From the Crazy Mixed Up Files of Two Kimberly Dawns

Twinsies

When I saw the invitation from my writing twin Kim Rempel (we are BOTH Kimberly Dawn’s!) I couldn’t resist the temptation to analyze my own writing process.  In the last year and a half, I have taken on a “part-time” job as an Executive Director of a Love INC affiliate in Tinley Park, Illinois and I am adjusting my life, and my writing, to it’s demands. This translates into hardly ever writing anything not work related. Recently, I decided that I missed blogging too much to let it go, but I was certainly surprised at how difficult it was to squeeze a few meaningful words onto the screen.

Bringing me to the subject at hand, how did I once blog 4-5 days a week with seemingly no effort at all?

Writing Process Step #1 – Write every day. No. Matter. What.

The truth is that  I have let this go.  I was so out of the habit of expressing myself in the written word that I am still priming the pump and only a rusty trickle drips from the spigot.

Writing process Step #2 – Read and comment on the kind of stuff you’d like to write.

For me this includes my daily devotions.  As I read scripture I keep a notebook next to me and journal my thoughts.  This gives me a plethora of ideas to work from.  I also love to read Ann Voskamp, Emily Wierenga and Shelly Miller.  When I read regularly, I write better.

Writing process Step #3 – Keep a log of experiences you’d like to share.

There is only one you, so writing about what you experience will be unique and inspiring to others! I keep a notebook especially for phrases that come to me or subject matters that are begging to be introduced to my world.

Writing process Step #4 – Believe that your voice and perspective matters.

This is closely connected with step #3, but I can not stress enough how unique your perspective is.  Sharing your take on life helps the world around you understand and accept new ideas and respect those with differing opinions.  It has been said that each person influences over 200 lives!  Writing can be your opportunity to influence others in a positive way.

Writing process Step #5 – Become immersed in your subject.

Whether I am writing my novel or a blog inspired by a scripture passage, the more time I give myself to meditate on it, the more revelation I find to add value to my own life.  Fresh revelation always leads to the passion necessary to communicate in a way that inspires others.

Writing process Step #6 – Be vulnerable.

Writing about things and people you care about can be very revealing, and may leave you feeling a little naked.  However, when readers can tell that you are truly bearing your heart, they  become endeared to you, and want to hear what you have to say.

Writing process Step #7 – Just do it!

Stop the excusiology.  If you have time to watch hours of Duck Dynasty and NCIS, you have time to write.  You can’t afford not to!  The world needs to hear your voice.

What I’m Working On

  • Blogging at Journey To Epiphany
  • Writing articles at Family Fire
  • Submitting a children’s picture book for publication
  • Writing an historical fiction novel
  • Writing and being chief editor of quarterly newsletter at work
  • Gathering notes for an upcoming devotional

How My Work Differs From Others

Finding a voice all of my own is really only finding a collection of voices who have spoken to me.  My collection includes, Madeleine L’Engle, Jan Karon, Richard Foster, and Ann Voskamp. Each of them have caused me to relook at myself and the world around me, beyond the surface and into the deep.

Why I Write Non-Fiction

I write non-fiction because it is quickest way to communicate ideas that influence.  However, I love writing poetry and fiction as well, in fact, I would say they come much easier to me.

 

Now for the real fun…

 

Next week my very best blogging friend Adela Crandell Durkee over at the Black Tortoise will be writing about her own experiences with the writing process.  You won’t want to miss this!

He Answers Me in Nehemiah 4

I’m weary-worn from a hectic week at work,

Feet on husband’s lap, tissue on tear stained face.

Who knew that there would be days like these?

People call and leave their burdens at my feet,

and I try to remember that I’m not Jesus,

and that ultimately it’s my job to point people to Him

not to solve all of their problems.

Yet, the Martha in me tries.

I can’t help but feel that I’m only a little girl

“pretending” ministry

and the shoes are way too big for me.

'Walking in my shoes' photo (c) 2011, Susana Fernandez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Honeytree sang,

“‘I’m playing grownup and no one can see in me,

I’m just a child who is learning to hide inside,

Longing to live, but yet learning to die.”

Voices come, masquerading themselves as my own:

“Why did I think I could do this?

What was I thinking?

I’d better quit now before anyone sees…

that I’m not perfect.”

Husband listens, but his eyes begin to droop

because it’s been hours that he has heard me drone on.

I tell him to go to bed.

Thumb slides on phone

looking for His Words to me

on this matter.

Nehemiah Four:

“What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing?

Do they think they can build the wall in a single day…

Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap…”

The voice sounds oddly familiar.

It’s the one that sounds like my own.

Then Nehemiah prayed.

Then I prayed.

Nehemiah didn’t listen to the voices,

and neither will I.

'Wall' photo (c) 2011, fishhawk - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I will go back to work rebuilding the walls

delegating to others

and we’ll whistle while we work.

But not without the Sword of the Spirit

in our mouths,

to chase away words

that cajole and confront

that we are nothing and can not finish.

I am nothing.

I can’t finish.

He is everything.

He has finished.

I am in Him,

and He is in me.

It is done.

Giving thanks because I need to see:

289. Free leggings just when I needed them.

290. Beauty in every corner

291. Cozy corners to enjoy coffee or cocoa

292. Sunlight glitters in an autumn dance

293. It was a dark and stormy night…and I am in my very own attic bedroom.

294. My very own burning bush…what is the Lord saying to me?

295. Joy unspeakable! I’m living the life of Jan Karon’s Father Tim!

 

 

Jesus Loves the Person You Can’t Stand

I am attending the Bella Conference, Fresh Colors this weekend…so you’ll have to read this oldy but goody! This is one of my all-time favorites…

Photo courtesy of Alex Proimos

Maybe the person is at work, or at school. Maybe you dislike an entire portion of society, ie. the smelly guy on the bus. Or maybe, and this is the worst of them all, you live with someone you don’t like! Whatever the case, it’s startling how often I hear “Christians” say they hate someone, or dislike a family member. Even more often that this, I see Christians ignore entire portions of their own world. They conveniently ignore the bum on the corner of State and Lake Streets. They sit as far away as possible from the smelly man on the bus. They look upon the scantily dressed young woman, whom they suspect to be a harlot, with disgust. They try with all their might to get out of serving in the nursery when their turn comes up, because they, “just don’t do diapers.” I know, I am ashamed to say, I’ve done all of the above.

Have you ever stopped to ask the bum his story? Whether it’s a true story or not, it’s sure to be interesting and will show a window into his soul. Have you ever thought that maybe the smelly guy is homeless and hasn’t had a shower because he has no bathroom except McDonald’s? Did you ever consider that perhaps the young woman you are so quick to judge may have run away from a sexually abusive father and had no where to turn?

My writing mentor, Madeleine L’Engle said this:

“If Jesus came today, would we be any braver, any more open, any more willing to give ourselves to his love, than were those who cried out, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’? Would we be any more willing today to allow him to love all kinds of people, even those we don’t much care about?
That, of course, was part of the problem–Jesus’ friends. They were not the right people. He went to the wrong dinner parties (his first miracle took place at a big party). He loved children, and let them climb all over him with their sticky little hands and dirty little feet.”

If Jesus reached out to these “untouchables” in our society who are we to ignore them? Who are we to define them as untouchable?

Every once in a while, my Salvation Army roots leak out. General William Booth said,

“Look for yourselves. The surging sea of life crowded with perishing souls rolls up to the very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the fact – fact that is real as the Bible; as real as the Christ who hung upon the cross! as real as the Judgment Day will be, and as real as the Heaven and Hell that will follow it.

Look! Don’t be deluded by appearances -men and things are not what they seem. All who are not on the rock are in the sea. Look at them from the standpoint of the Great White Throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God; is in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And He is calling on YOU to jump into the sea – to go right away to His side, and help Him in the holy strife.

Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet, and place yourself absolutely at His disposal? My comrades, you are rescued from the waters; you are on the rock. He is in the dark sea, calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go?”

Here is my favorite Keith Green song ever. Please listen. Someone’s life depends on it.

Five Favorite Authors – Friday Favorites

5. Ann B. Ross – If you find yourself a little down in the dumps, you need to read the Miss Julia books. I have never laughed so hard in my life! Laughter is a medicine, and I’ve often healed myself reading Ann’s words!

4. Jan Karon – I call the Mitford series “Vacation in a book”. Often times I find myself encumbered by life with too much to do, with the demands of a wife and mother, and maybe filling too empty to give the way that I should. When this happens, I know that it’s time to grab a Mitford book. Her character development is pristine. I know that somewhere there must be a Father Tim and an Uncle Billy. They are too real not to be real. My daughter recently asked me what literary character I’d most like to be, I answered, “Cynthia!” She is so charming, and has such a positive, fun outlook on life. She is who I long to be.


3. Ann Voskamp – Isn’t she pretty? It had been a long time since I read words that stirred my soul the way Ann’s do. Her poetic prose is rich with image and feeling, and she conveys her beautiful heart so effectively. I love the way she thinks, and even more I love the words she comes up with to portray her thoughts; her thoughts the color on canvas, her words the brush. She had me from the first line, hanging onto every word. While reading her book, A Thousand Gifts I found that I would have to put the book down, just to savor the gift she had just unwrapped before me. Sometimes, I’d even meditate a day or two before returning because there was so much to learn from her. Not only is her book brilliant, (and a New York Times bestseller), but her blog draws me into her world as an intimate friend. I feel loved.

2. C.S. Lewis – My first taste of Lewis, was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I was in elementary school at the time, and very willing to be on the look out for a wardrobe of my own. The Chronicles of Narnia were a huge part of my spiritual formation. The next book I read was Screwtape Letters, and then Mere Christianity. I admire Lewis’ logic and clear philosophy.

1. Madeleine L’Engle – One of the greatest regrets of my life is having missed the opportunity of hearing Madeleine speak at Wheaton college. I guess I thought she and I had all the time in the world..but we don’t. A Wrinkle In Time is the first book of hers that I read. I so much identified with Meg. I was the geeky, uncomfortable in her own skin Meg with glasses and no self-esteem. Her triumphs were my triumphs. I read all of her young adult books with so much vigor! She opened a whole new world of deep thought to me, and dared me to think outside the box. And then as an adult, I found out about her wonderful non-fiction books. How I love to read her thoughts! I agree with some, disagree with others, but love the originality of her thought. I can not wait to spend time with her in heaven!

Friday Favorites – Poetry

I’ve decided to make Fridays about my favorite things, and since today is National Poetry Day, I thought I’d make talk about my favorites. In poetry that is.

Shells

While reading Meet The Austins, by Madeleine L’Engle, I was in full glory of my awkward all-elbows adolescence, when I came across this lovely verse:

“If thou couldst empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the Ocean shelf,
And say — “This is not dead,” —
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou,
And hast such shrewd activity,
That, when He comes, He says — “This is enow
Unto itself — ‘Twere better let it be:
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.”

There is some confusion as to who wrote this poem. Madeleine says Sir Thomas Browne, but the internet is full of debate about this. But regardless of who wrote it, I can almost say that this has been my life poem. I’ve always wanted to empty all myself of self so that there is more room for Him, but it is a daily task, and I grow weary of it sometimes….all of this emptying and re-emptying.

The Red Wheelbarrow.
Another favorite poem, again from the time that I was a school girl, is by William Carlos Williams.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

I love the simple beauty the writer found in ordinary every day images. It reminds me somewhat of 1000 Gifts, because of the quest for finding unwrapped presents that our dear Ann Voskamp has endeavored to set upon us.

Which brings me to another subtopic in poetry. I. Love. Poetic. Prose. It’s my favorite thing to read these days, and Ann Voskamp is the queen of it. I also adore Emily and Rachel. Lastly I’ve found a new community of aspiring and published poets over at D’Verse. It’s a very fun place to hang out whether you like to write poetry, or only enjoy reading it.

Lastly, I will include one of the poems I’ve written.

Church In The Wild

Photo by JohnEdits

Concrete jungle
marble grey and bleeding
Unaware of Who it is they are needing.

Dripping rain forests
lush emerald gold
Downpour weeping stories untold.

Middle-aged prostitute,
mascara lines on face,
vanished, gone without a trace.

Homeless beggar
cardboard prayer
rolling by on life’s conveyor.

Profane rappers
subconsciously plead
calling for spirit-mouths to feed;

See right through us
Conflicted souls,
fear in eyes, shot through with holes.

Flames of fire
simmer deep within
Follower’s hearts to free from sin.

Christian’s hide,
trembling we cower
As if God-in-us doesn’t have the power.

Bold and aggressive,
Yet meek and mild,
We must become the Church in the Wild.

**This poem was inspired by the radically relevant teaching we have been receiving by Anthony Thompson at FHC’s Saturday Night Services.

What is your favorite poem? Or what memories do you have in connection with poetry?

Sharing at a new place! Photobucket” />

friday favorite things | finding joy

Lessons Learned From the Austin Family – Books That Inspire

As an only child, I reveled in reading about a large, noisy and happy family.  The Austin Family.  Madeleine L’Engle again influenced and shaped everything I was to become with her deeper than surface writing.  As an author, she never talks down to children.  She expects them to handle difficult issues, death, life and everything in between.  She forces the reader to see what is of eternal value.

These books are theologically “safer” than the time quintet.  The star, Vicky Austin, has a grandfather who is a retired minister and any doubts about God and life are generally run by him and his wise and Judeo-Christian mind.

And although Vicky deals with feelings of sexual awareness and attraction to the dark and brooding Zachary at a rather young age, I am reminded that these books were written in the late 60’s and early 70’s when love and marriage were accepted at a much younger age.

What did I learn from the Austin series?

1.  How to deal with a changed plan.  The Austins have the balance of their family rhythm tampered with when a hurting, recently orphaned Maggie comes to live with them.

2.  How to plan a great practical joke.  Don’t ask – just read Meet the Austins.  I also learned that practical jokes rarely have a happy outcome.

3.  I learned that I wanted to experience an ice storm at some point in my life.

4.  I learned my favorite poem…ever.

If thou could`st empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
And say, `This is not dead`,
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou
And hast such shrewd activity,
That when He comes, He says, `This is enow
Unto itself – `twere better let it be,
It is so small and full, there is no room for me.

Sir Thomas Browne  (apparently, a kind reader told me that it is a common misconception that Sir Thomas Browne wrote this poem.  You can check out his information here:  http://penelope.uchicago.edu/false.shtml

5.  I learned that I’d like to go camping across the country(It’s actually on my bucket list because of the second book Moon By Night.)

6.  I learned about the fascination of a bad boy to a good girl.  (And what to do with it.)

7.  I learned tons about marine biology.

8.  I learned about death, and how I’d like to handle it gracefully.

9.  I learned about the right guy rather than the exciting guy.

The Ring of Endless Light was a Newberry Honor Book.  For more detailed review of these books visit The Christian Scribbler.

How Madeleine L’Engle Tilted My Planet – Books That Inspire

For a wonderful book review on this and many other books, please visit my friend’s blog The Warden’s Walk.  He also makes some very pertinent objections to some of the theology in the book.

Perhaps my favorite of the original three Time Quintet, A Swiftly Tilting Planet plays with the idea of time travel and the importance of the choices each person makes.

This book skips ahead nine years. Charles Wallace is the main character, although Meg and the rest of the family play a fringe part.  His journey on a time traveling unicorn causes the future to alter, by influencing people of the past to make different decisions in order to change the future.

Naturally, one of the most important things I learned from this book as a young adult is the importance of my decisions and how they may affect the future.  I found it very thought provoking when Charles and Gaudior would find themselves in a “projection”  which is a picture of what could be or a “Might-Have-Been” to see what could have been if different choices were made.  I also learned a lot about history in this book; not facts and dates as much as how history has taken us from where it once was, to where we are now.

Another thought I found interesting, and it has literally shaped my philosophy to the point that I have based much of my writing on it, is the thought that, “It’s not where, but when.”  It is more natural for Guadior (the time traveling unicorn), to travel in time, but it is easier for Charles Wallace to travel in places. If you are reading my series about New Glarus, you can see how this book affected me.  In this series, I write about the same place, but in different times of my life.  I have Madeleine to thank for that.  I wish she were still here.  I think we would have very passionate discussions, in which we agreed, and agreed to disagree.  One of the things I love most about her is I think she would allow me the freedom to do that – to disagree that is…

A Wrinkle In Time Series Pt. 1 – Books That Inspire

If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know how much I love Madeleine L’Engle.  One of my deepest regrets is that I never made it to one of her many writing conferences at Wheaton College.  My love affair with all things “Madeleine” began when I was in about sixth grade. My mother and I were on a quest to read all of the Newberry Award winners, and I came upon Madeleine’s A Wrinkle In Time.


I don’t know if any book, other than the Bible of course, has had such a strong impact on my life as this book did.  First of all, I was going through a very ugly stage.  I could completely relate to Meg Murray, who had nondescript mousy brown hair, thick glasses and braces.  Minus the braces, it could have been a description of me.  Not only is her appearance insignificant, but she feels that she is inadequate in every way.  She doesn’t do particularly well in school, although she is a math whiz, and she isn’t good at sports or music.  She feels completely useless.

Much of that changes during the book.  Meg is able to solve a deep problem for her family, to have a popular boy show interest in her and most importantly to she finds value in who she is.  The characters in the novel are quaint and lovable, and Madeleine’s search for God comes through in the pages.

As an adult fan of her work, I’ll never forget reading about her struggle to get this book published.  It was her first major work for children.  She was about to turn forty, and was wondering whether she should give up writing and concentrate on her family.  (Sound familiar anyone?)  On her birthday, she received a letter from a publisher.  It was yet another rejection.  She went on a walk to cry and talk to God.  “God, why all these rejection slips?  You know it’s good; I wrote it for you.”  It was only through an acquaintance that she was able to have her Newberry Award winning book published.

Although the book became part of a series, the books each stand on their own.

I will be exploring other Madeleine Books in the next few weeks, do you have a favorite?

The Sterling Cross and the Seed

Many Protestant churches live up to their name in that they protest against icons.  In fact, some of them are even wary of celebrating Communion or Baptism lest they become a tradition of men and lose any meaning.  They fear that we will begin to live by works.

We do need to be careful of any ritual becoming more important than the very thing it represents.  However, when looking in Scripture, God is pretty ritualistic.  Even in the New Testament, Jesus asks us to partake in Communion, be baptized in water and instructs us in the manner that we should pray.

A few years ago, I found a beautiful sterling cross at a tag sale.  Not many of my friends wear crosses, but those who do definitely don’t wear this kind.  It has picture of Mary and Jesus and two other characters on it.  It is beautiful.  I believe that each of the pictures depict a different portion of Jesus’ life.  For the remainder of the lenten season, I’m going to wear my lovely cross, and by so doing, I hope to remind myself of Jesus’ commitment to mankind, and to me in particular.

One of my writing mentors, Madeleine L’Engle speaks often of icons.  She liked to have certain icons around for different seasons of the Christian calendar.  For instance, she carried a seed in her pocket during lent.  She did this to remind herself that although things in her life may seem dead and lifeless, and although the winter seems to never want to relinquish itself and give itself over to the hope of spring, there is the hope of a seed.  But before there is the hope of a seed, there is the sting of death.  The seed must first die and find its home in the dark, cold recesses of half-frozen soil. Then and only then, can the seed live up to its potential.  Jesus was the great Seed planted in the ground for three days and raising from the dead so that you and I can become everything we can be.

So, for the rest of this lenten season, I will also carry a seed in my pocket.

It’s humorous to me how that people who have grown up around ritualistic religion see very little beauty and significance in it.  Mostly because it became something habitual, and therefore not real to them.  But to my eyes and heart, a heart that’s hungry for experience, ritual gives an opportunity to experience Christ through the senses.  When I need to know that He is near, I can touch the cross around my neck.  When I’m discouraged because I think that my circumstances are never going to improve, I can pull out my seed and remember that I must die to my desires and give myself to the DNA of the seed placed in me. When I feel that I am no good, I can take Communion and remember that Christ is in me, whether you believe it to be literally or figuratively.

Some Grown Up “Make-Believe”


“He (Jesus) even told us that we had to be like little children ourselves if we wanted to understand God, and yet the world (and too often the church) taught then, and still teaches, that we have to outgrow our childhood love of story, of imagination, of creativity, of fun, and so we blunder into the grown-up world of literalism.” Madeleine L’Engle

But aren’t children the greatest literalists in the world? I wish I could ask Madeleine that. If you tell a child something, don’t they take you quite literally? One thing about what is literally true to a child, is that the line between reality and make-believe is very ambiguous.

I remember playing “farm” with my two best childhood friends. For some reason, I got it in my head that we might buy my great grandparent’s farm in Nebraska. I’d never even been there, but my mother had told me much about it, and we had a few old black and white photos of a grand farmhouse. My guess is that they had recently passed away and my mother sighed out loud that she wished she could buy that farm because it had so many precious memories for her. From that statement of yearning, I decided that we were very probably buying that farm.

So, I rounded up anyone who would play with me and we pretended we were on my great grandparent’s farm. I still remember the rooms I imagined and the grove of pine trees I “sat” under even though there wasn’t a pine tree in sight.

I suppose in that way, we, as children have given up our “love of story, of imagination, of creativity, of fun” and have blundered “into the grown-up world of literalism.” We think that those times of “make-believe” weren’t real. But what are we really saying when we say “make-believe”? Are we saying that we pretend and imagine to the point where we make ourselves believe something is there when it is not? And if so, isn’t that a type of faith? A kind of calling things that are not as though they were? (Romans 4:17)

Maybe if we imagined and played “make-believe” about the things we have been promised by our Maker, we would be having faith like a child and would see more things happen in our lives.

I am not suggesting that we live in denial. After all, was it denial for me to imagine and “make-believe” that I was on my great grandparent’s farm when I was really standing on the tiny plot of land in front of our Chicago bungalow? Of course not! As soon as my mother called me in to eat, I was in Oak Park, Illinois again. I would gobble down her lovely lunch and run outside to make a mud pie for all the field workers.

So, which was more “real”? You tell me.

 Linking with the lovely Jen:

and Michelle at: