On a particularly beautiful spring day, at eight years old, I was walking with my family through our small rural neighborhood. The sun was shining, plants were growing and blooming. The snow had melted (finally!) and the air started smelling fresh and clean again. I was especially in awe of God’s creation that day. As soon as I got home I wrote a poem about it. The next day I brought my poem to school and something novel happened for my 8 year old self in 1991 where computers were just something you had a class for about 30 minutes per week. My teacher typed up my poem, put a floral border on it, and there it came through her dot-matrix printer. I was so excited. To see MY words on a piece of PRINTED paper! I took pink, blue, purple and green markers and neatly colored the flowers. I brought my masterpiece home and proudly shared it with my parents.
I saved that paper for as long as I can remember. In college I came across it in my parents basement and thought, “Wow, this is actually pretty decent for a little kid. Very profoundly demonstrates a child’s heart for God.”
And I haven’t seen it since. I rifle through my parent’s basement every time I visit them (which isn’t often these days). Every time I come up empty handed and every time my heart breaks a little more for that lost paper which held my first significant piece of writing in a long journey of growing love for the craft.
My Journey in Poetry
My love for poetry continued throughout my school days. I became nearly obsessed in high school. I have journals and journals of artistically decorated books filled with all sorts of prose. The tightness and brevity of my poetry allowed me to express my tangled up emotions in a sort of cryptic way. It helped me express my teen girl turning woman self didn’t know how else to express thoughts and feelings.
My poems were prayers that sought God for answers to questions I didn’t know how to ask.
As with a lot of writers, I was a mysteriously deeply disturbed girl of the 1990’s. Now, I am a somewhat more deeply disturbed woman, I just now have a name for it – manic-depression. My early days of poetry read of the confusing path my mind takes; up and down, in and out, all over.
I still dabble in poetry occasionally, though without having a serious purpose for my poetry in all it’s childishness (this is a lie!), but I’ve found the words to express myself more thoroughly. And it has a purpose.
My Journey to Purposeful Writing
I’ve almost always excelled at writing throughout my life. My peers were often lightyears ahead of me in math, science, and history, but when it came to language arts, literature, and writing assignments, I finally felt successful at something. A’s were easy in reading and writing. C’s were a triumph in math. It was the only subject, followed by art and gym, that I really took seriously.
I have children’s books in my closet that I “self-published” in 1993 and 1994 (such a long way I came from my dot-matrix printed poem just a few short years earlier!). I did a live reading of one on Facebook recently – I hadn’t read it prior and I was literally laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face. Feel free to watch it if you think you can handle it.
My writing took on more serious interest in high school when I was regularly published in our county’s student art and writing magazine, “Exposures.” I wrote more and more poetry and fiction out of pure enjoyment beyond classroom assignments. I liked doing it but I loved that other people actually liked reading it.
I realized I was onto something. I could do something with this! I explored English and writing degrees as I looked into colleges. I let people talk me out of it due to my great skill for running and my less than desirable GPA and I majored in Physical Education (NOT an “easy” degree!) with a minor in English education. Facepalm. Where was my backbone?
I did take a couple writing courses in college to complete my English degree. As usual, I aced them easily while I struggled desperately with Exercise Physiology for my Phys. Ed. degree. I realized I had made a mistake but wasn’t willing to add another year onto my 4.5 year graduation track.
I began journaling fervently.
At first in short bullet point type snippets. Then full-fledged daily journaling.
Do you want to know something funny? I never taught a single year of my life. But I kept writing. A lot. And it started to turn into something.
My Journey to Calling Myself a Writer
Instead of taking my teacher certification exams, I went into full time ministry – spreading the Love of God to middle and high school students. I began to work with Bible study curriculum and giving talks. I started a blog about my ministry. This was going somewhere and I loved it!
After a few years, I was coming out of a serious depressive episode and I had a conversation with God about where I was supposed to be headed. I heard very clearly that I was to leave ministry and write.
And I left.
And I wrote a novel.
And then nothing creatively speaking for a couple of years as I hopped around to low-wage jobs. Got married. Wrote a blog. Wrote a new blog (this one). My novel sits in my Google Drive – a place where so many novels sit to rot because writers are fearful that what they so laboriously poured their heart into isn’t actually good. Or meaningful.
Then something emerged – I started working for a not-for-profit capturing stories of transformed lives from poverty to sustainability. I had to fight my way to write in my own voice and something happened – I found my voice.
Since my position was with a 503c organization, paid staff were few and volunteers were many. I was able to work with a couple seasoned and aspiring writers for a couple of years. One volunteer in particular – Lucie – became a friend even after I left the organization (I know you will read this, Lucie – thanks for the encouragement!). She’d been writing for magazines, had published a book of poetry, and is now moonlighting as an editor. She’s been a huge encouragement along the way. But after I left the non-profit, I had to relearn how to write.
My husband opened an auto repair shop in 2015. I took on marketing on the side from the start. Eventually I came to work full-time. Since I love to write, it didn’t matter what exactly I wrote about, I just liked to do it. So, I started writing about vehicles, auto repair, the auto repair industry, and life as a business owner. It’s been purposeful. It has benefited my family in drawing people to our shop. I enjoy it.
But it’s not my heart and soul. It’s not writing for me, as the ministry I felt God called me to in 2010 when my life’s work, to this point, was reaching people for Christ.
I’ve continued to write for my blog when life crises weren’t in the way (if you’ve followed me for a while, you know they are plenty, including the 1.5 year gap up to this post which I will have to fill in another time). Here, I’ve begun creating my niche. Here I’ve begun finding the words that God has been urging me to write for so many years. Vulnerable, raw, authentic truth from God’s Word as it relates to my – and so many others – mental illness, personal struggles and triumphs, and what it all means. And where is God in all of it?
I am the bride of Christ. I am on a journey to my Father’s Kingdom. To the special place God has prepared for me as His Child. When I write, that’s what fuels me. My journey into His open arms when I have finally arrived Home is the energy at my fingertips as I write, type, imagine. It’s the journey I want to invite others into through my words.
Now I’m here. Today. Realizing that I need to stop making excuses for why I’m not pursuing my calling. I’m here to write and discover what it is people like me need to hear to connect them to, reconnect them to, and challenge their relationship with Jesus Christ. God the Father. The Holy Spirit.
Will you go on this journey with me? If I stop writing here, will you call me out? Will you email me, text me, call me to see what I have hiding in my Google Drive?