I found myself in an interesting (but not unusual) situation this morning. I needed some clean pants. So I started my laundry, and now I’m waiting in my pajamas for the dryer to finish. I would never go outside without jeans, a shirt, and everything I needed for the day. But how often have I walked outside without spiritual clothes on?
It’s a rather humbling and even possibly humiliating question. I’ve walked outside several times with the confidence that I could do everything I needed to do that day, but I haven’t put on my spiritual clothes for the day. If something bad happens, I’m very likely to stop everything and curl up in a ball until the problem goes away. Or I’ll run from it and hope that it can’t catch me. But I don’t have to do that. I can renew my mind in God’s word everyday and know that God has the answer even if I don’t. (YAY! CHRISTIANESE ANSWER!!)
Here’s what it actually boils down to. If my mind is focused on my ability to do a task, I might get the job done. Or I might not. But if I am focused throughout the day on the ability of my God, I’m much more likely to turn to Him. If I can do a task in my own power, then I typically will so I don’t “b0ther” God. If I take this attitude, then God doesn’t get any glory. I think “Haha! I did this myself. I don’t need God,” which is a completely untrue statement. Jesus is the reason that I am typing this and that you are reading it. If you don’t believe me, go check out Genesis 1. Or maybe Acts 17 if you don’t believe in the Old Testament. For those hard cases, go look at Colossians 1. Paul is pretty clear.
At the end of the day, we as Christians absolutely have to renew our minds in God’s word. We have to fellowship with Him. If we don’t, then we won’t have the ability we need to do things. If we can do things, we won’t have fulfillment from doing those things. Now, I’m not giving you a specific time to set aside everything and be with God, just that it needs to be done. Nor am I just looking at readerland, because you have everything together. This blog post is just as much pointed at me as it is directed at that one guy in the back of readerland.
In conclusion, don’t forget to put on your spiritual pants. You just might look silly otherwise. Until next time, flip out like a ninja!
As a normal, human writer, I have made several meals of writer’s block cereal. So I can say with absolute certainty that this is a terrible cereal. There aren’t any prizes in the bottom of the box, there’s no inner fulfillment from eating it, and there is most definitely not a reader who likes reading the alphabet soup that this cereal becomes. Of course, all you other human-y types want to know I beat it. How I changed from writer’s block to inspired cereal (now with marshmallows and a treat inside). Well, it’s not that easy. When you go to the store, you will be tempted to pick up the same old cereal that you’ve been crunching on for however long. But you can’t do that, which is one of the tips I’m about to share with you.
1. Recognize that writer’s block does exist.
Some people just want to ignore writer’s block and hope that it goes away. Unless you’re a brilliant author like Lewis, Tolkien, or whatever author you idolize, you are going to be stuck for ideas. Sometimes your ideas will run out in the middle of a blog…
2. Go do something different.
A few years ago, I remember glancing through this book on how to draw. The primary focus of the book was learning how to draw with a pencil. However, the author also suggested that you draw with charcoal, or paint with a brush. He referred to this process as a “mental bran muffin.” Sometimes the creative juices get stuck, and they need a little help getting unstuck. If that is the case, go do something different. You can try out a new skill, like juggling or standing on your head. Break up your routine in such a way that you do something different. This will give you a slightly different perspective on the world, which is often all you need.
2.5 Write about something different.
If you are not currently writing about them, write about fluffy unicorns and how they were all destroyed by the ninja clans. If you are writing about fluffy unicorns, write about how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were suddenly allergic to all forms of pizza. The list of things to write about is simply endless. If you don’t know enough about a topic (like fluffy unicorns) either do some research or make up your own rules. Maybe your unicorns have a tendency to stab frost giants in their big toe, and run away chortling madly. The point is, you can’t get stuck in a rut when there is literally a world of possibilities to write about.
3. Bounce ideas off your family/friends
One of the greatest literary group of minds in the recent past was the Inklings. This famous group of writers included but was not limited to: J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Agatha Christie. They met together frequently to discuss ideas for their books and just to fellowship with other people who were similar to them. Now, you may not have writer friends, but your friends are definitely creative. They may not know that elves are limited to bows and arrows, and come up with the idea that elves should be short-tempered, laser-gun wielding guitarists from Mars. Some of the greatest stories have been told because people broke the traditional rules of what was and was not supposed to happen.
In conclusion, if you want to break the writer’s block feeling in your stomach, you have to make an effort. You can’t just sit around in your rut and feel sorry for yourself. If you do, you might get hit by inspiration, but it’ll probably pass you by. Until next time, be creative, do something different, and flip out like a ninja.
I recently became a fully-fledged ninja. At this stage, I thought I had learned everything that I needed to know. Defeating other ninja? Peace of cake. Teaching little ninja-lings? I’ll even add in several clever visual metaphors so they’ll learn more. But I was thinking about it the other day, and I still need to be teachable. Here’s some reasons why.
#1 I don’t really know much. Yes, I’m a fully fledged ninja of awesomeness, but my knowledge is limited at best. There are several other ninja who have gone before who I can learn from. There are even those today who are saying something valuable. Even if I have heard what everyone has said a million times, and “know it”, unless I apply it in my life, that knowledge does me absolutely no good. For example, I’m in a narrowed and specified study about ways to be a better ninja. I’ve heard everything in this class a million times. But I wasn’t doing these things, much less thinking about them.
#2 Being teachable keeps you humble Humility is usually a good thing, unless it’s pride disguised as humility. If you’re not humble as a ninja, you are probably going to get killed. Yes, I’m aware that I’m stretching the whole ninja thing a bit far, but bear with me. Let’s say you’re a teacher. If you aren’t humble and willing to learn from those who have been doing this longer than you have, your students will suffer for it. I can remember asking one of my teachers something and he replied “I don’t know.” But the follow-up was, “I’ll find out.” This guy has been teaching for over 20 years. He could have just brushed my question aside, but he didn’t. He stayed humble, and both of us were able to learn more about that subject. Learning happened! For this guy who is clearly an expert.
#3 Someone else out there may be right. Whoa! The idea that another ninja or even a pirate somewhere could be right where I’m wrong. If I don’t learn from those who disagree with me, how in the world can I keep learning? I hate to break it to you, but there will be someone somewhere who disagrees at some point with what you say. It’s just the simple fact of being human, we each have our different opinions. But if we can emulate the good part of what someone else believes, then both parties will improve. For example, I disagree with certain religious groups. But I envy their supreme dedication to their faith, and I wish I could be that dedicated to my own faith. I laud (yes, that’s my word of the day) their kindness and generosity, but I still think that they are wrong. Should my belief that they’re wrong stop me from copying their kindness, their dedication, or their generosity? Definitely not. It just means that while I am taking the good things, I can explain why I disagree with them.
For that one non-Christian reader in the background (yes, I see you back there making faces), Christians do not always act on the truth that they’ve been given. Unfortunately, there are some non-Christians out there who behave better than we do. It’s a sad fact. To everyone else in the room though, let’s go out and do what Jesus told us to do. Let’s be good people, not because that is what will save us, but because that’s what Jesus told us to do. Let’s share God’s love with those who surround us, not because we’re better than them, but because we want to share something amazing with them.
In conclusion, and with not a ranting moment to spare, stay teachable. Learn from those around you. Even if you disagree with them, find out why, and find out if they hold any truths that you could be working on. Until next time, flip out like a ninja!
The innkeeper glanced at James’ face. He turned to the crowd and bellowed.
“If I toss this man out, will that satisfy you?” James whirled on him, but he continued. “There doesn’t need to be any unpleasantness in here.” The crowd seemed appeased by his offer and slowly backed away. The innkeeper strode over and murmured in James’ ear. Dagmere glanced at the two men between her and the crowd. She could hardly believe her eyes as James’ shoulders relaxed. He turned, grabbed his wife by the hand, and they climbed the stairs to their room in silence. Dagmere busied herself by packing her things into one of the two small sacks they possessed. Wordlessly, James did the same with his sack. After she had finished, she followed her husband into the Common Room and felt the stares of the crowd hit her. James noticed her discomfort, and began to glare at the old man who had turned the crowd against them. They walked out, and James immediately grabbed his wife’s hand.
“You ready?” he asked with a mischievous grin on his face. Suddenly, Dagmere heard a disturbance behind them. James dashed forward, shouting “Time to go!” Dagmere craned her neck around to see angry villagers starting to follow them out. They were led by the old man, whose hair was blazing cheerily. Dagmere felt James hug her tightly as her feet left the ground. The crowd started to shrink, but not before some of the angrier villagers could fling mud at the couple. They flew until the sun was starting to sink below the horizon.
As soon as they landed, James started to laugh again and Dagmere slapped his chest.
“What were you thinking? Now we can never go back there, and I’ve got mud all over me.” James grew serious.
“No one calls my wife a thief, especially when something’s been taken from her.” He grinned again. “And you’ve gotta admit, he did look pretty funny with his hair on fire. I’ve gotta wonder why he didn’t put the fire out though.” He continued as Dagmere gave him a quizzical look. “That old man was a firebreather. I could feel him raising the temperature in there. It felt like a furnace.” Dagmere considered this, and then pointed at a mud stain with mock anger.
“I think I saw a small pond nearby as we touched down.” James laughed. They made camp beside the pond, which was cool and refreshing. As the embers began to die, James started to braid Dagmere’s hair in a braid she had taught him.
“Do you remember that night when I came back?” he murmured into her ear. She leaned back against him, drew in a deep breath, and whispered “Yes.” James continued to braid as he talked.
“I was just thinking about how different life has been since then. How much has changed…”
“Like you.” She tilted her head back and smiled at him. He smiled back and said, “I remember the first time I spoke to you after that. My heart was pounding.”
“And now it doesn’t?” she teased.
“It does. But it’s different now. Now when I look into your eyes, I know my heart is pounding, but I also know that yours is too.”
“As long as we’re even.” Dagmere turned slightly and leaned on James’ chest again. She listened for a moment, then asked softly, “Have I ever made your heart stop?”
“Twice. The first time was when I offered you my dragon scale and asked you to marry me.”
“And the second?”
“The day I asked you if you would go on adventure with me.” James leaned around and kissed her.
“What would you have done if I’d said ‘No.’?”
“I would stilil have gone. It would have torn me apart, leaving you behind, but I would have gone. I’m glad you decided to come with me though.” He kissed her again.
“You need someone to help you not be lonely. It’s not good for you to travel alone.” As she said this, James finished the braid.
It has been a hectic several weeks since I last spoke to you. Ninja training got really challenging, and I haven’t had time to write or do much else on the computer other than homework. But I did have the chance to go hiking.
Last weekend, I went hiking with a Lieutenant, a mini-Dalek, and Jules Verne (Real names not used because I don’t have their permission to do so). So we get started, and I reach down to pick up a walking stick because my ankle was hurting a little and we had 3.5 miles to go. Once I had picked up the stick, I didn’t notice my ankle at all. I was able to lean on it for the entire 3.5 miles until we reached Panther Creek. Unfortunately, I lost it at Panther Creek, so the trek back was much more of a hassle. Hang in there, because that just proves the awesome point I’m about to make.
We all need sticks in our lives. Obviously, we are not all going to be in the outdoors, so what do I mean by that? I mean that we all need people who we can lean on when we need to. For all those Christian people out there, the Bible portrays this by saying “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” The author is talking about having someone who can pick you up and dust you off when you fall. For everyone else out there, just think of the film “The Two Towers”. In it, Gandalf is about to enter Theoden’s throne room. The guard tries to take his staff away, but Gandalf pretends to be enfeebled so he can keep his “walking stick.” At some point in your life, you’re going to need help, so now is the time to make at least one friend who will have your back for life. But it’s not just about someone having your back.
The best kind of people are those who can give support as well as take it. This means you can’t be focused entirely on yourself. You have to be able to recognize the needs of others, and be willing to fill them, even at your own expense. Now, I’ll admit that this doesn’t make sense to me. How does helping someone else when they need it help you out? First of all, it makes you a better person. It shifts your priorities to not simply think about yourself and your own needs/wants. It makes you more aware of those around you, which will in turn should make you a better person as you care and do good for them. For example, I was talking to that same Lieutenant a while ago about some problems he was dealing with. I was the stick for my friend, and now we have a closer friendship than we did.
In conclusion, and not a moment too soon, “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and never be too busy that you can’t help out someone in need. Until next time, flip out like a ninja!
I’ve been blogging for a whole year now. I can remember when my friend Lieutenant Dan http://dandangerbrown.wordpress.com/ encouraged me to start blogging. We were in our dorm room, I was waiting for ninja class to start, and he had just finished with cat-herding 231. He walked in the door I was about to leave and said “You know, you should start a blog.” I didn’t think I wanted to spread my writing talents further, but he insisted. So I started blogging, and here I am, 365 days later, still writing my thoughts and story ideas down. I think I’ve made tremendous progress, both as an individual and as a writer. Here’s some things I’ve been able to wrap my head around through blogging.
#1 I love listing things. Listing things helps organize them in my mind, and (obviously) 0n paper. I’ve made more progress on maintaining my responsibilities with lists than just by winging it. It’s a pain to make them, but as satisfying as a sniper shot in Halo to cross them off, especially big things.
#2 If I’m not careful, I have a problem communicating with others. I have a tendency to not talk about problems and hope that they’ll go away. However, [spoiler alert] ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. The things usually get bigger and harder to deal with the next time. So, in the spirit of giving, I’ll give you the secret and try to practice it myself. DEAL WITH YOUR STUFF WHILE IT’S EASY!
#3 Repetition is key. Humans have a tendency to forget what happened in the past, especially painful things. Rather than learning from them, we just shove them away. That’s why you in readerland might notice a certain amount of repetition in my blogs. I’ll say some of the same things over and over again, not just for your benefit but also for mine. I easily forget what I’ve learned in the past, which is dangerous for a ninja.
#4 No one is immune. You may remember my blog about culture, and the follow up blog that had a list (see?) of five signs you’ve been on a Christian campus too long. In both cases, I referenced the idea of guilt by association. If two people of different genders are walking somewhere, according to Christian campus culture they’re dating. I’m not immune from this thought, even though I fight it when I recognize it.
#5 You can’t let fear run your life. If you live in fear, you’ll never post another blog, you’ll never have fun or relax in a hammock, you won’t start relationships with people, and you won’t try to improve yourself. You’ll just sit in a hole, get comfortable, and hope that problems pass you by. But that lifestyle is not what man was made for. He was meant to go exploring, to create, to love, to laugh, and to keep moving forward.
In conclusion, it’s been a fun year, and I’ve learned a lot. If you want to know more about what I’ve learned, look at my blog. Or you could even ask me in the comments below (points down). Until next time, it’s been a pleasure, readerland. Don’t forget to flip out like a ninja this coming year!
END OF LINE