Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Why Write?

One of my blogging buddies, East Side Professor, just gave her Creative Writing class a blogging assignment: "Why Write?" It's a nice introductory assignment, and it seems like they're having fun with it. Their responses sent me down memory lane...

In the beginning I felt honored and excited, but what I remember most clearly--poignantly--is the hopeless feeling that sunk in soon when, as a freshman English major, I was placed first-thing into an upper division Expository Writing class where I rubbed shoulders with fantastic writers in their junior/senior years of college. Though I had a great yearning to write, I quickly realized I knew nothing of value to say and couldn't even say "nothing" creatively. Though some freshman are surely more prepared, more mature, had limited perspective and ability to see or pull value from my up-to-then experiences. I didn't even know what there was to know, let alone what my analysis of it would be.  Why write?  Because the teacher said so...

Later--several years, lifetimes, majors, and colleges later--I picked up the mantle of "writer" again, purely for outlet as opposed to career goal, now from a more colorful palette of experiences mixed with tears and deep reflection. I wrote not for assignments or to tell others anything, but to get deep emotions out so I could look at them and heal. My Creative Writing prof found these unsolicited offerings "fresh" and "inspired," and encouraged me to submit them to magazines, but...I didn't write them to tell others...

During that time I did discover a couple important truths with regard to my writing, though. I love to write poetry, but sometimes it feels limiting.  To write well, I need more freedom:

I wish to write 
without pressure of rhyme or meter or cadence...

And while there are important things to be said about peace and chaos and power, shifting boundaries to record, and lessons to learn from historical and current world events, I am most drawn to capture, record, and dwell on simple snapshots:

I wish to write
the taste of melting butter and honey
on steaming homemade fruit dumplings,

the sound of a deep earthy melody
perfectly tuned to universal lyrics,

the glory of a crisp, clean panoramic alpine vision
unmarred even by man's footprint

the feel of your skin brushing mine,
the warmth of humanity beside me

the chara of our newborn son breathing softly in sleep
and our little girl giggling when we tickle her drooly chin...

Okay--I admit I added that last stanza just now. Before I experienced it, I could not have fathomed the immense comfort I would take from hearing our son breathing as he slept in his crib a few feet from our bed, or the joy of our daughter's happy baby coos and giggles. But that's the beauty of writing, eh?  We can review, add, delete, cut, paste, and "give scope to the truth!" (Did Chaucer really say that, or did the scriptwriters just give scope to the truth in A Knight's Tale?) But these things are true, lovely, just, and of good report--valuable! (Phil 4:8,9)

Since college I've had ideas for a novel or two. My 50-page pilot excerpts are tucked away in my files, started but unfinished because I have no gift for strategy (I borrow that line from The Princess Bride often) and still don't know what it's really my job to say. What message does the world need to hear that hasn't already been said repeatedly and eloquently? There's nothing new under the sun. Wisdom has come. It's available. Does the world really need me to reiterate it?!

It's been said, I think in Rory Noland's The Heart of the Artist, or perhaps by a wonderful mentoring friend somewhere along the way, that some of us are more artistic, and some of us are less, and that it takes a bit of artistry to see the wonder and glory of God. Therefore, it is the job of those of us who can see it to show/communicate what we see to those who can't, that they, too, might see the wonder and glory of God.

And I believe God wants to be known.

And I am His servant.

So for me, after all these years, that's "Why write?" Write that we might realize, remind ourselves, and reveal the wonder and glory of God in our lives.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Bravery = having the behavior or character to walk through a situation or do something right even though it frightens one.

Today marked the culmination of our son's most recent worst fear. He's been dreading President Obama's inauguration ever since the election. His fear? That executive orders will outlaw homeschooling; that Democrats will insist on funneling all young, pliable minds through public school for mandatory "tolerance" brainwashing, thus unfairly revoking all kinds of rights and imposing terrors one can only imagine. (And one DOES imagine them!)

My husband and I have been praying and talking our son through his fear repeatedly since it began, but he's been unable to grasp God's peace. Beneath our calming admonitions he's remained steadfastly anchored to his own version of truth. Apparently it hasn't been God's plan to inspire us with the spin that would set him free and give him hope. While we admire and applaud his adherence to his beliefs, he has bordered on irrational. And the topic has popped up at the oddest times, in front of anyone and everyone. If, years ago, our children hadn't come along to be the miraculous catalysts that taught us to surrender our reputation and put on good poker faces at the drop of a hat, we'd have certainly mastered these feats in the past three months!

So our viewing of today's historical inauguration began as a tumultuous tempest. I have to commend our son, though. He's becoming a young man of valor. Despite his strong feelings and desire to bail out of the living room, he found the strength and courage to obey when I told him he HAD to stay and watch and listen, keeping his rage in check and his ranting quips to himself.

Now close your eyes and imagine, if you can, how still and quiet a young man can become as God meets him right where he is.  That is the picture of our son as he listened to the speech--well prepared and delivered by his nemesis--about fear and hope... 

There is still no trust (I'm glad. President Obama is human, inexperienced, a stranger, and a politician. He's fallible, not much older than me, and doesn't seem to have done much more than me except accept a lot of money. As a human being and a leader, he warrants respect, prayer support, and a chance.  But trust? I hope his wife and kids can trust him, but I don't know him from Adam and so far he doesn't have much reputation. Trust is not a part of the package.), but our son's fear has been replaced with wariness, and we are reveling in a peaceful "wait-and-see." Ahhh, thank You, Lord!

I love and value this time in my son's life. Watching a baby grow is amazing. Watching a young child grow is pure fun. But watching a young boy grow into a man, a squire into a knight--that is the embodiment of hope itself. I consider it a privilege to give my son room to grow. But for his sake I also look forward to the time when he'll have the maturity and understanding to appreciate truths like the message Susan posted today at Forever His.

A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.  --Proverbs 29:11

Thursday, January 8, 2009


This week I learned:

"Chara, the Greek word for joy, means calm delight. The greatest concentration of chara in the New Testament is found in John 16, where Jesus uses the word four times within five verses. Between a warning of coming persecution and the darkest hours the disciples would ever know, Jesus speaks to them of joy...For the disciples, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead became a permanent anchor in their lives of joy--not a giddy form of denial, but a calm, ever-present delight."
--from online devotional "a joy that is full" 
by alicia britt chole, http:/

This definition of joy captures me. As we studied biblical holidays last year I felt uneasily challenged by God's commands to celebrate and feast joyfully for whole weeks at a time. These words painted a picture for me of long-lasting large-crowd high-energy giddiness, which seemed like a lot of WORK! Since an important element of each holiday seemed to be refreshment, I was confused. What really seemed preferable and possible to me, especially as we were learning so many new things, were celebrations marked by...calm delight.

I was so excited when I opened my devotional email Monday morning and found that my heart and scripture actually agree on this point!  :~)

I find that chara is not limited to biblical holidays or grave circumstances. Sometimes we find it in the strangest, most unexpected places. While I am not walking in as dark a place as the disciples in John 16, I was blessed with chara at God's provision for me again just this afternoon. A month ago when I placed an order for 20 lbs. of organic skinless boneless chicken thighs, in the online photo they appeared to be one solid, frozen mass. Since then I've wondered how I was going to defrost all those thighs enough to divide them into 2-lb. packages without ruining them. When they arrived today I was on the phone concluding a lengthy editing session, and was completely delighted when I opened the box and found ten 2-lb. packages! While I did not climb on the table and dance a jig or whoop and holler into the phone, I had to ask my caller to give me his ear while I shared my "calm delight" and recently acquired understanding of chara! (He did so lavishly.)

I guess my joy hasn't worn off yet--I'm sharing it with you, too!  ;~) Organic chicken thighs will not be an ever-present delight in my life, but today I can certainly relate them to my permanent anchor, Christ. May the fact that He rose from the dead give you a calm, ever-present joy as well.