Friday, December 3, 2010

What about the change?

So I'm still working on reading "The Pursuit of God" and I keep running across stuff that's just so good I want to share it with everybody; I don't always follow through with that because my brain is going a billion miles an hour trying to keep up with everything. However, I just read a paragraph that really stuck out to me that I feel very well illustrates one of the points I am trying to make in my book.
"A fairly accurate description of the human race might be furnished [to] one unacquainted with it by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong-side-out and saying, 'Here is your human race.' For the exact opposite of the virtues in the Beatitudes are the very qualities which distinguish human life and conduct."
In other words, the holy, righteous life we are called to when we come to Christ is so completely opposite from the natural man that we cannot be the same. This oppositeness of character would account for the "difference" people often attest to seeing in Christians. The problem is when we as Christians claim to be different but, in fact, are not different. Why are we not different? Because we allow our flesh to guide us. We do what we like and what gratifies our flesh rather than decidedly, conscientiously, and continuously submitting our desires to the Spirit of God within us.
Often our solution is to look at Scriptural lists such as the Beatitudes or the Fruits of the Spirit and try to pick at those characteristics in our own lives; we try to achieve them in our own power. However, all this serves to do is frustrate us and cause us to condemn ourselves because we know that we do not measure up to God's standard. In reality, the only way to measure up to the standard is to look to the standard. As Hebrews says "Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." When we look to Jesus for our righteousness then He can fill us with His righteousness.
Let me quote here another part from "The Pursuit of God" which very well illustrates what I'm getting at.
"The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do."
So then, what can we conclude? Well, it is just as He has said all along "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." When you boil everything down, that's what it all comes down to. Seek God first, and you will find that turning your life inside-out and living that distinct, set-apart life will be the automatic by-product. No more beatin' up on yourself.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Word was God

 I've been reading "The Pursuit of God" by A.W. Tozer lately. Very slowly, mind you, so I can take it all in (aside from that I don't exactly have a lot of time to just sit and read :P ) And I do highly recommend the book. So far it's reeeaaally good. Anyway, I just started chapter 6 and thought the first paragraph was really good so I wanna share it with whoever wants to read it here:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. --John 1:1
An intelligent plain man, untaught in the truths of Christianity, coming upon this text, would likely conclude that John meant to teach that it is the nature of God to speak, to communicate His thoughts to others. And he would be right. A word is a medium by which thoughts are expressed, and the application of the term to the Eternal Son leads us to believe that self-expressoin is inherent in the Godhead, that God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. The whole Bible supports the idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking. He is by nature continuously articulate. He fills the wordl with His speaking Voice."

Sorta reminds me of an illustration I heard once. Just as a radio station is always broadcasting, but we can't hear it unless we tune in, so it is with God: He is always speaking, but we aren't always hearing. And don't we find in the Bible that all creation is crying out His praise? Yet so many in the world close their ears to the chorus. So much of the time God is speaking to us through His written word and through people and events around us--even to our own hearts. We just need to be still and hear His voice.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Statuette

On my bookshelf in the corner stands a little statuette. Upon first glance the small white horse doesn't appear to be anything special. But just like untold numbers of things in life, when you look deeper there is a story to be told and a lesson to be learned.
May 2003. It was a cool spring day when I had my 15th birthday party. I had invited several friends, though I still didn't know a lot of people since we had just moved to Missouri a few months before. Among those in attendance was a girl just a few months older than myself. For a present she gave me a statuette of a white horse that she had painted up. Being quite the horse-lover, I was always happy to have something horse-related (this was before I went on my first minimalist rampage... :P). Little did I know what this statuette would come to symbolize for me. After all, who ever knows the future?
Three years and two months later I attended this same girl's funeral. She died in a car accident at 18. Funny how things like that make you catch your breath. That day so long ago now, nobody could have known, and I'm sure of all people she never guessed she only had 3 years left to live. Had she known, might she have lived differently? What if you or I knew we only had 3 years or 3 months left to live? Would we do things differently than we are doing now? We don't even know if we have 3 minutes left to live.
In the back of everyone's mind is the knowledge that we do not know how long we have to live. Every once in a while the reality hits us, such as when someone young and healthy dies unexpectedly. But we shake our heads sadly and push the notion to the back of our minds and go on assuming we have many many years left to live. If at some time or another one has reason (whether real or imagined) to believe that his days are coming to an end, often that person changes the way they do things--being more kind and generous or whatnot. But shouldn't we live ready to die? Now, I'm not suggesting we should live like paranoid schizophrenics and be worried about dying any minute. Rather, I am saying that we should be mindful of everything we say and do. How is it going to effect us and those around us? How is it going to effect our worlds after we are gone? You may not have a chance to fix things.
If you've ever seen the movie "The Young Victoria" you may have been struck by the scene where Victoria and Albert were having a spat... right before he got shot with the bullet intended for her. I surely was. What if he had died? Imagine the guilt she would have lived with. You just never know. That's why we are called to "walk circumspectly--not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil."
This is what the white horse statuette has come to symbolize for me. Whenever I look at it I am reminded of the uncertainties of life and the importance of every single moment, because I don't know how many moments I have left. Is what I am doing now important, good, and right? Am I ready for tomorrow or the lack thereof?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Speak up, I can't hear you! (xpost)

Also posted at

“Preach the Gospel to every nation and if necessary, use words.”  This has become a very commonly-heard quote in the Christian world today. It was a wise thing for St Francis of Assisi to say, but I wonder if he ever realized how detrimental it would become to Christianity. Rather than being a call to live out what you believe, it has become a sort of scapegoat for complacency. People take it as a reason to be silent about their faith. They say “oh, I’ll just preach by the way I live and people will come to know God.” But is that true? Where is that found in the Bible? I highly doubt you would ever see Jesus take on that sort of attitude. Or could you imagine Peter saying that?  Oh how quickly the fire of the gospel would have gone out, had the early church leaders taken on that sort of attitude.
As I posted earlier, words are extremely important in communication. It would be very true to say that actions and body language are extremely important in communication as well¾the saying “actions speak louder than words” is very true. HOWEVER, that does not negate the power and importance of words. There are some people in the world who, from the outside, may appear to be very happy, wise, generous, loving, or a thousand other virtues… What’s to distinguish them from those who live such lives genuinely through Christ? Their words do! Those who are living a virtuous life because they are allowing CHRIST to live through them are going to be telling people the real reason for their joy etc.  Human eyes are all-too-easily deceived. How are they to see the real Christ in you if they don’t know what the real Christ looks like? It is up to you to tell them!
How could anyone be silent after receiving so great a gift as salvation? As Jesus said, that’s like lightning a candle and putting it under a basket. Or nowadays he might say that’s like turning on your lamp and then putting it into a box where nobody can see it. What good is it to anybody? If we have a light fixture, we’re going to put it out where it sheds light for everybody so they can see where they’re going! In practical application that means you go out and teach people the truth¾you show them that on their own they are going to hell. You don’t be rude or condemning about it, you merely shine the light of truth on the facts that are present. 
You know why more people don’t do that? It is out of fear. Nobody likes to be disliked and when you present truth, it hurts like a bright light being turned on after pitch darkness and unfortunately a lot of times that makes people dislike you. But why should fear of being disliked keep you from saving lives? Why should that fear steal the joy that a life in Christ gives you? Unfortunately it is true that some people will hate you. In fact, no matter what you do some people will hate you. Hello, Jesus promised people would hate you! So why should that stop you from doing what He told you to do? Let us not forget it is also true that some people will love you for taking the time to love them and show them the error of their ways and help them to be healed and turned toward the Son.
Don’t let complacency or fear get in the way of the furtherance of the Kingdom. Yes, do go and preach the gospel to every nation and use words when necessary. But never forget, words ARE necessary. Always.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just Words?

Going through school growing up, the particular curriculum we used often went over the importance of words for communication (in case you ever thought to whine over your English assignments :P ). To me it made perfect sense. I mean, have you ever made the rash vow as a child "I'm not going to talk to you for the rest of the day!" And then have you tried to carry it out? It's not easy, grunting [in syllables of the words we want to say, no less] and gesturing like some sort of ape, trying to get our message across. Words are rather important to our everyday life!
Yet in spite of the importance of words, I think they have been grossly devalued in our society. Our vocabulary as a whole has declined and seems to be continuing to do so. To the point where when I talk to the average 8th grader I find myself having to define half the words I use which to me seem like everyday-usage words. (thank you homeschooling LOL)  And I wasn't even word-nerdy enough to read the whole dictionary! (well maybe I was but I never got around to finishing it. :P)
I was pondering this issue this morning, trying to figure it out. I was thinking about a comedian I heard who was making a routine out of substituting the word "rose" for "fart". He was saying that it was silly when people got embarrassed over the latter word. "It's just a word!" he crowed. "Just a word"? What does that mean? Yeah, it is a word, but words happen to have this little thing called a meaning that make it more than just a random object. With words we can paint a picture or give instructions... or write blogs to share our opinions and insights. But even more than that, with words we can build up or tear down; we can kill or we can heal. Even with the absence of words we can have a great effect upon other peoples' lives.
Here's an illustration that forever engraved the power of words on my mind. My pastor called a random person from the audience up on the stage to help illustrate the point. He had the man put his arms straight out from his sides. Pastor then pushed down lightly on his arms to show the amount of pressure he was using--it was not enough to overpower the man's outstretched arms. He had the man put his arms down, then said, "repeat these six things after me," at which point he said six negative phrases in the first-person (i.e. I'm a loser, I'll never amount to much, I hate my job, etc). The man put his arms back out as before, and with no trouble the pastor was able to push them down  using the same amount of pressure as previously. Then he said "repeat these six things after me," and said six positive phrases in the first person (i.e. I'm handsome, I'm a great husband/father, I love my job, etc) then had him put his arms back out. He again applied the same amount of pressure and the man was able to hold his arms up again.
Skeptical? Try it on some unsuspecting victim. He tried this on my brother when he came to the college my brother was attending. He said it was absolutely amazing, he could NOT hold his arms up after saying those negative things.
Think they're just words? Think again. Why do you think they have the old saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" ? Why do you think the Bible warns us so many times to be careful what we say? Even when you're just joking around, be careful what you say! (guilty :oops:) It doesn't matter if you really believe what you're saying, the words themselves are that powerful. They can even eventually change how you really believe. Sometimes even making a simple, small compliment will brighten someone's entire day. Don't just take my word for it, try it!
So next time you hear someone say words aren't important, give them a reality check! Erase that rhyme about sticks and stones from your arsenal. Remember to keep your words uplifting and positive. Use them for healing rather than hate. You'd be amazed at what a difference it will make! You might even save a life. :)
~ L.E. Neighbour

Friday, May 7, 2010

Peep peep! Life as I know it...

Yesterday morning we got a call from the post office--our baby chicks arrived! So I rushed down to pick them up, as well as some chick starter and wood shavings. Now the little peepers are happily peeping in a corner of our dining room, just as cute as can be! Ahhh I love chickens :)
Yesterday afternoon we went to the commencement ceremony for Central Bible College to watch my brother walk through the graduation line :cue applause: and after we got home we had a little celebration bonfire/wiener roast complete with cake and ice cream (which diminished our appetite for s'mores :P)
In other news, I am getting accustomed to my NEW LAPTOP (post coming on that soon ;) ) and learning the cool features of Windows 7.... Fun schtuff. Also today I am locking myself in my room (except to go get some water every once in a while cuz it's hot out lately!) and doing some serious drafting and editing (I know I promised me no more first-draft editing till the drafting is done but this is rather necessary I'm afraid... I'm not editing content so much as order ;) ) so hopefully I will still be able to meet my goal :D
And last item for the day which is really irrelevant to the majority of my readers, but I CAN'T keep it to myself! I'm getting uber excited about the TN get together starting May 23!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it's just barely over 2 weeks away and I'm so excited I can hardly concentrate so that's gonna make life a little difficult I'm afraid :-/  But life ain't always easy so I just hafta deal with it. At least life is GOOD, right? And I have God to thank for that :D  woohooo!
ok off to get my water (and I hafta start lunch soon :( ) then BACK TO WORK B-)  Have a totally awesome day, peoples!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Bloggosphere: I Love Customized Backgrounds :D

Hey check it out! I overhauled this blog too now.  Emily Ann Benedict of Blog Cargo and I have been working on it for a while now. Well I say we but I mean she. I was just the ruthless taskmaster, she was the mastermind/slave/artist ;) haa ha :P  So d'ya like it? Hmmm?  I do B-)  I just can't see the whole thing on this screen because I'm still using this tiny secondary screen rather than  my normal laptop screen :'(  *sadness in a box*  BTW, Emily's also my campaign manager for my "buy me a real computer of my own" fund cuz she's cool like that B-)  So anyway if you like it, stand up and cheer. If you don't, sit and whine... either way, it's here to stay for a while.  I hope... (And Emily probably does too :P )
Now all I gotta do is get the buttons to put on my website and hopefully I can quit playing geek for a while :-B

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Bloggosphere: Clutter and Cleanliness

In case I hadn't mentioned it before, I am OCD. Not severely like Monk or anything, but I like to have things very orderly and clean, organized and easy-to-find, etc.  (and yes, symmetrical is always a bonus xD )  Blogs are no exception. I like to see a good, clean-looking blog. But this can be a frustrating point because sometimes I want to put a lot of info in sidebars and such... It's just hard to do without looking like a circus. Fortunately on these my two public blogs I don't have a whole lot of info at this time that I want posted in my sidebars so I haven't had to fight with it. Anyway I don't have time to fight with it because I'd rather focus on either posting a good blog or just writing some more in my book. However, this preference of mine does make a difference in the blogs I read, and I'm sure I'm not the only one (am I?).
If I go to a blog and it's all cluttery and hard to find what I'm looking for, I don't waste my time looking for it. Even if the article is really interesting, it just bugs my subconscious that there is all this stuff in the sidebar. Most of it, I understand why it's there, but it still messes with my mind. Unless the blogger has managed to find a way to make it look neat and orderly. Oh how much I appreciate that. And you know, I can't even really explain the difference, but I do notice it. One thing I do know that makes a difference is only having the sidebar content on one side. Of course, when one has a lot of sidebar content, this makes it hard to get to the bottom of the page... which wouldn't be such a big deal except that sometimes people put things I want to find like follower/tag lists or playlists at the bottom. Which brings me to my next point: Playlists
Let me start by saying I'm all for having a playlist of cool music on your blog. I have one on several of my blogs. It's cool because you can tell a lot about people by their playlist (BTW the one on here doesn't seem to be working properly which totally stinks). HOWEVER  my HUGE PET PEEVE with playlists is auto-playing playlists. Like, I'm a huge multitasker and I pretty much always listen to music on WMP or grooveshark while I'm working... it helps drown out background noise and such. But so many times I will open a blog and all of a sudden my ears are insulted by something that totally clashes with the music I'm listening to. And what's the absolute worst is when I don't know WHERE the bloomin' music is coming from!!!!!  ARGH  ok sorry it just bugs me LOL  one day I spent like 10 minutes trying to find the stupid playlist and turn it off b/c I didn't like the song and it was ruining the awesome song I was listening to which I couldn't pause since it was on an entirely different browser and I was too busy looking for that wretched song. (BTW it took me so long b/c I had like 20 tabs up, each with a different blog I was reading. Yes, as I said, I am a multitasker :P).
So no offense to anybody who has their blog set up like this, but I'm just sayin' it bugs me. You can just ignore me if you want and I'll keep living with it, but now you can't say you don't know, right? Right ;)
Anyway all that to say, Congrats to those of you who have been able to maximize sidebar content AND make it look good. You deserve an award and I wish you could teach me how to do it. ;)  As for me, I'm keeping my sidebar content to a minimum b/c I really am a minimalist at heart, no matter how much pack-ratting I do (we won't go there today) and I love things to be neat and orderly.
Who's with me? :D

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Bloggosphere: Jumping in with Both Feet

A lot of people in my family are all-or-nothing kind of people. You ask them to roll down the window, and it's gotta go ALL the way down. You ask them to turn up the radio and they craaaaaaank it up. It's a sort of family tradition or something. I guess I've sort of inherited it, but I can do things in moderation too. It usually just takes a little more conscious effort. Unless it falls on the "nothing" side of the scale, of course ;)   I find this impulse to be one of those things can be good sometimes (as you may remember from this post) and other times less convenient, such as in the case of the radio or the window.
When it comes to blogging, I find that it's one of those things where you've gotta give it more effort if you want it to work. Basically it's like any other kind of online social networking: you get out of what you put into it. As I said in the last post, I didn't get a whole lot of comments on my first blogs. In fact, I still don't get that many comments. But that's ok, as long as people are reading. But I've found that in order to get comments you have to comment. In order to get readers you have to read. If all you do is blog casually, you'll pretty much get casual readers (like friends and family).
Recently I've been trying to get a little more "into" blogging b/c I feel like it can be a useful tool. I found that the more I participate with other people's blogs, the more they participate with mine. Makes sense, right? I mean, if nobody knows you exist, they're not gonna read your blog. Sometimes you have to give a lot to get a little, and sometimes you have to give a little and get a lot. But you've always gotta give to get. It's like the bloggosphere sharin'-da-love-theory of relative input... Or something to that effect. Ha I just made that up ^_^
So in other words, I'm trying to jump into blogging with both feet... Or at least step in with both feet. It's not as much fun standing on the shore with your toes in the water :)  To me, blogging is much more fun when you get feedback and followers. Don't you agree?
So how about you? Do you get out about as much as you put into blogging or do you feel like you're always giving and never getting? Or do you end up getting lots of followers/comments with little effort (like skating by on your popularity? ;) )?  If someone follows you/comments first, do you always try to reciprocate?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Bloggosphere: How I Got Here... Wherever "Here" Is.

So in effort to inspire myself to blog a little more regularly, I'm going to try to do a little mini-series on the bloggosphere. Let's see how interesting I can be. Are you ready for this? To start with, I'll tell you all the touching tale of how I got "here". That is (in normal American English): here's my blogging background in a walnut shell.
I've been a casual blogger for quite some time now. It all started when I joined where each of the members has their own blog. At first, blogging was a sort of scary thought. I mean, posting your thoughts out where anybody could read them? Eek!  Well it took a while to get used to. I mostly posted the kind of junk people post on Facebook statuses nowadays. Y'know... like "today I went to Walmart and filled up an entire grocery cart... shopping is so depressing."  Yeah, it was pretty lame stuff and I never got comments on my blog unless something devastating happened like my horse almost died or I fell off a hay truck. Eventually I started posting a little more interesting stuff, like the importance of humility or things I had learned about faith or whatnot. It got to be kind of fun to be able to just talk to cyber space and have no idea who if anybody was reading what I wrote. Then I got introduced to blogger.
A friend of mine sent me a link to his "personal" blog (as opposed to a public blog) which was hosted on blogger so I signed up on blogger in order to be able to comment and such. But it got me to thinking at how fun it would be to try to keep up a regular blog besides my HSA blog (since, afterall, there were things I might want to share with friends but not with *everybody*, or maybe I wanted to share things with non-HSAers). Well I actually ended up starting several blogs at that time. One was just a goofy blog to post my random thoughts, one was a photo blog, one was a horse-training blog, and I think that's all I had then. Mind you, this is before I felt the call to write.
Over the following year or so I added and dropped blogs and neglected blogs. Yes, on my personal blogger account (as opposed to this, my "public" blogger account) I have a few blogs that haven't been updated for about a year or more. I'm considering feeling guilty, but considering none of them are really followed, I figure I'm not the only one who doesn't care enough to keep up with them. When I'm ready to resurrect them, it'll be good :D
Anyway, aside from my dead, private, and public blogs, I also contribute to a few other blogs and help maintain my family's ministry blog ( I hope to eventually have a traveling blog, too, but I kinda have to start traveling before I can really warrant having one (life is rough, yes?) and I'm working on eventually opening another blog that is currently *top secret* so I can't tell you about it right now ;)  Nor will I tell you precisely how many blogs I "author" according to blogger because I don't need to be reminded that after all this time I have, in fact, become a bloggomaniac :cue dramatic music: 
So tell me about you. How long have you been blogging? Are you a bloggomaniac or a casual blogger? And if you want, you can tell me how many blogs you keep.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh Dear.

I was going to write a profound blog today. Really I was. But since I didn't get to sleep till about midnight last night, my brain is not functioning properly... so bye bye profound blogging thought. I could rant about all the reasons it seems that lately I never get to bed or to sleep when I want but that would hardly help things. Sometimes you just have to get over it and get on with life. The good thing is that part of the reason it took me so long to get to sleep is because I was writing [hopefully a keeper] but the bad thing is that I was halfway to sleep when my brain started buzzing. Normally I just tell myself to remember it in the morning but I've learned that doesn't work cuz I'll forget it. So this time I decided to actually try to write it down. Unfortunately once I started writing it sounded completely different than it did in my head, but hopefully it'll still be useful. Although I have to say, I don't trust my mind too much at that hour of the night because about 9 o'clock (or more like 8 on Sundays) my brain generally checks out. Come to think of it, when I've been up late the night before, my brain isn't all that great all day long. Consequently I think I'm starting to ramble a little bit...
So anyway all this to say, I forgot what I was going to say. Ever have this problem? :-/

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Website

So I've finally gotten my website "finished" enough that I think it's ready to be seen. It's still got some wrinkles to iron out and some coolio things to add, but it's functional at this point. So go check it out! :D

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Breaking From the Routine

Ever hear that saying that humans are creatures of habit? Hello, I must be human! Me + routine = happy. I like to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. I like to eat more or less at the same time every day. And every time I get on the computer, no matter what my original goal was, my auto-pilot takes over and opens up a certain browser, opens several pages in different tabs, always in the same order, opens WMP, and opens my latest chapter, and then usually another certain browser. It's like I can't stop it, it just takes over!  Which is a good thing when it comes to my morning Bible reading.
Sometimes I think it would be entirely to live my life in my sleep, totally on auto-pilot. At least, when it comes to routine things like checking my email, taking a shower, baking bread, etc. This could be a good thing, but it could also be a bad thing. The biggest reason it is a bad thing is that it seems like it's all too easy to develop a routine of useless things and not as easy to develop a routine of good things. I don't know why that is, I guess it's just human nature or something (that's always a good fall-back for tossing blame, right?).
The other big reason for me that living purely based on routine is... well actually it's several things kinda wrapped into one. I mean, if you're just going through life on autopilot, where's the joy in life? Most people don't have a spot in their schedule to "stop and smell the roses" (how cliché BLAH :P) or watch the sun rise or be amused at the antics of a young dad in walmart making his child laugh. And it seems like most of the things we do by autopilot are not as meaningful. I mean, if I was just writing this blog purely on autopilot it probably wouldn't be all that interesting. (it is interesting, right? :P )
I once had a shirt that said "Any dead fish can tumble downstream. Go against the flow." That was my favorite shirt for a long time too ;)  haa ha! Anyway, I think a lot of us just tumble through life like a dead fish. I do sometimes and then I spend the whole night kicking myself for not getting anything done. Well sometimes I get stuff done going through life like that but it's usually something like washing dishes that keep getting dirty or making meals that disappear faster than I can make them etc. To me, living life on purpose is so much better and fulfilling. Setting goals for the day, week, month, year, etc. or taking the extra effort to help someone out.
This reminds me of the story Jesus told in Matthew 25 about separating the nations at the end of the age. The people on the left --the "goats"-- were the kind of people who just tumble downstream, going through life on autopilot, not noticing the hungry and naked and poor around them. The other side, of course, took the time to make a difference. That is not to say that doing good works should be our focus, but living by faith doesn't mean you pass through life oblivious to everything else. Afterall, faith without WORKS is dead, right? Sorry, I'll stop there because that's a whole other blog. Book, really ;)
So anyway, all this to say, PAY ATTENTION! Don't let life just pass you by. Don't just float through life on the little raft of your routine. Put some effort into life. Take time to do something for someone else. Enjoy every moment because it won't last long.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

No Room for Non-fiction

Since I never had plans of being a writer, I never was connected to the writing world growing up. I mean, I read a lot of books and stuff, but I didn't hob-nob with other writers or pay much attention to styles and formatting and such. And I read a lot of fiction. Well now that I'm kinda into the writing process, I'm trying to get "into" the writing world a little. I've started trying to brush up on writer's lingo, studying out various publishing options, get to know some other writers, and just generally trying to pick up relevant knowledge wherever I can. But in my wanderings I've discovered something... most of the tips and discussions I run into are for fiction work. Maybe it's just because the majority of writers/published authors I know happen to be fiction writers and so the word-of-mouth avenues I go down (which comprise probably about 99% of my research) usually have to do with fiction: How to write fiction queries, discussions about characters, stories vs poetry, etc... Not that I particularly mind it because I find that kind of stuff interesting too.... I just feel slightly left out I guess.
I haven't found many if any discussions about how to organize thoughts logically or the best way to write expository compositions... Pretty much all I know about writing nonfiction is things I've picked up while reading other nonfiction books and thinking of how to adopt certain styles or things into my own style. Sometimes being original or deciding which method of presentation would be more effective is difficult. Maybe I just need some more people on my chain of editing staff to help me :P  I dunno....
The other thing I ran into especially earlier on in my writing escapade was that when I told people I was writing a book, they automatically assumed I was writing fiction. They'd ask me if they were going to be in it or something. Heh, well some of them probably ARE in it, just not quite like they would probably be hoping ;)
Seriously, doesn't anybody write nonfiction anymore? I know a lot of people do, but they're all famous people, right? Nobody wants to read something written by nobody from nowhere? Haa ha it seems like that sometimes. But I don't want to be famous. I suppose if being famous meant people would actually read my book and have an increased chance of hearing what God has for them, then fine, I'll be famous... but it's really not my preference. Is that weird? :P

Monday, March 8, 2010


Next to inspiration, motivation is probably one of the most important facets of writing. It also seems to be another one of the most-struggled-with amongst many writers I know. I'm no exception. I know some writers have no problem getting motivated. To them, it's almost necessary for life or is, at the very least, a huge part of life. Writing itself is motivation.
I think part of what sets apart those of us who struggle with motivation is the rest of life. When I think about my own life and that of some of my fellow writers, there are a lot of us who are multi-talented or who have a lot of other responsibilities besides writing (such as parenting, school, work, etc.). Those of us who fall into those categories seem to be the ones who struggle most with motivation. That is not to say this is scientifically proven or that because you're multi-talented means you may struggle with motivation or anything like that... this is just my observation.
I know for me, it's hard to sit down and write sometimes because I have SO many other things going on that make it difficult to concentrate and work at inspiration. And then there's demotivators. LOTS of demotivators (yes, that is a word, oh spellcheck. I have spoken, therefore it is a word. but I guess I don't feel too bad since it says "spellcheck" isn't a word either :P Sorry, I digress...). Sometimes I'll be writing along and something happens to lose all my work or someone will suggest I totally redo a large piece of work... that's just so uber demotivating. Don't get me wrong, it's great if someone has a good suggestion that will make my work even more perfect (lol) than I already have it. It's just like this subconscious thing about having to do MORE work and realizing that all that work was wasted *tears*. Ok well  with the exception of accidentally lost work, no work was truly wasted, right? That's what I'll keep telling myself anyway. But anyway, as I was saying, these things just totally work against motivation. When these things happen, I just run into a BRICK WALL mental block not much unlike the Berlin Wall... complete with armed guards and barbed wire. And it's not so easy to get past. This drives me crazy to no end, and it almost seems like it's unstoppable. It's like a battle within just trying to MAKE myself get back into writing and climb the blasted wall. I usually end up taking a break and working on something else but that is just not conducive to productivity in the writing area (though it works great in the "help dad out", baking, exercise, or sewing departments :P ). This is a bad habit I must conquer. *attempts to look determined*
Ok so now that I've admitted my stupid problem, let's talk about what DOES motivate me. And let's see if there is anything that could possibly help me overcome the demotivations I face... hmmmm
So one thing that motivates me is new or fresh ideas... new things in general, really. It kinda reminds me of my school days when getting a new book to work on got me all excited and motivated to get schoolwork done. I don't know exactly why, but newness is always very motivating. Sometimes I just have to get out a fresh page and start writing. This can be both motivating and inspiring (the two are very closely linked, you know ;) )
Outside challenges or deadlines are usually very motivating. Especially when it comes to getting over the brick wall. I have to be careful there, or sometimes it occasionally causes panick and therefore causes sloppy writing which in turn causes having to re-write large portions and you know where that leads. However, knowing that I have a deadline helps me focus and tell myself that I have no choice, no time for pity parties or hitting the wall with my head, just gotta get it done. Does that mean I work well under pressure?  Ummm yeah sure I guess so. In a way. Here's the thing though. It doesn't always work if I have self-imposed deadlines. I usually have to get someone else to hold me accountable to my deadline in order for it to be motivating. Funny how that works, huh?
Sometimes I play little tricks on myself to motivate myself. I wrote a blog elsewhere once about this... Sometimes I will bake cookies in order to motivate myself to clean the entire kitchen solo mio. Usually seeing a dirty kitchen is enough by itself, but if I've cleaned the kitchen solo for a week and my brothers come in right behind me and mess it up: y'know... demotivation. Anyway, so the same thing works for other things I need motivation for. I just find something else to do that necessitates or inspires me to do something that I need to do. That's a little trickier with writing, though. But I find that if I do a lot of studying and note-taking, that sometimes motivates me to start writing.
Another thing that will motivate me sometimes is thoughts/dreams. Yeah I know, kinda funny... But like sometimes I have an awesome thought while I'm taking a shower or going for a walk and it just totally motivates me to write. Or sometimes I'll have a horrid dream that it's the end of the world and God is disappointed with me for not finishing my book (I can't tell you how dreadful those dreams are! O_O ). Sometimes I'll have a positive-motivating dream though where I write this tremendous book or preach a tremendous sermon that changes the world. Then I just wanna write and get it done. ^_^
For sure, the absolute biggest motivation is inspiration. Which is funny because sometimes inspiration comes by motivation. The two are just such great pals, it seems. They're always pushing each other around and having a great time. ha ha that got a funny picture goin' on in my head
Ok well I'm either out of things to list or I just lost my motivation to write this blog. At any rate, I do feel some serious motivation to get back to work (lol). But before I go, I want to ask YOU: Do you ever have motivation problems? how do you motivate yourself? Or do you? ;)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lessons From a Watering Can

Did you know you could learn a lesson from a watering can? I do now.  You see, for a long time we haven't had a watering can. I've just had to do without. I've gotten by alright when it comes to watering house plants, but when it comes to watering tender young plants, you can really mess them up if you dump a cup of water on them. You want the water falling on them to be more like a gentle rain shower, sprinkling them with the life-giving elixir of water, not like a tsunami wave of death that bends them over under the pressure and disperses the soil from around their roots. So anyway, for my plantlets I had been making due with a Styrofoam cup which I had poked a bunch of holes in the bottom with a needle, then I would pour water in the top of the cup and let it rain on top of the seedlings (do I get points for resourcefulness? :P ). This is when I first started noticing this little lesson, which also carries over into the watering can. You see, if you just put a little water in the cup, or tilt the can just a little, the water comes out of the holes, runs along the sprinkler surface, and collects other droplets coming out of the holes till they become big heavy droplets and fall with a great splash into the soil. Well at least it's not a tsunami, but it still makes a mess and is pretty hard on some of those wussy little plants. But if you put enough water against the sprinkler to put the water under pressure so that it shoots out of the little holes, it sprinkles the water like it's supposed to!
So here's the point I'm making (see, this isn't really a lesson in watering your seedlings): in order for the watering can (or makeshift watering can/cup) to work, you can't just give it a little bit of water--you gotta give it all you've got! A lot of things in life are like that. You can't just half-heartedly do things and expect to get good results. What does the Bible say? It says "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your MIGHT" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). That means you get in there and apply a little elbow grease! It's all or nothing. You have to decide what you're going to do with your life, then get in there and do it. If you're going to serve God you have to be prepared to leave everything behind and give it your all. You can't just serve Him part time or half-heartedly or you WILL fail and become discouraged. When you seek Him with your WHOLE heart, you will find Him.
~L. E. Neighbour

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blog Fail

Reason #102 I'm not a very good blogger...
I was going for a walk today in the icy wind with our two crazy dogs, Danger and Duke. (No, that's not my blogging problem :P ) This is a rather common occurrence in the average day of me: walking alone with no human companion to chatter with... just me and God and the critters and the trees B-)  I find it's a good way to clear my mind and do some praying and some talking to myself too. (Not like Gollum kinda talking to myself... It's more like rather than thinking in a continuous line I think in conversations with internal mental images of people I know, where I'm actually supplying both ends of the conversation :P)  So as often happens while I'm out walking and thinking and praying I'll get some brilliant idea of something to write in my book or something to blog about so I don't bore my adoring readership (L.O.L.).. well that happened again today. So then after I got back and thawed out and got ready to get to work I tried to recall my brilliant ideas. At this point one of two things usually happens: #1, I decide it wasn't really quite as brilliant as I had originally thought (aka "that was dumb" xD) #2, I find that somehow I misplaced the file for that brilliant idea or accidentally deleted it from my CPU... Yes, I'm smart like that. Today, the latter is what happened. I would explain it all but, as you would quickly be able to deduce from the evidence at hand, I don't remember what it was or how I misplaced/deleted it. So now you know why this entry will have to suffice :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Honest Scrap Blogger Award

Emily (her blog) nominated me for the honest scrap blogger award. Ain't I speshul? ;) :D  Well apparently this is a sneaky way to get info from people b/c nominees have to post ten things that few or no people know about them... Well to be perfectly honest, there's usually a reason nobody knows them! But whatever, I'll play along :P  ok let's see... 10 things... just in the order they come to me :P

1. I am claustrophobic. Not severely, fortunately ;)
2. I hate long sleeve shirts/dresses. if the sleeves are stretchy/baggy enough I don't mind them so much, but if they grab my arm I can't stand it (so I don't mind coats or sweatshirts as long as they hang loose). I think maybe it's related to the claustrophobia
3. I am very warm-blooded and sweat easily so I don't mind not wearing long sleeves :P
4. I am so OCD that I serial-number my socks so that I know which one goes with which and which foot each goes on (actually it was mostly part of a weird experiment I decided to conduct but that experiment was due to OCDness :P)
5. I am constantly writing stories or descriptions in my head but I rarely get around to writing them down much less developing the stories into something worthwhile
6. Ok so most people who know me only online do not realize that I am MUCH quieter in real life MOST of the time. (I prefer ze term pensive... sounds more intelligente xD ) I can be just as wacky though... just depends on the particular situation I'm in (who I'm with, what we're doing, whether food coloring is involved etc :P )
7. I am famous in the local homeschool group for my ability to mimic the Impressive Clergyman from Princess Bride as well as the French Peas off Veggie Tales... I also have a plethora of other cartoonish voices and accents which escape my lips at rather random times and earn me interesting nicknames and reputation and such :P
8. I am, upon occasion, a halfway decent artist (so they say). I wish I had the time and patience to learn more... maybe someday :)
9. I don't particularly care for the color pink (can't really wear it :P) but I have a few pink things (flashlight, bike helmet, etc) so that my brothers won't steal them :P
10. I don't have a laptop but whenever I get one, I've got a name all picked out for "her" ;) :D

I'll add my nominees later ;)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Waxing Poetic Once Again

I haven't written poetry for a while but I've recently had an idea bouncing around and I finally decided to scratch it down on paper... Sometimes messing around with poetry helps me clear my mind. Well for one, it gets some of my "irrelevant inspiration" out of the way so that relevant inspiration has room to divide and cross-multiply... and be fruitful and fill my head... or something (pretend that last statement was intelligent and witty). ANYWAY so if you're interested in reading my poetic scribble go to my poetry blog here. (FTR it consists mostly of poetry/songs I did not write, but a few of them I did :P )

Monday, February 22, 2010


Sometimes I am easily inspired. Sometimes not so much. I sometimes go weeks without even looking at my book because I am just SO uninspired. Sometimes if I re-read or work on editing I'll get some inspiration and get some good writing done. But that doesn't even always help. Sometimes, though, I'll just be going for a walk or listening to a [completely unrelated] sermon and BAM it'll hit me. I always try to carry my little blue n white notebook around for times when inspiration will strike but sometimes I forget it. And wouldn't you know it, that's when inspiration strikes. Yes, I know, ce'st la vie ^_^
One of the biggest problems I encounter in writing is schedules. No I don't mean like deadlines. I love to be uber-organized (even though I oftentimes appear to be so unorganized and a lot of times I am :P ), so I like to be able to schedule my day. Only problem is that if I put on my schedule that I will write during a certain time every day, it just doesn't work. I mean, I can work on writing all I want, but if the inspiration won't come, I'm just wasting my time. And like I said, sometimes inspiration hits me at the randomest times so maybe I'll be studying Spanish then all of a sudden I gotta go write. Bye bye Spanish book, bye bye schedule. Why does life have to be so complicated sometimes? :P
So, to my wonderful audience out there (stepping out on faith here and assuming you really do exist :P ), how do YOU get inspired? Do random things inspire you, or do you find specific things more helpful in bringing on the inspiration? Surely I'm not all alone in my inspiration issues :P

Friday, February 19, 2010

An interview

So I suppose this is a good place to start. A little interview of sorts so whether you know me or not, you get all the insider info on who I am and what on earth I am doing. Sound interesting? Stick around. I'll be interviewed by my good buddy Fred. The real Fred, for those of you who are confused WHICH Fred...  anyway, here goes:

Fred: Hello Miss Neighbour. Nice of you to join us today for this episode of On the Grill with Fred which, despite the sound of its name, has nothing to do with food but it does have everything to do with "the hot seat"
L: Heya Fred. Good to be here. Hopefully the hot seat won't be too hot b/c I think your A/C is broken. Not that makes much difference in an online interview. NvM that was lame :P
Fred: So start by telling us a little about yourself. Who you are, a little bit of personal history, why on earth you have your feet up on my desk :glare:
L: *moves feet* Well I'm a pretty average country girl type who enjoys life even though sometimes my life can get pretty crazy. I grew up in a houseful of boys, the number of which varied over the years thanks to my family running a boarding school for boys. I started out in Washington, up on Mt Ranier and eventually found myself in Missouri which is where I still am till God puts me elsewhere. As I said, I enjoy life, and my life includes a lot of adventures. I enjoy lots of outdoor activities besides the usual girly stuff of cooking and sewing and keeping house.
Fred: Fascinating... so growing up with all those brothers, was that fun or torturous? I bet that made you a pretty tough cookie, eh?
L: weeelll no, I'm actually a wuss for the most part, but I know a thing or two about holding my own when I need to. I mean, sometimes boys we bring in will try to pick on me, but I usually manage to convince them it's not a good idea... I won't go into too much detail there :P
Anyway, for the most part growing up with brothers was fun. I mean, I always wanted a sister and I let people's pitying me for being the only girl get to me for quite a while, but then as I got older I realized that being the only girl helped make me who I am in a lot of ways. I mean, I was allowed and encouraged to be a girl since I was one, but at the same time I got a close-up look at a lot of stuff guys go through and my bros and I have a lot of discussions about stuff, too so I've seen plenty from both sides of the gender gap. I think maybe it made me more well-rounded, socially speaking. At least I'd like to think so ^_^
Fred: Alright so now tell me a little about WA vs MO and what was it like trekking halfway across the country not knowing anybody and not being familiar with... well, anything in your new state. Was it scary? Adventurous?
L: Adventurous. For the most part anyway. I mean, there was a little bit of a scary factor, just because of all the unknowns, and the tornado horror stories I'd heard and such... but I wasn't too worried about it because God had kinda prepared me and I knew I was where He wanted me so I could trust Him. Though when we experienced our first tornadic storm shortly after arriving in MO it was a little unnerving. They're still kind of scary in a way, but I've gotten pretty used to trusting God about it so I don't really stay up late at night worrying about being swept away by one :P
Ahh as far as not knowing people and coming to an unfamiliar place, to me it was somewhat just part of the adventure. It was a little weird to be a social outsider since I had lived in only 3 different places in my life, relatively close to each other, and when I was much younger so I didn't often have to "start over" making friends and acquaintances. Of course, I never really had a lot of friends in WA (we were somewhat secluded living way up on the mountain :P ) so that aspect wasn't too big a deal and I managed to make a lot of friends shortly after coming to MO. So yeah, for the most part the move was just adventurous and exciting and only a little bit scary.
Fred: So you were totally happy with just picking everything up and moving like that, eh?
L: Pretty much. Like I said, God totally prepared me for it. And anyway if I hadn't been, I learned a long time ago that getting upset about where you are only adds misery to your misery. It’s much easier to just leave things in God’s hands and trust Him and just be content with what you’ve got and where He’s placed you. But yeah, I was fine with it :)
Fred: Ok so let's move on now to your life as it is now. You went to college, correct?
L: Yes, I took correspondence from Western Dakota Tech and got an Associate of Technology degree in Agricultural Resources and Technology, with and emphasis in Equine Management.
Fred: :Blink:
L: Yeah that's what they all say haa ha
Fred: Ok so then what do you do with it?
L: Play uber-important horsewoman B-) ok just kidding... Actually the plan was to do something to that effect buuut I haven't done much with it since graduation BECAUSE shortly before graduating I felt like God began calling me elsewhere. I wasn't sure for the longest time what all that entailed and I'm still not sure, but I'm finding out one step at a time.
Fred: Aha! So is this where writing comes in then?
L: Well, yes and no... See, at that point I just felt like God was saying, ok so now you can make a horse's life better, what next? What about the people? And that was kinda one of those "of duh" moments when you suddenly connect the pieces of the puzzle… because, you see, I had for a while felt like there was a “bigger goal” in my life than just being a cowgirl or whatever and that was when it finally hit me that what was missing in my life plan was storing up something that would last for eternity. After that, several other pieces of the puzzle began to show up and God began to teach me some very important things and I felt like He wanted me to share them with people. I started to see the big picture God was painting through me and I felt like at that point the only step I was able to take was to start writing, since I’m a word nerd and have played around with writing and such. That’s when I started writing “Journey to the Heart of God”
Fred: So you were always into writing anyway then?
L: Nooo, no… not at all. I mean, I’ve come from a long line of writers in my family history and I used to love writing stories and stuff… but I never finished any of my stories. I’d always lose inspiration and lose interest… I always loved writing descriptive paragraphs or whatever but I never never imagined myself being a writer someday. The thought was kinda cool to me, but I never really wanted to do that.
Fred: You wanted to be a cowgirl…
L: Haa ha well actually I wanted to be a mommy. That’s the only thing I ever always wanted to be… Yeah I wanted to be a cowgirl too, and a ballerina and a figure skater and a few other things along the way. But now I want to be a servant to God… Whatever all that includes or excludes, whether it’s something I’m good at or not. I figure I’m better off leaving it in His hands because I can’t work things out on my own
Fred: Let’s move on to your book now. Tell me basically what it’s about, what inspired you to write, what you want to accomplish, and so on.
L: Well as I said it’s called “Journey to the Heart of God” and it’s about the journey that we are all on, and how for the Christian that journey means that we are striving to be closer to God and to fulfill what He wants for us. It’s kind of a synopsis of the lessons that He’s been teaching me over the years: who you really are in Christ; the importance of our moments and our actions and everything we do; what it really means to pursue righteousness; and the spiritual battle that we are engaged in for the souls of men and the kingdom of God.
I hope that this book will inspire people to step back and take a look at themselves and determine whether they are really saved or just fooling themselves, to identify the fruit of their lives, to become equipped and active in spiritual warfare, and just to find the heart of God and where He wants His people.
Fred: Sounds pretty deep
L: :nods: And wide ;)
Fred: ok so let’s swim to the shallow end and do some fun questions to close us out.
L: Schweet. I’m all for that B-)
Fred: What’s your favorite writing tool?
L: Hmmmm I totally love my black-ink, fine-point, pilot retractable gel pen, but sometimes I want blue ballpoint and sometimes I simply MUST type… Can’t pick a favorite though… it’s just dependant on my mood or something :P
Fred: Favorite food?
L: Let’s not go there. I’m not one to pick favorites. Food is good, let’s just say that
Fred: Haa haa ok… What would you do with a million dollars that you HAD to spend on yourself (i.e. you couldn’t give it to missions or friends/family)
L: Ohhhh no fair! Because I would totally give it all away except for enough to fly to a few select locations and buy tickets for a few friends to accompany me. So hmmm if I had to spend it all on me I’d probably invest some in real estate, buy a Chevy Silverado, and use the rest to travel around with friends, (does that count?) go visit my cousins in Bolivia, and knock some of my “must-visit” countries off my list ;) not necessarily in that order… :P
Fred: Ah so you love to travel then?
L: LOVE it. That’s not even a big enough word. Traveling is so da bomb B-) I inherited the Neighbour nomadic genes fo sho! :P
Fred: Ok last question then we’ll turn the grill off
L: Shoot
Fred: Bang
L: :-B
Fred: What’s the coolest thing about your life as-is?
L: Save the hardest for last, eh? It’s totally a combination between my kids on Sunday mornings, my awesome incredible friends/family/fanbase, and just knowing that I can leave everything in God’s hands and have no worries J
Fred: Very cool
L: Oh, you know it is.
Fred: Well thanks for joining us, no go chill and get some writing done!
L: Yes sir!

And there you have it :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Introducing Scarabocchi

The writing blog of L. E. Neighbour. Scarabocchi is an Italian word which I believe means, roughly, "scribbles". Hopefully this blog will be a little more than scribbling. I want to inspire and encourage you as I am inspired and encouraged through various things in my life. I feel my attempts are unworthy scribbles next to the Great Author of the universe, but I hope that he will use my feeble scribbles to bring life.