My Writer's Journey
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
Unseat Adverbs and Adjectives with Similes, Metaphors and Leitmotifs, and Unearth Writing Treasures from the Bible
"Pulling your hair again?" My angel said.
I looked at him in despair.
"You'd be bald by the time you finish writing the book."
"I know. " I sighed. "There are too many rules on writing that I am not even sure why the Lord chose me as His messenger: I, who am not well adept at grammar and syntax."
"The Lord chooses the weak to shame the strong," my angel said. "So what is your problem?"
"Editors hate adverbs and loath imprecise and non-specific adjectives. They say the use of such weakens writing."
He nodded and said, "We wouldn't want lame writing, do we? Excise the unwanted fat and tighten the sagging skin."
He was right. Lean and trim writing, armed with muscles and 6-pack abs that punch the readers and cajole them back-- that was my dream form.
"Have you studied the Bible?"
I stared at him. He knew the answer to that question, but…. maybe I didn't.
"Not read, meditate or contemplate," he said like I was slow of hearing or understanding, "but have you looked at its structure and style? What makes it easy to read for both young and old alike, easy to translate in more languages you could imagine, and yet, interpreted and discerned in more ways than millions, making each word living and kicking?"
My eyes widened. The pages ran through my mind. Similes, metaphors, symbolism, personification, foreshadowing--
"Leitmotiv," he said.
"I could sense his disbelief that I hadn't heard of the word. As though something dawned on him, he said, "Leitmotif, perhaps?" like I would understand it with just a change in one letter. Really.
Coming to a realization and acceptance that he had a rough diamond to work with, my angel sighed and sat beside me. "Look it up," he said.
I already did, just before he spoke. "Google says leitmotiv is a recurrent theme in a literary composition," I said. "This German word became leitmotif in the late 19th century."
He nodded and said, "Weave all these styles and forms into your writing and you'd have less need of adverbs and adjectives."
"Just like that?"
"Come, I'll show you something." He brought me to the Garden of Eden again. He must had sensed my thoughts because he said, "Why do I keep on bringing you here?"
I lowered my gaze and dared not speak.
"Because this is where it all began," he said. "And unless you understand you will never understand."
He smiled and shook his head at the look on my face. "I'm not speaking in tongues," he said, "yet you fail to grasp my language. Perhaps I should speak in yours."
He pointed at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and said, "The devil is like a virus that infected that tree. When Eve and Adam ate of the fruit, they got the disease and passed it on to their children, including you. The primary manifestation of this viral malady is amnesia of your true identity. Babies are conceived with memories wiped slate clean, ready for the imprint of truth or lie. Good or evil is known and written in memory from womb to tomb.
I shook at the analogy. The scientific part of my brain whirred as I thought about the property and characteristic of a virus.
"If the devil is a virus then it cannot live without a host." I gasped when reality struck me. "The devil was created as an extension of God, just like you."
"And he thought he was God and could live apart from Him. But when he removed himself from God, he realized his impending doom. He had become like a virus separated from his life source, his host, so he must have possessed the tree, a living organism," I said.
"And was trapped in the tree that became the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."
"Because he mutated from good to evil with his severance from God. Then he must have possessed the serpent that went near the tree and enticed Eve to eat of its fruit, thereby multiplying himself in his new hosts, mankind."
It made a lot of sense now: why Legion begged Jesus to allow them to possess the pigs after being cast out of the demoniac. They needed a host.
"There is some truth to what you said, but your knowledge is not perfect. Seek not to discover beyond your capability. That was the devil's downfall. Your next task," my angel's voice broke into my epiphany, "is to search for the leitmotifs in the Bible. It shall lead you to your anti-virals, some more potent than the others. These antidotes will help you regain your divine identity. Your memory will come back. Until then, one question will hound you for the rest of your life -- 'Who Am I?' But once you arrive at the answer, you shall cease to struggle with your writing."
Leitmotif will provide the clue to the anti-viral... the cure, I thought. What recurrent theme or symbol appears in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation?
He looked at me and his eyes softened. "Don't pull your hair with this task. You only need to call on me, you know. I don't understand why you always like to do it the hard way-- relying on your own understanding."
He shook his head and added, "Another symptom of the virus."
I gripped my pen instead of my hair. My angel gripped my hand in return, reminding me of his presence, of who he was.
I smiled and hope welled within me.
One day my angel found me slumped on my desk. He asked me why.
"Show don't tell. Show don't tell. I'm sick and tired of this rule, yet I can't seem to master it," I said.
He looked at me and sighed.
I looked back and begged him, "Please help me. Tell me what to do."
"I will not tell you. "
Tears welled in my eyes. Despair crept in my soul.
"I will show you," my angel said.
He led me to the Garden of Eden and showed me the Fall of Mankind.
"You know the story. It's been told millions of times. I want you to show me what happened. I want to see it in your eyes, in your own words," my angel said.
"Show don't tell?" I said.
He nodded. “Eve took the fruit, bit into it, and gave it to Adam,” my angel prompted.
I took a deep breath.
"Why did you do it?" Adam said. His eyes had widened. "God said not to eat of that fruit."
"Look," Eve said, "I did not die. You must have heard Him wrong. He told you you'd die as soon as you eat of it and you told me I'd die, too. But the serpent said I won’t. And now," she said spreading her arms, "I'm still alive!"
Adam squinted, his mouth pinched. Eve shrugged her shoulders then offered the half-eaten fruit. He hesitated then took it. As soon as he bit into the flesh, the tree of life burst into flames. The fire drew and sucked the light out of their bodies. When the light of life had left them, they were skinned with the mortal bodies, encased in a shell of imperfection.
Adam saw Eve with new eyes. “You are naked.”
“So are you.”
Everything around them darkened.
"What have we done?" Adam cried. He turned at Eve. "You did this. We should not have eaten of the fruit--"
"I'm sorry. I did not know."
"I told you but you did not believe me."
Eve shuddered and hugged herself, shaking.
“And God cursed them and sent one of the angels to banish them away from Eden,” my angel said. “Go on.”
Each day as Adam toiled the soil, his blood boiled. He'd scorn Eve. "If you did not trick me, we'd still be in paradise, and I didn't have to work."
"Look, the serpent tricked me. He told me we won't die. How was I to know that we'd die a slow death."
Adam sneered. "Of course, you fell for it. And you'd have to drag me along with you."
"You don't have to be so bitter. I'm the one who needs to take care of these little ones," Eve cried, drawing the baby in her arms as the other child gripped her elbow.
"Well, it's your fault. Damn this soil, and damn you." He pounded the wood, threw it on the ground and walked away, leaving Eve in tears with two bawling children.
What had she done? He was right. This was all her fault. If only she had listened. Then a voice called out to her.
"Yes, Lord," she said with bowed head.
"You know this would happen. I told Adam, but you did not believe him." The gentle voice pierced her heart.
"Yes, Lord." Eve wept.
"But you heard when I said, someday a woman just like you will undo this curse," God said.
Eve looked up at the bright light.
"Yes, her obedience will undo your disobedience."
Tears streamed down her face at His words.
"Her offspring shall crush the head of the serpent who tricked you. But until then, you and your offspring will endure the punishment of your action."
The words tore her heart apart. She winced and covered her face.
"Embrace the consequences of your deeds. Bear it with resignation, but you shall be gifted with tenacity and endurance like no other man, able to withstand the pain that goes beyond child-bearing. But the day will come when you will raise your head and look up to her who will do the right thing— who will listen to the new Adam, her offspring, who will undo everything and bring the light back to your soul. When this is all fulfilled, you will regain your dignity, your inner light, and eternal life."
She raised her eyes, hope shimmering.
It sounded so real in my ears, it's surreal. I felt like I was eavesdropping in someone else’s kitchen.
But my angel only said, “It can be better, but you’re learning. It will take time to build the muscle memory for this writing rule. Show, don't tell. Because people don't like to be told. People learn better by showing them what to do, not telling them. Even children will mimic what you show them and disobey what you tell them.”
“And God, Himself, knew it was better to show than tell,” my angel added.
“What do you mean?”
“Come, I’ll show you something,” he said.
He took me on top of the mountain. There I saw Moses holding the stone tablets.
"The Ten Commandments,” I said.
“God told the people how to love. He told them to obey what’s written on the tablets. But the people did not understand the law. They misinterpreted it. God had to show them instead,” my angel said.
“How?” I asked.
He took me to another mountain. And there I saw Jesus crucified and dead. Blood covered his mangled face and body. I trembled at the sight.
“He showed them love, humility, obedience…” my angel said. “And it worked. The blood of the martyrs could attest to this. You want a book that shows and does not tell? Read the Bible. Learn from it. That is why it is the Living Word. By showing, it allows man to listen and the Spirit to speak.”
Show don’t tell. Then they will understand.
Remember, a teacher is more effective than a preacher, because a teacher shows while a preacher tells.
Someday, I will master it, I vowed to myself. Someday. And until then, I will not grow tired of trying because Jesus showed me how.
Show don’t tell.
I sought the Lord to give me clarity and direction, for my efforts in the past, had been obscure, mediocre, haphazard and without focus.
I had taken my pen, like a sword and had aimed it in all directions, failing to strike at the foe, even wounding myself in the process. I realized, to be called is not enough. One needs to embrace the call and then carry it out as directed.
In the pages of His book, He spoke His living word, and I embraced it:
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear. (Isaiah 50:4)
But a veil had descended upon me and I cannot hear my Lord. He hid Himself in a tall mountain hard to climb. Then I realized I had my guardian angel. Although God could hide Himself from me, my angel could not, for he was bound to me. He had been appointed to be God's emissary and to stay at my side at all times. Thus I called my angel to help me.
"Are you a messenger of the Word?" I asked.
I heard the voice, faint and soft. "I am," my angel said.
"Help me," I said, "to become one -- a messenger of the Word, because I struggle with words. I have bought all the tools of the trade I could find to help me bring His message out, but I know there is only one tool I need that I have yet to find -- my voice. It is buried by the many voices around me, suppressed for so long, afraid to be ridiculed or cast out for it had suffered the harshness of men's words. So it learned to hide and cover behind a façade that is acceptable to everyone."
My angel led me into to the desert and showed me where I erred. I had not followed the three disciplines necessary to become a messenger of the Word: the disciplines of the body through exercise, mind through reading and spirit through prayer.
So I beat my body, mind, and spirit to submission and rigorous training. When I satisfied my angel, he said, "God has the answer. But are you asking Him the right questions?"
I realized I had not. And there were three that needed answering.
"WHY do I write?"
He led me to the marshland of my motives. I saw my vanity and presumption -- the mark of an untrained soul. I pursued a call with earthly gains in mind.
The angel told me, "It does not matter how much you earn, but what you become in the process. Realize that your decisions today affect people's lives tomorrow. Your 'yes' today brings you closer to your purpose. And that is why you write."
He was right and he set me straight. I vowed to succeed, not for what it could do to me, but what it could do to others. We are connected by soul and spirit. We do not travel in this world alone. There is God's kingdom to build, and writing is my means and end. This is writing with a greater purpose. And I felt satisfied with this answer.
But my angel was not.
"Writing is not your purpose," the angel said. "Your purpose is to love God and make men love God. Writing is just a means to your purpose.
I sat astounded. He was right again. Writing is just a means to my purpose. And there are other means -- praying, running, cooking, singing, composing, drawing, painting…
"But writing is my primary means?"
"Among others," he said. And he led me to the valley.
"And there are growing pains, labor pains, and birth pains that you need to endure. You cannot avoid it. Must not avoid it. It is necessary and crucial for your growth. For from the pain, life springs forth."
I told him I struggled in the past. HOW should I do the work He had set out for me to do?
"Without the touch of the Divine, all your works will not touch the hearts of men. It is His fingers that impart life into your words and speak to the hearts of men. Connection of spirits only happen with His blessing," the angel said. "When pursuing the will of God, you need to ask for guidance but in the end, have to make the decision. The Lord does not want people passively going with the flow without an active will."
"So should I endeavor to write and work hard at it?" I asked.
"Writing is more passive than you think. It's listening more and doing less. Then you’ll love what you do and find joy in it. Without love and joy, your work stays with you and does not accomplish its purpose."
And so I realized that loving every moment of every day is what we are all called to do yet so many go through life without being aware of their surroundings much more feel and live this love in their hearts.
I do not want to write that way. That is not the kind of writer's life I want to live.
He led me to the mountain and said, "Ask the one important question you have not yet asked the Lord."
"WHO am I?" I said. He knew I was looking for my writer's voice.
"If you want to know who you are, know who God is. You are His mirror image."
"But where is He?"
"In the voice of the child. If you want to know the truth, ask a child --the younger, the better. They will not withhold it from you, but when they speak, it is without malice or intent to harm. You will hear the naked truth, without confetti or sugar-coating. Just plain, old truth."
"I can do that? Be the voice of a child?"
"Only you can do what God has set out for you. The more you move far away from your purpose, the more lost and unhappy you become because your happiness resides in doing His will and purpose."
I sat on the mountain and waited. My angel grew still and silent. Out of the silence, the clouds parted. I saw my voice, peering. I beckoned her and she spoke.
My voice, I learned, was strong yet gentle. It was kind to those who seek refuge from the heat of the sun. It offered comfort to those who struggle against the odds of life. My voice whimpered in the night because the wind had lashed it a couple of times. Only my angel was able to bring the voice out into the open.
And it was a beautiful voice I realized. I cried for the many years that it had stayed in the dark not seeing the sun and even the moon. It hid like my God, ashamed that even its owner had rejected it. My voice had the melody of music and notes that no one could reach. Only I could, because God made it so. It had an ancient sound yet modern men understood it.
I beckoned it to come out and it whispered. But then again withdrew. It was still wounded and healing. It needed convincing that this time I would not hurt it by my neglect and rejection. What a fool I had been to think I could run away from my voice. It had been following me, muted all day, like my angel. Because even though I cast it aside, it was and would always be mine. My voice.
So I vowed, everyday I shall beckon it to speak. And it would-- softly at first until it became confident of me. Then it shall assume me and become me and speak through me. Only then will I find my voice and my voice will find me.
And thus, in the next 40 days until the Ascension , I shall train my voice to speak 'in the rhythm of the lessons I learned' (as how a famous song would say) from these last 40 days. Perhaps, God in His kindness and mercy will touch my tongue with the fire of the Divine and become worthy of the call to be a messenger of His Word.
Dirty dishes on the sink. Laundry crawling out of the hamper. Browning grout in the shower. Daughters with ears plugged to their electronics oblivious to the mom shouting, "Dinner is ready!"
This is the kind of scenario that drains my energy to low batt. I know I need to recharge, to plug into my source.
I sat down and prayed and picked up The Imitation of Christ.
"Vanity. Everything is vanity."
Ugh. I felt the punch in my gut. Have I allowed stress to enter my house, and entertained it with coffee? I had a perfectly manageable home until I started this freelance business. Then things got out of hand. I spent more and more time on my computer screen than in the kitchen. My mind spent more and more time thinking about my website than the empty refrigerator and pantry.
God's Warning Signs
As I checked my email, deleting the spams, one subject caught my eye. "Been sacrificing your writing dreams?"
Certainly I had not, I thought. I've launched my blogsite; been keeping myself up to date with webinars on SEO optimization, how to's to increase traffic, steps to build my subscribers; started networking and exposing myself to social media; and keeping a good tab of my progress.
Or have I? This question pounded me on the head after reading The International Freelancer's newsletter. This very successful freelance writer, despite her enormous success and a thriving writing career, felt she has failed as a writer. Why? Because she has allowed her freelance writing projects get in the way of her writer's dream --- to write books.
As if that newsletter was not enough, when I picked up "The Wealthy Freelancer", the author, at the beginning of the chapter staunchly warned its readers about one pitfall that may hound freelancers --- that after having achieved enormous success with landing writing projects and clients, we come to realize one day that the writing dream has become a nightmare. No longer are we writing for the joy and love of writing, but has brought corporate America inside our home with all its stress and imbalance.
And the last punch in my gut --- Matthew Kelly's book "Resisting Happiness: A true story about why we sabotage ourselves, feel overwhelmed, set aside our dreams, and lack the courage to simply be ourselves... and how to start choosing happiness again!" The subtitle probably explained it all. I was just struck that someone as successful as him, a New York Times Best Selling inspirational author should experience this scenario and have to battle with it DAILY!
He's saying that there are things that we know make us happy, but somehow, we resist doing it. We get sidetracked with the inessentials and mundane things. We push it at the lowest priority. For instance, he knows that daily prayer makes him happy because it connects him with the divine inspiration and guides his day. Yet he always has to put an effort to sit down and actually pray. Taking a walk also makes him happy because it clears up his mind but it's also a struggle to actually go out and walk! And writing gives him immense satisfaction and fulfillment, yet the effort of actually sitting down and putting words in paper is a hurdle that he needs to overcome. But when he defeats the first battle, that is, the resistance to pray, he finds enough armaments to slay all the other dragons.
That was another punch in my gut. I realized that I have allowed myself to get carried away with the trivial tasks thinking these are more important than the dream that I share with God --- to publish my novel. His novel.
Keeping a healthy balance
As a Christian copywriter, I know I have a greater purpose --- that of building God's kingdom even in the ordinary tasks. Yet, in order to do this, I need a balanced and inspired life. I cannot inspire if I start to expire.
In the hospital, we have a different use for the word "expired". It's not just for products in our pantry or refrigerator that indicate these are no longer good to consume, and consuming it might make us sick. In the medical field, it means dead. Literally. The patient has expired and the white blanket is pulled over the entire body.
I cannot inspire if I am expired. Many times, the things that push me to the point of expiration are the mundane tasks that I shove as my priority, the anxiety with which I season my work with abundance, the stress that I cloak and wrap around my body.
God speaks all the time, we just ignore Him most of the time
Today, Saturday, I had no reason to get up early. But at 5:30 in the morning, I opened my eyes feeling rested. So I thought, I might as well pray. No reason to sabotage myself at the start of the day.
With the usual prayer booklet Challenge 2000, I started my prayer. And then an idea flashed in my head. Go to mass.
Hmmm. The only mass near me is at the Cistercian Abbey and I've never been to that place. Who knows if only the Cistercians are celebrating mass in that place. That would be totally awkward to see a lay woman suddenly appear and join them, wouldn't it? Resistance welled inside me.
But the thought persisted. So I picked my iphone and googled Cistercian Abbey. Of course, the first thing that appeared was the Liturgy schedule. How convenient!
Daily mass: Monday to Saturday at 6:30 AM.
But it still does not say, join us for the liturgy, I continued to resist and argue.
My eyes landed on the facebook link. How convenient, really.
The first thing that appeared on the screen -- Join Us.
But I have not finished my morning prayer yet, I resisted further.
You're going to a church. To hear mass. The highest form of prayer. The voice within me sounded adamant. And did I also hear just a teeny-tiny hint, a little note of exasperation there?
Alright, alright. I knew there was no point arguing. I dressed up, drove on the quiet and still dark neighborhood and arrived at the Abbey within 5 minutes.
At 6:05 AM, it was way too early for the mass, but I saw cars parked and a man went inside the church so I followed.
The moment I entered, peace settled in my soul. I was where I should be.
The melodious, deep voices echoed inside the high-ceilinged stone church as the monks chanted the Office of Readings and Lauds. I sighed and settled on the seat at the back. Lay men and women trickled inside the church while the monks prayed. The readings, hymns and air of solemnity soothed my senses like a cool balm on a burning wound. I heaved a deep sigh as my spirit joined in prayer.
I have slayed the first dragon of resistance.
After an hour I left the church, I knew other dragons of resistance will come my way. But I am armed and ready.
Focus on the dream
As a freelancer just starting out in this writing business, I have learned that it's easy to get sidetracked, to forget the very thing that made me abandon everything to pursue my dream.
So I wrote what I needed to do first, and make sure that I didn't neglect it.
I know I will encounter resistance within me and even outside of me every day. But being aware of why I am here, doing this thing will keep me on the right track.
As a Christian copywriter, it would be foolish if I did not start my day with a prayer and my work with another prayer.
Didn't St. Paul say, "Pray unceasingly?"
Didn't Jesus wake up early EVERY SINGLE MORNING to pray first before he went out to do His work, His ministry.
Am I greater than Him, that I can afford to pray less or even not to pray?
If He, the Son of God, who is completely united with the Father, rose up early in the morning to pray, who do I think I am to even consider doing His work, His ministry without prayer?
And I consider myself as a Christian copywriter. Shame on me!
How can I inspire if I do not plug into my source?
If I cease to inspire, I expire. Plain and simple.
So with a careful resolve, as I washed the dirty dishes, loaded the dirty laundry, prepared barley soup and baked bread, I wrote my plans for the week ahead, making sure I put on the top of the list the one thing that brought me to this writing business in the first place.
And yes, on top of that, to PRAY. Daily. At the start of the day. So I don't cease to inspire.
When I launched my website, a friend asked me how she could do the same thing --- make a career out of writing.
I know there are many options out there, but if you don't live in the U.S., the options pretty much trickle down to just a few.
The easiest way to write from anywhere and earn is to be a blogger. The InternationalFreelancer is one such blogger who started writing from India until she moved to U.K. And there are many other bloggers (both in the U.S. and abroad) who can testify that they earn a decent living, even a six-figure income doing it.
I know you're raising your eyebrows. Don't ask me if I'm one of them. No... Not yet.
But I will tell you their stories below.
First Things First, Finding Your Voice
You will soon learn that you need to have a unique voice to succeed at this -- what to write about and how to write it.
And this will require a lot of introspection, discernment, and prayer.
Yes, you heard me. Prayer. Pray first -- get an anointing from God. All your efforts will be useless and the climb steep without His hands to lead you. I know. I've written a lot of blogs with only a handful of friends and family reading it... on lucky days.
So ask Him to show you the way.
He spoke to me through books, blogs, emails, just about anything, even through a simple packaging of Bob's Red Mills barley.
Okay, I may have to explain myself about that.
When I first started out, I did a lot of research.
I came across this email invitation from Jeff Goins on HOW TO GET 10,000 FANS PUBLISH A BOOK AND MAKE $100,000...IN 18 MONTHS.
He talked about four easy steps, but one step resonated the most for me.
Step #1 Finding my platform. This platform, according to Jeff, depends on your voice. What voice do you have?
Are you a journalist who is naturally curious and inquisitive, who'd rather talk about other people and events?
Or are you a prophet who just wants to change the world and everyone in it? You are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and always fight for a cause or advocacy.
Are you an artist who loves poetry and prose? Everything that drips off your pen is a literary masterpiece.
Are you a star who naturally draws people like a magnet, and everything that you say turns into a BuzzFeed?
Or are you the professor who likes to teach and impart knowledge? You love to research, synthesize the ideas and make it simple to understand.
Looking at my history, all the materials I have written, and what comes to me naturally, I realized I had the voice of a professor. I like imparting knowledge.
I don't necessarily have that knowledge or experience, but because I like to read and research, I easily get the information I needed to share with friends and family.
Usually, I apply this knowledge first, and if it works for me, I usually get so fired up and share it with everyone I love.
It's easy to get pretentious in this writing business, to adopt someone else's voice just to become the next big thing.
So what I can say is do your research, but you also need to lift it up to Him, Who knows best; Who knows you more than you do.
And you'd know it's Him guiding you because the road will be smooth. If there is a stumbling block, that means He is redirecting you, making you stop.
Ask Him why.
He is quick to show you. He will purify your motives
At first, you may be more fixated about making money. Ideas will come in so many noisy ways.
Ten ways to become viral.
Five easy way to earn money blogging.
Three quick ways to get paid writing online.
How to increase your readership through SEO optimization.
All these stuff are out there.
Pro-blogger is probably one website you can learn a lot about blogging.
But in the end, I think it's your sincerity that will resonate with your reader's core.
Passion and Purpose Before Product
One thing I noticed, those who've truly succeeded at blogging started out with their passion. These people didn't think about earning money. They just wanted to help, to answer a need.
Read the story of Bob, founder of Seed Time (formerly Christian Personal Finance) and how he found financial freedom helping others manage their money the Christian way.
Or how these 10 Bloggers made six figures a year online.
By pursuing their passion first, the product followed. Here is how these top writers turned their hobbies into six-figure careers.
A lot of times we get fixated with what to write. What is the "in" thing? What do people want? But if you do not love what you write, you won't be able to go past three blogs.
Why? Because it will become a tedious task.
If it's a tedious task, you will not last long.
Why? Because it does not pay at the start. Who wants to work for free doing a tedious task?
So find something that you really love and see if there is something that others need that you can satisfy doing the thing that you love.
Matthew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic Institute and author of many New York Times best-selling books illustrates this well in his book, The Rhythm of Life and Dan Miller, author of 48 Days To The Work You Love.
Nowadays, people are so sick and tired of being sick and tired. Life has become so stressful. Many want to have some control of their schedule that's why the idea of freelance work or working-from-home sounds so appealing. Perhaps just like you.
You want to give more time to your family when they need you the most, not when you are available, or work is done.
We have compromised so much in trying to make a living; it's sucking the daylight out of us.
I used to hate the feeling of having to ask permission to take time off because my child is sick. The guilt of abandoning my work to take care of my family ate me up. I know other people would easily do this, but not me. I don't know why. Is it my Asian upbringing? I know my Filipino friends feel the same way. They'd rather go to work feverish or even with an IV on so that they don't get branded as a slacker. It's weird but it happened and still is happening.
On the other hand, I also felt guilty abandoning a sick child. That devoured my gut.
"Mommy guilt" was probably the worst thing I had to deal with in the past, as a working mom. It's like trying to juggle five balls at a time. There's just not enough time to do everything. In the end, I had to settle for what I love doing. As long as I can serve them good home-cooked food for dinner, that assuaged my conscience.
So yes, I know the feeling. This is exactly the reason why I'm doing this writing. But I don't want it to become just a career.
I am 45. I have lived half of my life in halves -- half-hearted, half-fulfilled, half-dreaming, half-wanting…
I want to embrace God's promise of an abundant life, a life of fullness. And I had experienced that as a Jesuit Volunteer --- that feeling that you are exactly where God wants you, doing exactly what He wants you to do and loving every moment of it. THAT is what I want. That is how I want to live the other half of my life.
You can read the book Half-time: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance by Bob Buford if you are feeling this way. It will show you ways to deal with it.
As I always try to remind myself --- seek first the kingdom of heaven and everything else will fall in line. That's how I will pursue my writing career, rather, my writing ministry.
And, oh, before I forget. Let me tell you how God used Bob Red Mill's Pearl Barley package.
The Pearl That I Found
Yesterday, as I poured out the pearl barley into the pot, the label caught my eyes. Just to the right of the recipe is this simple letter signed by the owner, Bob Moore.
"Recently, I announced that I was handing ownership of Bob's Red Mill over to my employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
For me the decision was easy because I could not stand the thought of our stone milling tradition, our mission to improve people's health through whole grains and the love we put into everything being compromised in any way."
And when I looked at their website I literally cried when I read this paragraph on the landing page:
"It's so obvious, it's not. That thing you make - That thing you love - It should be a good thing. After all, isn't that the point? Isn't that why we're here? To help one another. To add something. To make folks a little happier, a little healthier for doing what you do? We are Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods. Good Food for All."
Wham! That is the kind of copywriter I wanted to be, what I will strive for. Simple, direct to the point, authentic, and with a sincere voice that speaks to the heart.
A voice that constantly asks, How can I help others?
I will use my voice as a teacher. I love to research and to teach. So that's what I will do. That's how I will write.
What to write about?
God will dictate in response to someone else's prayer.
So to my dear friend, thank you for your question. You just helped me write my first blog.
And because you shared this deep desire to write, I invite you to make the same journey.
Remember, "Everything is possible to one who has faith." (Mark 9:23)
And many times doubt will attack us.
In times like these, we need to pray, like the man in today's gospel, “I do believe, help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)
Let me end this blog with a prayer from Psalm 20:4.
May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose.
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