Ink in My Blood

I admit it;  I’ve got ink in my blood, and sometimes it just flows.   The original draft of this post is over in the comment section of something Ann wrote today.  But I want to share it with you too.   When God gives you a dream and a passion, it’s good to note it, nurture it, ease it forward.  But it’s also important to remember that He knows just how long it is from seed to fruit, from conception to birth of an idea or ministry – and ours is to trust Him through each step of the process.   I’ve done well with that at times, and at other times I’ve not trusted Him at all (and the results have been, shall we say, not-so-good).   If you’re the writer-type, you’ll want to go read the post that sparked these thoughts, and come back.  If you’re just curious about what drives this guy Phil to write every day, you can keep reading.  It’s probably a bit wordy, but it’s conversational, and you may gain a bit of insight into the man behind the blog, Vibrance in Ministry !

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I’ve always loved stories and writing. I like hearing them, telling them, and I can remember having to remind myself as a kid that you can exaggerate in a story and it’s fine.  Stretch the truth in regular life, though, and it’ll get you in trouble. Ask me. I know. Or ask Mom.  She was there.

In 6th grade a creative teacher had us write a play about Mexico’s history. We made it up and he wrote it in chalk on the board, a designated student copying it long-hand as we went. (Not me, a girl – with good penmanship) I loved that unit! Mr. Herbst had it typed, then we practiced and performed it for the school – I got to play Pancho Villa! I was hooked. Love that writing stuff! But there was more school to finish. Years of it.

When my high-school counsellor told me I was the first in Colorado to ace the creative writing section of my SAT test I was amazed. I did like to write. It came naturally for me, though good writing was work, of course. But music was a bigger rush for me at the time so I sidelined the writing and English teacher thang, but I wrote some pretty mean papers in college. In one course my papers turned my failed exams into a passing grade for the semester. Whew~!

I married, entered church ministry and relished opportunities to write for the church newsletter. In my first church I asked two English teachers in the congregation (the fun, hip, encourage-you kind, not the old-maid, slap your knuckles with a ruler kind) to proof some of my things and suggest ways to improve. They helped a lot, but more waiting followed. Years of it. Ministry. Family. You know, important things. When I had the chance I gave myself permission to write my own transitions and segues in concerts and productions.   People enjoyed them, but I probably enjoyed crafting them more than they liked hearing them. Hearts were touched, though – that was good. 

Then came the year I wrote and produced a live-broadcast-style Thanksgiving Eve service, shamelessly patterned after Prairie Home Companion, complete with bluegrass gospel, homespun in-house church and ministry commercials, radio drama, and my monologue, read from a stool in front of a mic on a boom-stand, just like Garrison Keillor does in Minneapolis. Heaven stopped by for a night, but nothing published. There was a long string of maybe 12 years of those services… one a year. The Back Porch Society, I called it, The society for the preservation of all that is good and pure and wholesome.

There was the magazine article for a church music magazine. I was paid in copies of the issue instead of dollars and cents. I loved seeing my words in print on glossy stock and knowing people read what I had to say,  but hated the editorial hoops between concept and reader. (I think it was too business-y for the editor, not enough teach / encourage for me). So more waiting.

The Master’s project.  I took hope when one of the thesis profs (the one who liked my material- the other didn’t)  suggested I approach a publishing house and turn it into a book on a more reader-friendly level at some point.  Count me in! But there wasn’t time enough to water the thing and make sure it stayed in the sun so it could sprout, not and be a dad with teenagers, husband and worship pastor too.

Then came the trip to visit my Aunt Pauline, a retired English and literature teacher who lives on the shores the Gulf of Mexico. She spent a couple of days discussing with me the writings I’d mailed ahead. She concluded I had at least a couple of books in my head, some of which would probably come to light before my favorite idea would find it’s way into print. I organized my writer’s stash and started in, thinking “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” just like the Little Engine that Could.

The empty nest. A setback, ministry-wise. Financial concerns. More writing, journal-ling, stuffing my writer’s stash with scraps and notes and ideas – for later, not for now.

I remember the day a ministry concept was born. It was about this time, April, 2005.  It took me three months or so to choose a name and settle on Vibrance. More waiting, conceptualizing, planning in silence.  Some friends suggested, even urged that I blog as part of the ministry plan.  So I toyed with it some and found it wasn’t much fun if no one could find, read, and profit from all of my “profound” thoughts. I nearly quit.

Then Jack suggested I try WordPress. I looked around here a while, decided to change addresses and start in. Through the fall I wrote sporadically before deciding to step it up and write (almost) every day in ‘07.  Wow! I’m reaching bright, appreciative readers, without any cigar-smoking, visor-clad editors. I can do this!

In the quiet of this morning, even before I read the post Ann wrote today, I noticed and journal-led something exciting. The current number of those who read me each week is greater than the largest church I served. I stopped for a moment and thanked the Lord, choked up a little and then resolved to keep going, following Him, encouraging others on the way, helping believers help each other, thankful for tools we have today that none before us got to try.

It IS a journey.  I’ve had my pen with me the whole way.  I think my book(s) are still in there – some just have longer gestation periods than others, I guess.

So now you know — and you didn’t even have to ask.  

It’s true.  I really do have ink in my blood. 


8 Replies to “Ink in My Blood”

  1. Julie

    Phil,

    What a great testimony! As I have said before, my husband and I really enjoy your writing. I came upon your site as a result of your visit to the Common Saints site, a praise band of which I am a member.

    Thank you for being a willing vessel, used of God to encourage those of us who come to Vibrance! Even though we’ve never met, and might possibly not do so until we arrive at Heaven’s gates, it is obvious that we are part of the same family.

    Now, it’s my turn to encourage you to continue using your pen (or keyboard!) to teach, admonish, and encourage. God has definately gifted you in this area!

    I had to laugh…not knowing if it was a typo or if you meant to write it that way…at the sentence that said you “sidelined the writing and English teacher thang”. “Thang” is such a fun word 🙂 I imagined that you have a great sense of humor — either intentionally putting it there, or laughing at the discovery of it!

    Finally, I wondered if you have seen or would be interested in knowing in what parts of the world your blog is read? I recently stumbled across a mapping site (Mapcluster) that shows from what countries my readers are viewing. It has been quite interesting, and serves a purpose to remind me that blogging can be more than just a hobby….hopefully someone, somewhere is reading and coming to know the Lord a little bit better through the words at “God Is…”. I’m sure it’s the same with Vibrance!

    Have a blessed day!

    Julie

  2. Jonell

    Phil,

    I think you’ve been writing all your life, whether doodling on your tennis shoes when you were young, making posters with such good quotes for your bedroom while in high school, or now this Vibrance site that I just gotta check every day! 🙂

    Can I share one of those posters from your bedroom here?

    “You can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
    or you can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses!”

    You always seem to have a pen in hand, and if not, your mind is always thinking sumpin’ up there!

    Thanks for using words to create such neat word pictures in my mind, and for your encouraging words along the way. I love the way your words bring about spiritual growth in my own heart and life. And even a few smiles and laughs along the way!

    ~ Jonell

  3. Phil

    blessed1 – Thank you so much for the award!
    I’m humbled – but I’m smiling! I’ll wear this badge with honor!

    I of course had to learn how to put little pictures in my sidebar, not unlike buying frames for the certificates we try not to wrinkle on the way home.

    I’m picking my fave-five and will soon post appropriately. Thanks again!

    Phil—

  4. Phil

    Julie – such kind and encouraging words! Thank you!

    I do intend to keep writing, the realization as those paragraphs came together touched me: God is using me to influence and encourage “quite a few folks” from right here!. It was humbling and at the same time very exciting.

    Glad you caught and liked “sidelined the writing and English teacher thang”. 😆 No self-respecting English teacher would EVer mis-spell “thing” – but there it is!

    I like the little map you have at your place. It IS –and would be– a reminder, not to me only, but to those who come here, that this world is a big place and we need to share the love of Christ with as many as we can, the best we can, until the very last one has heard. Tell me more, please!

    Phil—

  5. Phil

    Ohhh Jonell …. only little sisters can tell things like that and get away with it! 😀 I do remember being very glad when Mom and Dad finally said I could write with a pen instead of a pencil. My tennies weren’t, but hey. (Can’t believe you remember that)

    I remember those quotes on my bedroom wall. The Argus posters that were so popular then were too expensive, so I made my own.

    there was another that said:

    Sometimes I sits ‘n’ thinks
    Sometimes I just sits.

    the one that comes back to me most often, though, is:

    You’ll never have more time
    You have, and always have had, all there is.

    And you’re right, the wheels are always turning upstairs. I don’t think they ever come to a complete stop, even when I’m asleep! I’m so glad God is using this venue to encourage, sharpen and uplift the body of Christ, of which you’re a part! It’s a great journey, this Christian life, and I’m glad to share it with you!

    Love, (yes i can say that, she’s my sister!)
    Phil—

  6. Julie

    Just click on the map on my site to take you to ClustrMap. Then, there’s a bar at the top that says, “Get your own ClustrMap” and follow the instructions. You have to register with them, but it is a pretty simple process. Then, copy their code to a text sidebar widget, and it should work.

    Enjoy!

    Julie

  7. Phil

    Thanks, Julie.

    It’s in place and already I like it better than the one I tried earlier.
    (That’s a given, I guess, I decided not to use that one!) 😀

    If only it could go back and find all the vibrant visitors who’ve been by already, hmm?

    Have a great weekend with God’s people, we’re back in time for Monday.

    Phil—

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