The new year is here! Which means a lot of us are thinking about what we want to do and be in 2022. But are you taking time for you? More important, for your soul? Guest Edie Melson is here to help you do exactly that!
About Edie Melson
Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. She’s a writer who feels lost without her camera and a reluctant speaker who loves to encourage an audience. And she embraces the ultimate contradiction of being an organized creative. As a popular speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including Unruffled, Thriving in Chaos and the award-winning Soul Care series reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Her industry blog, The Write Conversation, has been recognized as a Writer’s Digest Top 101 Sites for Writers. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and a board member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Connect with her on her website, www.EdieMelson.com and through social media.
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Karen: Hi, everyone. Welcome into the deep this new year. Amazing to think that it’s a new year already. We’re so glad you’re here with us to start out your year, and we are so excited to have Edie Melson here to talk about soul care for you and how you can accomplish this wonderful thing in the midst of this new year.
Erin: I get to introduce her! I’m so excited. I have known of Edie Melson for a while, but I got to meet her in person at the Florida Christian Writers Conference a while back. That was just a delight.
While Edie happened to be teaching at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, she’s actually the director of a different conference. The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Doesn’t that sound great? Blue Ridge Mountains? They have some really exciting things going on there!
“Find your voice, live your story” is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message. No matter if she’s writing for readers, parents, or fellow creatives. As an instructor, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books, including the award-winning Soul Care series, which we’ll be talking about, reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.
She lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains—again, amazing—where she spends time off hiking with her husband and her camera. Sounds just like what Karen and I would do! You guys can connect with Edie at her website, ediemelson.com or through social media.
Edie, we are delighted to have you here. Welcome!
Edie: I am so excited to be here. As I was sharing earlier, this was kind of a bucket list moment because I’ve loved Write from the Deep podcast since it began. So, I’m really excited to be here.
Erin: Since it began way back when! I hope, Edie, you are prepared to tell us what the deep means to you.
Edie: I am. I actually, several years ago, wrote about the deep and what it meant to me. I was really glad that you guys were going to ask me that. I was at the beach. My husband and I love to go to the South Carolina coast every year. And I love to get out, past where the waves are breaking, with a float and just sort of bob along and spend the afternoon out there.
But I always hate getting out there because the waves are crashing, and I’m usually knocked over. As I was doing that, it hit me that this is so much like my spiritual walk. When I feel like I’m staying safe and close to shore, I am constantly buffeted by all of these waves that just hit me.
Sometimes they can swamp me. And yet when I decide it’s time to go deep with God, and I move past those waves, instead of being in a scary place, I find myself in a place where I’m cradled, and where I’m at peace, and where I’m really able to spend time reflecting and renewing my soul. So that’s what the deep means to me.
Karen: Wow. That is so cool. I love that imagery. We have the Oregon coast out here and that’s just a very accurate description of what it’s like.
Erin: Bumping along, bumping along.
Karen: Right. As we talk about all this, your focus is soul care. So what exactly does soul care mean? How do you define it?
Edie: For me, soul care is a deeper and stronger connection with God.
One of the things I’m asked frequently is what’s the difference between self-care, which is really kind of a buzzword right now, and soul care. While soul care can provide us with energy and renewal and just a more peaceful way of living, it is not about me. It is about making that soul tie, that connection with God that cannot be broken no matter what kind of chaos is whirling around and what circumstances I find myself in.
Erin: Yes. I like that. That’s a really huge difference. You know what? The interesting thing to me, though, is that ultimately soul care does help you. I mean, it is self-care eventually. You know, that connection strengthens with God and it helps you become a better you, it helps you become a better self. But it’s funny. You can’t, you don’t get there through you.
Karen: Right. I think that’s clearly the difference in self-care. At least as the world sees it. That it’s all about me. In soul care, as Edie has talked about it, and as it means to us as believers and as writers seeking to spread God’s Word, it’s all about God. It’s about going deeper and knowing God better and having that foundation.
Erin and I read Streams in the Desert every day when we’re having our meetings, before we start our meetings. The reading for today, which we’re actually recording this November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. But the reading was talking about how we need to be so anchored in God that even when there’s chaos or devastation going on around us, we’re focused on him. We’re not focused on circumstances. We’re focused on him.
Erin: Right. So what do you think, Edie, as far as, like, how does this apply to writers? Why do writers need soul care?
Edie: I think it boils down to the fact that you can’t pour water out of an empty bucket. And if we aren’t connected with God, with the wellspring of our creativity and our very life, then we don’t have anything to draw from. Our creativity dries up. Our inspiration dries up. Our very energy dries up. I think we’ve got to be connected to that source of living water so that God can work through us and through our words.
Erin: It reminds me, I was listening to an old sermon that John Piper had done about when Jesus fed the 5,000. And you know, there’s Jesus multiplying this sustenance. But the interesting thing was after it was all done, and I think about how the disciples are there with them and they’re busy and they’re tired, after it’s all done, after they’re spent and tired, Jesus is like, “Pick up the leftover bread.”
How much leftover bread was there? Twelve baskets. Okay, I think about that, and like, that’s not a coincidence. There’s one basket for each guy. And it’s like God is saying, “I know you’re tired, but look, I just refilled your basket.”
So that’s what I was connecting with as you were talking about that, how we need to stay connected so that God will continually be pouring into us. Because it’s really not us pouring out. It’s God pouring through us, into others. So I think that’s cool. Very cool.
Karen: I find, too, that one of the issues for us is we want to be able to focus on pouring out to others and focus on drawing deeper and closer to God. And yet…life. Life comes in.
Don and I are in a chaotic life place. We are putting our home on the market and getting rid of three households of stuff. Mom and Dad’s stuff. Stuff from my older brother, who died almost exactly a year ago, unexpectedly. And then our accumulation of things over the last eighteen years of living in this home that we love.
So, you know, we’ve been going through all that stuff. It’s been chaotic. We took a trip to go up to Washington and look for a possible home. When we got back, we discovered that someone had broken in and they had robbed us. So first we brought ourselves into chaos by trying to put our home on the market. Then we go on this trip, and we come back and someone has broken in.
I can’t begin to tell you how weary Don and I have been. We were weary before we discovered the theft. But now in the midst of all that, the thing that I realized as these last couple of days have gone by, we got home Sunday night and it’s Wednesday, the things that I realized as we’ve gone through all this and the phone calls to protect our finances, to report the theft, and the police coming in. We went and got fingerprinted for elimination fingerprints. I came home yesterday and I sat in a chair, and I just sat there and put my head back and I thought, “All I want, Lord, is peace. I just, I want peace and I want to be able to sleep.”
I haven’t been sleeping well. I was looking through the table of contents in your book Soul Care When You’re Weary (Embracing God, Exploring Creativity). And one of the things that you talk about is triage for soul care. Why don’t you unpack that for us, both as in what we do in life and what writers need to do to make that first step into triage?
Edie: I think it’s really important when we’re in a season of busyness or a season of stress that we take a look at the stressors, the things that are causing us to not have peace or that are keeping us from peace. That’s what I mean by triage. I usually take time when I find myself in that place of challenge, and I spend some time with God looking at all of the things that are stressing me out.
I ask him, “Is this something that I’m supposed to walk through? Is this something that you’re going to build a bridge over? Or is this something that I just need to turn my back on?”
I think once we know what we’re dealing with, and we allow God to speak into those circumstances, then he can help us navigate what’s ahead with peace. Because we see it again and again, in Jesus’ ministry, he had all of these chaotic situations, but he walked into them and he brought peace.
I think that’s what we do as writers with our words. When we are allowing God to work through us, we have the Holy Spirit who can take those words that we put on paper, and he can speak peace into any circumstance that our readers are facing. But first we have to know how we’re supposed to navigate where we are.
Karen: I think why Jesus took so much time going away and praying was in essence for doing that spiritual triage and going to the Father and saying, “What is this? What do you want me to do?” He was constantly plugging himself into the source that the Father is, not just for him, but also for us.
I mean, God has promised us his presence. God has promised us his power and his peace. And we just forget. We say things like, “Well, at least I can pray for you.” And yet prayer is the most amazing, powerful, effective thing that we can do.
Erin: I really like that idea of the triage, because I think you’re right. Like some of those things we can turn our back on and we might feel helpless, and going to prayer and getting that, “Yeah, turn your back on that.” You know, that’s okay. It’s like it’s a weight off. Or knowing you have to walk through something. It’s God saying, “I’m going to be with you, though. I’m going to be with you.”
So I love that as just a way to start moving forward and get stuff off our plate that shouldn’t be there to begin with. That’s genius. We can all do that in the new year.
What are some other things? I’d love to know, what are some good things that writers can do as they’re starting this new year to put new habits or tactics into place to better do soul care?
Edie: I think my one hard and fast rule with writing, and as you all know, there are no hard and fast rules with writing, but I do have one, and that is before my fingers hit the keyboard, I pray. I don’t care if I’m scheduling social media, if I’m going on Facebook, whatever it is. The fact is that God wants to use my writing to touch others and to work through the words that I put on the screen or on paper or wherever they go.
I can’t be an effective conduit if I am not first connected with God. That is just the one thing that I think every writer can do. Pray first.
Another thing I think we need to do is I think we need to leave behind the baggage of comparison. I think so often we are comparing ourselves to each other. We’re comparing ourselves to expectations. Comparisons are just a trap from the enemy. I think the only person we need to be concerned about when it comes to our writing is God. And whether or not we’re being obedient.
Karen: Right. Gee, you’re saying everything right. I love this!
Erin: Comparisons are toxic. It’s poison. What do you think are some ways we can identify when we’re doing that? Are there key words that might help us identify it and say to ourselves, “Oh, wait, you’re comparing yourself. Don’t do that”?
Edie: I think anytime that I am looking anywhere but God for confirmation or affirmation, then I have fallen into the comparison trap.Anytime I'm looking anywhere but God for confirmation or affirmation, I've fallen into the comparison trap. #amwriting #christianwriter @ediemelson Click To Tweet
When I’m looking at how many numbers I’ve got, how many reviews I’ve got, what my reviewers say, whether this person has a contract or an opportunity that I don’t have, I am falling into that comparison trap.
Karen: Amen. Anytime we look outside, anytime we look at anyone other than the Lord. It’s so easy to get our eyes focused on what God is doing for others and forget what he’s done for us.
Erin: Yeah. “But she… but he… but her…”
Karen: “But, Lord I’ve been doing this so much longer and I don’t have that many contracts…”
Erin: Right. Are there other things that you can think of that might be good practices for us, besides praying, besides avoiding comparison? Are there other things we could maybe put into practice?
Edie: I think it’s really important to write regularly. Now I have a real issue with people who say you must write every day. Because I think God calls us to different seasons and different walks, actually. When my kids were young, it was not possible for me to write every day, but I wrote on a schedule and I wrote regularly.
I think that’s another one of those things that we can let happen. We let these voices creep into our minds and tell us that we’re doing it wrong. And I think we need to remember that the voice of the enemy can often use our voice to speak, or the voice of someone we love, to speak lies to us. We have to be careful who we let speak truth into our lives. We can’t always shut up the voices, but we can decide whether or not we’re going to accept what is said as God’s truth.We have to be careful who we let speak truth into our lives. #amwriting #christianwriter @ediemelson Click To Tweet
Karen: Yeah. Again, looking at the contents in your book Soul Care When You’re Weary, I’m going to have to get a copy of this. I really love what I’m seeing here. Your first chapter, like I said, is triage. Then you talk about rediscovering peace, and then you talk about reconnecting with prayer play. I love that term prayer play, which you also described as worship, and then you move into letting go.
It’s interesting because so many of us think that we have to do that step, that letting go, at the beginning. That we have to let go. But I think that it’s perfect because as we re-enter and rediscover peace, and as we reconnect with prayer, that enables us then to let go. To let go of things like failure and to let go of those comparisons and to enter into that spirit of rest, enter into dwelling in God.
But you don’t stop there. You go to moving on to joy. I’ve always felt that too often we stop with surrender and forget that there is joy. When we go into surrender, when we enter into that union with God, where we are focused on him and we stay grounded in him, joy comes regardless. Even if we’re grieving, even if we’re in pain, there is joy because of the knowledge of who it is that is with us and stands with us in the midst of it all.
Edie: Amen. It’s so important to realize that when God calls us to something, the ability to discern whether or not it’s God’s call is not how miserable we are when we do it. So often we feel like, “If God really called me to this, then it would have to be hard, or difficult, or misery.”
In truth, God wants us to be joyful and to enjoy the gifts that he’s given us.
Erin: Yeah. Amen. I’m curious about the prayer play. Just describe that a little bit. That’s interesting.
Edie: I used to be very intimidated by prayer. I was surrounded by a lot of people at my church and in my women’s ministry who were really good pray-ers, especially out loud. I avoided praying out loud because I didn’t think I was doing it right. I was looking for a formula and a way to do it.
What God showed me is that prayer is what everybody knows. It’s a conversation. And you can’t do a conversation wrong when you’re building a relationship, and when you trust the person you’re talking to.
He showed me that my prayers don’t have to be solemn, wordy, or formal. He showed me that I can go outside and I can sing prayers to him. I can laugh prayers to him. I can just enjoy the conversation wherever I am.
Erin: I love it. It’s just, it’s a way for us to connect. It’s a way for us to connect with him. That’s prayer. And I’ll just mention, you were comparing yourself, like we all so often do, so no wonder that didn’t go well.
Our time is almost up, but do you have some final words of wisdom you’d want to leave with our listeners?
Edie: I think the thing I hope everyone takes away from this is the fact that God wants that relationship. There are times in our lives, like when my dad was dying from Alzheimer’s and we were in the midst of a caregiving season when I couldn’t go deep in a Bible study with God. I couldn’t spend hours in prayer or in anything.
But God showed me that as long as I am focused on him, he is every bit as able and powerful in those in-between moments to give me the soul care I need to get me through what I’m going through as if I could become a hermit for a month.
God is not dependent on my ability to spend time. God is dependent on nothing. But he’s waiting for me to give him the bits and pieces of time that I have in those seasons of busyness that he has called me to.
Erin: I love that.
Karen: Those are such great words, Edie. I’m so glad that you’ve been with us today.
Friends, as you take a look at this new year coming up, and as you consider everything that is being impacted, your career, your family, your life, all of that, I encourage you to take these words to heart. Ground yourself in the Lord. Go deeper with God and do some soul care so that you know you can stand firm in the one who has called you to share with others the words that he’s given you and the one who loves you beyond anything we can imagine.
Happy New Year to all of you! May it be a year steeped in God’s blessing and peace.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
How do you do soul care?
Books by Edie Melson mentioned in the podcast
Soul Care for Writers by Edie Melson
Soul Care When You’re Weary by Edie MelsonAs 2022 gets started, we need soul care! Guest Edie Melson shares how to do soul care all year long. #amwriting #christianwriter @ediemelson Click To Tweet
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