Bring Me That Horizon

Four years ago, I was a bright-eyed, nineteen-year-old girl walking out of a writers conference with the word platform pounding in her brain. I still hate that word just as I hated it then, but at the time it sent me to the internet searching for a place to plant my feet and find my audience. And this is what came of it—beyondwaiting.com.

I don’t like to leave things unfinished, and at times that was the only thing pulling me back to this corner of the internet. I started something, so I couldn’t just leave it there with weeks stretching between the words. I had succeeded in finding an audience, and I owed it to them to keep writing.

So I wrote. I wrote and my skill grew, and now I cringe to look back on those earlier posts because I don’t know who wrote them, but I hope it wasn’t really me. Because the girl who wrote those posts had room for a lot of growth.

And I have grown. I’ve changed. My words have taken on a new voice, though my heart has thus far stayed mostly true to her original course.

The winds are shifting now. There are new horizons to pursue.

And maybe the path I am choosing to take seems a detour from the one I have so faithfully paved over these last four years, but, honestly, Beyond Waiting was the detour from everything I really wanted for myself.

Because I’ve known since I was fourteen years old and writing snippets of stories as school assignments that crafting worlds was what made me come alive. I’ve known since my mother first held up that notebook containing pieces of Elena’s story and told me, “Rebekah, this is really, really good,” that I was going to be a novelist.

If this blog has been silent of late, it’s because I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into the first installment of a Young Adult Fantasy series. I’m in the editing phase, trying to make the words sing before I attempt to ship them off to an agent who expressed interest in the idea.

I’ve never been so excited. I’ve never been so horrified. I’ve never had butterflies dance through my tummy as hard as they do when I think about releasing this story into the hands of someone who may or may not love it as much as I do.

I’m focusing all my time and effort on writing novels now because this is the one thing I really want for myself—to be able to tell the stories beating in my heart and share them with the world. I don’t know what that means for beyondwaiting.com. I hope I’ll still find something to share with at least a little bit of consistency, but I’m through guilting myself into penning words for this space when my heart longs to spend those hours stitching stories.

I hope you understand. And I hope you know how very grateful I am for the support I have found here these last four years. I will carry the imprint of this season in my heart forever.

But for now…

Bring me that horizon.

horizon

A Walk in My Character’s Shoes

I spent Wednesday morning catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year. When talking about the pains and trials we’ve faced during our time apart, my friend said that we’re a lot like the characters in my books—facing difficult struggles without being able to see the big picture.

It’s okay, we decided, to not see the big picture as long as you can trust the Author writing your story. I can trust the Author. At least, that’s what I tell myself again and again. It’s just that sometimes I wish the Author would trust me with some of the details. Like the “why is this happening to me?” details.

But I get the Author analogy. I understand that when I finally reach the end of my story, I’ll be able to look back and say, “Oh, now that makes sense.” But I’m not anywhere near the end of that story and nothing about this makes sense right now. All that feels certain is this sudden urge to write a letter of apology to every fictional character I’ve ever crafted.

Dear Callum, I’m sorry I ruined your life. But there’s a reason this tragedy has befallen you and that is…

Then I would tell him everything his limited point of view can’t possibly understand. But that’s just the thing. He can’t understand. If I tried explaining, he wouldn’t believe me. Or worse yet, he would believe me and he would stop taking the steps necessary to becoming the hero I intend for him to be.

So I think if I were to write him, it would look a little something more like this:

Dear Callum, I’m sorry I ruined your life. I know this is difficult to understand, but you simply have to trust me. There are things you are not yet ready to know, but I’ll tell you everything in time. I love you, honest. That’s all I can tell you right now.

He’d be angry, of course, that I’m withholding information from him. He’d probably yell and shake his fist and tell me how unfair I’m being, and that’s okay. He has a right to be angry. Yes, yes, fume all you want, my fictional friend, but I will only ever do what is best for you. (But of course all hell breaking loose is best for you. Why do you ask?)

And I realize this conversation Callum and I are having looks suspiciously familiar, which is perhaps the point my friend was trying to make when I unloaded my burdens on her capable shoulders the other morning.

Because I’m good at yelling and shaking my fist and telling God how unfair He’s being.

But, you know, maybe God isn’t being so unreasonable after all. Because, yes, the path may be hard and the challenges great, but this all leads to a beautiful ending. So I guess I’m all right. And I guess I can keep on trusting the Author… even when I can’t see the big picture.

Love Lettering the World

Earlier this year, I fell in love with Hannah Brencher’s heart. I fell in love with her desire to spread love into the dark corners of the world because, in my own heart of hearts, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. But the thing that amazes me most is that Hannah’s ministry stemmed from a very selfish desire. In her own words:

“Anyone who knows me–knows the heart of me, and the bone of me, and the bends of my smile–knows why I really started writing love letters. It was not some strange aficionado for stationery. Never a day in my life have I ached to bring the art form of letter writing back to her fullness. It wasn’t a racing heart for cursive & curves on a page. It was a fear that I was very much alone in this world. It was a fear that I might never feel whole again. It was fear that not a single soul needed my footprints, my input, my laughter. It was a crippling belief that I would live and die and I would never have made noise in this world.”

And so the girl who was rather desperately in need of a love letter started leaving the kinds of words she yearned to hear for strangers to read. She lit up New York City one heart at a time and, in the process, healed her own. That’s what happens when you take your eyes off of yourself and start writing for other people.

I started writing for me. Because I had words bottled up in my heart that needed somewhere to go. Sometimes I still write for myself. Sometimes there’s a message God is pounding into my heart so fervently that it is all I can write. And the beautiful thing about those blog posts is that I get comments from all of you saying how badly you needed to hear those words, too.

When I set out to love letter the world, it started writing letters back to me. Letters that said, “I needed your words. You’ve given me permission to dream.” Letters that said, “Thank you for the reminder. It set my heart back on the right track again.” Letters that said, “Your voice, your words, your heart—they matter. They matter.”

Maybe I was more like Hannah Brencher than I thought—maybe I wrote out of my own fear that I would live and die having never made noise in this world—because your words mean the world to me.

Today I am ever so thankful for you, my readers, who believe that the words that flow from my heart through my fingertips are worth your time. I’m grateful that you make me feel as though my efforts matter. You’ve helped me realize that the world isn’t as big as it once appeared, and that I am changing it…

one love letter at a time

Two Whole Years…

Two years ago today, I started a blog because I was told it was one of the best things a writer can do.

Two years ago today, I really had no idea what direction my life was heading.

Two years ago today, I only dreamed of becoming a published author.

Two years ago today, I had no idea how close I was to making my dreams come true.

Two years ago today, if I could have seen two years into the future, my mind would be completely blown away. As it is right now.

I really cannot believe how far God has brought me in the last two years.

Today, I’m still blogging and loving it. I love the days where the words come easily and I’m thankful for the days where I learn to work to force them out.

Today, I still have no idea what direction my life is going, but I’m hanging on for the ride and letting God take care of the rest.

Today, I am a published author. And I just sent off a proposal for Book #2.

Today, I can say that I watched my wildest dream unfold before my eyes. And the dream just keeps getting better.

Today, I’m completely and totally in awe of how amazing God is, and I’m looking forward watching His hand at work in the next two years of my life.

The Moment of Surrender

Sometimes I have a one-track mind. Lately, that mind has been set on writing. With my manuscript for Beyond Waiting nearly finished (I can see a light at the end of the tunnel!), I’ve been trying to figure out where I’m supposed to set my efforts next. But it seems like every time I pick up a pen or pose my fingers over a keyboard, the words are stuck and my mind is as blank as the page before me. Yesterday, God reminded me to focus on the more important thing.

The book I’ve been reading with my morning devotionals talked of how goals can become gods. In a little “aha” moment, I realized that my writing was becoming exactly that. So I released my pent-up breath and whispered a prayer, apologizing for getting my priorities all out of whack. I promised not to pick up a pen until I heard God’s explicit instructions.

I think that God often waits for nothing more than the moment of surrender. When I arrived home from work last night, my mind was churning. After weeks of staring into space, my heart came out in a sixty chapter outline of what will hopefully be my first completed novel.

But even though this dream is playing out so clearly before my eyes, I’m determined not to lose sight of the most important thing. This time, I’ll let God be God, and my goals be goals. This time, I’ll let Him be the One to guide my hands.

I pray that you, too, will return to the moment of surrender when all else seems out of place.

You Must Be Happy

A friend of mine once asked me what I had been up to and, when I told him I had been writing a lot, he replied, “You must be happy.” I smiled, remembering that I had once told him I can only write when I’m happy. It’s true. Sort of. Actually, I can only write when I’ve been walking in perfect harmony with Jesus. Otherwise, the things in my heart get so jumbled up that they don’t make any sense when they pour out onto the page.

That’s why there’s been a lack of posts on this blog lately. I’ve gotten so busy that I’ve failed to make time for God. Then I sit down to write for the sake of writing, rather than writing to worship. It’s really no wonder the page remains blank.

Well, last night, I finally grabbed the right notebook and I journaled a prayer to God. He put things into perspective for me – like He always does. And now I’m writing. Boy, am I writing. I can’t keep my pen from the page. And it truly is like I told my friend. I only write when I’m happy. Because my heart is never satisfied until it’s resting in God’s hands.

So if you’re tired, busy, overwhelmed, or lacking creativity, I’d recommend not saving Jesus for a last resort. If you have to make time for just one thing, I’d start with Him. Somehow, He makes everything else fall into place.

Everything is Spiritual (including this post)

I’m one of those people who need a different notebook for everything. I remember going on vacation one time and having my dad stare at the bag of books I had packed as he asked, “Do you really need all of those?”

“Yup. This one’s my prayer journal, and this one’s where I write everything that happened in a day, and this one’s full of all the cool stuff I found in the Bible…” The list goes on. But until recently, I did not have a journal for just plain silliness. I realized this as I was in the middle of writing a prayer and had a thought that just didn’t seem to fit in the “prayer” genre. I discovered that I needed somewhere to put my whimsical thoughts of mushroom mist and gypsy dust and fantastical cities called Khassel. I needed a place to record important questions like, at what age does Peter Pan stop showing up at your window? Why do they call it an up-down when you actually look down then up? Why do I walk to the bathroom in the dark when there’s the slightest possibility John could have put an anvil in the middle of the floor? And what are my future grandchildren going to think when they read this stuff?

These are the questions that racked my brain when I was supposed to be praying. So I started a journal where I could record all these seemingly “unspiritual” things. Then I realized something… They are spiritual. Rob Bell wrote a book entitled Everything is Spiritual. I haven’t read it, but I love the title. (That’s why I stole it and used it as the title of my post.) And I know a pastor who once claimed, “Whether I’m at church for hours on end or I’m sitting on my front porch listening to Nat King Cole, it’s a God Moment.” And with those (surprisingly spiritual) thoughts running through my brain, I decided that my journal of silliness is, in fact, spiritual.

I think God likes it when we engage the random/silly side of our nature. He did give us a sense of humor on purpose, you know. And even though my journal appears to be full of just plain silliness, it truly is my way of fully engaging with God. It’s an expression of the joy in my heart as I fully enjoy the life He gave me.

So what spiritually silly things are stirring in your heart? Leave a fun comment and allow me to enjoy life with you.