Sorting My Priorities to be Priorities Again

Journal, Writer's Articles

Dear Friend,

It seems that many people are swamped with work these days. Be it school or normal career work. As for me, I could not escape my own mountain of writing projects. I’ve always wanted to write a post on priorities; however, the right time for it didn’t come until recently.

A few months ago, I was going through a difficulty, and subsequently took a break from my own writing. After God brought me through my challenge, He eased me back to writing. Weeks later, I found myself buried in the mountain pile. Before I completely lost myself in it, He reminded me that writing should be treated as a job, instead of something that threatens to take His place and permeate every aspect of my life. I wanted to slap myself. How could I forget that?

And a few weeks ago, I told my mother I would do a certain project after I completed a writing task. She replied,

“Your work is never-ending.”

She was right. Just like secular work, my writing doesn’t “ends”. So why was I overwhelmed with it?

The problem lies with my priorities.

It was important that I settle this as soon as possible because they surround my personal walk with the Lord. I prayed, reflected on my priorities, and arranged them by macro (the big picture) and micro (within writing). My list of macro priorities showed what should be most important in my life.

Macro Priorities:

1. God

2. Family

3. Friends and people

4. Work (secular and writing)


I needed to ensure that God is always first in every aspect, that I’m protecting my quiet time with Him, and that I’m trusting everything into His hands. As a result, everything else naturally fell in their place. Then I asked Him to sort out my micro priorities within writing. He then reminded me of the list I wrote right after my difficulty.

Micro Priorities:

1. Letters for Book F

1. Fiction writing once letters for Book F are completed

2. TCK Ministry and blogging

3. Editing lessons, reading to give feedback, and guest writing


My problem was that my mind shifted from Him, and was fixated in completing my projects that they all became equally important. Before they could consume me, I surrendered them to Him, returned to the list He intended, and gave each moment to Him.

I reminded myself, priorities are something that I need to make a conscious effort to trust the Lord with each day. I shouldn’t have taken them to my own hands and assume I could handle them by my own strength. The truth is, I can’t because I’m not perfect. But Jesus Christ is, and I have His Spirit with me.

As days passed, I did not strictly follow the writing list because I was sticking to His leading. At times, He wanted me to rest from my letters and work on a blog article, or give feedback to another writer. Other times, He wanted me to pause from writing and spend time with my family and friends. And sometimes, He wanted me to encourage someone who needed it.

The writing list that He sorted became a reference for me when I have no clue on what to do next. I also found that ultimately, everything on my lists surrounded Him. And currently, I’m not overwhelmed by life anymore because

Christ is in the center of it.



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train

P.S. A friend of mine wrote an article on productivity which encouraged me greatly. It is not what you might expect it to be. I expected it partly because I read several of her writings before. Anyhoo, you can read it here if you’re interested.

P.P.S. I’ve started a small section called Snippets of Truth. A snippet is a bite of the Bible, a simple lesson which you can read from the homepage. It’s also open for anyone who wants to contribute. If you’re interested, contact me.



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Clarissa is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she’d lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds, and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry. Or read more posts.

New Updates on My Journey

Journal

Dear Friend,

Much has happened in my life for the past six weeks. And today, I can finally type my own blog post. The last article was drafted in June actually. The draft and the two guest posts helped me when I needed it. Thank you for your articles, Katja and Breanne, and I thank the Lord for His perfect time. If you haven’t read Katja’s personal writing journey and Breanne’s TCK article on citizenship, please do so.

Currently, I have a mountain of writing projects and non-writing related tasks waiting for me. I’ll thus be posting blog articles twice a month starting from this week. If I can’t, I’ll post as and when I’m able to. Here are quick updates on where I am in my journey:

Writing

I’ve returned to blogging, and Book F (written to maintain contact with my close friends). God willing, I may resume my fiction projects after I completed several letters for Book F. Other than that, I’ve resumed drafting articles to be submitted to other channels.

TCK Email Ministry

It’s continuing as usual by God’s grace. Any other update will be sent through the emails. Although they’re for Christian TCKs, any Christian would find them applicable. You can read sample letters here. If you want to receive emails every month, you can register here.

Content Editing Lessons

The editing lessons I’ve been taking taught me significantly in both crafting and editing. Also, I’ve been reading other writers’ projects, and giving them tips to help improve their craft. I subsequently learned a lot from all of these, especially from my mistakes. Funny how that works.


And there you have it folks! How about you? How are you doing in your journey? And do you need me to pray for you?



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo Choo Train

P.S. You may be wondering why I post in letter format. I started using Dear Friend and Very Sincerely Yours in the letters I wrote to my close friends (Book F). Then I decided to use the format in my blog, and articles published elsewhere.



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Clarissa is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she’d lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds, and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry. Or read more posts.

(Updated) Accepting My Slow Writing

Journal, Writer's Articles

Dear Friend,

If I had a weakness as a writer, it would be my slow writing. For a new novel’s first draft, no matter how fast I type, it would take me several months to complete. That is, without pausing to go back and edit. Additionally, considering I write several hours a day, this is awfully slow.

The irony is that I have a typing speed of 90-100 NWPM. Well, copying a paragraph for an online speed test differs from actual writing. The latter involves thinking and transforming ideas into words. And for me, I think slowly. My fingers follow suit. It’s a sluggish process. At least, slower than writers in general.

As a fiction writer, I write slow for first drafts because I plan and brainstorm ten steps ahead while I write. Although I usually have ideas and general outlines before drafting, my stories naturally change along the way. But for drafts after the first, I tend to write them faster than the first. Whereas, as a non-fiction writer, I write somewhat faster than fiction, specifically for snippets of my life (Book F). Because I knew what had happened in my life.

How about doing short pieces like a blog article?

Most posts take me hours to draft, and another day to edit it with a fresh mind. The reason is that I tend to think of each phrase. I did write a few articles within thirty minutes (e.g. My Home Is Not Here). However, rare posts like those occur in the spur of a moment.

My process takes significant energy from me. Hence, I would be mentally exhausted after one blog post. From a business perspective, this meant my input is greater than my output. Which may or may not be good. Of course, quality is better than speed. But I’ve written poorly with slowness too. From my view (and probably most writers), the ideal writing process would be low energy input with high-quality output.

At times, I’m disheartened by my slowness. Especially when I give much of myself into a piece, and coming out wondering if it’s worth it.

However, God made something good out of it. He taught me to endure, persevere, and be patient. I searched their definitions from Merriam-Webster (2020):


Endurance
“the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.”


Perseverance
“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” 


Patient
“bearing pains … calmly or without complaint”,
“not hasty or impetuous”


Their meanings are rather similar, aren’t they? These are attitudes I’m continuously trying to have. To be more like Christ. On top of that, slowness helped me to be humble, and to trust His timing.

I have a question for you before I finish:


Does it matter to Him if we write slow or fast?

You probably know the answer. It doesn’t. We tend to compare ourselves with other writers who write fast and complete quality projects. But their journey is between them and God. As how your journey is between you and Him. He desires you to give your all, your best to Him (Col. 3:23-24).


“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

2 Corinthians 10:12 KJV



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train

P.S. I recently encountered another slow writer while I drafted this post (you know who you are). I’m not sure if this is relatable as yours may be a different cause. Nonetheless, thanks for reading.


References:
Endurance. 2020. In Merriam-Webster.com.
Retrieved August 8, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/endurance
Patient. 2020. In Merriam-Webster.com.
Retrieved August 8, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/patient#h1
Perseverance. 2020. In Merriam-Webster.com.
Retrieved August 8, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perseverance



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Clarissa is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she’d lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds, and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry. Or read more posts.

Giving Thanks In Every Thing

Journal

Dear Friend,

Although God has been silent to me these few weeks, He has been faithful. Specifically, He reminded me of giving thanks through this sermon, other people, and most importantly, through His Word.


“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV (Emphasis added)



What struck me repeatedly was “In every thing”. How do I give thanks in every thing? Every thing covers both good and bad, big and little. Yes, it’s easy for me to give thanks for good things. But it’s difficult to always give thanks for them, let alone the bad things. I tend to murmur, which is the opposite of giving thanks. Complaining is being ungrateful. Ungrateful to Who? To God. And I’m guilty of this. Because it’s in my sinful nature to be ungrateful, God commanded that I must give thanks in every thing.


“… for this is the will of God …”



It’s His will that I should be grateful. Do you know what’s harder than giving thanks in every thing? Giving thanks from my heart. This is true gratefulness.

To truly give thanks means–

  1. I’m trusting Him wholly,
  2. I’m believing that God is always Who He is,
  3. I’ve surrendered every aspect of my life to Him,
  4. And that it’s His will.

Whereas, complaining shows that–

  1. I’m doubting Him,
    2. I don’t believe that God is always Who He is,
    3. I didn’t surrender every aspect of my life to Him,
    4. And that it’s my will, not His.

Ouch. I feel bad from reading the last points. Choosing between giving thanks and murmuring is choosing between acknowledging God and letting unbelief rule my life. However, it’s impossible for me to consistently choose the former because it’s against my sinful nature. But


“… in Christ Jesus …”




it is possible. Because He freed me from sin. And because I’m free, I can give thanks for Him freeing me, His faithfulness, His silence, His reminders, His mercies, my struggles, my sorrows, the new friends He gave, the old friends He took away, the sense of homelessness I have, the Home I will have, and so on.

Resulting in the fullness of joy and peace in Him no matter what circumstance I’m in. Then I’ll have two more things to be thankful for.


“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”

Psalm 30:12 KJV



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train

P.S. If you have a paper and pen near you, write down each good and bad thing for this day. Most importantly, don’t forget to include His character.

~

Clarissa is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she’d lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds, and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry. Or read more posts.

I Wanted to Give Up

Journal, TCK's Articles, Writer's Articles

Dear Friend,

Ever since I started writing seriously two years ago, I’ve entered a battle. Well, a Christian’s battle begins the day they’re saved. Specifically, this relates to writing. One side is the work God wants me to do. The other side is the devil urging me to quit. Both sides have intensified as I continue writing. God wants me to take challenges beyond my craft level, and the latter became louder and stronger. On top of the battle, I’ve been recently struggling to accept that I can’t escape grief in life.

I thought of giving up. I could close my email ministry, delete this blog, delete all my drafts, and stop writing. I didn’t want to move anymore and just stay in one place. But these doesn’t solve anything. Yet, I want to continue for Him. Writing wasn’t my decision initially. My choice was to obey Him.

I was at the verge of breaking when He used a friend, a sermon, and His Word:


“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:1 KJV



It was also the whole chapter of Psalm 91. While the battle is on, I trudge on a narrow path up the mountain. But I’m at peace in the midst. I’m at peace because He’s my Refuge, my Fortress, my Habitation, my Deliverer, my Protector, my Shield, my Buckler, my God and my Saviour. I’m at peace I’m under His shadow and His wings. When He’s silent, I won’t fear because


“…he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

Hebrews 13:5 KJV



Now, I’m living with the Lapidary’s hand cutting and shaping me, the fire refining me, and the hammer beating me. This will last for the rest of my life. And as long as a Christian is doing God’s work, the opposition opposes.

The adversary is a roaring lion that wants us to quit because he hates it when God is glorified through a serving vessel (1 Peter 5:8). It’s a battle we go through each day, fighting against the devil’s shoutings. The devil even uses other people to discourage us.

Therefore, make sure you’re wearing the whole armour (Ephesians 6:11-18); continue to trust Him, and He’ll give you strength and peace (Psalm 29:11). Remember, Christ has already won the battle.


“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 KJV



Thus, if He wants me to go through this, I shall continue until I reach Home. The opposition can’t hurt me because my soul’s secured by my Author.


“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2 KJV



Very Sincerely Yours,
Clarissa Choo-Choo Train


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Clarissa is a vessel used for Christ’s glory. Although she’d lived in four countries, Heaven is her only Home. She desires to sow His seeds, and to serve third culture kids, teens, and writers. Peek into her Christian TCK Email Ministry. Or read more posts.