A Life Update

Hello Friends!

I greet you from the beautiful, snowy land of Eastern Washington. I am home on Christmas break, and am basking in this chance to breathe, and rest, and be.

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After four months of hearing from me on a weekly basis you’re probably wondering where I’ve disappeared to. The truth is that last semester I had a standing assignment for my Magazine and Feature Writing class to blog once a week, which cleared glorious space in my schedule to write much more frequently. However, much as I would love to see the weekly blogging continue, in this college season of twelve-page research papers I just don’t see it happening. However, I do promise to continue posting at least once a month, and I have an exciting announcement that will hopefully help me blog even more frequently than that.

You see, while I was in Nepal, God spoke very clearly to me about the direction my life is heading. You already know that He has confirmed my calling to Nepal, but what you don’t know is that I went into Nepal wanting to be a teacher, and came out wanting to be a writer. How that directional switch happened is a very neat, yet very long story of God slowly and faithfully speaking new dreams into being in my heart. It’s a story I hope to eventually write down for all of you to read, but I want to do it justice, and I sense that now is not the time for that story. Suffice to say, my new post-college dream is to write for nonprofits. What I will write remains to be seen, but at the heart of my passion is storytelling and giving a voice to the voiceless.

The best part of this new direction is God’s faithfulness in already beginning to bring it to fruition. At the end of my six weeks in Nepal I discovered that one of the nonprofits we worked with was preparing to launch a blog, and needed several writers who could commit to contributing to the blog on a monthly basis. I volunteered to write for them, and was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. And now, five months later, the blog has finally launched!

So without further ado, here is my first blog post as an official Tiny Hands blogger!

Cultivating Creativity

I deeply believe that each and every human being possesses creative potential. This creativity may be buried deep inside of us, but I guarantee it’s there because, in the image of the Creator, we create. And yet, while creativity is an innate human characteristic, it needs to be nourished. Just as discernment must be developed, creativity must be cultivated.

In our American education system, that’s exactly what we do. Think back to your kindergarten days. How many times were you asked to draw, or play with blocks, or use your imagination? If your experience was anything like mine, the answer is nearly every day. That’s creativity being cultivated.

Now imagine an education system where rote memorization is the norm. A system in which a fourth grader can tell you more about the human skeletal system than you’ve learned in your entire fifteen years of school, but will grow up not being taught how to creatively solve problems. The repercussions of this education style are enormous, and unfortunately, this is how the school system works in Nepal.

You can read the rest at http://www.tinyhandsblog.com/?p=126.

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Glorious Freedom

Dear Christian Writer,

You have a responsibility to proclaim the truth. Some people would view this responsibility as a restriction, but I believe quite the contrary – it’s a freedom. John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” and John 8:36 continues with, “If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” In Christ we have been given glorious freedom! When we accept that freedom, the truth of Christ flows through us. Writers are not the only ones who are responsible to proclaim the truth. As a freed people, we all have a responsibility to share the truth that set us free, and in our vocation as writers, that truth sharing will manifest itself in our writing.

You may be thinking, this is all very good and theological, but how does proclaiming the truth practically play out in my writing? I think this is where we Christian writers run into trouble. We assume speaking the truth means writing “Christian” books, and essays, and blog posts, and song lyrics. This assumption, however, begs the question, what makes a writing piece fall into the “Christian” category? Is it how many times a writer mentions God in their work? Does it mean their characters must be Christians? Can their work only be published by a Christian publishing company? All of these constraints and rigid definitions do not sound like the freedom of Christ to me. They sound more like legalism than truth. How do these rules line up with Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”?

I think Christians find too much enjoyment in separating the sacred and the secular. Our society likes to put everything into boxes and categories, but Jesus does not fit in a box! To take this even further, I think a sacred versus secular view of the world is unbiblical. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” It does not say, “The earth is the Lord’s, but some things belong to him more than others.” This idea of separating sacred and secular is flawed, because God is in the business of redeeming all things.

I think a better way to approach the issue of Christian writing is to ask, does this writing proclaim truth? Truth comes from a wide variety of sources. Christians are not the only ones with the ability to proclaim truth. In my nineteen years on this earth I have discovered truth in many diverse arenas. For example, The Lord of the Rings trilogy would not fit under the traditional “sacred” label. The books and movies are about an imaginary world full of imaginary creatures, and God is never explicitly mentioned in the trilogy. I cannot, however, shake the truth of Sam’s quote, “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.” This quote is as true as any statement I have heard in a “sacred” story. Another example is a song by Ingrid Michaelson that says, “Everybody, everybody wants to love, everybody, everybody wants to be loved.” I know this to be true. We were created to love and be loved. Although Ingrid Michaelson has never officially declared that she is a Christian, and I cannot speak to what she believes in her heart, the lyrics in her song ring true. Similarly, the song “The More We Live – Let Go” by Yes has a line that says, “The more we live, the more we learn, the more we know,” and another that says, “The more we give, the more we love, the more we grow.” That is true! The fact that Yes identifies themselves as a rock band does not change the fact that their lyrics proclaim truth.

I believe truth can be found anywhere. God loves to seep into every aspect of our lives. This is why it is so damaging to try to divide the sacred and the secular. If we label something secular, we cease to look for the truth it contains. The question that remains is how do you know if something is true? I have three thoughts on how to answer this question.

First, use scripture to check if something is true, because the Bible is the ultimate source of truth. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Charles Spurgeon said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” While many other sources contain truth, the Bible is the only source that can confirm truth.

Second, God has given us divine guidance in the form of his Holy Spirit. John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” I truly believe that if you choose to listen, the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth.

Third, finding truth in this crazy world is an act of faith. If something lines up with scripture, and resonates in your Spirit, you simply have to take a leap of faith and trust that God is speaking truth. A leap of faith is called what it is for a reason; your feet will have to leave the ground. However, if you allow God to lead you in your quest to discover what is true, I am confident He will show you His truths.

The process we use to determine what is true should translate to our writing. Does your writing resonate in your Spirit? Does it line up with scripture? If it does, go ahead and leap. Write what is revealed to you, for the truth must be told.

Now, I know when I ask if something resonates with your Spirit, many of you understand what I am talking about, but when I ask if something lines up with scripture, you are slightly confused on how to do that. Let us be honest here, scripture can be very difficult to understand, so let me clarify what I mean. When I ask if it lines up with scripture, I am asking if it lines up with who God says He is, and who God says we are, not who we have constructed God and ourselves to be.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking this sounds like a lot of hard work, and I am going to have to agree with you. The only way to know for sure who God actually is and who we actually are is to spend a significant amount of time reading scripture. This takes effort and energy, but I never promised proclaiming truth would be easy.

To bring this letter full circle, I want to take you back to where we started. You have a responsibility to proclaim the truth, but with that responsibility comes glorious freedom. So Christian Writer, write songs, and poems, and stories, and letters, and proposals, and reports. Make your writing silly, or serious, informative, or imaginative. Use words to express yourself. Be passionate. How and what and when and where you write is up to you, but the most important thing you can do is, “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”

Sincerely,

Kelly

Thankful and Blessed

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Audience. Followers. Publicity. All are new territory for me. Up until last summer I almost exclusively wrote for letters, school projects, and journal entries. In all of these types of writing my readers were well defined. I either wrote for my friends, my teachers, or myself. It was easy to think about who would be reading what I wrote because I knew my readers personally. All of that changed when I entered the blogging world.

I started my personal blog as an outlet. I felt a compelling need to share my writing, even if nobody read it. I was an avid reader of blogs, and for several years I had considered starting one of my own, and one day last June I decided to take the plunge.

Swimingly

Honestly, in the beginning I had no expectation of anyone reading my blog. For the first couple of weeks a few people read my blog. They were all people I knew, but I was excited to have someone read what I wrote. It just felt good to get my writing out into the open. Then, one day, I wrote a post, and a random stranger read it. To tell the truth, at first it freaked me out. I simply didn’t know what to do with the thought of someone outside of my friends and family actually reading what I had to say. I realized, however, that I read the blogs of people I don’t know all the time. The fact that I don’t know them doesn’t stop me from loving their writing. Why wouldn’t my readers feel the same about my blog?

Having strangers read my blog has made me think about my readers more. It is helpful to consider how people will interpret what I write. I want my writing to point to the glory of God.

Jesus You Are Good

This week in my writing class we participated in an interesting exercise where we described our ideal reader. Here’s what I came up with:

“I want to write for someone who is on the edge between living life with abandon or settling for mediocrity. I want to write for someone who is trying to decide if a life of adventure and pursuing their dreams is worth it. I want to write for someone who is trying to choose between a safe and easy life, or a difficult one lived for the glory of God. I want my words to be a catalyst, and give someone hope and encouragement, while simultaneously challenging them. I want someone to be inspired by my writing.”

I’m sure I’ll be doing lots more learning about what it means to have readers, but for right now I simply want to say thank you! Thank you readers, whether I know you personally or not, for supporting me in this endeavor! Thank you for sticking with me when my writing is messy and underdeveloped and thank you for giving me the space I need to pursue this dream!

Thankful and Blessed

Voiceless

God has given me a voice. Not a voice for a voice’s sake, but a voice with a purpose. He’s given me a powerful voice, a strong voice. As I sit here without my physical voice, I realize just how much of a gift my voice is. I also begin to understand what it is to be voiceless.

If you cannot speak, how can you even articulate your basic needs? The voiceless are exploited because they cannot speak for themselves. Other people control what happens to them. Oftentimes the people in control display the nasty side of human nature. They use their power for selfish gain. If I have both a voice and the power of Christ within me, why am I not using it?

He has given me a voice. He wants me to employ it. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Am I doing that? Am I singing, writing, and speaking life and truth into hopeless situations and broken people? Or am I letting my voice crack from underuse?

It is humbling to lose my voice. When I can’t sing at worship night, I feel like I need to explain why I’m not singing. My pride is at stake. My voice, however, is not mine. It’s a gift. I have done nothing to deserve it. I can’t earn God’s gifts. But if I want to discover my purpose in this world, I must use God’s gifts. I would never unwrap a birthday present, and immediately put it in the back of my closet. So why do I do that with God’s gifts? It’s time for me to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves! I am ready to explore God’s dream for my voice!

He Will Fulfill His Purpose

Artist

I’ve always wondered if I should consider myself an artist. I’m a musician, and music is a form of art, but I don’t particularly feel like an artist when I play music. I’ve heard people profess that everyone is an artist, but I’ve been skeptical of that claim. I’m hopeless at drawing, painting, sculpting, carving, and essentially any other common art skill. Give me pastels and I’ll give you a blank look. It’s just not my thing.

Recently, however, I may have discovered something that is my thing. Words. I love to mess around with them and pour my creative energy into them. I use words to create compositions in the same way my brother uses lines and shapes to create drawings. This has led me to wonder, “Is it possible to be a word artist?” Maybe I am an artist after all. An amateur, but an artist nonetheless. And even more importantly, maybe everyone else is an artist too. I know we all have a creative spark, and maybe it’s just a matter of finding the right medium…

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