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!

On Being a Writer: Write (Chapter 5)

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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 Write.

I have enjoyed writing since I was in college, but until about fifteen years ago I wrote strictly for myself, doing journal entries almost daily. Now, I consider writing a calling, something that is a part of God’s plan for my life. A few months ago, I set a goal of writing at least one blog entry per week. I see this as a first step in developing my writing skills. Eventually, I plan to write some articles for magazines, something I did several years ago but stopped when circumstances left me almost no time to write. But my ultimate goal is to write a book, sharing some of the lessons that God has taught me through having a special needs child (now an adult) and losing our first child when our vehicle was hit by a drunk driver. That accident left me with many fractures, severe osteoarthritis, neuropathy, and a long list of other orthopedic and neurological problems.

My main personal struggles and frustrations when it comes to writing regularly come from my physical limitations. As a sufferer of numerous chronic illnesses, pain is a part of my daily life. I also tire easily, and often need to rest for a couple hours in the afternoon. When I combine this with my responsibility as the bookkeeper for my husband’s home-based video production business, as well as other family and household tasks demanding my attention, time for writing is limited. At times, I’ve found myself sitting up in bed doing a blog entry because it’s due and I’m in the midst of a flare-up of one of my chronic illnesses.

With all of this in mind, I’ve set a goal of writing (including the study and preparation needed to complete an article) for three afternoons each week. About two afternoons a week, I have a doctor’s appointment, so those weeks I only have two afternoons for writing. With so little time available, I need to use my writing time wisely, or my blog posts will be few.

On the afternoons that I have reserved for writing, I’ve run into another problem. I noticed I was becoming so focused on my writing that other tasks weren’t getting done. For example, I would put in a load of laundry in the morning, and realize at bedtime that the clothes were still in the washer.  I would also sit in the chair where I write for hours without a break, which only agravates my health problems. So I’ve started using the Pomodoro Technique and scheduling in five minute breaks every half hour. As I get up and walk around the house, or take a brief walk outside, I’m able to concentrate better when I come back to my writing task. And when walking around the house, I notice the jobs I was forgetting to finish.

On Being a Writer: Notice (Chapter 4)

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 Notice.

Learning to notice my surroundings is one of my weakest writing skills, one I need to work hard to develop. So this morning, after reading Chapter 4, I purposely took a short walk outside and exercised this skill. I noticed something that I’ve failed to observe before.

First, let me explain. I live with chronic pain, and walking isn’t easy for me. Using a walker, being in ever-increasing pain when I’m walking or standing, these tend to distract me from concentrating on my surroundings. It requires extra effort, which I usually chose not to give. But this morning, I was determined to be observant.

The first thing that caught my eye as I walked down the ramp and into our yard was the vine growing on our fence. At first it looked like an eyesore, something that was dead and needed to be pulled down.

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But then I looked closer. What at first glance appeared to be a dead vine had evidence of life. When I drew close, I noticed some healthy green leaves and pretty orange flowers. I saw that the vine wasn’t really dead afterall. It may need some pruning, but we don’t need to tear it down and throw it away.

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As I looked at the healthy leaves and flowers, a spiritual application came to mind. How often do we look at our lives as sons and daughters of God, and wonder why we keep failing? Where is the spiritual fruit in our lives? Are we really Christians? Could it be that we just need pruning, so we can grow in our walk with the Lord? This reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 15:1-5.

‬‬”I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
‭‭(John‬ ‭15:1-5‬ ‭NASB)‬‬

The vine growing on our fence doesn’t look healthy, but with some careful pruning it has a future. Likewise, we may not be as spiritually healthy as we desire to be. But if the true vine, Jesus, lives in our hearts, we can be assured that He won’t give up on us and throw us away. As long as we abide in Jesus, trusting in Him to do the needed work within us and not thinking we can change ourselves, we can live in the assurance that He will complete the work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:5).  The process will include some pruning, but we can trust that the Master Gardener will only cut away the things in our lives that are hindering us in our walk with Him.

Tuesday at Ten {Someone I admire is…

imageThis is a post for Tuesday at Ten!, where each Tuesday morning Karen Beth posts a  “prompt phrase” on her blog Finding the Grace Within and you finish the phrase and write how that phrase fits you and your life or your thoughts, in whatever creative way you choose.

There are many people whom I admire, but the first person to come to my mind as I read today’s prompt was our pastor, Dr. John Morgan. Since Sagemont Church began nearly fifty years ago with a core group of 16, until today when the weekly attendance ranges from 4,500 to 5,000 people, Dr. Morgan has led our church with wisdom, integrity. and humility. No man is to be put up on a pedestal – Pastor Morgan would be the first to say Sagemont is God’s church, not his – but I esteem him highly for the work he has done.

I remember the first time we met Pastor Morgan. After services, he invites all guests to come to meet him in the “Connection Center.” We got into a fairly long line that Sunday, introduced ourselves, and talked with him for a few minutes. The next Sunday, Pastor Morgan came up to us, addressed us by name, and asked Mitch how work was going at Daystar where he worked at the time. In a church of thousands, I was impressed that he remembered us out of so many people attending, and before long we became members.

In the almost six years that my husband and I have been members of Sagemont Church, we have grown spirtually under our pastor’s leadership and preaching. I personally appreciate Pastor Morgan’s teaching on financial freedom, and his emphasis on the authority of Scripture as the foundation of our faith and our pattern for living in this world.  And I’m challenged by his frequent reminders that as Christians we are to be “living proof of a loving God to a watching world.”

Jesus promises in John 12:32 that if He is lifted up, He will draw all men unto himself. In February, 2009, Sagemont Church claimed that promise in a unique and tangible way with the construction of the 170-foot tall cross that has become a spiritual landmark for the church and surrounding community. Many lives have been touched by this outward sign of the message faithfully taught, and weekly we see more people drawn to Jesus by the cross. Then when our current worship center was completed in September 2012, the empty tomb was added. Together, these are a vivid reminder of the price Jesus paid for our sin and of the victory He won over sin and death on the Cross.

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The Cross and the Empty Tomb – Our Savior is Alive!

Five Minute Friday :: Alone

Alone Yet Not Alone

A few months ago, my husband and I had a movie date to see the new Christian film Alone Yet Not Alone. It chronicles the journey of a family that faces death and suffering during the French and Indian War with faith and courage. And the title is a good description of how I often feel.

As a woman with multiple chronic illnesses, I often feel alone in my suffering. Sometimes, my illnesses mean physically being alone as a flare-up sends me to bed. Other times, it’s just feeling of being alone, as illness causes me to feel isolated from those around me.

But in each situation, I must remind myself that I am not truly alone. No matter what is going on in my life at the moment, God is with me. He has promised in His Word that He will never leave or forsake His children, and I am His redeemed child. And Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing we face can separate us from His love.

I’m sure the family in the true story Alone Yet Not Alone felt alone at times as they faced death and capture by indians, but they knew in reality they weren’t really alone.  And I also know the truth – which is stronger than my emotions – that I am not really alone. No matter what I face, God is at my side, loving me and keeping me in His care.