Where the words come from - by Helen Murray

I grew up in a house full of books and ours is just the same. My husband once calculated the shelf-space to keep up with the rate our library grew each year and I think that it won't be long before we no longer need wallpaper.  We have a Kindle as well, and they are useful, but (there had to be a ‘but’) I love books. Books are for sharing, lending, giving away - and you need shelves of books in order to run your finger along the spines, searching for the right book for the right time. You need the cover art, the smell of the pages, the way it nestles in your hand or on your lap. You can feel the weight and the width and know how much you have left to read; books are for tucking gently away on the shelf between two friends until next time.   

I thank God for the words in the books; every last one of them; the sweet and elegant and also the staccato and ugly. They work together, and every word has its place; each has meaning and value and all should be handled with care. In the right hands they have unimaginable power; to build up or to destroy, to bring peace or awful horrors. The world has been changed forever because of words. 

And then there’s my little life-full of words. I enjoy them on so many levels.

I love to look at words and hear their music, their whispers and their shouts. I like playing with them, and I think they like it too. They constantly surprise me, sometimes shock me. They crowd me, tease me and constantly show me things I didn't know. Whenever I think that I know enough words and have no room for more, just like the books on the shelf, along come some irresistible new ones and I welcome them, get to know them, take them out to see what they can do.

Thank you, God, for collections of words: books and articles and blogs and lists and journals; for the ones that make me think, or soothe me, or inspire me, encourage me or even infuriate me.

I am grateful for the words on my shelves and also for those that God has put in my head. Some of these words are organised, catalogued, filed neatly and efficiently and easy to access. Others are in huge, dusty piles, spilling over each other. When I call them, some prick up their ears and answer straight away, bounding over when I call and looking at me with big smiles and eager eyes, yet others are reluctant even to glance my way, hostile and sullen, refusing to co-operate. 

Sometimes the words tumble out of my head in a torrent - I can't get them out of my mind and onto the page fast enough! They jump and dance and play with each other and laugh and sing. Other times I have to coax them out, gently arranging them and rearranging them until they're comfortable and settled. Still other times I get hold of them and throw them mercilessly on the page and they sit there and glare at me with a baleful expression. 

Then there are days when the words hide from me completely and I can't find any of them. On days like that I go in search of other people's words; I fill my mind with those and hope that their presence will encourage my own words to slink out from their dark corners and show themselves. Sometimes it works. 

I love that the words are there. I think learning to wrangle them will be a lifetime's work - they can't be manhandled, but must be treated with respect. Firm but fair, I think. I am insistent that they can't just stay there, and that when they finally creep out from their hiding places they can't just loiter idly; they must submit to being ordered. Some, like people, have a secret need to be told what to do, whereas others long to go their own way, wreak their own havoc, create their own worlds. 

Words are neither good or bad; they just are. They didn't have any control over what they look like, how difficult they are to get on with, or how complex their meaning. There are long words and short ones, and they're all necessary. Everyone has a place; all are welcome. There is much that they can teach us, if we're willing to learn.

Words came from Him, of course - words from the Word. The Word that was God, and with God, since the beginning of everything. Alpha and Omega; first and last. He is the Author of it all, and He alone knows what's on the last page.

All the words come from Him, the thoughts, the ideas, the poetry, the inspiration. All from the Word; where else? These are gifts to unwrap with awe and gratitude, to examine, to treasure and to use as very best we can. We are showered with blessings here, for He loves to give His children gifts: ears to hear, eyes to see, lips to speak. Fingers to curl around a pencil.

More than Writers? Yes, I think so. 

We have something else; it might seem subtle, but ultimately it's the only thing that matters. It inspires us, keeps us going when things are hard, and gives us joy and satisfaction on the deepest level. Whenever we go about our business of working with those words, whether it's a devotional or an article, or a story, or a journal, we do it for Him. Not one of us will tell our story in vain.

We know where the words come from. 

We know the Word. 

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a Researcher, Pastoral Worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently working on her first novel. As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims and collects ceramic penguins.

She has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress. 

You can also find her on: 
Pinterest: @HelenMMurray

Twitter: @helenmurray01


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Wendy. Great to be here. Thanks for getting the show on the road so beautifully.

  2. I love this - so poetic and a real encouragement :)

    1. Thanks, Tania. Came over all wordy. :-)

  3. 'Not one of us will tell our story in vain.' Most of us need to be reminded of that from time to time - I certainly do, so thank you, Helen.

  4. Yes, I'd like to know where those words go when they hide from us. Skulking in a corner somewhere, no doubt, giggling behinds their wordy little hands.

    1. Yes, I can sometimes hear them snigger....

  5. Beautifully written word! Thank you, Helen. I love your way with words. :) x

    1. Joy, you're very kind. Thank you for the encouragement. I am loving this blog with all the different voices. :-)

  6. My house is wall-papered with books too...shelves up to the ceiling in the bedrooms.....oh how I enjoyed this post ~!
    Kindle will never replace books.... people are returning to books according to my local bookseller..yay~!
    Mary, New Zealand

    1. Yes - someone once said to me that books were 'expensive wallpaper'! I wouldn't have it any other way.
      Thanks so much, Mary. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I love this Helen. You certainly have a way with words! I love the description of words in your mind: 'I... throw them mercilessly on the page and they sit there and glare at me with a baleful expression.' I can't wait to read your novel when it's finished. You whet my appetite every time with your blog posts!


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