Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Evolution of a Word Girl

This post is part of the Cecil Murphy Scholarship opportunity offered through She Speaks conference {Proverbs 31 Ministries.} For more information on this fantastic conference for aspiring speakers, writers, or ministry leaders, see the end of my post or visit the conference web-site.

She Speaks Conference


I started blogging several years ago. I didn't have an audience or an agenda. I just wanted a place to share and write and connect. Before long, the fun but superficial posts on recipes and furniture makeovers and family outings gradually gave way to posts about motherhood and struggle and finding joy in the everyday.

And the more I wrote, the more I realized I couldn't not write.

I wrote posts I never published. I wrote through tears in my journal. I wrote to others and I wrote to Jesus. I scribbled hard on receipts in the Publix parking lot and memorialized thoughts at stop-lights with a golf-course pencil and the back of a bank envelope. And it slowly dawned on me that I wrote...a lot.

The "writerly me" I’ve located in the midst of motherhood and marriage and mess feels both new and nostalgic, like getting back in touch with a childhood best friend.

As I backwards trace through youth and young adulthood, I see shadows of a word girl. My 5th grade poetry book? A prized possession. Diagramming sentences? My favorite. What I got in trouble for in 7th grade? Passing notes. {Lots of them.} Letters and notebooks from college filled with tales of love and lament? Check. I loved literature and mythology and the power of a great story.

And I recall my senior year of high school, going in early before school to get special tutoring from Ms. Joyner, my quirky, brilliant, gray-haired AP English teacher, who painstakingly helped me maintain consistent tenses and locate compelling themes. One-on-one, she taught me composition and I loved it.

But I didn't become a writer.

I became someone who had to do a lot of writing for her profession. And while I felt at home in academia and loved my career, I wasn't telling much story. Writing then lacked the personal narrative I never knew I was longing for.

And now that there's more space for my thoughts to run free, I'm able to write about the real.

Last year I wrote for the first time about marriage. My marriage. The imperfect, almost-wasn't marriage and how God brought redemption out of mess. It was a guest post for Chatting at the Sky so I sort of chalked up the response to Emily's larger audience. But last month I wrote a bit more about marriage and once again, it seemed to resonate.

I never thought I'd write publicly about that part of my life. But I've now had an opportunity to encourage other women who are tired of putting on perfect every day for the outside world yet struggling desperately behind closed doors.

I know how that feels. I did it for years.

And 15 years after "I do," it's still hard. Marriage is not for the faint of heart and sometimes I want that story to have its happy ending already so that I can move on to more glamourous tales. But God...He keeps writing His story out of our failure and I guess we've been good at giving Him a plenteous supply of material.

I didn't see the struggle as a story but someone else did. Bonita, an encouraging writer friend, left this comment on last month's Love Story post:

Scooper, I thought it before, but now I know it. You need to write a book. This is it--your book--this trudging up the hill and sliding back down and clamoring back up again. This is your story.

You write it well. You live it well. And you express what so many of us experience in the day-to-day living out of love.

And so many will relate to this, to your transparency and willingness to let us peek into your tear-filled closet.

I don't say these things to everyone and I have a really good track record for picking winners. You are one of those winners, Scooper. Not many people can write this way and express it all so well. You have a book in you, sweet friend!

I cried. I felt scared and exhilarated. Why? Because someone called me a writer and I dared to believe her. What's more, she read the words of my big ol' mess and she said it's a story others need to hear. And whether I delve further into that plot or write something entirely different, whether I publish a book or continue to narrate the grace-drenched everyday in relative obscurity, I know that God has woven story through my DNA. He has given me words and they are my offering to Him and to others.

That's why I would love to win a scholarship to She Speaks. I want to connect with other writers, to learn, to share, to be equipped, and to see where story leads. I've longed to go to the conference for several years now and a scholarship would provide that opportunity. As my heart is unmistakably being pulled in the direction of writing, I'm ready to put my "work" out there beyond the scope of my blog, to follow this dream and see what God may have in store.

So thanks for reading my story. And I really hope to see you at She Speaks in July!


She Speaks is a conference for Christian women who aspire to be speakers, writers or ministry leaders. The conference is part of Proverbs 31 Ministries. At She Speaks,

You will learn how to make the most of your messages, the nuts and bolts of speaking, writing, leading and influencing, and have the opportunity to meet with some of today’s top Christian publishers.

She Speaks is not just another conference … it is a true experience with God and a revival in your calling!

-Lysa Terkeurst, Proverbs 31 Ministries


  1. Oh, how I wish I were the "decision committee!" You are a writer, you do have a story (or stories), your words open windows into the interior (yours and ours), and I just know that our Heavenly Father is going to use it for His purposes. He already has.

    I'm praying that this just may be year you get to go, my dear one.


  2. We need real messages about life and marriage and making it, even when the making it is hard.

    Good luck with the scholarship, girl.

  3. Well, of course your mother is always right!

    I agree, if we were on the decision committee, you'd have won the scholarship already.

    As you know, you write "for me" in nearly every post of yours. You voice the words that I struggle to put into thought in such an expressive, soulful manner.

    I love how He has gifted you since "as long as you can remember" with writing. May you continue to seek Him, write about your experiences, love The Man and the children you are rearing together, AND accept the accolades as they come to you, my dear Sister.

    Fingers, toes, and eyes are crossed -- yes, a less than attractive sight ;-)

    OOOOO Hugs across the miles OOOOO

  4. Now, I'm the one crying!

    You know I'm praying you will win. And when you do and you come to Charlotte, we must get together so I can hug your neck- writer to writer.

  5. Of course you are a writer, and one of my favorites. I will read anything you, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, or Carol Berkin write.

  6. Bonita does pick winners! She's a dear friend and if she says you've got it then you must have it. I haven't ever read your blog but I was drawn in by your title over at Lysa's list of links-- from one word girl to another, I am rooting for you to win!!

  7. I, too, think you should win. I love your brave, bold, true stories about marriage. And, of course, you had me smiling with your descriptions of Mrs. Joyner. Do you remember Snoopy G!?

  8. Oh man. I super hope you win. You have no idea how your posts on marriage have helped me-a total stranger. My husband and I are currently separated. It is scary and hard. And, there are not many stories out there-ones that are honest about what it's like in the middle of it. Your story, that I found randomly on Emily's site was like water in the desert.

    God is using your courage to write to give me courage to keep walking.

  9. I read your post this weekend and could relate to a lot of it. Your words are stirring. I saved your blog under my favorites months ago after reading your post at Emily's, Chatting at the Sky. Looking forward to reading more. :)

  10. I'm new to reading your blog, but I love your desire to be transparent and to hear that your willingness to do that has been resonating with women all over! Your evolution in writing your blog sounds a lot like my own (only I'm newer!) - I started out anticipating chipper housewifely posts, and every time I sit down to write a post, the only things I end up writing are the real things. The growing processes. The hard stuff enmeshed with the good, grace stuff. Looking forward to reading more of your posts and wishing you the best with your scholarship!


Share your thoughts?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin