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

____________________

 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.

Once Again

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Funny how God knows the perfect time to send you a reminder or two about something you seem to have forgotten. It happened to me recently and I confess it made me groan. I thought I’d learned this lesson well a time or two before, but I guess I’m one of those cracked pots that continually leaks.

It happened as I sat listening to my husband preach a while ago. The sermon was called Greatness That Doesn’t Have a Shelf Life. (He likes to use catchy titles). You can listen to it here – http://bit.ly/2gghh9R

The passage of scripture hewas preaching from was Mark 9:33 -50, which includes that rather embarrassing moment when the disciples are caught in the act of being foolish. They’ve been arguing over who will be greatest in the kingdom when Jesus establishes it. Of course, they’re thinking it’s going to be an earthly kingdom, one free of the tyrannical rule of the Romans, one in which they will have positions of influence and power. Even after spending so much time with Jesus they still don’t understand what the kingdom of God is all about.

Yes, I’m sure they were embarrassed when Jesus confronted them, just as I was embarrassed as my husband preached that Sunday. You see, I’d been having a bit of a pity party that week about the state of my career, whining a bit about my books not selling enough, my platform not gaining enough attention, etc. etc. etc. Or perhaps I should say, blah, blah, blah.

Then this: “Choose to make your ambition dependence on God.”

Oh. Right. I think I’ve heard this before. I think I’ve promised to do this more than once. And Matthew 6:33 scrolled across my mind’s eye once again: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When I asked my favourite pastor if he had someone specific in mind as he prepared his sermon that week, he smiled and shook his head. “No,” he said. “That was just the next passage in Mark.” He gave me a bit of a grin. “I was tempted to give you a preview a few days ahead, but I thought maybe it would be wise to let the Lord deal with it.”

I laughed. “Very wise,” I said. “Very wise.”

So,once again, instead of whining about my lack of time in the spotlight, I will try to remember to focus on discerning what God’s kingdom really is all about, and what part he wants me to play, as a writer and as His beloved child, in the building of it. I’ll try to remember the deep need of my soul – dependence only on Him, and an awareness of His truly unconditional love.


TWEETABLES
Once Again by @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wmltL3
God knows the perfect time to send you a reminder~ @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wmltL3
Choose to make your ambition dependence on God. @MarciaLaycock on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2wmltL3
____________________

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.

Go 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 where I’d stay 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.

Ponder Psalm 139:16 – “…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

Go with the Flow by Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

Grizzly bears, driving rains and headwinds – feeling insecure on a mighty river.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

God is in control of the current that carries you.~ Marcia Lee Laycock (Click to Tweet)

——————–
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) 

__________


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.