Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

For Us

Once after a speaking engagement, someone asked me if sharing hard stories helps me. I was puzzled because I ordinarily share because I want to help others know they’re not alone in the hard times.

As one who has a public dimension of speaking and writing it is an interesting question. I know that it does help me to think out loud or on paper about the hard times–but these are very private processes, usually involving tears, many, many tears. The outpouring itself is cathartic.

The public sharing though, that brings its own kind of difficulty. The choice to make the private thoughts public has to bear up under scrutiny: Does this even make sense? Does it really have the chance to help someone else? Does it make me look bad, and if so, how bad? And if it makes me look bad, what might be the costs of looking bad in that way?

After all that, then I weigh the question, am I looking for sympathy? And usually the answer involves a recognition of what a wise Deaconess once said, “There is no such thing as a truly pure motive.”

I would love to be able to stand behind my original sentiment–that I share to help others. Yet I know my altruism isn’t pure. And I wouldn’t do this public bearing of my soul if it didn’t come with at least some kind of benefit to me.

Even now I am aware of the way in which sharing here about my aimless aching just a couple of days ago has given me strength to move through this weekend. It didn’t make the ache go away–that would be far too much to ask. But pouring out the thoughts was the catharsis I so appreciate about writing. And sharing here has helped me because of the feedback from readers who have told me that I am not alone in the aching.

Does sharing help me? I have to say, yes. Does it help others? It seems to. What I’m realizing is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be both. I hope it is both.

I think what I hope most of all is to deepen community–for you, and for me, for us together–as we share, honestly share, the hard times.

This Writing Thing – A Little Booklet and A New Blog

I wrote a number of months ago about my excitement about signing my first real writing contract. Well, the package just arrived the other day with my copies of the project I worked on and I wanted to share my joy with you.

gracepeacepackage

As a writer for this project, last Monday I received five copies each of the standard and large print editions. (Photo by my son)

The booklet you see is a daily devotional from Augsburg Fortress called “Grace and Peace: Devotions for Lent 2015.” I was one of three writers for the project, contributing 15 of the devotions.

All of the devotions are based on the New Testament book of Ephesians. To write each devotion, I was given a few verses from Ephesians and a photograph that was to appear with the devotion. My task for each was to select a quotation from a non-biblical source, write a brief devotion, and write a prayer to wrap up the day.

Some of them were easier to write than others. And some of them got edited more than others. But overall, apparently I did okay, because they still put my name on the cover!

The devotionals are only $2 each. They’re available from Augsburg Fortress directly and if you order 100 or more copies, you can get a 25% discount. They’re also available at Amazon where I also created an official Amazon Author Page for myself!

Now that my first round of paid writing projects are complete, I am taking time to work on some writing that has been percolating in me since high school. To do that, I actually started a new blog called A Truth of a Different Color (ATDC). The tagline for it is “Uncommon Sense about Dealing with Differnces.” You can read more about the genesis of ATDC at the About page over there.

I felt the need for a second blog for ATDC mainly because I have enough to say there that I think it can hold its own. Plus, the tone I’ve set here is generally more descriptive of my life and experiences whereas what I want to do at ATDC is unpack some of my thinking and philosophy.

And honestly, I don’t expect that everyone who follows this site will necessarily be interested in what I’m doing over there…and vice versa. So, keeping them separate gives people choices. If you love Living Faith, don’t worry, it’s still gonna be here and I’ll continue to update it as inspiration strikes.

My hope is that ATDC will eventually be organized into a book, but right now I just need to get the ideas out of me and onto the page. I’d love for y’all to check it out, but I’ll understand if you’re more comfy just staying here.

Whatever you do, just know that I appreciate you being on this journey with me in whatever way you are able. I just wanted to make sure you knew about my little booklet and the new blog as I keep plugging away at this writing thing.

I Just Can’t Can’t

IMG_3962My mother-in-law, Elaine Marie Oslund Tinker, died on Wednesday, October 8 and I feel a bit like nothing is quite as it should be.

And yet, the rest of the world is moving on just fine. And I just can’t can’t right now. I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I’ll be honest, I don’t even want to drag myself out of bed in the morning. (Or in the afternoon if I can get away with sleeping that long.)

But somehow I do keep getting out of bed, and I made bread one day, and I’ve built backyard fires two nights in a row, and I’ve had good conversations that aren’t just all about my grief, and I’m making plans for my future, and I’m starting negotiations for a new job…

And life is going on. My life is going on.

And that’s as it should be, but it doesn’t feel like it should be.

There’s part of me that wants to just stop. To just make everything stop.

And that part of me is dragging me down. And it’s making me not want to write.

I deliberately gave myself permission to not write when I was spending so much time caring for Elaine and when we were all caring for one another in the time after her death. Those were the days–or hours–that we all just took one at a time.

Writing, though integral to who I am and what I’m doing, writing just had to wait for the most part.

And even now I’m not entirely sure what to say about those days. And part of me feels like I can’t. But I just can’t can’t. I have to say something even if I don’t know what I’m saying.

And the “have to” is not some weird pressure I’m putting on myself. I promise. I would tell you if that was what it was.

The “have to” or the “can’t can’t” is this feeling deep down that I know, know, know there is more for me in life.

I said before that I felt like everything in my life prepared me for my ability to be present with Elaine as I did–I felt that same sense throughout even the worst of her illness and even in her dying.

And it would be so gratifying if I could kick back and say, “Ah, Lord, I see my work here is done.”

But God keeps nudging me, “I’m not finished with you yet.”

And as much as I felt like all my life prepared me for what I’ve just been through, I feel as though what I’ve just been through has prepared me for more, more, more.

And so, I just can’t can’t.

And so I press on.

That Time When I Met David Housholder

After working with David Housholder (aka Hous) for nearly a year, we finally met in person in Dallas on Tuesday. Hous and his wife, Wendy, were in Dallas for a conference. So my guys and I drove up to have dinner with them.

The funniest thing about meeting Hous in person was the first thing he said to me, “You’re so tiny!” I knew he was tall because he often mentions his height, but I guess I don’t exactly broadcast the fact that I’m rather short. It does just go to show though, that my personality is “larger than life.”

Over at Life & Liberty, I posted a longer version of the story of how we met online and started working together; that post is under the title, The Joy of Meeting People Online (click the title to read that post). But I thought it would be fun to share a couple pictures with y’all right here.
05-27-2014 Hous & Jen

Hous and I, you know, just hanging out in Dallas.

 

05-27-2014 Epic Tinker-Housholder Summit

The Whole Gang at the Epic Tinker-Housholder Summit: (from left) My husband-David, Me, Hous’s wife-Wendy, my son, Hous

 

Another Writing Milestone: My First Print Publication

For the first time today I held my first paid, print publication in my hands. It is an article for Connect: Journal of Children, Youth & Family Ministry, the official publication of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.

The article is called, Seven Ways That Hands-On Service Builds Connections and Confidence for Young People and you can read it online with this link >> http://issuu.com/elcayouthministrynetwork/docs/connect_journal_winter_2014_167/14

And just for fun, here is a picture of me holding the print version in my very own hands…

My First Print Publication

Special thanks to Clint Schnekloth, a colleague and friend, and author of Mediating Faith, who helped me get this opportunity.