Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Words

Scribe Note* I meant to share this several days ago, and was so tired when I wrote  it,  it got saved in a draft and never posted. It’s too good not to share, and I’m going to be starting a series this year on Words and what Scripture has to say about them, posting hopefully just a short piece on what I find once a week. Looking over this post, I think it’s a great way to start this adventure, even if the tenses are off. I hope you enjoy!

Today was busy,  but twice the Lord met me as I scurried about my day. Well, twice He met me in the same way.

The first started when I was ringing out a customer at work. She was buying little gifts to give to people, last-minute things, and she was very bright and sweet but as we chatted waiting for the register to process her credit card (we have rather slow machines) she mentioned that she had a house guest. “This is his first Christmas, alone. And I said, as busy as the season is, I can’t let him be alone, not at Christmas. So, I invited him to our house and he came.”

Now, to anyone who hasn’t had a house guest for an extended period, this might not sound like much, but it really is. Having someone stay for several weeks adds to the work load of the house, and there are intrusions where there was just your own space before. There’s more mess and work, less  privacy and less hot water.  Right then, I got a nudge from the Holy Spirit, and I leaned across the counter as the receipt was printing out and said: “You know, one day you’ll be with Jesus in eternity and He’ll lean over and nudge you and say “Remember that Christmas when I was all by myself and I had nowhere to go, and you had Me come and stay with you? That was a really special Christmas.”  She blinked at me, and I continued “You’ll say to Him ‘Lord, when were You ever alone at Christmas? When did I have You come and stay at my house for Christmas?”  And then I reminded her

 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:36-40 ESV

Her whole being, lit up and she raised her hand, murmuring in her own tongue and then she choked out “Oh, you do not know how I needed to hear that, how I needed to hear!”  She shook her head, tears in her eyes. I laughed and said “All I did was remind you of the truth, that’s all I did.”  She nodded and wiped her face, hand still held up “It is going to be my testimony at Church, it is, this is my testimony” and she came around the counter, and hugged me. “Merry Christmas” she whispered, fiercely. And then she was gone.  I don’t know her name, but I do know this: I wasn’t suppose to be working that shift. I don’t normally work in that store.   Jesus brought His overwhelmed sister to me, and then nudged me to remind her of the truth, that she was doing this hard thing at the busiest time of the year for someone in great need, and He took her sacrifice as if she were doing it just for Him. She moved in obedience to what she knew to do, but I had the privilege of reminding her it was so much more than it looked.

Words Have Power.

Later on, I went to Wal*Mart(TM) and waited in a ghastly long line having retrieved most of what Mom had asked me to stop and grab on the way home.  The line inched along, and finally, I was second, watching the clerk ring up a pair of elderly Asian ladies. Everything took a long time with them. The clerk, a lady named Gwen, was carefully price checking things for them, bagging things up, and when they had issues with the card reader she came around the divider and step-by-step walked them through what was to be done. By this time, I could hear snatches of their conversation. Gwen said something about “Celebrating Christmas all year-long, because I have Jesus in my heart”

AHA!  I started to grin. But I wasn’t super-sure that I had heard right. So as she helped the women on their way, and placated the woman behind me who was grousing up a storm that the wait was so long, I interjected “Gwen I love to see people treated as people, and not problems. You did a fantastic job helping them.” She looked at me for a moment, and then there was a brightness that jumped into her eyes “Well,” she said as she bagged me up “I figure that’s just Jesus there, and I treat them like I’d treat Him. He’s in my heart, and He’s my savior.” With that, I laughed “Mine too” I told her as I paid “You keep strong with Him, sister-soldier. You are on the front lines.” She paused and looked at me again, quiet.  “I needed to hear that today. You don’t know, how I needed to hear that today,” she said softer. My heart swelled. “He sent me here,” I said, moving away “Today to tell you that. This is the second time, I’ve passed on messages from Him.” She laughed.

“Merry Christmas!” She called after me “Merry Christmas!” I waved as I turned to negotiate the doors.

Words Have Power.

Today, this very day, life and death are in your mouth. Life and death.  You can either wound or heal, tear down or build up.  I don’t mean for you to be falsely cheerful or ignore someone who is sinning—that’s not love and it won’t bring life.  But today, be BOLD with your words. Look for the opportunities  to speak what Christ would have you speak. He is THE WORD and His power is in your words when you use them as He asks.

Tell me, how have you been shocked by the word power you possess, what has recently underlined the importance of words, to you?

Coriam Deo, Scribes

Christmas 2012 020
Dear Book Buying  Customers;

Books are my passion, and I work very hard to know what’s current (what book is the latest release by your favorite authors), as well as  what would be a good read for your son, your daughter, your mother-in-law and your great-uncle. I love connecting readers with stories that are worth while. But this past week I’ve not only been helping you find the perfect read, you without knowing it, have been telling me stories. And those stories have taught me a something. Let me explain.

Christmas shopping is stressful. A ll those expectations  of finding the PERFECT gift for each person on my list UNDER my budget price and in the right COLOR  are enough to make me  break  into hives.  The media isn’t helping either telling me  that the world is in sorry shape and making me  second guess every cent I spend on myself or someone else. Unfortunately  I can’t change  the economy,  the  expectations others have of me , or the number of parking spots in  lot in front of the stores.

What I can change, and I’ve I know this because I’ve watched you do it, is how I  handle all this shopping stress.

To the dear lady who let the gentleman with just the card to buy cut in front of her while she sorted her purchases and coupons, thank you! You saw that he was upset and running late and gave up your right to go first even though you were there five minutes before him.

To the gentleman who gave up your coupon to the woman in line before you because  you were going to use it on a card  that was four dollars and she needed to get a  CD that was nearly twenty dollars,  you are my hero.  And her hero too.

To the mother who took her screaming, tantrum throwing  child out of the store even though it meant that you couldn’t buy your basket of goodies for your class, you are amazing. You spared the whole store a painful melt down AND set boundaries with your child that will last a life time. If I had enough money I would have bought the things for you and carried them out to the car.  I’ll be here when you come back, and you’d better believe I’ll give you a standing ovation and also help you find what you need.

To the woman whose friend used and the LOST her cell phone in the store, your grace and kindness to her and refusal to become flustered or critical,  made  grin. You were so like Jesus to her, I wanted to clap.  I didn’t, but I wanted to.

And to the grandfather who spent over an hour with your granddaughter looking at Bibles  enduring the squeals, indecision,  and the ‘I want the pink one’ to help her pick out  the Bible she loves even though it was over your budget  by ten dollars; you sir showed me how to buy a piece of eternity.

All of you  have reminded me that it isn’t about finding the perfect gift for the ones that I love, but about being like the Perfect Gift  the Lord has given to me.

So, from behind the counter, thank you for the lesson, even though you didn’t know you were teaching one.

Coriam Deo

I’m working on a post, documenting some of the fantastic things  that happened during the grief whirlwind at the funeral of my Uncle, but it’s taking a while to get the thoughts together. I want to write the things down, because I want to remember. I want to remember how the Lord met me in a place that was one of the darkest and most chaotic I have ever been in; I want to share it with you but I want to write it for me. This is how I get through the hard times, I think back to the times that were just as hard and remember how He carried me through.

There’s actually a Biblical model for this, found in 1 Samuel 30:6. David wasn’t king of anything at this point (except vagabonds and outcasts) His camp had been raided while he and the outcasts were out scouting. Their wives and children and supplies had been carried away.

I can’t imagine the horror of coming back and finding my house on fire, but worse still would be the knowledge that someone had set it on fire and taken my spouse and kids, and was planning to do horrific things to them.  The not knowing who had done it would be bad enough, but then if my neighbors suffered the same fate, and held me responsible because it had been my idea to go out and scout? I’d be looking for a way to change my name and enter a witness protection plan.

David had no such luxury.    His men were tossing around the idea of stoning him.  They were grieved, and they were furious, and he was in their cross hairs. All that anger and all that adrenaline had to go somewhere.  David didn’t run away, and he didn’t hide. Instead he  encouraged himself in the LORD. While the scripture isn’t specific about how he did that, I’ve a good idea.  I am pretty certain he took several breaths,  stepped away from the chaos that wanted to consume him, and he  remembered.

He remembered when he was a boy and the warm breezes and smell of new grass, the contented sounds of sheep eating, were shattered by their panicked cries as they scattered and the snarls and roars of a bear.  He remembered the terrified bleat of a lamb and the long white incisors of the lion that pinned it  to the darkening ground. He remembered  the taunts of the Philistine’s champion, and bending and picking up five smooth stones at the brook.

He remembered how Yahweh had brought him victory over the lion, over the bear, and over Goliath. How by His power, David had hidden from Saul. He remembered those things. And then he turned back to Him, and inquired “All right, Lord. How now am I going to have the victory this time?” and Yahweh answered.

I’m working on remembering too.  Hopefully later this week the post will be up. But while I’m honing my remembering skills, I’m also decorating. Look for another post, tomorrow, and some festive  decorations I’m rather proud of. Until then,

Coram Deo


One of the ways that I encourage myself when I’m down in the dumps, is I review my heroes. I have a mental hall of them, and I like to stroll through it from time to time to remind myself that I am; not alone in how I’m feeling, not alone in my failures, not alone in my journey, and definitely not alone in my times of doubt.  Today, I discovered a sub-wing of the hero hall  labelled “Imaginary Heroes” and  with my writer’s curiosity peaked ( I mean who knows what secrets I keep from myself) I slipped inside. Here is what happened, when I did.

~`~

“He Stoops!” Sandfly greeted me, and threw an arm companionably around my shoulders. I laughed in delight.
“He does indeed” I grinned into his dear features, so different from my own. He winked and led me further into the room.   Apparently there was a meal going on, or a party. The place was crowded with forms, and I could hear  the indistinct murmur of conversations,  the chuckle of fellows and  the merry  giggles of ladies.  Around a corner was a  thick sectional couch and several youths lounged on it. One of them had his boots on the back and his head down where his feet should be. I gave a yelp of joy, and held out my hands. He flip-tumbled backwards off the cushions, righted himself and  dusted off his regal outfit.

“Never Alone” he reminded me as he came over, taking both sets of fingers and giving them a smart shake”You’re Never Alone.”

Sandfly stepped back and folded his arms over his chest, his eyes bright.

I  jerked the youth  forward crushing him to myself, hugging him hard enough to make him grunt.

” Girl cooties, and also ribs, my ribs are not designed for this” he protested. I fought back tears.

“Oh Aidan, those words have helped me so often.” He flushed berry red, and scraffed the back of his hair, sheepish, as I let him go.

“Don’t I get a hullo?” murmured the youth who had been sitting beside him, right-way up.  I stared at him. Dark hair, freckles, a face that was both youthful and kingly.

“Edmund?” I whispered and the corner of his mouth hitched.

“King Edmund, the Just” he nodded as he closed the distance between us and folded me against himself for a long minute.”Remember, traitors become sons and daughters because of Him” he reminded me, and touched his forehead against mine. I nodded, my throat too full of my heart to speak.

“Leave it to the humans to be monopolizing her” came a smooth, small voice near my ankles.  I blinked and looked down, wiping the tears off my cheeks.

“Oh, Windgate” I dropped down to a crouch and held out trembling fingers. “Windgate! Oh, I want to be like you when I grow up” I whispered as the twitching velvet of his nose chased away the salt on my fingertips. “So strong and fearless, ready to do anything for the Lord.”

“Please, his ego is hard enough to manage,”

I sat down hard, as the great silver wolf padded over, a look of amusement on his features.  “Seriously, you have no idea how hard it is to keep him from thinking he’s the main character of the story.” Aramus  said, and then pricked his fine, handsome ears towards me.

“Hi” I whispered, staring into the silver mirror of his gaze. He swung his tail gently.

“Hi,” he returned “Remember, always, strength comes for the battle. Always, the Light Bringer strengthens us to stand against the darkness.” I nodded.  There were so many others  in the room, too many to name or see all at once. But I could hear their truths, their encouragements, ringing around and making the room full of His presence.

My favorite paper heroes, carrying the Truth. Reminding me of it. Of Him.

“You know” said Windgate, hopping up onto the couch. “You can come and visit as often as you like.  I mean, we’ll always be here. As long as there are noms.”  Aramus rolled his eyes and shook his great ruffed throat.

“Leave it to the rabbit to bring up the question of food .” He padded away. I got up and dusted myself off, and then offered a hand to Sandfly and to Edmund. Each took the hand offered.

“I’d like to stay a little longer.” Both grinned.

“We’d like that too.” Edmund squeezed my digits.  “Stay a while, and let us remind you of what you all ready know, of the goodness of the King.”

Characters are (if you didn’t recognize them) in order of appearance:

Sandfly from A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz
Aidan Thomas from The Door Within  by Wayne Thomas Batson
Edmund Pevensie  from The Chronicles of Narnia  by C.S. Lewis
Windgate and Aramus from  A Wolf Story by James Byron Higgs


This is my climbing rose, I call him Valiant.  Yes, the color of the rose is a light red (it really is, it doesn’t have the lighter shades that pink would have) but then I have a red headed character of a certain name. Light red does not mean girly, especially not among the rose varieties. No indeed.

Valiant was a Valentine’s Day gift from my Mom, a sweet little potted rose that she picked up at the grocery store. She didn’t know at the time that he was a climbing rose. She also didn’t think he’d last past the month even though I’d been watering him from the moment she brought him inside.

Grocery store rose plants are not known for heartiness.

But like the mixed breed puppy from the rescue center, Valiant began to surprise us all. After his original roses  curled up and fell off he went through a huge  growth spurt and his climbing nature became very apparent.  Dad got a yard stick and with a new pot, some new soil, and florist wire to help him stand up straight. He quickly took advantage of all of these things. Valiant was very happy in the bay window of the kitchen with sunlight and water, and a pot to stretch his roots  in as well as protection from bugs and strong wind. He continued to grow, and bloomed not once, but twice more.

Finally, I came to the decision it was time to permanently add Valiant to the garden. He’d proven himself a hearty survivor, and determined to take over the walls and windowsills of the kitchen. It was time he was outside.

So, Dad prepared a bed for him. I picked out the place, and Dad cleared it of cement blobs and rocks. He tilled the earth for me, and even got some black material designed to keep weeds from sprouting. He bought  mulch, and helped me find rose food spikes to drive into the ground and bought a beautiful trellis for Valiant to climb. I helped him place the trellis and then Mom and I went out and prepared the bed with organic treated dirt that would help hold moisture and was dark with nutrients.

Then it was time to get Valiant who, had no idea any of this was underway. We scooped him up from his sunny place in the bay window and out he came into the humid, windy morning.  A tap-tap and he was pulled from his pot, his roots clinging indignantly to the soil, and then he was heaved into his new home. We settled him against the trellis, covered his roots with earth, then the fabric, and finally mulch.

From Valiant’s point of view (and trust me, this little guy definitely is opinionated) his transplant day was the end of the world. No more coddling in the sun, no more  generic plant food to help him grow, no more protection from rain, wind, and bugs. He had been removed from everything he knew, and thrust into a hostile environment not of his choosing.

Just because he wasn’t privy to the decision to move him, or the reason why, or the amount of care that  went into preparing his new place, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Or that we don’t care about him or his potential. In fact, Mom, Dad, and I invested time and money in making his new place, because we are rather attached to him and want him to be as handsome and as healthy as possible.

So, for all of you who are going through a time of upheaval and transplant;  the ones that are being removed from places where you were flourishing, the ones facing new opposition and challenges, the ones that are incredibly uncomfortable and are beginning to think that something has happened and you’ve fallen off the Lords agenda that He’s forgotten you,  I say wait.

Remember, that you are not only liked, but loved. It isn’t affection that binds Christ to you, as we are bound to Valiant, but an everlasting promise and cord of love that started before the foundation of the world was laid.

You are being placed into an area that has been selected, has been prepared, and chosen for you. The difficulties that are in your life, they are opportunities for you to discover how strong in Jesus you really have grown.

This place is where you will grow into maturity and become a sweet smell to those who pass you by. It isn’t easy, but then, it’s not suppose to be easy growing to become more like Him.

And remember too, if I the flawed human gardener is  watching Valiant with hawk eyes, watering him, making sure each day that he’s growing and doing well, how much more will our Vinedresser, who is NOT flawed like I am, hover, protect, and keep you as you grow into maturity in Him.

Be encouraged, all you in transition. And tell me in the comments what change you are facing in your life. The good, the bad, and the beautiful.

Those of you who know me well (SCRIBES), know I’ve had some issues with vision. Today I was at my eye specialist. After a morning of waiting, dilation, testing, and more waiting I got the news that I am “stable” (at least my eyes are, no word on the rest of me) which is great news in that the issue isn’t any worse. It’s not better, which is what I have been hoping and praying about, but it’s no worse. To celebrate this good news after a long nap this afternoon, I went for a long walk and took my camera along. I found a hawk feather for Mom (she washed it to kill the mites) and it’s now drying on the kitchen counter on a paper towel. You, however, you do not get hawk feathers. You get natural occurring fireworks I found:

BOOM!

Pink dogwoods against a clear sky of the most vivid pale blue, (everyone all together now Ooohhhhh).

BANG!

White dogwoods that are only tolerable because they aren’t in the direct sunlight. They hurt to look at in the sun, they were so white-blue.  Look at the lovely purpling on their tips. (Ahhhhhhhhhhh)

Ready for some more? Of course you are!

Rataltaltaltlatlatlatlatlatlat. Oh my, what could that be?

Red buds! With their small  heart-shaped flowers they steal the show! They are a delicate  flowering chain of pyrotechnics committed to setting the sky on fire in pink waves. (Ooooooo)

POP! POW! POP POP POP POW!

And the cherry blossoms aren’t far behind. With their demure rose explosions they are  putting on  quite a show!
(Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh)

That’s it for the fireworks, but not for the fire crackers! I direct your attention Scribes and Wanders not to the area over your head but rather down near your feet. Watch out for the

KA-POW


Pansies are sparking against the soil, igniting flashes of color all over the place!  (Ooooooooohhhhh)
And the BANG SNAP WHAT ZING WAHZOOM of the

Tulips!  (Ooooooooooooooo)
Please take a moment to see that your shoes are not kindled a light from this beauty, and then as you go on your way, remember to take your cameras with you when you walk.

Also, remember that sight is a precious gift given to us by a loving Lord who picked out these shapes, colors, and scents for our enjoyment!  Thank you for your prayers, my friends, they were greatly appreciated today.

Encourage one another Scribes!

This post is going to be a short one, mainly because my eyes feel like someone plucked them out with hot tongs and replaced them with fishing weights.

I am exhausted.

I have so much to get done and not enough  time to do it in. I really didn’t have time to go and see my coworker Andy in his play tonight, The Promise, and I groaned and moaned the entire afternoon. But I had promised and I wasn’t going to welsh.  My heart attitude wasn’t good as I headed out the door with Mom to see the play though.

I got only three hours of sleep last night, had a long day at work, and was not quite done a project sponsored by the Order of the Dented Greave  for Wayne Thomas Batson. There was a ‘critical failure’ yesterday which put me behind today, but that’s kinda par for the course. I wasn’t too badly thrown by that, something usually goes horribly, horribly wrong when I’m working on a project.  I was thrown by not getting enough sleep last night. I really started feeling the crash around 2:30 as I was getting ready to leave work. I got home, and felt worse.

Then, one of the tickets disappeared. It’s a sign, I thought to myself A sign that God doesn’t want me to go to the play but after some prayer and real digging, Mom found the ticket and we were off.  Even after drinking a cafe mocha I was nodding off on the way to the church and when we were in the sanctuary and they dimmed the lights I prayed Please Lord, don’t let me fall asleep. I’m here to encourage Andy! But I’m so tired. . . and I have so much to do!

There wasn’t an audible response, and the fatigue didn’t just drop away, but I was able to concentrate on the play (which was a minor victory because when I read the front cover of the play-bill, it didn’t make sense. Mom says she was starting to get worried about me at that point–sleep deprivation, it is a many splendor-ed thing)  and found the Lord encouraging me  through it.  I left it with a greater appreciation for Andy as an actor, and a greater appreciation for Jesus, as an encourager.  Check out the definition of the word, you might be surprised.

Encourage:

1. To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; hearten. 2. To give support to; foster: 3.To stimulate; spur

I was given heart, I was spurred onward, and I was buoyed up by support tonight, even as I sought to do the same for another. Funny, (but not really) how that works.

So, Encourage one another Scribes.

 

When I was younger, I thought that there was something wrong with me because I used to tell myself stories when I was tired and couldn’t get to sleep. No one else I knew did that.  I had to be defective in some way then, I reasoned. Other kids read books when they were tired. I wrote one in my head.

Years later I met a girl who wrote stories, and told her my deep dark weird secret.

She laughed “Oh, I do  that, too” she said as we jabbered like magpies, swapping tidbits on our  stories and enjoying  our mutual fascination with words.  I went home and my feet didn’t touch the ground for days. I wasn’t so defective after all.  There were others like me!  And they did the same strange things that I did!

She never told anyone the stories though, and I began to find that I wanted someone to know the tale  that was swirling around back and forth between my ears.  The next time I was at a sleep over and we  girls were beginning to yawn like exhausted kittens refusing to sleep, I opened my mouth and out popped “Once upon a time…”

Silence. Stares. Then the words every story  teller longs to hear pinged out and shattered the waiting quiet.

“What happened next?”

At that moment I knew, there was no going back.  I also knew that characters I described were shadowy mist-people. None of them had specific features, and they drifted through my imagination in the cookie cutter shape of the heroes and villains I’d read about in other books.

I didn’t need them to be well-shaped, because when I was telling the story, my voice would give theirs inflection, and my face would mimic and mirror what they were looking like in the story.

I painted images in the air, my listeners sitting in thrall to the words, and it was only the plot that mattered.

This mind-set carried over into my writing where plot became king and tyrant. Characters were actors, waiting in the wings for their ques, and setting was nothing more than painted flats to be wheeled out and positioned when needed.

I was happy. I thought everyone wrote like this, then one day, I met a world builder.  This other writer, this other person like me, had characters that were so well thought out and so real, that they breathed on their own. They weren’t puppets she manipulated, they were people.  More than that,  her worlds were places that I wanted to visit, and to live. There was a culture she had created and a language  she had  shaped. Her story people had stories and a history.


I didn’t have  any of that

My poor faceless paper tigers cried into their root beers and sat around looking lost when the met the world builders characters.   Was I writing wrong?  I didn’t know what my character’s favorite foods were, or if they had a language, or a middle name. Some of them I didn’t even think had a last name. But for all their facelessness and vanilla ice cream personalities I loved them,  because they were my characters. I had to fix them and make them more like hers.

I got books out of the library on creative characters and how to build them and how they worked in best-selling books. I learned all about the cogs and pulleys that are needed on the inside of a paper tiger to make them more believable and well-rounded.  I started using the techniques  and after a few weeks, I had ticking clock paper tigers that made a lot of dings and beeps and warpules as they moved about, but they were more  unreal than when they were just paper tigers.  Gears poked out of their elbows,  sprockets dangled from their finger tips, and they lurched about in an ungainly fashion with bleary looking expressions and overstuffed frames.  In despair, I unmade them all and put their pieces away, quietly holding funeral services.

Years later, they came back shaking off the soil and paper ash from their frames and looking at me in mute appeal.  After I climbed down off the ceiling fan and took a better look at my zombies, I found the problem. I was a plot-first writer trying to be a world-builder and had haphazardly crammed their frames with everything I thought they needed to have.  Slowly I removed their favorite ice cream flavors, their middle names, and some but not all of their back story.  It was hard, it was like looking at chair that had twelve arms and sixteen legs and four places to sit, and deciding what I needed to remove and what needed to stay so it was a usable piece of furniture.

I discovered that if I needed to have a paper tiger have the ability to pick locks for the plot’s sake, then they needed to have been taught as a lock smith at some point. The plot need filtered backwards into their story. Bit by bit, line by line, I wove plot need into characteristics and one cold gray morning, I found that my paper tigers were breathing on their own. Their personality and attributes  fit them, and they were no longer actors. Oh sure, there might be a passing resemblance to an actor here and there, but not a concrete point-by-point match. They were not docile any longer either, and began balking at things I wanted them to do solely because the plot needed them to do that.  While that was a good thing in it made the story richer, it also made writing a slower process.

And there are days I’m not certain that I’m doing this “writing thing” the right way.  But at least I’m writing.

Today,  I have characters that are more three-dimensional and really do move and breathe on their own, but I also constantly have to go back and fine tune or re-tune their back story as I more forward with the plot. Plot  for me is still king, but unfortunately for it, it’s not a  sole ruling monarch. It’s balanced now by a quarrelsome and vexatious group of  Representative characters that will not let it have everything its own way.  Only time will tell if there will be a lasting peace between these two things, or whether revolution is brewing underneath all the niceties.

For those who are like me, plot-first writers, be encouraged that you don’t need to character-build the way that a world-builder does. You really don’t, and if you try, you’ll wind up most likely with overstuffed and freakish looking paper tigers. I did.  Try using plot to help you flush out your characters, and if you have to go back and retweak a character, then stop the plot and go back and retweak them.

And for you world builders, well, hang on to your rich and diverse universes, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you spend too much time on them. You surprise and delight me. Keep on creating and if you have a chance, give a plot-first writer a leg up now and again. It’s really appreciated!

Encourage one another Scribes!

Tomorrow  is St. Patrick’s Day,  which will be celebrated by people getting drunk and acting the fool while wearing green and yelling “Kiss me, I’m Irish”. What does this have to do with St. Patrick?  Not a single thing, and that is what makes me so sad,  and more than a little angry.

Here are some things that the world at large will not tell you about St. Patrick; most likely because they don’t know themselves.

1.) Patrick of Ireland wasn’t Irish. He was Welsh, and the son of a Noble family

2.) Patrick of Ireland was taken  by Irish raiders when he was 16 years old.  He was stolen away from his grandfather’s estate.

3.) Patrick  of  Ireland was a slave  for six years.  According to Patrick he was “naked, hungry, abused, and in terrible want” during that time.

4.) Patrick of Ireland found Christ through suffering. Later he would write that when he was tending sheep as slave, he prayed to the Lord more than a hundred times a day.

5.) Patrick of Ireland was rescued by God’s miraculous intervention.  Patrick had a dream where the Lord told him what route to take, and when to leave his master. There was a ship going back to Patrick’s home, but at first the sailors wouldn’t take him aboard. After he prayed and moved back to where he had hidden/stayed in the harbor, they called out for him to come that they would take him after all. 

6.) Patrick of Ireland was not educated. He trained  as Bishop to take up orders in the church but the Lord interrupted his schooling and he never completed his formal education (he could barely write in Latin).

7.) Patrick of Ireland was slandered  by those in his own church. In several of his letters he writes to tell them that he isn’t coming home to answer the charges they have erroneously brought against him. They can figure out what he is (a Bishop or not), and when they know they can write and let him know.

8.) Patrick of Ireland spoke out about injustice he was very vocal about the mistreatment of women, children, and slaves in Ireland.

How do I know these things? Well for one thing I’ve read about Patrick in books like How The Irish Saved Civilization  by Thomas Cahill and St. Patrick of Ireland by Phillip Freeman. I highly recommend both. However, I’ve gone one further than that, I’ve read what Patrick said about himself That’s right, some of Patrick’s words remain today. The most common one you can usually find at the library is called Confessions of St. Patrick. Don’t worry, it’s not some true-crime tale (which is what I thought it had to be when I first heard of it ).  In Patrick’s day, when you wrote your  Confession it was your testimony you were writing. At that time, confessions were usually penned towards the end of a  Christian believer’s life with the intention of encouraging and exhorting those you were leaving behind. Rather a sweet tradition, I think.   Patrick also penned it as a last defense against those who were slandering him.

Here’s part that really struck home to me, I’ve taken it from St. Patrick of Ireland, and this is Philip Freeman’s translation of the Latin. I love the frank and earnest tone he gives Patrick. In Philip Freeman’s notes on his translation, he says that is really what he wanted to come across to the readers; Patrick’s Latin isn’t high Latin of the Church, it’s “street Latin” if there could be such a thing.

Here’s  Patrick, in his own words:

I am Patrick, a sinner. The most unsophisticated and unworthy among all the faithful of God.  .. .I am very ashamed and afraid to show just how awkward my writing is. I am not able to explain things in just a few words like those who can write briefly. My mind and my spirit can’t even work together so that my words say what I really feel inside….Listen to me well, all of you, great and small, everyone who has any fear of God–especially you wealthy landowners so proud of your education—listen and consider this carefully: God chose foolish little me from among all of you who seem so wise and so expert in the law and so powerful in your eloquence. He picked ignorant Patrick ahead of you all—even though I am not worthy—He picked me to go forth with fear and reverence—and without any of you complaining at the time—to serve the Irish faithfully.

St. Patrick of Ireland, pgs 144-145

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of Christian I’d like to meet, and buy a pint and the local pub.  He loved Christ greatly. His words and his life agree with one another, and he had no grand airs.  Remember this Patrick, not the too-serious saint you might see in pictures, nor the strange fellow beating a drum and chasing out the snakes (that never happened), but this Patrick.

This is Patrick of Ireland.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

This quote hangs on my wall in  an amazing scarlet calligraphy piece of art.  The brushstrokes are as bold as the words, and the words ‘dust, sweat, and blood’ are slightly larger than the rest of the text. So are the words ‘victory’ and ‘defeat’. I bought it when it was on sale for 50% off in a store called “Oh My Word” when they were going out of business and moving from a brick-and-mortar store to an online only venue. I really miss the store, but I cherish my word-art.  It’s been a reminder today, that even though I didn’t get a single word down and I’m irritated with myself and at the day, that the struggle I am in has value in and of itself.

There is another quote that hangs on my wall, done on vellum and inked in the classical ways with powdered pigments made of pulverized semi-precious stones.  It reads:

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’. ~
Mary Ann Radmacher
 

Those two are fantastic, but the promise I came upon today is the anchor for my soul. Those mooring buoys are nice, but this is what will let me go to bed in peace and try again with all my might, tomorrow. 

 And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV

What about you?  What are your mooring buoys? What’s your anchor when discouragement and disheartening days steal away your joy of working with words?