The 2012 OYAN Workshop

The 2012 OYAN Workshop. Was. Amazing.

I’ve thought for a while on what I could say about it, and a few of my friends have done amazing posts about it (Mig, Laura, Rachel), and have done a really great job of capturing it in words.

I don’t consider myself near a writer on their par, and to me, it truly was an indescribable experience.

Yet I feel compelled to try and say something about it, because OYAN has been, and continues to be, very life changing for me.

I was honored, and really hyped, to get to meet some people at the airport this year. Total blast, that, and really glad I was there. A few people I literally just couldn’t wait to see again.

Right off the bat, though, once I got back to campus from the airport, there was just this amazing feeling that crashed over me. Yeah. Crashed. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. It was love. And family. And there were 174 of them. And then once I got into the group, a few singled out from the crowd. My besties, and best. Mhm. Family.

Each morning started off with a small group reading the Bible and praying together, and that was really special to me.

Jeff Gerke and Mark Wilson – Amazing. Epic. Awesome. Inspiring.

Mrs. S – Incredible, as always.

Mr. S – Wow. Just wow. I cried during his last session. It was so powerful.

The critique groups were really awesome, and I was blessed to have some really great folks in mine. (The Sneak of Weasels… Y’all rock!!!) Some amazing writers are coming up. Each year more and more, and I am just so honored to be able to just *see* it.

I tend to be a bit … um… well, I like being with the people I know. Click-ish. haha. So I spent as much time as possible with my dear dear friends… it’s never enough though. I miss them terribly. But I get to see them again, I know. (*BOUNCE*)

Friday night remains totally amazing to me. There was a prayer circle, and, yeah. It was so awesome. I try not to single anyone out when I am thanking people, cause I usually end up forgetting someone and leaving them out, but…. Braden and Laura… Thank you so much. You two mean a lot to me, and I am really glad that you are who I was by.

God has renewed my passion for His things. He has shown me a glimpse of His kingdom that I’ve never had before, and I like it. And I want to be in His will and be a part of it.

In short, the Workshop was awesome.

I love all of you crazy OYANers.

God bless,
~Daniel

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Worth The Write

What makes something worth writing? The amazing plot you’ve come up with? Your super-de-duper characters? YOUR epicness?

Yeah….. um. No. Sorry. But. I would have to say. None of the above.

So what DOES make something worth the write? I don’t mean to slam your plot or characters, and CERTAINLY not you. But none of those things make a story worth the paper or the time it takes to get it down for keeps and into the physical real world. Plots are important. Characters are important. And I’ve been caught up in those just as much as anyone else. I’ve got to write this novel BECAUSE this character ROCKS! … yeah. No. Not a good idea. And I know that now.

So I ask yet again: what makes something worth writing? What is a good reason TO write something?

Now. Don’t just throw away those plots and characters. Cause you need them. But this is what makes something worth writing.

 

1. Theme

Your theme is very important. One of my favorite novels (and I mean FAVORITE) is written by a dear friend of mine. And the reason I love it so much is because of the theme. Hope.

Hope is a very powerful theme, and a book ABOUT hope — It can GIVE us hope. That story will, I believe, remain one of my top favorites for all time.

 

2. Who are you writing for?

Who are you writing this story for? Why did you pick the theme you did? If you are writing for an age group… or a large mass… well. Wrong choice. You need to write for one person. Just one. The more personal your story the more powerful it becomes. You might be nervous or reluctant to do that, because you foresee that part of your heart might end up on the page, and you are afraid someone will reject your book: reject you. Don’t be afraid of that. Please. Part of your heart WILL be on the page, whether you make that novel personal or not. Because making it impersonal, well, that’s just another way of pouring out your heart through prose, whether you realize it at the time or not.

It almost doesn’t even matter who you write for. A friend. A sibling. A parent. Grandparent. Niece or nephew, child or grandchild. But write for someone you CARE about. You may not even know them that well, if it is a friend, but if you write that story for them, TO them, be sure you CARE about them. But write for only that one person for that story. You can write to someone else next time. But don’t bounce around. Make it personal. For one person. You don’t have to tell anyone who you wrote for you know. You can pour out your heart to that friend, and they might never know just how sincere you are being with them, because they don’t know you wrote it for them.

But if you write like that. Oh. How much more powerful it will be.

 

3. Who are you REALLY writing for?

Now. As I said. You should direct your story to one person. Dedicate the tale to them, and tell it to them. But who should you REALLY be writing the story for? Well. The answer is obvious. Or is if you are a Christian. You write for God. And for no other.

It is God’s words, the words He has placed in your heart that you pour out onto the page for that friend and loved one.

And when you listen to God’s prodding, to His editing. Well. His love will show through your novel. His mercy will grace each and every page. And that will reach far beyond one friend who reads your story.

 

4. In the end…

In the end, do you think its worth doing it all? Is it worth writing? I do. I believe it is as sure as I am breathing. As sure as Jesus Christ died for me on the cross and rose again to save the world from sin, and saved me. Its worth it. Because in the end. It’s all for Him anyway. And if its for Jesus, it is SO worth it. Whether its a little poem, or a song, a novel, or a tiny drawing by a child. If its for Him, its worth it. Its worth doing. And its worth taking note of.

I have seen the drawings of young children that touched me so much, and almost made me cry. While all their playmates drew things like planes and dinosaurs… they had drawn the cross. It was a powerful moment when I saw that.

I was so glad they had done that.

 

So. Worth the write?

If you write from your heart, what God has burdened you with. If you pour your soul into that, it doesn’t matter what the world may think. It was worth the write. Because I assure you. Whether you know it or not. If God gave it to you, He did so for good reason. And it could change someone’s life forever. And that changed heart could change the world.

If a story I tell makes just one person happy. Makes just one person rejoice in God their Savior. Gives one person hope. Brings one lost soul closer to the cross. It is worth it all. The hours laboring over an outline, and writing, and editing, and thinking I’m a loser, and hating my writing style… It is worth all that, and more, if it touches the life of just one person, even in the littlest and tiniest way.

 

Anything you write. A song. A poem. A short story. A novel.

It could change someone.

That someone could be yourself.

So worth the write.

You can only grow stronger… right?

When you hit rock bottom, they say the only way to go is up. Then again, I was thinking, and I suppose you could actually mill around down there, and drift along the bottom. It’s up to you.

Personally, as a Christian, when I hit that bottom, I’m kicking off and heading back for the top.

You can only grow stronger… depending on how you live.

And, I am not talking about physically healthy and strong either, though I am definitely knowledgeable enough on that subject as well. I am talking about spiritual strength and health.

Are you feeding your spirit healthy things, or just junk food for the soul?

The question then must arise, what exactly is what?

Well, for the longest time, I thought I was good just listening to music. …. yeaaah, that lasted about two months. And crash went the idea.

Well.. I’ll take notes. My dad is a pastor. And that will be enough.

That didn’t cut it either.

You see.. relying on something, or someone, else, doesn’t help you grow in strength as a Christian. You have to get into the Word yourself. Why? Because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. When you read the Bible, you are teaching your soul to listen to the voice of the Lord. And that’s how you grow.

Junk food for the soul, on the other hand, while it feels awesome, is usually not good for you at all…

I am as guilty as all of us at watching a movie and not reading my Bible. I’m getting better at it though. Reading my Bible is a daily habit. Habit. And that is important. It really matters, because that is how I try to start everyday, seeing what God wants to tell me for that moment, time, hour, and day.

Ahh.. but another thing. What about Christian Fiction?

I myself am a writer of Christian Fiction, however, I must say with great feeling that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can replace the value of reading the Bible.

That novel might teach you something good. But where did those themes and lessons come from? The Bible. That’s what the author reads.

That song might have amazing lyrics, but the feeling behind those lyrics came from… The Bible.

So why settle for the semi-filling foods when you can dig into the stuff that’ll make you grow stronger and stronger in the faith?

I challenge you all to make it a daily habit, if you haven’t already done so, to read your Bible. If you already do that.. then read it in the morning, or at the very least, do not allow yourself to read any works of fiction, or watch tv, until you have.

Reach the place that you can only grow stronger.

God bless,
~Daniel

The End of Comfort Zones — Personal Bubble Space: Total Annihilation

Wow. That is. Scary.

If I say so myself.

Which I do.

And, I will not be talking about friendships or relationships, or anything of the kind. Between men/women, that is.

This one is another for the Christian. It’s something that, if you haven’t found out, you will soon. Or something your resisting and you just need to give in to God about.

 

The “Comfort Zone”… it’s the place where you feel so nice and cozy. Anything in that circle you don’t mind doing, by yourself, or in front of people. You excel. You’re good at it, or at least to the point that you don’t mind sharing it with others. Yep. The good ‘ole Comfort Zone.

It’s nice to be in the Comfort Zone. If you like helping people with stuff, it can be a lot of fun, too. You get asked to help set up some tables and chairs, and then take them down after the event. “YES!” of course you will! I mean, this is a ministry, and, not to be prideful, but you own at it. Mhm. And, above all else, you’re very comfortable with it, too.

With me so far? Thought so. If it gets confusing, just interrupt me.

But then, as our little scenario continues, you are asked to speak. Not just speak. But out loud. Yeah, and from the stage. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s to speak out loud, from the stage, in front of PEOPLE! Real. Live. Breathing. People.
Public speaking is not in your job description of YOUR branch of ministry; you help people, that’s it. Chairs, tables, trash, dishes, you name it, that’s your thing — helping. End of story. Not talking in front of people who are looking back! But, you can’t really say no. So you say yes. You don’t know what you’re going to say. You try to write out something, but you are so scared, you fumble the pencil, and don’t get beyond introducing yourself on paper.
When you get up there, you can feel their (the audience’s) eyes following you. Their gaze seems to be semi trucks bearing down all around you, crushing your “Personal Bubble” (I bet some of you know exactly what I’m talking about here). You stutter a bit when you start, but, God gives you something to say, shows you the thing from your own life, just a few weeks earlier that you need to share. And it just comes. Your heart pounds the whole time, but you tell the story, sharing what God has given you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a few hundred people, or a dozen.
You finish, and walk off stage. You have been forcibly ejected from your ever so precious Comfort Zone by an omnipotent and loving God.

 

When you become a Christian, you surrender you life to Him. Your WHOLE life. If Jesus isn’t Lord OF all, He isn’t Lord AT all. This means, that the thing known as a “Personal Bubble Space” doesn’t exist anymore. You have the Lord of the Universe living in your heart, and ya can’t get much more personal than that. Actually. It’s impossible to get more personal. The Bubble is gone, folks. Totally annihilated for all of eternity. Is this bad? No! This has to be the best thing ever. When that sense of “Bubble” is gone, then it can become so much easier for God to use us.

You do have a set of gifts and talents that God has bestowed upon you, but, whether you realize it or not, they are going to lead you outside of your comfort zone. I’m not saying go jump head first off the cliff, but, people, have a little faith in the God that pulled you from the mire, that He knows what  He is doing with your life.

If you feel Him telling you to go and volunteer, then you better go volunteer. Because if you don’t, well… It won’t be volunteer anymore, will it? And God wants the workers willing and cheerful.

I tremble every time I sing in a group below the number of 5, at least. And solos… wow. I’m almost freaking out. I have been told by my very loving, beautiful sister, who has a simply amazing voice, that I too, am a good singer, and, sometimes, I sing a special. A few times, I have been told that it really spoke to someone’s heart. And, all that nervous feeling I had, on the verge of getting sick, the butterflies; it all became worth it.

You may not realize it at the time, but when God pushes you out of your comfort zone, he has something special in mind. It may be for you, or for ministering to someone else, one person or many. But it’s not just to be mean, and make you uncomfortable.

It’s all for His glory. And think of what glory it brings, when someone who is a nervous wreck, can stand up, as calm as they are able, and declare what God has done for them.

As a Christian, you are gonna be out of that comfort zone. That bubble space is gone now. It’s time to surrender, and let the Lord use you how He will, for His glory. The blessings will be so much more. The joy that comes with serving the Lord, inside, or outside, of your comfort zone is so great, yet, at times, we complain about having to speak in front of a group.

When will we wake up and remember? “…For ye are not your own, For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Cor 6:19b-20)

 

God bless you all,
~Daniel

(Dani. I told you I would mention you in this post. And I did.)