Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Words are Like Water for a Writer's Soul


Over a family celebratory dinner, my sister announces that my 11-year old nephew has joined the drama club. He is preparing for his first role in a skit at school. 

We all raise our eyebrows, surprised my outdoors-man-hunter-bow-and-arrow-slinging-brother-in-law is okay with this. {He nonchalantly looks the other way.} We had expected to hear that my nephew was joining the wrestling team, but we're all ears about acting.

My nephew tells us he is playing the part of Water Droplet #6.

We ask him how many water droplets there are. He says just six. He is the last and final droplet to appear. He says he is the water droplet a dog shakes off of its back, sending him {the droplet} sailing through the air. 

We speculate on the preparation and wonder if he should spend some afternoons in the pool or a maybe follow their family dog around observing how he happens to shake off water droplets. We wonder, would channeling the dog help or just muddy the waters? 



I love that my sister encourages my niece and nephew to try anything that sparks their interest so that eventually they’ll find what they love to do.

My childhood days were filled with keeping diaries, reading books and writing stories. 

I mailed my stories off to children’s magazines, receiving polite rejection letters that encouraged me to keep writing. 

I entered a writing contest at my church and when I unexpectedly won, I was terrified to learn that the winners had to read their stories in front of the congregation.



I filled notebooks with my grade-school crushes and yearnings for a best friend, confiding my girlish secrets to my diaries. I continued to journal my thoughts until a decade ago, when I sputtered, the entries growing sparser until finally I stopped. 

Somewhere along my life’s journey between moving into a new house, growing settled into a career choice, and assuming a new role as an aunt, I quit chronicling my days. 

I told myself, who keeps diaries anyway? Aren’t diaries and notebooks for young girls with hopes and dreams and girlish fantasies and wishes upon stars? Aren’t the words I’ve written still-secret in my journals just mocking me? 



I’ve been writing them since I was the fourth-grader who scribbled her first name with someone else’s last name, when he liked my best friend instead. 

I’ve been writing them since I cried tears over the college-boy who didn’t take me to the game while spurning the one who followed me all over campus trying to get my attention. 

I’ve been writing them while wondering why the perfect fix-up date didn’t ever ask again while the man I steadfastly ignored across the complex invented ways to cross my path.

But I discovered that my heart had to journal. That all these days of my life, when strung together, one after the other, were the framework that God was building to make himself known to me.



When I scribbled words when I didn’t understand, when I was disappointed, when I was tired of hoping, journaling helped me frame my words to God. 

And when I spoke those words to him something changed me.

I didn’t pick up my journaling pen again for seven years. But when I started writing in my journal again, it was different. 

I no longer recorded the trifling irritations of my workday or the conversations that hurt my feelings as I outlined how I thought I was so right. 



Instead I journaled my questions, even if there were no answers. I reflected on what God was showing me by the words I wrote on the page.

God was slowly refocusing my heart and redirecting my thoughts. I discovered him anew, like I had never known him before. And it was changing how I thought about his place in my life and how the seemingly-random threads were part of a life-pattern he was weaving that had a very beautiful design.

Now my journal pages hold a new story. 

Not because my life is so vastly different on the outside than it was before, but because I’m different on the inside. 


Now I write to connect the days of my old story with the days yet to come in my new story.

All those days of reading books and practicing my writing weren’t wasted. They helped me decide that I wanted to study journalism and pursue a career in communication. Even now in the time that is all my own, I still love doing what I did when I was young — reading and writing. 

If you think that your days are simply random experiences or a series of inconveniences, I can assure you that they are not. They are part of your story of unique passions that God is writing on the parchment of your life.

As my nephew continues to prepare for his stage debut as Water Droplet #6, I hope it’s just the beginning of a lifetime of interesting pursuits where he can make a great big splash. 

Or maybe he'll decide to test the waters elsewhere, like on the wrestling mat instead of a stage production with the drama club.{Where my brother-in-law admits he is a little like a fish out of water.}



I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart and Bonnie Gray's the Faith Barista. Join me there for more inspiring posts!





18 comments:

  1. Hi Valerie-
    I journal too and it is like water to my soul! Thanks for this lovely thought! and your post today! :)

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    1. Hi Susie,
      So grateful for your encouraging words, friend!

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  2. I love that you're journaling, Valerie ... my journal's been a lifeline through thick and thin ...my conversations with God that take me from fear to gratitude, and help me stay sane and whole.

    Where would we be without Jesus?

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    1. Linda,
      Yes! Where would we be -- it is a hard place to imagine!

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  3. Another great article - they are all so thought provoking! Great pictures - you've really mastered your camera!

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    1. Hi Sharon,
      Still have much to learn about taking photos but I did get a new photo program I'm playing around with! :)

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  4. I can't NOT write. It's my consuming fire! Beautiful post here Valerie, and I'm so glad you've taken up your pen again!

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    1. Thank you Ellen! So grateful for you here and your words of encouragement!

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  5. This is beautiful! I love to journal too. Actually, I have too many of them floating around. :-)

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    1. Debbie,
      Thank you so much! I can't resist a journal with a pretty cover and beautiful verses inside - I have quite a few too!

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  6. This is so interesting, Valerie. I can just imagine your nephew flying like a water droplet through the air. :)

    I find journaling helps me process inner feelings, but I should do it more often. I love the picture here - "how the seemingly-random threads were part of a life-pattern he was weaving that had a very beautiful design." Awesome!

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    1. Trudy,
      Thank you so much for your interest and kind words about my nephew! I always love hearing your words of encouragement!

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  7. I used to journal a lot in my teens... same kind of day to day stuff! I stopped for a long time too and now it's more verses and quotes and gratitude lists that fill my pages. And maybe the occasional rant (!) and definitely a lot of prayers... I think it definitely helps me process and remember truth and helps me frame up things I want to share on the blog. And I look forward to your beauty- full posts each week! Hope you're having a wonderful week Valerie!

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    1. Heather,
      We journal so similarly since I have the occasional rant too! Yes it really does help me process not only my thoughts but my prayers too! I love that -- and I so appreciate your words here!

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  8. Val-
    I was a journal girl too. I was so introverted, and I never told my crushes I was interested...until college. That was when I bravely asked my now husband to a semi-formal dance. I needed a date...and I had my eyes on him. It worked out...we dated, broke up, dated again, and now twelve years after our wedding...we still date...and I still have eyes for him.

    Love that your nephew has discovered an acting gig! Our boys are so dramatic and funny...I've encouraged them to audition for our church musical for kids...they pass each year. One year they may surprise us. They are more out doors man too. I hope you find your own dream man one day...there is always time to write, dream and journal about that magical man...and when you meet one of interest...pursue him or be pursued! My husband was a bit nerdy at the time we met...but so was I ha! I think we have bloomed and grown in faith and stature through the years...we all do. We all become little works of art. :) Love to you and your sweet extended family! Your stories and photos are always so lovely. Jenn

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    1. Jenn,
      I love seeing your sweet boys on your Instagram feed and I hope someday they get involved in a little drama too! I loved reading your blog post about your wedding and I think that's just lovely how it all worked out. Journaling is such a big part of my life I'm not sure how I could live without it now!

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  9. I just loved reading this. I am sure your nephew will be amazing in his play :). I love when kids become involved with culture. And I am so loving these photos. Great post

    Kay of Pure & Complex
    www.purecomplex.com

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    1. Hi Kay,
      I'm always honored when you stop by here and take the time to comment when your blog traffic keeps you so busy and hopping! :) Just love hearing from you and can't wait till your new brand kicks off soon -- I can't wait to see it!

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