My Search for Words

Is there a word that holds deep meaning for you?

I must confess, I have been struggling. The state of the world and the fear I feel flowing in the wind are oppressing my spirit. I keep looking for words of hope to meditate on, just single words I let my mind mull over.

Joy

Goodness

Hope

These poems were all born from that endeavor, but I find myself running low on ideas. If you have a word that sparks hope, or peace within you, would you share it with us in the comments?

I will do my best to write a short poem or reflection on each word you share with me.

Or maybe you have a word that weighs on your mind. Maybe it’s not oppressive, but you feel it’s important. Share it please.

I have been working on a small side project called Words of Weight. Once I have penned enough poems to fill a small chapbook, I plan to share it with you all for free. Your words are paramount to my finishing.

Mary Grace van der Kroef


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Kirsten McNeill Creative Coach/Author Interview

Several months I got to participate in an author interviewed with Kirsten McNeill. She is a fellow creator, author, editor, podcast host and creative coach. She has some really amazing new things in her future. But following her dreams has meant she needs to leave some old projects behind, so the platform our interview lives in is coming down.

Today, it gets a new home in the form of this post, and I really encourage you to check Kirsten and everything she is about out. She interviewed me about my upcoming chapbook, and now I will also share her creative endeavors with you.

A bit from Kirsten:

🌻As a creative, I’m always coming up with new project ideas and searching for ways to express myself.

💖One of my latest ideas is to become a life purpose/creative life coach to encourage writers (and other creators) to embrace their journeys and live the life they want unapologetically.

🥰I love helping others feel good about themselves and work to build a positive mindset in their daily activities. And many writer friends have said that I’m already leaning into the coaching world with my sunflower happiness!

📖My first step in becoming a life coach is taking a certification program. There’s one starting in October, and the last day to sign up for the early bird special is October 1st!

☕I’ve created a campaign goal on Buy Me A Coffee and it would mean the world to me if you helped me reach it!

💫Show your support by spreading the word, helping me raise funds, and letting me know what you think of the EXTRAS!

🌻Learning from this program will expand my knowledge base to help others feel more confident and happy in their journeys.

📚Go to buymeacoffee.com/kirstenmcneill to contribute to my campaign. What extra would you like to see me create for you?


Authors Interview:

Hello Mary Grace! Please introduce yourself and share 5 fun facts!

  • My favorite food is sushi.
  • Sushi pairs with nothing better than a Dr. Pepper. Yes, I am that weird.
  • I am a huge Anime fan. The classics like Hunter x Hunter are my favorite.
  • One of my favorite singers of all time is Kevin Max. Some people might recognize his name from the band DC Talk.
  • I have had my hair just about every color of the rainbow, except pink. Pink is not my favourite.

What inspired you to begin your writing journey?

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been a very avid reader. Back then, my favourite books were about Pippi Longstocking. I loved that a little girl like me could adventure and do ridiculous things. Stories give us freedom to dream like that. I used to make up my own stories about her.

As I aged, I found that writing gave me release from the confusing emotions that come with growing up. It felt so natural to me to use a pencil to dream and pour out my pain and fear and doubts.

I have only been aspiring to write for others the last few years. It’s only because of the encouragement I received from other writers and authors in my life that has given me the courage to ‘write out loud’.

What are your favourite genres and themes to write about?

I write a lot of poetry. It’s a wonderful way to process emotions and understand them. I enfold questions and truths about my own mental health, and faith into these poems. I love story telling. Poems are great ways to tell stories in vivid imagery. The short story in its many forms is also important to me. The ability to compress all I want to say into just a few words is something I am continuing to learn. I like to use short stories to explore how different perspectives can lead to a deeper understanding of the world and ourselves.

What are the challenges you face in writing?

Finding time would be one of the biggest challenges. I have been homeschooling two of my three children over the past year. Much of my life has revolved around childcare, so the moments I steal in the middle of the business to write are often interrupted. I also have a mild form of dyslexia. I have improved over my years of writing but rely on grammar software to see mistakes that my eyes and brain miss.

Tell us about the poetry collection you’re working on!

It will be a grouping of twenty-five of my best faith-based poems. These poems revolve around my prayers, my questions, even my battles with mental health and faith. My working title is ‘The Branch That I Am’. I hope to make this collection available between August and the end of November, of this year 2021. This is my first experience working with a professional editor, and I am enjoying the learning happening in my creative space.

What are the best parts of bringing topics of mental health and faith into your writing?

What a great question. Overall, I think it’s the chance I have to share Hope. When we are in the middle of darkness, it is so easy to lose sight of the hope that we have. I believe in a God that will sit with me in the middle of my pain and confusion. He isn’t far away, he is present. He is that hope.

The two are so intertwined in my life that I cannot separate them. If I didn’t have that hope, I wouldn’t still be alive. SO the best part of sharing my hope with the world as writing, is that maybe someone else will come to hold hope as well.

How do you balance your writing schedule with the other aspects of your life?

Not always very well. My kids always come first, but the crumbs on my carpet don’t get vacuumed up enough. I do try to take all my tasks for the day in bits and pieces spread out. Everything I write starts as a note on my phone. I write whole rough drafts there.

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned in your writing journey?

It’s okay to write crap. Honestly, it’s so freeing to know that the first draft doesn’t have to be this glorious thing. It’s almost always really horrible. THAT IS OKAY.

What’s the most important thing to you when it comes to creativity?

It is individual. As humans, we are constantly comparing ourselves to each other. But our creativity is as distinct as our fingerprints. My writing or painting may have similar styles to someone else, but they are my own. My skills and message will grow at their own pace.

What’s the best advice you can give to fellow writers?

Never give up. When I was fourteen, I knew I was a going to be a writer. But I didn’t know I would be a poet, no idea it would take until I was in my 30’s to bloom and be ready to show the world my words. Don’t give up. If you put words on paper, or screen, you ARE a writer.


Image by 5598375 from Pixabay

What do you do when you’re struggling to come up with ideas?

I really love short forms of writing. I use six word stories as an exercise when I feel blank inside. It starts as just looking at someone else’s art, a picture or painting, and trying to see the story hidden behind the obvious. I try to express it in just six words. If I can focus and pull those six words from my heart and mind, it usually jump starts something for me.

Can you share your favourite snippets from articles and poems on your website? What makes them special to you?

“I asked the Lord to keep me brave.
Hold my chin above the wave.

Lend me strength to tread the line.
Close my mouth to deadly brine.

Whether rescue comes for me,
or in death, I am set free.

I asked the Lord to keep me brave,
as I swim above the grave.”

These lines from my poem ‘He Keep’s Me,’ might seem dark to others. But to me, it’s a reminder that I am never alone. He always keeps me brave.

‘When Creativity Hurts’, is one of the first articles I wrote on creativity.

“I also ask myself, is it worth this hurt? I always came back to the answer, yes. Creativity is worth every tear. Why? Because it can help me heal, if I let it.

Will I let it? Will you let it? Or will we all let creativity work its cauterizing powers on our emotional and spiritual wounds?”

These are just a few lines from the article, but they show the heart of it. Creativity is such a gift from God. There have been years I lost hold of my creative spark in the middle of my battle with depression. I pray God gives me the strength to never let it go again.

What are your goals for the future in your writing career?

After this first chapbook, I have plans for several more centered around different themes. Family, Love, Nature, and Thoughts about life in general. I would like to see one published per year for the next four or five years. Whether I accomplish this will depend on that family work time balance.
Further down the line, I have hopes for writing full-length novels and collections of short stories.

Any last thoughts to share about Mary Grace or your writing experiences?

I just feel so blessed in being given the opportunity to share my story. I’m humbled by the thought of my words reaching out in to the future and touching those I will never meet.
I am praying for readers and fellow writers to come alongside me and help me learn, grow, and reach my goals. If anything, we have talked about resonates with a reader, I encourage them to reach out to me. Join my monthly newsletter and let’s do this thing called creativity together.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Mary Grace van der Kroef!

Stay in touch with her on her website, and read more of her work here: He Keeps Me (poem), When Creativity Hurts (Article).


Thank you Kirsten for giving my words space. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for YOU as well.

– Mary Grace van der Kroef –

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Hope/Calla Press

At Calla Press, we are unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we desire to glorify His name above all else.

– SAMANTHA CABRERA, Calla Press Founder and Editor

It blessed me to be in the right online writing group at the right time to hear Samantha Cabrera’s announcement about reopening Calla Press. What a job they have done. The new website is gorgeous and the stories and voices they are amplifying do just what they claim their mission is all about. Glorifying Jesus Christ.

Calla Press is a Christian literary journal publishing articles, poetry, prose, flash fiction, creative none fiction, and photography.

– Calla Press Website

A huge thank you to the team for including my poem ‘Hope‘ in their web publications. I invite you all to head over to their website and read my piece, as well as the many other great words you will find there.

Mary Grace van der Kroef

Note: They receive submissions for the website on a rolling basis, and publish a print issue once a year. Submissions will open for that print issue in September.

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Lovers Getaway/Dwelling Literary

Dwelling Literary has again redecorated and on July 1st my piece, Lovers Getaway dropped as part of their BEACH HOUSE Issue.

BEACH HOUSE will continue to be an interactive experience on the home page for the month of July, after which all included pieces will remain in their Archives.

Dwelling literary continues to be a great sight to interact with and write for on a monthly basis. I encourage all of my friends to check out there monthly themes. Thank you!


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One Year Old!

Today is the day! Mary Grace Writing is officially ONE YEAR OLD!

I am a muddle of disbelief, pride, exhaustion, and determination.

Like for an infant just learning how to walk, and it’s pretty exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. Slowly and surly I am learning how to navigate the literary world. I never expect to be the next ‘great up-and-coming thing’, and that is okay. But I am proving to myself I can do this thing called writing and publishing.

Consistency had been key for me. Three posts a week except for a health brake, has really added up.

The Body Mind and Soul and Empty Footsteps have been my most read posts. over the last 12 months.

He Keeps Me and Empty Footsteps has been my two most listened to recordings.

I think my favorite part of blogging is seeing how far of a reach my writing has had. People from over 70 different countries have found my words through various methods. Watching for new flags to pop up on my views chart is so much fun. I have no way of knowing how any of my work has been received by the many cultures these flags represent, but I hope I brought some positivity in their worlds.

Thank you to all of you, my followers. Year one has just been baby steps, and I have a long way to go before reaching my goals, but I see that as a good thing.

Year Two, what’s next?

Hopefully, a book cover reveal and a chapbook launch happening sooner than later, adding to my publication’s portfolio, and getting to work on my long thought through full-length fiction projects. I have a lot of words to move. I have an amazing God to help me move them.

Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Fahmidan Journal/Issue 6. Autoimmune and Mental Health Worriers.

I was honored to have my poem Splinter accepted for Fahmidan Journal’s 6th Issue. The themes for this issue is so important to share. As someone who deals with PCOS and mental health issues, it’s beautiful to see so many contributors coming together to bring some hope.

Follow the link to read Issue 6. Autoimmune and Mental Health Worriers.

https://www.fahmidan.net/issue-6

The Purpose In Just Being You/Divine Purpose Magazine

My article, ‘The Purpose In Just Being You,’ has appeared in the Spring 2021 Issue of Divine Purpose Magazine.

It’s been exciting to see my first article published, and I thank the Editors are Divine Purpose for including my piece this quarter. You can find the magazine HERE at ISSUE.com. The article appears on page 22.

Also, a huge thank you to my friend Jackie for helping me with editing. I learned so much from our back and forth, and treasure the time you took to invest in me. THANK YOU!

Our Need for Your Story

Did you know you have a story to tell?

It doesn’t matter how average you think you might be, you have a unique story all your own. No one has lived the same life or felt the same emotions. No one sees the world in quite the same way as YOU.

It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, nor your level of education. There is a story inside of you, and it’s important.

What’s your story?

It could be as simple as that casserole recipe your grandmother taught you how to make, and the things you both talked about while she taught you.

It could be your story is more of a question, something you long to know the answer to, and your quest to find it. Did you find it? Will you find it? Maybe, maybe not. That is a story.

Sure, not everyone may want to know your story. But for every story, there is an audience. Be it ever so small, it’s there.

Telling your story takes courage. It means being vulnerable. Are we brave enough to tell our stories? Not all stories are dark and painful, dramatic, or awe-inspiring. Some are quite ordinary.

Have you ever watched the movie, It’s a Wonderful life? I know many people who make it a tradition to watch this classic in the bright glow of a Christmas tree. It truly is a powerful story. But what makes it so powerful? Simple truth.

An ordinary life has reach and meaning beyond itself. We all touch others in ways we do not realize. We leave holes when we are gone, that we will never know about. There are stories behind our ordinary selves. Beautiful stories, stories worth hearing, reading, and seeing. Stories we can and should learn from.

What’s your story?

Don’t discount it and it’s power.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Stories (13)

I used to choose a seat closest to the doors, in the single cubbies to either side of the true passenger compartments.

“Why do you sit here all alone? It’s dangerous for a single girl.”

I had never thought of it as dangerous before the question. I enjoyed the nods and light conversation with strangers. Many of them dressed roughly, carrying bikes, or oversized backpacks.

I remember one early morning two backpacking couples joined me in the cramped space. The men sat on the ground closest to the sliding doors. I moved my backpack to make room for the two women, tired and clearly already stressed. They didn’t speak Dutch or French or even German, but their chitchat was earnest and careful.

One man wished me well on my journey in English, nodding at my bag as proof I was a kind of comrade, before departing.

The contrast from those small cubbies to the larger passenger compartments with row after row of benches is striking. Few words are ever spoken. Everyone keeps their heads bowed, their minds busy on themselves, appearing to ignore everyone else on the commute. Even so, with the clatter of the train, the call of the ticket master, and the shuffle of shoes, there is a strange companionship.

I have spent quite a few hours waiting on train platforms. In the early morning, or late in the evening, I have found them to hold a strange peace.

Everyone has somewhere, and nowhere to go. Everyone is expectant, yet bored. Isn’t that just like life can be?

I would finally reach my destination in the shadows of night. Night grows and shrinks things. It hides and reveals. It is a different world than daylight, and many people fear it. But I don’t. I know that is only because I have been kept safe. I am blessed.

Night has always been my refuge. Not a time of hiding, but a time of quiet. A time when others retreat, leaving the streets almost empty. The dirt of the day is pushed to the sides, and lays waiting for the morning to come. It’s hidden in the shadows, but it still whispers to the world all the stories it holds. Every cigarette butt, every discarded coffee cup that missed the trash can. Even the caked on muck, scraped from boots at the end of the day. It will all tell you a story, if you only stop and listen.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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My Journey With God/Believable Books

Early last week Ericka Clay from Believable Books reached out and asked if I would contribute a gest post for her website. I was honoured to be asked, and this morning the post has gone live. If you wish to read it, please visit Believable Books via This Link.

Check out the rest of the Believable book’s website as well, and the submissions page.

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