OF LENS AND LANDSCAPEBy: Darrelyn L. TuttApril is a transition month.Cold days are replaced by hesitant warmer ones and, slowly but surely, the landscape changes:-A snow white downy landscape gives way to an earth swept, barren carpet composed of brown soil and flamable dry grass.-Stark naked trees assert the possibility of early budding plumage.-Geese make their honking debut and begin to break from steady formation.-Expanding bellies and gestational completion dates intersect and the early signs of life fill the air.-------A change of landscape has the ability to change our perception, sharpen our lens, and forge new thoughts. All of these valuable inducements unearth and expose new signs of life and provoke new writing possibilities within us.With the theme of transition in mind, I'm going to utilize the month of April as a simple acrostic and suggest the implementation of a few meaningful changes:A - Author. Study an author you respect and immerse yourself in "their" landscape. Allow the lens of an experienced writer to sharpen your own and absorb yourself in the life of one of your writing "mentors."P - Placement. Place yourself deliberately in a new "writing" environment. If you're used to writing inside, settle yourself outside.If you're used to utilizing a laptop, insist on notebook and pen.If you're used to sitting still, consider some movement to spawn thought.Purposefully exchange your familiar writing landscape and habits with some unfamiliar elements and expect to see some new discoveries erupt from your pen.R - Read.Read something different; something you might never pick up on your own.Ask a friend or respected "reader" to give you a top-shelf, must-read book, and you'll be amazed at what you take from the experience.You'll find your mind dipping into a whole different color and kind of ink.Discoveries such as this have the ability to pave the way into a whole new writing avenue.I - Interview.Interview a fellow writer and learn what makes them tick.What habits have they developed?What books have they read?What conferences have they attended?What disciplines have assisted them on their writing journey?Ask strategic questions that lead "you" into a new landscape of your own and implement at least one new habit into your life.L - Listen.Pay attention to the noises in your landscape and describe them in concise, concrete terms. Sound has the ability to transmit an unbelievable creative surge.When you dip your quill in the ink, write about the first thing you hear and you'll be amazed where the sound of "listening" takes you.Listen to your landscape and transcribe it.------Familiarize yourself with change this month.Fill yourself with the meaningful wonder of a new and "waiting-to-be-discovered" fresh landscape.Open your eyes,Take a deep breath,Dip your quill in the ink,And write something ... different.
By: Darrelyn L. TuttSome of you are out there making the most of your "March,"And others of you are barely moving at all.Since goals are essential for arriving at a healthy and determined place, we'll utilize the month of "March" as a helpful acrostic in making tangible progressive movement toward achieving them.1) M - Manage your time for the month by ascribing a specific day of the week as an assessment day. Since Monday is the first day of the working week, it has the power to set the tone for everything "write and good" in the rest of the week.For this reason, consider making Monday your goal setting, go-getting day.Set this day aside as an evaluation day comprised of a specific number of hours with which to both evaluate and begin your new writing assignments.Things you might evaluate:-How much writing did you do this past week and what are your goals for the upcoming week?-What or who got in the way of achieving your goals?-Which writing piece of yours do you view as most vibrant and stimulating?-What was your biggest writing struggle this past week and how might you send it packing in your next?Specific, concrete questions and answers enable you to manage time with greater effectiveness and work with sharpened awareness.Pick a day and objectively assess your writing productivity.2) A - Arch your back a moment.Literally, stand up, create fists with your hands and place them in the small of your lower back and bend as far as you're able. Do you feel the way your entire body works together to allow the arch?In the same way allow your mind to get familiar with some "over the top" publishing possibilities and writing opportunities.Dream, in realized ways, about authors you would like to meet, workshops you would like to attend, and a writing magazine you might enjoy subscribing to.Compose a list of the places that might bridge you with these peoples and opportunities and place it in a visible setting where you see it continually and allow your mind to wander to the "write" things. Arch, imagine, and canopy your mind over unlimited writing stimuli.3) R - Read.If ever you hear a more redundant theme from me it will land here.Reading moves us from where we are to where we desire to be.Reading fortifies the mind, clarifies the lens, and improves our ability to think, write, clarify, and freshly process goals, dreams, and aspirations.Explore the world through the words of others and expand and magnify your writing options exponentially in doing so. Utilize the "free" warehouse of libraries, book stores, and your friends' bookshelves and read, read, read. Consider the reading of "one book a week" as a positive and constructive goal which lends itself toward writing enhancement and situates your mind for growth and learning.4) C - Concentrate your efforts.Shut off all forms of technology and concentrate your efforts and energy on pure writing pursuits. Distractions such as Facebook, email, snapchats, and texts are avoidable and unnecessary. Remove yourself from them in order to enter the "writer's zone."You will not find your place withour creating your space, as a writer.Discipline yourself and confine yourself to a writer's cell which mobilizes you for writing productivity.5) H - Hatch an investment plan.Very few dreams materialize without some little financial cost involved.For this reason, hatch an investing plan which leads you into the realization of reaching your writing dream.-Open up a savings account and earmark it "writer venue account." Once a week make a small deposit and watch it grow and develop with your dreams.-Create a "visible bank" by setting a glass jar on your writing table. Put your loose change into it at the end of the every day with the object of investing it in one of your writing dreams. Hatch a dream and create a visible means to realizing it!------March to the beat of your own drummer by creating a "Marching" list of your own.Discover and uncover the more that's waiting to be explored within you, and ardently set out on some new writing exploits.Everything "Write and Good" begins with a single step;And from a step ... a fervent March.May you experience a positive and productive month of writing.
When I was 12, the eye doctor discovered that I desperately needed glasses. He told me that although I could see close up just fine, anything at a distance was just a blur to me. I wasn’t that concerned about it; from my perspective, I could see just fine. In fact, from where I stood, there was no discernible difference between myself and anyone else. We all had eyes – surely we were all seeing the same things. I chose a pair of glasses based off the reactions I imagined family and friends would have when they saw my new frames, and had absolutely zero expectation that anything about me or my life was going to be impacted.
When I arrived to pick up the glasses, my concern the whole drive to the office was about whether they would look right on my face, whether other people would notice them, if they would make me look weird, or if I would awkwardly stand out because of them. The fitting went quickly, and because I was so focused on looking at my face in a mirror that was directly in front of me, I didn’t notice any real, sight-related changes.
When I stepped out into the world with my new prescription, however, I could SEE. Trees had individual leaves, not only when you stood near them but also from a distance. You could actually read the signs posted on the roadside as you approached them, not in the single second before they flashed by. I could scan Main Street and know what every store was called without having to walk up to it. When someone smiled, or frowned, or waved hello, I could respond in an appropriate manner.
I could SEE.
I felt so frustrated that everyone else could SEE, had been able to SEE, all this time, and I had not. I wanted to attribute that frustration somewhere – to say, “Why didn’t you tell me it was this easy? That I should have been able to see all these things, all this time?” I felt bewildered that no one else was shocked and amazed by this secret called 20/20 vision.
Looking back, I know that others mentioning their vision to me would have done nothing. When the eye doctor himself had told me my eyes were quite bad and I was going to need glasses, I had discounted it, walked out undisturbed. I knew that the way I saw things was perfectly fine. I had focused on the cosmetic appeal of glasses, of how they would make me look to others – I had had no frame of reference to understand that they would change how I would see the world.
As humans, we journey through this world *seeing* from our own broken perspective and eyes. No matter how good we try to be, how many rules we follow, how “moral” we attempt to be, we fall pitiably short. We don’t know just how bad our vision is, how much we are missing out on, how little we can really see.
When we encounter Christ, He is the perfect standard, 20/20 vision, the One we must cling to and see through if we want any hope of seeing rightly. When we see through Him as our standard, we cannot help but change our view the world and its people. The scales fall off, and we realize how little we have seen in the past, how skewed our version of everything really was.
I wonder how many of us enter the church, walk right past Christ and smile, nod, wander off to look at frames and ponder what other people will think of us, how we will look, whether we will fit in…and end up forgetting to fill the prescription at all, much less wear it out into the world.
Frames themselves are quite cheap, and they come ready filled with plastic “lenses” that don’t change a single thing about your vision. You can easily acquire the look, without ever tasting the transformation.
How many people in the pews today found the “frame shop”, but missed out on a Christ-filled transformation of their vision?
Something else, something important: prescriptions are not a one and done deal. I visit an eye doctor annually – over the years the office has changed, the doctor has changed, my insurance has changed, and my prescription has certainly changed. You know what hasn’t changed? The standard of 20/20.
I find that sometimes the adjustment has been miniscule, and occasionally it has been large enough that I notice a marked difference in how I see. I also find that it isn’t something I can predict myself. Even though I start each new set of glasses with a perfect reset to 20/20, my eyes change so slowly that I can be quite a bit off by the end of the year, and I have no idea. It is literally a surprise to me when I find that I’m not seeing fully anymore, so much so that sometimes I’m reluctant to purchase new glasses. I don’t want to fork out the money, these lenses are close enough, I really like my frames and it’s so hard to find new ones that are as cute/comfortable/well fitting.
Even when I’m told by a medical professional that I am not seeing at full capacity, there is a part of me perfectly content with what I’m used to. After all, it will never be as bad as how it was before I had any glasses at all.
You may have had changes in your church, your pastor, the version of the Bible you read, or even your denomination, but that does not mean Christ has changed. He is the standard. You have to go straight to Him, and Him alone, if you want to truly SEE.
There is not a statement of faith, a doctrinal stance, or a human leader who can replace the role of Christ in your life.
You must align with Him.
You must choose to see through Him.
You must stop worrying about how your frames look to others, and focus on whether your prescription is up to date in Christ.
And when He tells you it’s a little off – that you’re not seeing correctly – that He is the perfect standard and you are left of center – you MUST be willing to change, to align, to conform to Him.
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