I’m with Lincoln. {the exodus road}

The Exodus Road - Lincoln Quote

What is tragic is so many turn an eye to slavery, particularly sex trafficking. It’s not their problem. It’s not in their neighborhood. It’s not a real problem, just runaways who need money. No. It’s much bigger and more complex.

But even if sex trafficking isn’t on your street or you can’t see it in your city, wouldn’t you want to help fight for the helpless, the imprisoned, the desolate? What if 150 years from now your great-great-great-grandchildren could look back and say, “My grandparents helped to abolish sex trafficking.”

Don’t let the largeness of the issue keep you from action. These aren’t numbers and statistics. They are people with faces…daughters, sisters, mothers.

There is something you can do.

{This  video contains images not suitable for children.}

150 years ago, Lincoln freed the slaves. Today, however, there are more slaves on our watch than at any other time in human history. Let’s be the Lincoln to our generation.

Check out the producers of this video, MadeinaFreeWorld, and their campaign to take slavery issues to congress or visit The Exodus Road today. Consider subscribing to the newsletters from these two organizations, so you can stay informed of the issue and can be given action steps for becoming a modern day abolitionist.

I’m with Lincoln. You?

***

Interested in helping the fight against trafficking? Visit I’m with Lincoln and send an email to your senator requesting to double funds to fight human trafficking. They make it easy. Click your state and your senator’s name pops up and then even have a prepared letter. In just a few clicks you can help make a difference.

Keep up with the fight with The Exodus Road on Facebook (like their page & spread the word!). A team is gearing up this week for a large scale raid in India, covering 7-8 brothels with 30+ victims, please pray for the team that all would go smoothly and for those to be rescued.

…what does the Lord require of you?

But to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

 

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What Ann Voskamp Taught Me About Writing

I use to think Jesus and writing were exclusive. Unless you were writing about Jesus. Even today as I drove to the coffee shop, I was wondering, How is novel writing about Jesus?

Then the truth passed by, if all of life is worship, then writing and Jesus are friends.

Even if I’m crafting a story in which Jesus isn’t mentioned, not even once, he’s there. In the writing, in the process, in the living, in the worship.

So what of Ann?

The first time I met Ann it was through her words. They kindled my heart toward Jesus. As I met her at conferences and a retreat her words mirrored her writing.

1. It’s not about me.

I’ve heard it said all truth belongs to God. if you look across the pages of literary history you’ll scarce find a work that isn’t tangled in the cords of grace and redemption. The praise of a good writing work isn’t mine. If truth and life and freedom is reflected it’s Jesus’ doing, not mine. My creation points to the Creator. I am a tool in the story of God.

There is a humble grace in being a writer. When I wear the badge ‘Christian’ and walk under His banner, ultimately, my words don’t belong to me. I represent and reflect something, someone greater than myself.

{it is a holy and heavy privilege}

I am an ambassador of grace and mercy, truth and righteousness. No matter my story or the way the words fall, if I am in Christ and He is in me, the words will fall on kingdom ground. There is a freedom here. There is also responsibility. What I write reflects my King. It’s a delicate line to walk–aiming to balance the truth of resurrection living with the hard places in life.

2. I am a citizen of the Upside Down Kingdom.

This world is not my home. I am a kingdom writer. My heart and mind, thus my words, should operate in opposition to the way of this word. The greatest struggle for a writer {or maybe just for me} is to be known. But my greatest discontentment comes from reaching to be known–I want praise and adoration and it doesn’t always come when or how I want it or at all.

But I am known. I am known by the One who matters most.

Jesus Himself had only 12 followers.

And He lost one.

So if Jesus had only 12 followers… how many followers do we really need? If God Himself had only 12 followers and He lost one — would you blog for even one follower?

It matters to serve One. In the upside down kingdom, One is the one you serve, not the readers.

When service is unto people, the bones can grow weary, the frustration deep. {Why don’t they comment? Why don’t they subscribe? Why don’t they link?} Dorothy Sayers agrees, “whenever man is made the centre of things, he becomes the storm center of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains . . . You will begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause.”

When [blogging is to serve people, we think we] are due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is at the centre, when dishes, laundry, blogging, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains.

Passionately serving Christ alone, makes us the loving servant to all.” Ann Voskamp (full post)

3. Embrace the Heart of a Servant

I lay my words down before the altar. {come to the altar and leave it all bareAnd you know what I’ve found? The further I find myself in Jesus, the truer my words become, the further I see their impact (not always, this isn’t a formula), and I find contentment whether my words reap or sow. A servant seeks to serve whether they ever lay eyes on the party.

Your vocation is always and only this: to be a servant of God.

Our vocation is always serving. You are always a success when you are serving because in the upside down kingdom the way to be great is not to climb higher but lower. Ann Voskamp (full post)

4. Beauty in Brokenness

One of the reasons Ann has found “success” is because she was brave enough to share her brokenness. We see a friend, a companion, an empathizer, because she has allowed us to see her broken–struggles, doubts, fears. And in it we recognize our own {take a deep breath} and realize we are not forgotten.

“If what I make is going to have any power of the cross, it is in my brokenness. It’s the broken that lead us to Christ.” (In the Image of the Maker Retreat)

Don’t fear brokenness. Don’t fear speaking about your brokenness. We can only be fully healed when we are fully broken.

***

As I finish writing this one thing stands out. I could omit Ann altogether for all that I’ve learned from Ann I can see in Jesus. So why not? I think it shows the power of story–our own story–and how, as Ann says, our words heal two people–the writer and the reader.

Is there a writer or mentor in your field that has kindled your heart toward God?

 

 

(I highly encourage you to read Ann’s posts on Being an Upside Down Blogger – Part 1Part 2Part 3, and A Blogger’s Prayer. It’s long, but it’s worth it.)

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What Writing Magazines Taught Me About Writing

I’m a hoarder of writing magazines. And writing manuals. It’s true. After my first (and only) writer’s conference I went straight to Barnes & Noble and dropped $150 on books and magazines on writing, the current Writer’s Market, and Robert McKee’s masterpiece Story. And I picked up my first Flannery O’Connor anthology too.

But much like hoarding wedding magazines before I ever set eye on my husband, I had stacks of writing magazines telling me how to write and the in’s and out’s of the publishing world. I let myself be intimidated by the plethora of material on writing, when the truth was I just needed to write.

{You can read every good book on writing, but if you don’t write it won’t happen.}

I got to the point where I realized my magazine stack was growing, but my writing wasn’t. I began to throw away the magazines and Writer’s Market and devoted time to actually writing.

In the last two years I’ve renewed my interest (and subscriptions) in writing magazines. With a healthier balance of information and {actual} pen to paper, I’ve learned, been encouraged, and feel more confident as a writer.

What Writing Magazines Taught Me

1. There are endless books.

It’s obvious. Just walk into any bookstore or library and the fact stares you in the face. It’s intimidating. What can I say, what story can I contrive that one of these authors, bond and printed, hasn’t already said? It takes a concentrated effort to not remain timid.

If the word is calling your name, then write. Craft your own vision. Amid the sea of authors and writers you are still you. Bring your own passion and perspective. Get over the masses and write.

2. “No excuses, just write” is bad advice.

Sitting on the beach, sweat rolling down my back, the latest issue of Poets & Writers resting against my pregnant belly, I restrained myself from fist punching the air when I read the editor’s note,

“The truth is, if we’re doing good work there is no need to justify it. No matter how long it takes; no matter how many revisions have been scrapped or how many agents and editors have rejected us, we shouldn’t have to offer excuses for how we get here.

Living a life (with its attendant mortgage payments, pediatrician appointments, and flat tires) and writing a great poem or story or essay or book are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite. The writing life is messy, and there’s no secret to success.”

Kevin Larimer, Poets & Writer Editor, July/August 2012

3. There’s no age requirement on published.

I use to think if I didn’t have a novel and at least two screenplays published by the time I was 25, I had failed. {this is the part where I remind you I’m a recovering perfectionist} I’m slowly getting rid of that ridiculous deadline. I’m also five years past 25, so that helps too.

In the same issue of P&W as quoted above, a round-up of debut authors range decades. It took Anna Keesey 10 years to write her debut novel, Little Century, she admitted, “If something takes you that long to write, it had better be Middlemarch or Gravity’s Rainbow to justify the time. So it’s embarassing to discuss.” Later she continues,

“I just turned fifty. Do I wish I’d finished my first novel earlier, before I got fifty-year-old-lady neck, and when I had the potential to be fabulous? Devoutly. But I’m glad I persisted, in my fluttery, distracted, dorky way. […]

A novel is an enormous pain, but it’s worth it. If you want to do it, you don’t feel complete until it’s done.”

Author Christopher Paolini started writing Eragon, the first book in the Inheritance Cycle, when he was 15. A few years later it was published and later turned into a movie. Paolini and I are the same age.

It’s easy to let stories like that send you into a whirlwind of “I’ve wasted my life!” and “Oh well…my time’s past.” But in writing there is no such thing as too old or too young. Write because you love it. Pursue and grow in the craft. Work toward publication if you desire. But as one insightful letter to the editor asserted,

“Let’s hope we can keep celebrating the indomitable forces that drive us to creation, rather than acknowledging the critical voices that insist we are unworthy of our work.”

4. There is no author stereotype.

If there’s anything writing magazines have taught me is you can’t name a writer by looks. I use to have this vision of a writer as one adorned in horn-rimmed glasses, touted messy hair, and a funky-yet-understated wardrobe. They had read all the classics and the moderns too. They wrote late into the night, every night, and sipped coffee on the apartment floor reviewing last night’s work (or reading another classic) while the mid-morning sun streamed through the loft window.

With that image what kind of writer could I be? But no, real writers still have jobs and kids and dishes to wash. Life still happens. Thank goodness.

What have writing magazines taught me?

There’s room for me and you. And all our quirks, years, and seasons.

***

What are your favorite writing or literary magazines? What have they taught you?

{Poets & Writers is mine.}

 

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