Lately it’s been a struggle for me to write. It’s a combination of the natural post-partum discouragement that comes a few months after releasing a book combined with the simple fact that I haven’t been writing consistently.

lamp

When writing isn’t a regular part of my day, it becomes more and more of a big deal. And anything feeling like a big deal makes it harder to approach.

I read somewhere that writer’s block isn’t really a thing. No one ever has talkers block. And writing is just talking on paper.

We only have writer’s block when we think what we write has to actually be good, and the pressure of writing something good keeps us from writing at all.

When I don’t write every day, or nearly every day, this is what happens to me. Maybe you too.

Today, it’s time to write. I fiddle with my ear buds. There isn’t any music in them, only silence. I use them as plugs to drown out the noise of the house, the dog, even the rain. Sometimes the sound of the rain inspires. Today, it annoys.

Julia Cameron says creativity is a lamp, not a candle.

Plug it in, turn it on and the current does its work to light the room. Not necessarily glamorous. But functional. Useful. Lit.

A candle is romantic, offering a more beautiful image of the creative life – a Muse visiting with orange, yellow skirts, dancing in the corner of the room. But fire on a wick flickers with the wind and blows out in a puff of smoke.

It’s mysterious and peaceful, but it’s hard to hold onto.

It’s true, I would rather look at myself in a mirror by candlelight than lamplight. But candles don’t show the full picture. And they aren’t powerful enough to light the room.

John and I went to hear Andrew Peterson on Saturday night. He sang with Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Ben Shive, Andrew Osenga and Ellie Holcomb in their annual Behold the Lamb of God tour. My soul swelled up in that room because every note and lyric pointed straight to Christ, our hope of glory.

Proverb 29:18 says where there is no vision, the people perish.

No hope? No life.

The concert Saturday was a reminder of hope, a reminder of the one story the Bible tells, one of  a brave little boy who, as C.S. Lewis points out in Mere Christianity, “came as a baby because he needed to slip quietly, even clandestinely, through enemy lines.”

Maybe the people were waiting for a candle, a romantic idea of a Savior, of a powerful king with an obvious agenda. Instead, they got a lamp in the form of a baby. An unlikely hero from an ordinary family born in a stable on the outskirts of town.

A lamp who seemed unremarkable and non-descript.

A lamp who was only inspiration for those who had the eyes to see it.

But a Lamp who would light the whole world. 

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:8-11

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  1. 1

    Emily, thank you for writing again. I so easily forget that Saviour Jesus, who defeated the enemy through the horrific cross and His glorious resurrection, first infiltrated the enemy camp as a vulnerable babe in
    Bethlehem.
    I so need Him to infiltrate the sin and darkness in my life that the power of the cross and the glory of resurrection will light up my heart.
    Emily, thank you

  2. 2

    Emily,
    I know that there is always hope because with Christ, nothing is impossible. But, my hope is dim because I had to tell my rebellious son, for the second time, that he has to move out. His response was one of lashing out and saying that he wanted nothing to do with me at Christmas and would not be there to give me away in my wedding coming up in one month. I dearly love my son, but my heart is broken. He needs a Savior and I need hope. Would you pray for me?
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • 3

      Bev, I am sorry to hear about the rift with your son. I am praying for healing and mending for you both during this Christmas season. I pray for your son, that he may open the door of his heart to the Lord.

      • 4

        Praying with you, Bev. I’m so sorry for the circumstances you find yourself in, but pray that the Lord would fill you with both hope and peace this season.

        • 5
          Marinalva Sickler says:

          Dear Bev,

          I am praying for you. Last year, I discovered something that forced me to go to court and expedite an order for my daughter to leave the house and at the same time begin a guardianship process for my grandson. This is my second Christmas with her away from home. Many times, I hear my 9 years old grandson asking about or writing notes to her. Breaks my heart. At the same time, I know that I had done everything in my power and now it’s time for letting God to work on her without my help.
          Focus on your wedding. What a fun! The hope is on you and in you. He is right by you and in you to pull you through. I pray peace over you. Love!

    • 6

      Bev, I pray you feel the Father’s comfort with you now, His strength and wisdom and love bringing light to what feels like darkness and sadness and confusion. He is your strong place, and He has your son, too. I pray for His presence to carry you. He is with you, in this. See Him enter in.

    • 7
      Beth WIlliams says:

      Bev,

      Prayers for you and your son. May God come to him and open his heart to see light and know the true meaning of Christmas.

      May God comfort you now and always and give you the strength and courage you need during this trial. Prayers for a renewed change in your son’s heart.

      Father God,

      Please help Bev and her son. Change the son’s heart to turn toward you. Help him to see the light of Christmas and take away the darkness out of his soul.

      AMEN,

  3. 8

    It’s reading this that makes me see that not always holding onto something is the right thing to do (like trying to hold into a candle flame) but to bask in the light that is shone to me through Christ…… Perfect. Thank you!

  4. 9

    Oh man, I know that feeling of thinking my words need to be good and that feeling eats away at me and makes me afraid to sit down and just let the story fall out.
    I think Julia is right, creativity is a lamp.

    Thank you-
    (and Behold the Lamb…I could die. love, love, love.)

  5. 10

    Your writing has filled me with peace Emily. Thank you!

  6. 11

    Beautiful and inspiring. Keep writing. :)

  7. 12
    Johnnie Bruce says:

    The Twelve Words Of Christmas
    Luke 2:11 A Savior has been born to you:
    He is Christ the LORD.

    This was presented to our women’s group on Sat , you are being giving the Good News in the day of your mess, comes the message.
    For me and you a Savior Christ the LORD!

  8. 13

    I love that verse as well. I love to look forward ….. look ahead …….
    :)

  9. 14

    Such a beautiful picture. Thank you.

  10. 15

    This made me wonder what Mary felt in her postpartum days–perhaps she searched a little for the light too.

  11. 16

    Thank you for writing exactly what I needed to read, today. I think the holidays brings on this faux writer’s block!

    • 17

      I agree, Adelle. It is hard to find quiet time … time alone to write … head swamped with so much. I’ve been stuck. It’s just the holidays. Maybe I should put all aside … focus on the reason for the season … and get running after new years!

  12. 18

    Emily, such a sweet post. Thank you for this reminder on writing. I’m working on a tween book … stuck on Chapter 7 … wanting it to be the best I can make it … and I’ve not written in a week. Waiting for that perfect next move …

    I just need to write.

    Thank you. shelli

  13. 19
    Marinalva Sickler says:

    I am pregnant with Christmas and the light that came through the Babe of Bethlehem. It seems that I have been born again this season. I’m in awe with Mary words to the angel:” Be unto me according to thy word.” And now your flickering light, Emily, hit my heart. Wow! Merry Christmas!

  14. 20

    This hit right at home for me today. I chose to take December “off” from blogging, but now I feel like it will be such a huge chore to write again. The “writer’s block” phenom. But, really, a lot of it is intimidation from reading really good writers and never feeling like I will develop into a better one myself. This was perfect, and reached right into my heart. Thank you so much!

  15. 21
    Paulette says:

    This so resonated with me as yesterday I was writing Christmas cards to send to my family and wanted to write a letter to each one. It was easy for some but when it came to one sister who does not follow Christ I had to tread lightly as to what I wrote because even though I show HIS love she is easily offended when I use any form of scripture. Please pray that one day my sister Maureen will understand that Jesus is the reason for everything and HE is the reason we are here. He is our provider, protector, healer, deliverer and HE loves us no matter what.. Thanks for sharing..

  16. 22

    Hi Emily,
    I just love the lamp vs candle visual. It’s so true that we crave the romantic and sometimes whimsical while the truth can be harder to see and accept, but truth has a beauty of it’s own. I also love the writer’s block advice, just write. Thanks so much for sharing
    Wendy :)

  17. 23

    As someone who’s been in a writing funk for weeks, thank you. I appreciated every bit of this. When performance and expectation jump ahead of the writing, it makes everything wonky and stressful.

  18. 24

    Beautiful post, I love it when all things point back to the Savior. Seems like you are doing fine with your writing. Sometimes it is all our own perception. You got this!

  19. 25

    I so love it when you write about writing!!! You always give me such hope :)

  20. 26

    How beautiful, Emily. What a great reminder. There are days when my pen is dry, so to speak, and my words just won’t come. But, often if I just start listening to my thoughts, and the things that are in my heart, I find that the words flow.

    I love the idea of a surprising Savior. I love that He didn’t meet anyone’s expectations, but in reality, He met everyone’s hopes. The quote from C.S. Lewis was great! God in His wisdom…

    GOD BLESS!

  21. 27

    I love how well you write and how open and honest you are in each post. It is like your heart has spilled out onto the paper in the form of words and it is understandable that you may feel that writers block or as I would say a chaotic overflow of well everything! You have worked hard with your book and promoting it and I think a small little crash is acceptable after such a long flight. Keep Jesus in your heart and in your head and His Word on your lips and everything will work out. He will ensure that it does! I only wish I could have purchased your books. All of the reviews sound amazing. I know that when the time is right I too will be further blessed by your words as they are inspired through Christ!

  22. 28

    Amen and amen!

  23. 29
    Suzanne says:

    Hi Emily,

    As a teacher and a part-time student, I find myself struggling with what and how to write and often doubt if it will be ‘good enough’. This is when I am reminded of the light of Jesus and the strength I can find in Him. Thank you for sharing your struggles and for reminding us who we need to turn to before, during and after of struggles in this journey on earth. Blessings,
    Suzanne

  24. 30

    *A candle is romantic, offering a more beautiful image of the creative life – a Muse visiting with orange, yellow skirts, dancing in the corner of the room. But fire on a wick flickers with the wind and blows out in a puff of smoke.

    It’s mysterious and peaceful, but it’s hard to hold onto.*

    Emily – thank you so much for sharing honestly of your own struggles with writing lately. As someone who is new to writing I feel I’m still struggling with finding my voice, and the example you gave of the candle is really striking a chord with me. My first thought is to ask how you have worked to move from the elusive ‘candle’ style of writing to a place where that art for you is more like the ‘lamp’?

    I struggle with the ‘muse’ to write showing up in fits and starts, when I’m least prepared, but with little to no consistency. You mentioned writing regularly, and I’ve been working on the ‘first writing’ practice you’ve mentioned in the past, are there any other pointers you could offer?

    As always, thank you so. Much for sharing yourself, fully and honestly. So often your words have become the muse to which my art has built off of, so I’m forever grateful to your courage and brave-ity in walking out your art.

    Thank you!

  25. 31

    I know it was a throwaway line, but I’ve just realised I have talker’s block. Ha. How about that.

  26. 32
    Beth WIlliams says:

    Emily,

    Thank you for this post! It can be hard to drown out the noise of the world these days. It gets louder and louder. We must work hard to keep our focus on Christ-during this season and always.

    We must all be lamps unto our worlds and shower this sin sick world with Christ and His love, peace & grace!

    God Bless Everyone and have a Wonderful Christ-filled Christmas!

  27. 33

    inspring and hope-filled

  28. 34

    A great post that served as a wonderful devotion. Thank you for the encouragement to start tapping on those keys again and just write!
    Blessings,
    Janis

  29. 35

    I think there are often moments in my life where i try and so just about anything else than what i know i should be doing; be in writing or sewing or knitting or even cleaning, but i have found that once i starts things just roll forward on their own.

    You write some beautiful things Emily. I loved your book. I do not often comment here but i always read.

  30. 36

    This hit the mark. Not only with writing or talking, but just plain doing. I find myself saying in my heart, “I don’t feel like it” or “I don’t want to”. Letting other hurts and disappointments take away from the joy of this season is certainly dimming my light. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement! I pray we all continue to fix our eyes on the joy of our salvation!

    Merry Christmas!

  31. 37

    So Here I am at the end of the pile but I’d saved your post in my “MUST read later” file…just read it. Perfect timing as I’ve “psyched” myself out again and again this past week. I am encouraged to begin right where I am. Here and now to go ye therefore and make, write and teach disciples. Bless you and Happy New Year!