1 Thessalonians 2:8

Truly a beautiful example of loving other people. The best version of the Gospel.

Thank you Chris Duckworth! Would love to hear what God is teaching you this week.

The Lutheran Zephyr

If there is a Bible verse to encapsulate what I have learned in my hospital chaplain residency this year, this is it:

. . . we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves . . . [1 Thessalonians 2:8]

At the beginning of my residency I struggled with, but quickly accepted, the not-specifically-religious nature of my chaplaincy work (see The Cross and Hospital Chaplaincy). That is, as a hospital chaplain in a diverse setting, I am not there to be a Christian or a Lutheran chaplain. Rather, I am there to be a compassionate presence who can provide spiritual support (if requested), either by directly providing for religious needs (read Scripture, say a prayer, etc.) or by connecting patients with resources from their tradition (reading material, clergy, volunteer visitors).

It was hard, in one sense, to put down my…

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God’s Provision for You

God will provideGod knows how to meet our needs. He spared nothing – even His son, to bring us into right relationship with Him.

You don’t need to fear the future. He has you covered. He already set up good works for you to do, and will provide everything you need to accomplish His will.

He’ll be there to meet every need with abundance. He may not always give us exactly what we ask, but He always gives us the very best.

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Trusting is Hard

I mean really, really hard

Are you searching for the wisdom to make a tough decision?
Are you afraid of what might happen if you do the right thing?

Have you pulled up roots and embarked on a new journey?
Are you staring down a new road, about to take your first step into the unknown?

Are you weary from carrying burdens beyond your strength?
Are you at the end of your journey, battling sorrow and pain?

…Then these words are for you.
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Bible Verses on Hope

Bible verses of hope

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.”
Psalm 31:24

“Who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
1 Peter 1:21

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace given you in Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13

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Wait on the Lord. Wait is the Hardest Word

For any of you who are waiting.

Waiting is hard. It can wear you out, or wear your patience thin.

I’m not good at waiting. Patience has never been my strong suit. Fortunately, God keeps giving me practice to sharpen those skills, and verses to help renew my strength.

When I’ve been waiting a long time, I feel like Joshua, shuffling through a rut, following my own dust cloud around the same walls again, and again.

But in the times when I feel most discouraged, God’s ready to work a miracle.
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The Nightingale

by Mark Akenside

To-night retired, the queen of heaven
With young Endymion stays;
And now to Hesper it is given
Awhile to rule the vacant sky,
Till she shall to her lamp supply
A stream of brighter rays.

Propitious send thy golden ray,
Thou purest light above!
Let no false flame seduce to stray
Where gulf or steep lie hid for harm;
But lead where music’s healing charm
May soothe afflicted love.

To them, by many a grateful song
In happier seasons vow’d,
These lawns, Olympia’s haunts, belong:
Oft by yon silver stream we walk’d,
Or fix’d, while Philomela talk’d,
Beneath yon copses stood.

Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs
That roofless tower invade,
We came, while her enchanting Muse
The radiant moon above us held:
Till, by a clamorous owl compell’d,
She fled the solemn shade.

But hark! I hear her liquid tone!
Now Hesper guide my feet!
Down the red marl with moss o’ergrown,
Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane
Which leads to her retreat.

See the green space: on either hand
Enlarged it spreads around:
See, in the midst she takes her stand,
Where one old oak his awful shade
Extends o’er half the level mead,
Enclosed in woods profound.

Hark! how through many a melting note
She now prolongs her lays:
How sweetly down the void they float!
The breeze their magic path attends;
The stars shine out; the forest bends;
The wakeful heifers graze.

Whoe’er thou art whom chance may bring
To this sequester’d spot,
If then the plaintive Siren sing,
O softly tread beneath her bower
And think of Heaven’s disposing power,
Of man’s uncertain lot.

O think, o’er all this mortal stage
What mournful scenes arise:
What ruin waits on kingly rage;
How often virtue dwells with woe;
How many griefs from knowledge flow;
How swiftly pleasure flies!

O sacred bird! let me at eve,
Thus wandering all alone,
Thy tender counsel oft receive,
Bear witness to thy pensive airs,
And pity Nature’s common cares,
Till I forget my own.

The Lamp of the Body

I am nearsighted.
Beyond that, one of my eyes sees farther than the other.

I’m still not convinced which eye sees the most.

When I close my eyes and drift, I’m inclined to believe one sees farther on the astral plane. If I could calibrate it perfectly, I could see spiral galaxies whirling like grains of sand on the shores of deep waters. I could see life arising from primordial darkness.

I could see stars.

As I finish writing this novel, I see these wonders, I hear the music of the spheres, and I cannot stop smiling. There are tears also; this is a human story.

They say you write best when you write what you know. For me, joy comes most oft when mixed with pain. The gift of life tinctured with mortality.

I can’t help but wonder. Do these interesting side effects — these coincidences — both inconvenience and define us?


Run On

So. I beat NANO.


I could excuse the lack of posts by saying I don’t have the time to do this.
The truth is, I’m more comfortable with the silence.

It’s comforting to think you can’t do something. You feel neither guilt nor shame; no doubts burn behind your eyes.

image from unipus

image from unipus

You stop wondering how much distance lies between the road you currently walk and the path to your dreams.

If you’re even walking. You might by lying among the lotus, wondering when the road will find you. Someday, you tell yourself. Someday your chance will come. You tell yourself you’ll be ready when it comes

Bullshit. I’m sick of someday.

Writing a blog is not my dream at the moment. More of a way to keep my sorry ass in line when I start to procrastinate instead of doing what I know I should.


images via unipus

It’s more painful to see my mistakes writ large. Makes for better motivation.

As for lounging about rather than chasing my dream, well…
I could say my eyes aren’t strong enough, that my hands hurt, that my body is weak. Who allowed this weakness? More to the point, who gave this weakness permission to stop me?

I know I’m not alone in this fight. I’ve seen countless brave souls illuminating the pages of history like stars. So many have struggled to overcome greater challenges than I will ever face. I’m not the first to run this race.

So, rather than inventorying my obstacles, I’ll skip to a vow to overcome them.

I want to know what I’m capable of, instead of wishing, hoping dreaming. I’d like to see what forces come to my aid.

images via unipus

images via unipus

Free yourself. Make light your burden.
So you can run the race set before you.
For all our pretty words, none of us can cheat time.

So in the words of the immortal Wireman
“Do the day, and let the day do you.”

Here’s to burning down the dawn,

~ Jessica

NANOWRIMO: Tips for Hitting 50,000

I have to say, NANOWRIMO members are some of the most generous, encouraging artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

Continuing the spirit of generosity, I’m writing up a list of tips from NANOWRIMO veterans.

Skyla generously shared her tips for hitting 50,000:

One trick I use to make sure I finish is that I wear my word count on my shirt each day. I pick up a bunch of smallish computer lables – they work really well.

People ask about why I have random numbers on my shirt so I tell them.

People get interested (and maybe even join themselves!). My guess is that if I randomly stopped or had a lame word count for three days in a row they’d get on my back about it.

One thing that really helps me finish is that I stick to the daily word count goal. I usually shoot for 2,000 instead of 1667 since it’s an easier number to count and it gives me extra words for those days when I just can’t write anymore.

Never ever skip a day.

If you can’t write enough one day, try to make it up the next. For me, if I got too far behind, it’d be really easy to quit, so it’s good to stay on track or ahead.

Atalanta took the leap last year, and got the support she needed

Hello and welcome! I did the same thing in my first year: I made a very public announcement that I was participating because I knew if I didn’t it would be all too easy to quit.

It definitely helped because I did try to quit — on day one! 😛 But I let everyone know I was thinking of ditching the whole thing and I got a lot of support, especially from one friend who said that if I quit, he’d quit.

Guilt is a powerful motivator!

I also stumbled on this brilliant tipsheet from Atalanta. A fount of wisdom, that woman is!

Quantity, not quality.
NaNoWriMo isn’t about crafting perfect prose — it’s not even about crafting readable prose. It’s about pushing through everything that holds you back (self doubt, busy schedule, perfectionism, inexperience, etc.) and pounding out a first draft. Yes, much of it will be awful — but you’ll also be surprised at the gems in the rough.

Giving in to your “internal editor” is a sure-fire strategy for disaster. Trust me, I know this from experience. Learn to ignore it all, from the clunky sentence structure and typos, to the plot holes and bad dialog. Just keep writing! One of the things that helped me in my first year was to keep telling myself that NaNo was “just a writing exercise” and didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I was right — and I won.

You aren’t writing 50k, you’re writing 1667 a day.
Don’t think about the distant, intimidating goal of getting 50,000 words written in 30 days. Every morning your goal is at least 1667 words for that 24-hour period. In fact, make it a nice round 2000 words and build up a comfort zone as you go along.

Word Wars
Make the Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints Forum your new best friend during November, especially if you have a tight schedule. I guarantee: word-wars will increase your writing speed. I don’t fully understand the psychology behind it, but it works.

A dare is a challenge to include something silly in your novel. Find a dare thread (they’re all over the place; take this one for instance) and then pick out at least 5-10 dares to use during the month. Not only will they be available to lean on if you run out of ideas, but they’re a wonderful antidote to perfectionism!

Whether it’s a piece of chocolate for every 2k, a new book for every 10k, or a single big reward at the end of the month, if you can find a tempting tidbit to dangle in front of your nose, you’ll find it much easier to stay focused on your word count.

NaNoWriMo Resources
The forums aren’t just for socializing. Are you panicking because your protagonist just bailed out on your plot? Ask for help in Plot Doctoring. Do you suddenly need to know the loading capacity of a wall-mounted ballista? Try Character & Plot Realism. Does a spontaneous walk-on character need a name appropriate for your setting? Check out your genre forum.

Faith and good habits will take you places that talent alone never will.

Have faith in your ability to accomplish your ultimate goal
(50,000 words) …

…and establish good habits (1667 words a day) to get you there.

sushimustwrite had some great advice as well…

First, write every day.

Even if you can’t hit the recommended and magical 1667 words every single day, try to write something down every day, even if it’s just a small scene or a conversation.

Skipping one day makes it so much to skip another day, and another, and another, and next thing you know you’ll just want to quit altogether.

While we’re on the topic of writing every day, try to leave yourself a small cushion every day.

Sure, the recommended daily word count is 1667 words, but some days you may not hit that many words. Other days, however, you’ll find yourself feeling especially prolific and going over (sometimes far over) the daily word count.

If you know you won’t have much time to write at some point in the month, schedule more time to write when you do have time so you’re not panicking and writing the last half of your novel during the last few days. It can be done (I did it my first year, and many others have too), but for reasons to be explained later, this is an experience to be avoided if you can help it.

* Rewards. Finished that tricky scene? Have a cookie. Finished a chapter? Stand up, stretch, walk around the room, go to the bathroom if you need to.

Make sure to sit back down and get back to writing, though!

Actually, making yourself finish that scene or chapter before you do any of these things can be enough motivation to keep you going.

I keep candy in front of me while I was writing and told myself I couldn’t have any until I hit my word count goal for the day. Reward yourself well when you finish–you deserve it!

* Word wars. Anyone who knows me knows I love this way of writing. This idea behind it is that you set a timer for some short period of time between ten and thirty minutes (my favorite is 15) and write as much as you can during that time. You can compete against yourself, or you can find chat rooms where NaNo novelists are word warring together.

* Write whatever you want. Don’t want to write the next scene? Don’t do it. Write the one after that, or the awesome fight scene, or the scene after the awesome fight scene that you’ve been plotting in your head. Just because you’re stuck in one place doesn’t mean you have to be stuck everywhere.

Still hungry? Check the NANO Forums!

Have good advice? Catch me on Twitter

And above all, keep writing.