Sunday, June 10, 2012

Moving on...

Howdy!  Just a quick note to my compadres who read this blog.  I've decided to move it over to a new site, so if you want to keep up with my blog, head over to www.missionsmusings.wordpress.com

As always, feel free to comment on posts, share, and let me know what you think in general.  I just switched over today, so there isn't much there yet, but I'll be doing a lot of tweaking over the next few days, and hopefully updating the blog much more regularly than I did with this one.

Thanks!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Finding My Voice



Another day, another blog post.  ;)  

I hope you don't mind that I'm indulging myself, at least briefly, in an experiment here.  I'm learning a lot as I work on this writer's challenge I'm doing.  (See yesterday's post if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)  I'm actually hoping to do a guest post for another blogger soon, and perhaps even host someone else on this blog to liven things up a bit.

One term that I've seen and heard used off and on since I did the School of Writing last year is the term "writer's voice."  What is this?  Basically, it is an individual writer's style and way of writing.  I think everyone has at least some gut-level sense of this starting out, but it doesn't really mature until you start doing the work for yourself and writing regularly.  Some writers have a more distinctive "voice" than others, because they have been doing it longer, or because they've thought about it more.  

I'm still figuring this out for myself, and I'm really not sure what my "voice" sounds like yet, in writing terms.  I'm just getting out here and thinking with my fingers, then putting it up for people to see.  Writing like crazy when I get the time, taking a break, coming back and polishing.  This is the process for me at the moment.  

What does any of this writing stuff have to do with missions though?  This is, after all, supposed to be a blog about my experiences as a missionary.  Believe it or not, it's actually having a real impact on me, and helping to shape how I do things here, including areas outside of the writing arena.

I can't say enough good things about my experience at the School of Writing last year.  I learned so much, and am realizing more and more how broadly it can be applied.

My position with School of the Bible sometimes involves teaching on different subjects.  Honing my "voice" will help me communicate the bible more clearly to my students.  Thinking things through in writing terms has already helped my teaching some.  Who is my "audience"?  My students, of course.  It has changed the way I prepare my teachings as I think more consciously about not just what I will be teaching, but who I will be teaching it to, and how to best say what needs saying.  I really think what I've learned about writing has made me a better teacher this year.

I have also been managing the school's social media for over a year now.  (You can check it out at http://www.facebook.com/pages/School-of-the-Bible/59697764870 and follow us on Twitter at @YWAMTylerSOTB)  Doing social media has its own unique challenges.  Trying to keep things concise enough for Twitter's 140 character limit while still communicating the essential information can be tough, and I don't always succeed at it.  Facebook is a bit more forgiving, thankfully.  I love the opportunity to get the word out about what is going on at the school though, and hope to see a wider audience learn about it.  There is so much of value to be learned by digging in to God's word, and each year I staff I just learn more.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm also somewhat of a journal junkie.  I've been journaling for twelve years now, including all of my time spent in missions.  I'm currently working on a brief rundown of my missions experience, but it's hard to summarize.  Eventually I'd like to write something a bit more full-length about my experience in missions, lessons I've learned, and hopefully some stuff that will encourage others.

So I'm processing a lot right now with all of this.  And, being who I am, the best way to think is on paper (or a laptop, as the case may be.)  Trying to figure out how all of the different pieces fit, and praying for God to guide me on how to use my love of writing for Him.  I would love to find a way to effectively fuse my love for God with my love for the people around me and my love for writing.  I'm not sure what form that will take yet, but I will keep people posted on here, I guess, as the story continues to unfold.  Baby steps.

So, to those who are reading and following this latest adventure, thanks for hanging with me as I "find my voice" as a writer.  There are many ups and downs in missions life, and it's certainly not glamorous, but I love what I do.  It's an honor and a privilege.    Thank you to everyone out there who has prayed for me, encouraged me, given to me financially, or just been a true friend.  I am one lucky woman.

And now...your turn!  To all of my readers: what are you up to these days?  What are you trying to master, or exploring?  I'd love to hear some comments and find out what's up in the wider world of my readers.  :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Writer's Challenge

It's time for the apparently more or less annual reboot of my blog.  A rather quaint and quiet corner of the internet most of the time.  

Let me start by saying I've been journaling for years.  I quite literally have a suitcase full of old journals, and I have no idea where I'm going to put them, since I sure as heck am not throwing away the memories inscribed in this random collection of assorted notebooks.  Twelve years and counting.

But it was really only in the last year or two that I have started being challenged by others that writing is more than just something I do in my free time, just for the heck of it.  Some dear friends who I trust and respect actually took the time to point out that writing is something that I'm actually good at, that it is one of my giftings.  

On the advice of one of these friends, I took the School of Writing at YWAM Woodcrest (www.ywamresonate.com) last year.  It was a wonderful, hard, stretching, amazing three months, and I am so thankful that I did it.  I (hopefully!) learned a few things along the way, including what some of my strong and weak points are as a writer.  I went into the school thinking I could never, ever write fiction.  And here I am, chipping away gradually at a novel.  I have no idea yet when it will see the light of day, but you have to start somewhere, right?

My main focus is teaching and doing other things with the School of the Bible, which I am firmly convinced is one of the best jobs in the world.  But I've never really stopped writing, even if it was just journaling my thoughts at the end of the day.  I started doing some other crazy things like reading blogs about writing better, and stumbled upon one by Jeff Goins (www.goinswriter.com), a missionary and writer who issued a rather direct challenge on his blog.  "You are a writer, you just need to write."

Jeff issued a 15 day writer's challenge a few days ago, which I've decided to take up.  Apparently several hundred other writers are doing the same thing.  And that was the first part of the challenge-simply to acknowledge the fact that I am a writer.  I am other things also, and do other things of course.  But I am a writer-it is part of how I'm wired, and something that I will probably do in one form or another until the day I die, whether I ever make a dime off of it or not, whether I am ever acknowledged for it or forever remain anonymous.

It really has been an interesting challenge so far, and we're only 3 days in.  The challenge today was to get up extra early and simply write.  I honestly tried...but I'm not exactly coherent in the morning.  Hence the reason why I am writing this at 9:30 p.m.  The point is not the time of day or night though.  The challenge is simply, as Jeff puts it, to show up.  To put in the time to improve our craft as writers.

I'm not sure what else will be involved as this challenge progresses over the remainder of these two weeks, but I know I'm really enjoying it so far, even though it is extra work squeezed in around everyday life.  Yes, writing is legitimate work, believe it or not.  It has also been encouraging reading comments from other writers on Jeff's blog, seeing that I'm not alone in my thoughts and experiences here, and maybe picking up a few tips from other writers along the way as well.

All that to say, I am using this writer's challenge to officially reboot this blog.  I'm sure the blog will continue to evolve as I grow as a writer, and hopefully a few people will be encouraged by what they read here.  I'm a writer.  It's time for me to write.    

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Of puppies and plotlines


It's hard to believe that I have finished my first full week of YWAM's School of Writing.  Time really does fly by when you're having fun.  I'm at an interesting point in life anyways, taking a brief break from my regular work with YWAM's School of the Bible and missing everyone there, yet at the same time loving the people I'm with here at the School of Writing, and loving what I'm learning.

Our first week focused on narrative writing, which is something I've never really done before.  Though I don't think it is my strongest point as a writer, it isn't as hard as I thought it would be, and it's a good starting place for learning.  We've been learning how to write scenes, how to make things real to readers, and how to write so people will actually want to read our work.  (A rather important point.)

So I thought I would post a story that I wrote as part of an in-class assignment.  Please remember that this is unedited, and was written in all of ten minutes, so it isn't the most amazing thing you will ever read, but ya  gotta start somewhere, right?  The story isn't really finished yet.  I should add that we did some research before writing about puppies.  They brought in four absolutely adorable puppies for us to love on.  This is my kind of research!  ;)

So for lack of a better title, here is my story, "Puppies in an alley."


"It was a hot summer day in Lindale. Joey was walking by Rockwell's sweating and wishing he had thought to wear a sleeveless shirt. As he walked along, he heard a loud yipping coming from a side street. 

He debated whether or not to just keep walking, but curiosity won out, and he made a quick right turn to find the source of the noise. Next to a dumpster, Joey saw a small cardboard box, with the edges of a navy blue towel hanging over the edges. He walked faster, and was not surprised when a small dog charged out, growling at him. 

“Take it easy. I just want to have a peek.” 

It may have been something in his tone, but she slowly backed away and gave him just enough space to inch by. Kneeling down, he saw some black puppies, with short fur. They were yipping to each other, play fighting and trying to climb the edges of the box. The sight of something so small trying to growl fiercely made him laugh. 

One of the puppies, perhaps braver than the rest, stuck its head up over the box directly in front of him and licked his hand, which had been resting just on the edge.

“Hey little fella. You look like you need some help.” 

With his free hand, Joey scooped up the small pup, who fitted perfectly in the crook of his arm. The dog leaned against him as if seeking comfort now that it had been lifted from the only world it had known. The mother dog, who had been standing aside, rather stiff and on guard, suddenly launched herself at him, growling much more fiercely than the puppies."

As I said, it's just a beginning, but I'm having fun, and learning a lot.  Does anyone want to add to the story?  Feel free to comment.  :)  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Incarnation was more than just a footstep

It's Christmas, the "most wonderful time of the year."  My favorite season.  I've been doing some unexpected thinking this Christmas though-thoughts that came from an odd combination of hearing Christmas songs, and reading a friend's facebook postings describing the current development of their unborn baby.  Oftentimes the descriptions I hear about Christ coming to earth, either in song or word, make it sound as if it was just a quick step out of Heaven.  A long step, yes.  A drastic, humbling step.  But just a step.  As if one minute He was in heaven, and the next minute He was that little baby in the manger.

I'm sure it isn't a conscious thing when I hear phrases that seem to imply this.  Maybe it's just because the Incarnation is such a mystery to us anyways that we just can't handle more.  It makes our brains hurt trying to comprehend the wonder of it all.  But here are a few scriptures that have me thinking that there was more to it than just a quick step down to earth.  The highlighted emphasis in the following scriptures is, of course, mine.

Matthew 1:18-21  "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.  And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.  "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Luke 1:30-31  "The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus."

Luke 2:4-7  "Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.  While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."


So what is my point, and why am I highlighting these phrases?  Theologically, we as Christians hold that Jesus Christ is "fully God and fully man."  One of the mysteries of our faith, which I'm sure has been written about by many people who are much smarter than I am.  And I have no doubt of its truth.  But something struck me recently.  That baby in the manger...that baby who was also God in human form...yet that baby was also, somehow, fully human.  And where do human babies spend their first 9 months?  Developing in their mother's womb.

God as a baby in a manger is hard enough to take.  But God taking the step of truly making Himself one of us, starting off as that small embryo that gradually learns to recognize its mother's voice in utero, that develops a heartbeat as it grows within the womb is mind boggling.  Really, each baby born is a mini-miracle of its own, straight from the hand of a loving God.  But God Himself being humble enough to go through that?!?!?  As I said before, thoughts like these blow me away and can make my brain hurt because they are too big for it to fully handle.  For those of you whose "love language" is quality time especially, this will give you something to think on, that God Himself took that time in order to reach us.

I don't have any deep words to wrap up this blog with.  All I can do is sit in awe realizing that Jesus, our Immanuel, "God with us", loved us enough to go to the utmost extreme to bring us back to Himself.  It was more than just a footstep from heaven to that manger.  His stay on earth began with nine long months hidden where no one could see Him...waiting to come out at just the right time to breath the air of His own creation, the creation He would win back to Himself at utmost cost.  It was more than just a footstep.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A little bit of holiday fun.

video

Just a little something I found funny.  A more serious blog will be coming soon.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year...A Christmas rambling





Yep, it's that season again-probably my favorite holiday of the year.  I love the time with friends and family, the food, the music, the decorations, and of course most importantly the fact that it is a celebration of Jesus' birth.  :)  As I type this, I'm listening to Amy Grant singing about a "Tender Tennessee Christmas", which is a bit amusing when I really stop to think about it.  I've driven through Tennessee a grand total of two times in my life, and really have no burning desire to spend the holidays there, but I still love the song.  (In case anyone really wanted to know, which I'm sure you didn't. ;)

On the topic of music, I've always found Christmas music to be some of the best worship music out there.  I know not all of it falls into that category obviously, but if you stop and think about it the emphasis in many of the songs is one of joy and honor.  "This, this is Christ the King!", "O Come Let Us Adore Him", "Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel".  Most of it just naturally leads me to worship.  I have to admit to also being a sentimental sucker for "The Little Drummer Boy."  I know it is a totally fictional story, but the whole idea of a little boy giving the only thing he has still gets me every year.  On a similarly random note, whenever I hear the line from "Do You Hear What I Hear?" that goes "a child, a child shivers in the cold.  Let us bring Him silver and gold."  I catch myself fighting to not say out loud "get the kid a blanket, for crying out loud!"  (While conceding that gold would buy a very nice blanket indeed.)

This is shaping up to be a busy Christmas season for me, between finishing things out here with School of the Bible, fundraising, packing my life up to move into a dorm as soon as I get back from Christmas break...oh, yeah, and shopping for gifts, plus the rest of the normal busyness that seems to go with this time of year.  I will be up in Seattle for a few weeks, spending some time with my family and hopefully seeing a few friends.  There are always so many to see, and so little time to see them all.

So how do I end this rambling Christmas blog entry?  All I can do is say a very Merry Christmas to everyone, and add a scripture that is probably familiar to many of you:  John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life."  Oh Come Let us Adore Him!