A Great Start

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So…here I am, sitting alone in my empty classroom, just 30 minutes away from turning in my final writing portfolio for the Fall-2018 semester of writing class CRTW-201. Eastern Michigan University welcomed me back into the swing of college gently by tossing a straight pitch for me to wallop out of the park. I mean, it was writing. This is what I do. That’s not to say the class was easy. In fact, my instructor–Jesse Eagle–challenged everything I thought I knew about writing characters, scenery and drawing the reading audience into the story.  I honesty believe I’m leaving this class a better wordsmith, than  when I began the semester.

I think the class did more than boost my confidence in my ability to write. You see, until about mid-semester, I wasn’t 100% sure the act of returning (to EMU) to finish what I’d started was set in stone. There was a part of me vying to squash the vision of earning my degree, after so many years of starting and stopping. But, I think the Lord reminded me to focus on one step at a time, rather than the long journey ahead. One class session; one week; one assignment; one month; one semester; one more class completed toward the goal. When I took that approach, you know what happened?

I did it. I finished one class.

Heck, if I can complete one class, then I can surely complete another next semester; maybe even two. That leaves 11 to go…

It’s a great start.

2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT)–“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

Calling All Wordsmiths!

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Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) – “A man’s heart plans his way; But the LORD directs his steps.”

I love to write. For those of you who actually follow my blog, this year may not have proven that to be a true statement given the infrequent number of times I’ve actually posted content. See, that’s part of my challenge in doing the thing I claim to love: inconsistency. I can think of a million different distractions to keep me away from the keyboard. But, in the end it all boils down to being consistent and purposeful.

I have a gift. Not everyone can sit down and crank out a couple hundred words to draw a reader into a personal connection. I can do that. Sometimes I do it well; sometimes, not so much. The gift can only get better with increased usage.

When I first started this blog a few years ago, I didn’t really have a plan for it. The thought was, “I’ll just use this as my internet space to put down a few thoughts here and there. If anyone follows me; great! If no one follows me; no big deal.” There was no set goal or focused direction for my blog, so it comes as no surprise when I learn that after a few years of internet space, roughly 120 followers stick by my side. It’s easy to let my pride tell me folks down follow because folks don’t get me. But that’s not the case.

I am a Wordsmith. My subject of choice is the LORD. As I sit here at the keyboard on November 14th, 2017 (at 5:35pm if you really want to get specific), I’m admitting that I want more readers to discover my gift. Not just that. I want more readers to hear what I have to say about God, His Kingdom, what it means to me and what it can mean to them, from my perspective based on my experiences. I have a limited number of followers because I haven’t actually thought about what direction I want my blog to follow. I haven’t come up with a plan.

My good friend Gus once said, “E, you’re fiction is really good. But, I think your non-fiction writing is what will get people to follow you. That’s what really touches people.” Even when that was said, I didn’t take the time to really think about it.

Recently, my friend Cassy asked, “Do you want to turn your writing into something full time, or are you just doing it as a hobby?” At the time, I couldn’t really sit and think about it, so I put it off. As I sit here thinking on it now, I think I would like to see my gift make room for a full time position in my life. I think in order to make that happen, I need to admit out loud that I have a plan to become a professional writer.

Proverbs 16:9 is my favorite proverb. I like the idea of God planting something in my heart; something that I desire to do. Then He orders my steps to see it accomplished. Does God want me to become a successful author? I have no idea. I believe he wants me to write for Him. Whether I become successful or not really doesn’t matter much as long as I’m fulfilling my purpose. I think that purpose is to write for Him and His kingdom. To that end, I want to have more readers.

I have to choose to be consistent with my posting. Consistency increases my chances of reaching more readers, and gaining more followers. The more folks read my blog, the more people I have an opportunity to share the gospel with. There are only seven weeks left in 2017. I’d like to end this year, and transition into the new year strong. I’m going to make a decision (right now) to post something at least once a week. Fiction or non-fiction doesn’t matter right now. I simply have to purposefully write and get back into the swing of truly loving what I do.

I’m going to challenge some of my fellow Wordsmith’s to dig deep and finish the year strong. Let’s share some great stories, inspirational blog posts, and encouraging words between us and with new followers. Are you up for the challenge Cary, Lindsay, Doug,  and Sheldon (just to name a few)? I’m calling all Wordsmith’s! Let’s finish 2017 strong in our craft.

 

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

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In sports, particularly those involving a ball, the coach always lays down the fundamental rule of the game.

“Keep your eye on the ball.”

Wide receivers can be distracted by defensive players, in football. Soccer goalies can likewise be distracted by opposing team players’ orchestrated chaos. Every center-fielder knows the dangers of losing the baseball in the open sky. And free-throw shooters can easily be distracted by those multicolored shakers folks rattle from the seats behind the backboard. It’s amazing the things that can distract us from the goal–the ball.

This year’s election is shaping up to be no different. Now, now…before you make any assumptions family, this is not apolitical debate post. Quite the opposite. While I would expect people to pick a particular side, this late into the election year, what I find really fascinating, and disturbing at the same time, is the display of blatant hatred between folks of differing opinions. What’s really got me baffled is how rampant that hatred is flowing through the Christian community!

As this political race continues to heat up, I’ve seen friends “un-friend” each other over choices in candidate backing. I’ve read some of the most un-Christianlike commentary written about people over the red vs. blue debate. I’ve even read flat out lies quoted by people who are supposed to be shepherds!

Let’s be clear. If your pastor says something to this effect, “If you back *blank*,” (feel free to insert your choice), “you’re going to burn in hell,” chances are you might want to start seeking a new church.

The race for the presidency isn’t the only distraction today. Race is also making Christians lose focus. Look…it’s no big secret that we’ve got a race problem in this country. It’s always been here. Some folks are simply tuning into reality late because now it’s being filmed everywhere. It’s a really important issue, that upsets me just like it probably upsets a lot of you. Here’s what it’s doing to us, as the body of Christ: it’s dividing us. Many multicultural churches are now finding an ever increasing challenge of being sensitive to all of its congregation members. That should always be a given anyway, but once cultural sensitivity is thrust into the forefront every Sunday, we drop the ball.

Let’s look at the presidential race for a minute. Now, we Christians believe in what the bible says; am I correct? I mean if you doubt the word, you should probably stop reading this blog right here. God’s word tells us how the story ends.

“What story are you talking about, Enn?”

That’s a fair question. The answer is simple: the only story that matters! Life and the end of the age. We know that in the last days, things are going to get slightly weird for us all. But, in the end…we win! Yay! By “we” of course I mean those who truly follow the Lord. Which leads to my next point. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave an awesome commission to us all:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But that wasn’t all he said. If we back up a bit, before he gave the great commission he gave the disciples these awesome commandments found in Matthew 22:37-40. Jesus said:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Here’s where these come into play today. Family…tomorrow I want you to conduct an experiment. Watch social media. Look at how people are treating each other over their differences in candidates, then ask yourself if this is the love Jesus told us we need to display. Honestly, Hillary and Donald are distractions from the bigger issue. As believers, we should recognize this fact: Satan is dividing us, and winning! So many people are concerned with Joe backing Hillary and Jane backing Donald that we don’t see the division in progress. As believers, we should be focusing on bringing folks to Christ. Our mission hasn’t changed! Keep your eye on the ball! Jesus is the ball!

The same holds true for the race issue. Yeah…I know its bad out here. I get it. Again, take a step back and look at what’s really going on. Satan is dividing us! I’ve got white friends who are now uber sensitive to what comes out of their mouths out of fear of offending me. Watching them struggle with words is uncomfortable to me, because we’re supposed to worship together in the same place every Wednesday and Sunday! Dude, stop being afraid to talk to me! II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not commit to us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Get back in your right mind and have a decent conversation with your brother! I’m black; you’re white; we love the Lord. That’s it! Again…Jesus is the ball. Keep your eye on him.

This wasn’t supposed to go 900 words long but apparently, I’ve had it on my heart for some time. Christians, now is the time for us to unite and share our beliefs with a hurting world. I honestly don’t care who you decide to vote for. I’m not going to erase you from my friend list, and dodge you on the street. Yeah, that stuff is really happening out there. I know we’ve got racial tensions out there. This isn’t new despite what the media keeps throwing at you. Let’s heal each other with the love the Lord told us to display. I just told you guys a few nights ago, my cousin’s an atheist. She hates Christianity. I love her anyway. She’s my blood, and any so-n-so who raises a hand against her will have to come through me first. Our differences will not cause me to hate her.

As believers, we seriously have to keep our eye on the ball. we’ve got a mission that is super relevant today. The mission isn’t new, and hasn’t changed in centuries. We simply have to stay focused on it, despite the distractions of our time.

Smith out. Good night.