agendas

I could tell you a story,

paint you a picture,

hand you a book or

buy you a movie ticket.

Whether heard or witnessed, experiences are rarely identical.

I might smirk while you laugh until tears escape.

It’s doubtful the same sentences would be underlined or the faintest  of brushstrokes

hiding in the corner of a frame would be celebrated in one accord.

I believe conferences are like a collective fellowship

revealing the tandem fibers woven into our lives.

I mentioned on Monday, I attended the Faith and Culture Writers Conference.

I would love to share my thoughts knowing I won’t capture even an

ounce of what each person’s perspective.

Let’s call them footnotes.

I am usually a prolific note taker but I didn’t take as many notes this year.

I chose more often to put the pen aside and step into the stories told by others.

For clarity and length sake, I will provide the link to each speaker mentioned so

you can read their bios and have a firmer place to land.

Four speakers shared with over 300 writers and creatives on Friday night.

Standout quotes and thoughts:

Tony Kriz

We tend to make ourselves the hero of every story. 
Jesus was good at making others the heroes of the story.

We must be willing to lay down our agendas. (my paraphrase)

You must write for art, for beauty, never for the career.

At the end of his talk, Tony instructed the audience to turn in their seats
in such a way where our eyes could land on the greatest amount of people.
One by one he read statements for us to raise our hands if the answer was yes.
We were given time to scan the faces unlike our own but united
in lifted hands.
Statement by statement we stood together in honesty as we were stripped down
until we arrived at the final statement of
I am a writer.

You can read those statements here.

Sarah Thebarge

I was riveted and only wrote her name on the page 🙂
She shared that we are writers because we write.
We need patience in our writing as God may have only unfolded
half of our story.
When the other part arrives, it will illuminate the first part
and bring completion to the whole story.

Randy Woodley

Our stories are stretched through diversity.

Allow new adventures and people to stretch us and our stories.

Remember God says I am doing a new thing, will you not see it?

Deidra Riggs

Deidra shared a day when she abandoned her routine and agenda and
simply allowed God’s whisper to lead and teach her.
He showed her things she would have never seen had she been
unwilling to let go of her plans.

Go closer.

Choose a different way.

Go off the prescribed path.

Whether you are a writer or not,

God is writing your story.

Be willing to wait,

to lay aside agendas and control.

Wander away from

the concrete path and allow your

feet to tread in squishy

and muddy terrain.

Our stories possess more

colors than contained in the

largest Crayola box.

Will you let Him?

Will you listen so you can write it down?

Will you share your story in spoken words

or words upon a page?

His glory is supremely magnified when we utter our stories.

Saturday marks the point when brains become saturated with

information, thoughts and dreams.

It’s here where life-giving water floods our

once solitary paths and unites them with a multitude of footprints

gently treading upon our souls.

Eric Larson

The memorable final dance sequence of Flashdance provided a visual

reminder to “take our passion and make it happen.”

God has not given us a spirit of cowardice but of love and

a sound mind.

Be brave in life and in your writing.

Paul Louis Metzger

Our lives and our writing should be shaped by the object of our affections.

Our lives should be shaped by sacred literature.
Keep learning from the literary guild.

The best writing is often not found in the place of comfort,
but often in the margins through suffering.

Don’t hide what you want to write because you believe
no one wants to read it.

Stay thirsty, my friend!

Sarah Bessey

We were blessed to hear from Sarah twice over the weekend.

I did a lot of listening and not a lot of jotting down.

Our dear friend from the north brought her Canadian sensibilities,

her passion for Jesus and blessed us with prayer.

Writing is my spiritual discipline, my prayer,
my cloister, but it is also my offering.

Quit writing with an agenda, a motive or a strategy.

Begin with your own life-giving life, 
not a copycat life,
but a life brimming life.

His words are not an addition to our lives.
They are life.

Write in the midst of the mess as it is where we meet God.

Deidra Riggs

We ended our time with Deidra gently urging us to

not discount the blessedness of rest.

You know she was speaking my language 🙂

Rest is our heart’s true home.

When we deny ourselves rest, we deny our true home.

Rest is where our feet find solid footing.

Rest is holding things loosely…our callings
our gifts and letting them go.

Don’t forget God’s promise that we will enter
into His rest.
An intimacy designed just for us in the private place.

Don’t rebuff God’s advances to you.

Take this life and make it an offering.

Take your life passions and make it happen.

What will you do with your

calling,

gifts

and life?

Will you fully give it away?

I repeat,

Will you share your story in spoken words

or words upon a page?

Live a great story!

 

 

that girl

20140306_131606

Have you ever asked someone a question and

the answer bore no resemblance to the inquiry?

This was my experience this morning.

While cleaning my bookcases this week, I discovered

a daily Bible from years ago.

The pages felt smooth and unaltered except for occasionally

there were underlines and notes.

This particular Bible poses two questions based on each reading.

I opened its pages and read.

I  decided to bypass words written some 8 years ago.

I wrote my answer in my journal then I put both the past

and the present side by side for examination.

There are no “right” answers to the first posed question only

different perspectives.

Based on verses encouraging

believers to grow up,

the first question asked what if God said to you,

“But there’s so much more.
Let’s get on with it!

what would you say?

This was my answer in 2006:

I need to remember that the wilderness is not all there is.
God is so much more.

It pains me and makes me weep when I type that answer.

Not because it is wrong and didn’t fully answer the question

based on the context but because that girl was hurting.

I remember that girl.

I love that girl.

She was a girl whose answer was informed by what her eyes

saw all around her.

She saw misery and desert and she knew there was more.

That girl’s faith was shaken because her formula had

been found lacking.

A plus B didn’t add up to C.

God coupled with being good had not led to a pain-free life.

At that point, she didn’t know that she could change her

line of vision, adjust her focus.

She didn’t know it was possible to see Jesus in the

wastelands right beside her.

She forgot that Jesus had endured the wilderness stripped

of resources but God and His Word.

It took her awhile to not be so myopic.

Day by day she learned to lengthen her vision

by applying her eyes,mind and heart to His word.

How appropriate that today I literally wear progressive lenses,

helping me see close-up and faraway.

A constant reminder I see only in part but

God sees in totality.

We know only a portion of the truth,
and what we say about God is always incomplete.
But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast,
I gurgled and cooed like any infant.
When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly.
We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.
But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!
We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us,
knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness,
we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:
Trust steadily in God,
hope unswervingly,
love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love.

I Corinthians 13: 9-13 (MSG)

Had it not been for the wilderness, I wonder

if that girl would have sought to find the Savior so

intently and desperately in the word.

That girl helped this girl to begin to visualize God from

a different vantage point.

She laid the ground work in learning how to

“get on with it” and grow up in God.

I am grateful for her and although my vision and perspective

is still often faulty, I am so blessed God never abandoned me.

He always remained.

He gently brushed my tear lined cheeks and

whispered,

“There’s so much more, child.

There’s so much more.”

God,

help me to remember,

when my capacity to believe is limited by

what I see and I deem it less than,

that you are with me always.

Even the wilderness place becomes

greater than I first knew because

you inhabit it.

Thank you for loving that girl

and this girl just the same.

Amen.