Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing About Personal Experience in Ministry

Writing contests, writing groups and clubs, writing friends and buddies! It is the sauce that flavors my world. So what contest am I currently working on? Well, I’m glad you asked.

One of the groups I belong to is FaithWriters. Every year they have a novel contest. One year it’s fiction, and one year it’s non-fiction. This is non-fiction year. I’m not much on writing non-fiction. I picture non-fiction as memoirs – and you better have an unusual, interesting life to write your memoirs or autobiography – or devotional books or self-help books.

I do, however, have an idea for a non-fiction entry for this year’s contest. I worked at Teen Challenge for nineteen years – Greater Phoenix Teen Challenge to clarify since there are several hundred in the world. I thought it was the most exciting, most fulfilling job in the world.

Imagine having a ministry in the heart of a major metropolis, and the type people that are drawn to the haven of such a ministry. It certainly made for interesting stories. And I’ve got plenty of those stories. Not only was it interesting, but I met some of the most awesome people in the world.

 I’ve worked alongside the salt of the earth, some men and women whom God delivered from the clutches of drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately, I've also witnessed the tragedy of those who walked away from God  after being delivered and set them free.

Now, my dilemma is who to mention and who not to mention. I’m sure I’ll step on toes because I don’t mention them. It’s not intentional. And as for those in the ministry who failed big time, I will not go into that. Theirs is not my story to tell, and besides, who truly knows the heart and mind of a person except that person and God.

Onward, with the writing of this book. So far, I’m having so much fun doing it.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Remembering Dad

This past weekend we celebrated Father’s Day. My father, Samuel Aaron McCurdy, has been absent from this world, but present with the Lord, for over thirty years now. He wasn’t a great man, but he was a good man.

My dad was a bachelor. He was thirty-five when he met and married my eighteen-year-old mother. Their marriage produced five children. I’m the second born. My parents were both raised in a Pentecostal environment, although neither was religiously strict.

As a child and teenager, I went through typical periods where I was embarrassed by my parents, but not necessarily because of how they looked. They looked better than some of my friends’ parents. Since I’m remembering Father’s Day, I’ll concentrate on Dad.

Dad had one leg shorter than the other. He was born with a club foot, and when he was a young teen, her got that foot caught in a hay baler, which stunted the growth. At least, this is the story we were told. Dad walked with a pronounced limp, even though he padded one shoe to make up the difference in leg length.

But his limp never embarrassed me. He had a temper and when he yelled, the whole neighborhood heard him. He never hit us, and I don’t recall ever being yelled at by him; my brothers were. He also had a loud sneeze that rocked the foundation of our house. This “loudness” of his always embarrassed me. Now I realize how petty that was of me.

Neither of my parents had much education. Mom had only an eighth grade education, and Dad had some high school. Mom was not intelligent at all, while Dad was highly intelligent. Dad was always reading my school books, especially my geography and history books. He loved them. I get my love of books and reading from him.

I got a good ethic from both my parents and the pride that comes with providing for family. My parents were resourceful in lean times. They managed to find ways to generate income without expecting the government to support them. That is an invaluable lesson for parents to pass on to their children.

Dad was in construction, but during lean times, we picked cotton, worked in citrus produce, or journeyed from Arizona to California to work in produce harvests there: tomatoes, peaches, and grapes. Boy, the stories I could tell…….

Dad, thank you for the lessons. R.I.P.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wing Your Words -- Someone's Destiny Awaits

I attended a statewide women’s conference this past weekend with the church denomination I belong to. One of the speakers made a profound statement that I wrote down, “Someone’s destiny may be attached to your purpose.”

WOW!  Think about your purpose. I don’t believe our purpose is limited to one huge, main thing. It could, and should, include being the best parent, neighbor, husband, wife, co-worker, friend, WRITER, and just an overall good person. People are affected and influenced by us every day, whether we realize it or not.

As a writer, you have many people under your sphere of influence. Do you write books, devotionals, blogs? Are you on Facebook, Twitter? Something as simple as what you post on Facebook or Twitter can impact someone’s destiny. Read the following.

Well today was my venture back to church! I went where I felt God leading me to City Life church and it was AMAZING! I felt the presence of God the moment I walked in the door. Having not gone to church in over 7 years I was skeptical and afraid of hurt again but, I was wrong! I felt love instantly from a few people I knew and a few new family members. (Name deleted) enjoyed class and LOVED Mrs. B and her other teacher (name unknown)! Praise and worship was real and annointed! I have recommited my life back to God and am ready to Dream Big! A few people have helped me with encouraging words (and may have never known) everyday on Facebook to make this decision a little easier to go back aside from my close circle friends I want to thank (names deleted) your posts have been examples of true Christianity and meant lots to me.

The above was a recent post on FB. I deleted the six names she mentioned, but mine was one of them. I was shocked because I don’t know this person, although we have numerous mutual friends, and I’ve have never met her. When I commented that I was touched and this made me cry, she commented:  Leola McCurdy Ogle you are such an awesome example to me and I have never met  u.

I’m not awesome. I’m quite ordinary – filled with faults and shortcomings, and yes, kindness and goodness. Yet, words that I caused to appear in posts on FB, usually without much thought at all, has influenced someone’s destiny.  

What is your purpose as a writer? Could you possibly be the key to someone’s destiny by the things you write? How often have any of us been encouraged or inspired by a Facebook or blog post? How often has someone else’s words been instrumental in speaking to our heart or spirit? Most of those writers will never know.

Wing your words for the world to see. Someone’s destiny awaits. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Writers Beware! Rejection Ahead!

It happened. I’ve been writing for three years, and it has now happened – rejection letter. Not one, but three. I’ve entered contests, and not placed, got feedback and judges’ score sheets that were unflattering, but this is my first experience with rejection letters. Three in one day! Oh, I've won contests, had some things published, but still.....

In the beginning of my pursuit of a writing career, I would’ve been ready to open a vein and bleed out my devastation and discouragement. Not literally, of course, but I would’ve been ready to throw in the towel. I would’ve asked myself and God if I’m really cut out to be a writer.

Am I disappointed? Yes! Does it hurt? Yes! But I am not giving up! That day, Thursday of last week, I kept trying to squeeze out tears, wondering why I didn’t feel worse. By the way, it was short stories, all for the same magazine, and I felt really confident about my stories when I submitted them– each a week apart.

I feel a peace that can only come from God.  It is He who has brought me along this writing journey during this season of my life. Sometimes when I doubt and struggle with my capabilities as a writer, He reminds me of this. As in all things, His timing and purpose is perfect. I know I need to hone the craft of writing more. I have a lot to learn and apply to my writing. But He is faithful. He never fails.

I love the words of this song, Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), by Hillsong United. Read it and think of how it applies to you and whatever journey you are on, writing or otherwise.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

May your prayer be that His spirit will lead you where your trust is without borders, and you walk upon the waters wherever He would call you. Allow Him to take you deeper than your feet could ever wander, and your faith will be stronger in the presence of Him, your savior. Tell yourself, He believes in me. He loves you more than you can imagine. 

Oh, and do you want to know what I did? I immediately began writing a new story to submit to this magazine. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Writers - Join A Group!

I love being a part of writers’ groups. It’s so encouraging to be with other people who have the same goals, and are striving and struggling for and with the same things I am. You know, “birds of a feather,” and all that stuff.

My friend, Jan, is a great motivator and encouragement. In fact, she’s the one who nudged me to start writing. Along the way, I’ve formed numerous friendship that I would never had had otherwise.

I love my involvement in ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and our local ACFW group, CWOW (Christian Writers of the West), Seekerville, and FaithWriters. If you are a writer or aspiring to be a writer, join a group. Get involved. When you’re discouraged, they’ll encourage you. When someone in your group is discouraged, you be that encouragement. Rejoice with others for their victories. Be genuinely happy for them, the same as you want others to be happy for you.

On Saturday, our CWOW group met, and our speaker -- a sweet, young lady who is multi-published -- shared how she once received feedback from an editor that was so negative that she didn't write for a whole year, that's how discouraged she felt. Eventually, God used that to show her that she had areas in her life that she needed to deal with. As we serve God, He has a purpose in everything that touches us. 

Enter contests. Tell yourself not to be upset if you don’t win. View everything as a tool for learning and honing the craft of writing. Judges’ feedback and score sheets can be invaluable to help you grow as a writer. Sure, occasionally there will be a judge who’s harsh. Your ego and confidence will deflate faster than a popped balloon. Give yourself permission to wallow in self-pity for a bit, but then, pick yourself up, dust off the blues and KEEP writing.

Above all, pray and seek God’s direction and blessings on your writing.