Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Dipping the Quill Deeper: A Writer At the End of My Life


by Eva Marie Everson

My husband and I decided to spend a day in Mount Dora before Christmas, to enjoy the twinkly lights, the holiday music, and the general hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping. 

Mount Dora is a bedroom community about an hour north-west of Orlando, Florida known for its Southern charm, specialty shops, cozy cafes, and delectable restaurants. Everything about it screams, “Come see me!”

So we did.

The day was perfect weatherwise—not too hot, not too cold. The sunlight winked between the buildings and the thick live oaks, casting silver linings to the Spanish moss that dripped from their gnarled branches. We started the day with a cuppa, then slipped in and out of the shops, all of which sold a remarkable number of pricy candles in varying scents, and in general simply enjoyed the day.

In one shop teeming with patrons, I was shoved (not forcefully, but shoved nonetheless), toward a wall, the toe of my shoe nearly bringing down a large plank of wood with words painted in white. Lots of words.

I stepped back to read the message, which turned out to be a quote from the late Erma Bombeck, an American humorist whose written work used to send me into waves of hysterical laughter. But this line did anything but.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, 
I would hope that I would not have a single 
bit of talent left and could say, 
“I used everything you gave me.”

The words stayed with me the rest of the day—through lunch, as we meandered in and out of other shops, when we stopped for another cup of coffee (this time with pastries) . . . When I stand before God . . . I used everything . . .

This One Gift

In the January 2023 issue of Today’s Christian Living magazine, bestselling author, Jerry B. Jenkins, is quoted as saying, “I’m surprised that I am mono-gifted. I had hoped to be more widely talented, but one has to be realistic. I don’t mean to sound falsely modest, but knowing I have just this one gift has motivated me to exercise it all the more.”[1]

While I believe that Mr. Jenkins has more than one gift (he is one of the most giving people I’ve ever had the honor of being associated with), what he has done with the “one gift” most of us 

know him for—writing—he has done well. He can clearly stand before God at the end of his life, as Mrs. Bombeck hoped to do, and say, “I used it all.” 

I believe that, like Mr. Jenkins, most of us have more than one gift, but we writers . . . well, we have one very special gift. To take words, collect them, gather them onto a page (or pages), then shape them for readers of magazines, blogs, devotionals, books, take-home papers, etc. . . . this is a beautiful and precious gift from the Giver of all Good Gifts. And it’s not one that every breathing child of God holds. They may want to write and write well, but in all honesty, writing is not a gift shared by all.

The Old Testament Book of Malachi begins with God’s scolding of Israel’s priests for showing contempt for His name. They reply with a question, “When did we do that?” And God answers, “When you brought lame, diseased, and blind animals to my altar for sacrifice.” (See Malachi 1:6-8)

When we give God less than 100% of our talent—our gift—we, in our own way, show contempt for that gift. 

Happy New Year

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions, but I do create mottos for the year (last year’s motto was, “If it’s not my horse, it’s not my rodeo”). This year’s is (and I’ve created a little sign just for my desk): Is it 100%? Whatever I do in my work as a writer—whatever I do with my gift from Him—I want it to be 100%. I want to stand before God at the end of my life and say, “I used it all.”

What about you?

[1] Stephanie Rische, “A Lifelong Pursuit—Jerry Jenkins Reflects on Five Decades of Writing”, Today’s Christian Living, January 2023.

TWEETABLE

Eva Marie Everson is the CEO of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She is the multiple award-winning author of more than 40 books and countless articles and blogposts. She is also an award-winning speaker and a Bible teacher and the most recent recipient of the AWSA Lifetime Achievement Award (2022). 

Eva Marie is often seen at writers conferences across the States. She served as a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and taught as a guest professor at Taylor University in 2011. She and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they enjoy their grandchildren. They are owned by one persnickety cat named Vanessa.

Eva Marie's latest book, THE THIRD PATH, takes a look at 26 of the questions God asked in the Bible, then makes them personal to the reader. The premise of the book is currently her most asked for continuing workshop at writers conferences.

28 comments:

  1. Thank you Eva Marie Anderson for this thought-provoking post. It wasn't ten minutes ago I was praying about this very thing--asking the Lord to guide my writing so I can glorify Him with the gift He's given me. I love how He shows up in the most unexpected places.

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  2. Thank you for this heavenly reminder. It is easy to overlook our unique blessing from God by treating it lightly. We are His writers, what an honor!

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  3. Your words gave me pause, Eva Marie -- in a good way. Thank you for the reminder to not squander the gift(s) God has given us. I don't want to show contempt to for the gift of writing that I truly believe is God-given.

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  4. This is encouraging, motivating, and powerful! Thank you, Eva, for sharing an unforgettable article.

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  5. 100%. Great challenge, but how do you keep it up day after day? How do you keep the distractions at bay?

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    1. I believe (in fact, I know) that one of the most important things we do for ourselves is to give ourselves those needed breaks -- a nap, don't eat at your desk, take a walk, watch a movie, read a book, observe the Sabbath. If we do not, we'll burn out. Keeping distractions at bay requires discipline. I am blessed that my office is in my home, I can shut the door (and do), etc. But sometimes, if I'm listening to music . . . I have a tendency to daydream (I am, after all, a writer. We daydream). After a short stint in my thoughts and dreams, I say, "All right, girl! Back to work!" :)

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  6. Wow, this is great, Eva! This is powerful, as well as thought-provoking! Great words to ponder at the start of a new year!

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  7. Eva, have you been watching me? There you go, messing in my business and making me realize what a slouch I've been! Wow, I am convicted. I want to remember these words every day so I won't squander any more of however much time I have left on this planet!

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  8. Eva Marie, I love, love, love this post. Thank you for sharing. And you've inspired me with your motto for the year as well.

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  9. So you touched me!!! Thanks

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  10. Hi Marie,

    I am currently reading Dust at my husband's chemotherapy appointments. I love the way you use language. I may have to start using the concept of time snailing along in my everyday life. But then time goes quickly too. Keep using your talent. I'm trying to use mine

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  11. Thank you! Your words came timely, after yesterday’s plea to God for help. I’ve long felt the call to write but devote the last bits of time instead of the first, as though it were an indulgence for myself instead of a gift for the King. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that sacrificing myself to serve others meant putting myself last. I know better now, but still find myself getting things backwards! Now, as I near the completion of my first novel, I wonder if it is any good at all. Do I really have a gift? Did I blow it because I didn’t major in writing in school? Or is writing at the end of my life actually going to produce works that will reach many people who need healing, hope, and relationship with the spirit of God? I will give Him my best.

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  12. I join the chorus thanking you for this "shove" (not a forceful one, but a shove nonetheless!) Thank you for reading what was on that board. I need to make a stack of 100% signs and post them where I'll see them often.

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  13. Great post! Makes one do some soul searching!

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  14. Such an amazing reminder for me to be a good steward of my giftings. Thank you.

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  15. Thank you for sharing this important message!

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  16. Thanks Eva Marie!! I needed to read these words today. Feeling a bit convicted but also very motivated! God bless.

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  17. Thank you for these words. A friend passed your blog along to me. Am a huge fan of Jerry Jenkins.

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