Second guesses and sweet tea. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

“Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles…” I’m channeling my inner Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof reference, for those non-musical people) because I haven’t posted anything in these here parts for months. Sweet Scarlett Berg did this interview at the beginning of the year and I’m just now getting it out to y’all. Blogger. Fail.

This Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series officially wrapped up in January, but I wanted to sprinkle a few more here and there because I always need this type of encouragement. Scarlett is the author of All Dressed Up (Robin Jones Gunn meets America’s Next Top Model), a fun read perfect for the last few beach days of Summer.  I connected with her through Katie Eller, a previous Perspectives participant.

I read Scarlett’s book earlier this year and enjoyed it. I’m hoping to do a recap of all my reading since my February Quick Lit post soon, but in the meantime, enjoy what this author-momma has to say!

And if you’re new to the series, check out the archives for all 21 interviews!

Perspectives Scarlett

Why do you write/blog?

I’ve had a desire to journal for as long as I can remember. My journaling over the years became more a part of my prayer life and continues that way today, yet it’s only been fairly recently that I discovered that I like to write fiction stories, also. I think this passion grew out of a need to escape some of my own personal struggles. At the time I began to write creatively, my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and my husband and I were also facing what was to be a long road of infertility battles. Writing became a daily distraction to the intensity of my own day-to-day pain of struggling with loss and disappointment. I had never even thought about writing a novel. As I wrote each day, the unfolding story became a place I wanted to visit, and I became increasingly invested in the characters as the story continued to expand. It, truly, became a fun process and has now grown into a deeper passion for me.

How long have you been blogging/writing?

I’ve been “journaling” for over 20 years, but writing creatively around six-seven years.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

This season of my life is the most amazing, wonderful, chaotic and utterly exhausting time I’ve ever experienced. I never realized how much one little person can change your life. Andrew, our son, came to us through the precious gift of adoption.  Often times I find I want to lavishly express my joy and love for him through writing. There are also days that I’m so overwhelmed by all that God has done for me that I’m speechless to write anything.

Scarlett Berg

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

In addition to being a wife and a mother to an extremely active toddler, I also continue to work full-time as a registered dietitian.  My day is packed with regular employment responsibilities and activities, and just finding time to write can be difficult.  I find, now, I write more in segments than with fluidity of thought.  I’ll type notes or jot down a thought on whatever I can find—computer, paper, grocery list, and even my trusty little iPhone.  It seems these days there is a phone app for just about anything, and I’ve found that to be true for writing as well.  I often use the app on my phone to compose notes or even to write potential new story ideas.

What is your blogging/writing battle cry?

God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). It’s been easy to second guess my writing skills at times because my educational background is not in language arts, creative writing or English, rather in nutrition.  I had to let go of the fear of failing in my own limited perfection and remember the truth of God’s love for me.  He gently reminds me that I can accomplish anything that He has purposed in my heart to do!

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

My faith is the substance of all I hope to be and it is the driving force of my life. Writing is an expression of the creativity and love God has placed deep in my heart. Motherhood—a miraculous gift of God’s goodness and favor! The three interweaved together have given me great joy and remind me that all things are possible with Christ.

Scarlett BergA Southern girl, North Carolina is where Scarlett Berg calls home. She attended college in the beautiful mountains of Appalachian State University. Her favorite things are snuggling with her precious little boy and sharing tender laughs with her husband.  Being raised in church, you could say that she’s known Christ all her life, yet still discovering His fathomless grace and immeasurable depths of love. One thing she knows is true, when God is the center of her heart there is nothing they can’t accomplish together.

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When words are a hobby and a business. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

What started as a desire for encouragement and advice as I struggled to balance my passion for writing and my new normal as a mom became this Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing series I’ve so loved hosting on my blog. Twenty amazing women took time to fill this space with grace and the gift of their words. It’s been a privilege to learn from them.

I’m pretty sure this blog would not be up and running in its current state without Gretchen Louise, our last Motherhood and Writing guest. Her techno savvy and endless patience has kept me from throwing my computer out the window and giving up blogging altogether. She is an old soul when it comes to the blog world and a fount of knowledge!

If you’re new to the series, check out the archives for all 20 posts!

Perspectives GretchenWhy do you write/blog?

I can’t not write. I process everything through the written word. Maybe it was the influence of Anne Shirley and Laura Ingalls Wilder in my early years of voracious reading. Maybe it is the fact that I am a visual learner (with a good bit of kinesthetic) and must read and write anything I need to know and remember. But writing has been an intrinsic part of my personality for as long as I can remember.

When my husband and I were teenagers, he began writing me letters (the old-fashioned kind sent to my mailbox). Soon, I began to view my days through the lens of how I would describe the happenings to him in a letter. I looked at everything through the filter of the written word.

In my early days of motherhood, writing literally became my lifeline. It was how I processed everything. The schedule or lack thereof. The sleepless nights. The frustration of how little I really knew about this thing called being a mom. Sharing the funny stories about my day with my children helped me to realize all I had to be thankful for, even in my sleep-deprived state. Soon, that blank screen became symbolic of being still before the Lord, waiting for Him to speak to me. And He did. Whether it was in a Five-Minute Friday writing prompt that week or a simple childish illustration I began to share, He used what I typed to speak to me.

How long have you been blogging/writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember—outrageous stories in my early grade school years, countless letters to my cousins and numerous pen pals, and a newsletter for a girls’ club I started when I was young. In my teens, that newsletter took a more serious and professional turn, becoming a magazine I edited and published. I think that’s when I knew writing wasn’t just about letters or school, but a lifelong love.

That magazine got a website in 1998 (the same year we got the internet), created on a free host by one of our readers. I fell in love with all things web as I took over that website and started creating my own. But it wasn’t until 2001 that I started blogging on what would become a shared Blogspot blog, an extension of what is now known as Kindred Grace. That was back before there were comments, before I understood RSS feeds or how people found new posts. Indeed, it was before anyone knew what the word “blog” meant. Little did I know how it would change my world.

In those days, I treated my blog like I now treat Facebook or Twitter: it was a quick way to share a brief link or thought without much effort. But as I read longer form posts and explored other forms of private blogging (anyone remember LiveJournal and Diary-X?), my posts gradually moved from informal personal updates to essays shared with friends. The world of blogging was constantly changing, but I was thrilled to be along for the ride.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

When I was a teenager, I thought I had life pretty well figured out. And I wrote about it. Whether it was my firmly held beliefs about the way relationships should happen or my political stance that year, it found its way onto my blog. I shudder now to re-read some of those old posts. I’ve long since made them private so only I can see them, but I keep them as a reminder for myself. It gets lonely up there on a soapbox, and not even the choir really wants to hear a sermon from one of its own members. While there is always a time and place on the internet and in life for firmly held convictions, I learned the hard way that controversy divides and pride polarizes.

All I ever wanted to be was a wife and a mom. And being 12 years old when my younger siblings started coming along, I felt like I knew how to raise children. But no amount of babysitting or changing diapers for my siblings prepared me for the actual role and responsibility of motherhood. Coming to the end of myself and having nothing to hold onto except for my Savior brought me to a point of a lot more honesty and humility in my writing. It’s still not easy to admit I don’t have it all together, but being real has brought me a lot more true fellowship than having noisy opinions ever did.

Gretchen LouiseHow has this season of life changed your writing habits?

I miss naptime. I think with fondness of those long stretches of quiet in both the morning and the afternoon. I remember when I wrote most of my posts while juggling a nursing baby. Those days are long gone. My children are 7, 5, and 3, with another little one kicking in my belly as I type this. Sleeping in isn’t something that happens in our house. Quiet is not a word that defines our home except for some of the hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

I made a commitment when I was still single that I would always go to bed at the same time as my husband each night. And with a few exceptions of sickness or special projects, I’ve kept that resolution. But that means I don’t write late into the night. Nor is it the season of my life when I can get up any earlier. Each time I try it, I’m exhausted by the end of the day. And no early-morning writing accomplishment is worth being tired and grumpy the rest of the day. So I write through the noise, in the in between hours—not always perfectly, not always patiently, but He meets me there.

I’ve also spent the last four years building up a business of coding WordPress websites for other bloggers and authors. That’s provided a unique challenge as I learn the balancing act of assisting others while not neglecting my own writing. It would be easy to permanently push my own projects aside in lieu of those with instant payment. And often, there are weeks or even months where client projects do become my priority.

But I don’t want to forget my own passion while helping others. So I’m learning to manage my energy and write while I’m fresh. Sometimes that means not checking email until I’ve sat down to write. Others that means putting off a simple coding job for the afternoon so I can get my words organized while I’m a bit more rested.

Because those long hours of peace and quiet are gone, I’ve learned to multi-task. I brainstorm post ideas while I’m in the shower. I compose my opening paragraph while I do dishes. I mentally edit and rearrange the words until they are just right in my head. Then, whenever I do get a chance to sit down at the computer, the words are there, on the tip of my tongue, ready to fly out of my fingers onto the keyboard. Except for the times they are not. And then I assume that God had something different for me to say than what I had so carefully composed. So I sit in front of that blank screen and listen again for Him.

What is your blogging/writing battle cry?

My tagline is “connoisseur of words and code”, encompassing the two sections of my blog. One is my personal blog where I share the life lessons I’m learning about faith and trust, motherhood and marriage. This is where I share the things my children show me, the trust that farming teaches us. And being the bibliophile I am, my blog never goes long without a book review or two.

I write to the other moms like me who are in the midst of the up-all-night with crying babies and sick toddlers. I want us to remember to laugh at the crazy antics and funny sayings of our children. I want us to take time to write those letters to our children, to capture those moments that are so quickly forgotten. My prayer is that I’m reminding other moms (even as I remind myself!) to slow down, to cherish the moment. Because truly, the days are long, but the years are short.

The other area of my blog is composed of tips for authors and bloggers. I write about everything from managing your email inbox to blogging in community through mastermind groups. In my work with writers, I realize how often we feel alone with our words on this side of the computer screen. It’s easy to get discouraged. To get overwhelmed with all the technical details. To feel like no one is reading the words we write.

I want to encourage the weary, lonely blogger. Even if we can’t have a cup of coffee together at the local coffee shop (while I tweak some settings on her blog and give her a few pointers on her newsletter), I want to give her the next best thing. I want to provide the education to understand how her blog functions, the courage to put her words out there, the power that comes with developing her own community.

I want to encourage others. Over and over again. As long as it is called “today”. (Hebrews 3:13)

I want to become a connoisseur of life giving glory to the Creator of life. To take time to taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

As a stay-at-home mom who works part-time from home, part-time in the family business, it’s a constant juggling act to balance my callings and my responsibilities. Words are the thread that link together all of my roles: the gift of writing is the skill I use in both work and homeschooling, the gift of creativity is one I draw on every day in my jobs and my homemaking. I know He made me for a purpose, and writing is an intrinsic part of that purpose. To borrow a phrase from Eric Liddell, when I write, I feel His pleasure.

gretchen louiseGretchen Louise is a farmer’s wife and mommy to three curly-haired children. When she’s not working in the family business, hanging out laundry, or washing dishes, she writes in CSS, HTML, PHP—and English. Gretchen loves to brainstorm about everything to do with websites and WordPress, and is passionate about helping others navigate the social media jungle.

You’ll also find her blogging at Adornabelle, sharing blogging tips with the Inland Northwest Christian Writers, and managing the community over at Kindred Grace.

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Mom-guilt, self-care, and creativity. {Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing}

Happy Tuesday! Today’s guest is the über creative and talented Amanda Medlin. (Check out her beautiful home…) She shares about self-care, finding her way as a mother, and teaching your children to be creative. I loved her thoughts about being gentle and gracious with yourself as you grow into the person God created you to be. 

Want to read about more women balancing motherhood and writing? Check out the Perspectives on Motherhood and Writing archives for 20 other interviews.

Amanda Medlin

Why do you write/blog?

Writing helps me pay attention and really process what is going on in my life. I have journals filled with scribbled notes, scriptures, prayers, lists, quotes, struggles, and dreams. I have always been an avid reader, but I hated grammar in school, so English was not one of my favorite subjects. But when I went to college, I took a creative writing class and realized that writing was something that I really enjoyed and was actually good at.

Blogging gives me a space and an ongoing prompt to write. I enjoy it as a creative outlet and as a form of self-care. If I have time to myself, I prefer to use it crafting, reading, or writing. Sometimes I feel mommy-guilt for taking time to do these things, but I have to remember that this time actually makes me a better mom because I am a lot more fun to be around when I am taking care of myself and being the whole person that God created and called me to be.

How long have you been writing/blogging?

I started blogging over four years ago, right after my second son was born. My blog started out being about my journey to finding my own way as a mother, and over the years it has changed and evolved as I have written out whatever season I have found myself in.

How has your current season of life impacted your writing/blogging?

Funny you should ask. I actually just came back to blogging after an unplanned 10 month hiatus. In November 2013, I gave birth to my third child, posted once or twice after she was born, and then went silent. It was a season where I was busy taking care of my home and my family and didn’t make self-care a priority, which meant no blogging and not much reading or crafting or anything else. I think most moms go through a similar season after giving birth, but it always seems to last a bit longer for me. Thankfully I have learned to show myself grace.

I recently felt a shifting of seasons and a stirring of some passions and dreams that had been lying dormant, so now I am trying to find the balance of taking a little time for myself to write and be creative and pursue those dreams while still loving and serving my family as my number one passion and priority.

Amanda Medlin

How has this season of life changed your writing habits?

This season is not an easy one to find the time to write. I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 (ages 6, 4, and 1) and I homeschool, so I am with my kids all day, every day. Most of my writing takes place when my husband makes me leave the house for a few hours so that I can have a little time to myself. This usually happens once a week or so as our schedule allows. A lot of the other aspects of blogging, like editing posts, adding photos, blog maintenance, and social media usually take place at the kitchen counter, in between making dinner and folding laundry, with a napping baby on my back.

What is your writing/blogging battle cry?

Although my blog has evolved and changed over the years, I feel like the underlying theme has always been about my journey toward embracing the unique woman God created and called me to be, and I hope that my writing encourages other women to do the same.

How does faith, writing, and motherhood intersect in your daily life?

I think that one of the most effective ways that I can teach my children something is to model it for them. If I want them to be creative, they need to see me being creative. If I want them to be intentional, they need to see me being intentional. And if I want them to be faithful in all that the Father has called them to do, they need to see me being faithful to my callings as I use my talents and creativity and personality and voice for His glory.

Amanda MedlinAmanda Medlin is wife to Phillip and homeschooling mama to Jack, Aidan, and Kate. She is passionate about living with authenticity, intention, and grace. She is an old, creative soul who loves to read the classics, knit, sew, paint furniture, and is currently learning calligraphy. Most days you will find her at home with her little ones, reading aloud and leading messy art projects, while gently tending to the soil of their hearts. She writes about living at the intersection of faith, motherhood, and creativity at her blog Always Amanda.

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What’s New With The Blog

When I started this blog in September of 2012, I had every intention of writing a post explaining how I landed on the name Primitive Roads. I’ve touched on the primitive roads theme in posts here and there, but I’ve never actually recounted the time Tim and I veered off a paved highway an hour or so outside of Spokane onto a narrow dirt road that took us on a wild ride I wasn’t sure would leave our rental car unscathed. I’ll always wish I took a photo of the “Primitive Road Ahead” sign that was posted where pavement met dirt.

That primitive road experience stuck with me. Several months later when it seemed like my life was one upheaval after another, I couldn’t help but think of our adventure off the beaten track. I was about to leave friends and family behind to move to Northern Idaho so that my husband of four months could start a new ministry job. In other words, I had one foot on the pavement of a controlled and comfortable environment and one foot about to land in the dirt of change and uncertainty.

Thus, Primitive Roads began as a place to write about navigating those unpaved paths that inevitably show up in life. Even though 15 months of blogging has come and gone, I still resonate with the original primitive roads concept:

Being a Christ-follower doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing. Life is unpredictable and anything but paved. We desperately need God’s love and grace to navigate our unpaved paths successfully.

My primitive roads look a bit different now than they did 15 months ago. Tim and I have been married for over a year and a half so I feel a tad dishonest claiming to be a newlywed. I will always love Southern California but I actually like living in Northern Idaho now. We bought a house and are expecting our first child – a son – in 9 weeks! These are all good things, but certainly not easy to navigate. Lots of changes and lots of refining.

So it is with this blog – change and refining.

Emily C Gardner resize

The Change

The major change is more of a shift. The themes of Primitive Roads are the same, but the blog now has a new URL: emilycgardner {dot} com.

In an effort to simplify and give you less things to remember, the blog URL (my name) now matches all the other ways I like to communicate with you.

A major thank you to the oh so talented Gretchen Louise for making that all happen. If you or your blog is in need of techno savvy and unparalleled patience, she is your gal!

The Refining

Vulnerability and honesty have been goals in my personal life the past few years and I strive to make my writing reflect those goals as well. Even when I talk about books, food, or crafty things, I want to be authentic – the Emily C. Gardner you would meet in real life.

Though I do want to be transparent, I also want to represent my Savior with grace and humility. It’s important to me that writing authentically about my own experiences is an encouragement to others. My heart is that this blog would be a way to virtually do life WITH others, not a way to tell people how to do life.

I want to be the kind of writer who is awake to the realities of heaven but engaged in the realities of this world. I hoped I could invite people into realities they’ve never experienced, I hoped I could wake them up to a life they wanted to be living.

Allison Vesterfelt in Packing Light

I pray you find encouragement and rest (and maybe a good recipe or two!) around here!

 

The Seasonal Side of Blogging

The Seasonal Side of Blogging

I’ve been waiting for this for six months. Summer has arrived in Northern Idaho! Well, that’s a bit optimistic – let’s just say Spring is in full swing with it’s sudden showers, new growth, and increase in sunshine. I’m okay with that.

On this brighter side of our four seasons, I’ve become more appreciative of the weather’s ebb and flow over the past nine months. I look back at the Winter with some fondness for the pretty, fresh snow and the chilly wind as an excuse to drink hot cocoa and make soup. (Please remind me of this come November…)

As I’ve begun acclimating to Idaho’s seasonal changes, I’ve begun to notice some personal habits morph with the seasons as well. The warmer weather has a powerful influence on how I spend my time. Where Winter prompted me to hibernate with books and movies, Summer has pulled me outside with walks and projects around the house. Those seem to be natural shifts, but I was a surprised to note a shift in my blogging habits too.

Writing isn’t just a hobby, it’s a necessary means for me to process life. So, to see my main outlet for writing drop in frequency made me pause. It was hard not to feel like I had failed somehow – I wasn’t on top of my blog schedule or keeping up with social media outlets as much. How could I call writing a passion if it didn’t consume me regardless of the season?

The truth was revealed in the very definition of a season: a period of the year characterized by a particular climatic feature or marked by a particular event or activity. Just like I’m beginning to see the beauty of our changing weather patterns, I’m also beginning to see the importance of changing rhythms in my personal life. Some periods of my life will have different priorities and activities; I need to make space in my life for those natural changes to occur.

The electric green of new growth in Spring wouldn’t be possible without the frost of Winter nights. Autumn’s deep hues are a lovely contrast to the technicolor landscape of Summer come October. Letting words flow for hours during the long evenings of a cold winter breathes life into my soul just as much as working in the back yard on a warm summer afternoon. I need both the feast of writing and famine of silence to keep my passion alive and healthy.

Making space in these shifting seasons requires grace. It means having open hands with the way I spend my time, allowing God to direct those priorities and activities as He sees fit. As much as I like to, I can’t allow my expectations or a previous routine dictate the standards of each new season.

What does that mean for Primitive Roads? I’ll still be navigating this unpaved path with you, just on a less regimented basis. I have two writing projects (an ebook! and this year’s 31 Day Challenge posts) that I’ll be focusing on this summer, but Primitive Roads will not be forgotten.

How are you embracing the rhythms of this new season?

photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc