to spend time writing, the words will pour out. And every life experience is fodder for our fiction, so I need all the experience I can get, lol! I love that 5 is the number of grace; what would we do without the knowledge that God grants us abundant grace? Looking at the lives of Moses, David, and Paul put my failures in perspective!

  9. Lisa~

    You are precious to me! The highlight of November was sitting in my van waiting for my boys, enjoying a little autumn sun and reading Lakeside Reunion. Imagine my delight to see Dr. Geis make an appearance! I thought, "Hey! That's my name!" I don't think I've ever seen my name in print like that, and it made my day to know you were thinking of me while writing the book of your heart. It was also a ton of fun to find my fellow Ponderers scattered throughout. You're AWESOME!

    By the way, I was so impressed with LR! (And NOT just because you are my friend and I love you, lol!) I knew you were a great writer, but I had no idea how great! I love the whole thing, but I was especially moved by something a woman who lost her legs says to Lindsey's aunt, (paralyzed and in a wheelchair) "At least you can wear shoes." Talk about a dose of perspective! And one I needed to hear, especially when the winter weather makes it so easy for me to feel sorry for myself! I have put on shoes every day to remind myself how blessed I am to have survived my accident with my body and my ability to walk intact. So thank you! I appreciate you, LJ!

  10. MTagg~

    You always make me smile! I was so encouraged by your closet makeover post! It was, in part, the inspiration for my post this month.

    Pumpkin bars are my favorite, especially the ones that are dense and super moist. I can eat the butter/cream cheese frosting by the spoonful!! I admire your willingness to try to eat healthy and kick some pounds during this time when Americans are notorious for overeating all the wrong things. At least the pumpkin bars are high in fiber and packed with vegetable nutrients. (Anything to justify eating cake!!)

    Keep up the good work! I believe making it through to January without gaining any weight is the same as losing 20 pounds any other time of year. =)

  11. Heidi!
    Great post. Focus on the good and being thankful for what we did accomplish. Way to go!

    Okay, so you know I'm going to have to try that recipe too!

    Blessings My Friend!
    Alena T.

  12. NaNo took a m-a-j-o-r detour for me ... I was 25k words in and then I ran into a huge STOP! sign. Couldn't get around it, over it, under it or through it.
    It had nothing to do with writer's block or fright or anything ... it was just a STOP for reasons I won't go into here.
    Could I call myself a failure?
    And I did for a bit.
    But enough of nonsense. There are plenty of people who like to rag on me--why should I join that club? And God loves me with an everlasting love.
    I have to let go of the NaNo goal--but I never have to let go of the fact that God loves me and affirms me.