The Emerging Story

In third grade, I won a writing contest with my short story, Monica’s Broken Arm. It was my first indication that I might be good at what I loved most: writing and storytelling.

As I grew as a writer and a young woman, I explored many genres and disciplines. But one thread wove through all my efforts and experiments:

God, please give me a story to tell. I don’t want to write a beach novel, a book that women will take with them for mindless reading on their summer vacations.  I want to write something with meaning, something that matters.  I want to write something that will build community, something that will bring people together to know each other more.

Recently, I found this page from my journal, December 2009. Here is what I wrote:

“Holy Jesus, you reign. I rejoice in your sovereignty and I delight in your grace. O, how you love me. Lord, I know you have given me words. You have given me things to say, read, and write, and the skill to use them carefully, efficiently, and productively. I give all my words to you. Please use them. Whatever you put before me, I promise to do the best that I can. Whatever you put before me or inside me, I will bring glory to you with my words. Thank you for the ministry you have given me, as I write.”

One year later, my husband died, tragically and suddenly, two days before Christmas. Overnight, I became a widowed single mom of two little boys who were not yet in kindergarten.

In this rupture of my world, a story emerged.

Yes, it is a story of grief, loss, single parenting, and deepest heartache, but this is also a story of hope, bonding, laughter, overcoming the worst, and getting up again the next morning.

Certainly this isn’t the story I intended to tell, and I won’t say that God allowed my husband’s life to end so my prayers could be answered. But I do wonder if perhaps it happened the other way around: God planted the desire in my heart, so that when such tragedy struck my family, I would know how to respond: to keep writing. In the horrible days, the easier ones, the loneliest nights, and always in honesty.

Robb used to say, “She’s going to be a successful author, and I’m going to retire early.”

Well, the plan looks different than we thought, but it still happened as he said. He retired early. And now I’m writing books.

In my words, may people find hope, grace, courage, and the tools to walk with someone through the valley of greatest tragedy to the sunshine on the other side.

As I asked him, God has given me a story to tell. How is he using your gifts and answering your prayers in ways you had not expected?
For more of Tricia’s story, please visit her at www.tricialottwilliford.com.

A Writer’s Life: Resolved — Ban New Year’s Resolutions

I failed at New Year’s Resolutions.

For years I prioritized my dos and don’ts for forward motion in the new year. I was eager. Determined.

And I always lost my meticulously prioritized list by mid-February.

Sigh.

Now I am all about one word.

One.

The Why of One Word

I’m repeating myself for those of you who have read my other blog posts about my now-seven year commitment to selecting one word for each new year. Pardon the re-run. I want others to discover the benefits of concentrating on a single word for 12 months — or as a friend pointed out, the 366 days comprising 2012.

The How of One Word

I start mulling over my word for the next year in early fall, usually around September. It’s woven into my faith journey. My prayer time and significant Scripture verses play a vital role in directing me to my word for the new year.

I know some of you reading this would say faith isn’t part of your life. At all.

Can we pause for a moment, sit on the opposite sides of the supposed chasm that separates us? What I’d like to whisper across that great divide is this: I respect where you are. I’m not shoving anything at you.

Your “how” will be different from my “how.” Consider the circumstances of the past year. Can you distill down to one word the forward motion you’d like to experience in 2012?

The What of One Word

In previous years, my words were:

  • 2006: gratitude (a gratitude journal revolutionized my glass-half-empty attitude)
  • 2007: simplify (severe illness morphed this word into survival)
  • 2008: content (being content with what I had — and yes, I bought a lot less)
  • 2009 & 2010: forgiveness (had a lot to learn & unlearn)
  • 2011: hope (choosing hope no matter the depth of my heartache)
  • 2012: trust
My words are examples to consider, not a mandatory list to choose from. If you remember nothing else from this post remember this:
Life is complicated enough. We’re writers. We deal with deadlines and word counts and reviews and real life people and imaginary ones (and both are frustrating.) The New Year’s Resolutions habit/guilt trip/expectation is another unneeded complication.
 
Think like a journalist. Or an editor. Or a novelist instructed to cut “x” number of words. Distill your dos and don’ts down to one word and then focus on that for the next 366 days. You’ll be changed when 2013 rolls around. Guaranteed — or your money back!
 
Are you ready to walk away from resolutions and focus on one word in 2012? Are you a one word believer? Have you already pick your 2012 word? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
 

Post Author: Beth K. Vogt

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an air force physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” She writes contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.