Monthly Archives: November 2013

Sunrises and the Little Things

Sunday morning I got up early to do my devotions…and realized with that awful sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that here it was Sunday already and I didn’t have anything to write for the blog. God had always given me something, and now here I was without a clue what to say. But I knew He hadn’t forgotten me, so I asked Him if He would show me what to say. And then I did my devotions and forgot about the blog. That was at 5:45.

At approximately 7:00 Noelle found me and declared that there was a beautiful sunrise, and I had to go see it. I wasn’t much in the mood, but I went upstairs and looked out the kitchen window. The sky was heavy with deep blue clouds, but in two places on the horizon a brilliant pink had burned through the cloud cover in gorgeous living color, lighting what would have been a dreary morning with its own special glory.

My dad came and stood behind me to watch the sky. “Isn’t it neat how God made us able to enjoy beauty?” he said, “We could look at that sunrise and say ‘Oh look, the sun is hitting the curvature of the earth and those clouds, making the sky turn pink’ and think nothing of it, but instead we look and we go ‘Wow, look at the beautiful sunrise!’ ”

I thought that over, and wondered…isn’t it even neater that God made beauty? Why does God bother with sunrises, making a unique one every single morning, when few people are awake to appreciate them? Why does He create beautiful galaxies and supernovas that are so far away that we humans can’t even see them? Why does He create gorgeous underwater caverns filled with crystalline formations that humans don’t even find? Why does He fashion so many intricate designs in each individual snowflake? Why does He always give a clumsy 16-year-old something to write for her blog? Why does He bother? The answer returned as clear as a bell: Because He can. He makes even the tiniest thing beautiful because He can.

That just blew me away, because it gave me a tiny picture of just how huge God is. I mean, He made millions of unique and beautiful things that few humans, if any, have seen, and so many more that we will never see, just because He could. Wow… And you know, every one of them glorifies God. No matter how short the lifespan of the flower or the bird or the insect, or how far the galaxy is away, or how humanly inaccessible the underwater cavern, every single one of them gives glory to God. They don’t just give Him glory when they turn the observing humans to God. They glorify Him whether or not we ever discover them. That’s how big He is. That’s how awesome He is!

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Of Restlessness and Letting Go

The following post is basically just a journal entry. It’s probably not worded nicely, and may or may not make sense. But this is what I felt needed shared.

It seems like every little while or so I get these seasons of restlessness…usually when I’m in the middle of doing something I enjoy, which is weird. Well, yesterday morning the restlessness drove me to take a walk down the road a ways after I finished chores. As I walked I began questioning myself; asking, who was I really? And I didn’t know the answer. I realized I’d become so focused on who I wanted to be, or wished I could be but knew I couldn’t, that I’d forgotten who I was. From there the thoughts morphed into prayer, and I started complaining to God about how lost I’d been feeling lately, and asking Him what was causing this depression and restlessness.

Somewhere along the line, a thought was suggested to me that perhaps there was something I wasn’t giving to God…something I was holding back, trying to keep for my own use instead of submitting to His power. I don’t know quite how I got there; perhaps it was Him speaking. At any rate, I began to ponder all the gifts He’d given me – a love of writing, a love for people and a desire to help them, a pretty voice (Hey, I can’t help it if people say it’s pretty! It’s not my fault…), a love of drawing, and some small talent (I hope) in music…you get the picture. I began to wonder… had I submitted these to God, or was I keeping them back, with the excuse that He’d given them to me, and they were mine?

So I gave them back. I gave everything I could think of back to Him. (And continue to do so as I think of more things.) And now I feel empty. Empty and quiet… But it feels so much better than being lost! Because I found Him…again. He never left me, but I lost sight of Him. Oh, the more I see, the more I understand just how blind I am! But God is so good to me, constantly guiding me, reminding me to look to Him for everything. (Incidentally, the easiest way to do that is to have nothing to begin with. And the easiest way to have nothing is to give it all back to Him. Just occurred to me as I typed this.) And so here I stand. Empty hands, waiting heart, to see where He is taking me. Somehow I can’t be afraid. Whatever He has planned, I know it is for my good, and His glory. And I guess that’s the way it should be. *Smiles*

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The “Makeup Lie”

Consider this quote:

“Makeup says you can be beautiful, but the God of heaven says you are beautiful.” ~ Anonymous

This seems to be a mistake that every human being is prone to make – searching after what they already have. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we go to great lengths to find what we never lost, and then in the end discover it was with us all along. For reference’s sake, I’ll call that the makeup lie. (Just because I was pondering the slavery of wearing makeup *wink* and that’s what started this whole long ramble in my journal. With that in mind, be forewarned that this will probably bunny-hop several different places. Journal entries seem to do that. [No, I barely edited it because I don’t have the energy to do much more than type it out. That’s why this is late in the first place…])

I love the verse that says “Be still and know that I am God.” I love it because it is an answer to so many of our prayers…and yet we don’t even notice because we are too busy not being still. But if you find yourself searching fruitlessly for something (besides your car keys…), take a minute to pause, rewind, and be still. Ask yourself who God is, and what He has given you. Then compare that to what you’re looking for. Hasn’t He already provided it, or something better? Tell me, if you have the God of the universe with you, what can you possibly lack? If we are lacking in anything, it’s probably because we have not looked around and noticed that God already gave it to us.

And what about when we do need something?

Sometimes human nature can just be plain frustrating. We ask God for things, beg Him even, because we fear He won’t give it to us. For some reason, it seems to be the default attitude. But is God some kind of Scrooge? These are some verses that come to mind at the moment…

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” ~ Matthew 7:7-11

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” ~ James 1:5-6 [Ever feel like that wave? Good thing we can also ask God to take away our doubt!]

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” ~ James 1:16-17

God lovingly gives us everything that is good for us. If He withholds anything, is it not for our own good? How then can we say we lack anything, if He gives us all we really need? Sometimes all we need is to stop, be still, and know that He is God. And that in Him we have everything. Even if in our human minds we are lacking.

Oh and by the way, I don’t wear makeup (unless someone begs to put it on me – then I’ll let them just to keep ‘em happy), because it can so easily become a snare. (Not saying it’s bad [well, it might be for your skin], by the way. I just choose to stay away from that habit.) And not wearing makeup, for me, is symbolic of relying on God’s provision (aka whatever natural beauty there may be) rather than relying on the world’s sorry attempts. Just in case ya’ll wanted to know. *Wink*

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Finding the Core of Your Story by Jordan Smith

What’s your story about?

It’s the most frightening question in the world if all you have is a blank stare. But what if you had an attention-grabbing answer that left your audience wanting more? It’s not only possible, it’s simple if you have the right tools.

Story consultant Jordan Smith has helped countless storytellers strengthen and pitch their stories. His tool of choice is the logline, a technique for selling screenplays that is little known outside of Hollywood. Jordan has adapted this powerful tool and made it accessible to all storytellers.

Not only is a logline useful for answering that frightening question, it’s also handy for keeping your story on track. If you don’t know the core of your story, you run the risk of meandering it into places where it doesn’t belong. With these techniques, you can solve story problems early before they cause you trouble.

What’s a logline? Well, it’s the essence of your story squashed into a single sentence. (Well, sometimes more than one, but that’s not the norm. Jordan talks about that in his book.) Concentrated epicness, if you will. That is, if it isn’t, then your story has a problem. It gives your audience just enough of your plot to tease their curiosity and make them come hammering on your door for a copy of your book. Potent, huh?

I didn’t worry about loglines for a long time. Then again, my writing wasn’t fantastic by any stretch of the imagination (And yes, that does mean that I usually think my writing is fairly decent now. I’m very humble like that.), and nobody asked me about it anyways. I never had to worry about answering the dreaded question – What is my story about? Until this year. Suddenly people are starting to ask me. And I get all tongue-tied and stammer out something about a Rapunzel-rewrite-that’s-really-not-as girly-as-it-sounds-and-her-name-isn’t-Rapunzel-anyways and feel ashamed of my story. MY STORY. That I’m working towards publishing. Why should I feel ashamed of it because I can’t accurately describe it to a curious listener? That’s ridiculous. Along comes Jordan’s book, Finding the Core of Your Story.

This guy has worked with loglines a lot. Seriously. I’ve watched him hammer through loglines with budding authors on an online forum I’m a part of, and he is really good. So he knows what he’s talking about. Not only that, but this book has plenty of humor to keep it interesting as well as useful. (Don’t tell me you’ve never read a useful book that was boring as a bare cement wall. Humor adds a lot even to how-to books!)

As a writer, Finding the Core of Your Story is a perfect jewel. After reading it I started a logline for my own story. It’s not finished, so I won’t show it to you (Oh come on, I don’t want to scare you away!), but I will say this – Jordan’s book is an incredible help in finding the core of your story. I highly recommend it to all the writers out there!

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