In Others’ Word: Being You

I’m not a woodworker — too afraid of a table saw for that kind of endeavor.

Even so, I know that wood has a grain to it. Go against a piece of wood’s natural grain and guess what happens …

The wood tears.

There have been seasons in my life when I lived against the grain. Circumstances pressured me to act a certain way. And then there were the expectations — mine or someone else’s — forcing me to say and do things that tore at the edges of my soul. I’d get to the end of the day and  look in the mirror … and I wouldn’t even recognize myself.

More and more life’s been about respecting the grain of my own wood … and seeing the beauty of it. There’s no denying the nicks and dents that come with growing older — and growing up — but I’m embracing those too.

In Your Words: What have you done lately that followed the grain in your own wood?




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  1. January 7, 2013, 1:08 am   /  Reply

    I started seriously writing a year ago. Not writing goes against my grain. I’m my best “me” when I write.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:50 am   /  Reply

      Totally understand this, Gabrielle. I feel most like “me” when I’m writing too.

      • Amy Leigh Simpson
        January 7, 2013, 10:27 am   /  Reply

        This comment was so near what I was going to type, I’m just gonna second and third this thought! 🙂

  2. January 7, 2013, 4:48 am   /  Reply

    Okay, I don’t know if this counts as recent, but a few years ago at the first MBT retreat, I started following my own grain by writing in my voice…before that, I’d tried writing in another voice and yeah, it didn’t have pretty results. 🙂 Susie pulled something out of me in that first retreat and as I started writing that Saturday night, it felt fresh and exciting and oh-so-“whoa, this is me.”

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:51 am   /  Reply

      Isn’t Susie good that way? She looked at me that weekend and said two things:
      “Beth, you can write fiction.” (Affirmation)
      “Beth, you don’t write romantic suspense.” (Clarification)

  3. January 7, 2013, 6:09 am   /  Reply

    I started following my own grain when I became more transparent and caring less about the perfect front every “good Christian woman” should present. Lies. Good Christian women are flawed individuals who accept God’s grace and allow Him to guide their daily living. I strive to do my best, but many times, I fall short and stumble. He helps me up, dusts me off and sets me on the right path again. And you’re so right, Beth–there is beauty in the nicks and dents.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:52 am   /  Reply

      You radiate grace to others.

  4. January 7, 2013, 6:42 am   /  Reply

    Purely loving writing for the writing and not getting distracted in the other whens that can be so…distracting.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:52 am   /  Reply

      This is a truth that I’ve heard you declare over and over again, Wendy. Keep it up.

  5. Jessica R. Patch
    January 7, 2013, 6:48 am   /  Reply

    I think for me it was when I realized I wasn’t the perfect mom–or at least I stopped pretending I was. I slice and bake and it’s okay. I buy Dollar Tree plastic gift bags instead of crocheting my own. And I don’t count in syrupy tones when I expect my kids to obey. I guess you could say God took me to the woodshed, and showed my how to saw. No lashes involved! I’ve had less tearing since then. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:53 am   /  Reply

      Yeah, I wanted that whole “perfect mom” persona too, Jessica.
      Missed it by “that” much.


  6. January 7, 2013, 7:03 am   /  Reply

    Sometimes I try to be the type of writer others are…beautiful wordsmithing, planned to the T. Then I have to come back and realize that I have my own voice, not flowery and I am a purposeful pantser, not a copious outliner. When I remember that, I’m able to write.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:54 am   /  Reply

      I love what you said:
      When I remember that (who you are as a writer) — I’m able to write.

  7. January 7, 2013, 7:04 am   /  Reply

    Beth, I identify with your point about not recognizing yourself when you go against the grain, and I so dislike that feeling. For me, it happens when I allow myself to become negative. By nature I’m a positive person, and when life starts getting me down, I fight my way “back.” Writing–and taking a few minutes to rest and count my blessings–helps me do that.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:55 am   /  Reply

      A lot of wisdom in what you said, Kathy.

  8. Jeanne T
    January 7, 2013, 7:14 am   /  Reply

    I’ve gone against my own grain many, many times through the years. When I realized that I don’t need to be anyone other than who God created me to be, and that He was enough for me, I stopped trying to please other people and started working to grow in intimacy with my Creator. This has given me much peace over the years.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:56 am   /  Reply

      Nodding my head in agreement, Jeanne. I love embracing the peace of being who God wants me to be …

  9. January 7, 2013, 7:15 am   /  Reply

    I am one of those independent, I can do anything women, so letting go of pursuing publication was so difficult. But I kept hearing this voice in my quiet time…Cease striving. Know that I am God. And one day I committed to do just that. My job was to write. God’s job was to get it published. What a relief I felt. After that I started enjoying the journey.

    Great post!

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:57 am   /  Reply

      You are one of the most capable women I know, so to hear you say you needed to let God be God — and to stop trying so hard … wow.

  10. January 7, 2013, 7:39 am   /  Reply

    I am a woodcarver. When I try to take a piece of wood and release the beautiful masterpiece within it, it’s all about working with the natural grain. Sure, I could barrel through using power tools but there is an inner peace–to both me and the wood–when I work with the natural flow. Just like pieces of wood, there are no two people exactly alike. There is a natural flow in each of us and if we mold and shape our lives within that grain, we will release the beautiful masterpiece within us.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:57 am   /  Reply

      Why am I not surprised that you would add more depth to this thought, Reba?

    • January 7, 2013, 9:02 am   /  Reply

      Ooooh, very nice.

  11. January 7, 2013, 7:57 am   /  Reply

    I finally have proposals nearly ready to send to 3 publishers. Next goal, probably to secure an agent while praying for God’s best blueprint.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:58 am   /  Reply

      Oh the places you’ll go …

  12. January 7, 2013, 8:01 am   /  Reply

    I’m being quieter in 2013. I have always talked too much, and when I blab, sometimes I say things I wish I hadn’t. It feels good to listen and practice quiet acceptance. I love the wood grain analogy.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:58 am   /  Reply


  13. January 7, 2013, 8:27 am   /  Reply

    I’ve always been super task-oriented–major construction projects, craft projects, school projects–I did them all. So when I blew a disk in my back and couldn’t do much of anything, I had to learn to live differently. Relaxing went against my grain. But a wonderful writing career blossomed out of being still. Of course…over the holidays I laid a new kitchen floor, my first reno project in years and it still thrills me to have something so substantial to show for a few days work…unlike writing which takes soooo much longer. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 8:59 am   /  Reply

      Interesting insight, Sandra.
      You actually discovered a new “grain” to your personality …

  14. January 7, 2013, 8:30 am   /  Reply

    Ooooh, as someone who spends considerable time every summer with power tools, antiques and harsh, mind bending chemicals, I am loving this!!

    Tearing the grain is when the damage is obvious. Overworking a weakened, exposed piece of wood results in even worse damage, something called “raising the grain”. But raising the grain is only visible when you look really close. It feels soft to the hand and doesn’t appear to actually be damage. It’s even fuzzy, which one can easily mistake for feeling good. But it is far easier to repair a tear in a piece, than to fix the fine and well hidden damage of raising.
    A tear can be filled in, artfully coloured with the right pastels (yes, good, old fashioned oil pastels…and a high powered hair dryer… trust me) and healed. Raising takes a tonne of work to fix and is best left to someone with the right tools, the skill and the patience to fix what overkill has done. A good woodworker knows when to stop and let the wood rest. Someone rushing the job will destroy a thing of beauty and ruin it almost beyond repair.

    Sand with the grain, never against it.
    I’ve done a bit of raising this year, but I am SO thankful that Jesus was a carpenter and knows exactly how to fix me.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 9:00 am   /  Reply

      No words.
      Such insight, Jennifer.
      Thank you so, so much for sharing.

  15. January 7, 2013, 9:49 am   /  Reply

    Like Gabe, when I started writing again…I breathed a sigh of relief, as if I’d finally found that thing I was supposed to do with my talents. God knew, though. He’d been bringing me to that point my whole life…even when I didn’t know it.

    And going to ACFW and connecting with all of the friends I’d made…I knew then, that I belonged. I’d come home.

    I’ll never resist going with my grain out of fear again.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 2:37 pm   /  Reply

      You pinpointed a very important reason why we go against our grain: fear.
      It’s amazing how we damage ourselves — hide our talents — because of fear.

  16. Roxanne Sherwood Gray
    January 7, 2013, 10:01 am   /  Reply

    My mirror reveals all my flaws, and that’s the face the world sees and how I’ve seen myself. But my husband constantly tells me I’m beautiful, and that’s how my Savior sees me. So I choose to submit to heavenly sanding with the grain to produce the finished product I’m supposed to be.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 2:37 pm   /  Reply

      Love this. Your comment put a smile on my face, Roxanne — and reminded me of the power of love.

  17. Bernadette DesChamps
    January 7, 2013, 11:19 am   /  Reply

    Teaching my first women’s retreat. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever had the privilege of doing outside of birthing my babies, only in this case all the hard work was done beforehand. The day of there was no fear…only a deep love for the women that the Lord brought, and a deep joy in sharing God’s word and testimony. I’ve never felt the empowering of the Spirit so keenly. It was as if I had just done the very thing I was born to do. And more importantly that how I felt about it, God moved in hearts and lives.

    When I’m in step with Him I am always with the grain.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 2:38 pm   /  Reply

      “When I’m in step with Him I am always with the grain.”

      Love this.

  18. January 7, 2013, 12:29 pm   /  Reply

    I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a long, long time. For five years, I’ve written full time without pay, but I’ve felt the pressure to earn money.

    I like achievement and pay checks and contributing. Makes me feel like I’m “somebody,” you know? However, when I pray about part time or full time work, God keeps saying, “Did I ask you to provide for your family?” and I’m all, “No,” and He’s like, “Well, then let your husband do what I called him to do and leave the rest to me.” My pride does not like this dead zone, but if I go off on my own, I know it’s going against God’s grain for my life.

    Lovely post, Beth. It really made me think.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 7, 2013, 2:39 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Jill.
      And I would encourage you that you are not in a “dead zone.”
      Far from it.
      You are caring for your family … and your dream.

      Lot of life where you are living!

  19. January 7, 2013, 1:00 pm   /  Reply

    Morning quiet time with the Lord over coffee is the smoothest grain to my heart and soul. What comes out of that – the renewal, redemption, insight, guidance, and hope — I can’t live without. Amazing grace, my Friend.

  20. Beth Vogt
    January 7, 2013, 2:40 pm   /  Reply

    You are a woman of the Word, Donna … that is one thing I know about you.

  21. January 8, 2013, 11:41 am   /  Reply

    Ahhh…the powerful table saw that’s on my wish list. Love the quote. Made me really think. Love your take on it.

    • Beth Vogt
      January 8, 2013, 8:28 pm   /  Reply

      You, Brill, can have at the table saw. I’ll let you have a go at it.

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