Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brought to you by the Letter F

I found myself very distracted in church this morning, and it seemed that whatever was distracting me was one out of four “f” words (no not that “f” word). My mind kept wandering away to family, friends, future, or facebook. I started my drive to church thinking about my future, where my life is going, where God wants me, and when I’ll finally get married. These thoughts continued on into Sunday school. As the prayer requests were brought up, I began to drift into thoughts of my family and their needs. Then, I started to think about my friend, Shannon, and her upcoming wedding...which brought my thoughts back to the future and what I’d do in planning my own wedding. I started off the worship service thinking about facebook. I wondered whose birthdays were coming up, and I thought about how I needed to send an email to my cousin who decided to delete her facebook account. Then, my mind wandered on some more with my family, friends and future. Finally, I realized how I was letting myself drift away and was not paying attention to the message being preached. What did I do with this realization? Well, I thought of a fifth “f,” my followers on this blog. I came up with the idea for this entry and how I could put it into words. There are many other “f” words that tend to take our minds away or use up our free time (don’t worry, I thought of these after church): food, fun, failures, feelings, fantasies, fads, functions, Farmville…the list could go on and on and this is just one letter! Now it is kind of funny how I’m writing about how distracted I was, and even most of this very writing before your eyes was concocted within my distraction, but at the same time it reminds me of an “f” word I should have had a grip on. Focus.
Sometimes, or rather most of the time, it seems that I do find myself distracted by the worries of everyday life. I get so caught up in the wonderings and the wanderings of my circumstances that I forget about where my focus should be. God is just waiting for me to lift up these concerns and questions in prayer and let my mind rest in Him. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these “f” words, but when they take over your (my) priority list and leave God at the bottom, then something definitely needs to be fixed. I’ll leave you with some fitting verses I found…
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV)
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, KJV)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Beginning of a Writer’s Journey

I went to the ladies retreat with my church this past weekend and I came across this sudden inspiration to write. I guess in God’s eyes, it’s not sudden at all, He knows all the seeds He has been planting over the years. I think the very first seed was planted back when I was in 6th grade in Arizona. Through my class' writer’s workshop I first learned about the writing process and different types of poetry, and I found out that I really liked writing. During jr. high and high school, I didn’t get the same enjoyment from writing for my classes, except in my 11th grade English class with the writing portfolios we kept. I did start keeping a diary on a semi-regular basis during high school, and have written in it on and off since then. Those were more seeds for my inspiration. In college, writing became more of a chore, there was always something that needed to be written about in every class, and even many of my exams were essay tests. I started to get tired of writing so much and began to, as they say so nicely, “BS” my way through many of my reflections and reports. Despite these strained feelings toward writing, seeds were still planted from others. My professors would remark on how thoughtful and well-written my reflections were. There was a fellow student who asked me to help write a skit for a group project because she heard I was a good writer. My friends sometimes commented on my cards or emails being inspiring. But at that point in my life and even up until about 2 years ago, I didn’t feel like an inspired, good writer.

Part of my inspiration to write comes from reading good, engaging books. A couple years ago, I hadn’t read anything for a while, and I decided to start back up again. I picked up one of Karen Kingsbury’s books at the library and had no idea what I was getting myself into. For those who haven’t read her books, Karen takes you into her stories in a way that makes you feel like you’re a part of them. I feel like the Baxters are real people who I know personally. There are many other good authors, but the reason I was drawn to Karen’s stories was because those were the types of stories I wanted to write back in the 6th and 11th grades. Realistic fiction: that was the genre I was drawn to; inspiring stories of things that could happen in everyday life. Reading her books revived my desire to write. I started collecting ideas for books or stories by making lists in notebooks, on my computer, in my phone…I had so many ideas floating around that I became overwhelmed with them and had no idea where to begin. So I procrastinated and still did not feel motivated to write, at least not publicly.

Finally I find myself back where I started: with the retreat (everything written beyond my first sentence above was just background information…) The theme was “A Legacy to Remember.” Beforehand, I didn’t really feel like I had a legacy to leave, and being without a husband or children, I had nobody to leave it with. But, God was already preparing my heart for what I’d learn over the weekend. I read a devotional story right before I left on Friday. It was about a girl’s grandmother who wrote thousands of letters to her children and grandchildren throughout her life. It says, “Part of Gram’s legacy was how she lived her life, but part of it, too, was the words she left with us all—words that became an extension of the woman who penned them.” I reflected on the fact that this story mentioned a legacy, which just happened to be the theme of this retreat I was about to leave for. I also began thinking about how much I would love to write more to encourage my friends and family. During the retreat, so many women talked about the legacies that have been passed down through the generations of their families. But, what I noticed the most was the many times writing was involved. Twyla read a story she wrote when she was younger; Darla mentioned the importance of keeping a journal of your thoughts and reflections; Sara brought journals from her experiences in Germany and Mexico. I came to the realization that maybe writing could become my own legacy. After all the encouragement and inspiring moments over the years, my spark was finally ignited. So, I am beginning a journey, one that I plan to share with my friends and family. I don’t really know where this journey is taking me, but I know that I plan to continue on. I want my words to leave a legacy in someone’s life. I don't know if my writing is really that good or not, but I hope these writings are uplifting to those who wish to bear with me through these beginning steps.

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