When Can You Call Yourself a Writer?

I’m writing the synopsis this morning of my YA novel and I’m thinking the whole time, “This novel sucks!  Is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?”

I’m thinking of all the time I have spent working on this novel and the worst-case scenario flashes before my mind:  just another word document on my computer.  Just like all of my other novels and non-fiction work.

I’m frustrated, no doubt.  I think my stuff is good but if I can’t convince anyone else of that then it’s worthless and just a bunch of wasted time.

I never call myself a writer.  I just don’t.  Sure, I have a blog but so do lots of other people.  I would like to definitively say, “Yes, I’m a writer.”  But I just don’t.  I guess I don’t feel like one until I have something published.  Otherwise, I feel like a tinker.  When I say this, I mean one who works with something in an unskilled manner, an experimenter, a fiddler.

I fiddle.  I tinker.  I experiment.  Not create, enthrall, or inspire.

Sigh.  I feel this as God’s calling, but I also feel frustrated when I languish.  Give me something here, Lord.  Anything!

Words of encouragement only get me so far.  I’m results oriented.

And right now it seems like results are light-years away.

The Animal Hedge

“Slowly they (the sons) realized that they’d seen in the hedge what lay deep in their hearts and heavy on their minds.”

The Animal Hedge by Paul Fleischman tells the story of a farmer who loses his farm and begins to carve his passions (farm animals) into his hedges.  One day, he tells his sons they must look in the hedges to find the answer to what their calling was.

In the end, the sons realize they saw in the hedges what was in their minds and hearts:  what their calling was in life, their passion, what was most on their minds.

Great story of finding your passion.  It seems to say we all know what our passion is; it’s just a matter of stepping back and letting the shape form in our minds until we recognize and acknowledge it.

“We Often Look So Long and So Regretfully Upon the Closed Door that We Do Not See the New Ones Which Open for Us”

Words I needed to hear courtesy of Mary Pope Osborne and her Magic Tree House Series.  Here, Osborne quotes Alexander Graham Bell in Night of the New Magicians.

The entire quote of Mr. Bell’s:  “When one door closes, another door opens.  But we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

LOVE THIS!  Especially now as I look to close the door on my life and move to another state.

I cannot praise this series enough.  I have learned so much myself let alone my kids.  Every book has a great life lesson to apply to life or a great quote from a historical figure (like the one above) that we all need to be reminded of.

In the Night of the New Magicians, Jack and Annie discover 4 secrets from 4 “Magicians”: Alexander Graham Bell, Gustave Eiffel, Thomas Alva Edison, and Louis Pasteur.

Edison’s Secret:  “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Pasteur’s Secret:  “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Eiffel’s Secret:  “From my father I inherited a taste for adventure, from my mother a love of work and responsibility.”

All great quotes from geniuses in their own right.  Way to go, Ms. Osborne!  Thanks for teaching my kids and reminding me of great, timeless advice.

What Does ‘Born-Again’ Mean?

I’m wondering this myself.  I always thought born again meant those who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior because they had done something terrible and for some reason I had a visual image of the fringes of society.  Shame on me!

I’m born-again.  I’m a born-again Christian.  All Christians and those who accept Jesus as their Savior and have been baptized are born again.

Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

“…unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5

Society paints born again Christians as somehow fallen and a bit freaky.  It’s been given a derogatory connotation.  If someone says, “I’m a born-again Christian,” it’s an immediate reaction and for me it is usually negative.  Like somehow you weren’t worthy enough to just be a plain Christian.

We are all born again if we accept Jesus and have been baptized.  As Jesus explains in John 3, you were born once of woman and second of the Spirit.  We are not automatically born saved.  That comes later as an act of free will.

In essence, to be born again is to be born of the Spirit and of water.

I’m wondering if you take this passage literally, born again means you have been baptized AND received the gift of the Holy Spirit. My understanding of being saved is you only have to accept Jesus as your Savior.  John 3:16 “…whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  This act gives you the Holy Spirit inside.

I feel ashamed I bought into society’s view of born-again Christians however it came about.  We should just be Christians, understood to be born again.  Unless the term is meant to differentiate those who have been baptized from those who haven’t?  Even so, I think the term has been grossly misunderstood and misused.

I’m counting on you all to put in your two-cents and offer up some clarification.

Jesus Died By Crowd Mentality

I’m reading in Luke the account of Jesus’s trial and death.  No one wanted to be responsible for killing Jesus it seems–none of the leaders anyways.  But due to the crowd screaming for Jesus’s death, Pilate gave in.

Jesus therefore died due to the power of crowd mentality.  These same people who were praising Jesus when he entered Jerusalem almost in the same breath were now calling for his death.  Why?

Because people went along with the crowd.  And people behave differently when in a crowd.  We have probably all experienced some form of this in our own lives.

Otherwise known as Mob Mentality, Crowd Hysteria, or Herd Behavior, man’s imbedded desire to be liked arises and makes him do things he otherwise would not.

I’m wondering if Pilate himself was afraid of this mob.  We’re not for sure how large the crowd was around Jesus but I’m imagining it must have been considerable in order for Pilate (arguably one of the most powerful men in the Roman Empire at that time) to give in.  Crowds can in one instant change the focus of their anger.

I find this fascinating.  Jesus who had come to save man was ultimately done in by man’s character flaws (of which God had created).  He died by the hands of the people He had come to save.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the whole concept of God having planned everything, including the Fall and Jesus.  It seems like man is the cause of a lot of heartache in this world.  Yet God created us, who we are deep inside, which leads to this heartache.

Why would God create such a flawed creation (when He is perfect) and put up with us?  Why not either: 1) not create us at all or 2) create us differently to avoid all this?

Maybe God has hope one day we will overcome our innate iniquities and tendencies.

The reasoning is beyond me.  Another twist on yesterday’s question about the Fall.

Note to self:  ASK GOD when get to heaven.

Did God Know Adam and Eve Would Eat the Apple?

I was thinking of this the other day in church.  If God is omniscient (all-knowing), then He must have known Adam and Eve would be beguiled by the Devil.  Yet, He asks in Genesis, “Hey Adam, where are you?  Who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3: 9,11)

This must be a rhetorical question.  God knew what had happened.  God know what would happen.

So why create all this in the first place?  Why would God create man, know we would fail Him, God suffer heartache because of it, God have to send His son to redeem us (more heartache for God), all so we piddly humans could be with Him?

Why bother?  Why would God even bother to do all of this?  It seems like a lot of work on His part and I’m not sure His reward. Us?  From my perspective, we don’t seem worth it.

Logically, it’s because of God’s immense love for us.  But I can’t comprehend this.  I can’t comprehend God’s love because I believe God loves differently than we love.  We are motivated by fear, insecurity, and every other human emotion and circumstance.  God isn’t.  God’s love is pure.

This is definitely going on my “ASK GOD” list when I get to Heaven.  I’ve noticed a lot of these lately are “Why” questions.

I Have a Serious Writing Problem…

I was working on my query letter this morning, tinkering with the wording because I have it almost where I want it when I was struck by a thought:  this query letter is better than my book!  I’d better make my book just as good!

So, I began tinkering on my novel again….my finished novel–at least what I had previously thought was finished.

I have had this problem with all of my work.  It’s never finished. I’m constantly tinkering and it drives me up the wall!

I’m wondering if anyone else has this problem.  Just now, I was tinkering some more (well, since I had already started, why stop now?).

I can’t stop myself.  I tell myself I’m done.  Then I’m at it again.

So, I’m wondering:  Is a novel ever finished?  And when?  When it’s in print and you can’t make any more changes?  This I see as my scenario.

Any comments would be most welcome (especially ones saying I’m not crazy!).

This Happens Every May…

God takes me down to remind me my place in this world.

I’m sick.  My throat hurts.  My voice is almost gone.  I have a runny nose and feel all around absolutely miserable.  I can’t sleep. I’m cold.

On Wednesday, our music teacher told me I looked really tired. I’ve been thinking for a couple of weeks now I need to take a break, not work out for a week, not set my alarm for a week but I haven’t.

So God does what I won’t do.

Since August, I’ve been faithfully working out 2-3 times a week, doing BSF every day, working on my novel, and doing all the kids stuff (school, activities, etc).  And getting up early every day in order to accomplish such personal goals.  Not to mention running a household and keeping the dogs alive and my husband happy.

BSF is finally over.  My final edit which took two months instead of two weeks is finally done.  I’m on the verge of being done researching homeschool curriculum.  School is almost over.

Obviously, I need a break.  NOW.

As usual, God has to hit me over the head in order to do it.

He got my attention.  I’m listening…

YOU GOTTA READ THIS BOOK!!!

Did you hear me???!!!

You HAVE to read this book!  I feel like I’m re-living the Isaiah study through the eyes of a child.

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo tells the true story of a 3 1/2 year old kid who says he went to heaven when he almost died in emergency apendectomy surgery.  There is so many life lessons in here I’m not for sure I can summarize it all here but I’ll try.

Lesson #1:  Always trust your gut and get second opinions when it comes to doctors.

The home town doctor of the Burpos told them their son didn’t have appendicitis, which is ultimately what he did have.  His appendix poisoned his body for 5 days before the Burpos sought out a second opinion as they watched their son deteriorate before their eyes.

Lesson #2:  God does answer prayers.

Colton, the son, says Jesus sent him back specifically in answer to his father’s prayers.  Powerful stuff!

Lesson #3:  God gives gifts to be used for His kingdom.

P. 64 Quote:  “We’d been given a gift and our job now was to unwrap it…and see what’s inside.”

We all have gifts to which it is our RESPONSIBILITY to use for His kingdom.

Lesson #4:  Our relatives and pets are in heaven, waiting for us eagerly to be with them.

Colton tells the heart-wrenching story of meeting his unborn sister whom his mother had miscarried. These people are in God’s hands and will be there to hug us when we arrive.

Lesson #5:  The Holy Spirit “shoots down power” for us.  P.126

I liked this one.  To know God gives me strength and energy to make it.

This story is heart-wrenching yet the good that comes out of the bad is extraordinary.  I can guarantee you this child will never doubt the existence of God even as life takes it toll when he ages.

What I like about this story is Colton confirms everything in the Bible.  As humans, we always questions things we can’t see.  The Bible is all about faith, especially in terms of the prophecies and the future.  Colton speaks about such things and the accuracy is amazing.

God gives us these stories to encourage us in our walk with Him. Colton encourages his family and all those who read his story. The End Time stories Colton tells from the book of Revelation are elegant.  God wins in the end and therefore we win.

I can see Colton in my kids.  My kids’ faith is very strong.  They believe and love Jesus with all their hearts, minds, and souls. They never doubt.  I want the child-like faith in Jesus.

Quick read.  Great, uplifting book.  Sure to have you shouting at the end, “Yeah, God!”

BSF Ended. Now What?

I just attended my last BSF class/lecture for the year.  I’ve finished Lesson 30 questions but am still left kicking things around in my head.

The Lesson focused on what we all got out of it.  As I’m thinking on this, I know but I don’t know.  I know it’s impacted me but I’m not for sure how much.  I would be curious to see what those closest to me think.  I think I’m going to ask my husband some of these questions when he gets back home.

This also leaves me wondering what God has gotten out of this. Did He gain some new followers?  Did some accept Jesus and thus earn eternal rewards through BSF’s study?  Did God cheer us on during the woes and during the promises?  Did God get some chuckles from listening to us stumble our way through this at times?

What about me?  What has God gotten out of this in terms of me? How has He used this in me?  Am I a better person, stronger believer, more Christ-like?

I would like to say yes, but in truth I’m unsure.  I look at things from, well, my perspective.  I can’t see myself like others can and definitely not like God can.

There is something churning in my heart I just can’t pinpoint. BSF ended.  But God never ends.  I carry Him with me wherever I go.  He keeps knocking even when I’ve shut the door.

Somehow saying, “I learned…..blank….”  isn’t quite cutting it for me.

How about you?