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The Scariest Answer

hazy streetSo last night I had this epiphany.

You ready for it?

Sometimes the scariest road to walk down is the one marked YES. <–click to tweet

I mean, really. God’s YES can be 100% scarier than His NO.

Look, don’t get me wrong.

When it comes to all prayers worth getting on our knees about, all those heartfelt petitions we bring before the Lord–our greatest dreams and our biggest wishes and the deepest desires of our hearts–NO is not a fun answer.

It can be deflating.

Depressing.

Frustrating.

Maddening.

But it’s also safe.

It’s familiar.

NO doesn’t involve risk, because when you get a NO, you just keep doing what you were already doing.

YES, on the other hand. YES means stepping out into something new.

And that can be a scary beast of a step.

For one, there’s the whole dilemma of figuring out whether God actually said YES, or whether we just want this thing (whatever it is) so badly, we are fabricating the  YES in our heads.

I mean, if we’re going to step out into new territory, we want to make sure we’re not putting words into His mouth, right? But how exactly do we make sure of that?

I think it’s helpful to go back to these two things:

  • God loves us.
  • And He wants us to do His will.

So if we’re on our knees–nay, our FACES–before Him. Begging God to keep  us in His will. To lead us and guide us. To confirm. To close doors. To slam those puppies shut with a bang. To give peace or unrest. To speak and speak clearly. To not let us stray from His paths. And if in the midst of all that, our heart’s cry is HIS WILL–nothing less than His Best for our lives, fully surrendering what we think His best should look like at the altar of “we know better”–then I don’t think this God we worship will let us step outside of His will so easily.

I mean, if my son, whom I love, came to me begging for wisdom and guidance and clear direction for something that mattered dearly to him, I wouldn’t blow him off. I wouldn’t be silent. I would do what good parents do–guide him through whatever waters he’s trying to navigate.

So let’s say we’re praying those prayers and then God says yes, or at the very least, He tells us to step forward into this scary unknown…

Then man, that’s a little terrifying, isn’t it?

The unknown is scary.

Especially since we know from the Bible that God’s YES is not always met with blessing and success and ease and prosperity with a pretty sunset, a big bow, and a happily ever after.

Sometimes God’s YES leads to pain or failure or ridicule or rejection or sickness or (insert any number of bad things here).

And when those things come, we’re tempted to look back and second guess if we ever really heard Him at all.

I guess that’s why it’s so important to listen from the get-go. To pray. To seek Godly counsel. To open up our Bibles every morning, because the Word’s not called living and active for nothing.

And when we feel that holy, undeniable nudge, we put one terrified foot in front of the other.

What terrifying YES has God given you lately?

Katie
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Write Like No One’s Watching

I’m pleased to have fellow writing friend, Rachel McMillan, here today! And I love her topic, too. Sometimes we writers can become paralyzed when we sit down in front of our computers. Today, Rachel gives us freedom to write like nobody is watching! The floor is yours, Rachel. . .

close the door

I love writing. When it is flowing and my finger pads are tip tapping their rhythm, almost as if propelled by a mind of their own, there is no greater euphoria in the world.  When it’s going badly, there is no void that aches so deeply.

I started writing when I was a little kid and have boxes and boxes of long-hand drafts of stories that will never see daylight– hidden in a Rubbermaid container.  I also have stories upon stories of typed words, snippets and novels-in-embryo stored in computer files and on USB drives.  It was not until about a year ago that I first showed someone a novel I had written, signed with an agent and finally plunged into a world of scariness.

You see, to this point, I had only written and edited and revised for myself. Then, frighteningly, my writing, my world, my delightful book people would be appropriated by other eyes, other readers, other interpretations.

Dickens famously knew more about his characters, their broad, over-bearing and perfect personalities, their picaresque journeys and their comical and tragic turns than ever went into the final product. Dickens wrote his best friends, his community and his passions and pursuits and fears and triumphs  seamlessly sewn into his elaborate prosaic puppet play.

There is romance in writing. Let it flow.

Famously, F Scott Fitzgerald wrote by the sentence whittling everything down and revising and revising while his contemporary and erstwhile friend and competitor Ernest Hemingway wanted to strip everything to the sparest form. He was a manly writer.  Alternatively, the flourished and flowery purple prose of a writer like LM Montgomery (who straddled the Victorian and the Modern period in terms of her writing career) was raked over the coals by male critics for writing pretty nonsense.

However you write, dear friend, write for the romance and for the love affair.  If your love affair is pitting a man against a beast with a gun in one hand and balancing a whiskey in the other a la Hemingway, then, do it, but do it for you and not because you want to consciously strip your prose to skeletal —especially in a first draft.  If you, dear friend, love to practice words that may not conjoin well, that may be dissonant chains of intermingling nonsense or forced similes or anecdotes that trail and fall off with far too many adjectives, then do it— if it gives you joy.  Write first for you.

My facebook and blog followers know that I am still feeling the persistent ache of losing my characters to submission. The moment I sent the book to my agent, a small gnawing cavern began growing in my heart. I miss my friends. I miss them all the time. I think about them all of the time. I wonder what they’re doing.  I wonder how to impart them in some next adventure.  I vowed, still uncontracted, that I would set forth on a new novel and not think about the next sequential story that features my dear book people. Easier said than done.  So I made a deal with myself. I could visit them. I could practice and play with them while simultaneously trying something new.

At this point, I am writing for me. For the grand romance that waltzes me with the words, that joins me with my imaginative (and by this point, very fleshed out) book family, to play and prod them further, to re-set them and shove them into grandiose adventures, here and abroad.

Writers, cherish your imaginations.  Not everything that you type on the page necessarily has to be of publishable quality.  Not every try and start and mixed attempt needs to have a planned endgame.

Every word has a purpose. Every word is a piece to a greater puzzle, a stitch in a patch that will sew up a quilt. Its practice, its perseverance and its romance, a tapestry threaded with triumph and failure, good words and bad, over-writing and underdevelopment…

Every word you read and every word you write should be a transcendent experience.

Read to the point of book drunkary. Write to the point of cross-eyed bliss. Whereupon, you wake up and you think of it, you drift to sleep with its scenes stained behind your fluttering eyelids.

Write like no one’s watching.  It might turn out to be the personal best and most unreadable thing you’ll ever write.  But, oh the gloriously, giddy adventure you’ll have when in its word throes.

rachelRachel McMillan blogs at A Fair Substitute for Heaven.  You can find her on twitter at @rachkmc. She is also a frequent contributor to Novel Crossing.

 

Katie
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Things That Make Me Want to Write…

 

2014-10-08 09.04.39

It’s weird, what sparks my creativity. Usually, it’s random things.

For instance…

Country music.

I know, I know. Some of you might be rolling your eyes. Country music isn’t for everyone. In fact, I don’t really listen to it very often. But recently, my husband and I found a station on Pandora that we love. 90s country music. Because that’s when we both listened to it and every song seems to bring back memories.

Here’s the thing about country music.

It tells a story.

Often those stories involve love.

And often, those love stories get the creative juices flowing.

Something else that makes me want to write?

New places.

Recently, I found myself in Brussels.

I was traveling through on my way home from Kinshasa with a five hour layover. So I, along with my travel buddies, decided to venture away from the airport and see what we could see.

Walking around the narrow, cobbled streets, listening as passersby spoke in foreign languages, sampling the most delicious waffle I’d ever tasted, taking in the breathtaking architecture…

Yeah, that got the creative juices flowing too.

Other things that flip my writerly switch and gets the inspirational juices flowing…

– an inspiring sermon

– back road driving

– a good book

– people watching

– witty poetry or beautifully written stories

What inspires you? Have you ever been to Brussels?

Katie
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