Tag Archive | writing

Just Who Do I Think I Am, Anyway?

I’m think I’m lost.

fullsizeoutput_7d81And I’m trying to figure out how to find myself again.

I knew months ago that there would be a lot of change for me this summer, but since it was (supposedly) all good, I hoped it wouldn’t cause grief. But grief has creeped up on me, causing me to doubt the decisions I made that brought about some of this change.

Some changes were just part of life happening. Positions in which I had served for many, years ended or were taken away. 2 of my 3 kids have moved or are moving out of my house. And then I made the decision to leave the organization of which I had been a part for 32 years.

As I see multitudes of friends posting pictures on social media of their summer travels that will end in the Cru staff conference in Ft. Collins, Colo., and I anticipate my husband leaving tomorrow to attend without me for the first time in more than 26 years, I find myself grieving more than I thought I would.

Yes, I made the decision to leave and pursue a writing career. I could have stayed. But the discontent that had been bubbling on the back burner would still have been there. Still a big part of me wants to be in Colorado with my closest friends.IMG_4361

It was time, though. At the point of my decision, I didn’t doubt that this was what God was leading me to do.

Yet I grieve. And I fear. And I doubt that I have what it takes to make a go of this full-time writing thing.

Where is this that I have found myself? Did I hear God correctly? Maybe I made a big mistake.

My writing muscles have atrophied. I don’t even know what it’s like anymore to pitch articles and do research. And what topics do I even care about? What am I learned enough in to even consider writing for others?

Just who do I think I am, anyway?

And so the tears come.

Soon, summer will be over and my daughter will get into the swing of school. And I will figure out what God wants me to say and to whom He wants me to say it. Are there likely to be rejections? Of course. I’ve already received my first. But after not using my brain for anything more than teaching 6th graders language arts and Latin for the past 5 years, my muscles may hurt for awhile. I may want to quit because it’s too hard.

IMG_4473And at unexpected times the grief of what is left behind might crawl out of the corner in which I’ve placed it. Some days I might let it come out and sit in my lap, and I will embrace it for awhile. Then I will point it back to the corner, hoping it will stay there longer than the time before.

And the joy of the Lord will be my strength.

Who do I think I am? I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a computer, trying to write from my heart, asking people to love what I have to say.

 

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Why I Write: A Blog Hop

hopscotchHopscotch was always a favorite game of mine when I was a kid. I can’t hop too much these days as years of bouncing babies trying to help them fall asleep has taken its toll on my knees. But there’s a new kind of hopping going on, and it’s called a Blog Hop. The purpose is to introduce you to other bloggers I think you might enjoy.

Fellow blogger, and someone I hope will be a new friend when she and her family move to Orlando soon, Julie Sanders included me in her Blog Hop last week. julie-sanders-2I’ve only met Julie once in person, in a ladies’ room during a conference we were both attending in Colorado of all places, but I’ve been impressed in her writing by her passions for life, God and her family.

Julie says about herself that she’s a “wife, mother, daughter, friend, and friend of Jesus.” She loves good food, a good book, and talking with good friends late into the night. She admits that she’s a huge fan of her husband and her three boys. Her house is filled with their music, Legos, books and artwork. You can get to know Julie through her blog Along The Way. It was cool for me to learn that Julie and a friend of mine from college know each other. It’s a small world, after all.

So, for this Blog Hop, each writer will answer 4 questions about their writing on their own blog in the near future. After I answer those questions, I will introduce you to these 3 other bloggers that I think you would enjoy. So, here goes.

1. What am I writing or working on?  At the moment, the only writing I’m doing is for my blogs; Compelled, which is what you’re reading right now, and then the one I just recently started, That Senior Year, chronicling my eldest’s journey through his last year of high school. Compelled is a mish mash of thoughts. Most of the time I use things I come across in everyday life to draw a spiritual parallel. Sometimes I talk about parenting; sometimes I talk about current events.

My tag line is “because some things just need to be said.” I’m not very controversial, but I do have strong feelings about some things, so I will talk about them sometimes. I have always wanted to write The Great American Novel, but I keep waiting for inspiration that hasn’t come. I take comfort whenever I read about a writer who wrote a best seller after they turned 60. I’ve still got time!

Actually, I’ve been pondering writing a book that I tentatively call “From Modesty to Marriage: A Former Virgin’s Guide to Being Physically Generous With Your Spouse.” Having grown up in a household where bodily functions were never talked about, and in a church where good girls were modest and nobody really understood what that meant, I entered marriage not understanding how to enjoy the physical relationship I had with my husband. We’re still working on it, and it’s been a battle, but I’m doing much better, thanks to counseling and the Lord. I would love to help other young women enter marriage a little more easily than I did.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Because I’m a unique person, the perspective I bring to my writing is unique. Nobody has the children I have, nobody speaks with my same voice. Has anyone else ever written about how their hermit crabs taught them about life? I didn’t think so. I speak with a touch of humor, and I try to always be respectful. That in itself is different these days!

3. Why do I write what I do? I really want my writing to influence others. Will what I say make a difference in someone’s life today? It always makes my day when someone tells me that my blog post made them think or challenged them or even made them laugh. The most fun emails I get are the ones from wordpress that say someone “liked” my post or started following me. Yay! But even if no one was reading, my desire would be to glorify God in the process. Does He like what I write? Then that’s all I need.

4. How does my writing process work? The last post I wrote, “A Fork in the Road,” came about because I actually kept seeing literal forks in the road as I rode my bike. My husband often says to me, “You ought to write a blog post about that.” Sometimes, things just occur to me. In a few days, I plan on writing a post about things that make me say, “Wait, what?” Sometimes I’ll watch a movie or read a book and want to talk about it, as I did with “Parental Supervision” and the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series. I tend to write quickly without a lot of editing, but if I think something is going to garner a lot of criticism, I give it a lot of thought and prayer. Sometimes I send it to my husband to preview before I post it. His input is invaluable. So there you have it. That’s all about me. Now, I want you to meet 3 friends.

The first is Dena Yohe. Dena has been on a purpose-filled adventure with Christ for 41 years. She and her husband, Tom, married 36 Denayears, are the co-founders of Hope for Hurting Parents, birthed out of their own pain with one of their daughters who struggled with addiction, self-injury, suicidal attempts and mental illness. She calls herself an accidental writer as her pain became her passion. What began as a way of processing the most difficult experiences of her life through journaling, turned into daily emails and then a blog to offer encouragement, resources, and hope to parents on their journey from pain to peace. She loves being mom to 3 wonderful children (31, 27 and 25) and Mimi to two precious granddaughters. Check out her blog,  Hope For Hurting Parents, and her website of the same name.

Next up is my sweet friend Becca Ramirez.

beccaBecca, a born and raised Floridian, has just recently moved to Texas with her husband and their two daughters.  She is a lover of good food, board games, traveling, books, and words.  While always an avid “journaler,” Becca only recently began seeking opportunities to expand (and publish) her writing.  Her blog, Simply Living the Life, serves as an outlet for the roller coaster of thoughts that pummel through her mind.  Her desire is to write and speak in a greater capacity, reaching the hearts and minds of youth (particularly teenage/college-aged girls). Becca is a sweet, smiling friend whom we all miss very much since her move to Texas. I think you will enjoy her thoughts.

Last, but not least, I want you to meet Rachel Knox, an almost-18-year-old that I have known since she was a small girl with wild,Rachel curly hair. She and my son Justin are just 2 days apart in age. As Rachel is also going into her senior year of high school, it’s fun to hear and read her perspective on the process. Rachel was born and raised in Orlando as her parents are missionaries with Cru. From an early age, her creativity was a dominant trait which is evident through her love of dance, sewing and anything DIY.

After attending a small Christian school from kindergarten through middle school, she enrolled in public high school, what she calls “an utterly different environment than before.” In an attempt to keep friends and family afar updated on her journey through high school, Rachel created this blog, Imperfectly Living|Perfectly Loved, to highlight the ups, the downs and the lessons learned in her everyday life.

I hope you have the time to go check out these 4 writers that you’ve been introduced to here. I think you’ll like them as much as I do!

 

What’s Cooking On The Back Burner?

simmering potI quit my job the other day. It’s something that’s been bubbling on the back burner of my mind for several years, but that I’ve been unwilling to stir up and taste until now. You see, it’s what I know best how to do. It’s been a large part of my identity. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with myself now.

But the time was right; I felt the Holy Chef tapping me on the shoulder telling me it was time to stir that pot and see what delicious meal He would spread before me.

So I called my boss and told him I was leaving. He wasn’t surprised. He had sensed it coming for awhile. And, while not thrilled at the prospect of replacing me, he knows it’s the right thing to do.

You see, I have a son who will be a senior in high school next year. I need to be there when he needs to talk about his future—or should I say, I need to be there to pull out of him whatever feelings he thinks he can identify and is willing to share with his mother. I need to help guide him through the college application process and the girls who will try to distract him from his goals.

I have another son who will be a sophomore in high school, and I need to be there when he comes home from school and wants to talk about his day, his life, his hopes, his fears.

I have a daughter who will be in her first year of middle school. I may be her 6th grade teacher next year. I need to be all there for her when we have those inevitable tween battles, to let her know that she’s beautiful and funny and talented.

You might find it surprising when I say that my job was unique. I actually worked from home. But my job was very deadline driven and when I had that deadline knocking on my door, I couldn’t just say, I’ll get back to that later. I had to get it done, and I’m not willing anymore to be engaged in something else if one child or another decides they need me at just that particular moment.

But that’s not the only reason I quit. I need time to hone the talent God gave me. It was 40 years ago that God showed me that He wanted me to be a writer. For 40 years I’ve been wandering in the wilderness, trying to find my way to the Promised Land that God had given me. I’ve worked as a journalist, an editor, a production manager and a copy editor, all for the same publication, for almost 28 years. For the past 17, my writing has been sporadic as I’ve taken on the role of mother. My time to sit and think gets stolen by a laundry list of other tasks. And frankly, I haven’t installed the security system to keep that from happening. So even as I pledge to be all there for my kids in these dwindling days that they’re beneath my roof, I pray for opportunities to write as God intended me to write.

It’s easy to leave that pot on the burner, never really tasting what’s inside, only catching a whiff every now and then of the delicacies it holds. But I’m going to do it. I’ve taken that first step of pulling off the lid of the bubbling pot to see what’s been simmering inside. Am I courageous enough to add some spices and take that first taste?

Or will I stay hungry?

What simmering pot do you need to start stirring in your own life?

photo from: http://www.idealhomegarden.com/recipes/simmer-pot-recipes-for-fall/

Tap Here To Begin Writing

It makes it sound so easy. All you have to do is put the cursor at the top of the page and start writing. If you have something to say, shouldn’t the words just come?

Everyone’s probably heard of the term “writer’s block.” It refers to that time when you’re supposed to be writing something, but the inspiration just won’t come. It seems to happen most often when there’s a deadline hanging over your head. But every writer knows that you deal with writer’s block by just writing. You push through it. Sometimes you have to get up and take a walk, or do something else for a bit, but you can’t let the block win.

Eric Liddle, the Scottish runner memorialized in the movie “Chariots of Fire,” once said to his sister, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” God had made him fast, and he wanted to use that gift God had given him. So he ran.

When I write, I feel God’s pleasure. But the writing has to be done in His strength, not my own. And when life’s demands stealthily steal the time and attention I could be spending writing, I feel a listlessness that I don’t often attribute to having not written. It’s just a hobby for me anyway, isn’t it? It’s not like it’s my job. I don’t make my living off of it.

Maybe not; but it’s what gives me life.

Work out of your strengths. Isn’t that what job coaches tell us? If you’re in a job that constantly demands things of you that you find it a stretch to do, then maybe seeking God about another job would be a good idea. Now, I know in this economy that isn’t easy. Sometimes that strength may have to come on the side. Love doing administrative work? Ask your church if they need help in the office sometimes. Love working with kids? Volunteer as a mentor at a local school. Need to be outdoors? Use your evenings and weekends to fulfill that desire.

Life is too short to always work out of our weaknesses. God gave us strengths, gifts that we need to embrace and use for His glory. If I can take 10 minutes a day, or even every other day to get some words out there, I will feel much better.

What about you? What gift do you need to accept and use more?

Thankful today for:

604. people who leave really cool stuff out on the curb that I can then snatch up

605. grace

606. my team making it into the playoffs!

607. the chance to go to Colorado next week with my husband

608. friends who will help my kids while we’re gone

What Do You Know?

I haven’t been able to write lately, because I’ve been at school every day, breaking in a new batch of 6th graders. Here are my observations from my first week teaching middle schoolers:
1. They are older than 2nd graders
2. They can actually carry on intelligent conversations and ask thoughtful questions
3. I love not having to teach math
4. They are good writers!
5. I can read their handwriting without much trouble
6. I love not having to fill out a homework sheet
7. Now that I have teenagers, middle schoolers aren’t so scary
8. I love not having seat work!
9. I can keep my expectations high and not have to worry about being disappointed
10. I know more than I thought I did

 

Thankful today for:

579. my co-teacher Jenni. She rocks!

580. my school being right across the street

581. my 10 6th graders. They rock too!

582. that my kids are old enough to get themselves up, dressed and fed

On Mission

Several years ago, I helped edit a curriculum called “The Significant Woman.” One of the goals of this curriculum is to have you write a mission statement, so that you have a basis for doing the things you want to do or are asked to do by others. We all know that we can get sucked into a relentless schedule by filling it with everything anyone wants us to do.

Even though I did not actually go through this curriculum in the group the way it’s designed, because I edited it, I was aware of the principles. So I wrote my mission statement. Here it is:

To raise godly children in community with other believers; to enable others to communicate professionally and clearly by using my writing and editing skills; to support my husband in a way that makes him feel empowered and loved; and to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in the process.

It was only supposed to be one sentence, but, through the clever use of semi-colons, I was able to say what I wanted to. So now, I have a way to look at all my activities and see if they meet the goals of my mission statement.

1. Teaching 2nd grade at Trace Academy: This was a little hard to put into my mission statement, because I couldn’t exactly see how it fit. I just knew that it was what God wanted me to do. But then, as I looked again, I realized that my first clause says “to raise godly children.” It doesn’t say they have to be my children. I am so fulfilling that goal by helping to raise these 2nd graders in community with their parents and other believers. And everything I do in regards to that occupation is very fulfilling.

2. Copyediting Worldwide Challenge magazine: I have been involved with the magazine in one capacity or another for 26 years. Whereas my first love is writing, I am also detail oriented and qualified to answer most questions that come up regarding grammar and style in the articles we publish. What I do there definitely fulfills my mission statement as I use my writing and editing skills to help others communicate better.

3. Ferrying my children to their various activities: This is not just something I do because I’m a mom. We evaluate each activity our children are a part of and weigh it against our priority of having dinner together each night and having quality family time. We are teaching them the value of perseverance, health, exercise, sportsmanship, and everything else that goes along with being a part of tae kwon do, fencing, archery, horseback riding and the like. But it is still my responsibility to make sure that we, as a family, are not over stretching.

4. Running my household: This, of course, fits into my goal of loving and caring for my husband so that he feels empowered to do what he’s called to do. If I’m constantly gone or neglecting him and the household, then he is severely handicapped from doing his job. That’s not good.

5. Participating in spiritual activities: This category is probably the most nebulous, but if I am going to enjoy my relationship with God, I actually need to spend time with Him. Whether it’s going on retreats, participating in a home group through my church, reading, whatever, if it builds my relationship with God and allows me to love and serve Him better, then it is on mission.

Having a mission statement might seem like it puts a box around your life and constrains you, but it is actually very freeing. I know that each and every thing that I do fulfills what I see as my mission. I listen to the Holy Spirit, go where He wants me to go, and if something comes up that doesn’t seem to fit in with my purpose, then my agreeing to do it has to be a very clear directive from God.

I want to make a difference. I want my life to count. I want to be a significant woman. Weighing every opportunity against my God-ordained mission increases my chances of that being the case. I’m not just randomly doing whatever comes along.

Proverbs 16:3 says: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

He calls me, He won’t let me fail. He always follows through.

Thankful today for:

78. hard decisions

79. lesson plans

80. a less stormy day than was predicted

Making My Life Count

I always wanted to write the great American novel. I wanted it to be something that withstood the test of time. Now, at the age of 50, I find that pipe dream becoming like so much smoke. What do I really have to say, anyway? I have no story in me just waiting to get out. Will I ever? I don’t know. But I’m learning that I need to be satisfied with where God has me, while still trying to be all that God wants me to be.

But I was thinking about different writers I’ve read. Some of them have been good, some not so much.Take Dostoyevsky for example: now, that man could write. His amazing works have definitely stood the test of time, but I doubt I could get my children to read him. They are much more of the Harry Potter generation.

Speaking of which, how in the world did J.K. Rowling come up with the amazingly imaginative, complicated and action-packed plot, sustained through 7 novels? I admit, I loved the Harry Potter series. That doesn’t always go over well in the evangelical world. But, as a writer, I thought they were very well written and fun. I am amazed at her ability to tell an enchanting tale. She certainly had an impact on life. There’s now an entire theme park in Orlando based off of her creation. Amazing.

But is J.K. Rowling on the same level as Dostoyevsky?

Nicholas Sparks, Tom Clancy, James Patterson, Danielle Steele. All of them have become very wealthy writing books people like to read. And making movies out of them. But have they changed the world? Words are powerful, so if their words have gotten even one person to look at things differently, then yes, they have changed a small corner of the world.

C.S. Lewis? J.R.R. Tolkien? Masterful storytellers whose books finally made it to the big screen. Did they change the world? For those who have been touched by their works, they have certainly had an influence.

For good or for evil, words change lives.

I’ll be honest with you, I struggle with my motivation for writing this blog. Do I just write so that people will read it and think it’s great? (Thank you to those who have hit the “like” button over the past couple of months.) Or do I write because to not do so would be like not breathing? Is it so ingrained in me that I simply must write lest I die? Or do I just want to cause someone who reads my words to say, “Huh. I never thought of it that way before”?

I want to change the world. But I know without the power of Jesus in my life, that won’t happen. And maybe my world is just the three kids I call my own. If my influence is only on them, and that is what God has called me to do, then that should satisfy me.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 New International Version).

Offering to God everything I do, whether it’s writing, copy editing, or teaching a classroom full of 2nd graders. Everything. And let Him do with it what He may. Write because He compels me to, not because someone might think it’s a good read.

But it sure would be nice to see my name on the jacket of a book some day.

Thankful today for:

69. the beach
70. three days alone with my husband
71. corporate discounts on hotel rooms at the beach