Hope For The Journey

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 

Recently, as we are coming to the end of this school year, and as I have just taken my last final for the semester (praise God!) I have been reflecting a lot on growth and change; where I have been and where I am going. And what this all means.

I’ve never been the kind of gal who loves change and uncertainty. In fact, I wrote a whole post on this a couple of months back here. However the older I get, the more I begin to see change through a new lens—and the more I realize how life is, in and of itself, in many ways, unexpected. If we are not changing and growing, we will eventually find ourselves stagnant. And when we are stagnant, than chances are, we are running from the place where God is trying to bring us to. 

Looking back on my college years, and even this past year, I’ve faced a lot of changes in a very short amount of time. I’ve changed majors. I’ve changed part time jobs a couple of times. I changed churches about a year ago. And on top of all of that, I’ve changed the way that I see change itself—and the ‘divine interruptions’ that so often get thrown our way. Some of these changes have been hard, but most of them have been really incredible. And all of them have shaped me into the person that I am today. 

Here’s the thing guys—life is a journey. It’s a crazy, twisty, windy road with so many stops and views along the way. And we may not know where every path leads, but God does. He designed each of our routes specifically for us. And if we could see all of the plans that God has for us, I’m pretty sure it would totally blow our minds; because God’s plans and God’s promises are so much bigger and more spectacular than anything that we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams. 

I admittedly don’t know a lot about art or photography, but I do know that in both there’s a little something called ‘perspective’. Depending on how you draw a picture, or shoot a photo, the finished product is going to look totally different. Different angles give you a different perspective, even though you’re painting (or taking a picture of) the same person or object.

I am a firm believer that this principle applies in life as well. So often, we can only see life from our perspective—through the lens of the here and now. But what if we had the chance to view our lives from God’s perspective? What if we could see how He’s divinely orchestrated our steps into a symphony that makes up the story of our life? How would our perspective change if we could see every detail of our story? How would each of our lives look from God’s perspective? 

This week, I want to challenge you to see change—and life, differently. To see your life in light of a grander story. To see your circumstances through a different perspective, and see how much God has moved to bring you to where you are today. And if you are in a not-so-great-season of life, I want you to remember God’s faithfulness—how He has guided you through these seasons before and how He will most certainly do it again. I want to challenge you to see your life in light of eternity. I want to challenge you to see life from this perspective—and trust the one who holds it all in the palm of His hands.

Because our God knows exactly what He is doing.

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How about you? Have you ever struggled with change, or uncertainty about the future? What did God reveal to you through this time? Please feel free to share in comments section below! I’d love to start a discussion about this!😃

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Creativity

“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” – Genesis 1:1 (NIV). 

I am a firm believer that we are all artists. Wherever you are and whatever your interests, you are an artist. We were born to create because we serve a God who is the ultimate Creator of everything that we see and touch. We serve a God who is the ultimate Artist. Who said ‘let there be light’ and there was (Genesis 1:1, NIV). Who breathed this whole, vast, and quickly moving earth that we see today into existence.

Creativity is from God, and God’s stamp on each one of us. 

Theologian and teacher Francis Shaeffer puts it this way: “The Christian in the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” He says in another place, “Christian art is the expression of the whole life of the whole person as a Christian. What a Christian portrays in his art is the totality of life… ” As Christians we are called to create. We are called to reflect God’s glory and be image bearers of our Creator in all that we do. This includes creating something beautiful – both in our art, and in our life. 

To be clear, I am not speaking only of the kinds of ‘art’ that we typically think of when we hear that word—creating through mediums such as drawing or painting. I have a friend who is an incredible artist—and who actually teaches it as a subject at a local high school. I greatly admire her gift and think it’s awesome how she uses it. However, I for one, cannot draw to save my life.

This does not make me less of an artist—just an artist of a different kind. My primary way of creating is through writing. Through splashing words on a page and painting with them. Even still, I have friends who create through other mediums. Mediums such as singing, dancing, photography, or playing an instrument. These are all forms of art that we can use to glorify God and create something beautiful with the gifts that our Lord has given us. 

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking to yourself ‘This still doesn’t relate to me. I am not by nature, a creative type’. I am here to tell you otherwise. We each create something in our day to day lives, in the smallest, most simple kind of ways. I read a quote by Seth Godin a couple of years ago that perfectly illustrates this point.

He says, “Art is too important a term to be used just for painters. And sculptors. And playwrights. And actors. And architects of a certain type. No, I think we need to broaden it to graphic designers and salespeople and bosses. To lay preachers, to gifted politicians and occasionally, to the guy who sweeps the floor. Art is a human act, something that’s done with the right sort of intent. Art is when we do work that matters, in a creative way, in a way that touches them and changes them for the better. – Seth Godin, Graceful

We can all create art because creating art is simply moving and existing as the ‘artists’ we were created to be. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” If you look at the word ‘handiwork’ in its original language, and compare it to its Latin equivalent ‘Poema’, it literally translates ‘poem’. We are God’s ‘poem’ created to do the good works He has already planned for us in advance. We are art created to make art.

All while reflecting the glorious and spectacular nature of the God that we serve! 

This week, let us take some time to reflect on the creative nature of our God – and how we were created to create! How we can reflect God’s love, grace, and mercy, in both our lives and our art. Let us pray continuously over our creativity, and let God work in and through it! Let us never stop living life as poems – always remembering that we are a masterpiece created by our God!  

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How about you? What are some of the ways that you like to create? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!😃

Thoughts And Ramblings of The Christian Writer (Part One)

“The Christian in the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” 
― Francis A. Schaeffer

From the time I was a little girl, I’ve been an author at heart. I have always loved telling, creating, and reading stories. Whether it be a book I found at the library, a movie that I just saw at the local theater, or a real person’s growth and testimony, stories fascinate me beyond belief. Being a storyteller is an integral part of who I am.

As most of you (hopefully) also know, faith is an integral part of who I am. If I was to rate each part of myself, faith would always come up on top, as my relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. And while there are many great Christian authors who do not include their faith much in their stories, I cannot imagine keeping my faith out of my stories. One way or another, Christianity is bound to play some sort of role in my writing—it is simply the way God has called me to write.

Nonetheless, like many other people have pointed out, Christian art doesn’t exactly have the best reputation right now. Some may pin it on the fact that we live in an increasingly secular society and others may blame it on small budgets, but a fact still remains.

Oftentimes, faith based stories come out sub-par. And as a Christian and a writer, this is something that I find quite sad. 

I don’t think it is because Christians are inherently bad at storytelling. I also don’t believe that it’s because Christianity makes for a weak storyline—look at the Bible! I believe most of our problem is in our approach, and that with a little hard work, we can create stories that are both well made and and reflective of the hope we have in Jesus Christ.

Thus, I have decided to create a short series on writing good Christian fiction—and the first part of this series will be on writing good characters.

One of the most important things in writing a good story is creating a strong cast. For me, characters are the first thing that draws me to a story. That said, one of of the biggest problems that I’ve seen in (some) Christian fiction is that the characters exist for the story—not the other way around. 

In real life, we live amongst a wide variety of personalities, narratives, and temperaments. Ask me to name my five closest friends and I can point out specific traits that make them unique and special. However, in a lot of Christian novels, I have only seen a few personalities represented—and they’re often in extremes for the point of showing a character come to Christ.

Elaborating on this, many character only have struggles that are dramatic, cliche, or too-subtle-to-notice. I have seen female protagonists who come across like a damsel in distress, but rarely female protagonists that battle stubbornness and hard-headedness. I seen male protagonists who struggle with lust or anger, but rarely male protagonists who struggle with overeating, or self image.

Furthermore, I haven’t often seen characters who have quirks or interests that aren’t essential to the story or lesson. In The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Tibby loves filmmaking, Bridget is impulsive, Carmen is introspective, and Lena is noticeably introverted. Those details aren’t necessary to the book (though, I suppose Bridget’s impulsiveness could be argued as essential in the first book) but they added life to the characters. They made them feel real and they made them relatable to the audience. Meanwhile, in The Hunger Games, there was a guy named Peeta who’s a baker. Corny? Maybe. Memorable? Absolutely.

In short, it is important to know your characters intricately, and for them to be written as if they have a life outside of the story. It’s important that they feel like characters we can get attached to and relate to. And, considering the vast diversity that we have in our churches, it is important that they represent a variety of different personalities and people. The kind of books that I love the most are the ones that  make me feel like the characters are my best friends. This is something we must do if we want our stories to feel real. Interview your characters. Stick them in various situations and see how they react. Consider how they would think or fall in love. Or how they would dream.

The kind of characters that become the most memorable are the ones that feel the most real. It is our job, as authors, to breathe as much life into them as we can.

Christian books/series/movies that get this right.

  • The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn
  • The Left Behind Series by Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
  • SouledOut Sisters Series by Neta Jackson
  • There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
  • October Baby 
  • Do You Believe

How about you? Do you have any tips on how to create good characters? And have you read any books that you feel do an exceptional job with this? Feel free to share in the comments section below!