Stories have always been a happy part of my life. As a girl, I remember sitting in our Iowa basement, typing out scenes on my dad’s black and white typewriter. I even used those strips of white correction tape when I made a mistake. I took great pleasure in my stack of near-see-through typing paper. With a finished story, I would hide in my room, close the door and read those pages again and again.
I decided early on that I wanted to be a writer. In the eighth grade, I even came up with the title of my first book: When Flowers Wilt. I know. But despite my lack of skill in the book titling department, words and story have always brought me the most pleasure and satisfaction.
Because of that, it baffles me why I chose to be a piano major in college. Then, when I realized how much practice was required, I finally changed my major. But not to English or Creative Writing, but to Educational Interpreting for the Deaf. What? I worked as a sign language interpreter for several years. While I loved the knowledge of language and imagery it required, interpreting someone else’s words and message brought me zero satisfaction. It was a job that I seemed to have a knack for, but it was not my passion.
With my first pregnancy, the writer in me was pushed even further into the background. Twin babies don’t welcome the Muse, they scare her away with all their crying and messes and sleeplessness. Creativity seemed a thing of the past, and I unknowingly began to grieve her skittishness. The grief would come out in extremely unattractive ways – short temper, anger, tears, bitterness. I felt those things but didn’t know how to articulate them.
I remember asking God at three in the morning why, pray tell, did He create babies to need to eat every three hours and also mommies to need to sleep for eight? The answer came as swiftly as it was obscure – Perhaps I have a reason for that. *wink*smile*. And I realized then that those late night feedings forced my dependence on Him more than ever before. And he was doing a good thing in me, no matter if I could see the results of it.
That baby life stage ended much more quickly than I thought, just like all those more experienced mama’s said it would. During that time, I started a blog in response to The Voice, still and small, telling me it was time to write again. I think I posted only ten times that first year. But it was my secret place of rediscovering the writer in me.
Four years later, I’m still writing on a blog. Through that process, writing has shifted from a write-when-I-find-the-time perspective to a daily discipline. Instead of waiting for a Muse to delight me with her presence, I launched a full-fledged pursuit, mocking her fickle ways with my daily cranking out of material. It wasn’t always good, but at least it was consistent. As I wrote, I began to discover a message in outlines and shadows, one that had been building for ten years. Because of that message, I wrote a book proposal, something I hadn’t even heard of two years ago. In the greatest shock of my life, a publisher bought that proposal and now, my manuscript is due at the beginning of August.
I share this with you because I know the women who read (in)courage are often times in need of just that – encouragement. I spent a lot of years thinking my desire to write was a nice hobby, but not worthy of my serious attention. As a result, I felt ill-content and restless. It is a dangerous thing to say, because I don’t want to imply that if you aren’t doing that thing you love, then somehow you can’t be happy or content. I don’t think God works that way. I do believe God expresses himself in as many unique ways as people are different. And to deny that unique expression will often bring frustration.
There have been lots of tears and fear and worry and doubt that have worked their way out alongside this message. A few years ago, it wasn’t ripe yet. But God has a way of weaving life stage, weakness, willingness and heart all together in order to show up creatively in and through us.
So your message, your business idea, your ministry, your mothering or whatever that thing is for you – maybe it isn’t ripe yet. But do you have one? How has God uniquely designed you? Are you working that out as you depend on Him?Leave a Comment
God bless you! I’m from Finland and I’ve been reading this (In)Courage blog site about 6 months and work of all your team has inspired me a lot everyday and I’ll keep reading, because I find from here also confidence and consolation. Thank you for this wonderful blog message that encourages me and inspires me with my own life and writing. I’ve had a very good writing summer and my first poetry & song book will be ready to publish in 6 months. It’s really a blessing God has given us this gift to spread the gospel as He inspired us to write about His message. Yes, there are many things that can take away your Muse: for me that’s studying at high school, it’s hard work and huge effort you know but actually my inspiration hasn’t disturbed my studying as I’ve noticed that I get even better grades if I take some time for writing between classes :). God bless your career as a writer!
Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama says
Emily – this writing journey you have been on has been such a profound encouragement to me. I had no idea how much I loved to write. My entire professional career has been writing based – but for others, for grants, for reports, for journals – never for me. And disovering the blog world was like finding my own secret place to explore my own words for the first time. And suddenly the world opened up to me. Thank you for sharing your journey and your encouragement. I love watching as you walk a path many of us never imagined we could follow. You give such hope.
I’ve always wanted to write. I love words! They captivate me. My friends and family think I’m a book snob because I only read REAL stuff. I have tried so many times to get into fiction…..it’s just not my thing! (I know, I’m odd)
My dream…..is to write books! I’ve had several rolling around in my brain for years. One of which is pastor/wife related.
It’s a burning desire….and it WON’T go away!
Maybe someday! 🙂
Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience says
I found myself praying for you yesterday while I was on my knees, washing a floor. I smiled, the Holy Spirit whispering to me to whisper your name. Praying for Emily words to flow sure from the heart to the fingers to the screen, pulse of Him.
So “When Flowers Wilt” might bloom into “When Hope Unfurls”…
I am so glad that Jesus waters the seeds that He plants in us… That Thing You Do sure is pretty grand, Emily!
Joining the angels in cheering you on to that August finish line!
Wanda – It won’t go away!! You have to write it! Let me encourage you today to consider the reason why that idea is still rolling around in your head, my friend.
Ann. Those words bring tears and so much more. Thank you for them.
tammy@if meadows speak says
I used to be a closest word-lover. Writing poetry, hiding it, stuffing it in a safe no-read zone. Occasionally, I’d let my Sis and maybe ONE or two good friends selectively read one or two. Now inf full-blog mode (approx 8 months now), new words stand like an open neon sign. I’d like to write more consistent, because I’ve found even when I think I don’t have anything to say, I still DO. Thanks for the encouragement and for spurring us to embrace our love of words.
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
I love what Ann wrote about “When Flowers Wilt” blooming to “When Hope Unfurls.”
This post has to be one of my Emily favorites, although I say that often! Your sweet, soothing encouragement flows firmly but gently. I thank God for you and your words! You are a wonderful cheerleader!
Melissa | Madabella: made beautiful says
Your story is His story and it’s so beautiful to see it unravel. I discovered your blog several months ago and it has been a blessing and encouragement.
Whenever I get down on myself for not being able to do something God may be calling me to, the first person who comes to slap me up side the head is my mama! “That’s YOU talking…that’s not drawing your confidence in the Lord! If He’s calling you to do it and it’s blessing others, He’ll give you the ability to do it!!!”
Oooh, mom’s have a way of setting things straight. I hope I can be that same way to my two girls.
Holley Gerth says
Hey, you beautiful woman of words. I’m so glad you do the thing you do because we’re all blessed by it and I believe your Heavenly Papa just beams with delight. (: As a fellow writer, I’m on the word journey too. One letter, sentence, book at a time. It’s a wonderful path. So glad to share it with you!! XOXO
Jenni Saake InfertilityMom says
Praising God that the Author of our Faith, the very Word, has been given you a passion and fulfilled His calling in and through you. Congratulations on your upcoming book! 🙂
Kathy @ Beautiful Mornings says
The writers are coming out of the woodwork as they say, and thank you Emily for sharing some of your writing journey. I think you have truly given new courage to those who are thinking about pursuing this passion they have carried around.
I want to say “Go for it!” to all those who are standing at the edge of their dream, wondering if it is worth the risk of diving in! It is worth it, through all the uncertainty and rejections and rollercoaster rides, it is worth it. What God has placed in you, trust Him to take you where He wants you to go with your gift of words.
I have done the freelance writing thing and recently self published a book, and write on my blog, Beautiful Mornings, and I am so glad now that I kept going through the three years of submissions that only saw rejections, until the day 4 years ago when I finally sold that first piece. I jumped up and down and called my best friend shouting into the phone. It was worth the wait.
And for the other dreams and passions out there, besides writing, Go for it! God put that in you for a reason!
My grandad used to buy me a excercise book each week from the post office. I used to fill this book with ramblings, stories and poems. Words were my escape. When he died nobody was really interested in reading the stories of an eleven year old so I stopped. Held myself back, or should that be i hide myself.
Through blogging and the encouragement of my fellow bloggers who i hope are now friends I am slowly finding my words again.
They may not be eloquate as others but they are completely heartfelt. I take so much strength and encourage from posts like yours and thank you for the hope you have given me.
Donna Templin says
Boy that story sounds so familiar. I have always been, as I’ve said, “good on paper.” Not always articulate and not to good on my feet to respond to situations but I do many times sit and contemplate my response and write someone a note or a card to encourage them. It is my desire to someday write a book. The experiences the Lord has brought me through I think would be an encouragement to others. I do have a blog but don’t post every day, as a matter of fact, like you, I’ve only posted a few times this year. My daily devotional I send out is something I do consistently and it does bless many. So, I need that little push to get going…make it a part or my daily routine… All for God’s Glory, right!
Grace Becker says
This reminds me of a comment made to me years ago by an older mom when I lamented that I had so very little time to volunteer at church because I had no one to watch the kids. She gently pointed out that watching the kids was the privilege I had been given, that there were seasons in our lives where we were given different opportunities. Taking care of small children at that time, was my blessing in that season. She assured me that with the passing of time, other seasons would open up other opportunities to use the gifts and talents I had been blessed with, and one season is just planting the seeds for the next.
I too have this deep and burning desire to write. It’s been there a long, long time. But God’s had it on hold, I think. To teach me things but mostly to filter out many of what I am finding to be false motives behind my dream. Sometimes I feel frustrated by the wait as I am not really sure how to pursue the dream through His timing. Really, really looking forward to attending She Speaks in a few weeks and hoping to get some direction there.
And, Emily, I am ever so encouraged by your story. I love the words God gives you. He uses them so often to speak truth into my life. Thank you for that. Truly.
I have memories of being holed up with an old typewriter in my childhood too, and an early love for words and stories that has never left me. Thank you for your words of encouragement, Emily! You and your words are a beautiful gift to me and so many others. 🙂
This was a great post – thanks for sharing!
Southern Gal says
Emily, you are such an encourager. Thank you for the beautiful words that speak to timid, beautiful hearts. I have something that God has put on my heart. It is tugging at me. Maybe this time.
Once again, the blooms of your words have left a bright, bold and beautiful illustration in my heart. As I read your title, “When Flowers Wilt” the thought that comes to mind is that God first planted the seed to let that flower grow. This seems to parallel my personal walk with Him. He plants, helps the flower grow, but unfortunately, I let “life” get in the way of the nutrients I need from His Word, His plan, and His garden. Thanks for this post today.
That was very interesting!
Let me know when the book comes out!
tiny twig says
of course, i’m dying for your book to come out.
Ah, so good. I can relate to this in every way, from the twins to the writing. Thanks for bringing us “in” on your process and your journey through all of this.
Emily – this gives me sooooo much hope. I feel like the words you penned here are exactly where my soul has been resting for this last year… wondering why I’m sitting on the shelf… wondering what God is up to… wondering when, why, how…
Trying to feel content in the daily discipline of blogging – some days it works, some days my soul just cries. Thanks for sharing your story – it has really ministered to me today.
You have ministered to me so many times in so many posts. Thank you for posting this one. Like you and writing I have photography quietly whispering and wanting to give it so much more space in my life. I must wait on God to open that opportunity for me… someday. I keep dabbling in it but maybe when the kids are a tad older and homeschooling isn’t demanding so much of my days… But I keep praying God will let me use it more and more each day and give me an outlet for it more than just my laptop screen.
Thank you for the encouraging post today.
Just a lass hiking with Jesus,
Kelly Langner Sauer says
I love your voice. And I needed this reminder about “ripeness.” About how I don’t have to live the whole of my life today.
Doors are opening – slowly – but I couldn’t handle any more right now.
He knows. That is the best part. That He knows.
The writer’s path is not an easy one. It’s encouraging to meet young women like yourself who’ve found a way, despite the obstacles. I’m reminded of a favorite quote (don’t recall who said it) that says, “I write for the same reason I breathe; because if I didn’t, I would die.”
Blessings on your upcoming book, Emily. May it fly off the shelves.
Kristy K says
I’ve read all of your book writing posts on your blog and I’m so excited to see that you’re almost finished! You’ve inspired me (and (in)couraged) more than you’ll ever possibly know. I KNOW I have to write the book that God has placed on my heart. There’s no way around it. The more I make excuses, the more I procrastinate, the longer I have to deal with feeling like something is missing.
Thank you for the reminder that this feeling won’t go away.
Mela Kamin says
wow – was just thinking of this very thing this morning! I had always wanted to be an artist, a performer. But, the thing I was “known for” was writing. I knew I’d be a journalist and worked at that. I was in PR, so I could write & speak – still performing in its own way.
But, that desire that burned inside me flickered now and then in my different pursuits, until being snuffed out briefly while I stayed home with kids. Don’t get me wrong – I feel blessed to be at home, but it wasn’t my passion. I tried finding it, rekindling it and working it in when I could, but I barely found the time. I was exhausted and lost myself and all that made me sparkle (or so I thought).
God used those times to give me new skills, let me challenge myself in new ways and yes, depend greatly on Him. He also made it possible for me to grow in my faith – something I definitely needed for my next big leap.
When I found my voice – my literal and actual voice, I chose music as my art. I used my writing and put it together with something I loved to do, but never pursued – singing. And, a year later, I found myself in Nashville recording my debut album. HUH?! Yep, God’s cool like that. He prepared me to be able to walk through the door when it opened.
I still don’t find a lot of time to be myself – I’m happily distracted by my kids and my responsibilities. But, now I know who I am, who I was created to be (an artist) and He amazes me with new ways to use my art for Him.
This is wonderful Emily (and wonderfully written I might add). I think it is true. The Lord has placed special gifts in each of us that when discovered bring such fulfillment and joy. Thank you for such encouraging words.
Pat Layton says
This post is so sweetly written. I can see why and how God has not allowed your passion for writing to pass.
Congratulations on your book contract. Savor every moment.
The little girl in you is rejoicing 🙂 and counting on the big girl who waited, to have a blast!!
tammy@if meadows speak says
Ps. Thanks for not only encouraging us to love words, but to love our own words.
Laurie Wallin says
Emily – I love finding you on these different sites…. God has often used your words to lift my spirits. I’ve been discouraged about the fitfulness of my calling to write and resource moms of special needs/adopted kids – especially during the summer when life is all over the place and my older two are in a tailspin that only the mentally ill can appreciate! It’s wild here. But God is still there. The Voice. Such a wonderful reminder….
Ashleigh (Heart and Home) says
Oh, beautiful Emily. I know this. I know the dreams are ripening just now, here in the quiet places of my heart, and I know they’re placed there by Jesus. Finding the right moment, knowing when they’re ripe… that’s the part of which I’m not so sure. So I’m plugging along, knowing it’s in Hands better than my own.
oh sweet friend. what a joy it has been to see this work in you, and to walk beside you even the tiniest step of the way. it truly blows me away, but at the same time doesn’t surprise me one bit. i remember when you first started blogging (and we were all brand new to the word), i read your words, and it was like a light bulb went off in my head. that lightbulb said, “Oh my gosh…she’s a writer!!” and that you are, my dear. love you tons.
Emily, you’re writing just gets better and better. Love this post and your encouraging words to those of us wondering what the Lord is up to in our lives.
Misguided college majors.
All things God is using to write this story only Emily could write. I can’t wait to read it. I know that He will be on every page! Thanks for being faithful to the gift He has placed within you!
Emily: Came across your blog via DaySpring. I was spending time with the Lord, reflecting on Psalm 106 and Hebrews 11. God wants us to have the kind of faith that focuses on Him alone — despite our circumstances — at all times. We may do so sometimes, but we are apt to forget. We get caught up in thinking that God is good when the outcome is favorable, forgetting that in truth, God is good all the time. Hebrews 11:27 says Moses, “persevered because he saw Him who was invisible.” I love that …
No matter where God has us, He is using that (whether it is the mundane or the traumatic) to teach us and prepare us for the work that He has ahead for us. I don’t always like that — but it is true.
Have a blessed day!