Collect a Thousand Stories. Change the World.

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Book party! We’re celebrating the release of the Five Minute Friday book. This is a marvelous compilation of past and present Five Minute Friday free writes (yes, I’m in there too). Proceeds benefit two ministries in South Africa: The Vine School in Cape Town, and The Ten Dollar Tribe.

What could be better than a buying a book to be a force for good?

I’m so proud of my friends for making the world more beautiful and honest with their words.

Now it’s time for Five Minute Friday. I can’t think of a better way to cheer my fellow writing peeps than with a poem (sheepish grin). COLLECT is our word.

Collect me a thousand voices

Calling to the world

Of story, roses, rain, and Jesus,

An open door to evermore.

Every word a pinprick in my hand

Stretched out open wide

Pain and glory bleeding beautiful

Close the window, wash hands, pipes collecting morning’s tide.

Don’t Miss the Madness

31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes starts Oct. 1! (And I still don’t have a proper title for mine.) What’s yours?

P.S. Here’s my favorite quote from the book.

“We threw caution to the wind and we wrote our guts out.” ~@lisajobaker, #FMFbook Tweet This

That’s what it’s all about.

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Post-Presidential Debate Hangover (When America Wants to Wake from a Very Bad Dream)

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I sigh and shake my head while turning down sheets

To forget this madness called America’s presidential debate.

We have just clicked off talking heads,

Numbed ourselves with Facebook feeds and now we hit the hay in hopes of sweet oblivion.

I toss and turn until midnight only to fall into a twisted dream—Canadians Instagraming pictures of a mama moose lounging

In a suburban front yard. Her twin moose babies splash next to her in a blow-up pool.

Nonchalantly, they watch the neighbors’ minivan burn.

That’s us. I wake with a start.

It’s all just a dream.

After an hour, sleep comes.

But somewhere between 1 and 2 A.M., I hear Bono in my head saying he’s just an Irishman with no vote here, but America’s about to trump its own dream.

I try to wake myself but can’t.

Images swim in my head: political lackeys waving fingers in Southern pulpits as they try to convince me

To vote against the devil.

I see my seven-year old boy going to bed terrified.

He doesn’t want to shut his eyes

Because he fears the political waters will rise

Creeping up round his bed while he sleeps. He knows the black flood will rise up the stairs undetected and push back his second floor door.

The quiet drift will carry his bed and his choice off without so much as a sound, right out the window.

God, it’s here.

I open my eyes. The sheets, twisted and damp, stick to my legs.

Thank goodness it isn’t real. It was feeling like an episode of The High Castle.

I go downstairs, pour myself a glass of water, and vow not to vote.

That’s the ticket.

Do nothing.

It’s what I do when I can’t choose between two good things.

Is it right for the most awful possible imagining?

Nope, it’s a cop-out.

Our country must choose whom will inflict the least damage.

We told ourselves and our children it would never come to this.

Still it comes.

We said it was too absurd to be true.

But it’s happening.

Can’t we just go back to bed and console ourselves with past presidential disasters?

Look at us, world, we’re still here after 250 years.

Today is more than different as I look out over my lawn.

This reckoning with reality feels something awful.

America is waking groggy and very badly wrecked—

The worst kind of hangover.

I imagine my country today,

Finding herself alone with her conscience in a field.

Why is she wearing someone else’s clothes?

This is not a dream.

She’s got keys in her hand but no car in sight.

“What just happened?”

She’s scratching her head in a God-forsaken desert.

She remembers something in the back of her mind, a knock on the door months ago.

Was it the neighbor, saying, “Hey, I thought you should know,

your car is on fire.”

We have ignored the signs, and for this, we weep,

For ourselves and the world.

America, we know it’s never been about us.

Our political system is failing miserably, it seems. (Again.)

Can any of us take responsibility for the night we don’t remember and

The minivan flaming in the driveway?

Perhaps.

No, blame isn’t the game to get us home.

We are a nation who must remember, though our heads are spinning.

We must admit we’re on the verge of a nearly irredeemable mess.

Back to America, hungover in the desert.

A cell phone rings in the brush. She picks it up.

“Hey, you.” It’s the neighbor.

“You better get back before your van sets the whole street on fire. An Uber’s on its way.”

It’s not Bono, or a nice Canadian moose, just a middle-aged fatherly voice telling her to come back to the hood.

Like magic, a blue hatchback appears on the horizon.

She has no choice but to get in and take the ride.

The burning wreckage catches her eye long before her feet hit home asphalt.

Wild ride.

She gets out and turns to pay the driver, but she’s got nothing.

He’s gone anyway.

I look at her weary eyes, hand her a fire hose, and a triple-shot espresso in a Jumbo cup laced with hope.

Yes, America, I drank 10 cups of coffee in your honor today. We’re not going to sleep for a long time.

We’ve got work to do.

Hope, on one hand, is an absurdity too embarrassing to speak about, for it flies in the face of all those claims we have been told are facts. Hope is the refusal to accept the reading of reality which is the majority opinion; and one does that only at great political and existential risk. On the other hand, hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretension of the present, daring to announce that the present to which we have all made commitments is now called into question.
Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

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Harness the Power of Five and Be a Force for Good

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Five, a force for good, and a blip of time in the scheme of eons and lifetimes.

Less than 100, 50, 20, and 10,

Five is greater than 1.

It is the number where change sparks in our souls,

Where focus festers and spurs us to start new things,

Good things,

Transforming works.

Five is a cup of coffee sipped first thing,

img_20160903_085704A white seat under stars, moon, and sun peaking good morning,

Where God says, “I love you.”

Five is a stretch so pain doesn’t implant itself in my spine and my side as a thorn.

It is freedom and healing seizing the day.

Five is hurried cereal, a peck on the cheek, a charge to, “Go be awesome,”

A touch.

Five is a kiss on the lips before the day’s fury fights for our love.

A walk around the block to clear my mind, a good gaze at the sky, and a back to work pep talk.

Five is a phone call, a text, an e-mail to remind me there is more to me than what I do:

It is how I live and whom I love.img_20160904_200030

Five is a tribe of friends spurring each other on to live creative and free.

A flash of light, a recognition of God’s goodness in the backyard garden at dusk.

Five is showing up to this life,

A few minutes of thankful—

Five is the new future.

When Fives Join Forces

Five is a force for good. Tweet This

It’s the theme of my furiously-writing, equally fabulous flash mob of creative wordy friends. It’s the absolute best thing I do with my time all week. We’re a tribe of the greatest sort.

  • #Write31Days: The Five Minute Friday community is teaming up for the third year straight to write 31 days of five minute free writes, kicking off October 1. All the details here.
  • #GrooveToWrite: This week we’ve been priming the creativity pump by linking up our writing playlists. It’s not too late to share your grooves through Sept. 30.

When we unite our forces of five minutes, we can and will change the world. Tweet This31-Days-of-Five-MInute-Free-Writes-Button

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Short on Inspiration? What’s Your Groove Writing Playlist is Live!

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I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life. That’s a lyric from Phil Collins’ song, “In the Air Tonight.” I haven’t been waiting for this playlist link-up for quite that long, but I’ve been pretty stoked about it all month! Today we’re sharing our favorite writing grooves in the first ever link-up at Creative + Free. Got your playlist ready? The link-up is live here.

Finding My Groove

My love affair with music began with childhood living room dance parties to Amy Grant and Petra, later recording sessions with Phil Collins and Belinda Carlisle from the radio to my boombox. It continued with Mozart and Chopin at piano recitals and Carmina Burana and Ave Maria in college choir. (In so many ways, the first half of my life was chasing music and running away from words. But I’m over that now.)

Then I got the chance to sing Top 40 hits in church. No joke. Lady Antebellum, Sarah McLachlan, Pink, and so much more. We played anything and everything to share God’s love with people.

Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t true: Adele can double as praise music.

Those Sunday morning music medleys to Beyonce, Madonna, and the Muse broadened my musical tastes, and most importantly, helped me find my groove. The music I write to hardly sounds like the hymns and etudes on which I was raised. It’s tinged with poetic, melancholy lyrics, vacillating dramatically between a steady, techno-driven beat, 80’s-tinged crowd-moving anthems, and hopelessly lovesick ballads in a minor-key. This is my unique mixtape, and it is totally me.

Music is a deeply personal experience.

Making Your Mixtape

So what are you?

  • Words or no words?
  • Classical, indie, pop, Christian, or country?
  • Upbeat or overflowing with cathartic blues?
  • Different depending on the day?
  • A cacophony of sounds?


The Power of a Playlist

Music has the power to move us beyond ourselves. Like the written word, music consoles our sorrows and lifts our spirits. It sets our feet to dancing and can send our fingers flying over the keyboard when silence stifles the creative muses.

I love what Kristin Hill Taylor said,

Playlists are my love language!

Most of us haven’t been waiting for this playlist link-up all our lives, but we’re pretty darn excited it’s here! Like a series of well-crafted chapters or a collection of poignant poems, a personal playlist can help us connect to ourselves, to God and to the beautiful, broken human experience we all share.

Link up your playlist here.groovetowrite-1

P.S. We are gonna have so much musical inspiration for writing 31 days in October!

Note: You do not have to be a serious writer or blogger to participate. The only requirement is an awesome creativity-inducing playlist!

What’s the story behind your groove?

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The Spy Who Was Loved

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Sometimes the words don’t come out like I want them too. That’s what happened with this guest post for my dear Compel sister Jill Hoven. She asked me to write for her beautiful blog Follow His Footprints, and I wanted to tell a story about how God was remaking me into a whole person with a new identity. But as my fingers typed, I realized I was trying to do a covert op by hiding behind who I wanted to be.

Although wholeness is the end goal of my story, this narrative is more about being honest and letting God blow my cover—completely. 

Changing My Identity

I’ve always wanted to be a spy. A black-suited world-traveling hero adept at accents and disguises, thwarting evil with a swift karate chop and remaining cool under any lie detector test. I used to be a pretty good one: telling bold-faced lies as a kid, changing my Southern accent in college, and later, hiding emotions. As any good CIA show will dramatize, a spy is usually a spy because of a broken backstory. I have one too.

Recently my husband and I were jogging and discussing our new food tracking regime. He questioned me when I insisted this had everything to do with health and absolutely nothing to do with feeling better about myself.

An agent will go to any length to keep her identity and secrets safe in the name of national security, which happens to be self-protection for me.

He busted me in prime stealth mode.

Walk this way with me to read the rest of the story…

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31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes: The Prompts Are Here!

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In T-minus 18 days, the 2016 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes launches!

Are you excited? 

To stay on the main 31 Days communication channel, please subscribe to my Friday newsletterIf have tried to subscribe recently and you received an error message, my apologies. The issue is now fixed.

Next Tuesday Sept. 20, I’ll also be hosting a bit of a test run link-up here on the blog called What’s Your Groove? Writing Playlist.

The History Lesson

If you’ve done this challenge before, you know Kate Motaung hosted it the past two years. Since she’s swimming in editing gigs right now, she bravely asked me to pilot this ship. (I hope I know how to fly this thing!)

We’ll be joining the annual Write 31 Days Challenge again and offering a challenge within the challenge — that means, we write a blog post in five minutes or less each day in October.

To inspire your fingers to get moving, I’ve built a nifty list of one-word prompts just for you!

Three Ways to Write with 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes

Choose your own adventure:

  1. Write a post in five minutes or less using the prompts I’ve composed,
  2. Write a post in five minutes or less using your own topics, OR
  3. Use the prompts I’ve provided but be a rebel and write for as long as you want.

Particulars

Ready to give your writing a boost with this awesome community?

Backstory on the Prompts

This past spring my friend Charissa Steyn at Art of Adventure composed 40 Days of Tiny Adventures with God where she listed fresh, simple ways to experience the divine in your every day. I took her PDF and used the first 31 prompts to inspire the words for our October writing challenge.

Without further ado, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for:

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Click the graphic to download a black + white version.

Hashtags

Please use #Write31Days and #5MFW to share the news about 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes.

For the Overachievers

You know who you are. (Wink. Wink.) You’re welcome to write in advance and schedule posts ahead of time, or fly your writing ship like James T. Kirk and wing it.

Stay in the Loop

Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get the 31 Days writing challenge news in your inbox as well as reminder this Friday about the What’s Your Groove Writing Playlist Link-up.

Are you ready to write like your life depends on it?

(Cue the Star Trek theme.) We’re about to embark on a writing adventure where few have gone before!

I Know You’ve Got Questions

Share them below and we’ll figure this out together.

Let’s do this thang!

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