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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week Thirty-Nine: Coleen P. Kenny

Who's In Your Tribe?

“Who’s In Your Tribe?” —McNair Wilson

A thought bubble rose above my head: They all are. Speaking at a Christian Writer’s Guild Conference, McNair Wilson defined a "tribe” as The Right Individuals Bragging Endlessly. The people who lift us up and support us along the footpaths of our dreams. Wilson urged members of the audience to find a few of these folks who will encourage us endlessly.

That afternoon I wrote my first piece of fan mail:

Dear Mr. Wilson,

I am blessed by a tribe who catch my energy and glow. No stifled yawns, no chiding nor laughter as I babble about my writing. Just people who forget I’m a Nurse Practitioner. People who ask for wedding and funeral poems. People who keep notebooks of my articles so they can say “they knew me when.” People who love me for and with God.

But the main thrust of Wilson’s message targeted the men and women who don’t have a tribe, whose spouses, families, or friends don’t support their hopes and dreams.

I thought about the people who surround me, the people I’ve collected like ornaments on the tree of my life. How did I get so blessed?

First, as Wilson advised, I make Christ the chairman of my tribe. (And for those whose spouses aren’t on their bandwagons, Wilson suggested staying for the next conference: a marriage retreat.)

Next, I wander like a nomad through the hearts of hiking buddies and Bible studies, and close friends and colleagues. I build communal fires of enthusiasm via email. I open the tent flap to my life, share my dreams, and give my Divine Muse all the credit.

Like a native storyteller, I spread word of publishing triumphs and conference kudos to a cadre of fans seeking good news in
this savage world. The lore of my accomplishments becomes
encouragement to other writers and those pursuing alternative dreams. Copies of my clips become a witness to His work.

Finally, modesty doesn’t stand in my way. Sharing this gift is my God-given job. When asked if they mind the smoke signals
that carry my news, the tribe’s overwhelming responses included: “Please keep sharing. It’s awesome to see someone pursuing
and reaching their dreams.”

“Your emails give me a boost in the morning. I’m always eager to see what God is doing next.”

The tribe grows.

Some members of this circle don’t believe my Divine Muse exists. Yet they read every word God publishes through me. One day I believe they’ll migrate to my camp for good.

So how do you make it happen?

If you have a tribe, writer, nurture it. Keep people posted and praying for you. If you don’t have a band of brothers (or sisters), create one. Gather a group who will love and support you for and with God. You have a gift. Honor it, honor Him, and honor those whose hearts your words will touch for eternity.

Coleen P. Kenny is a freelance-writer whose fans forget she is a Nurse Practitioner caring for the elderly. Positive Thinking, War Cry, and Believe! have published her articles, and twenty-five devotionals appeared in the gift book “Reach for Your Dreams, Graduate. The 2004 Writers Digest Annual Contest awarded her an Honorable Mention, and she completed the Christian Writers Guilds Apprenticeship in 2007. She is also a professional speaker and storyteller and can be reached at

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