Finding the Voice God Gave You

Gentle Reader,

“You used to write like…I don’t know, like you were writing for an episode of Friends or something. A lot of quips and sarcasm. I noticed you don’t do that anymore.”

“Well, I did that because I felt like I had to defend everything I wrote in advance. I don’t feel that way anymore.”

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The above exchange between my mom and I took place just a few weeks ago, on one of our early morning walks around the neighborhood. Long has she said that I have “an old soul,” a personality that’s naturally on the quiet, reserved, and serious end of the spectrum. And she’s right. While I do love to laugh, I also love to think. I like to step back and observe. I like to study. My favorite question has always been, “Why?” …

To read the rest, head on over to Rise Up Writers. While you’re there, stay awhile.

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Five Minute (Someday I’ll Do This On Time Again): Goal

 

Gentle Reader,

Spent my Thursday night with a friend at church, trying to sleep on just-this-side of uncomfortable hospital mattresses. We watched a silly television show, ate chocolate, partook of a face mask that made us look like swamp monsters, and chatted into the wee hours. Most importantly, we served three families who are looking to improve their lives. We had the honor of sitting with them during dinner, then cleaning the kitchen while they rested and prepared for the next day.

Loving like Jesus does is a beautiful thing.

Kate says: goal.

Go.

This might surprise you, but I’m not particularly goal-oriented when it comes to my writing.

Not in the traditional sense.

I used to want a multi-book contract. To see my name on the New York Times bestseller list. To write posts that go viral. To develop a big following on social media.

Now…none of that matters.

Of course I wouldn’t turn down a book contract. Of course I’d be delighted to see my name alongside major authors. Of course I’d feel honored if something I wrote spread far and wide. (As to the big following, it’s too scary). I’m just not chasing that stuff anymore. I may not know a lot, and I may have had to learn the things I do know the very hard way, but I can say with confidence that none of the above is fulfilling. None of the above meets the deepest need of my life.

That deepest need? To be loved. To be seen. To be accepted. To have purpose.

Only Jesus does that. Only He reaches down into my heart and draws the broken pieces together. Anything good this world has to offer, it’s just bonus. Extra. Nice and all, but not necessary.

I’m not a super-spiritual saint. Chances are good that as soon as I hit “publish,” I’ll be distracted by something false and shiny. But I know, in that place of knowing in the center of my being that cannot be shaken, that Jesus is the real treasure. Him – not what He provides, but Himself.

My goal, then, is to glorify Him in every word, whether they are read by the many or the few.

Stop.

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Whose Voice is That?

voice

Gentle Reader,

In my distress I called upon the LORD,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

– Psalm 18:6 (NKJV)

King David is one of the great authors of history. Not only is his poetry beautiful and honest, filled with every human emotion and experience imaginable, the voice in the words is unmistakably his own. A psalm of Asaph doesn’t read the same as a psalm of David. The poetry of Isaiah or Lamentations, while following the same rules of Hebrew construction and grammar, doesn’t sound like the poetry that came from the mind of the shepherd-turned-ruler. The voice of David teaches us how to cry out to God in an entirely unique way.

He makes no apologies, issues no caveats and hides behind no rhetorical devices. He knows that God knows what he is thinking, so when the words pour out of him, he sees no need for messing about. Though several of his songs are quite long, he gets to the point straightaway nearly every time – even if that point is, as in Psalm 51, begging for forgiveness and restoration following great sin.

Simply, David is just himself.

Much like Jesus, the promised Messiah who descends from his royal line, is just Himself.

There is real power in being who God made you to be. Not the kind of power that abuses and crushes others. Not the kind that clamors and scrambles for authority and position. This is the power of security, of knowing that you were designed for this place and this time, given a specific set of gifts and passions so that you can be about the business of glorifying and enjoying God. It is neither arrogant nor self-abasing. It is not consumed by anxiety and the need for self-defense. This is the power of resting in the Lord, in knowing that He is your shield and fortress.

This power is one that I have been without for too long. It is difficult to be a woman who primarily writes about theology, and occasionally politics, the two topics that most would love to ignore, without the cushion of cute kid stories or fun craft and meal ideas. I don’t fit into the generally accepted “Christian blogger lady” lane. And so, out of insecurity, I’ve often tried to smother my real voice – reflective and serious – in sarcasm sauce. My thinking has been: They may not like what I’m saying, but at least I might be able to make them laugh. While I do enjoy making people laugh, and see nothing wrong with doing so if it happens naturally, the forced attempt has been to the detriment of both my writing and sense of identity. I am neither a clown nor a cut-up.

Beyond this, I have tried to anticipate every objection. This usually comes in the form of, “yes, I know…” or “no, I don’t mean…” This, frankly, is exhausting, because, instead of focusing on the message and offering these words as an act of worship of God and encouragement or equipping to you, I wind up expending energy waging a battle that may not even happen. See? The anxiety, the need for self-defense. 

The worst thing – there are times when I’ve attempted to not “write smart.” This is something that I have struggled with my entire life; in my experience, people don’t like the smart girl, and who among us doesn’t want to be liked? The desire for connection and relationship is hardwired. Best to hide whatever unacceptable aspects you possess, and God-given intelligence and a drive to learn have both been unacceptable.

As I move forward in truth, I no longer want to do or engage in any of these things. I want to be like David, warts and all out there for everyone to see, driven to express himself out of love for the God he desperately longed to please. I want to be like Jesus, who, though sorely tempted as we all are, knew who He was and what He was about. I want to walk through this life with my eyes steady forward, quick to acknowledge and correct every misstep but always moving toward my King. 

That, I can only do as me. Trying to be anyone else effectively denies the rule of my King.

This, dear Lord, I have done. Forgive me and help me start anew.

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Sketches: Introduction

Sketches

Gentle Reader,

As discussed previously, I don’t want to stop writing but I also don’t exactly know what to write about at this time. And so, an invitation. I would like you to play the role of newspaper editor. What would you like me to write about? I ask not in an attempt to go viral or shape myself to please an audience, but as a creative muscle-building exercise.

We’ll call this series “Sketches.” It’ll go on for however long it goes on. Through comments, the Facebook page or the contact form, send me your ideas. A word, a sentence, a topic. Serious, silly and anything between. I will do my level best to craft something in response. Honestly, I quite like this idea, for it changes this space from a monologue to a dialogue, which we desperately need more of in this world.

To kick things off, let us consider the word: introduction.

I don’t remember when I first came to love Britain. It must have something to do with Mary Poppins, which remains my favorite movie to this day. She is everything I would like to be – in control, beloved and respected, yet quite mischievous. I have a vague memory of attempting to work out how I could make my voice sound like that of Julie Andrews. (Not her singing voice; this alto/tenor will never hit those notes). Those childhood musings introduced me to the wonderfulness that is accents and impersonation, which in turn provided evidence that I could make people laugh, and thus often talk myself out of trouble.

History textbooks came home with me many evenings. I was probably the only child in the class who never understood why the Colonies chose to rebel against King George III. (I still don’t. We can fight about it later). By my teen years, I had strong opinions on Ethelred the Unready (a fabulous play on words), Anne Boleyn (never to be regarded as some saint of the Reformation), the East India Company (a bunch of criminals) and other topics that few were interested in discussing, save for the handful of students who joined me in Advanced Placement European History, where the jokes about popes and Poland flew fast and furious.

Documentaries, maps, photos and books galore fanned the growing flame of love. Alison Weir gained a forever fan as I read (and re-read) The Six Wives of Henry VIII. She was soon joined by David Starkey, Antonia Fraser, Winston Churchill, Lucy Worsley and so many others. I embraced Jane Austen and loathed Charles Dickens. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when Princess Diana died. Wrestled through Shakespeare and John Donne. Played a not-witch and squire named Patsy in scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I was, am and shall remain an Anglophile.

In 2009, I finally got the chance to visit the country I had dreamed of for so many years. I wrote about that trip, though I wish I had written more. London, Bath and Edinburgh in a dizzying and all-too short ten days. Set my computer aside for a good fifteen minutes just now, to leaf through stuffed photo albums. Lunches in Kensington Gardens. Hours spent in the National Gallery. Minding the gap. Late afternoon tea breaks in quiet cafes. Being warmly welcomed by a group of drunk Scotsmen. (At the time, I felt more relaxed in Edinburgh, despite the red-haired man who poked his fingers liberally into our food, but now…my heart beats for London).

How I long to return! I felt quite at home there. Strange, I suppose, for a crowd-averse, anxious person, born and raised in the Inland Northwest where nothing much ever happens. If money were no object, I’d hop on the first plane headed toward Heathrow. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “America is my country and London is my hometown.”

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For all posts in the Sketches series, go here.

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