What’s your writing process?

Recently I joined a group of women on Facebook called The Peony Project. It consists of almost 300 Christian bloggers who encourage one another through social media support, praying for one another, commenting on each others’ posts, and link ups. There are a number of link ups circulating in the group, and I’ve been tagged by Neive of The Aussie Osborns in one called “The Writing Process”.

The writing process

Here goes…

Question 1: What am I working on?

Some of you may know this from Facebook, but The Lookout magazine has hired me to do a devotional series for March 2015, so I’ve been reading through the assigned commentary in preparation for those. My goal is to get them completed before we move to Kitale next month! I also have been recording hours upon hours of information from Ray’s grandparents to pen a biography for them. They have a phenomenal story to share, and I hope to be able to do it justice as I relay it through my writing style. Aside from those bigger projects, I’ve got this blog, She Is Set Apart, and a few other freelance projects in the works.

Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its type/genre?

Within the context of intercultural marriage, I honestly haven’t found many blogs focused specifically on tackling the topic, and even if I were to find one that was intercultural with a Christian American wife and Kenyan husband, it’d be even more rare to find a Black American with a Kenyan. Our relationship in general is just… different, so our story is pretty unique. I’ve also noticed since joining The Peony Project, that I’m not as into photography and Pintrest-y sorts of things as the majority of my blogging cohorts are. If you’re looking for DIY projects to spruce up your craft room or to decorate your house for fall, let the reader understand… I’m not your girl.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?

For my own sanity. Journaling has always been a preferred outlet for me, but after marriage I found myself doing it a lot less. When we first moved here my social life was dangling by its bootstraps, and we didn’t have Internet access unless I went to a cyber cafe, so I couldn’t contact my go-to girls. With Ray leaving every day to go to town for work, I felt incredibly lonely and even depressed. My friend Michaela, among others, had suggested before we left that I keep a blog to share about what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic, so I began to write and I haven’t stopped since. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for me since we moved here. I don’t write to make money or because I think I have something to say that people need to hear; I do it for me. To share my thoughts and communicate with people as if we were sitting together. That’s one reason I appreciate the people who comment a lot (Kim Cooper) or people who message me on Facebook to talk more about what I write. You don’t know how much it means to me. Thank you for that.

Question 4: How does your writing process work?

They say you should avoid friendships with writers if possible because you never know when you’re going to end up as the subject of their next piece. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s a fact. I write from my experiences and I experience life with people, so people are often the subjects of my posts. As an introvert, I’m always observing and processing. I may not always verbalize what I’m thinking, but I’m always wondering how I can frame what I’m seeing, feeling, and thinking into a blog post or a song. I usually keep track of my ideas by putting them on my phone or Ray’s phone, in my notebook, on scraps of paper, or by starting drafts on my WordPress app. Once I have the idea down, I usually can sit down and crank out a blog in about two hours. After that I’ll edit, edit once more, send it to Ray for approval, edit, publish, and then edit again. You can imagine what I used to do to my middle school students’ papers.

Writing has been such a phenomenal outlet for me personally, but also a spiritual challenge to do the things I encourage others to do. I’d like to thank those of you who have been supporting me all the way through as well as those of you who are new readers. It’s a blessing for Ray and I to be able to share our lives with you and to hear your own stories (i.e. your comments on the post about jealousy in marriage really encouraged me to know that we would get past it as we matured, and it didn’t take long for that issue to dissipate).

I also want to thank Neive for tagging me in this. This is the first time I’ve ever participated in a link up, and I look forward to doing more as I get acquainted with other ladies in the project.

Finally, to complete the challenge, I have to tag three other bloggerss to join the link up. I choose…

Naomi Martin – Art in Liberty

Sarah Siders – Sarah Siders

Debbie Rivers – Abundant Lifestyle

Have a great rest of the week, guys. Much love and many prayers!

The anniversary countdown begins … wedding video highlights

Video

In honor of our approaching one year anniversary (one month from today), we figured we’d share some snippets from our American wedding for those of you that weren’t able to be there. Although there were two cameras during the ceremony, we only have the footage from one to share with you, but it’s still pretty decent. We hope you enjoy!

Oh, and fret not, dear friends. When I say “countdown”, it doesn’t mean that I will be bugging you with an actual thirty day countdown wherein I’ll regale you with 300 things I love about my husband (ten items per day, of course). No need to temporarily unfollow the blog. Just simmer down now.

We will continue the tradition of sharing our challenges and triumphs though, like we did at the six month mark. That was probably one of the most visited posts on our old blog page, so I guess people liked it.

Finally, I’m hoping to have finished a special surprise for you guys next month too, so keep an eye out for that. I think it’s going to be pretty awesome, but I think a lot of things are awesome that no one else does, so if you don’t like it, just smile and pretend, okay? That’s what friends do. Friends don’t let friends know they don’t like the special gift they made them.

(Side note: I wrote this while Ray was in Tanzania. I had been alone in our bedroom for five days, so I apologize for the incessant babbling. I was lonely.)

The article made me do it

Have you seen the video of the doctor distracting a baby while he gives the kid a couple shots? It’s cute, right?

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook the other day, and after watching it I left the comment: “So precious.”

In response, a total stranger commented: “Not precious at all – Please educate yourself for your children’s sake.” Attached to the statement was a link to an article on the horrors of vaccination and why people should never vaccinate their children.

Normally something like this wouldn’t bug me, but just a few days earlier I had received some links from a friend regarding various reasons why Ray and I shouldn’t circumcise our boy(s). Now, I have no ill feelings towards my friend, and I appreciate her concern for the wellbeing of our future children (I actually agree with the scriptural portions of her point), but these two occurrences really got me thinking about how mighty the article has become in American culture.

Make room for a new king

Next to Jesus, Google is king in our home, and I’m the one responsible for making it that way.

  • If I want to know how to edit videos better, I’ll google it.
  • If I need natural solutions to ward off malaria-ridden mosquitoes, I’ll google it.
  • If my gas is smelling especially putrid… hold on, just plug your nose for the 0.46 seconds it will take Google to give me a diagnosis, and we’ll be good to go.

article blog

There are millions of articles and random folks out there in Cyberland ready and willing to tell me how to live my life, and I’m totally open to receive most of what they throw at me. Upon reading an article, well usually it’s more like skimming an article, I feel like I’ve become a semi-expert on the matter, so not only does it become a belief that I instantaneously hold personally, but anytime someone asks for help in that area, I’ve got the answer for them too. Just read this article and it will make you think like I do.

The problem is, sometimes I’m wrong.

How many times have you seen an article saying that some research institute has discovered that a certain food causes cancer causing you to promptly boycott the product until a few weeks later the “just kidding” response is released and we’re told that the food actually helps ward off cancer? (The soy controversy had me all kinds of confused.) How many people had you convinced before the “just kidding” article that they should also stop buying that particular item of food? Or how many times had you shared a video or article on Facebook about a certain event only to have someone comment, “Um, yeah, that’s fake” or “That never happened,” and then you felt salty for disseminating a lie?

Here’s a question for you: do you feel saltier for sharing it or saltier for believing it?

A quick detour from the information superhighway

Lest this rant get out of hand, let me get to my point. I have two:

Point 1: Sure, cruise the information superhighway, but remember that you have people in the car with you who have real life experiences as well.

I’ve seen many of my friends go through cycles where they get frustrated with how connected to technology people have become these days, and they get rid of Facebook for a week or a month (the hardcore ones do it for a year or more), all in the name of pressing in to be more relational. I wish that people would do the same when it came to the dissemination of information. Don’t send me an article and just tell me that what I believe is wrong, but walk with me, teach me, show me what you believe and let me come to my own conclusions. If you share an article with me, please share it within that context. I’m not going to do something just because your article told me to. As my friend Lisa once said, just as anyone can find any scripture to back up any belief they have, articles can serve the same purpose.

Ray and I went to visit our neighbors for dinner a while back, and the wife asked me where I learned to make chapati. I told her I googled it and found some videos on YouTube. She looked a bit bewildered and responded, “I’m right next door, why don’t you just come over and let me teach you?” That’s not the first time I’ve gotten that kind of response, which is one of the things I love about Kenyan culture. It’s all about relationship. Kenyans can share information with one another, but they do it within the context of relationship. Wouldn’t it be cool to teach kids more about the importance of primary sources so instead of doing a Google search on the Vietnam war, they actually talk to their veteran uncle? Articles are definitely important, but they shouldn’t take precedence over relationship.

Point 2: Maybe if we valued wisdom and knowledge over tidbits of information, we’d be smarter.

“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” – T. S. Eliot, “The Rock”

We are exposed to a wealth of information with the world literally at our fingertips, and that in and of itself isn’t bad, but we can be bombarded with so much information that we don’t actually know anything. I refer to this a lot, but the Hebrew word for “know” is yada. It actually has five dimensions, and the gist of them all is basically that if you claim to know something, you know it in complete detail because you’ve studied, analyzed, investigated, or personally encountered it. This is the root of knowledge. This is what we should be passing on, not information you’ve barely processed yourself but have been persuaded to believe in the two minutes you took to skim through an article or watch a YouTube video. There’s far too much information and not enough knowledge being passed around.

Please note that I’m talking to a specific group of people here. Some of you do have sufficient knowledge in the things that you share with others. As long as you’re following point one, more power to you.

There’s a reason we’re told to seek wisdom as for precious gold. It’s through our life experiences and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we gain the ability to make correct judgments and decisions. Knowledge can help guide the decisions that we make, but it’s not the ultimate goal. Wisdom is. There was a time I was asked to speak at an AGLOW meeting, and I shared on the Holy Spirit. I had spent the summer really sitting with God and asking some questions about how to live by the Spirit, so everything I shared in my message was the result of that extended conversation. After I spoke, an older gentleman approached me and said, “I just want to encourage you because God showed you in a few months what has taken me thirty years to learn.” I can’t and don’t say that to brag, because it’s been a long time since I’ve just sat before the Lord and asked His Spirit of wisdom to enlighten my eyes instead of going straight to the computer to find articles or commentary whenever I have a question. Again, I’m not saying commentary is bad, I love using it, but I am saying that there’s something to be said about the acceleration of true knowledge and wisdom that comes from seeking it directly from the source.

Knowledge unto itself is just knowledge

In the western world we tend to value our access to information and we take pride in our knowledge, but knowledge unto itself is just knowledge. There’s no real fruit to be gleaned from it unless it’s put into action. I know people who have studied the Sermon on the Mount forwards and backwards multiple times, yet they don’t live its teachings out nearly as well as some of the people I’ve found here in Kenya that have maybe a sixth grade education and couldn’t even tell you where the Sermon on the Mount is located. It’s not about how much you know, people, it’s about how well you live out what you know. When you stand before the Father one day, that’s all He’s going to care about. Can it be all that we care about too?

[Disclaimer] I must end this slight diatribe by acknowledging that I do realize the irony of writing a blog post about why we need to stop relying so much on articles. Just doing my part to challenge you in your search for understanding. 😉

When He’s Gone

raybay

I used to love sitting alone in my bedroom for hours.

Staring at the wall, staring at the TV, staring at the laptop, or even staring at my reflection as I divulged my deepest thoughts about life to myself… if it involved staring, I was doing it. And loving it.

For some reason I was convinced that when I got married I would miss that, and at the beginning I did.

But now that Ray has been in Tanzania since Monday and won’t be back until Sunday, I’ve gone back into staring mode.

And I hate it.

Life is so boring without Ray.

The reality of how lame my social life was before he came along also sucks.

Counting down the days until he returns and I can look at his face instead of my belly button.

The challenge of living in the moment: battling restlessness

Just last week I caught myself saying, “I can’t wait until it’s Thursday.”

Some friends had informed us of a conference in Kasarani and offered to pay for our hotel room. We were definitely in need of a break, so we decided to go for it.

No sooner had I flopped onto the bed in our hotel room, I sighed, “I can’t wait until the conference starts.”

Again, sitting in the bleachers at the the stadium, I whispered to Ray, “I can’t wait until we meet up with your family tonight.”

On and on the cycle of “I can’t wait” went, and though I’ve only recently become aware of its constant appearance in my speech, I suspect that it’s been around for quite some time now.

Created to be restless

There’s a restlessness inside of me that won’t allow me to be satisfied with anything. I’m always looking for something more, something better. In the purest sense, it’s really not a bad thing.

We were created with an eternal base, an eternal spirit, so naturally there is a desire to put off these mortal garments of skin that keep us chained to this temporal earth. (Tweet this)

Scripture meme

Given that this is a natural and pure desire, I can still keep my eyes fixed ahead, but the problem is that my desire for heaven has been turned from where it should be and placed on temporal things. Instead of hoping to be with Jesus where He is, I’m hoping that the next event in life will bring some sense of happiness, peace, or purpose. The one thing that is needed is to reset my focus to where it needs to be and to see each event in life as a means to the end instead of a means to an end.

There is purpose in every single moment lived, and the sum of them contribute towards my eternal purpose. (Tweet this)

If everything I do in life is building up to eternity and my hope is set in heavenly places, I’m going to engage in each moment as though it counts for something, which really frees me from looking at each situation as an end all, be all. Instead, being with Jesus is my end goal, and He is all I ever need.

I hope this challenges you today as it has challenged me. Much love and many prayers!