I’m not able to pull off perfect, so I decided I’d be real instead. No matter our call, when we shake off the shackles of perfectionism, and with God’s help pursue excellence for His glory and the edification of others, we find ourselves on a much more peaceful and productive path. (Working on it, or rather, God’s working in me.)
Mr. Keith McDaniel, author, teacher, documentary filmmaker, owner of Secret City Films, and Knoxville Film Festival Executive Director and Mr. Ray Smith, City of Oak, Tennessee Historian, have much in common and have worked together on several projects over the years combining their many shared skills and unique talents to bring history to light and alive.
I was honored (and yes, of course terrified) when they recently hosted me as a guest on their program Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City and invited me to share a bit of the story and progress on my journey to write a book on the integration of Oak Ridge, TN. (Video below.)
Moonlight spilled across the page and streetlights twinkled below when I penned my first piece, a poem, at nine years old from the lofty perch of my 14th floor bedroom windowsill. The opening line read: “Tis the time when the north wind doth blow.”
My latest poetic endeavor is a rap song. Yes you read that right. I said I’m writing rap. And no, I’m not sharing it today. And yes, I’m as surprised as you are.
So, wide eyed and trembling, I showed up to present a poetry workshop with friend and award-winning poet and writer Patricia Tiffany Morris at the kind invitation of Writers Chat in honor of #PoetryMonth.
For those who claim they don’t like poetry—this post is for you too! You just may change your mind with this collection featuring several authors.
“Did you mean to extend this invitation to me?” I know—not exactly a professional response to an invitation to be a guest on someone’s show, but an honest question nonetheless. I responded to another invitation likewise the same week. (More on the other soon.) I mean, who am I? Certainly not an industry professional, nor have I published a book yet, though I’m working on a couple. But often it’s the lessons learned on the journey that prepare us for our destination, and my goal is to glorify God and encourage others along the way. Fear tries to imprison, but God invites us beyond ourselves to dependence on His craftsmanship. Sometimes it’s messy. The way is steep and sometimes we stumble, but God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, scripture says. Good thing.
Honored to share about faith, obedience, and my writing journey with Dr. Katherine-Hutchinson Hayes on her podcast. I pray it provokes all who struggle or strive to excel in God’s call, to step out of their comfort zone and walk it out in their skin.
Sometimes I take God and His blessings for granted. Complaining comes more naturally than thankfulness to our fallen nature.
Culture tends to extol self-gratification and self-promotion and chase materialism. The Bible calls Christians to amplify Jesus and serve others. If we focus on our lack, we can fail to see and experience the blessings we possess. Why live as paupers when God calls His children to partake of the richness of Christ?
Mountaintops, valleys, running with the wind and running in water, heartbreak and breakthrough, trials and triumph. — It’s been the best of years; it’s been the worst of years. I’ve braved the battleground. I’ve floundered and failed; I’ve pressed on and prevailed.
Sometimes life bulldozes. Stuff happens. Yes, “onward” is my word of the year, and no, the irony of getting stuck writing Onward did not escape me. It’s been awhile. Forgive me. Shame tried to hold me down, but God said, “Rise.”
It’s not enough to just be right if we want God to use us to reach people with the Gospel. Our rightness only serves ourselves if we alienate people by our attitude and choice of words. Failure to show interest in people as individuals comes across as an attempt to propagate one of a myriad of doctrines and treating people as another notch on our belt.
We live in a world where many are talking, but few listening, all while broken hearts cry out, “Does anyone hear me?”
I’m no trained apologist or theologian, just small fry in a sea full of big fish—but I couldn’t resist participating in this writing competion on apologetics with the topic of: Why is it so important to answer not only the question, but also the questioner?
Challenges are more often like marathons than sprints. We’re most spent as we near the finish line, and when I can’t see the end, sometimes I falter and it’s tempting to quit rather than carry on.
“God,” I said, “I’m not entering any more writing contests if I don’t win something this time.” —I almost didn’t enter, but I figured entering my article on failing was appropriate since I’m so adept at it. Besides, the road to success is often paved with failure.
The best will fail the most.
George Washington lost more battles than he won. Thomas Edison scrapped more “great ideas” than he ever saw come to fruition.
I cried when my friend Cherrilynn asked me to go to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. There was no way I could go! I had wanted to for three years, but the timing was wrong, the money wasn’t there, and how could I leave my husband and two teen boys, one of whom just became our foster son, to fend for themselves? Besides, I was sure my husband would never say yes. So I didn’t ask.
Shouldn’t I have a several thousand page book written first to justify the expense and inconvenience to others? I have a couple children’s picture book manuscripts but… Am I worth it? Am I worth investing in? What if I fail?
Our worth is not defined by ourselves, others, or by our performance, but by Christ’s investment in us, His precious blood spent and His love for us. That makes us priceless. And it is He who bestows gifts on each of us for His glory and to help others.
I don’t doubt God’s calling on my life to write, but sometimes I doubt myself. I fear quitting. Remember in the Grinch when the townspeople are all shouting at him? “You don’t belong there!” echoed in my mind.