Why I AM a writer.

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I’m not a child who grew up with a penchant for prose. Writing hasn’t always been my dream. In fact, it was only about five years ago when the story began to bleed out of me. Maybe they had always been there–the words, the tales—but I only truly became aware of them at that time. This abrupt desire came about after a very distinct dream of a woman abducted by Indians during the gold rush. The dream was so real, and the story so profound, I awoke and immediately began to piece it all together. But, as much as her story affected me, I realized while researching to write the book that I, A. knew very little about the old west, and B. knew even less about writing. So what followed was a scramble as I read every book I could find and every blog or course I could take to help me figure out this writing thing.

In trying to follow this, I went to some conferences, and put down some cash for some online writing guides. But mostly, I just began to write. My first novel, Held, is the by-product of that. And while I will say I believe God lead me through the story, I won’t say it came all at once. It appeared in starts and stops and when it flowed, it was because it was a part that entailed a huge chunk of my heart, of who I was, am. God was using what I knew, where I’d been, to guide me through the uncharted territory of writing. It was such an amazing journey.

But now, I’m somewhere different. I feel I’ve worked and paid some dues. There is solid calling on my life as a writer. And the truth is, I don’t need anyone to confirm this for me, as God has confirmed it in my heart. Don’t think I came by that easily either. I fought. I whined. I looked for every out and excuse I could. I am not a fame seeker, I don’t like the limelight. And if you think that’s why I’m writing, well you just don’t know me. Those things are irrelevant.

There are maybe many things you could do in service of God, but the best is to allow Him to guide you in that one thing he has planned before the creation of time, His call on your life. Can you please God by following your own agenda? Maybe. I don’t really know. But can you find true fulfillment in anything other than His plan for you? I highly doubt it.

Still, some don’t want that. They shy away from full surrender. Total abandon isn’t in their nature. I imagine there are millions of lives being wasted, or at the very least, survived, outside of His ultimate will. That would never be enough for me though. I want more. I want the MORE, the search for the fullness of all God has for me.

So that’s why I find it so amusing that, as I am working through a study on my life, and my calling, I all but missed that altogether.

I have always, always, always been restless. ALWAYS. In so many ways, I still am. It’s my biggest struggle, this unsettled feeling of unknown. Where do I go? What do I do? As I’ve grown closer to God and accepted more of what His plans are for me, some of that has smoothed out. But there is always an underlying tension in following Him. I’m unsure whether that ever goes away, or even if I want it to. Is it possible that electricity is part of what drives us forward? And, as I’m working through Restless by Jennie Allen, I have to wonder, is restless always a bad thing? Possibly, if it keeps us crippled in doubt then that’s certainly not helpful, but if it moves us towards a bigger purpose then, maybe…just maybe, it is.

Occasionally, my restless times have gotten me in trouble. Yet, there are so many ways in which I am restless still. Ways that drive me to God, and not away from Him. I long to see more of His Spirit. I desire to see His Body move in the world. I want to know His purposes for myself–and others–so badly that I chase after Him in everyday and every single experience I can. I am restless, longing for a stronger reality of God, with God. I know it’s possible, I know it’s there, it’s so close to my fingertips. And that sensation of almost catching Him, THAT restless, that’s what moves me out of my comfort zone, into the crazy, unpredictable, life of a follower of Christ. A restless child, I am.

That’s why I love Jenny’s book. And I love her. Love. Her. Period. Her writing is her soul bleeding off the page and I have never felt closer to any other Bible teacher than I do to Jenny Allen. If anyone truly loves her readers, and Christ who guides her, it is Jenny Allen. I dare you to read her words and argue that with me. I dare you. She’s the real deal people. She has tasted the More and she knows we can too, and she wants to help us get there.

In Restless, Jenny walks us through the story of Joseph from Genesis 37-50. But she doesn’t just take us there, she brings it to us. By looking into our lives, through the reflection of Josephs struggle, she helps us see where our past pain, and passions, can help us see a bigger picture—God’s picture—of our purpose.

At first, this was very difficult for me. Quite frankly, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. When something comes too easily I am often skeptical. That restless spirit in me cries out for opposition, for struggle, it wants to strive. Nothing worth having is cheap. Not a cheap life and certainly not cheap grace. But this study had me stumped.

See, Jenny asks us to look at our past and find times where we felt happy, where we felt special and loved, or times that resonated with joy in our spirit. She breaks this down into age groups beginning at age 0-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-24, 25+. This perplexed me. Honestly, I couldn’t really seem to find anything in those times where I truly felt what she was asking. At first, I was just confused. Then, I became kind of frustrated. Lastly, after a couple weeks of trying to make something come, I began to get a little scared. Why couldn’t I get in touch with my feelings from my past?

Oh, I could remember my past, at least to some degree.  Yet, I seemed unable to reach in and find any feelings attached to my memories. It was as if I had no feelings attached to my memories. It was as if, I wasn’t in touch with my feelings from my childhood and adolescence. When I realized this, I realized it was true. There was over half of my life that was inaccessible to me emotionally.

Getting in touch with the tragedy in my past was no problem. I could identify a major event, if not multiple ones, in all five time frames she requested. It wasn’t until I started acknowledging those events, and making peace with them, that I began to see what my joys had truly been.

They had been there all along; words. Not in the sense of my own writing, but in story. I have always been a reader, a dreamer, a sojourner into the stories of others.

As far back as I can remember books—words—have been a part of my life. Some of my fondest memories are my father reading the The Pokey Little Puppy and Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear to me as a child. I can remember the tale of Little Bear playing in the snow, and after his many attempts to get warm his Mother Bear informs him he already has a fur coat. Oh, yeah. That’s me, always having to be reminded that I already possess all that I need. (0-6 years)

Then, there was the way I learned to have empathy for the pain of others by reading the biography of Marilyn Monroe in the third grade. I will never forget the explicit (especially for an 8 year old) nature of her struggles with men, her fame, and her own self-image. If I want to draw from a place to minister to the hurting, there’s that. And who can forget the required reading of Old Yeller. Does my love for dogs somehow stem there? And how can I use my understanding of love and loyalty through that tale to impact others? (age 7-12)

I remember in junior high (age 13-18) getting my first taste of Stephen King’s work. And say what you want about him, but he is a master wordsmith. I still get choked up when I think of his description of a father’s pain after the death of his son (Pet Cemetery.) It’s been over 25 years since I read that book, and although the exact words escape, they are unnecessary, because the story remains—the emotion remains. A father dreaming of his son’s name being called as he takes to the diving board to win the Olympic Gold, and then the crushing reality; this dream will never be, his son is dead. It still makes me catch my breath. His characters became as real to me. Their pain haunted me, and still does!

And what haunts me even more? This is what I can do. I can write words that forever change a life. I can write words that will guide a heart. I can write stories that will teach, and preach, and lead the world back to the One who created it. I can, because I am a writer.

I AM a writer.

SO! Here’s your FRIDAY FREEBIE assignment: leave me a comment on your thoughts.

Whats is your calling? What ARE you? What moves you and keeps your spirit RESTLESS for MORE?

I want to know and I want to help you move towards your dreams! How can I help you?

Tell me in the comments for your chance to win a FREE copy of W.G. Griffiths novel Takedown. I just read it last month and it is a knock-out fast-paced battle of Good versus Evil that will leave you breathless! Don’t miss out! And there may be some chocolate involved as well…I’m just sayin’ 😉

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Great Expectations

A repost from my other blog. Hope you enjoy!

I know when I started this blog I promised to talk about my trip to Africa. As of yet, I haven’t followed through. Until now.

 

When God called me to go to Africa, I had a pretty varied response. Some days I was happy, excited. Other days I was terrified. My reaction vacillated from “No God, I can’t go,” to, “Yes, Lord, your will be done.”

 

I was all over the board. But, eventually, as He brought the pieces of the puzzle together, I began to have peace about the trip. Finally, I came to a place of surrender, where I let go of (most) of my apprehension and committed myself to going.

 

It was when I stepped across the threshold of the plane leaving JFK…bound for Kenya.

 

Despite my fears, there was part of me, all along, that knew deep down, I was willing to…

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If you create it, they will come.

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Maybe, like me, you wait. It’s not that you don’t want to create, or share, but you’re afraid. You’re afraid that someone won’t like it, or worse; no one will even notice. Is it worse to be unloved or unknown? I often debate that with-in myself.

But what if, instead of creating with the reactions of others (or lack of) in mind, we just did it? What if we created just for practice, or purpose, of the creation itself?

It’s not a novel concept, you know. Many have done it, many still do. Some to their own demise, but some succeed wildly. Truly, though, in either case, is that really what matters? That end result, is it where our focus should be?

Over Christmas break I took my Children to Crown Center. This is a holiday tradition we have in our family, to go ice-skating at the outdoor rink and and see the decorations that can only be described as Hallmarks best. It’s something our children look forward to and expect as our observance of the season. It’s important to them.

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As we have moved further away from Kansas City, it has become increasingly more difficult, both geographically, and financially, to make this holiday dream become a reality. This past December however, we found ourselves scheduled to see doctors at Children’s Mercy hospital with our youngest son. He had been battling a prolonged illness that seemed suspicious of leukemia. To me, that was all the more reason to make the effort to take our family to Crown Center, which happens to be right across the street from Children’s Mercy.

Through Gods providence, our son did not get diagnosed with cancer. He has, in fact, improved and seemed to kick the illness altogether. But, also through Gods providence, I believe the trip to Kansas City was beneficial to our family in many ways. There were many instances of His presence through out the trip. But, one that struck me profoundly, I have wanted to share with you for quite some time. So, here it is.

In Crown Center there is a Crayola store and restaurant. As if there is anything more suited to the joy of a child than the millions of colored wax sticks everywhere, in every form, they have–at the dead center of the store–a Creation Station. This four-sided outpost features a huge drawing pad and an unlimited access to those beautiful crayons. Of course, my children were drawn to it, including my teenage daughter, who is an artist.

Being the Mom (and photographer) that I am, I stepped back with my camera to observe and document my children’s efforts. And as I watched, something amazing happened in front of me. It started out small, as my daughter picked up a crayon and began to create.

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Ever since she was able to hold a pencil, or crayon, Holly has been an artist. As she’s grown her mediums have grown as well to include pastels, acrylics, and pen and ink. She, and our entire family, are blessed in that my mother is an artist and has devoted countless hours teaching technique and practice of art to my children. But Holly has her own inner drive towards art. It’s not just something she does. It’s who she is. She IS an artist. For many years we’ve had to smile and nod as her teachers have repeatedly told us that she draws on her papers. She draws on everything. Last summer, she created quite a masterpiece on a napkin that I hope is still displayed at BeauJo’s Pizza in Idaho Springs, Colorado. I’d honestly not be surprised if she hasn’t drawn on toilet paper. My point being, she draws, creates art, for the sake of creating, not with the purpose of pleasing anyone else. But, in doing so, and for so long, she has created something, no–she has become something–an artist. And that was what became apparent to me at the Crayola Store in Crown Center, and to others as well.

At first it was just one, then a few more, who gathered around to watch her create.

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Before long, I was crowded out and had to move multiple times so I could continue to take pictures.

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What was it they were drawn to? Was it a young girl drawing with crayons? The image of herself emerging off the paper although she drew with no mirror to observe her likeness?

I don’t think so. Although, that in itself was quite beautiful, magnificent really, I don’t believe that’s what they were drawn to. No, I believe what made the people stop and notice was her bravery, and her joy. The crowd saw someone creating something not for them, but in spite of them. In spite of the crowd hovering all around her, she continued to expose her talent, her gifts, her beauty. She was herself, the artist. And she was beautiful.

And so many times, I want to be her. Not literally her, but myself, in all my glory. I long to be the creator of all that God has placed inside of me. I know it’s there. Oh, I taste it every. single. day. I LIVE it. His hand sweeping across my life creating in me a story of grace and redemption, a beautiful story. I want to let that out! I want to share it, I want, I long, oh so much, to be it. I want to be and live the story that God created me to be. To BE.

I believe that you do too. So, what is your story? Who are you? What has He created you to do and be for His glory? Maybe, you don’t know it all yet. Or maybe, like me, you think you might, or you think you do, but sometimes the details are sketchy, and scary. Where do you go, what do you do?

Well, I believe it begins with courage. Raw, naked courage. The courage to stop envisioning the end result and to create for the sake of our souls is the only kind of courage that’s going to get us there. We have got to run with abandon this race set before us.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Romans 12:1-3

 

 

It is so hard sometimes to just be. No matter who you are, or what He has called you to, I know some days it will be rough. Some days, it will seem like the sheer force of the universe is crushing down on you. I know, I know, I feel it too. But take heart, He has not left us, nor forsaken us, and He never will. Be encouraged, the same God who called you is perfecting you for His purposes, even in the rough stuff.

 

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.…

1 Peter 4:12

 

 

You are who He says you are ( tweet that) and I pray you find the courage to stop pretending and to start being the story he has written for you. Be the Art He has created and let Him guide you as you create for the sake of His beauty.

Stop worrying about whether they will come or not.

BE THE ART.

Be You.

Be BEAUTIFUL.

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