Blog Archives

Imprisoned by the Past

hibiscusLast night, I had a difficult conversation. A family member joined me in confronting another family member. She made some cruel comments and we couldn’t stay silent anymore.

To explain her behavior, she dredged up memories from 60 years ago, blaming her parents for every bad thing that had ever happened to her. She claimed she dreams about these painful memories every night and they are always in the front of her mind. She lives in her pain, then takes it out on other people.

“I wasn’t allowed to get married for over four years,” she said.

“But, you did get married,” I responded. “That’s all in the past. What are you doing to make your life better today?”

“They made me do this. They wouldn’t allow me to do that. It wasn’t fair. I was wronged.” On and on.

No, it wasn’t fair. But, she has control now. Life is a choice. Painful memories are painful memories. But at some point, we need to let them go. We can’t simmer in them. That just makes us bitter and unhappy.

Where does God’s healing enter into this? How can we turn that pain over to Him? How can we learn to forgive and move on? How can we heal our own pain and help our readers heal theirs, as well?

Nonfiction

Write a personal experience piece that shares your painful past. Talk about what God taught you and how He brought healing. Interview counselors who can offer guidance to your readers on what they need to do to start the healing process. Write a devotion. Include Bible verses that talk about God’s healing power.

Bitterness often grows in painful memories. Write something to help your readers avoid becoming bitter. Or if they’re already there, help them turn their bitterness over to God. Only He can truly transform us.

Fiction

Write a story that addresses healing the past. Show a bitter character transforming under God’s healing power. Use elements of your own struggle to give it authenticity.

For some people, the past is filled with painful memories. But, God redeems our past and helps us become the people He wants us to be. It’s our choice. His way or bitterness. You can help your readers choose.

© Deborah Christensen

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Seeds of Truth – 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV

What temptations have you struggled with? How did God help you and provide a way out? Did you follow Him? If you didn’t, what happened when you succumbed to the temptation? What did you learn? How did you grow?

How can you glean writing ideas from this verse?

  • How can you use this verse when addressing such topics as: dating, marriage, parenting, financial issues, serving God, relationships with others, forgiveness?
  • What stories can you tell in a personal experience article? What takeaway value can you give your readers?
  • What insights and tips can you offer through a how-to article?
  • How can you use this verse in fiction? What temptations could your characters face? How do they deal with the temptations?
  • How can you use this verse in poetry? How does it inspire you?
  • How can you use this verse in a devotion? What anecdote can you use?
  • Who can you focus on for a personality profile?
  • How can you explain this verse to children? How can you use it in fiction or articles for children?

Seeds of Truth – Ephesians 4:26-27

“In your anger do not sin”:
Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
and do not give the devil a foothold.

Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV

What is anger? How can you be angry without sinning? How do you deal with it in a way that honors God? What happens when you don’t deal with your anger? How do you restore a relationship after you’ve gotten angry? How do you handle anger in your marriage? How do you handle anger in parenting? What role does forgiveness play?

Ask yourself the above questions and use your answers to inspire your writing:

  • Tell your story in a personal experience article. Give your readers takeaway value.
  • Offer insights and tips for dealing with anger and restoring relationships in a how-to piece.
  • Write a devotion and use your story or someone else’s story as an anecdote.
  • Let this verse inspire your poetry.
  • Address anger in your fiction.
  • Interview someone who has dealt with anger. Write a personality profile on them.
  • Write a marriage or parenting piece that deals with anger.
  • Write stories or articles for children to help them understand anger.

Seeds of Truth: Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32, NIV

What does it mean to be kind and compassionate to one another? How do you treat others kindly and compassionately when you don’t feel kind or compassionate toward them? When was a time when someone else treated you with kindness and compassion? How did it affect you?

How do you forgive someone when they hurt you? When was a time when it was difficult to forgive? How did you learn to forgive anyway? How did unforgiveness hurt a relationship? How did forgiveness restore a relationship? What role does the forgiveness of Christ play in the way you forgive others?

How does this verse affect your marriage? How does this verse affect the way you parent? How does it impact your other relationships?

How can you use this verse in your writing?

  • What stories can you share in a personal experience piece? What takeaway value can you offer your readers?
  • What tips and insights can you offer in a how-to article?
  • How can you use this verse as inspiration for poetry?
  • How can you use this verse as the foundation for a devotion?
  • Who lives out this verse? Can you interview them and do a personality profile on them?
  • How can you use this verse in fiction? What conflicts or character flaws can you give your characters so they have to work through the issues of kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
  • How can you teach children about this verse through stories and articles?

The Sixth Commandment – Don’t Murder

hibiscus1.jpg“You shall not murder.”

Exodus 20:13, NIV

This is one of those commandments that most people read and think, I’ll never murder anyone so I don’t need to worry about that one.

But in Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” And, John writes, “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” 1 John 3:15, NIV

This commandment goes beyond what we think of as “murder.” It’s about relationships. So, how can you use this commandment in your writing?

Write for Life

The meaning of this commandment in the original Hebrew talks about the killing of an innocent. That allows self-defense and capital punishment.

I am unashamedly pro-life. The one area where the most murders of innocents has occurred is abortion. Babies have been slaughtered by the millions.

Find your ideas in life. From news reporting on atrocities in the abortion industry, such as in the recent Gosnell trial, to sharing your personal story of pain to help others choose life, to writing about alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, this area is full of writing ideas.

But, it goes beyond abortion. Think of other arenas where the killing of an innocent is an issue: euthanasia, infanticide, persecution of the church.

How to Love and Respect Each Other

“Murder” goes beyond the killing of the physical body. There’s also the murder of the soul. It’s about relationships.

Both Jesus and John equate anger and hate with murder. What topics fit here? Loving one another, dealing with anger, forgiveness, reconciling relationships, building healthy relationships, to name a few. Apply these topics to marriage, friendships, work relationships, small groups, etc.

Then, think broader. What can you write about abuse, human trafficking and bullying?

Big Issues – Small Slices

Write a personal experience piece about how you wrestled with one of these issues and came out on the side of life. Offer how-to help. Write a poem that touches the heart. Use one of these issues in your fiction. Write a devotion that focuses on what God says about these issues. Do a personality profile on someone who is a leader in one of these issues. Help children understand these issues.

These are big issues. But, they impact people’s lives every day. Take a slice. Tell a story. Help your readers understand the preciousness of life.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: How can you write for life?

© Deborah Christensen

The Fifth Commandment – Honor Your Parents

mom and dad“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12, NIV

 

Paul reminds us that this commandment is the first one with a promise. It means that God takes this command seriously. He gave parents an important job to do and He expects children to give them the honor they deserve.

Writing for Children and Teens

This is the perfect place to start when you write on this commandment. You can write fiction and nonfiction on the importance of obeying parents. Show them how obeying helps them and disobeying can hurt them. Use your own childhood and experiences with your children as the inspiration.

You also can address issues of abuse. Of course, you can’t get explicit in writing for children. You can be a little more direct in writing for teens. Use your writing to get help for their friend or for themselves. Help them understand that they’re more of friend if they get help for their friend than if they keep it a secret.

Writing for Adults

How has your relationship with your parents changed, now that you’re an adult? How have you learned to relate to your parents as an adult? What have you learned from your parents about marriage? About parenting? How did you work out your relationship with your parents if they’re no longer here? What helped you get through the grief of losing them?

Some adults harbor hurts from the past? What can you write to help them? How can you help them heal their relationship with their parents? How can you help them know when to several all ties, if that’s what’s needed?

Aging Parents

Now more than ever, people need help with aging parents. How do they recognize the signs of diseases like Alzheimer’s? How do they decide on long-term care for their parents? How do they choose a care facility? What do they need to know when choosing medical devices such as wheelchairs and walkers?

How can people take care of their parents in an honoring way without getting burned out themselves? What do they need to do to live successfully in the sandwich years?

It’s a new arena for many people and they need to know how to navigate it.

On An Emotional and Spiritual Level

Share your story in a personal experience piece. Write out your emotions in a poem. Offer encouragement in a devotion. Use your own experiences to add color to your fiction as your characters work out their relationship with their parents.

Our relationship with our parents can be complicated. But, God still calls us to honor them. You can help your readers do that with your writing.

© Deborah Christensen

Friday Facts: Good Friday

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” So this is what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:16-30, NIV

Sowing Seeds of Faith Through Holy Week

lillyHoly Week is a time of reflection, repentance and, ultimately, joy as we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection – and His gift of salvation. He paid the price for our sins that we couldn’t pay ourselves. He did whatever it took to make us right with Him, if we’ll accept His gift of love and sacrifice. We didn’t deserve it. But, He loved us so much that He took on the pain of all our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him.

That’s what this week is all about. It boils down to this: God loves us.

As you go through this week, think about what Jesus did for you and how that affects your relationship with Him. How does it change the way you live your life? How does it affect the decisions you make? How does it change the way you relate to other people?

Write It Out

This week, worship God. When it’s over, take all your reflection, repentance experience, family memories and celebration of the joy of Easter, and write it out.

  • Personal Experience: What did God teach you? How did He help you repair your relationship with Him? How did He bring you to humility and repentance? How did He renew the joy of your salvation? What stories can you tell? How can you touch your readers through the experiences you have this week?
  • How-To: What guidance can you give your readers on a spiritual level? What about on a practical level (planning the meal, finding the best deals for Easter clothes, teaching children the true meaning of Easter, etc.)?
  • Devotion: What reflections can you write about? How can you turn your readers to the cross and the empty tomb?
  • Poetry: How can you share your feelings about Easter through your poetry?
  • Fiction: You may not use the Easter holiday but you can show the impact of Easter in your story. Easter changed everything. If one of your characters is unsaved, you can show how a relationship with Christ changes them. But, make it realistic. Life doesn’t become perfect after we give our lives to Christ. God grows us from within to become more like Him.
  • Writing for Children: How can you explain the Easter story to children? How can you take the focus off of bunnies and turn it to Jesus? How can you help them understand the depth of His love?

Worship, Then Write

This week, let the full weight of what Jesus did for you fall on you. Worship. Repent. Recommit. Then, write. Make this truly a holy week for you. Then, use the gift God gave you to share His love.

I hope you have a happy and blessed Easter.

© Deborah Christensen

Harvesting the How-To

hibiscus3.jpgThis past weekend, we moved a relative into a care facility. We needed a lot of information: what would happen in her physical therapy, how to work the hospital bed, how to set up the cable and the phone system, how to work the call buttons, the easiest way for her to navigate around the apartment, how to plan her meals, etc. Without instruction sheets and someone to show us, we would’ve been lost.

Every day, your readers need insights into their world. Where can they learn how to grow spiritually, heal their marriage, recognize health warning signs, handle parenting issues, plant a garden, forgive others, fix plumbing problems, face a life change, and so much more? You can help them find the answers.

You don’t need to be an expert:

  • interview experts
  • do research
  • talk to other people who have experienced the same problem
  • use your own expertise

A how-to article can be one of the most powerful type of articles you write. You just may help your readers find the answers they need and solve a problem that’s haunting them.

We’ll talk more about how-to articles in the future. But hopefully, this will get you thinking about possible topics.

© Deborah Christensen

Writing for Life

AveryToday is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “Jane Roe,” whose real name is Norma McCorvey, has since become a Christian and pro-life – as am I.

I used to be pro-choice, until my sister was pregnant with my nephew. Suddenly, I realized that he was a baby kicking, not a blob of cells.

Abortion has left millions of shattered lives in its wake. Your life, or someone you know, may have been destroyed. Writing about it can bring healing. Or, it can help someone else heal.

Personal Experience Pieces

What is your story? How did your abortion or the abortion of someone close to you affect you? How did you relate to God during that time? How did you deal with your guilt? What brought you to repentance? How did you experience God’s love and forgiveness?

How did your abortion affect the way you viewed your family? What choices did you make as a result of healing from your abortion?

Perhaps you chose not to have an abortion? What choices did you make? How did that change your life?

What is your involvement now with the pro-life movement? What prompted you to get involved? How did your involvement change your life?

Tell your story. Use a pen name. Someone needs the encouragement you can give.

Other Nonfiction Avenues

Offer your readers a how-to article. What do they need to know if they choose to raise the child themselves? What do they need to know if they choose to give the child up for adoption?

How do they recover from an abortion? How can they learn to trust God’s forgiveness?

Write a devotion. Take your readers on a spiritual journey toward healing and God’s forgiveness. Before they choose abortion, introduce them to Scriptures that show that God knows and loves their baby in the womb. After an abortion, show them Scriptures that help them know that nothing can separate them from God’s love.

Share your pain and your journey through poetry. Poetry offers a unique way to share your soul.

Consider featuring a pro-life leader or advocate in a personality profile. Highlight a pro-life ministry. Help your readers understand that people are still working for the cause of life.

What About…

Fiction. Build the entire storyline around the abortion issue or make it a thread in the story.

Writing for children. Create stories and articles for children that emphasize the sanctity of life. Young children are obviously too young for the gruesome details of abortion. But, they know about babies and they understand how helpless they are.

Even 40 years later, we can still take a stand for life. And as writers, we can help our readers understand that all life is precious.

© Deborah Christensen

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