The Joy of Writing

As I have been reflecting on my writing, and what it means, the theme of joy came to mind.  I immediately got this image of “The Joy of Cooking” cookbook, and thought how I had struggled to make cooking a joy in my own life-perhaps I need to read that book?  But it is obvious just from that title that the author finds cooking to be a joy; something that excites her and propels her to create with food.  It was a launching pad of thoughts that quickly came racing all over my head.  I thought back to my initial blogging days when I was new to it all; learning where to blog, how to blog and how to get people to visit my site by visiting theirs;  enjoying others writing, and playing with widgets and copying and pasting simple codes that keep me intrigued with blogging.  It was a lot of time online, but it was to some point effortless, and joyful.  I was engaged in it, and time would go fast.  Sometimes it was hard, keeping up with so many changes, trying to get and retain a readership.  Then trying to fit it in while in seminary was getting more challenging, and parenting was never-ending, and at some point I just needed to let it go.  After all, I felt that God had led me to blog in the first place, and had inspired my words to this point, and if it was time to take a break, then maybe I should.
I remember there were times in this “valley of no words” where I would beg God to give me my words back.  I’d remind him of my joy, my gift to the world; to inspire, to encourage, to equip; but nothing came, so I would just have  moments of journaling in private where no one was; and I came to realize that in that season of aloneness in my writing, God was there with me.  He was doing some deep work that I couldn’t appreciate.  He was hiding me and my words away so that I might go slower with them and with Him, and grow with them, and grow closer to Him.  They weren’t words to share with others, but they were words for me and God to converse.  There are a lot of conversations that we have had now, and I have wondered why after all this time He is slowing allowing me to speak again through blogging.  Perhaps he knows how hard I have tried to listen? Perhaps He is going to teach me more in this season of writing?   Whatever it is, I am slowly feeling the joy come back.  After reading some blogs and books on blogging and writing, I know it’s never easy, I know we are alone much of the time behind a white screen, screaming on the inside for someone to hear, to care, to notice,  to see our gift and to open it, and enjoy what it tells them. I know it takes time, time to think, time to edit and edit and edit again. I sometimes hate editing, I know what I want to say, so I  just want to say it, but in my furious typing to unload my brain of thoughts, I misspell, I run-on, I get sloppy because I want to post and be heard, I want someone to say, “Yes, I get that, I get you”.  Just like reading a book and covering it with highlighting because it resonates deeply.  That is what we long for, that is the joy; to write what we are, to be heard and understood, not for fame, but because we are human and we all have a story to tell and we each tell our story in a different way that brings  a gift to others.
So now, once the joy has been re-established, how do we keep it?  It really must be a mindset, a higher way of thinking.  It’s not just feelings, but a deep awareness that this is how you share your gift.  You are a creator, born in the image of God, the creator. He created, so we create.  If you write, you create with words, which become vehicles of transformation in another persons mind and life.  Just like musicians uses notes, or painters, a brush. or a cook who may specialize in a certain area of food,  we all start in our minds eyes, excited about sharing something that no one else can do in quite the same way, bringing our “flavor” to the arena for others to taste and see.
As I was thinking on “Joy” a few scriptures came to mind.  Now I am not trying to take them out of context, but relate them to how we need to look past the hard times in writing and press through to the joy.  The first one is: James 1:2 “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kind, because you know the testing of your faith produced perseverance”  Do we face trials of many kids as writers? YES!  Sometimes we have nothing to say, or life gets in the way of our writing, maybe we get sick and can’t write.  Whatever the trial is, we must keep the thoughts coming and trust God to help us in those times.  This is how we persevere, so when the difficulty let up, we are renewed and strengthened to write even better than before.  The other scripture is Hebrews 12:2 “For the Joy set before Him, he endured the cross” Jesus went through a brutal death to pay for our sins.  He was despised, rejected and killed to set us free.  He looked beyond the pain to the joy; the joy of being in Heaven with His father again, sitting at his right hand, the joy of saving all of us whom he deeply loves, the joy of knowing that one day there will be  new heaven and a new earth that is fully restored to a garden-like purity and purpose. He knew the joy set before Him, and so must we.  We must keep the joy of our goals, our ambitions, our dreams before us; knowing that as we persevere, as we overcome, we will bring joy not only to ourselves a we write but we will bring restoration, rescue and hope to others; talk about being Christ-like!!
So let us take time, look deeply within, find and grab the joy we have and release it.  For that is what gifts are for, to be given away and en-joyed by others.

Why only I can hold myself accountable

As the inspiration comes back to me to blog, I have thought about how I am going to keep myself motivated.  I get that trying to build a platform of readership again is going to take some time, and can be very discouraging, but I also know not to focus on numbers at this point in the process, but to just learn again the joy of public blogging and trust the results to God.  Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t seek out wise counsel, which would be from other bloggers and writers online, but no one is going to make me show up here; I am either going to want to write or not.  And it isn’t even a matter of want, because sometimes our feelings and flesh get in the way, where we tend to make excuses.  We have all had good intentions of starting something and not following through because it was hard, we were tired; pick your reason.  But this I know, for someone who in different seasons has looked for accountability in others in different areas, the bottom line is that people just fail you.  I can think of countless times of trying to make spiritual friendships with others and have nothing come out of it.  I can also recall recently when I tried to get back into walking, that  me and my cousin talked about walking in the mornings, but guess what?  She never called, I got busy with other things, and so it goes.  In all of this, over the many years, I have continued to learn that God is my sole help.  Now, I don’t want to sound like a lone-ranger Christian, because I’m not, I’ve been active in all the churches that I have attended and served at, and I have made intentional efforts to connect with others as best I could, but in the end, people get busy in their own lives, they hold different values than you do, and for that reason things don’t seem to stick.   Values really is the key, and for those who get how to look to what one values is also key.  You can talk about values, but unless you actually believe and implement them, they don’t do much good. Example, I know it’s beneficial to my health to eat right and exercise, but if I don’t find a way to do that, that works for me, it’s not going to produce any results.  I must learn to value at healthy lifestyle by learning first what that means to me, and then find a way to put that plan into action by setting small realistic, achievable goals.  This is why I like using the Franklin Covey planner because it helps me to write my values down, this way, I slowly learn to hold myself accountable for the things that matter to me.  Now I have to admit, I have had a small planning hiatus, which I am getting back into, but when I was not doing it on a daily basis, I was more frustrated and couldn’t figure out why I felt stuck in different areas. It was because I took my focus off what mattered most to me, and started to just to the “day in-day out” thing, which began to drain me in different ways. Another thing that I have had to come to terms with is all the noise around us, especially in social media.  One of the things I am learning in a better way this time blogging is that I cannot listen to every conversation out there that may be beneficial to me.  I really have to evaluate each season that I am in and decide what conversations I want to be a part of.  I’ve done this by un-liking certain facebook pages that perhaps were helpful say in my seminary and ministry season, but right now just don’t provide what I need or even value to a point.  As our seasons shift, so must the tools and information that we use shift as well.  I think of technology and have seen a few posts on how the typewriter is making a comeback, I’ve also seen records make a comeback in some bookstores as well. Great things to own, but are they helpful to me in this season?  Probably not.  I love typing, but doing it on a laptop is much more efficient in many ways then on a typewriter.  Same with records, I had a lot of them growing up, but today, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them as much as I once did, thanks to the convince, quickness and selection of my music now at my fingertips on my IPhone that goes anywhere with me and fits in my pocket.   Getting back to holding myself accountable, we all have to learn different ways to stay motivated and productive in the different seasons in our lives.  And as  much as I love to learn from others and grow, I also have learned that what works for one person, doesn’t work for everyone.  So as I get back into blogging, and the other areas of my life, I am the CEO of me.  Just like no one else can tell my story the way I do, no one else can live my life the way it needs to be lived.  As I call on God to assist me to be a good steward of my time and talents, he will show me the way, just as He did with this post.  I wasn’t looking to write about accountability, but He brought it to mind, and said it’s a good place to start.