Friday, April 20, 2007

Christian Women Online Blog Challenge

Today is a challenging kind of day. I have several writing projects and manuscripts to do. (If Christine is reading; I'm typing up all my notes!) My youngest boys have band contest tonight, and I'm a chaperone. There are details galore hanging over my head and I don't know where to begin. I've fallen so far off my exercise and eating-right wagon, I might have to wait for another one to come along.

But challenges make us richer. They give us something for which to breathe in and out.(At least I hope so.)

Over at Christian Women Online, they are always happening. I found them through my friends, Bonnie Bruno and Terry Whalin. CWO helped me to be thankful again. They talk about things that interest me, and they connect in a blogroll. It always amazes me how many talented and thoughtful people there really are in the world. The people with CWO are truly joyful and thankful. But I don't know that I would've been able to rejoice so much if I hadn't been able to share with you. Today they challenge me.They give me things to think about to write and to muster this stuff up from my soul. I'm answering a Blogroll Challenge.

Let me pause to tell you how I got into this: I started blogging in a hesitant, timid way. A friend of mine, who happens to have a fantastic blog, said I should think about blogging.(He's always helping someone.) He said it would keep me thinking along writerly paths and maybe help me sort out my passions in writing. So, I set up my account and for one year I couldn't think of what to do with it. Then, in July 2006 I was at a point in my life where I wanted to change directions in writing, and get back to my first love, fiction, or at least some sort of writing of my own. And there were other things going on, which made it difficult to change these gears.

But I had all of these words scrambling around in my brain and while I wrote in my Life Journal, no one was reading that (or would want to. Talk about a whiner.) A writer likes to be read. So one day, I opened my account and posted my first blog--about dieting. I had to have my friend put up my photo--I had no idea what I was doing.

But wow, as I went along, I grew in a lot of ways. Here are some of the many things I'm thankful for in blogging(how I'm blessed by blogging):

1. friendships (too many to link here)
2. topics I feel passionate about (that's another post!) and what I learn
3. writing regularly
4. pointing out places and people I like
5. discovering my roots
6. discovering how to write from my worldview
7. feedback from people I didn't know existed in the world (but now I do!)
8. Fun

You Are Western Boots

Your boots can sure walk a long mile - but they're still chic!

9. sharing photos
10. sharing childhoods and showing how writers developed

I'm always learning something new. I like to think that I have the mind of a beginner, no matter how old I'm getting (I'm in my year leading up to my Jubilee.) And some of you have shared your thoughts with me--and that's something a writer doesn't get a chance to experience most of the time--feedback. I am absolutely delighted when I get a comment. I'm thrilled when someone emails me behind-the-scenes. I keep all of that stuff to bring out on my rainy days.

If I ever figure out what I'm doing with my fiction, I'll have you all to thank. You will have shaped me and helped me to discover where my own sweetspot in writing is.

Sometimes, I think, we see so many downers and sad faces, we think life is all about that. It's not. It's a joy to cherish. When a life is created, it is cause for rejoicing. When it goes out of the world, we grieve, but we also celebrate that life.

I'm no Pollyanna. I can tell you sad, sad stories and events, and of failures and angst and great grief. I have friends of many kinds of faiths, races and creeds. I delight in discovering who they are and where they came from. (That's another reason I love to read so much.) But there is something wonderful about sharing joy instead of wallowing in self-pity and suffering.

I'm a Christian, and while that certainly is the core of my worldview, I also am a human being, who delights in life.

This is my favorite part of the Bible. I cherish it no matter what happens to me:

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ...we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us...
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5: 1-5;8)

That may mean nothing to you. It may be some sort of philosophy that doesn't appeal to you or you aren't sure of all the other stuff that goes with it, but I'm just showing you how I think. It's how I tick, how I breathe in and out, and from where I pull those writerly thoughts.

There are several quotes I keep above my computer. Here are two of them--the two I use whenever I write to spur me on:

From Anne Morrow Lindbergh:
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise. To suffering must be added mourning,understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable."

I hope this quote demonstrates how I operate in this blog.

Then, Stephen King said in his book, On Writing:

"If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?"

Now, Steve may say it in a way that offends some people, but I think it's a clever way to say it. I take it as something holy; like a commissioning of sorts.

What has God given you to do? What tools does He hand to you?

Here are some of my tools:

1. a life that has spanned decades with tons of experience

2. a working knowledge of many things, including the Bible

3. a computer with an internet feed

4. a great husband and kids who encourage me to do things/inspire me

5. plenty of humor (you have to have that when either the computer crashes, you're on the phone with the techie guy or you lose your entire post or email...a sense of humor or irony helps.)

6. connections to many people

7. connection to God

Think about what it is you have been given to do. Do it. And be thankful for the blessings by counting them often. I think blogging has made me aware of all of these things.


Darlene Schacht said...

Wow, Terry encouraged you to blog? Wow, you learn something new every day. I met him through designing his blog, and he's been a great friend since.

Blogging is such a blessing. Thanks for the post!

Karen Wingate said...

One more benefit of your blog, Crystal. You've inspired several others to start blogging including me. What a joy and encouragement that has been. Thank you for being our pathfinder.

Crystal Laine said...

Yes, Terry has encouraged my writing since I first met him on a writer's group and found out he was a Hoosier! It is great to know so many people who encourage and bless you. You, Darlene, too, do a lot of encouraging without even knowing who it is!

By the way, I love the work you did on Terry's blog, Darlene.

Karen, if I've influenced you and a few others to blog, it's my way of Pay It Forward. I love your blog
because you have so many insightful things to say. You bless me with your kind words here, too.

Blogging has been a cool drink of water for me. It blesses my socks off!

Anonymous said...

Crystal, we can't hear it enough--to count our blessings. It's so easy to count what we don't have instead of what God constantly dumps into our lives. I love this post!