Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Living Out Her Purpose - Debra Elramey

life purpose, writer, novel, story, faith, christian
If you're still unclear as to your God-given life purpose, you'll definitely want to read Debra's story. 

She shares how uncovering the mystery can be as simple as reflecting on childhood clues that point towards your truest self.

Tell us a little bit about yourself...
I live in North Carolina with my husband and daughter, where I teach writing and music.

I have 3 children all together. 2 have left the nest.  All of them were home schooled.

Abigail, my 16-year-old, describes me as “cat whisperer.” She tells her friends that
neighborhood cats “bond” with me when they won’t come near anyone else.

What is your God-given purpose, and when did you uncover it?
From early on, I have always known that I had an imagination, which is one of the elements that a writer has to have.  I used to tell stories, and I was quite animated.

I've known I was called to write since second grade, when I copied verbatim an entire children’s book and turned it in to my teacher, saying, “Look what I wrote!”

After realizing your calling, what did you do to bring it to fruition?
I pursued it with everything I had.  

I took classes, I studied creative writing, I hooked up with other writers... I connected with other people who were doing the same thing that I loved doing.  The connection is what really motivates people to keep going.  I was in a writer's group.  All the people were professionals.  Everyone was publishing their works, and we were holding each other accountable. I think that's what really catapulted the whole process of writing the novel and larger works.  Because I had people I was accountable to.  Some people are fine on their own, but for me, I have to have a network.

I kept on writing and sending my work out everywhere, eventually publishing internationally in literary presses and magazines, Kodak shots of my life in poems and personal narratives.  After receiving a poet laureate award from the North Carolina Poetry Society, my poem “Come as You Are” appeared in Sojourners Magazine, and subsequently began cropping up on the internet, and I soon discovered that it was being used as a reading in certain church services.

I’ve also written and recorded a collection of songs: Glowing in the Dark and completed a novel, Broken Angels.  I’m currently working on two separate memoirs, one on education, the other on my spiritual journey – which has been quite a ride!  I contribute to Life Learning and Natural Life magazines and blog at Pure and Simple.

What has the experience of living out your purpose been like?
It has been wonderful.  It's been Divine!  

Debra Elramey, life purpose, women writers conference, faith, christian
My writing career has led me to some interesting places and people.  I spoke at the N.C. Women Writers’ Conference in Winston-Salem where I shared the podium with keynote speaker Maya Angelou (You can read more about it HERE): 

Songwriting and performing led me to Aqueduct Conference Center in Chapel Hill on numerous occasions, where I met the likes of writers Madeleine L’Engle, Brennan Manning, and Morton Kelsey.  When my poems “Holding On” and “Morning Mass” were published in Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature by the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas, I was invited to speak at its annual writer’s festival.

But perhaps the greatest privilege of all has been to minister to the "least of these" (Matthew 25:39, 40) in prisons and medical facilities and at St. Timothy’s where a large number of homeless folks attend.  Living out my purpose has been amazing, and God has surely accomplished in my life immeasurably more than all I could have asked or imagined.

What is the next level to which you'd like to take your role?
I want to finish all the books that I'm meant to write!

Oliver Wendell Holmes said that there is, “No sadder thing than for a man to go to his grave with his music still within.”

I don't want to die with the "music still in me".

Everything that God wants me to write, I want to get done. I just want to finish the job. I don't want it to be incomplete. I want to fulfill all of these plans. I want to leave my mark in the wood!

I believe that each of us has a life work. For instance, Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” rocked the nation. Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, has impacted many lives. There is within all of us a Divine plan and purpose. A desire of my heart is to leave behind a magnum opus for posterity’s sake.

One of my friends, the late Irene Burk Harrell, was a phenomenal and prolific author who visited me in a dream one night years after her death, commissioning me to “write that book.” To this day, I’m still trying to solve this mystery and determine which book that might be.


What words of encouragement do you have for others who are still seeking out their purpose?
As they told us in school, listen and pay attention.  In the school of life the same advice applies.  Listen to the still small voice. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:2).

Pay attention to clues like childhood memories.  Bill Huffhine says, “It was in the midst of your playtime that the real you lived most freely.  There are profound clues to who you were meant to be, tucked away in those childhood activities.”

Remember when you role-played your call in life with ease, when play acting was as natural as breathing?  If not, then it’s time to stir up the gifts of God within you by pressing the rewind button.  When we glance over our shoulder at our history, we see ourselves as children, rehearsing what we’ve always known we wanted to be… like my 2nd grade memory of pretending to be a writer.

Those days were when you were your truest self-- before the ego, and all these facades came into play-- trying to be what others wanted you to be.

Become, once again, that little child who never ceased asking, seeking, and knocking.

The world is too much with us.  It robs us of our identity.  We're forced into a box-- to do what the world thinks we should do, or to be what the world thinks we should be to be successful.

God will make His purpose and plan clearer by the day. Keep seeking.

faith, Christian, story, life purpose, writer
Debra Elramey writes and teaches in Wilson, NC. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Sojourners, Natural Living, WindhoverCrucible, and Life Learning. She has written and recorded a collection of songs, Glowing in the Dark; completed a novel, Broken Angels; and is currently working on a spiritual memoir, contributing to magazines, and blogging at:   http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com/

***
Thank you so much for sharing your story here at Unstuck and Unstoppable, Debra.  And thank you for providing such insight on the value of and meaning behind childhood play.  

For the readers, I hope the sharing of this story has blessed you!

If you have a story you would also like to share, please let me know.

Until next time...

Hugz,




P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please "like" Unstuck and Unstoppable on Facebook, and share this post with a friend!

5 comments:

Debra said...

Oh Karen, I need to interview you, girl!
It's Teamwork

Fixing a chain
Tracks for a train
They're always better together
A cocoa in the mug
A kiss and a hug
They're always better together
When nothing seems too fit
And you just want to quit

Team work do it together
Team work friends forever
We're all for one and one for all
We'll help each other stand tall
With teamwork

Stars in the sky
Hot weather in July
They're always better together
A hat on a head
Butter and bread
They're always better together
If things don't work on your own
You know you're not alone

Team work do it together
Team work friends forever
We're all for one and one for all
We'll help each other stand tall
With teamwork

Team work do it together
Team work friends forever
Team work do it together
Team work friends forever

La Dolce Vita said...

I found this blog from another blogger where Debra left a link. Then, I went on to read Debra's blog. She is amazing, an inspiring soul in the true sense of the term.
I loved reading this interview of hers.
Thank you Karen for sharing this with us.
Take care,
Sanghamitra
(from India )

Debra said...

@ La Dolce Vita - ditto!

Claudine G. said...

Great interview, Debra & Karen! I wouldn't want to go to the grave with my music still within me either.

Debra said...

Claudine, the good news is, none of us need go to our grave with our music still within. And you, of all people certainly will not!
You creative soul, you! In fact, you need to share your story with Karen.

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