Category Archives: Story

When Jesus Takes Writing Away

Lately I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Stephanie Kehr a little better, and I’m so glad I get to share this guest post with you. It’s really good and I’m glad she gets to open up our second day of Inkling to Write!

When Jesus Takes Writing Away
Stephanie Kehr

I’d tried everything to make my brain write. I tried different stories, different music, I tried talking to people about it, and I even tried writing about not being able to write. I tried taking a shower, plotting my books and not plotting my books. I started fifty different stories and hundreds of different blog posts. Still, nothing came. There were words and stories inside my head, but none of them wanted to make their way outside of it. I tried for three years, and nothing.

After living out a grief period over losing my lifeline, I began to wonder if Jesus had taken away my writing for a reason. I had always feared that He would, someday. There had been times when I’d offered it up to Him and completely surrendered my pen to His will. I just never expected Him to take me up on it. But through the process, despite lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth, He taught me a lot about myself that I didn’t know I needed to learn. He prepared me for a future I didn’t know I was going to have.

Now, only a few months after my three-year silence, I’m writing regularly for a publishing company, taking over submissions for a literary agent, penning this guest post, and working on the literature for a real estate website. It’s crazy.

A lot changed.

In some ways, I was waiting for that change. I knew it would come because I knew I loved writing too much to let it go. I knew that God had called me to this, that He’s always called me to this, and although I was afraid of my loss I wasn’t necessarily convinced I would never regain it.

Back in the days when I was just starting out as a writer, I used to be really into those inspirational quotes. You know, the ones that say, “never stop writing,” and “you only quit if you stop writing”? They’re on Pinterest. As cute as they are, I don’t find a lot of truth in them anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it’s so incredibly important to do your best and put everything into the work you do. I’m a big believer in working hard and beating the odds.

However, we must recognize that a lot of these ideas come from secular writers. That’s not a bad thing–it’s just that we have to realize we’re different. We’re writing for Jesus instead, and there’s going to come a point in every Christian writer’s life, perhaps multiple points, when Jesus might decide to take writing away.

As Christians and writers, we have two huge responsibilities. The first is to share the gospel through our pen, and the second is to listen to the Holy Spirit and write what He lays on our hearts. Or, maybe, to stop writing when He tells us to stop.

I know, this isn’t what you expected to see in a conference that’s supposed to encourage you in your writing. It’s a little ironic, but it isn’t without a point. Here I’m going to share with you four reasons why God might be asking you to take a break. And why that also might be okay.

1) The Holy Spirit is Quiet
We know this happens in our lives, why not our writing? We don’t know why the Lord chooses to sometimes hush the Spirit, but we do know that He is good and He has a plan. Likely, we’ll find out soon enough what His reasons are. If the Holy Spirit is quiet and doesn’t have much for you to say, listen to Him. Sometimes we writers think we need to come up with spiritual content all the time. But if the Holy Spirit isn’t speaking to you, it could be dangerous for you to try to force words from God. Go take a break from speaking out, and choose to spend some time focusing on listening and reading the word. Choosing to be still is a big part of the Christian walk. God probably has all sorts of awesome things to show you!

For some seasons, God has often asked me to only create spiritual content: things that matter to eternity. That’s not an across the board thing, though. If you want to keep writing during your period of quietness, perhaps think about writing about something else. Focus on creativity, lifestyle tips, or do a blog tour until you feel like the Lord has given you the green light again. There’s no shame in switching things up. But again, make sure it’s okay between you and God before you decide to take that step, too. Be okay with being still.

2) You’re in Sin
So, this one kind of sucks. For me, sin creates this horrible snowball effect. Sin separates me from God, God separates me from writing, not being able to write separates me from who I am as a person. It’s super uncool. God and my writing are so connected to each other that without God, I am basically wordless.

I’ve noticed, too, that if I’m in sin and I still try to write about God, my writing ends up being a total spiritual disaster. My theme strays from a relationship with God and focuses more on my opinions. I weave in my bitterness about certain issues, and it’s like I’m just spreading around this horrible darkness to the world. The Lord usually stops these books or articles in their tracks, and I just can’t finish them.

Not that God doesn’t use us even in our sin, He does. It’s just important to be “slow to speak” in our writing as well as with our voices. I think God uses silence of the pen to make us think about the content we’re putting out. For me, I know He’s used it to protect me and others from my own disasters.

The last year of my unwelcome hiatus was particularly a bad year spiritually. I was holding onto a lot of anger and bitterness against God and against other people. When I started repenting of that sin and drawing near to God, I found that He drew nearer to me, and words started to return. The danger was over, so it was okay for me to start speaking again. Think about when God silenced Zechariah when he didn’t believe he and Elizabeth would have a son. He was silenced until he was ready to praise the Lord. I think being a Christian writer is kind of like that.

3) You’re in Danger of Making Writing (or success) an Idol

God’s going to use your writing, there’s no question. Especially if you’re seeking after Him and following the Holy Spirit, He’s going to speak through you to bring the gospel forward. But here’s the deal. God loves you so incredibly much and He doesn’t want anything, even something as wonderful and amazing as writing, to come in between you and Him. Idols are dangerous. He doesn’t want His children to be in danger. Instead, He wants you to be healthy so that you can be in communion with Him and share His word with others. If this requires taking writing away for a little bit, that’s what it requires.

I’ve always been most afraid of losing my words. But I know that even if I do, and even when I did, that He’s there. I only lose everything when I lose Him.

4) God Has Something Better
I’m a little bias toward writing. What could actually be better? I don’t know — but God does. It might be that He’s asking you to take a break from writing for a little bit so that He can show you something even greater. Maybe He wants to move in your life, or take you toward a career or ministry that fits you even better! Remember that He is trustworthy, and He’s not going to make you jump off a cliff unless He’s already waiting to catch you.

Remember, by no means am I encouraging you to stop writing. I love writing. Writing is incredible and it can speak and heal and do so many beautiful things. What I am encouraging you to do, though, is to listen to the Lord. Always have your ear open to what He’s trying to tell or show you. Always be in communion with God, and that way, you can never go wrong. Always, always, always fight for your words, but never fight against God.

Stephanie Kehr

About Stephanie: Stephanie is a professional writer and journalist living outside of Buffalo, New York, where it probably snows a lot. She’s pursuing publication for her first novel, Reaching Home, and she spends her quiet moments writing poetry and blogging about her adventures with God. Stephanie has a heart for sharing real stories and encouraging authors to write for Jesus and to love what they do. She’s a big believer in hard work, audiobooks, and chocolate, and can usually be found changing the world somewhere.

Twitter: twitter.com/stephiekehr
Blog: www.stephaniekehr.blogspot.com

 

 

 

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What I Learned my First Semester of College

I’m basically a real adult now that I’ve finished my first semester of college (haha, that’s a lie. I mean, I DID finish my first semester of college, but I don’t know about the ‘real adult’ part. 😉
What I learned my first semester in college:
When I first started college I was really nervous and not really looking forward to it at all. I was homeschooled my whole life and I wasn’t sure exactly how different it would be being in a classroom with several different students, and having a teacher that’s not my mom (and I therefore don’t want to talk to… especially because of said other students) and it didn’t help that literally like every college student that has ever breathed complains about school. (Thanks, guys, it’s really encouraging…)
So like a nerdy homeschooler, I sat down in my math class the first day of school. I opened my empty notebook and gotten my freshly sharpened pencil ready, and…
The teacher basically read us the syllabus. She went over each page and explained it clearly. She seemed nice. Her smile made me think of Anna Kendrick. My first day of notes looked something like:
1. No phones in class
2. Raise your hand before asking questions
3. And so on…
Did I really need to take notes? No. I already established I was nervous, though, and I figured I had nothing else to do, haha.
That math class was the only class I had in person, but during my first semester I also had two English classes, and one College Success Skills class all online. I could go into detail and complain about how my College Success Skills class and one of my English classes was really dumb. (In one of my English classes we learned about marijuana for two weeks? I am still trying to figure out what that has to do with English!)
While I don’t want to say I didn’t learn things in my one other English class, my favorite class was math class. (which is weird if you know me because up until like a week ago I was adamant that I’m not a math person.) I really enjoyed that class though, and my teacher, and then I started my summer semester—a math class as well and so far I’m doing really well in it—so I guess I sort of am a math person? Who knew! (Besides my mom who is a genius and told me all along I did fine, if not well, with math in high school.)
Anyways, one day I got up in the morning, it was a school day. I didn’t feel well though and I really didn’t want to go to school. I was determined to go to school, though. So I went.
And I got my mind blown.
The teacher started talking about Fibonacci, and while I can’t explain it well enough, I’ll try.
Fibonacci is where you start off with 0,1 and you add the 0 and the 1 and you get 1(so it would then look like: 0,1,1) and then you add the 1 and the 1 and get: 0,1,1,2. Then you add the 1 and the 2 and get 3 and it would look like: 0,1,1,2,3.
You keep taking the last two numbers and adding them to get the next number.
Eventually it would look like: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144… and so on.
At first I was less than impressed because, can’t you start with anything and add anything to it? You can start with a 2 and add a 5 and get 7, and then add 5 and 7 together and so on. (2,5,7,12) but then she explained it even more.
Fibonacci is a sequence of numbers, but it’s a sequence of numbers that show up all around us. It shows up in nature all the time! The Fibonacci sequence is related to spirals and you know how leaves can grow in spirals on plants? Plant leaves grow in spirals so that each leaf can soak up as much sun as possible without blocking any beneath it! And in seed storage plants use Fibonacci to store as many seeds as possible in a small space!
Now, I realize I’m not explaining it well at all. So you should look it up yourself. I recommend YouTube videos (because I’m a visual learner—another thing I learned in college!).
But the reason I was so blown away and amazed by what little I understood about Fibonacci is because for the first time in my life (not an exaggeration at all) I viewed math as a science not as… torture?
It made me realize, God made math. It wasn’t just a bunch of evil bored people who were like “Lets make innocent children cry” but more like, “Our God is so big let’s try to unravel a piece of this world He created.”
And you know what else is cool?
We have algebra, and calculus, and Fibonacci. We have too many different types of math to count! But all of that added together and we don’t begin to uncover a piece of what our God has made.
And you know what the best part is?
The same God who made math, who made Fibonacci, who thought up having plant leaves grown in a spiral so they would each get as much sun as possible… He didn’t stop there. He decided the world needed each one of us as well.
And that’s what I really remember learning from my first semester in college.

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What’s Next?

So you graduated.
You’re going to walk across the stage, be handed your diploma, and beam as you walk off the stage.
People will ask you, “What next?” (but let’s be honest they’ve been asking that for a long time, right?)
If you’re anything like me, you’ll say, “I don’t know. I was thinking about this idea I had but I don’t know if I like it enough to resign myself to being stuck doing that every day for the rest of my life.” (probably not word for word, but the same sentiment.)
You’ll probably meet people who will have (what they genuinely think are) good ideas of what you should pursue. “You need to go to college so you can get a good job.” Not necessarily.
I once told someone I was thinking about being a high school history teacher and she said, “You don’t want to do that!” (She pretty much had the same reaction anytime I told her something I was thinking about pursuing now that I think about it.)
If you’re anything like me, you want to have a plan. You would be pleased beyond measure if God said, “Okay, so here’s the five year plan.”
But…. He didn’t. At least for me.
So then it wasn’t just other people asking, “What’s next?” But me too. “What’s next, God?”
It was easy (and still is if I let myself!) to get stressed about not having a plan, or having a plan, but not sure if it’s the right plan.
I’ve heard people say things before like, “You can edit a blank document!” And it’s true. The idea being you should write what you want and just fix it later. I think it can be the same for a plan (this isn’t an excuse to do whatever you want.)
You can always have a plan and change it later. Has anyone in the history of the entire world actually have some go 100% according to plan??
So, I’m here to say, if someone asks you, “What’s next?” It’s okay to respond with, “I don’t know.”
It’s not okay to use that as an excuse to do nothing, to try for nothing. But it is okay to say, “I don’t know” as you pray, and work, and try. It’s okay to think that as you go to college, or work at your job. It’s not an excuse, or an end at all! It’s a beginning of something.
So, what’s next?
I don’t know.
Who knows what the future holds? God. And in the end, that’s all that really matters, isn’t it?

(and congratulations, graduates of class 2017!!)

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Currently~ July 2017

Hi! *waves*

I don’t know if I should apologize for the crazy long break I unexpectedly took or just awkwardly ignore it…. So yeah, I haven’t died yet.

Anyways, I lot has happened since February, I’m going to catch you up on some of it!

Reading…

Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

I’ve barely started and so far I love it! Weird fact? I’ve had it for a couple of years but haven’t read it yet because at first I couldn’t stand it. XD I don’t know what’s changed, really, but I do know that I’m reading it and thinking, “My main character would be, like, best friends with Meg.”

So maybe I’ll have to do a review of it when I finish. 🙂

Listening too…

Taylor Swift.

I actually have a radio car in my car now so I bought of a couple of older ‘classic Taylor Swift’ (I call it) CD’s and I’ve been listening to that lately. (Disclaimer: I do like her newer music too, but they ARE different.)

Watching…

Once Upon A Time Season 5! Things are happening. O.O

My sister Kristin is watching it too, but we’re not at the same place, so she came in the other night to say goodnight and I freaked out and stopped the DVD and leaped up to cover her eyes and almost hit her. 😉 I take fandoms and spoilers seriously.

Eating…

Cucumbers. It’s summer! I think my mom has picked over 100 cucumbers so far. I sliced about 50 one day before work to help her make pickles. It’s a little crazy. But very yummy.

Driving…

MY CAR.

I bought my first car. I’m excited and happy. 😀 It’s a little two door Ford. It’s only 13 years old! I was driving a 25 year old Honda, so my car is practically brand new. 😉

Finishing…

My second semester of college. When did that happen? I only have, like, a million years left until I’m done!

Really, though, it’s crazy and I actually have a blog post coming up on what I learned my first semester in college.

(I’ve learned I’m still 1,000% in favor of homeschooling. I don’t despise college, but I can really see the benefits of homeschooling when I compare the two.)

I only have a couple of weeks left of my summer math class, and hopefully by this time tomorrow I will have finished my CPR class– and I’ll be done with all health classes that I need (for now. Don’t be impressed, I only need one credit hour, haha)

So, what’s been up with you for the last forever?

I make no promises, but I DO want to get better at blogging…. 🙂

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The Six Question Character Challenge

I was tagged by Luke over on his blog, to do a Six Question Character Challenge. Thanks so much for tagging me! I always get excited when someone tags me in a blog challenge. 🙂

Okay, so I decided I’m going to do it on my WWII novel, This Very Moment. (I thought maybe you were tired of hearing about that story, but I already got started to use that story so it’s too late now! 😉 )

These are the six questions I’ll be answering about some of my most important characters:

  1. A contradiction within the character (the good kind that indicates depth)
  2. The character’s Meyers-Briggs type
  3. Favorite color
  4. How would they slay a dragon?  (Even if there aren’t dragons in your book)
  5. What is their darkest secret?
  6. Where do they see themselves in ten years?

I’m also going to include pictures from my pinterest board. 🙂

marilyn

Marilyn King: (main character)

  1. Contradiction: She is fun, and strong, and brave, and wild (in a good way) but she is also terrified of turning into her mother.
  2. Personality type: I actually don’t usually do MBTI tests, but I think I did for her a LONG time ago, and I think it may have been ENFP. Maybe. I wouldn’t swear by it.
  3. Maroon, or Navy. Those are usually the colors I imagine her wearing.
  4. I could see her standing up to the dragon, just herself and her God. 🙂
  5. Her darkest secret? I don’t think I can say without spoilers….
  6. In ten years, she would be relaxed. Happy. The war would be over, and those she loved would be able to have a peaceful life with little to know sadness in it. Kenneth, her twin brother, would be happily married with kids of his own for Marilyn to spoil– because marriage and children wouldn’t be in her future.

peter

Peter:

  1. He believes in right and wrong strongly, but he believes in getting the right results no matter the cost.
  2. I have no idea…
  3. Navy blue as well.
  4. He would charge at the dragon, yelling. Maybe a shotgun in his hands?
  5. Well. Um. Spoilers. So. I’m skipping. 🙂
  6. In ten years, he would probably be happily married, maybe back where his family came from. Someone high in society, and very rich, and smart. Someone people looked up too.

william

William Millbrook:

  1. He is brave and wise and strong. But the hardest thing he ever does is walk away.
  2. And again, I never figured it out (or if I did I forgot.)
  3. Green, like grass. Or red like apples from the apple orchard where he lives.
  4. He would quietly assess the dragon before trying his hardest to take it down (but probably dying in the process.)
  5. Darkest secret? He his head over heals, completely, 100% in love with someone, but he can’t tell her. (Wow, that sounds dramatic. I’m almost rolling my eyes…)
  6. He doesn’t really think about the future much. He just wants the war to end.

kenneth

Kenneth King: (Marilyn’s twin brother)

  1. He cares about people a lot and loves to help them…medically. Other then that, he isn’t the best at making friends (kind of a loner, shy.)
  2. I think he is an INFJ. I think.
  3. White. Clean. Fresh. Pure. Like snow on the mountains, or a clean hospital room.
  4. He would probably try to take the dragon down, not by fighting but by poisoning him, or starving him somehow. Then when the dragon is weaker killing it.
  5. He thought he was in love once, or at least he thinks he would’ve been eventually. She hurt him, and now, even though he’s no longer upset, he doesn’t think he’ll love again– he just accepts is as a fact of life.
  6. In ten years, Kenneth wants to have his own medical practice, or even a hospital. He’d love to be an uncle and see Marilyn happily in love and married.

There we have it! Some things you might have not known about my characters until now! (I didn’t even know some of those things about my characters until now. Like their favorite colors. XD)

I’m tagging Kara (figures, right?) over on Saved By Grace, Sierra Abrams, and Tessa Emily Hall.

Any questions y’all want my characters to answer? Or from another story, perhaps? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

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Filed under life as a writer, Story, writer life

A Short Story

Awhile ago my dad suggested I put up some of my writing, and today, that’s what I’m going to do! 🙂 I wrote a short story for a contest-thing over at Tessa Emily Hall’s blog (www.christiswrite.blogspot.com).

There were three things that I could’ve written about. ONe of the options was a picture of someone’s hand on it with a barcode with the word slave written under it. (I’m still not sure what that was about… unless it was supposed to be a statement on human trafficking? Or people need to get over themselves because slavery was a long time ago…) Another was just that I had to include broken glass, a tree house, and a sign in my story. The last option was where I had to include this line in my story: She knew he was coming back. He had to come back. Their very lives depended on it.

I did the one where you had to include the broken glass, the tree house, and the sign…

                The broken glass crunched under my feet. I shiver as the wind blows, howling through bare trees. Even though Mom discourages me from coming up here, she doesn’t forbid it. In the tree house, with the old walls and the broken windows is where I belong. Not in our house that is slowly emptying as all of our belongings are packed up, but here in the woods where I can be free.

                Two weeks ago, with one last, and very loud, fight, Dad got in the car and drove away. An hour after Dad left, Mom got a phone call. There had been an accident.

                They said he didn’t suffer.

                Now I come to the tree house that was ten years old. Dad and I had made it together. After I had gotten the news Dad was gone, I ran out to the tree house. The roof was gone, and the windows broken, but even messed up there was a beauty about it I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else.

Then Mom told me we were moving, just another blow to add to my beat up life. From my spot standing next to the broken window I watched as the “For Sale” sign got hammered into the frozen ground.

So much change in so little time. Would I ever have anything secure about my life again?

The wind blew again, ruffling my hair, gently stroking my cheeks, giving me a friendly reminder that God wouldn’t leave me. God will never leave me.

 

Anyways, so there it is. Have a good rest of the day!

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