I admit it; I’ve got ink in my blood, and sometimes it just flows. The original draft of this post is over in the comment section of something Ann wrote today. But I want to share it with you too. When God gives you a dream and a passion, it’s good to note it, nurture it, ease it forward. But it’s also important to remember that He knows just how long it is from seed to fruit, from conception to birth of an idea or ministry – and ours is to trust Him through each step of the process. I’ve done well with that at times, and at other times I’ve not trusted Him at all (and the results have been, shall we say, not-so-good). If you’re the writer-type, you’ll want to go read the post that sparked these thoughts, and come back. If you’re just curious about what drives this guy Phil to write every day, you can keep reading. It’s probably a bit wordy, but it’s conversational, and you may gain a bit of insight into the man behind the blog, Vibrance in Ministry !
I’ve always loved stories and writing. I like hearing them, telling them, and I can remember having to remind myself as a kid that you can exaggerate in a story and it’s fine. Stretch the truth in regular life, though, and it’ll get you in trouble. Ask me. I know. Or ask Mom. She was there.
In 6th grade a creative teacher had us write a play about Mexico’s history. We made it up and he wrote it in chalk on the board, a designated student copying it long-hand as we went. (Not me, a girl – with good penmanship) I loved that unit! Mr. Herbst had it typed, then we practiced and performed it for the school – I got to play Pancho Villa! I was hooked. Love that writing stuff! But there was more school to finish. Years of it.
When my high-school counsellor told me I was the first in Colorado to ace the creative writing section of my SAT test I was amazed. I did like to write. It came naturally for me, though good writing was work, of course. But music was a bigger rush for me at the time so I sidelined the writing and English teacher thang, but I wrote some pretty mean papers in college. In one course my papers turned my failed exams into a passing grade for the semester. Whew~!
I married, entered church ministry and relished opportunities to write for the church newsletter. In my first church I asked two English teachers in the congregation (the fun, hip, encourage-you kind, not the old-maid, slap your knuckles with a ruler kind) to proof some of my things and suggest ways to improve. They helped a lot, but more waiting followed. Years of it. Ministry. Family. You know, important things. When I had the chance I gave myself permission to write my own transitions and segues in concerts and productions. People enjoyed them, but I probably enjoyed crafting them more than they liked hearing them. Hearts were touched, though – that was good.
Then came the year I wrote and produced a live-broadcast-style Thanksgiving Eve service, shamelessly patterned after Prairie Home Companion, complete with bluegrass gospel, homespun in-house church and ministry commercials, radio drama, and my monologue, read from a stool in front of a mic on a boom-stand, just like Garrison Keillor does in Minneapolis. Heaven stopped by for a night, but nothing published. There was a long string of maybe 12 years of those services… one a year. The Back Porch Society, I called it, The society for the preservation of all that is good and pure and wholesome.
There was the magazine article for a church music magazine. I was paid in copies of the issue instead of dollars and cents. I loved seeing my words in print on glossy stock and knowing people read what I had to say, but hated the editorial hoops between concept and reader. (I think it was too business-y for the editor, not enough teach / encourage for me). So more waiting.
The Master’s project. I took hope when one of the thesis profs (the one who liked my material- the other didn’t) suggested I approach a publishing house and turn it into a book on a more reader-friendly level at some point. Count me in! But there wasn’t time enough to water the thing and make sure it stayed in the sun so it could sprout, not and be a dad with teenagers, husband and worship pastor too.
Then came the trip to visit my Aunt Pauline, a retired English and literature teacher who lives on the shores the Gulf of Mexico. She spent a couple of days discussing with me the writings I’d mailed ahead. She concluded I had at least a couple of books in my head, some of which would probably come to light before my favorite idea would find it’s way into print. I organized my writer’s stash and started in, thinking “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” just like the Little Engine that Could.
The empty nest. A setback, ministry-wise. Financial concerns. More writing, journal-ling, stuffing my writer’s stash with scraps and notes and ideas – for later, not for now.
I remember the day a ministry concept was born. It was about this time, April, 2005. It took me three months or so to choose a name and settle on Vibrance. More waiting, conceptualizing, planning in silence. Some friends suggested, even urged that I blog as part of the ministry plan. So I toyed with it some and found it wasn’t much fun if no one could find, read, and profit from all of my “profound” thoughts. I nearly quit.
Then Jack suggested I try WordPress. I looked around here a while, decided to change addresses and start in. Through the fall I wrote sporadically before deciding to step it up and write (almost) every day in ‘07. Wow! I’m reaching bright, appreciative readers, without any cigar-smoking, visor-clad editors. I can do this!
In the quiet of this morning, even before I read the post Ann wrote today, I noticed and journal-led something exciting. The current number of those who read me each week is greater than the largest church I served. I stopped for a moment and thanked the Lord, choked up a little and then resolved to keep going, following Him, encouraging others on the way, helping believers help each other, thankful for tools we have today that none before us got to try.
It IS a journey. I’ve had my pen with me the whole way. I think my book(s) are still in there – some just have longer gestation periods than others, I guess.
So now you know — and you didn’t even have to ask.
It’s true. I really do have ink in my blood.