Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Prayer

(This is not the best poem I ever wrote but it is a prayer from my heart. I hope you enjoy it and make it your prayer too.)

Thank You for dying on the cross for my sin.
Thank You for bringing new life deep within.
I long so to please You in all that I do.
So come, Lord, abide in me and I in You.
Everyday, I will open my heart and my ears
To listen to Your Word. Speak softly but clear.
I'll worship, walk close with You, stay by Your side.
Lord, please come and dwell in me. Come be my Guide.

Your daughter

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Characters from The Real World

It's been a while since I have experienced this but today, everyone I looked at became a character for a story.
There were the four pre-teen girls dancing down the sidewalk to the Big Band Music blaring out of the speakers at the Classic Car Show that I took the boys to today. The four best buddies were suddenly tap dancers on stage to me.
Then there was the old man who looked like a modern day John Wayne. He was sitting next to his car smoking a cigar, trying to look tough but you could read all over his face that he was really a softie in disguise. He was playing a part.
Next was the fifty-something year old lady dressed up for Halloween I suppose. She wore cat ears and striped, speckled knee socks with matching shorts and blouse that made her look like a giant piece of candy corn. She suddenly became this theatre actress in my mind. I almost heard her singing a show tune as she sprung past me on the sidewalk.
There is not much I don't notice about watching people. (No, I'm not a stalker, just a people-watcher. Writers do that sometimes.) I sometimes wonder what people think and what their stories are. I hope they don't mind me watching them. It's fascinating. I love watching children and seeing the joy of innocence and the delight of learning. I love watching them with their grandparents or an older sibling. There is so much to be learned about life and relationships when doing this.
Most of my writing has been non-fiction but I have dabbled in fiction a little too. My fiction has utilized a memory of people I've seen or known and incorporated it into a character. I don't write all my characters that way but take bits and pieces from people I've known or met and meld them into a character that interests me.
What do you do? How do you invent characters? Do you people-watch too? (Not stalk. That is weird. I'm speaking of a glance or two out of curiosity.)
It's kind of fun trying to match a shopper walking out of the mall with the car they are about to unlock. I guess. Sometimes I'm right. Other times I have been quite surprised. I've learned so much about people. For instance, I've seen an older man approach and unlock a sports car and try to act youthful. I've seen a well-built gentleman look around nervously as he climbed into a mini-van or beater (that's what New Yorkers call a beat up car). Human nature is revealed through the body language and facial expressions of the people around me. Of course one should be careful of becoming judgemental as well. Observation sometimes misses details because they are not evident at first glance.
As Christians we have someone watching us but it is not because they want to write a story about us. Or is it? God had plans written for our lives before time began. The devil would like to re-write those details. We need to portray what is true to our faith and be aware that we are being watched both by God and the devil. Our lives are in God's hands. The steps of a good man or woman are ordered by the Lord and He delights in them.
There are also other witnesses watching us. They may be other characters in the story of our lives. What do the other characters see about and in us? What do our actions tell about us?
I have lots of flaws. I have feet of clay. I know others do not see perfection in me. I don't expect them to. I share it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. Through it all, however, I hope that people see this frail body and weak will to be dominated by a spirit that loves God and people. Even in my people watching, I pray. If I see a sad face, an angry soul, a lonely heart or hear hollow laughter, I realize that although the people I am watching make good characters for my stories, they are also real world people with real world needs, just like me.
Maybe this sounds too wacky to you. I just had to give you a look inside my head for a minute. This is what I think: We can learn a ton about writing from life and piles about life from writing.
What kinds of things have you learned from your characters or even people from whom you created aspects of your characters? What do you think that life has taught you about writing or what has writing has taught you about life?
Leave a comment, please. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writing From the Shadows

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare of the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
He is my God and I am trusting Him.
For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague.
He will shield you with His wings.
He will shelter you with his feathers.
His faithful promises are your armor and your protection.

Psalm 91:1-4
NOTE: I've not been writing on here everyday as usual because I am juggling many things at this time. But don't worry, I'm not far away. I am resting in the shadows for now. Until then, enjoy a few words that are not my own.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Are the Words?

What are the words?
They won't seem to come.
All I can think of is ho-hum-drum.
I wish I could pen them but they run away.
What are the words that I could say today?

Okay, it's rather silly but you get the point. All of us get writer's block from time to time or we wish that we did so we didn't write something that ridiculous. Hey! Don't knock it. Dr. Seuss made a living from writing the likes of such nonsense!

My point? Christians and non-christian writers alike suffer from this ailment. How do you overcome this as a writer? Usually if I am unable to write, it is because I'm either too tired or too busy and can't slow down enough to formulate the words.

If that is the case, I take a break and do something fun (though I have to admit to being a little deficient in the fun-activity-finding category). After a brief enjoyable retreat I come back--relaxed enough to write.

If it is because I am too tired, then heaven help us! I am going to write something goofy. Some of my best writing has come when I had writer's block and just wrote whatever crazy thing came to mind. Other times, the product made a flight across the desk into the circular file.

Sometimes, spending a little extra time in prayer helps me bring to mind a spiritual truth or a new direction for my writing. I always ask the Lord to help me to write for Him. I figure that if I've done that and still have nothing to say, then I might be better off saying nothing at all.

Let's here some of your ideas. How do you cure writer's block?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Write Stuff-His Words Through Our Words

As Christian writers, we desire to reflect the image of the Author of Life.

Here is what His Word is to us.

Lord, make our words breathe life and bring light to our readers as well. Let us follow in your example. Use our words to bless our readers in this same way.

1. Make our words a lamp to light the way. Psalm 119: 105, 140 "Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our pathway...Your Word is very pure..."

2. Let our words cleanse. John 15:3 "Now you are clean through the words which I have spoken unto you."

3. Make us mighty in word and deed. Luke 24:19b "...Jesus of Nazareth...mighty in deed and word before God and all the people."

4. Let Your Word dwell in us that it may come forth in our words and go forth with power and blessings. Colossians 3:16a "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wield Your Words Wisely

Words are powerful. I say that often because I believe it. Christian writers have an even greater responsibility to wield their word power and WORD power wisely.

Ecclesiastes 12:10-12 says, "The Teacher searched to find just the right words and what he wrote was upright and true. The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails--given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body."

Here, Solomon was not trying to say that it is a waste of time to write or study. If you read the passage, you will see that the focus is on making sure that your words and actions are guided by the Lord and that they are true to the Word.

Writers are a dime a dozen these days. Godly and good writers are not as plenteous. Mankind has a great deal to say-some of which is pure babble and of others, pure wisdom. Solomon reminds us that "... God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing whether it is good or evil."

I saw this quote on a fellow writer's blog. TIMES ARE BAD. CHILDREN NO LONGER OBEY THEIR PARENTS AND EVERYONE IS WRITING A BOOK. ~ Cicero, 53 B.C.E. (Written so long ago but so apropos).

Lest you run away discouraged, listen to this: Isaiah 50:4, "The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught..." These words are Messianic prophecy but I think that they can encourage us as well to know that we who have the mind of Christ can be instructed of the Lord in what to write so that we may give sustenance to the weary, rejoice with those who rejoice, and teach truth and wisdom to the simple.

Not everything we write as Christians is inspirational or devotional. Some is entertainment, amusement, or catharsis. In all of this, God can use our words to touch the heart of another and speak His truth--yes, even through humor. All of these types of writing have a place in the world. The Christian writer is unique in that he or she can use any of them to weave in a mesh of truth which nails the truth deep in a reader's heart.

Sometimes, we get discouraged from a professional standpoint. The writing business boils down to sales at times. Sales are "feast or famine". In the dry times, we wonder if writing these words is really worth all the effort. I'm here to say to myself and others that "Yes! It will be worth it all when we see God using our words, even the words that we give out for free on our blogs and newsletters. None of it is a waste of time.

I pray that you and I will remember that we are not the ones holding the power of our words. If we exercise ourselves in skillful practice and open our ears to the guidance of God, He will make them like arrows carrying the message that our readers need to hear.

NOTE to our readers: I am not saying that we are as inspired as the Holy Bible; what I am saying is that God can speak to and through us as Christians who love to wield our words and His Words. That is what makes us inspirational writers.

A prayer for our readers:

Give us wisdom.

Unveil our eyes.

I nspire our ideas.

D irect our steps.

E ncourage us.

O verpower our fears.

U nwrap our dreams and

R epackage them how You desire.

W hen we're weary

O nly in You can we...

R enew our strength and

D aily breathe new life.

So let my words be wise.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Is the Shepherd in the Driver's Seat?

When you were a child, did you ever ride in a car with a trustworthy adult who suddenly took you on unfamiliar roads? Though it startled you, you knew and loved the driver enough to know that they were taking you someplace nice? Perhaps it was full of bumps and scary ravines, a lonely dirt road or even in a busy metropolitan area where they had to dodge traffic and take quick sharp turns. No matter how tough it got, you never tried to take the wheel. Why would you, anyway? You can't drive. You don't know the way.
"Where are we going?" you asked.
"Don't worry. You'll like it. Just trust me," came the reply.
So you sit, grinning ear to ear or staring out the window, trying to figure it all out and then finally give up. Either you sat there in peace, knowing that everything was going to be okay or you started up a conversation about something else, all the while thinking about where your journey would take you?
When you finally arrived, you found yourself at a sandy ocean beach or cozy restaurant with an ice cream parlor on the side. All the wonder and worry seem to fade away and you revel in your destination.
Well, life is kind of like that sometimes for a Christian. Sometimes we think we know the familiar way to go. We map it out. Plan our work. Work our plan and suddenly, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory.
If you are a Christian, you have moved to the passenger seat and trusted the Almighty to drive your life and your career path. You are His child and look to Him to take you where you need to go.
Psalm 23 says, "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me able to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake."
We know this. We quote it. But when the tough times come, what do we do? Quote and believe the rest? "Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me..."
It's not often that we walk through the valley of the shadow of death but we do walk through grave situations. Financial struggles, stressful schedules, health issues, unknown futures--these things all overwhelm us. They tempt us to jump back in the driver's seat of our lives and careers. We try to take matters in our own hands and fix things. But we can't drive. We don't know the way. If we try to chart a course in unfamiliar territory, we will be lost or end up in an unpleasant place.
So what can we do? Look to Him. Do not fear. Trust and let go of the wheel. Remember that He is taking you someplace good--someplace with a hope and a future--somewhere unforgettable.
"...You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."