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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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Thoughts about schools

I think most of you know I’m homeschooled. (And I love it!) But it may not be like you think it is. I don’t get to sleep as late as I want, or wear my PJ’s all day. I don’t get all A’s, and I’m not even out for the summer yet. (I’m not saying if you’re homeschooled and get all A’s you cheat, some do but NOT all. 🙂 )

I guess when you boil it down, I work hard at my school. Just as hard, if not harder than people who are public schooled.

I don’t know why, but I ask a LOT questions. Sometimes during school I’ll be asking so many questions (not to be annoying, just things I thought of) and my mom will just say, “I don’t know”, a few times

Recently, I had to go take my learner’s permit test.

I think that that test is dumb for a number of reasons, but I’ll only bring up one.

For one of the questions it asked, basically, when it was okay to pass someone on the right. So I chose the option, “if the car in front of you is having an emergency”.

You all know I right stories? Yes, I have a super active imagination. So when I saw the word emergency I basically thought, “Okay, the country is at war, all the buildings destroyed, half the people are dead and everyone else is fleeing the country. I’m behind a car who is stopped with a bomb strapped on it about to blow (because that’s IS an emergency right?) and I’m being chased by terrorists, is it all right to pass on the right? OF COURSE IT’S ALL RIGHT TO PASS ON THE RIGHT!!!!”

Well, obviously the government never expects a writer (or maybe just someone like me…) to take the test, because I got the answer wrong.

Later I was talking to my dad about it and I said, “It’s dumb because you just memorize the answer they want to hear instead of what you would actually do.” (And I’ll just say right here, even though I hope the chances of something like my emergency I imagined never happen, if it did…. I’d pass on the right. 🙂 )

My dad said that is how the public school system is. You just tell them what they want and expect to hear and you get good grades. I saw something on the internet, numerous times, that said, “Being super smart and getting good grades aren’t necessarily the same thing.” And I believe it.

I’ve also seen something that said, “Homeschoolers are more likely to think outside the box because they’ve been educated outside the box”. I believe that too. (How else do I come up with these wacky questions to ask my mom in school?)

I’m not saying that the curriculum I use for school is perfect (more than once I’ve complained about how dumb my grammar book is, or questioned what in the world my history book means when they said that.)

But I ask questions, and I wonder if they are true, and I try to think things through logically.

Have a nice weekend! 

 

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