A Pruning Process

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I’ve had a geranium plant for several years. Every spring I put it outside and it flourishes. Every fall I bring it inside and it goes a bit dormant, but still manages to flower now and then, though some of the leaves shrivel and go yellow, then brown. Almost every time I water it through the winter I trim off the dead leaves, dropping them into the large pot that holds the plant. They crumble and eventually become nourishment for that old geranium.

I go through a similar process when I write, trimming what is not necessary from my sentences, paragraphs and chapters. Sometimes it’s a painful process. (I love my words too much, methinks!) But I take comfort in knowing that even what is discarded can be useful. I cut and paste the discarded scenes, and even sentences, popping them into a ‘bits and pieces’ file. Some of them are used in other stories and paragraphs. They are all nourishment for my work.

And a similar process happens in my spiritual life. God is the pruner, taking away those things that are not useful or beneficial for me at the time. He is quite skilled at it, though I sometimes object. Sometimes the action makes no sense and may even feel like punishment.

Such was the case some time ago, when I made plans to attend a writers’ conference with two friends. That particular year the main speaker was Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, a man I had admired for many years both as a person and a writer. But when I prayed about going, I had a strong negative check in my spirit. I ignored it. Surely God wanted me to go. There would be so much benefit to me as a writer and a believer. But each time I prayed I had the same feeling. Then one of my friends called to say she’d been praying and felt that God did not want her to go. Then my other friend admitted the same thing had happened to her. I was not happy. I could not understand why God would prevent us from doing something that would be so good for all of us. But in the end, we were obedient.

It’s at those times that I have to remember that God is always on my side. He gives and takes away, always with our good in mind, as I do when I prune my geranium.

I also try to remember that God wastes nothing. The very process of pruning has purpose and is part of His plan. The battle I waged within my spirit during that time taught me much about obedience and about focusing on the nature of God’s character. It still saddens me that I was not able to hear Mr. Solzhenitsyn speak, but the benefit I acquired in learning obedience was no doubt much greater. It helped me to be able to echo, with sincerity, the words of Job –

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:231).

TWEETABLES


God wastes nothing.~ 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

I Am Not A Writer

By Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

For many years, indeed, for as long as I can remember, my identity has been totally and inextricably bound up in being a writer. It’s not just what I am, I told myself, it’s who I am. Sadly, over the years, that perception led me to a place that was filled with stress and burden. In fact, it became like a prison in a way, a prison of my own making.

Today I am declaring that no, indeed, I am not a writer. Every time those words enter my consciousness I feel the chains fall away. I don’t have to produce. I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to succeed. It is not who I am.
I am, in fact, a daughter of my Father in Heaven, the King of this universe who demands nothing of me but that I accept His forgiveness, return His love and let that love flow through me to others.

Yes, I believe He has given me the task of writing as a means to spread that love and a way to discover more and more about Him myself, but writing is what I do, not who I am. It’s all a matter of perspective. When my perspective is correct, I am free to be who I was meant to be and then to do what I was meant to do with joy and a sense of freedom. When my perspective is not correct, what I do becomes a chore – I worry about marketing and sales instead of praying for the hearts and minds of my readers; I fear not being able to produce the work I should (the blank page terrifies me); when someone points out a mistake in a published piece I feel humiliated; when my work is rejected I become depressed; when I don’t win a contest or award I become angry and cynical.

Yes, I admit, all of these things were happening to me. I knew these feelings were wrong, I struggled against them, but I couldn’t deny they were real. And all of it was beginning to crush my creativity. It became a struggle to produce. The joy was being bled away.

So, it may seem like a counter-productive thing to do, but I have decided to declare this statement to myself every morning when I sit down at my computer: I am not a writer. I am the daughter of my Father in Heaven. Nothing else matters. When those words have sunk deep into my soul, then, and only then, will I write.

So, will you join me?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22,23).

TWEETABLES

I Am Not A Writer by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Every time those words enter my consciousness I feel the chains fall away~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to succeed. It is not who I am~ 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 also 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 can be downloaded on Smashwords or on Amazon. It is also now available in Journal format on Amazon.

Her most recent release is Celebrate This Day, a devotional book for special occasions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving.

Visit Marcia’s Website
Sign up to receive her devotional column, The Spur

Going with the Flow

By Marcia Lee Laycock 
@MarciaLaycock

I stared at the small rubber raft, then peered at the mighty Yukon River, the third largest river in North America. My friends had left the raft for me to use to get to their cabin about fifty miles downriver from Dawson City. The raft looked very small. I knew it was a bit risky, but I remembered my friend’s words – “You won’t have to paddle much,” he’d said. “The current will take you.”

I tossed my pack into the small craft and launched. That’s when I noticed there was only one paddle. That concerned me, but I was already out into the current and heading north. For a while I tried to steer, but all I managed to do was go in circles. I knew it would take all day to reach the cabin I’d stay in that night, so I wasn’t too worried, though there are strong eddies in the Yukon River and with only one paddle it wasn’t easy to avoid them.
My efforts to control where I was going were, at best, pitiful, so I sat back and decided to ‘go with the flow.’ As the small raft carried me north, at a leisurely spin, the silty water hissed against the rubber of the small craft. The wilderness was beautiful, vast, and, at times, overwhelming. I felt tiny and rather helpless. Seeing the massive form of a grizzly lumbering through the bush on an island only a few strokes away didn’t help. Watching the rain descend across a small valley and head directly for me was a bit disconcerting. And realizing that at times I was almost at a standstill because of the headwinds was more than a little frustrating. But all I could do was trust the current to get me there and do what I could with my small paddle.

Taking a step into the world of publishing is a lot like launching a small rubber raft onto a mighty river, even though you only have one paddle to steer it. But I believe there is One who controls the current. Like my journey on the Yukon, our efforts to control our careers, and indeed, our lives, are often futile. But when we realize we can trust the One in control, we can take joy in the journey, though there will be strong eddies, rain and headwinds, and perhaps even a Grizzly or two along the way.

Our careers may not go the way we want at times, but we can be joyful because we know the One who is in control, trusting that everything that happens – the eddies that take us off course, the Grizzlies that frighten us, the rains that pour down and the winds that blow – are all for our good, meant to teach us, meant to draw us close to our Lord.

Psalm 139:16 says – “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

So relax. Go with the flow. And enjoy the journey. 

TWEETABLES
Going with the Flow by Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

But all I could do was trust the current to get me there~ Marcia Laycock (Click to Tweet)

So relax. Go with the flow. And enjoy the journey.~ 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

Beauty in the Darkness

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Winter has landed here, its cold hard boot slamming down on the country and its inhabitants with the force of a sledge hammer. We had been lulled into thinking it wouldn’t hit so hard this year. We’d only had a skiff of snow and a few days of chill, but nothing to be concerned about. So this icy blast is a bit of a jolt to us all. How quickly we forget the true face of winter, it’s harsh landscapes and bitter winds.

As I peer out my front window I shiver and pull my sweater tighter around me. The sun is just setting, the darkness dropping quickly behind the homes on the other side of the pond. It has caught a skater unaware. She continues to glide and weave across the small space as the light fades. And then it happens. Just for a moment the horizon glows, the light shimmers on the ice, the skater is thrown into a silhouette of fluid movement. And the beauty of it takes my breath away.

I am reminded that beauty is always there, just waiting to reveal itself, waiting to slip out of the darkness. I am blessed that I was there, in that moment, to see it, to be struck by it and to give thanks for it. It makes me realize that a big part of being a believer in Christ and a writer of faith, involves watching, waiting for the beauty. It is ours to bring these moments to light, to make them known to the world. We are the observers, the recorders, the ones who point and say, “Oh, look! Look!”

There is a great need for us to show the way to beauty in the world today, in the face of the images of wreck and ruin we constantly see in the media. There is no greater need for it than now. There is no greater need than for the world to know that beauty exists, that Christ was born to bring it back to us, to elevate it to the holy place where it was intended to be, because all beauty comes from the Father above.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the place of Jesus’ birth was likely not considered beautiful? It was a common, homely place. Some would even have said insignificant. But then there were those moments – the moment when that brightest of stars stopped over the spot where the Christ child lay, the moment when the angels revealed themselves in the skies near Bethlehem, the moment when their voices peeled out with the good news of His birth, the moment when kings bowed down and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As we head into this new year let us all be watchful, waiting for those moments when The Christ is revealed through the beauty of this world. Let us all receive the blessing of those moments and then shout, “Oh, look! Look!”

“Go now, write on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness” (Isaiah 30:8).

TWEETABLES


The world needs to know that beauty exists~ 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 can be downloaded on Smashwords
or on Amazon.
It is also now available in Journal
format on Amazon. 

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