The Difference A Word Makes

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

As writers, we all know the importance of finding that perfect word. Sometimes it can take a while. I will often highlight a word I’m not completely satisfied with as I write, then come back to it and try to find exactly the word I’m looking for. Sometimes the perfect word eludes us. We know it’s out there, somewhere, hidden in that dictionary vault in our minds, but it just won’t reveal itself. If you’re like me, you’re doggedly persistent in finding thatperfect word. We know it can make the difference between a so-so sentence and one that has punch and power.

In a recent sermon, my husband challenged our congregation to replace one word with another. Both are common words, words we use all the time. One is a word that our culture prizes, the other is a word used in the Bible 114 times.

The first word is successful. We all know what it means, or we think we do. Success in the eyes of our North American culture means a big house in the right neighborhood, a fancy car with all the bells and whistles, well-adjusted children who never cause us a sleepless night, and of course, a “healthy” bank account. Success for a writer, according to all the ‘experts,’ is at least one title that makes it onto the New York Times’best seller’s list.

The second word is faithful. We all know what that means too, or think we do. It is often synonymous with loyalty. The world values faithfulness, to some degree, though in the corporate world an employer would usually sooner have someone bringing up their bottom line than showing up for work every day and simply doing his/her job. The lawyer bringing in top-paying clients is much more highly valued than the janitor who’s been cleaning his office for twenty years.

But let’s dissect that word, faithful. Faith. The bible tells us that word means “fix(ing) our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2Corinthians 4:18).  Faith, then, means focussing on the King and His kingdom, not our own.

And then the small, but oh so important suffix, ful. To be full means complete. My thesaurus lists occupied, jam-packed and bursting as synonyms. Imagine what the world would be like if we were all occupied, jam-packed and bursting with faith in Jesus Christ.

Imagine an army of writers willing to replace the word successful with the word faithful. Imagine an army of writers who are truly faithful, writers who come to their computers every day with a heavenly perspective, focused on God’s kingdom, not the Amazon rankings. Imagine an army of writers that prays before a single word is typed.

Faithful. Yes, indeed, that word will make a difference.

TWEETABLES

The Difference a Word Makes @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2x5Yocv

A word can make the difference between a so-so sentence and one that has punch @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket http://bit.ly/2x5Yocv

Imagine writers willing to replace the word successful with the word faithful @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket http://bit.ly/2x5Yocv

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 One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there his is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

A Story Written Just For One

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

An interviewer once asked Mother Theresa why she gave her time and energy, indeed her whole life, in the face of the millions in need. The misery was so pervasive, the interviewer purported, how could she possibly hope to change it? I found it fascinating that, at first, the tiny woman did not understand the question. Her focus was so fixed on the dignity of each human being that even if she could help only one, she believed it was worth giving her whole life. I believe that is the focus of Christ. He says it himself in the story of the lost sheep – the shepherd leaves those who are safe to rescue the one that is lost.

I once thought about what it would be like to be lost while walking through the jungle in Papua New Guinea. It made me shiver, even in that tropical heat, to think about trying to find my own way in that place. The jungle was thick with hidden dangers – vipers, poisonous spiders and centipedes, sago swamps full of thorns the size of stiletto knives and leaches almost as big. I had no idea which plants were edible and which were deadly. I had no idea where to find fresh water. I had no idea which of the many paths would lead to a safe place and which would lead deeper into danger. I did know that in only a few short hours darkness would descend and I didn’t even want to think about all the things that would come out then! But because I had a guide to lead me, that walk through the jungle was like a stroll in a park. Well, almost.

Consider one who is spiritually lost. He’s in a frightening place full of hidden dangers, unknown paths and lack of nourishing food and water. It’s a place of constant stress, with nowhere to turn, no way out. Then the guide shows up – suddenly there is someone to point out the pitfalls, someone to shine a light on the path, someone opening a door into a comfortable room with a feast spread out on the table. Imagine the sense of relief as the lost one follows the direction and accepts the hospitality of the rescuer. Imagine the peace.

As writers of faith, we too are like guides in a jungle full of dangers. We have the means within our hands, within our stories, to lead readers to a safe place, a place full of light and living water. Eugene Peterson has said, “We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it.” And so, it is within story that love, nobility and truth live, waiting to be revealed and understood.

And even if only one makes it safely through the jungle of life because of something you have written, that is enough.

TWEETABLES
A Story Written Just For One by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

As writers of faith, we are guides in a jungle full of life’s dangers.~  Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet) 

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One Smooth Stone

Desperate to escape his past, the police, and especially, God, Alex Donnelly picks a good place to hide – the Yukon wilderness – but he finds even there he is pursued. What will it take for him to discover that no matter how far you run, God will find you, and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you?



Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

When the Boat “Planes”

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

When I was about nine years old my father taught me how to run the small motor on our ten-foot boat. I was thrilled that my father trusted me enough to let me take it out all by myself.

I was cautious at first, only going out on the lake when the wind was down, and only opening the engine’s throttle half way. I would chug around our small bay and come back to the dock, feeling very mature. Then one day my dad went with me. We ploughed along the shore for a while. Then Dad turned to me and made a hand motion indicating I was to open the throttle more. I moved it a couple of notches. He signalled for more. I took a deep breath and opened it up, all the way.

Then it happened. That old boat rose up and began to plane – the power of the motor was enough to overcome the resistance of the water and lift the boat. It made my heart soar as it almost seemed to fly across the lake. When we returned to the dock, my dad smiled. “Don’t be afraid of it,” he said. “The motor is made to drive the boat forward.”

There have been times in my spiritual life when I’ve been like that old boat and motor, chugging along with little energy or delight. I knew the truths of the Christian faith, the disciplines that are meant to move us forward in our faith, but I was only employing them half heartedly, with little faith that they would really make any difference. The doubts and fears of life had crept in and were blocking my sight, blocking my effectiveness.

Recently that has begun to change. I’ve been pondering the meaning of what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.”

I have always believed that Jesus, by dying on the cross, opened the way for me to come into God’s presence, but I am just beginning to comprehend that He also opened the way for us to have complete union with Him and His Father. In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

The power of that realization is beginning to make my spiritual life like that old boat when it planes. Suddenly I’m soaring.

God has trusted us with gifts and talents and all we need to do good work (like writing novels and devotionals and poetry that sings). We are empowered to do that work when we do it in Christ, in His power and wisdom, not our own.

“If anyone speaks (or writes), they should do so as one who speaks (or writes) the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1Peter 4:11 parentheses mine).

TWEETABLES
When the boat “Planes” by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Suddenly I was soaring. #InChrist, #Christian novels, #Christian writers~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

God has trusted us with gifts and talents and all we need to do is work.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)


One Smooth Stone

Alex Donnelly is running from his past, the police, and from God. The Yukon is a good place to hide until a young lawyer shows up at his cabin with news that draws him back to his birth place in search of the truth about his family. What he finds throws him into turmoil once again. What will it take for Him to surrender?


Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

Such a Fraud

by Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome

Neil Gaiman once attended a gathering of some very important people. “I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there,” he said. Later he chatted with another Neil who felt the same. “They’ve made amazing things,” he said. “I just went where I was sent. Mr. Gaiman replied, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

Many writers, and I include myself in that number, feel this way at some point – inadequate, even hypocritical. We know the struggle we’ve had to get to the place where we can call ourselves writers. We know there are many who have accomplished more, writers we would consider far beyond our level, and we sometimes feel that even our best work just isn’t good enough. I think this is the same ‘syndrome’ that hits people who are applauded for doing some kind of heroic act. Often their first thought, their first words, are, “I’m no hero.”

This can be a serious barrier to creativity. It is the same barrier that blocks many believers in Christ. We are taught that we are dust, that we are sinful, that we just don’t measure up to the holiness of Christ. All true, but we are also called children of God (John 1:12), a holy people (Colossians 1:12) and priests of the kingdom (1 Peter 2:9). The dichotomy is sometimes hard to sort out.

My husband once addressed this in one of his sermons dealing with positional sanctification and experiential sanctification – we live in the world and therefore live with our failings and our sin, but in the moment we accept Christ as our Saviour we receive the Spirit of God and are made holy and yes, perfect in Him. “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). Experientially, we don’t live in perfection. But positionally we are “perfect … as (our) heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

It is important as believers and as writers of faith that we understand the difference and live our lives in that balance, with humility and grace. Someone once said that humility is confidence properly placed. Confidence comes from knowing who we truly are as sons and daughters of our Father. It is properly placed when we recognize who He truly is.

Believing we and the work we do has value because of our connection to Christ releases us from all the uncertainties and false humility that keep us from doing the work we are called to do. In Christ, we are released to do God’s work for God’s kingdom.

Satan’s scheme is to keep whispering that we aren’t good enough. When we hear that sibilant voice, we would do well to swat it away and remember the truth: God values us and what we do. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).


TWEETABLES

Such a Fraud by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Remember the truth: God values us and what we do.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor’s wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed for a Word Award. Marcia has three novels for middle grade readers and four devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format. 
Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving. 

Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur