Monday, February 4, 2013

From Seed to Sprout, Part 1 by Sharlene MacLaren

Happy Monday, writers! Annette here. Today we welcome Sharlene MacLaren as she begins a four-week series on following through on the calling of God, which she likens to a seed that we need to nurture. We hope these words encourage on your writer's journey. Read on!

From Seed to Sprout, Part 1*
by Sharlene MacLaren

On September 25 I had the wonderful privilege of teaching a couple of workshops on the writing craft at the 35th annual Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. I'd like to share the information I taught and will break it up into segments. The first class is titled "From Seed to Sprout" and takes us on the writer's journey from the very beginning stages when God first plants that tiny seed of desire in your heart for writing to the final stages where one feels ready to publish. Ready to go on the journey with me? This class was broken down into twelve main points, so I'll share the articles in four stages, sharing three points per session.

And away we go!

My love for writing began with a seed of passion. I don’t know exactly why God chose to plant that seed deep within the pit of my soul, but He did. In fact, He planted it at a very early age, but it didn’t truly begin to grow until I began to nurture, feed, and care for it. God did the planting, but I had to see to its care. It’s that way with any sort of gift God gives. It begins as a tiny seed, and we can either choose to ignore it, allowing it to waste away, or recognize it for what it is—a gift.

I recognized my gift in high school around 11th grade and began writing silly teenage romances, but after filling three or four spiral notebooks with stories, the school year came to a close, and my love for writing waned as fun-filled summer activities took its place. I then entered my senior year of high school, then college life, followed by a teaching job, and shortly thereafter, marriage, family, and church activities. On top of that, I had a great love for vocal music, another seed of passion God had planted in my soul from birth. Thus, God, family, teaching, music, and a myriad of other things completely washed away all time for sitting down to pen a story of any kind, although I loved reading it!

I always knew I had a gift for writing. While in college if the professor announced at the beginning of the 10-week class period that we would be required to write a term paper I sighed with relief. This I could do. Or, given a choice of finishing out any given class with a multiple choice test of, say, 100 questions or writing a fifteen-page research paper, guess what I chose. I knew I could write my way to an “A” or “B” overall grade. Why was that? Because God had given me something others lacked, and that was a deep passion for words.

Yes, I had been given a passion, but I wasn’t much into feeding it yet. Far too many other things took precedence over cultivating my passion. So, I let it simmer on a back burner, mostly ignoring it and delving into other interests that also captured my heart, like falling in love, getting married, buying our first home, raising children, involving myself in church activities like choir and worship team, weekly Bible studies, teaching Sunday school, working in public education, planning family vacations, carting our children to and from school activities, and the endless list goes on. I had a passion for writing, don’t get me wrong, but like anything, if you fail to feed it, care for it, nurture it, it will just sit there and tarnish like an old piece of silver.

I didn’t truly recognize my writing passion as a gift from God and something that needed nurturing till I drew near to retirement from teaching. Yes, I had already lived out 50+ years of life before I began to see that God didn’t want me thinking that retirement from one career meant putting my feet up on a stool and lounging away the rest of my days. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Simply put, God ALWAYS has a job for us to do. He didn’t put us on this earth without a map so that we could wander aimlessly, never knowing our purpose. I love what The Message says about this in Proverbs 16: 1-3 “Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place.”

So, embrace your passion! Watch what God does with it when you fully surrender that passion to Him.

Stay tuned for the next installment next Monday!

*These articles originally appeared on Sharlene’s blog in October, 2012. Used by permission. 

Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. She traveled married one of her childhood friends and together they raised two lovely daughters. Now happily retired after teaching elementary school for 31 years, "Shar" enjoys reading, writing, singing in the church choir and worship teams, traveling, and spending time with her husband, children, and precious grandson. Shar is a regular speaker for her local MOPS organization, is involved in KIDS' HOPE USA, a mentoring program for at–risk children, counsels young women in the Apples of Gold program, and is active in two weekly Bible studies. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan with their lovable collie, Dakota, and Mocha, their lazy fat cat. 

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