Tag Archives: Truth

Prologue to Fearlessness

Today I’m working on the book proposal for a book I’m planning to write. I thought I’d share with you all the first draft of the Prologue. I’d love to hear what you think.

Prologue

Some people are born fearless. You can see it when they are just a kid. They are almost like adrenaline junkies with no thought of the consequences.

There was a kid that lived in our neighborhood when my son was young. He was the epitome of fearlessness—or perhaps more accurately recklessness. One day I saw this kid on his scooter heading down the hill we live on. (I never could get my own cautious son to try his scooter down that hill until he had learned to ride it on much safer roadways.) Now riding a scooter may not sound fearless—or reckless—but when you do it with roller blades on it’s what I would call foolhardy.

If you are one of the fearless ones, then this book isn’t for you. You can put it down right now, or better yet, give it to one of your scaredy-cat friends. You know the one—you’re thinking of her right now.

But if you aren’t fearless—if friends call you cautious, reserved, timid—if you feel like life is passing you by because you are too afraid to take a risk—then this book is for you.

I’m 50 years old and since I was a teenager I’ve dreamed of writing a book. I have numerous book ideas scribbled in journals, but I was always too afraid of failure to do anything with them. I’ve even seen some of my book ideas in the bookstore—written by someone else.

Nine years ago I had an idea for a book about telling our stories. It was inspired by a women’s retreat that I helped plan and spoke at. I spoke to the women about how important it is to tell our stories because it is our stories that bring us together, help us feel not so alone in this big, scary world. I talked about why we don’t tell our stories, which is essentially because we are afraid that people will judge us, that they don’t really want to hear what we have to say, and that it will make people not like us. All of those reasons are a lie, and I toyed with the idea of writing a book debunking those lies and telling my stories.

In 2014, Nish Weiseth wrote a book about telling our stories titled Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World, published by Zondervan. It’s not exactly the book I had in mind, but it’s close. And it’s been quite successful.

All that fear got me was a missed blessing. The book I didn’t write wasn’t a failure because I never took the risk to write it. I kept it in my head—and as a little journal note—where it was safe. It was also unusable by God in that place.

Since that time I have written and published my first book—it’s a book of poetry about my struggles with depression called Light in My Darkness: Poems of Hope for the Brokenhearted. It’s not the book I ever thought I would write, but it has been such a blessing. (More about that in chapter 9).

My hope is that this book will help you take a few calculated risks in this scary life. My prayer is that in doing so you will understand that God has your back and will bless you with greater knowledge of His love and grace than you could ever imagine.

To be clear, I’m not advocating recklessly riding your scooter down a hill with roller blades on. That’s just dumb. I’m advocating listening to God, trusting His Word, and living like you are fearless. It can be done. I’m living proof.

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The Blessings of Obedience at F&C Writers Conference

It’s been three weeks since I went to the Faith & Culture Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since, but with the NaPoWriMo challenge and other responsibilities I just didn’t have time.

But I’m glad I waited, because if I’d written this post two weeks ago I probably would have simply listed bullet points of what some of the speakers said. While that may be useful and interesting, because they said a lot of profound stuff, it wouldn’t get to the heart of what I learned. In the past few days, I’ve been pondering what I truly learned from my conference experience and that’s what I want to share today.

First, I learned to listen to God’s nudges to do something even if it makes no sense. He has a plan and blessings will ensue if I am obedient.

The first day of the conference I wasn’t sure which breakout session to attend during the first set of breakouts. I had tentatively decided ahead of time to attend one that I thought I should go to and that looked interesting. But that morning I felt a strong nudge to attend a session titled Christ-Centered Editing led by Leanne Sype. It seemed ridiculous to me because I know about editing. At work, I live and breathe editing, am familiar with style guides and grammar resources, and know the importance of having someone else edit your writing. But the nudge was strong so I went with it.

It didn’t take me long into the session to realize I was in the right place. Leanne was a wonderful presenter who talked not about the mechanics of editing, but rather about a number of books she had the privilege to edit. The titles of those books spoke to me. Her focus on Christ-centered big-picture editing of those books was spot on.

Leanne talked about not writing or editing to sound like someone else who is a great writer, but rather to find my own God-given voice. It requires surrender to Christ when I write, staying tuned to Christ so my nature voice will emerge in my writing. In my notes I wrote, “Organized, linear, logical is my voice.” Turns out this is what I needed to hear.

The real blessings from my obedience to that nudge came later. Blessing one was when, in a session by Bob Welch the next day, Leanne sat next to me and we had a wonderful conversation. I found out she was a delightful person with fears and insecurities, just like me.

Then, the following week when I received my score sheets for the essay contest, I discovered that she was one of my judges. She gave me awesome, encouraging feedback and a good score. She affirmed that my organized, linear, and logical way of writing resonated with someone and was an encouragement to trust God. Her feedback, coupled with the less-than-positive scores and feedback of the other two judges, reminded me that my writing, my voice, will not resonate with everyone. But God will take my writing where it will be an encouragement and those who flat-out don’t connect with my writing shouldn’t discourage me from writing what God wants me to say.

Second, I learned to listen to God’s nudges to do something even if I really don’t want to do it. When I registered for the conference, I signed up to meet with an editor from a mid-sized publishing house. I had a plan to pitch to him a daily devotional on being fearless. I began working on the book proposal, but I struggled with writer’s block.

God began nudging me to pitch a different book—my memoir. I did not want to write my memoir, at least not yet, and I told God so. The nudges continued and my conversation with God about the subject ended with “Fine, I’ll write a book proposal!” I sat down at my computer to work on that book proposal and the words fairly flew onto the page.

I was still conflicted because the publishing house I had the editor-appointment with doesn’t publish memoirs; they do a lot of devotionals and other types of books, but not memoirs. I decided I would just talk to the editor about the two projects and get his feedback, without expecting him to have any interest in either book. But as I prayed for direction, I felt uneasy about this plan. I knew the editor was at the conference with the hope of finding a new book idea that he could get behind, and I would be wasting his time just seeking advice.

The Tuesday before the conference, as I prayed, I felt a new nudge. “You could sign up for a second appointment with another editor or agent,” the Lord said. So that’s what I did. I signed up to meet with an agent, who I later learned specialized in memoirs.

The blessing came when the editor and the agent independently suggested that I combine the two proposals. The editor told me that daily devotionals are not selling that great these days, perhaps because there are so many on the market. However, a book about overcoming fear written in a memoir style would fit into a popular trend. Then he told me to email him a revised book proposal for a book along those lines. (There was more to his suggestion, but I don’t want to reveal too much about my current book idea just yet.)

If I had walked into the appointment with the agent with only the devotional proposal, I don’t think the current book idea or the editor’s offer to consider my book proposal would have happened. Because I was obedient to God’s nudge to write a proposal for my memoir even though I didn’t want to, I was blessed by this new direction and opportunity.

There is more that I learned at the conference, but this blog post is already long enough. Perhaps I’ll share more another day.

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What Shall I Do?

Shall I watch you
drink the Kool-aid
when the nectar’s
free for all

Shall I watch you
peer into the abyss
when I can see
you’ll surely fall

Shall I watch you
pour water in your tank
when I’m certain
it’ll make you stall

Shall I watch you
attempt to escape
when there’s danger
beyond the wall

Or shall I warn you?

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A Conversation with My Fearful Self

This poem was inspired by the April 16 prompt from The Daily Poet by Kelli Russell Agodon & Martha Silano. The prompt was to write a conversational poem in which alternating stanzas were two speakers in a conversation. I decided to write a conversation with myself.

A Conversation with My Fearful Self

I can’t wait for the conference
It’s going to be so much fun
I’m so glad Ginger wants to go with me
I’ll text her about picking her up and
see what she wants from Kyra’s Bakery

Ginger hasn’t texted me back
I’ll bet she doesn’t even want to go
to the conference with me at all

What? Ginger does so want to go
to the conference with you
She is just as excited about it as you
I’ll bet she just didn’t see your text

It’s been two days, of course she has
I’ll bet she hasn’t answered
because she’s trying to figure out
how to get out of going

That’s ridiculous! You know she wants to go
I’m sure she’s just been busy
or the text got buried
amongst a bunch of other texts
and she didn’t even see it

I’m just sure she doesn’t want to go
At least not with me
She’s probably trying to find
someone else to go with

Enough of that nonsense!
Just email her and ask

Fine, I’ll email her
but she won’t answer my email either

See, I told you so
Ginger emailed you back
and the only reason she didn’t answer before
is because she couldn’t decide
what kind of cupcake she wanted

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I Believe

At dVerse Poets Pub today Anna calls us to think about our diaphanous diction, the words we love and are drawn to, and the type of poetry we normally write. The word “beloved” immediately came to mind. It’s one I use a lot and will continue to use because it describes my very being in a way no other word can.

In thinking about the type of poetry I write, I have been accused of too often focusing on the things of God. But I find that is where my heart is, where I dwell as beloved.

I Believe

I believe
I am beloved
I believe
with all my heart

I believe
You are God
Creator of the universe
and this earthly planet I trod

I believe
You are compassion
Died for me so I could live

I believe
Your Word is truth
My source of life and love

I believe
I am beloved
Because You declare it
in Your Word

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The Sound and the Silence

Deafening
Hammer on nails
Pounding pounding pounding
A tear falls

Deafening
Jeers and insults
Taunting taunting taunting
A prayer replies

Deafening
Darkness and earthquake
Trembling trembling trembling
A price is paid

And then silence

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Like Santa Ana Winds

The Poetic Winds of March are blowing over at dVerse Poets Pub today. Kathleen Everett has challenged to write about the wind or to use the wind as a character or presence. I decided to combine my two favorite winds in this poem. The first is the Santa Ana winds of my youth in California. Although they could be dangerous because they fueled wildfires, I loved them.

Like Santa Ana Winds

As the arid Santa Ana winds
sweeping across
the hot California landscape
embrace me
warm my skin and to my core
feels like heaven

So does Your Holy Spirit
sweeping through
my cold inner heartscape
embrace me
warm the depths of my soul
promises heaven

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The Beginnings of a Poem

This is the beginning of a poem I’m sharing for Meeting the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub, following the Oulipo option from Anna. Playing with language and poetry rules, I’m writing a poem with the following self-imposed rules:

  1. It’s a Terza Rima with 26 stanzas plus the ending line
  2. It’s in the style of a Hebrew acrostic, like Psalm 119, so that each stanza begins with a successive letter of the alphabet—in this case, the English alphabet
  3. Each stanza begins with a name or characteristic of God
  4. Each line is 7 syllables, because 7 is the number of perfection
  5. The first line and the ending line end with the word “love” because God is love

Anyway, it’s not finished. It’s much more than a 48-hour project. But I wanted to share what I have so far, the first 7 stanzas, and get some feedback. One thing I can’t decide is whether to use “Thy, Thee, and Thou” throughout or the more modern “You and Your.” This version uses Thy, etc.

Oh, and it doesn’t have a title yet. Here it is.

Adonai, my Lord of love
How I long to see thy face
Alight on me, Holy Dove

Bread of Life, strength for the race
Thy Word, my faith sustain me
Resting, resting on Thy grace

Creator, who made the tree
Sun and moon, all life, mankind
Thou gave us but one decree

Deliverer, oh so kind
Even though I break Thy law
Giving sight when I am blind

Elohim, I kneel in awe
Before Thy majestic throne
In Thee is nary a flaw

Father, mercy Thou hast shown
To Thy undeserving child
Though to wander I am prone

Good Shepherd, meek and mild
Keep me in Thy safe lockup
Bring me back when I’m beguiled

 

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Hate Never Wins

Cain killed his brother Abel
with a rock because of hate
But in the end
Cain didn’t win

Hate never wins

Pontius Pilate killed Jesus
had him crucified and buried
But in the end
Pilate didn’t win

Hate never wins

Caligula killed for pleasure
was a truly evil emperor
But in the end
Caligula didn’t win

Hate never wins

Ivan the Terrible killed his own son
in a fit of characteristic rage
But in the end
Ivan didn’t win

Hate never wins

Hitler killed the Jews and more
in gas chambers and by firing squad
But in the end
Hitler didn’t win

Hate never wins

Saddam Hussein killed all opposition
reigning terror on the nation he led
But in the end
Hussein didn’t win

Hate never wins

Pol Pot killed a million Cambodians
by starvation, imprisonment, and murder
But in the end
Pol Pot didn’t win

Hate never wins

Francois Duvalier terrorized Haiti
assassinating many, leaving them poor
But in the end
Duvalier didn’t win

Hate never wins

Idi Amin killed fellow Ugandans
by torture and executions
But in the end
Amin didn’t win

Hate never wins

Islamic extremists kill Christians,
Hindus, Muslims who don’t agree with them
But in the end
They won’t win

Hate never wins

Even when the battle is lost
Hate never wins its war against love

 

The prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem against terrorism. Head over and check out the other offerings by poets standing up for what is right.

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My Schedule

I wrote this poem last Saturday during a poetry workshop at the Oregon Christian Writers’ 1-day winter conference. The assignment, if you will, was to write a poem similar to one titled “Holiday Concert” by Maryann Corbett. This is what I came up with. And when I read it to the group, it made me cry.

My Schedule

He needs my help; I don’t have time
I’m too busy with Bible study lessons,
calling all my ladies, leaving voicemails
They don’t want to talk
But he does, he needs me

He needs my help, my love, my advice
But there’s laundry to do, poems to write
Groceries to buy—milk, eggs, more canned goods
just like the ones already in the pantry
I’m just too busy, it never ends

He needs my help; I promise “tomorrow”
or the next day, but there’s a conference
I simply must attend, and a poem to write
and a funeral to drive to in another state,
and then work. Still he waits, patiently

But I wonder, does he know how much
I love him so, I want to help him
to listen to his woes, to encourage him
Once I’m done paying the bills and
doing the taxes and sorting the mail

One day I’ll look back and wonder why
he wasn’t a bigger part of the endless
schedule of less important things

3/10/15 Update: Linked this today for the Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub where Anthony is calling for confessions. This seemed to fit.

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