The Quiet

The Quiet: Have you practiced it lately? As creative we are naturally drawn to live in the shadows due to our introverted nature. But life doesn’t quite give us the solitude we need.

From the demands of day to day activities, trying to be a good parent, a good spouse, keeping up with social media, building platforms, cramming for a deadline, reviewing books, etc- We lose sight of the one thing we need from time to time- Silence.

Have you tried it lately? Find 24 minutes if you can- Read your Bible- Journal- Sit in silence and pray.

24 Min is only 1% of your day.

Realm Makers – There & Back Again: The Authors Journey


I’m writing the first part of this from the Philly airport. I have just discovered that my flight is delayed. I have rebooked twice- rerouted- Travel can Be stressful- exhausting- and irritating.

My first thoughts go to my wife. I feel bad for her. She is what is on my mind. She is more kind, patient, beautiful, and supportive than I deserve. Without her, my journey as an author would be empty. And I’m glad I have her- To hold my hand, to lend an ear, to speak the words I need. For if, there is one thing I have learned this past week while at Realm Makers- It’s that an author’s journey never ends: Meaning- We all need our own Samwise Gamgee…

Realm Makers is more than just a writers conference. It is more than Geeky costumes, weird ideas, and late night Zombie Nerf Wars!!!

It’s a place to connect with a very active online community. A group that provides support, encouragement, and friendship while on the creative road. Where you are encouraged to embrace the gift God has given you. Every author needs that supportive cast: For the road is often littered with bumps, bruises, tears, and heartache. And when such accomplished authors like Thomas Locke, and NY Times Bestselling authors Tosca Lee, & Kathy Tyers speak of how they still deal with rejection or have recently been rejected themselves- you realize that creatives have a battle they must endure always.

“There is not a single day I sit down to write & I’m not scared to death.” -Tosca Lee (Click to tweet)

Thomas Locke reminded us this weekend that “You must learn to empty yourself. The greatest enemy of our souls is noise.”

I have a lot of noise in my life. From hundreds of emails, to the jealousy of others success, to the endless list of things to do, and an ever-ticking clock pounding in my ear.

Writing I have learned, is not a sprint. It is not even a marathon. Writing is an art that is expressed and nurtured through time. Too many times I think I need to finish now, or tomorrow, and I measure my success by what I have not done. “But, the outside world cannot be your only mark of success.” – Thomas Locke.

It was great seeing old friends: Josh, Jason, Nadine, Zac, and so many, many others. It was great to meet so many new faces. It was great to hear all the crazy story ideas everyone had. And I must admit there were a few times I thought: “I wish I had come up with that…”

I have returned home now. I will dive back into my shell, I will kiss my kids. I will love my wife. I will tell her what she means to me, and I will tell her I love her. I will tell her that without her, I would have collapsed on this road long ago.

My advice from what I took away from this weekend- Find the ones who love you. Who believe in you. Allow them to be a part of your creative life- For as Thomas Locke said:

“Your life is your page. Live your stories out…”

RELAX: You Are Not Alone… So Create Magic

I’ve said it before- My journey as a writer hasn’t quite gone as planned. I still remember the day my first short story went up on Amazon. I was so sure that the price incentive of .99 cents would be the thing that launched me up on the sales rank. Imagine my surprise when it barely moved. I was devastated. I was hurt. I thought- Seriously, I worked this hard on a 6,500-word short story and I’m not even going to break even…? What the heck…?

Did I quit…? No, I pressed on and wrote the novella My Friend Louie. I was so certain this little YA Horror Story would be the hit. Again, nothing happened… I asked myself a million questions. I could not understand what I was doing wrong. I remember sitting on my patio and just shaking my head. I felt God was leading me to write, to be a storyteller, to create with Him. However, I was not experiencing success on the level I wanted to.

That is when it hit me- I defined my career according to my terms and not God’s terms.

So, for two years I did a few things.

  • Studied the craft.
  • Made friends and connected with others in the industry
  • Practiced, Practiced, Practiced…

Those two stories are still up there for sale (But I have come so much further).

The point is. I have banged my head against the wall a hundred times. I have tossed in the towel every day. I have quit- Only to come back and bang away at the keys instead.

Maybe it’s my nature. I mean- I’ve gone from being a high school drop out to being a VP in a Marketing Firm. Maybe I don’t know how to quit. Maybe because on some level I know one day I’ll make a decent break through.

Maybe, Maybe, Maybe- Maybe I’ve realized that creating stories is the only thing I’m any good at.

Yes, I give up. Yes, I stare at a blank page and cuss the blinking cursor. Yes, at times I feel it is pointless. Yes, I feel disrespected. Yes, I feel my genre is laughed upon and underrepresented. Yes, I feel most publishers do not know jack about marketing. Yes, I have wanted to give up… Guess what- So has every other creative type I know.

We write because we are called. We write because it is who we are.

Remember- We create a special magic when we become one with the page, and the words, they are the wands…

So keep writing. Never look back. Someone, somewhere, needs to hear your story.

Dragons, Orcs, & Unicorns- Are You in the Midst of a Difficult Quest?

Monday’s can often times make one feel as if they are looking down a long black tunnel with no light. It seems for many of us it’s the return to the daily grind, the mundane, and within a few hours we find ourselves longing for Friday.

I’ll admit- I’m like that. I can grow tired of the same old thing. I want to break free, find adventure, slay dragons, and climb dangerous Mountains. I want to go on a quest. And in those moments I often find myself living with regret wondering “What if” I had done this instead of that? Where would my life be?

forest

The truth is- Thoughts like that are the biggest hindrance to our lives. They cause us to question where God has placed us, to feel jealousy, to long for something that may not necessary be the correct plan or place for us. All the while- We fail to realize we are already on a quest. A great one, that’s being directed by The One.

This past year has been one of the most challenging times for my wife and me financially. We have been strapped short of cash as we pay off medical bills and try to readjust our life styles to account for a few items we need to pay off. In times like these I often look around and realize the things we can’t do or afford. And in those moments I found myself driven by jealousy, but in the end coming to a place of Thanksgiving.

-TWEET THIS-

It’s hard realizing you’re in the midst of a dark forest, & the hopelessness you feel is a part of the journey God has placed you on. CLICK TO TWEET

Whether that pain is caused by your own dumb mistakes or it’s simply the result of God shutting a door.

The truth is everyone one of us is on a quest. Sometimes the road seems long and hard with bumps along the way. Other times it feels simple and breezy. Regardless of the circumstances, I have to constantly remind myself to give Praise where praise belongs.

Every week I come across people who are bitter and angry about life. They feel they’ve been dealt a bad hand. As a result they go through each day and every minute trapped by the circumstances they refuse to try and overcome. It’s hard to do that- I’ve been there.

So this week-Ask God to reveal to you, what Quest are you currently on…? And are you thankful for the journey he has giving you….?

Does Your Life Feel Like a Vapor?

Every year I see countless ads scroll across my news feed challenging people to take control of their life, plan accordingly, say no, set new goals, achieve your dreams in 2016. Now I have no intention of bashing these courses. They are very good. In fact I’ve taken many of them myself. But often times people come to these with a preconceived idea and hope. And when that hope goes unmet they simply give up.

vapor

I use to be this way. Every year I would sit down and list out my goals. But then they would go unmet. Now there are a number of reasons for this. But mostly I was setting big goals and was focused more on what I wanted in my life instead of what God was directing me to do. As a result, I racked up large amounts of debt and was left with disappointment when everything I hoped for was never achieved.

I went to a school I shouldn’t have gone to because everyone said “That’s where you need to go…”

I entered a career in ministry because I thought that’s what I should be doing only to discover it wasn’t where God wanted me…

I could go on and on but what’s the point.

Sometimes God directs us to go places that don’t make sense in the beginning and goes against our finite minds but in the end- They lead us to a promise.

I love the passage in James 4:13-17

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we will live & do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

I will admit that at first glance, at least from the worlds perspective, this verse comes across a little depressing. To think “I am nothing more than a mist that quickly disappears.”

I mean it goes against everything we ever thought about ourselves, our lives, our plans. It runs against the grain of contemporary culture and tells us our lives are worthless.

But is that honestly what God is saying here…?

For years I ran from what God was leading me to do with my life. I was afraid, overwhelmed, and lacked the confidence to be able to sit and use creativity to bring glory to Him instead of myself. I discovered through my own worthless efforts that I was trying to create on my own- Instead of being Creative with God.

I believe God has a desire for all of Life to become Spiritual Worship. He desires us to enjoy Him and to make Him known. God has blessed us with gifts, and talents. And more often times than not we take those talents and use them for our own personal gain, forgetting to worship and thank the one that created them in us to start with.

Life is short. To quote DR Who: “It all just disappears, doesn’t it? Everything you are, gone in a moment; like breath on a mirror.”

Imagine stopping for a moment this next year and surrendering everything to Him. Bathing everything in prayer. Taking your talents (whatever the may be) and letting His light shine through you during the process of you using them.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I believe God gives us talents so was can succeed in life. I do. Whether we make greats gains financially or not. But I also believe we should use those talents to build a platform to point others toward Him.

So the question is this. What if no one ever saw your talent in action…? What if no tasted your food, tried your recipe, looked at your art, read your devotions or you novel…? What if your sculpture sat in some dusty warehouse with no eye to admire it…? What if only you and God knew the words on the page…? Would it be enough to know it was there, and that you created it with God…?