A Writer’s Advice

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt” (Sylvia PlathThe Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)

I don’t claim to be the best writer or blogger ever. I do know that I feel most alive when I’m writing and the words seem to flow out of me like they’re coming from somewhere else. Sometimes looking back, even the posts that I thought weren’t that great at the time seem to have improved with age.

I’ve been at this blog post business for going on 7 years and nearly 2,400 posts. That’s a lot of words. Not all of them have flowed out of me. Some days, I feel like Moses attempting to draw water from a rock.

If I have any advice for those who want to be writers, whether professionally or otherwise, it’s this– just write. Write a lot. Write every single day, even if what comes out feels like pure stupidity.

I’d also add one more thing. Find your own voice and be true to it. Don’t write or sing or paint or sculpt or film what you think will appeal to a mass audience. Do what speaks to you and what makes you happy and what makes you come alive. Create for an audience of one– yourself.

Ultimately, it’s not about numbers or popularity. It’s about expressing yourself and leaving a bit of yourself behind, whether on canvas or paper or vinyl or film. Success as I see it is staying true to your original vision.

Again, just write, write, write. That’s the only way to truly get better and to develop your own unique voice. The more you write, the better you will get at it.

Here endeth the lesson.

Six Years Later

Lost in all the hoopla over both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and all the madness that ensued was the fact that recently I celebrated my sixth anniversary of blogging for WordPress.

Part of me feels that it can’t have been six years because the time has gone by so very quickly. Another part of me is shocked that I’ve only been doing these posts for six years because I feel that I’ve grown so much since that very first one way back in July 28, 2010.

C. S. Lewis wrote that often on a daily basis you can see very little change, but when you look back over a number of years you see a huge difference between your present self and your former self. Time can be deceiving in that way.

I truly believe that monumental change happens in the form of daily small changes that happen over time. Every 10,000 mile journey begins with a single step and the daily choices you make that take you either closer to or further away from your desired destination.

I’m thankful for a vehicle like WordPress that makes it easier for me to get my thoughts out there into cyber-land. I also love the fact that it corrects my bad spelling so that you think I’m smarter than I really am.

My advice for those who want to write is two-fold: 1) find your own voice and 2) stay true to it. Finding your own voice means that you tell your own story and not someone else’s. It means that you write about what you know and what makes you come alive. Staying true to your own voice means that you write what’s in your heart, not what you think others will want to read. Most of all, just write.

Thanks, everybody, for six amazing years. Here’s to at least six more years of me writing and you reading.


Thank You

It’s easy sometimes to get caught up in a numbers game when you write a blog. Especially after you’ve had a few days where you get more than your usual number of readers.

I need to be reminded periodically that these numbers represent people who take time that could have been used for other important things to read what I’ve written. I hope I never take that for granted.

So thank you to everyone who has ever read one of these posts– even those who read only one and decided I was too weird to follow. Thanks to those who used to read my posts regularly but for whatever reason have moved on.

Some days, the words flow. Some days, I get halfway through a blog and still have no idea what I’m writing about. That’s the struggle when you write daily posts instead of weekly or every few days. My goal is always 300 words.

I’m aware that many of you who follow me have your own blog posts. I’ll try to do better about reading yours as much as you read mine. I’ve been slacking in that department and for that, I apologize.

I can’t promise there won’t ever be filler posts where I feel like I’m writing words to take up space (like this one). Hopefully, even those posts will mean something to you.

I’ve said it before and I will probably say it again in the future, but I don’t care if I get 1 million views or just 1. These posts are for me and if I were the only one reading them, they’d still be worth it.

I urge you to express your thoughts through writing, whether it’s through a blog or in a journal or in some other format. It doesn’t matter whether you can spell or used correct grammar. That doesn’t matter nearly as much as you releasing what’s inside of you, whether anybody else ever reads it or not. Just write.

Here endeth the blog.




Still Waiting for My Inevitable Stardom to Take Effect

I’m closing in on the sixth anniversary of my first ever blog (ta-da!) and this is my 2,155th post since then. As I write it, I’m in bed with a very sleepy and very geriatric cat on the pillow next to me. I feel everyone should have at least one geriatric cat but maybe that’s just me.

It’s not even officially summer and I’m already sweating almost non-stop. I love living in the South with the one notable exception of all the humidity. For those of us with curly hair, the struggle is real. I understand that the wonderful mix of heat and humidity will probably be like the house guest who overstays his welcome (or until some time in mid-October).

I still entertain notions that one day my little blog will blow up and my views will skyrocket into the millions (or more realistically, the hundreds). Given my eccentricities and my tendency to blog about random things, I know not to hold my breath. Still, a guy can dream, right?

For those living with deferred dreams, don’t give up. God’s timetable is not yours and He never does anything until the moment is perfect and the person is ready. Remember that if you’re still waiting, it’s because what you’re waiting for is bigger than  you can handle at the present.

Remember above all that God alone is sufficient. Often, He makes us wait because He wants us to cherish the Giver as much as the gifts. He wants us to be completely satisfied with Him alone, with or without the gifts.

Stop defining yourself by your marital status or your job title or your paycheck. That’s not ultimately who you are. You are first and foremost what God your Maker says you are– and that definition is Beloved. You are still God’s Beloved.


2,115 Posts? Really?

“One of the most satisfying aspects of writing is that it can open in us deep wells of hidden treasures that are beautiful for us as well as others to see” (Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey).

This July will mark six years since I started writing these blogs. For me, that’s a long time. There have been very few things that I have done consistently for that long, outside of eating and breathing and such.

Part of me still hopes that one day my posts will blow up and my readership will escalate into the millions and I will be able to retire from my job and write blogs exclusively. Part of me still hopes that chocolate is low-calorie and fat-free. You can’t have everything you want.

Even if this never becomes anything more than a hobby and a release, that’s just fine with me. These have been extremely therapeutic for me and helpful for many of you. That’s enough for me.

I said it before quite a few times and I say it again– I’d write these blogs even if I were the only one reading them. I really really would.

I have enjoyed writing them much more since I finally got my Mac Book Pro. I do feel a bit more hipster-y and cool, though I am still a goober at heart (in case you were beginning to get worried).

Faith will always inform everything I write on here, whether it’s overtly faith-based or not. That’s who I am. That will always be who I am.

2,115 posts. It does boggle the mind. Well, it boggles MY mind. At an average of 300 words per blog, that comes to over 634,000 words. That’s more than the word count in the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I should know. I just looked it up on google to be sure.

My next goal is one million words. But as always, my main goal is to be authentic and encouraging and (sometimes) challenging. Maybe one day I’ll finally break down and write that novel. Maybe.


Yet Still More Randomness on Hump Day

Every now and then, I come to write these blogs and I really don’t have a theme. I have lots of ideas in my head that are all disconnected (and 95% of them are song lyrics or movie quotes).

The one theme that keeps reemerging like the chorus of a song is grace.

There are days when I feel confident and suave. I feel like my life’s going well. I’m able to truly appreciate how very blessed I am and I have all the confidence in the world that God is truly in control and that He’s got my future in good hands. Those days are grace.

Then there are days when my latent dorkiness comes to the surface. Just about every conversation feels awkward. All those old fears about people not wanting to be around me once they really get to know me come back. Those days are also grace.

Every day I wake up is grace. Every day I wake up I need God’s grace, both the good and bad days. There aren’t days when I can get by with a little less. I always need as much as I can handle (and then some).

Grace means that it’s okay that you’re not always okay. Grace means that you can celebrate brokenness because you know that’s where the light gets in (and where God’s light gets out).

So maybe I did have a theme after all. Who knew? I didn’t until I started typing.

Grace has certainly been the theme of my life. As much as I need it, I’m not always good at extending it to those who disappoint me. Maybe I even need grace to be able to give grace.

God never tires of being gracious with me. He loves me with a holy love that meets me where I am in my mess yet refuses to leave me where He found me.

I’m also thankful for that on a Wednesday night at 10:40 pm.


A Living Sermon

There’s an older gentleman that I see on Mondays when I volunteer at Room in the Inn. He isn’t one of the homeless men who get bussed in. He’s one of the many volunteers who faithfully devote their Monday nights to serving these men.

I noticed one night that he was missing part of his right arm. I didn’t think a whole lot about it. I figured it was probably something to do with diabetes. Then I read this and my world got blown up (in a good way):

The Best Sermon I Never Preached

I don’t need to add anything to that. I teared up a bit as I heard one of the volunteers read this tonight at our last Room in the Inn for the season. The guy who read it got choked up.

The lessons for tonight are 1) don’t take any part of your life for granted, 2) appreciate each moment as the rare and precious gift that it is, and 3) remember that worship is still the best medicine there is for what ails you.


An Easter Toast Revisited After Five Years

“We raise our glasses and drink to Love that never gave up.”

I wrote an entire blog on those twelve words five years ago. Little did I know at the time how much more I would grow to depend on that same love that still doesn’t quit.

Every Easter is a reminder of the unfailing love that went to extreme lengths to capture my affection. I’m again reminded that God’s love for me isn’t warm and fuzzy feelings or even admirable devotion but sacrifice of blood, sweat, tears, pain, and death.

So many of us feel unloveable. So many feel unwanted. So many will go to bed tonight believing that they will ultimately end up alone. So many feel that no one will ever find them romantically desirable.

Easter is the proof that no one ever is unloved or unwanted. God in Jesus showed that when He died for each and every one of us. The cross proves once and for all that He thought that you and I were worth dying for.

Sure, we sing the songs and read the verses, but do we really believe it? Not just a head knowledge, but a deep down to the bone belief that goes beyond intellect and feelings?

The Easter invitation is available beyond Easter Sunday. It goes out to all those who don’t feel good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough.

The offer is this: Jesus can do amazing things with the ones who will just say Yes to Him, whatever He asks and wherever He leads. He can take even the worst of sinners and make them the greatest evangelists. He can take your worst moments of your life that you keep hidden in a deep and dark place and make those the first lines of your testimony (again, thanks to Mike Glenn for that one).

Easter is still for all of us ragamuffins who know they don’t have it together and still feel like hot messes most of the time. Easter is still for you and me.


Rinse and Repeat

“Make the things I’m commanding you today part of who you are. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re sitting together in your home and when you’re walking together down the road. Make them the last thing you talk about before you go to bed and the first thing you talk about the next morning” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7VOICE).

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s not always easy to come up with something creative and original when you write these blogs on a daily basis. And yes, I do write all of these myself. I’m the only writer for the Ragamuffin Gospel Fan blogs.

I find lately that I do tend to repeat myself quite a bit. Sometimes, it’s intentional. Sometimes, it’s just me being forgetful that I’ve already written on a particular topic.

I believe that a lot of faith is returning again and again to the basics until they change who you are fundamentally. It’s going back to the Gospel for the rest of your life, because that’s where your hope lies.

So, it’s 10:05 pm on a Saturday and I am at home and not out painting the town red or hitting up the clubs. I’m writing this on the fly, per usual. What you see is generally what I write on the first-take, with very little revisions or editing. That’s just the way I write these days.

I’ve heard that taking up photography changes the way you see things. You begin to look at people and scenes as if you’re composing a shot or looking through a lens.

I also think that writing changes the way you look at life. You start hearing conversations differently. Phrases will jump out at you. Lines from movies or TV shows will capture your attention. You see your world differently.

So what’s the theme of this blog? I guess if there is one, it’s this: the best kind of faith isn’t one where you know a little in a lot of areas about God and Jesus and the Church and other such matters. It’s where you keep going back to the well of the basics over and over until you’re absolutely sated with it and you know the Gospel backward and forward.

That’s it.


My Lent Plans for 2016

Here I am, typing this on my laptop in Starbucks and already thinking about Lent. If I’m not mistaken, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday, which occurs during Mardi Gras.

My plan as always is to fast from social media during this time. As much as I’d like to use the extra time to be all productive and stuff, my main goal during this season is to reboot my brain and get my head right again.

Not that I’m in a bad place. I just think that it’s easy to let social media affect how you perceive yourself and others, and stepping away from it all can be a good way to remind yourself that life is more than status updates, Instagram posts, and how many likes and/or comments you get.

I will still be writing these blogs, so fret not. They will still show up on all my social media outlets, as usual.

Ideally, I can spend way less time with my head buried in my phone. I can look up and see blue skies and sunsets and other people (most likely with their heads buried in their phones and tablets).

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. It’s also what happens when you’re checking your Facebook feed or updating your Twitter account. I doubt very seriously that you’ll get to the end of your life and regret all those hilarious memes you didn’t share or all the clever status updates you didn’t write.

You will regret not spending more actual real time with real people in face-to-face conversations about real-life situations.

You will regret not looking up from your social media to see all that life that’s passing you by.

So all that to say that starting Ash Wednesday, I will be (mostly) off the grid until after Easter Sunday. See you all then.