Monday, February 16, 2015

Unlikely Places by Nola Passmore



Have you ever wondered whether your writing was worthwhile?  Maybe you’ve been diligently penning a weekly blog and the only people who comment are your Mum and your best friend.  Maybe you’ve had lots of bits and pieces published in your church newsletter but the only person who ever talks to you about it is the resident Grammar Nazi who always finds the typo you missed.  Sometimes it can be discouraging, but take heart.  You never know where your words will end up.

For the last few years, some friends and I have contributed to an American daily devotional book called Penned from the Heart.  There are about 140 authors from all walks of life, though a significant number are retired people.  The other day I turned to the designated devotion and found a poem written by a fellow called Duane.  It was a beautiful piece based around Matthew 6:19: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal”.  I turned to the back of the book, thinking that Duane might be a kindly grandfather type.  Instead I read that he was a prisoner on Death Row who’d been given donated copies of Penned from the Heart and had become a believer.  I immediately felt teary.  Wow!  A prisoner on Death Row wrote that poem expressing his love of God?

I don’t know the story of how Duane came to believe in Jesus.  There would most likely be a chaplain at that facility.  Maybe there’s a prison fellowship and Christian volunteers who visit the inmates.  Somewhere in the mix, however, he was also reading a book that included some devotions written by our small writing group.  When I was submitting my pieces to the editor, it never occurred to me that they might end up on Death Row.  Now one of the people who has been blessed by the book is writing Christian poems to bless others.  If you’d like to see one of Duane’s poems, look on the first page of the Compassion newsletter, a publication that prints material written by Death Row prisoners.

If God has placed a message on your heart, never underestimate the effect that it can have.  That paragraph you wrote in the church newsletter about an answered prayer may encourage someone else in the same situation.  That blog post that no-one commented on may have been shared countless times with the click of a button.  God uses many means to reach others with His message of grace, but how wonderful to be able to share His words with a hurting world. 

Has your writing turned up in unexpected places?  I’d be interested in hearing your stories.



Nola Passmore is a writer of shorts, a would-be novelist, and the originator of many a hare-brained scheme that she inflicts on family and friends.  She loves exploring different facets of creativity and encouraging others to develop their God-given talents.  She and her husband Tim have their own freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish.  You can find her writing tips blog on their website: www.thewriteflourish.com.au



26 comments:

  1. Thanks, Nola. That's an encouraging word to hear.

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    1. Thanks Lynne. It's interesting to think about where our words might end up :)

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    1. Thanks Cathie. And you just know that I'll nag you (oops, I mean encourage you) to send in more devos for Penned this year :)

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  3. Thanks Nola - what an inspiring story :) Last night I shared a poem of mine with a writing friend who is truly doing it tough with little or no support from her family and church - being rather hesitant about doing so. She emailed me today touched by the poem - it was just the words she needed to hear. http://jennysthread.com/lighthouse/

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    1. Thanks for that Jenny. What a great poem. I can certainly see how your poem would have blessed your friend. Good on you for having the courage to share it with her. It's a good reminder that when we step out with what God has given us, He is faithful. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. That's a great story, Nola! Thanks for sharing it with us. Just last week, I had almost decided to finish my commitment to blog for an international group I have been part of for quite a few years now, when, lo and behold, I received an email from someone I don't know in the UK that very day, telling me how moved she was by a particular quote I had used in my blog for this group a few days earlier. In all the years I have been contributing to this blog, I have never had an email about any of my blogs--and very few comments either. After receiving that email, however, I figured God might be gently telling me to keep going for a while longer, because you never know who might read what you write, as you point out, Nola.

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    1. That's a great story Jo. And for every comment we do get, we can never know how many other people have been touched by something we've said but have never commented. Good on you for your faithfulness.

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  5. That's awesome Nola. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us all through it. A prisoner on death row who became a Christian? Wow! Loved your lovely style of writing by the way.

    Recently I too was deeply blessed by an email from an unknown man from the US who'd read one of my offerings in 'Penned from the heart' and told me that he never looked at eggs the same way since he read my piece called 'Blemished'. He also asked me to keep writing and said I was making a difference. As you can imagine, I was greatly encouraged.

    So important as writers to listen to Him and write as led - who knows where it could lead to.

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    1. That must have been so encouraging for you Anusha. A while back, I tried to make a habit of emailing people whose devotions had touched me, but I must admit I've gotten out of the habit. You never know where your words might lead. And I was thinking too of your wonderful Monday blogs and how many people they would have touched. You might not always get a lot of comments, but you're making a huge difference. Thanks for your encouragement too :) xx

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  6. Wonderful Nola. That's very moving about Duane too.

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    1. Thanks Rachel. I meant to post a message to the Quills last week and forgot. It's a great encouragement to keep submitting those devotions. You never know who might be touched by the message you share. xx

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  7. Thanks, Nola . This reminds me about the verse that says 'The word of God will not return void'. If we base our writing on His Word, it's the very same promise. What we have written will be a blessing or a challenge to many that we may never hear about this side of heaven. However, in His grace, every so often the lord may allow us to discover someone who has been deeply touched by those words.

    BTW, I often look up the stats on my blog to find hits from all over the world. No comments, but it tells me the countries by name - even many Muslim countries. That was such an encouragement to me.

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    1. That's a great verse Rita. We don't always hear of the outcome, but God is still working in the lives of people if we're obedient in spreading His word. And that's a great idea about looking up the stats. I haven't done that for a while, but it's a great encouragement to see how far our blogs can reach.

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  8. Yep, it's happened to me. The most encouraging example that comes to mind wasn't my writing particularly, but my editing. I put together (from scratch) a magazine issue of Japan Harvest in the aftermath of the great disaster there in 2011, particularly focusing on positive stories of hope. Later I met someone who'd been influenced to come as a volunteer to Japan to help by that issue of the magazine.

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    1. Wow, what a great story Wendy. That's certainly a fantastic outcome. And you'll never know how many other people might have been touched by it and were prompted to help out in their own communities or were challenged to have a closer relationship with God. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. Thanks for sharing Duane's story, Nola. We never know where our writing may end up, that's for sure. I've found that when you expect feedback of any type, it's often not forthcoming, yet those surprises when we least expect them are priceless. That's the nature of writing, however. We surely reach more hearts than we ever know about.

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    1. Thanks Paula. It will be interesting when we get to heaven. We might be surprised how many people say, 'Oh I read your book/article/poem'. We just never know ;) Thanks for your comment.

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  10. How to put things in perspective ... Great blog, Nola. So inspiring to consider that Duane's words, despite him being incarcerated, are still able to venture into the world and reach out to others. We should never underestimate the places our written words might travel to.

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    1. Thanks Adele. That's so true. And it makes me think too that if someone on Death Row can write words to encourage others, with all the restrictions and hardships that prison entails, it's all the more reason to get our words out there given our freedom. Thanks for your encouragement :)

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  11. Thanks Nola - very encouraging for you and for all of us. Great article.I sometimes receive emails from unlikely people I've never heard of, thanking me for something I've written. It helps a lot!

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    1. Thanks Jeanette. It's always good to get those unexpected emails. I find they come along just at the right time to encourage us. May your writing continue to bless many people. Thanks for your comment.

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  12. That's an encouraging thought I need at the moment. :-)

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    1. Thanks Lynne. And that's encouraging for me to hear too. I didn't know that blog post was going to be revisited today, so maybe there were others who needed a little encouragement too. Your words have blessed many people and will continue to do so. Take care :)

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  13. What an wonderful story, Nola. And wonderfully encouraging too.

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