This week is my annual get away for a writer’s retreat. I find myself looking forward to it each year. It is a time when a group of my friends who love to write gather together in solitude. I know that does not make much sense–but in actuality we each have our own room where we write to our heart’s content and only come together for an evening meal. Some of us are night owls and some are early birds. The flexibility of only coming together for dinner allows us the freedom to work in our own time frames.
My friends (who are all introverts) are great at getting right to business and accomplishing many of their goals during the week. They write goals and state their BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). They are good at eating frogs. Which means they get the hard things done first and then …
My education had mostly ended after eighth grade. So when I was sent off to college I was less than confident. I was informed not to worry about failing. I could go back home.This was no doubt said as a comfort, but to me it was a painful reminder of my inability. If I was to fail at college, I was to be sent to Alaska to find a husband. Not kidding.
This was repeatedly said to me. Followed by a laugh. Followed by a, “No really, I’m serious.” I would have to work as a hard as possible to maintain a C average. To my surprise, working as hard as possible produced A’s instead. Yet before I could receive my report card, I had been proposed to. I tentatively accepted on the advice of my Father.
I was hopeful to get out of it swiftly. Yet a series of…
One of the things that makes Kent such an encouraging person is his positivity. I had the honor of working with Kent on the faculty at St. Louis Christian College and served on several committees with him. Committee work is seldom fun. The teams we worked together on often had to tackle some tough issues. In situations where there was much room for complaining, legitimate complaining, Kent has a way of looking ahead to solutions instead of focusing solely on the problems.
Kent’s not a “hide your head in the sand” kind of guy. He doesn’t white wash the situation. He’s realistic. But there’s something about his approach that makes you think, “We can do this. We can make things better.” Whenever I needed to assemble a team for one of my projects, Kent was one of the first people on my list (sorry for the extra work, Kent).
Another way Kent is encouraging is that he shows a genuine interest in others. A conversation with Kent is always affirming in some way. As he celebrated the launch of his new book last night, he took time to ask me how my book was going. And, as yet another illustration of why I find him so encouraging, he said, “Let me know if there’s any way I can help.” I know he truly means that. If you take a look at his blog (linked above), you’ll see he has a passion to help others do well.
Kent shared a story about how he even encouraged himself at one point in his life. I found that amusing, thinking, Wow, he’s that good at the gift of encouragement. To watch the video of Kent sharing that story, reading an excerpt from his book, as well presenting some beautiful music by his guest band BlackFolk, click here.
We can learn a lot about how to be better encouragers by studying the attributes of the people we know who display that gift. How about you? Can you tell us about someone you know who is an uplifting person and share a few examples of how they encourage you?
Experts say it takes 20 minutes to refocus after a work interruption. I’d say that figure at least doubles when it comes to writing. In a previous post, I wrote about my hesitation to ask for help getting the time I need to finish the book I’m writing. But, I’m getting desperate for two reasons:
I’m SO close to finishing the complete first draft of this amazing story. I’ve been saying for weeks, “I should have it done by this weekend.”
After I get the draft finished, I want to travel to the city in which the story took place to do a last bit of research and some interviews. BUT … I have to get the draft finished first … sigh.
I once reblogged a great article entitled “The Rush To the End Syndrome.” That was a little over a year ago, so I guess I avoided the pitfall the article warned about – failing to create a strong ending to your story because of the impulse to just get the writing project done.
This week, however, I almost fell into the trap again. I had five days off work, so I was determined to finish up my book … well, finish up the complete first draft of the manuscript. I was so excited to be this close and couldn’t wait to dig in. But then … life interrupted. A surprise visit from out of town family. An unplanned guest one evening. A few hiccups that sent me down the rabbit hole of research – again.
Still, I was working my night owl super powers to the max (I can go with very little sleep for quite a few days) in an effort to meet my goal. After finding myself, for about the third time, contemplating ways to “condense” the final three scenes I went back to the article about rushing the end. I’m glad I did.
As another blogger who found the article helpful said, “We all suffer through the urge to tie it up at one point or another. Resist and you’ll have an ending worthy or your story.”
I’m banking on that as I readjust my goal. Thankfully, I have the same work schedule this coming week. Barring any life interruptions, I hope to have the complete first draft of the manuscript done by NEXT weekend.
You never quite get comfortable with your surroundings, even when things seem quiet. You always move gingerly, knowing full well that any step could blow it all up and send you reeling again; a bit of bad news, a difficult moment, or worse seemingly nothing at all. And every single time something triggers the sadness and that inner detonation occurs, parts of you get ripped up and shredded—and losing a bit of yourself in this way never gets easier.
One of the things most people don’t understand is the way mental illness isolates you, how it forces you to the periphery of all of your relationships because you know how unstable the ground you walk on each day is and how quickly everything can get ugly. You desperately want to avoid the collateral damage to people you love, so you learn to keep them…
Today my heart is grieved by those who spew hatred. I’m especially troubled by those who claim to be Christ followers yet don’t seem to realize that what they post and share on social media is saying so much about their true feelings towards others. As the St. Louis area still reels from recent events in Ferguson, the last thing we need is more people stirring up animosity.
So, I was tempted today to challenge some of the posts I’ve seen. But then I thought of the Scripture in which God says He can change people’s hardened hearts from stone to flesh. Healing for our region and beyond will require dialogue, debate, debunking and determination on the part of those trying to foster peace. In this moment, though, I am not suited for the battle because my own heart is agitated.