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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are You a Storyteller or a Writer?

For me, writing is a tool for telling a good story.

Some people, like my daughter Deborah, are natural-born writers. Her first drafts are unbelievably well-written. If I could write like her, I would have written ten books by now. But I'm not like her in this gifting.

I am a storyteller, blessed with an active imagination. Stories flow through me as naturally as the wind blows through our big cedar tree in the front yard. I can see a story in almost anything. The beach down at Tubbs Hill is suddenly a pirate's cove with hidden treasure waiting for an unlikely hero to find. The mountain behind my house holds a secret no one has discovered—yet. Our road, that can be quite treacherous in the winter, has a landslide and the hero must seek shelter with his estranged wife for three days. Can their love be rekindled?

That's how my mind works, but can I sit down at my computer and type the perfectly written story? No, I can't. (I sure wish I could!)

This week I have rediscovered that writing well can be difficult. It takes a lot of time, focus, and discipline. While I have spent what seems like a million hours rewriting and editing my story, in less than a day's work, a professional editor can unravel a bucket load of mistakes and failings.

What does that mean for me? Work. Work. Work. And then some. But I am convinced it will be worth it one day.

Perhaps in the long run my imagination is better suited for the stage, but with some mental elbow grease and God's blessing, a novelist may yet emerge from this storyteller's heart.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Lesson Learned from the Fire

During the day, it's my job to keep the fire going. All I need is a match, kindling, and wood, and I should be in good shape. But I must confess, here it is February and I am still struggling with getting a fire going.

What's the problem? You might ask.

We have wet wood.

During a rainstorm, the cover blew completely off the wood pile, exposing it all to the elements, and we didn't realize it for days.

So here I am trying to get my morning fire going, and no matter how many times I blow air over the flame, and no matter how many times I try rearranging the wood, nothing helps.

My husband tells me that if a fire gets going hot enough, it will burn anything—wet wood included. I have seen this is true when we build brushfires outside. Once the fire really starts, I can throw anything on it and it is consumed.

Through my collective hours of nursing a weak fire, I've pondered what faith lessons I might learn from the flames. I'm sure that you can think of a few yourself.

One of the things I've learned is that a fire will burn hot and bright, affecting everything around it, IF the conditions are right. And in just such a way, if a heart is in the right place, a magnificent fire should be burning too—a mighty flame of pursuing Jesus and awaiting His return, a flame of loving neighbors and winning souls to Christ, a flame of prayer and desiring signs and wonders to be alive and active—yet how often is that fire weakened by the drizzle of circumstances or discouragement?

I used to hear people say, you don't have to worry about wild fires in the church, there's enough wet blankets around to put them out. That is such a sad take on our Christian lives. I desire a fire to burn in my soul. A hot flame that purges out the yuck and debris. One that yearns for God's presence more than anything. A fire that spreads from person to person, soul to soul. Oh, may God start a mighty move of His wind blowing over the coals of all of our lives, erupting fires of revival and passion for His work on the face of the whole earth.

I feel so ready for a consuming fire.