Faith…It Makes For a Good Story

UPDATE***Two days after posting this, the Lord led me to James 3:14-16, “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.  This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (ESV)  This passage really hit home for me, because I fear that I have had the wrong motives behind pushing my writing.  I do want to help people and I do want to share stories of faith, but I was beginning to put way too much emphasis on making a name for myself, creating a “brand,” and worrying too much about the money side of what I’m doing.  I want to stay true to my original mission behind my blog and writing, which means less worry about “other peoples’ stories” and writing success.  If I am meant to be successful, God will allow it to happen.

Hey, did you hear about…?  Guess what I just heard?  Oh, man, do I have a story for you!

Have you ever said these words to someone, eager to share a “great story” with them, knowing what you were about to tell them could be LIFE CHANGING!?!?

Have you had someone say these words to you, and you waited with anxious anticipation, while they prepared to tell you a story that would bring you great experience, connection, or emotion?

We, the people, LOVE a great story.  I have noticed that as the media, whether social, news, or publishing, gets more dramatic and outlandish with their stories, we are craving more drama in our every day stories.  Here are a few of my thoughts today as I am struggling to branch into a writing career, a world that is supposed to pay me for my “stories.”  Thanks for joining today.

faith title
Is living an average life with little drama enough to make a good story for others to read about faith?

 

Food For Thought  I love to read and I am especially fond of nonfiction text that falls in the spiritual and self-help categories.  I am especially fond of authors like Lysa TerKeurst, Sharon Jaynes, Joyce Meyer, and Pam Farrell.  These ladies have a great way of telling their stories while intertwining scripture and advice, without seeming pushy or preachy.  I love that style of writing and keep hoping that I may learn from, rather than copy, their styles, so that I too can help people deal with difficult times or situations in the same way these ladies, and others, have helped me.  But I’ve really been struggling recently, wondering if my story is ENOUGH.

I am in the process of writing my (hopefully) first book, and I do have a story to tell…my own unique story of faith.  But I have been left with the question if my story is the kind of story people will want to read.  And not only will people want to read it, but would anyone actually be willing to pay to read it?  After all, I can still remember one of my college professors at the Christian University I attended telling me that my baptism story was BORING.  And here I am, twenty years later, trying to tell this story about my own steps in faith, hoping someone out there would benefit from what I have to say.  But in the dramatic comparison department, I can’t hold a candle to some of the experiences these well-known and accomplished ladies can draw on from their own lives.  My life has been so completely and incredibly AVERAGE.  My husband had to listen to a big hash-out over this struggle a few nights ago, resulting from the current book I’m reading, Why Her? by Nicki Koziarz.  I like this book and it has a lot to teach me about the struggles of comparison and envy, but while I’m reading it, I can’t help but have my author hat on, thinking about how Nicki’s story is dramatic, as are so many of those other stories I read.  That’s what draws readers in and keeps them coming back for more.  Then I find myself doing exactly what the book is trying to get me AWAY FROM…comparison!  In the conversation I just mentioned, I told my husband that I am so grateful for the blessings of my life.  God has spared me so much tragedy and crisis.  Thank God I was never abused or a victim of any type of violence.  Thank God I’ve never experienced the loss of a child.  Thank God I don’t battle a major or terminal illness.  Thank God I didn’t get pregnant at a young age, having to make decisions that could impact the rest of my life.  Thank God my husband doesn’t cheat on me.  Thank God we’ve never lost our home or been victims in some terrible accident.  Living a life of blessings and I have the nerve to complain, Lord have mercy on me!  I never EVER want to make it sound like I would prefer ANY of that, because it is just not true.  I do wrestle with some of my own demons, likely come out in my book, if it gets published.  But all of those horrible events that I’m grateful for never experiencing?  Those are the exact same dramatic and tragic events that people look to for either entertainment or guidance.  I think there’s a few reasons for this.

First of all, I think for most of us, human curiosity brings us into these stories.  Oh, yeah, so THEN what happened?  Oh, my gosh, what did you DO?  We just want to know all the details and how it all turns out in the end.  Second, like I mentioned above, the current world plays off of high-drama and the shock factor that results from stories that are deeply emotional or tragic.  Next, I think about how we look to people that have SURVIVED, made it through, come out on the other side in a good way, for their advice and guidance, thinking that if they can do it, surely I can do it.  Then, on a completely different note, I really believe God uses a lot of these people and their life stories to reach other people.  Like many of us have heard before, God can bring good from tragedy, and that may just be from sharing your story with others.  Knowing these things, I keep debating with God about this book writing task I felt like he called for me to complete.  I keep saying things like, “God, people barely read my blog.  Why would they want to read an entire book that I have written about my faith journey?”  In fact, it’s been about two months since I worked on my book because I keep “arguing” with God, and over and over again he seems to whisper, “Tell your story, Robin.”  Last night, it was the nudge, “It’s not about YOU, Robin.”  So what do I do?  Well, I probably will keep pressing on with this writing, knowing that in God’s eyes, FAITH makes a great story.

Matthew 14
A journaling page I did when I found myself struggling with doubts

 

Today’s Scriptures  Faith does make a great story and there is no shortage of stories of faith in the Bible.  One of my favorite faith stories, or lack of faith, is the tale of Peter attempting to walk on water in Matthew 14:22-33.  I recently read a commentary on Revoluting Now called The Top Ten Acts of Extreme Faith.  I was intrigued by the writer’s criteria on what makes “extreme faith.”  His criteria included these four points: faith is not expected, opposition to the faith exists, the character has a lot to lose by stepping out in faith, and the act is unprecedented or unique.  As far as we know, no one other than Jesus had walked on water up to this point, so Peter asking to be summoned out on to the water in verse 28 is unprecedented.  The waves and restless sea, and simple physics, provide plenty of opposition to Peter’s action.  Without faith, Peter could likely drown, resulting in losing his life…that is a lot to lose!  But we notice in this brief passage is not Jesus commending Peter for his faith in stepping out onto the water, but Jesus calling Peter out for his DOUBT.  I’ve been thinking about this passage a lot lately, in my new “career adventures.”  I feel like God keeps answering my questions with “Why do you doubt?”

Matthew 14:30-31 (ESV)  “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Today’s Recipe  I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to loving a good story, and since I love cooking and food so much, I love stories about food, too.  My family really enjoys watching Cooking Channel’s show Food: Fact or Fiction.  It’s interesting to know how foods get their start and how so many things we think we know about their origins turn out to be false.  I love the one about Thomas Jefferson being the American father of macaroni and cheese!  As presidents receive congratulatory gifts for their inauguration, Thomas Jefferson received some impressive hunks of cheese from dairy farmers, since they knew he loved cheese so much.  Old T.J. first learned about pasta served with cheese while he served as minister to France, so he was eager to have his personal chef fix a variation for him at home.  This first version was pasta, butter, parmesan, and cream.  It was even served at a White House dinner party in 1802, but with great disappointment.  Guests said things like “A pie of macaroni?” and “It was not agreeable.”  But this did not deter the president from enjoying the dish, which is now greatly loved by most Americans.  Even President Ronald Reagan claimed macaroni and cheese to be one of his “guilty pleasures.”  So today, I’m going to give you my version of a Classic Baked Mac and Cheese.  (Historical food references found at Dish–All Recipes)

classic mac and cheese
Noodles, butter, milk, and cheese…nothing simpler, or more comforting!

 

Classic Baked Mac and Cheese

  • 16 oz macaroni noodles
  • 4 cups salted water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Turn oven to 375 degrees.  Place noodles and salt water in large pot; bring to a boil.  When boiling reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook until pasta is tender, 12-15 minutes.  Drain pasta, but do not rinse.  Add stick of butter to noodles and stir until mostly melted.  Add milk and cheeses, stirring to combine.  Pour entire mixture into 9×13 casserole.  Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 45 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.