Category Archives: Writing

Punching my gremlins in the face

WritingThere’s something I haven’t told you because I’ve been fearful. I thought I was being humble. But this past weekend I attended the 2015 Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference, which turned into two-day therapy-retreat where I cried a lot and got really depressed before I became inspired. I was hindered to inspiration because I was blocked by truth.

I sat in a guided writing experience with Micah J. Murray,  where we called out our snippy inner-gremlins and fought against them by writing a fan letter to ourselves. I wasn’t going to read mine out loud because my gremlins told me that everyone else’s letter was way better, that I would be self-centered if I volunteered, and that everyone would think mine was stupid. I punched my gremlins in the face by volunteering to read mine.

I read my letter and I was okay; people liked it.  Micah asked me to read it again. The second time I read it, I wasn’t okay. I began to cry and could barely get through the dang thing without snotting all over it. I got mad(ish) at Micah, “Why did you make me read this again? Look at what you made me do!”  He had called me to a place of public vulnerability–then asked if the group could pray for me. He asked the sweet girl next to me, Michelle, to lay a hand on me and pray. And pray she did, so beautifully and tearfully. This was a powerful moment that I didn’t understand in the moment.

In this same class, a gentleman, Sovann Penn (@SovannPenn), read his letter. He said to himself, “You have been mistaking fear for humility far too long… you have friends who are awesome and believe in you.” This stuck with me the rest of the day the same way a rock gets stuck inside your shoe.

That night in the main session, author Emily Freeman said: “I want to write like a hostess. A hostess doesn’t leave her guests to go call all the people who RSVP’ed “no” to find out why the didn’t come and why they don’t like her. That’s crazy. I want to write like a hostess, not a crazy person.” This put another rock in my shoe, and I went home feeling depressed, annoyed, and uncertain if I would be back the next day. I snuggled up to my husband and blubbered all over him with no words to express what was wrong with me.

I woke up the next morning with the very clear voice of the Holy Spirit:

“You’ve been mistaking fear for humility; you’re missing out on the full experience of the gift you’ve been given and the ministry in which you have been invited to participate. You are scared of people rejecting you, mocking you, and being angry with you, yet in all the things I’ve given you to write never once have you experienced what you fear. Not even in your most public confessions of sin. You are a lovely hostess with many guests I’ve brought to you because they can hear you; your translation from the Kingdom to the guests is good! But you leave them so you can wait by the phone for the “no” RSVP’s to call. They aren’t calling… and you’re missing the party! You have faithful friends, family, and even strangers who believe in you, but most importantly I believe in you. I have work for you if you’re willing; the fruit will be good and beautiful if you will trust Me.”

Here’s what I want to tell you:

I’ve spent the last 14 years pouring into and editing the stories of others, defining myself as an editor and merely dabbling in my craft as a “wet-noodle” writer. I confess that while I adore, honor, and value other people’s stories, I’ve been using editing as a way to avoid the true work God has for me–writing. I have been fearful of stepping into the public arena of vulnerability, giving power to voices of the gremlins and cloaking my fear in humility so as to justify my place behind the scenes (which, incidentally, is where an editor works. How convenient.)

Yes, some of my recent writings have been more confessional and vulnerable (evidence of God’s effort in coaxing me out into the arena), but I can tell you they were published in trembling obedience and reluctant submission.

I surrender with humble declaration that I am writer. I write creative non-fiction about real-life, my story, and God’s unwavering persistence to be the anchor for both. I translate through written words what I hear, see, and feel from God so I can better understand the purpose he has for me, how I can live that purpose for His glory, and how I can invite others to discover the same for their lives. My prayer always, dear reader, is that through my experiences, you find yourself encouraged, inspired, and invited into a Kingdom that is safe and welcoming, and promises purposeful life no matter how broken you are. You are loved unconditionally. And so am I.

God gave me my first assignment in January– a children’s book called The Hungry Garden. It’s an alphabet book the Hungry Gardenthat explores the ordinary to extraordinary food that gardens grow and why these foods are so exciting. It comes with a 26-recipe “snack book” that parents and children can use in their kitchen to be creative with food. I have completed the first draft of the main manuscript, and I am currently developing and testing the recipes.

I never wanted to write a book, let alone a children’s book . . . let alone a children’s book about food.  I didn’t feel qualified. But as I have been following His lead on this project, it’s becoming more clear that as a recovering anorexic patient, I understand the fear of food intimately. I know what it feels like to see food in front of me that looks scary, smells weird, and would certainly be the worst thing ever if I ate it. As a child of God living with an eating disorder, I can relate to children in a way others cannot. Only God can orchestrate such a unique connection.

I look forward to sharing with you the nutty things that have happened since beginning this process, along with the mysteries and surprises I encounter as I journey forward. I promise not to hold back anymore! I am joining the party and will step into the arena as my name is called.

And those grumpy gremlins? Well, they aren’t invited.

 

When faith and culture don't line up

I think every writer should have a place where they can be divinely inspired in their craft by other writers. For me that place is the Faith and Culture Writers Conference here in Portland. Here’s a bit of my writer’s story (guest blogged on the Faith and Culture blog) and how my life changed when I met Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack. Enjoy!

***

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “So when are you going to write a book?” I would be a kazillionaire.

My response is: “As soon as God gives me a book to write.”  Usually my remark elicits a reply of, “Oh” or simply a blank stare. Somehow the qualification for being a writer has come to mean either one has written or is writing a book and/or is also published or seeking to be published. Well, if this is the case then I guess I am not a writer because not only haven’t I written a book, but I don’t want to.

Read more

 

Gray is…

Today if you are walking the shadowed halls of depression or find yourself under a lackluster cloud of fog, I pray you find renewed perspective of this space.

Gray Is…

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Graceful gray is a combination of two opposites blended into a quiet yet certain middle. Bold in heart and tender in spirit, gray harbors introspective peace expressed in gradient tones bringing truth to dark and light.  No right or wrong, not one or the other, rather a bit of all shades uniting in a harmonious backdrop against a rigid world clothed in black or white.

Gray is wisdom and dignity adorned in sophisticated beauty, accentuated with the crown of glory. Oh, how elegant the silver-shine of seasoned time! Solid in lessons learned, yet gray humbles to what still lacks understanding in a changing, blazing, and passionate world needing Truth. Gray is the calm aura refining rest for the weary in seeking-spirit.

Ashes of what once lived vibrant dye happiness through somber tears. Gray blankets the mourning and honors grieving time; it cocoons the weeping, bearing the weight of sadness in loss’ sallow hues. Death’s blackness cleansed with white’s purity of faith births the healing glow of pearlescent gray.

Often misunderstood as boring and colorless, gray is the quiet shadow revealed in radiant light. It lives a mysterious existence hidden in the world’s dazzling palette of desires, demands, and expectations. Yet, when the light is just right amid the dizzying spectrum of possibilities, gray stands out as pleasantly neutral, serving as an anchor for peace and inciting a dignified love for all truth.

***

Orange Is
Purple Is
Cyan Is

Special Edition: Writer Wednesday Blog Hop 2014!

**Quick note: I am still in rehabilitation for anorexia, but I simply had to come out of “hiding” for this special edition of Writer Wednesday. I absolutely adore the heart of every writer and honor those who stepped out to participate in the blog hop this year. I am so grateful for your creativity and bravery to share your work with us!

I am doing well and will be back to blogging in the new year. Thank you SO much for your prayers, thoughts, support and encouragement! I promise it helped! God is good and has given me much to share in the way of my story. Be blessed in your holiday celebrations!

Much love,
Leanne**

Gift box with red bow on wood background

(Sing to the tune of “These are a Few of My Favorite Things”)
Five words and pictures, fiction and genres; lots of new authors and creative mantras. The blog hop is ending for two thousand fourteen, these are a few of our faaaavorite things…! 

Okay not really things, but stories!

In no particular order of author, month, or prompt, here is the first list of some the stories that stood out in our Writer Wednesday Blog Hop this year. Of course this is not a comprehensive list! There are way too many good ones to post them all–you’ll be reading here until next Christmas. However, we’re posting a second collection of stories next week!

If you have favorite story from the year, just submit it below via the blue frog by next Tuesday! Or you can message your hostess in the comments section. (You can find a list of ALL the stories HERE.)

We’ll kick off a fresh new year of prompts on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 so stay tuned okay?

In the meantime, enjoy!

From the Middle of Nowhere by Tony Roberts

Midnight Visitors by Lyn C.

The Secret by Sally Stackhouse

Playing Emergency by Karen Knapp

A Prayer of Remembrance by Scott Taylor

At Least there’s Wine by Leanne Sype

Two Sweet Angels by Taini’s Writings (Tena Carr)

A Difficult Beginning by Heather Musk

With Time to Spare by C.R. Fowler

Hibbi by Debb Stanton

To Err is Embarrassing by Morgan Kellum

CrossWires by Janni Styles

Coming back from where I've been

I miss writing–the tappita-tap rhythm of the letters under my fingers forming the words I see appearing on my page. I love the feeling of discovery as I unpack my heart, hear it in my mind, and see it all materialize before me in prose.

July was a rough month. I’ve been trying to stay positive and keep things in perspective because millions of people experience much harsher circumstances and situations and illnesses than I do. Every time I had even a spare slit of time to write, I couldn’t bring myself to do it  because what was living inside me was dark–as evidenced by the post I wrote on July 10. But man–I finally just had to acknowledge that what I am going through was and is really hard for me.

So, I’m writing about it because I am a writer–that is who and what God made me to be.

I was sick in July. The whole month. In addition to managing my day-to-day normalcies like, raising my children, loving my husband, managing my household, and editing manuscripts, I was battling my diseases. Celiac disease and anorexia.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder wherein my body literally attacks itself (specifically the small intestine) when it encounters gluten. The attack permanently damages the villi lining the intestine. These little hair-like “thingys” are what allow my body to absorb nutrients from food. No villi, no nutrients–no easy way to thrive.

Celiac disease is not part of the gluten-free fad our country is experiencing. It falls under the umbrella of “gluten intolerance,” but it is a damaging, life-long (incurable) disease that can be serious if not managed well. Fortunately, it’s a disease that can be managed through a gluten-free diet–which isn’t as easy as it sounds (at least not at first) especially because my diagnoses also comes with “leaky gut.” In addition to gluten free, I’ve had to go dairy-free, corn-free, and soy-free. I’ve had to be extremely careful with even the naked-est and natural-est of foods.

I also battle anorexia, so living with a restricted diet isn’t new to me. In a jacked up kind of way, celiac disease actually soothes my anorexic mind while wreaking havoc on my physical body. However, this last month, in my effort actually live well and find a state of peaceful health, the two diseases clashed.  While trying to feed my body–safe nourishing, whole foods my mind didn’t fear–my body was literally rejecting most everything I ate, and I was in constant pain. Not surprisingly, I dropped a little weight.

The last two weeks I have been slowly getting better. With the help of my health coach, I adjusted my supplements and my diet and it has helped my body get back on track to feeling well again. Feeling ill while trying to engage normal life is hard. Simple as that.

As I reflect back on the the harshness of July, though, I cannot help but notice some really cool things that happened in the midst of my dis-ease.

~July 5, I fell ill. In the midst of horrid stomach pain and severe nausea, I had an entire date-day with God. He bought me flowers (more on this soon).

~ July 6th, I bought my first guitar and have been teaching myself to play every Learning Guitar
single day. I’ve learned five chords so far! I love guitar because the sound is so moving and pleasant to my soul. My dad was instrumental (pun intended) in helping me pick the perfect guitar for me and I will treasure the experience forever (more on this soon).

~July 9, I joined a women’s Bible study at my church called Saying Yes to God. All I can say right now is God is calling me out (I think) and has asked me to do something big and uncomfortable. I am gathering the courage to say “yes.”

~July 12 (two days after posting my confessional piece), my best friend came over unexpectedly with flowers and a moving profession of her sister-love for me. She loved and cared about me so much that she had inquired with a crisis center to learn how she could reach out and help me. It was a tough conversation but so reaffirming of our 15-year friendship. My husband and I followed through on her concern, and I had an over-the-phone assessment of my state of  mind and health. I was deemed okay to continue my current mental health treatment without inpatient care.

~July 14, I finished editing the memoir of a woman whose husband was miraculously healed of his terminal illness only to tragically lose her precious little daughter, who was conceived with the intent to be a living testimony of God’s healing. The stories of her husband and daughter are interwoven to reveal a moving message about God’s divine healing and gift of grief. I won’t ever look at death the same again.

~July 19, my son turned 8. I celebrated my 8-year mama-versary. There is no greater gift than God entrusting us as parents and caregivers with his youngest treasures.  I love being a mother!

~July 23, I finished editing a 250,000 word sci-fi novel (797 pages of story). It Theendtook me 12 weeks. Biggest and most challenging project I’ve ever edited.

~July 27, I finished editing a memoir of a woman who tells her story of the bright sides of battling breast cancer. I still don’t want cancer, but I am inspired to fight a good fight if I ever become diagnosed.

~July 28, I finally (after searching for over a year) met a doctor I trust who is willing to take me seriously. She’s collecting all the information from all my specialists, learning my case, and investing in me. I feel secure and hopeful.

Today, August 1, I feel like I am coming out of a fog. My stomach feels good, my energy is returning, and I feel like I can breathe again. I am tired, yet I am filled to the brim with introspection. I’ve simply given you an outline of what happened in July, but I carry within me a book’s-worth of  stories, insight, and learning. I am itching to write it all down and discover what it all means. 🙂