What I really want to say…

A while back, I saw a blogger quote some of Natalie Goldberg’s advice to writers. She instructs writers who are stuck to simply write,

“What I really want to say …”

and go from there. Later, you can delete that intro, or you can leave it in. 

That single piece of advice has been one of the most valuable I’ve ever read when it comes to writing. 

When I write about stuff that’s been on my mind forever and has about 14 drafts in various places (notebooks, the notes app, gmail, google docs, Facebook messages, wordpress drafts—there is no end to my organizational prowess), I get tied up in saying it perfectly and starting it off in exactly the right way. Then nothing gets written and even less gets published. This happens to me not just in writing. I get caught up in how to best present something in texts, emails, and actual conversation, too. Especially when the topic is heavy on my heart or truth I’m still wrapping my mind around, I can get tied up in saying it exactly the right way. 

So, I’ve started using Natalie Goldberg’s advice. I’ll type, “What I really want to say …,” take a deep breath, and finish the sentence. Beginning with that simple sentence fragment takes off the pressure of a fantastic first start, even if I delete it later. It makes me sit down across the table from my reader, wrap my hands around my mug of tea, look them in the eyes, and tell them what I’m trying to tell them. 

I’ve also caught myself saying it in conversation. It not only gives me a way to start a topic, but it also allows me a chance to think. While I’m saying, “What I really want to say …” I have a moment to figure out what that is. What do I really want to say? Asking that question is a catalyst for truth-telling, transparency, and vulnerability, as well as gentleness and tact. Because so often what I want to say and what I do say are not the same. 

What I really want to say is that I’ve found this immensely helpful, so like the blogger before me, I thought I’d pass it on to you. 




Friday Five

This is going to start out a little English-major nerdy. I’m not apologizing; I’m just letting you know. 

1. Why Readers, Scientifically, Are the Best People to Fall in Love With. I read a lot (just saying). 

“It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference.”

2. Word Crimes. [I know you've probably seen this by now, but I had to include it because three people personally messaged me to make sure I saw it. I did. And I loved it.] 

3. What I Learned About Movies from a Well-Read Dog. This is an article about Wishbone, but more than that, it’s an article about the importance of story and digesting stories in the context of relationships. 

4. Why Write? Penmanship for the 21st Century. I found this interesting on a few levels. This is why we need to teach our kids handwriting and why I often feel like I think better when actually writing. 

5. God Isn’t Good Only When You Say So. This is a topic that is dear to me and I’ve written on a few times, but I love the way Tyler Huckabee puts it, as well. 


This woman is incredible. I don’t even know how some of this stuff is humanly possible (I’ve never watched this show) and then this tiny person completes it with ease! My jaw dropped a few times.  


Thanking God for Saying No

I recently got to sit down with my Plan A—the plan I’d hoped for, dreamed of, and petitioned over and over for God to give me. 

I sat down and my Plan A sat across from me. It told me, in so many words, what it looked like now. What its job is, who its friends are, how its growing family is doing. We did the “How are you?”s and talked about serious things—faith, love, etc. I joked with my Plan A and it only sometimes laughed. I spent time watching Plan A interact with its people. The people I thought would be mine. At one point, I got quiet. I sat, observing my Plan A, and I realized … I didn’t like it. 

It’s a weird thing to be face to face with the life you always wanted. To go on vacation with it. To work down the hall from it. To share chips and salsa with that life is a surreal experience. Even more surreal is realizing you are thankful the life you wanted so badly is not your life. 

The other night, I thanked God for showing me Plan A. I thanked Him for not giving me what I always wanted. I thanked Him for instead giving me a different plan (I’m pretty sure we’re off the alphabet at this point) than the one I had ever so fervently begged Him to give me. I thanked God for saying no. 

And I had to smile because I know He was saying, gently, lovingly, “See? I told you.” 


Friday Five

1. And one day, I’d like another sky by Hannah Brencher. This is a post about singleness. And it’s kind of long. She doesn’t necessarily say anything new that other bloggers haven’t said, but she just says it well. I liked this line:

Humans are just humans, they aren’t lifeboats. They aren’t bandaids. They aren’t completion. 

2. These Live Room sessions by NEEDTOBREATHE are their usual greatness. Here’s this week’s edition: 

3. The Story of You. This is just beautiful. Read it out loud. 

4. Selfies Anonymous.

5. 22 Important Life Skills You Learned as a Vacation Bible School Kid. They’re all completely accurate, but #13 made me laugh out loud. 


Friday Five

1. If you enjoyed the OKGO video last week, you’ll need to see this making of video. 

2. Now for the USA related links, because it IS our birthday. First, if you need something to drink today, please look no further than these coffee shop beverage suggestions:

3. Fourth of July, a rap. [you're welcome] 

4. Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy in a Patriotic Church Service. I think this is a good reminder that while we need to be thankful to live in the country we do, we also need to remember our higher citizenship. 

5. And finally, your NEEDTOBREATHE video of the week: 

Oh, and Holiday Bonus: NPR recently opened up their entire archives of Tiny Desk Concerts. These little intimate shows might be the perfect background music for your barbecue prep today. 

Tweets of the Month Club: June

tweets of the month


The tweets of the month on the first day of the next month! Miracle. Also, I have no idea what’s going on with the spacing here. 


















Friday Five

1. I meant to post this last week, but I had 5 links anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Here’s a story about The 23-Year-Old Wordsmith Behind the Hip, New Voice of the Times Crossword Puzzle I found interesting. 

2. An 8-Year-Old Writes to His Mom from Summer Camp and it is cringe-worthy and hilarious. Kids. [HT: Barnabas Piper]

3. I really like The Lone Bellow. Therefore, I really like this stripped-down cover by them. [Thanks, Laura!] 

4. Stop Saving Your Stickers. I was this kid to the core, so I love what Brooke says about not saving stuff for “special occasions.”

5. Reflecting on 20 Years of The Giver. The Giver is probably in my top 20 or so favorite books. When I read it in highschool, I was the only one in my class who liked it (because everyone else thought it ended differently than I did), but I liked that I was the only one. It seemed to mean something about Lowry as a writer, and me as a reader. I can’t wait to see the movie and I enjoyed reading Lois Lowry’s thoughts on the whole thing. 

A book is such an individual and private thing. The reader brings his or her own history and beliefs and concerns, and reads in solitude, creating each scene from his own imagination as he does.

Bonus: In case you haven’t seen it yet, OK Go’s new video is mind-boggling.



Friday Five

1. Oxford Comma proponents rate their grammar skills higher than those who prefer to omit it. 

2. You’ll want to watch this whole video.

3. iPhone Photography Awards. These are stunning. 

4. I love this song. Love. 

5. Coming Out as a Christian. I found this article challenging. He calls Christians to live transparently, as Christians. 

Bonus: The Nicknames of all 32 World Cup 2014 Teams. [Spoiler: Some of them could use more creativity.]


Friday Five

1. Napoleon Dynamite came out ten years ago. I know. We’re old, y’all. The cast got back together to unveil a statue on the Fox Studios lot. I also liked this interview with the director and the star. 

2. You may have seen this by now, but it’s so great. This guy made use of his time stuck in an airport overnight alone. He rigged up his iPhone on his suitcase and sent it down escalators and moving sidewalks to get the right shots. It’s a longer video, but it really holds up through to the end. 

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.


3. Little Thing. I just really loved this by Hannah Brencher this week. 

4. Meet the guy who does all the “Hey”s in your favorite indie songs. 


5. One of my new favorite Twitter accounts is Saved You A Click. He reads the story then posts the answer to the linkbait in the headlines. It’s saved me time and provided entertainment. Thanks to Laura for finding and sharing! 

And I’m posting this article just in case I decide not to write my dissertation on why reading YA isn’t shameful. Anne made a couple of the same points I was going to/will make, so I may not need to write anything now. 


Friday Five

1. My Husband’s Other Wife. This is a beautiful article about love after loss. 

2. This dance routine is crazy!

3. Nic Cage from Left Behind Makes Every Movie Poster Better. I especially like him in Home Alone. 

4. I love these lip-dubs. Keep ‘em coming, YouTube. (Thanks, Lydia, for sending this to me)

5. This article on Slate made me say, “Imma break out my thesis,” threateningly last night. I don’t want to write a whole blog post on this right here (I may have to write one next week. I have a lot to say about this. [I don't engage in Internet debate normally (except like Coke vs. Soda), but I for real wrote my thesis on YAL and I could go on the defense about it for some time.]), but I do not agree with this article. Anyway, John Green (the author who sort of provoked the article) wrote an article defending adults reading his book. 


Sorry this ended so angsty. Please watch this music video for one of my current favorite songs. [Have I posted this before? I can't remember.]