Words When There Are No Words

I haven’t done the best job of keeping up with this blog recently. I haven’t planned for topics; therefore, posts have gone unwritten. But today…today, I feel the necessity to try and write words where there are no words. Thoughts where there are only tears. Good where I can only see evil.

In case you don’t live in the United States, or you haven’t kept up with the story, a young girl with the sweet nickname of “Cupcake” was kidnapped from my home city. For two weeks, many people have been hunting for her and praying for her safe return. But, last night…last night that ended with the finding of her remains. My heart hurts for this family. It hurts so much. It hurts that I can see the evil present in this society and not know what to do about it. It hurts that times like these seem to be the only times we come together.

And I don’t know what to do about it. Isn’t it funny that I can sit here and write these words and still not know what to do? I feel paralyzed, and yet, I don’t think God wants me to feel this way. He has a purpose for me as I reflect on this tragic event. First, He wants me to pray for this family and all who knew this child as they mourn. I cannot and will not try to imagine their overwhelming pain. But, I can approach the throne of God on their behalf. I can ask Him to give them peace and comfort as they cry.

I can also love and appreciate my family and the community around me more. I know I’m imperfect at this, but, at the same time, I know that the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and heart can and will help me to love better as long as I don’t get in the way.  🙂

Being a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem is another way I can have an impact. Our world is so divided, so torn apart. Satan wants it that way, you know. He doesn’t want us to know about the incredible love Jesus offers to those who believe in Him. And, if we do believe, Satan does everything he can to make sure that people don’t see Jesus in our lives–don’t see His love or His grace. We can change that. We can mourn with those who mourn, and we can grieve with those who grieve no matter how uncomfortable that might make us. And, we can cling with all our might to the cross, the cross where Jesus demonstrated that love, as I am doing this evening. Oh Jesus, come quickly!

Serious Writers Never Quit: They Find the Way–A Review

I’ve spent this past week reading and considering the words written in this book by Bryan Hutchinson, owner of the Positive Writer blog and website.  https://www.amazon.com/Serious-Writers-Never-Quit-They-ebook/dp/B07XT7BCXV/ref=sr_1_1?crid=XXFQG6QVOD6R&keywords=serious+writers+never+quit&qid=1571002250&s=digital-text&sprefix=serious+writers+never%2Caps%2C304&sr=1-1

Ever since I found his website, I’ve gained knowledge about my craft through his words and the words of others who have guest blogged and written comments. I’ve also read several of his books with this one being the one most recently published. I’ve found that his books have two underlying themes both of which I’ve talked about on this blog myself and both of which I’m looking forward to specifically relating to this book today.

The first of these themes is about the writing craft itself. I found the book knowledgeable and informative. With chapter and section titles such as “What Serious Writing Is All About” “The Way Is In Every Draft”. “A Draft Is A Process”, “What Readers Want” and “Journaling Is The Way”, how could I not? Since I’m working on a book and journaling each day, it was interesting to gain another perspective on both. Hutchinson discusses the fears and doubts that keep us from writing, and the perception that our writing will never be good enough to release to the world. People with perfectionistic tendencies will relate to this one. For myself, I have been paralyzed at times with continuing a story because I couldn’t think of the words which would make it perfect enough to be published. Imagine the number of unfinished stories sitting on people’s computers and in stacks of notebooks around their homes. So many ideas lost to fear and doubt because we, as authors, didn’t believe in ourselves.

This is solved, Hutchinson says, by adopting something called “The Way” which is simply a mental reset of what you think of yourself and your writing. For those of us who experience symptoms of mental illness as I do, this can be a difficult thing. He talks about how instead of calling the first draft of whatever we’re writing “crap” (which is fairly common) we should label it our best writing at this particular time which we’re going to work on improving. This resonates with me today because I had someone tell me that my writing had improved over the amount of time she had been reading it.

It’s hard to do this though, and something, I think, would need to be done on a daily basis. I say this as someone who experiences depression and anxiety and someone who has had to apply these lessons to her own faith as I’ve also discussed here. It is doable, and I say this as someone who has been a consistent journaler for almost seven years.

When I write in my journal, I don’t feel any anxiety whatsoever. My thoughts and feelings are rich, and I can communicate in ways I would never be able to do in person. Between what I’ve written in my journal and in this blog, I’ve gained a confidence I never dreamed I would gain. It’s what keeps me writing. Even though I’ve not published my words in a traditional way yet, I find that I’ve taken the lessons from this book and used them long before I even knew the book existed.

I give this book a five-star rating and can recommend it highly. Be aware though that this is not a one and done lesson. You will be using the lessons from this book daily for the rest of your life as a writer.

 

Rugged Love

This title has been in my head since last week through the things I’ve done for my family and friends. It has followed me through my devotion readings. It even made an appearance as I listened to last Sunday’s sermon. That’s when I knew it would be a good title for today’s blog.

So, what’s rugged love? It’s a term I made up so I want to take my time laying out a definition. First, and foremost, it has to do with the Scripture lesson I heard on Sunday. From Luke 6:27-28, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Jesus’ own words to show us how we need to treat everyone who comes across our path.

Luke goes on to share the examples Jesus shared so His listeners would know how He meant for them to act. From Luke 6:29-31, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

I read Jesus’ words, and rugged love immediately comes to mind. Loving our enemies. People who don’t want good things to happen to us. We’re supposed to do good things for them and love them. I don’t know about you, but this is a hard thing for me. Especially if I know the other person has ill will towards me. I need to reach deep into myself to live these words. To that place in my soul where the Holy Spirit resides. For those of you who are believers, you are probably saying, “Of course. Relying on God’s power is the only way we can love our enemies.” Bear with me though. My point will become clear in a minute.

As I think about Jesus’ words, I think of rugged love as being a love that is forged in a fire. Not dependent on feelings or warm fuzzies. Just wishing for the best to come to that person no matter what they may say or do. That love is a strong love, and that’s why I call it rugged. I don’t succeed at doing or being like that all of the time, and I’m pretty sure the rest of us don’t either.

I want to add something else to my definition of this kind of love. I believe rugged love also comes into play with those we say we love or those we’re supposed to love like our families, friends, and Christian brothers and sisters. There have been plenty of times when someone I love has asked me to do something, and I haven’t wanted to do it. There have also been times I should have reacted to someone with a loving attitude, and I haven’t. I think those times require rugged love as well.

Then, there’s the other side. I’m sure those of us who are parents have told our children no or disciplined them for something they weren’t supposed to be doing. And then there’s the time when it would have been better to keep my mouth shut, and I didn’t. In this life of ours, there are plenty of times where we can speak love and give love to the people around us. For a lot of those times, that love needs to be rugged.

As I said before, we fail at this most of the time. Our pride makes us think of all the ways we should show love and not the ways Jesus tells us to show love. (Love, regardless or rugged love in case I haven’t made the connection clear enough. 🙂 ) We also are selfish and don’t want to take the time to show love unless it can benefit us.

But, when we fail at showing rugged love, God gives us something I want to leave you with. Grace. God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9, the theme verses for this blog, say this, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast.” We can’t show this love by ourselves. It has to come from where God has planted Himself in our hearts.

God bless you all!