Saturday, June 12, 2010

Writing Myself into Being

Well, readers, I am officially back. It seems that even the balancing act I was doing with my crummy old lap top on the box fan to prevent it overheating and shutting down became futile. The computer went completely dead a few weeks before school got out. So, it truly has been a long while since I have posted. I have so missed having this outlet. I praise God for my beautiful mother who saw fit to bless me when she found out that I was without a computer in the midst of a great need. She went so far above and beyond with this gift, and I have prayed in all thanksgiving and humility on her behalf since that day. I am still in awe of her generosity. I love her so much! So, here I am: I am back and back with such passion. I have so much to update, so much to say, but I would have you hear all day if I let it all out in one epic post. So, I'll speak what's on my heart today. Life is after all a series of minutes. So, what is God doing in my life, in my heart this minute? He is inspiring me! He is setting my pen to dancing.

For anyone who has known me a while, even at a young age, you know that reading and writing have always been two things I have loved to do. Well, let's stop and correct that gross generalization with this caveat: I have always loved them but spent a large amount of time NOT partaking in them. I find it so interesting that it was during my time as a prodigal child that I set these passions aside. Satan knows what powers we have inside us to use for God's kingdom, and he does everything he can to stifle their use. So, I don't find the timeline coincidental, especially not after the revelations the Lord has given me this past week in regards to my passion for reading and writing.Those revelations are the heart of this post:

I am currently partaking in the Abydos Writing Institute. It is a 3 week institute for teachers at which we learn the new role of writing in education and become equipped with many wonderful tools in the advancement of writing in our classroom. I'm not going to sit here and pretend as though I was as excited last week about this endeavor as I can wholeheartedly say I am now. To say that I whined and complained about having to give up 3 weeks of my summer to spend 7:00 am to 4:00 pm with a room full of bitter educators learning how to do things I so pridefully believed I already knew how to do would be an understatement. I was most upset because I truly couldn't see how the Lord could possibly use something like this. Then, a very wise friend reminded me that my work with my students is its own blessed missionary field and that if even one child benefited from what I would learn in this course, then His kingdom was assuredly being served. So, I sucked it up, prayed, and awoke the morning of day one with an incredibly joyful spirit. I went in to the day excited to see what He would bring my way and anxious to discover what He had to teach me through it all. I entered the library at Baines Middle School and found my way to a table. I would soon see that the others at the table I had chosen took bitterness to a new level. I had never heard so many foul words and witnessed such spirits of discontent. I had to laugh when I heard the Lord say to me: "See, that's what you sounded like yesterday. Not cute is it?" No, Lord, it most certainly was not! As our three facilitators made their way before the 42 Abydos trainees, I readied to listen with as much attention as I could muster. They said nothing. Instead, they wrote on the post-it board, "We're writing. Won't you join us?" They than sat down and started writing. I had heard about this introduction from Kendra (who took the institute last summer). So, I immediately got out my journal and pencil and started writing. There were sighs, moans, complaints, but eventually the writing mode fell upon the room and all was silent except for the sounds of lead upon our papers. I swear the spirit of the Lord descended upon me during that time. It was during those moments when I felt my passion re-awaken. I wrote and wrote. Throughout the day, I learned so many new tools and opinions about writing and the writing process. I also re-discovered some old notes I had begun for my novel, and I felt my pen take off as I started drafting character sketches and an opening paragraph. It was all so intriguing. I went home that day totally ready for day two, for I knew the Lord would have much to teach me through This. I was so anxious to see what all it could be.

Day two was the first day they gave us a full hour to just free write. I was excited, but I was stuck. I found myself staring at the computer screen for at least fifteen minutes of that hour. They had said we could revisit something we had previously written, but we were to be creating a reflexive piece for publishing in the class anthology. So, my novel did not fit this category. I would have to choose something else. So, I opened up Internet explorer and found my way to my blog. I couldn't think what was more reflexive than a journal. I saved them as word files and started reading back through them. Hmmm...I edited some....stared some more...edited a little more...stared...Then, the hour was up. Oh, no! I had not written a thing! As we gathered to utilize our first grouping strategy I was going to have nothing to read. So, I quickly chose a blog post, printed it, and made my way to the table. I had ended up printing "Passions." I read it. It was nothing special. We moved on. I didn't realize then that this was in fact all a part of God's plan for this week...

Day three, we started the day with another hour to write. I was so worried. Was I going to stare at another blank screen this whole hour? The "Passions" piece was not something I would want to publish. What was I going to do? I had no ideas. Oy! I took a deep breath...We had been taught the previous day the pre-writing strategy of Free Association. So, instead of allowing myself to sit and stare blankly as before, I decided to give it a whirl. I recalled the definition of reflexive writing: "Writing that is an extension of self, written by self for self." So, I typed the line, "If writing is self, and self is me, then surely I must write to be." I began my free association from that point, looping every line together. Soon, there were less pauses in between lines. I was typing quickly and without ceasing. It all eventually molded itself into a poem (the only genre of writing that is wholly reflexive - SCORE!). When the hour was up, I quickly added a title to my poem, hit print, and made my way to my group for our next debriefing. I listened as woman after woman poured her soul out through their writing. It amazed me! It also made me nervous that perhaps my silly poem would not serve its duty amongst such outpourings of self. Hmmm...I would ponder on it and find something new to write about the next day. The day continued, we learned so much more, and God remained hard at work behind the scenes.

Day four was much the same. I was learning so much that I knew would benefit my kids so much. I praised the Lord for this opportunity! I was also learning so much about myself as a writer. I never imagined that. I also never imagined that was a part of God's purpose for me being here as well. As we read aloud again in group time, I continued to be amazed at these women's stories and so overjoyed and humbled at the resounding theme of God's hand at work in each and every one of them. All bitterness had ceased in all of us and all 41 women sang out songs of God's saving power, His healing power, His deliverance, His peace, His blessings. It went on and on. All I had was my poem. My small poem about the power of words. Silly me, haven't I learned of God by now that He makes all small things grand?!

Day five is when it all came to a glorious head. We each had a one on one conference on our reflexive pieces with one of the facilitators. As I sat down with Carrie, I expressed how I had 4 pieces of writing in front of me and not a clue as to which to submit. I told her about how different my main piece was from all of these other powerful narratives. So, she asked to see only it. She asked if anyone had read it aloud to me so I could see if it sounded the way I meant for it to from the mouths of someone else. She had me close my eyes and listen. I was to let my heart decide if it was right. As I heard my words, something inside me knew. I just had to use this piece. So, it was done. I had decided. Ok, off to my next group to utilize the "Summary and Synonym" strategy. As we went around the table, I heard a story of a conqueror of breast cancer; Synonym: Faith, a story of the pain of a debilitating syndrome; Synonym: Strength, a letter a recent newlywed wrote to her miscarried child in Heaven; Synonym: Peace. We all shared, and I was so happy to be among fellow Christians. I shared last. I began by disclaiming that it was "just a poem." I knew this was the piece I was to use, but I still lacked confidence. When I was done, I expected to receive synonyms like "words," "writing," "self." I was s shocked when all of the women at my table came up with the same synonym for my piece (something that had not happened with any of the other pieces). It was as though I felt God open up the chest in which He had been storing His lesson for me as all of the women resounded the word, "Passion" around the table. "Passion?!" That's what they got from my poem. The title of that old blog of mine from day one! LOL! They all said that all week they had seen and now heard my passion for words and writing. Oe woman even wrote for her summary of my piece "God has blessed you with the gift and love for writing, and you are using that passion to change lives." Was I? I never imagined so. God would humble me and reveal to me why she had written those words to me very shortly. As we dispersed from the table for break, I remained at the table and heard God speak into my soul everything he had been awaiting to reveal to me through all of this. He said this:

"Linsey, did you hear her? That is exactly why you are here, beloved. I first had you revisit your blog about passions so that you would be reminded of the truth you once received from Peter and John: you are your passions, and I have placed them there to be used gloriously. You are here to rediscover your passion for writing. The one I gave to you. The one that has been dormant. I brought you here to be reminded of it. You needed to be reminded of what your writing has already done to serve me: look at those blogs. I wrote those with you, and look at how your family has already been touched by them. I blessed you with that computer, so you could no longer be held back or rest upon excuses. You have seen what writing can do for the spirit in all of these women, and you have witnessed me in each one of them. I inspired you with something different. Do you think you wrote that poem? No, darling, I did. Hear it from my perspective. I had you listen with your own ears this morning. It tells exactly what I seek to do with you, beloved. Go, use these tools, use this rekindled spirit. You write your spirit onto pages. You fought me once. You even tried to fight me on it this time, but do you see now beloved? I'm going to use this passion you set aside when last you ran away. I told you long ago I wasn't done piecing you back together. This is a piece that had long been missing. I'm going to use it. I'm going to use you. I just needed to get you to put your pen to the page again first."

I was awed.

So, this is it. He finally took His gentle nudging I ignored and excused away and instead pushed me full force into the midst of this "Abydos" institute where I literally do nothing but write and learn. I will never get over how much I truly love how He works. I don't know what will come of my writing or how it will be used, but there is little room now for me to doubt that it will be. Whether it be through my novel (the medieval epic of A King, the son he sacrifices to save his people, and the group of unlikely renegades who save him in return), the bloggings of my spirit and its place with the Lord, the Bible studies for which I've had notes on a shelf for months, or even the future student these tools will inspire to discover his/her own passion for writing, I know now that He has facilitated every moment of this writing institute and that it is destined to change much for me, for my student, and for my readers. I am so excited to see what He does. It seems that first line should have read: "If writing is self and self is He, then surely I must write to please."

In case anyone is curious to see the poem that re-started it all. It is written below, and be sure to do as He said and hear it from His perspective and not from mine, for He authored it.

"Writing Myself into Being"

If writing is self, and self is me, then surely I must write to be.
The spirit within is expelled as my hands write me onto pages of past and presence.
I am captivated by the eyes of words as they stare back at their creator.
In their deep hollow, I see my reflection.
Reflections of the power those words dispelled.
Reflections of the joy with which I set them into being.
The Lord set my pen to dancing. I set the page on fire.
More and more, my words collide with vast expanses of blank space.
The more I seek them. The less I find them.
Rest. "Be still," He says, "and know that I am God."
Oh, words, do not be still.
Move words.
Move hearts. Move minds. Move all.
Fling wide the door to my soul,
The door guarded by words that filter death and live on.
Live on words.
Remember me.
Through you, I am that I am.
If writing is self, and self is me, then surely I must write to be.