Of Fish and Crushed Dreams

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Writers are dreamers. We dream of accolades and awards, of lives changed, perhaps even saved. Sometimes it feels like our dreams are close to coming true. But sometimes our dreams are crushed. Our career looks like nothing but a pile of pointless efforts. Sometimes all the sacrifices seem to have been for nothing and we come close to giving up on all the dreams.
I think that was the state the disciples were in, when Jesus was crucified. The hardest day in their lives was probably the day before the resurrection – that very long day when they were in hiding, fearing that they too might end up on a cross.

Imagine the dreams the disciples had – dreams perhaps of the glory and acclaim they would have as his disciples when they came into their own in his new kingdom. It was an earthly kingdom they were dreaming of, that did not include the brutal rule of the Romans.

Imagine what they’d sacrificed – they’d left their homes, families, their livelihoods – the fishing nets that supplied their food; in Matthew’s case, the money collection stall that made him wealthy; in Luke’s case, a fulfilling and lucrative medical practice. They’d allowed Jesus to turn their lives upside down. And now what? He was gone and it looked like it had all been for nothing.

No wonder Peter said, “I’m going fishing” (John 21:1). He’d given up on the dreams. He didn’t know what to do with himself, so he went back to what he knew – casting his nets, and he took some of the other disciples with him.

But look at what happened – in the last part of vs. 3 of John 21 it says, “but that night they caught nothing.” Then, early in the morning, when they were heading back to shore empty handed, a man calls out to them – “friends, haven’t you caught any fish?”

Imagine the tone of their voices when they say no. But the stranger tells them to throw their nets on the right side of their boat. And you know what happened. The nets were so full they couldn’t haul them in and then they recognize Jesus.

I love this next part. Jesus has made a fire and is cooking fish. When the disciples arrive, he says, “Bring some of the fish you have caught.” I can just imagine their bewilderment as they struggled to understand what Jesus was trying to teach them.

I think he was trying to tell them that he had more for them to do than just catching fish, more for them to be concerned about than just making a living. He was telling them He would provide for them. The story wasn’t over. In fact, it was just beginning.

Noted author and counselor, Larry Crabb wrote – “God is always working to make His children aware of a dream that remains alive beneath the rubble of every shattered dream, a new dream that when realized will release a new song, sung with tears, till God wipes them away and we sing with nothing but joy in our hearts.”

Yes, sometimes our dreams can look like their dead, but lift up your head. Jesus is there, with a better plan.

TWEETABLES



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

Finding The Voice

by Marcia Lee Laycock

The voice coming out of the recorder did not sound like me. I wrinkled my nose. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of it. But the interviewer laughed. “Everyone I interview says the same thing. Keep in mind, this is an electronic version of your voice. It’s not the real thing.”

That got me thinking. What is the “real thing” in terms of my “voice” as a writer? Everyone tells us we have to have one, and that it must be strong and distinctive. But how do you know if you even have one? It’s one of those rather illusive things that is difficult to describe and it’s almost impossible to teach someone how to find it.
But there is hope because, yes, we all have one. It’s an amazing thing, but each of us is unique and our work reveals that uniqueness. Each of us comes to the writing with our own experiences, our own perspectives, our own stories, and we tell them with our own distinct voices.

Think of three of your favourite authors. If you picked up a book by each one with a blank cover that did not reveal their names, could you tell which book was written by which author? Chances are it would be easy, because each has a distinct way of telling a story. They use words differently, sentence length and structure will vary, and the very tone of the writing will give them away.

Young writers, like young painters, often find themselves copying the voice of a master. Years ago I wrote a short piece about my daughter that still makes me chuckle when I read it because it is so obvious I was reading a lot of Walter Wangerin Jr.’s work. I can hear his ‘voice’ in the story. That’s not all bad. As a painter learns the craft by imitating the masters, so we too, as writers, can learn a lot by imitating the master writers. But like those young painters who eventually develop their own style, we too must develop our own authentic voice as writers.

Part of that process involves listening to the authentic voice of the One who has given us the gift of writing. As we hear and heed His voice, we grow into the people and the writers He intends us to be. As we grow closer to Him, His voice becomes one we recognize and want to follow.

John 10:3&4 says: “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

Praise God we have a Saviour whose voice will never cease calling us to Him. Praise God He has given us each a distinct voice with which to “… proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7).

TWEETABLES

Finding The Voice by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

A painter learns the craft by imitating the masters~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Growing closer to Him, we recognize and want to follow His voice~ 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

Let the Gorillas Come

by Marcia Lee Laycock

It’s somewhere in Africa. A young woman sits cross-legged on the ground, surrounded by tall grass. She has been told to sit very still. She can hear snuffling noises and now and then a grunt. When the massive head of a gorilla pokes out between the grasses, she is tempted to leap up and run. But she sits quietly. The gorilla approaches, moves around her, touches her hair, sniffs her shoulder. She remembers the instructions she was given: “No sudden movements. Keep your eyes on the ground.” 


She tries not to think of what those massive hands and arms could do to her. She tries to relax her shoulders. Slowly. Another gorilla approaches, then another. They investigate her, sit close by grooming one another before slowly ambling away. The young woman lets out her breath and smiles. She knows she has just won a great victory over fear. The adrenaline coursing through her body makes her laugh out loud.

Writing coach Natalie Goldberg wrote -“A writer must be willing to sit at the bottom of the pit, commit herself to stay there, and let all the wild animals approach, even call them up, then face them, write them down, and not run away.”

There seems to be an underlying belief among many Christians that writing about what is painful and ugly in life is somehow denying the goodness of God. That is not what the Bible teaches. Psalm 12:6 (KJV) says – “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. “Tried in a furnace of earth.” That doesn’t sound pleasant to me. “Purified seven times.” That sounds like struggle and anguish and pain that has been forged into what is pure and wholesome.

Madeleine L’Engle once said – “It is not that what is, is not enough, for it is; it is that what is has been disarranged, and is crying out to be put in place.”

We do not write about the dark, the things born of despair, in order to glorify them, but in order to put them in their place and to recognize that there is something more, something infinitely better – there is redemption of all that is ugly and evil in this world, because of what happened on a cross at the base of a hill in a tiny country then called Palestine.

1Cor. 4:2 says – “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I believe we have been given a trust as writers and we must be faithful to it. To make our lives of use to others we must be willing to touch those parts of ourselves that are universal, both the evil and the noble. It is when we are able to reach that level that we will produce good work, significant work, perhaps even life-changing work.

Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian song writer and poet said, “you’ve got to kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.”

This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful. 

This is the work we have been given to do. May He find us faithful.~ 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

When Writing is Like Riding a Horse

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I’ve always been horse crazy. It took many years of begging before my mother let me learn how to ride a horse and many more after that before I owned one. I remember the day I woke up and looked out my bedroom window and saw Cheyenne grazing in the field. I almost pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
Cheyenne was a big Paint gelding. I had to stand on a box to saddle him. I used a stack of hay bales to mount. And I shook like a leaf the first few times I did it. It wasn’t that I was afraid, it was more that I was awestruck. This was a real live horse, who needed to be fed and groomed and cared for in all kinds of ways and he was now my responsibility. But then I’d put my foot in the stirrup and settle into the saddle, the reins held firmly, and with a slight movement of my hands and legs I could direct that huge animal. Cheyenne loved to run and I loved to let him. It was then I forgot all about the responsibility and just let the thrill of riding course through me.

Sometimes I still shake that way when I begin to work on a new writing project, especially a book. The task is so daunting, so huge, so important. It often leaves me a bit awestruck. I can’t help but think of the serious responsibility I have as the keeper of the gift of being a writer of faith, a writer in God’s kingdom. But then the keys begin to clack and the words begin to flow and I forget all about the responsibility. I just let the thrill of creating course through me.

I remember watching a blues singer perform on a small stage once. The man was a master of his art. He played and sang as though he were controlling a strong animal. He captivated his audience and he gloried in it. At one point, he started to nod and then he smiled. Then he laughed out loud. It had all come to together. The instruments, his voice, the eagerness of the audience. It was one big “Yes!” and he knew it.

Many have quoted that famous line from Chariots of Fire where Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” Sometimes when I write, I sense His laughter. When I’m in the moment, in Him, tied to Him through the words that are pouring out, it is like nothing else matters. It is one big “Yes!”

I think perhaps this is what Paul meant by “in him it has always been “Yes” (2 Corinthians 1:19) – an emphatic, triumphant, laugh in the face of evil, shouted from the rooftops, “Yes!”

When we are in Christ, doing what He has called us to do, loving Him and loving the work, it will always be a joyous “Yes!”

TWEETABLES

When Writing is Like Riding a Horse by Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

It wasn’t that I was afraid, it was more that I was awestruck.~ Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.”~ Marcia 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