On Being a Writer: Plan (Chapter 10)

I’m joining with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. Today’s chapter is on planning, on being intentional with our next steps.

I’ve been a planner for as long as I can remember. I can still remember my wedding day. I had all the details on my end worked out ahead of time, so when my soon-to-be mother-in-law and my family wanted to go out to breakfast in the morning, I was ready to go. My fiance, on the other hand, passed up the breakfast invitation, and he has told me since that he was running around until ten minutes before the ceremony trying to get everything on his end set up. Planning ahead is wise.

Concerning my writing, I also have been planning. The thing I’m currently working on is story leads and openings, and as God reveals other weaknesses in my writing, I’ll move onto them. But I know where I’m headed eventually, and I have the steps to get there laid out.

My final goal for my writing is to write a memoir on my life as the mother of a medically fragile and mentally disabled child. But I recognize I’m not even close to handling such a complicated project. So my next step is to continue working on writing skills, while I expand my reader base by posting on a variety of blog link-up sites. After that, I’ll start finding some magazines and online sites that fit my writing style, and begin submitting queries for article ideas. Once I have had a variety of articles published by paying sites, it will probably be time to start on the book that I believe God wants me to write.

Finally, being a planner by nature, there’s a balancing truth I need to remind myself of frequently. Even though I have an idea of where I want to go with my writing, God is the One who is in charge. I make plans, but as I give God control of my writing – and every other area of my life – He has veto power over my plans. As Corrie ten Boom said: “Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.” Planning plus being filled with the Holy Spirit and sensitive to His voice together result in moving forward to complete God’s plans for me as a writer.

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Tuesday at Ten: Hope

It was a busy day. I had a doctor’s appointment, and since I’m not able to drive my husband was taking me. Mitch needed to drive almost forty miles for a contract video shoot once we got back home, and this office had a history of being painfully slow. We had already waited more than an hour beyond the time my scheduled appointment time, and we were getting impatient. But this was an important appointment, one where I was supposed to receive the results of an MRI and learn if it showed the cause of the terrible back pain and headaches I’d been having, so leaving without seeing the doctor wasn’t an option.  So we kept waiting until the doctor finally came in the room. The first thing he told us was that the test results didn’t show what was causing my pain. He made a few suggestions, then we headed for home in the drenching rain, and after helping me get inside my husband rushed to his job.

I was relieved to learn that day, not quite a week ago, that I did not have a spinal fluid leak that would require surgery. But the pain wasn’t any better, and it was easy to give into discouragement. How could I hold onto hope in the midst of these difficult circumstances? I’ve personally prayed for God to heal me, and others have prayed for my healing many times. Are my chronic illnesses and pain just something I’ve need to live with for the rest of my life? Is this my “thorn in the flesh”?

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Commentators have argued for centuries, trying to pinpoint Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Personally, I think Paul may have left his thorn unidentified so believers wouldn’t limit the principle to a specific thing. I also don’t know for sure if physical illness is my thorn or if I’ll have to deal with it for the rest of my life. But I do know that the principle from this passage in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 is applicable to my situation. As I live with chronic illness and pain, I’m leaning on the grace of God, with the confidence that it is enough, and on the power of God, which is more easily seen in the midst of my physical weakness. And I have hope, both that God still is able to heal, and that even if He chooses not to, He will be with me every day. Even if God chooses not to heal my physical body during my days on earth, I know when I am welcomed by Him into eternity, I will be whole physically and every other way. So with that in mind, I keep my eyes on living in a way that is pleasing in His sight, whether I do so in my current physical condition or totally healed.

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On Being a Writer: Engage (Chapter 9)

I’m joining with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. Today’s chapter is Engage, with the discussion on interacting with other writers, artists, and others who support my writing.

“Hello, Anne…. Sure, I’d love to come over for lunch.” And such would begin another day of interacting with a dear friend and fellow writer. In my early days of writing, Anne and I spent many hours together, as she showed me ways to cut away content that wasn’t needed, or she helped me find a better way to say what I was trying to get across. With her help, I was able to send in my first article to a national magazine and it was accepted for publication and needed very little editing once they received it. During that season, my husband and I also attended to Christian Writers’ Workshops, which were very enlightening. The kind of interaction discussed in this chapter was an important part of my life.

Forward about fifteen years. Because of multiple chronic illnesses and constant pain, I no longer drive. Anne is also unable to drive to my home. So any fellowship with Anne or any other writers is very limited. With my husband’s busy schedule as he takes contract video production jobs for clients to pay our bills, and uses every free moment working on pre-production for his first full-length Christian movie, time for visiting outside our home is almost non-existent. Any support and input I now receive from other writers or creative people (other than my husband) is usually by phone or online. Seasons change, and with God’s help we learn to adjust to the changes. But I want to encourage my sisters in this writing group to make every effort to find at least one or two fellow writers to interact with. It makes writing much better when you have input from other writers.

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Tuesday at Ten {What I love most about myself}

What do I love most about myself?  I love the truth that I am a new creation in Christ, that God is working in my life changing me into the image of His Son. Because He lives in my heart, I am a different person.

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In the natural, I am a very moody person – just ask my husband what I was like when we first got married forty-two years ago. But after many years of walking with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I am not nearly as moody. I’m being transformed into the image of Christ, and He is not moody.

In the natural, I’m a worrier. But as a growing Christian, I’ve learned that worry doesn’t change my tomorrows, it only empties today of the strength I need to walk wisely. I’m being transformed into the image of my Savior in this area also.

In the natural, I am a person who focuses on my circumstances. But after my years of walking with Jesus, I’ve learned that focusing on my circumstances only makes me depressed. If I turn my eyes upward onto my Lord, I can walk through any difficult situation and be at peace. In this area too, I’m being transformed into the image of Christ.

In the natural, I’m a person who always asks why. Why is this happening to me? Why hasn’t our special-needs son been healed? Why did You heal my husband’s back, but I still live with back pain daily? But I’ve learned that God usually answers such questions with, “Trust Me.” And I’m learning to do that. Again, I’m being transformed into the image of Jesus, who always walked in trust and obedience to the will of the heavenly Father.

These are just a few areas where I’ve seen God working in my life during the last forty-four years, since I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I definitely haven’t arrived – I still have more growing to do in each of these areas and in others as well. But as John Newton, the writer of the Christian hymn Amazing Grace, said:

I am not what I ought to be,
I am not what I want to be,
I am not what I hope to be in another world,
But still I am not what I used to be,
And by the grace of God,
I am what I am.

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John Newton spent much of his life as a slave trader. But after he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior, he was a different person. He said that the beloved hymn Amazing Grace was the story of his life. It is also the story of my life. As a churched person, I believed in Jesus, but I had not surrendered my life to Him. When I made Jesus my Lord and Savior, God by His grace began the life-long process of changing me, of transforming me into the image of the Son of God.

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Discover: When I Write, I Find Myself (Chapter 8)

I’m joining with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. Today’s chapter is Discover.

I do two main types of writing, some in a journal that only I will read, and some in a blog or article that will be published for others to see. For me, finding myself through writing mostly applies to the writing I do for myself, in my journal.

When I’m struggling with something, such as the rapid decline in my health over the past few months, journaling is a healthy release. Often, writing about what is going on, applying Scripture to my situation, helps me understand what I need to do. In essence, by journaling, I bring the Lord Jesus Christ into my situation, giving me a clearer view of how I need to respond.

Let me give an example. Tomorrow, I’ll receive the results on an MRI on my cervical spine that was done last week. My doctor ordered the test because I’ve had frequent headaches, increased back pain, and numbness in my right foot since a pain injection in my cervical spine two months ago. Tomorrow, I meet with my doctor to go over the results, and this morning I was feeling anxious.

Today turned out to be a good day, because I took the time to bring God into the picture. I reminded myself that He already knows the results, and He will give me wisdom in any choices that need to be made. This process helps me to “discover myself” as God wants me to be, helping me see the situation from His perspective.

When I’m writing for other eyes to see, the process of bringing my emotions under control and bringing God into the situation has already been completed. The inner battle has been won, and I can write from a place of victory to encourage others who may be facing similar circumstances.

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On Being a Writer: Send (Chapter 6)

I’m joining with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. Today’s chapter is Send.    

The very first article I sent to a magazine was published, which was encouraging but also set me up for great discouragement when the first rejection letter came. I needed the advice given in today’s post: “Get up, dust yourself off, and keep writing,” but I didn’t respond that way. I did send in a few more queries, but when the rejection letters continued to come in I gave up. That was over ten years ago, and I haven’t send in an idea for an article since then.

About two months ago, I felt the Lord telling me it’s time to start writing again. I realized I needed to develop my rusty writing skills, so I started the process by doing a weekly blog post. The writer’s market has changed a lot in the last ten years, so I also am using some of my writing time learning about some of the online publications. I recognize that sending in query letters to publications will be the next step I need to take, and I commit to take this step with fear and trembling.

When I’ll take this step of sending queries or stories for publication is still uncertain. I’m working on story-telling skills right now, to give my articles a hook that will make the readers want to know what comes next. I feel like I have so much more to learn, but I also think I’m making progress.  And I believe writing for publication – beyond the few people who read my blog posts – is in my future.  I’m asking the Lord to show me when the time is right to make this leap forward, and until then I’m focusing on the lessons I’m learning now. I know if I don’t quit, I’ll eventually get to the point where my writing goals will be fulfilled!

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Five Minute Friday – Yes!

It’s Five Minute Friday, and I’m joining Kate Motaung and all the FMF friends in writing on a one word prompt for five minutes – no editing or polishing, just write and then link up with others. Today’s prompt word is Yes.

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Yes – a little word with a big meaning, when we use it in reference to our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yes – to anything and everything He asks. Isn’t that what Lordship means? He makes the choices and we do what He asks.

I wish this was as easy to do as it is to write. So often, saying Yes to the Lord means saying No to my will, to my desires. But if He truly is Lord, I must die to self and walk in obedience to His revealed will. The longer I walk with Him, the clearer that becomes. And the clearer it is that I can’t do it in my own strength. But the Holy Spirit that lives within us, if we are born-again Christians, gives us the power and grace to obey. We choose to walk in obedience because we love Jesus, and the Holy Spirit makes it possible. Such a simple description of what it really is to be a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led believer in Jesus!