A Novelist Who Writes Non-Fiction Blogs

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I love story. I love picking up a book and sinking into a character’s journey. Experiencing life and emotion through another’s perspective.

Becoming a novelist was a natural progression for me. Books became my escape from the loneliness and pain as a sensitive introvert in a family that didn’t know how to do relationship or life well. I longed for the love and connections I drank in each week as I watched Little House on the Prairie–wishing so much that I could be Laura Ingalls (though with Mary’s hair). I wanted to be loved with the depth and passion of a father like Charles Ingalls.

Fast forward many years and many choices that brought more scars to my heart. The emotional pain kept me crying out to God for relief. For help. For freedom.

And so started a journey in which God began restoring my soul. Healing brokenness and deep wounds. Bringing joy and peace. And the more healing I received, the more aware I became of the enemy’s tactics against us—God’s precious, broken sheep. And the stronger my passion to help others find the freedom I so craved when I was deep in the pit of hopelessness and shame.

So while I write fiction novels, I blog about freedom and hope.

God has gifted many of us with the power of words.

Not all are called to wield the power of words in the same way. But each of us is uniquely gifted to shine light into our patch of His garden. To hold the light high so lost and hurting sheep can find their way home.

My passion is that none would be lost. And that those who aren’t lost—those who believe in Jesus—don’t live as prisoners of war. Locked behind the enemy lines of hopelessness and fear, defeat and despair.

So many of us present smiling facades. The greater the success, the more invested we tend to be in hiding our brokenness behind shiny walls. Walls that imprison rather than protect.

Our world has evolved from front porch sitting and conversing to a place where technology is replacing face-to-face interaction.

We are designed to be seen and known and accepted in all our flawed beauty. Without that, our souls slowly shrivel while our public (and Facebook) smiles get brighter.

My desire is to encourage people to see beyond their intellectual understanding that Jesus died so we can live as overcomers, and helping them take the steps to live that as their reality. Making the promises of God a tangible daily experience rather than verses we quote but have no real belief in.

God’s desire is that we live in His promises, that His fruits fuel and flow through us. And my hope is to shed light on how to step into all that God has for us, how to kick the enemy and his lies to the curb so we become fully who He designed us to be—His spotless bride.

The Art of Bloodletting:Translating Suffering to the Shared Page

“The only books worth reading are books written in blood.” –Frederick Buechner When suffering strikes, we are often silenced by pain. In such times, the act of writing may feel frivolous, exploitative, or irrelevant. Yet it is these dark, raw places of our lives that most demand our full attention, our most artful labors. We must steward the afflictions God has granted us. We may remain silent in the midst of it, but at some point we must write. Patricia Hampl reminds us of the responsibility that comes with our experiences: “We do not, after all, simply have experience; we are entrusted with it. We must do something—make something—with it. A story, we sense, is the only possible habitation for the burden of our witnessing.”

Dan Allender, in “Forgetting to Remember: How We Run From Our Stories,” tells us what happens when we ignore the hard events in our lives: “Forgetting is a wager we all make on a daily basis and it exacts a terrible price. The price of forgetting is a life of repetition, an insincere way of relating, a loss of self.” How then do we begin to write from within our afflictions? And how might the practice and the disciplines of writing offer a means of shaping our suffering into meaning for both writer and reader? Forgive the brevity and oversimplification, but here’s what NOT to do and why:

1. Don’t write to heal. Our therapeutic culture urges us to write into our pain as a means of self-healing. Newsweek’s article, “Our Era of Dirty Laundry: Do Tell-All Memoirs Really Heal?” rightly questions this cultural assumption. I have mucked through some hours and days of writing that were hellish. Re-living an experience with language and full consciousness is sometimes worse than the original event. Recognize that writing into affliction brings its own affliction. And even more importantly, recognize that when we are predisposed to heal ourselves, we will not be fully honest in the writing. Healing will likely and eventually come, but only as we engage with the hardest truths.

2. Don’t write to redeem, to turn inexplicable pain into sense and salvation. We want to bring beauty from ashes. We want to make suffering redemptive to prove its worth. But this is God’s work, not ours. Our first responsibility is to be true to what was, to witness honestly to what happened. Our job is not to bring beauty out of suffering but to bring understanding out of suffering. Poet Alan Shapiro argues that “…the job of art is to generate beauty out of suffering, but in such a way that doesn’t prettify or falsify the suffering.”

3. Don’t write for yourself alone. This is not just about you. You are working to translate suffering to the shared page. Buechner reminds us of the universality we should be striving for: “…all our stories are in the end one story, one vast story about being human, being together, being here. Does the story point beyond itself? Does it mean something? What is the truth of this interminable, sprawling story we all of us share? Either life is holy with meaning, or life doesn’t mean a damn thing.”

Writing can begin here, in the self, but should consciously move us beyond ourselves, to place our story into the larger stories around us, and ultimately, into the grand story that God is writing. The most powerful work comes from a “self that renders the world,” as Hampl has said—not just the self that renders the self.

Life is holy with meaning. Pain is holy with meaning. Don’t miss it. I pray for you the strength and faith and wisdom to begin to enter those hard places and to translate your suffering onto the pages we share—for the good of all, and for His glory.

How have you been able to translate your suffering into your writing?

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