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.

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

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