So Much Today

 

So much to do, so much to say, so much to consider – that was my day today.

I drove to my youngest daughter’s house today because I felt as if the Lord was saying to go there for my place away from home. I wanted to take a day to finish my Life Plan from Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy’s book, Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. It’s published by Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI and copyrighted by the authors in 2016.

I’m excited about the Life Plan because it helped me focus on what is important at this point in my life and what I can let go.

 

  (photo from https://www.christianbook.com/living-forward-proven-drifting-life-want/michael-hyatt/9780801018824/pd/018820?product_redirect=1&Ntt=9780801018824&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCG )

So, I got it all done and later tonight I hope to plug some things into my planner. I wrote out some thoughts, I talked and listened to my daughter, we went out for lunch, then back for more planning. I spoke to a couple other family members. I drove home through a storm. Quickly typed up a rough draft of a query letter and then drove half an hour to a writers group.

My brain was a little fuzzy after the full day, but I’m glad I went anyway. Those two hours or so fuel my brain for days afterwards. We discuss everyone’s particular projects, marketing advice, the pros and cons of self-publishing and traditional publishing, and insights into Internet opportunities. I always learn something useful.

Just before we left, the leader prayed for one of the ladies and that prompted me to pray for the leader. Then we went our separate ways. The storm caused the river near the road to swell, but in the dark I didn’t even remember that. I remembered honest critiques expressed with the intent to help the writer grow in their ability to communicate. I remembered prayer for the well-being of another. I saw a mom and daughter interact in a loving manner. We parted with wishes for a great summer and the promise to see each other again in the Fall.

When I got home, I noticed my husband had tidied up the house and we exchanged thoughts about our day. After a while, I told him I intended to blog and he turned on a favorite television show I don’t mind missing.

I may have had a full day with lots to do, but it lacked the stresses of some previous days and for that I’m grateful to Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I hope you had a great day today, too.

May God bless you.

 

Not Giving Up

Have you ever been desperate? Tossed restlessly at night instead of sleeping? Plotted and planned but hindered at every step of the way?

I’ve been reading in the book of Luke lately and Jesus tells parables, stories, so people can grasp a truth.

In Luke 18, the desperate person is a widow. She appealed to a judge. Women in Jesus’ day needed a husband or a son to survive, or a brother would do. This widow goes to a judge over and over again to receive justice. She has no benefactor and her persistence appears to be never ending.

The judge doesn’t fear God or man, but the lady keeps showing up asking for favor in her case.

“To keep from being worn out” the judge mutters to himself, “I’m going to rule on her behalf.”

Jesus tells us our heavenly Father will avenge His chosen ones speedily, which cry out day and night. Jesus asks though, “When the Son of God returns will I find faith on the earth?”

“Please let there be faith on the earth, Lord!”

I’ve been writing for decades now. I understand perseverance. I also understand feeling desperate at times. I’ve plotted and planned and then found nothing I could do would help. Then I began to earnestly pray and I’ve seen many answers to prayer over the years: healings, financial needs met, loved ones protected from harm, relationships restored and other things too, like peace to replace anxiety.

Have you seen answers to prayer that could not have been a coincidence? I sure have. It’s worth not giving up.

God bless!

Writers Helping Writers

I went to the home of a writer tonight. She told us that before she submits an article she goes over it 25 times. She may go over punctuation first, check formatting second, and then read for clarity third, etc. She focuses on one thing at a time.

I wrote about a cleaning product in the article for tonight and I had the bottle say something. We laughed as we pictured an inanimate item give directions.

The hostess is gracious yet she keeps us on course. If one of us brings a long piece and it takes almost 15 minutes to read it, then she asks the group if they have the time to extend that person’s critiquing turn. We are allotted 15 minutes each.

(photo from http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view)

If we’re not in agreement, then we’d probably make quick notes on the copy and not have any chance for discussion. I imagine she’d have us move on to the next person’s writing.

It’s amazing how much gets done in one and a half hours. We spoke about blogging, marketing, editor’s expectations, The Chicago Manual of Style, speaking opportunities and writers’ conferences.

It’s a Christian group so we pray before starting. Once we begin, we say what we like and what we think needs changing.

At the end, the leader set up another meeting and said, “I’m so glad we can laugh at our mistakes.”

Earlier she told us as we laughed that she wasn’t laughing at me, but at the situation, which I knew. It didn’t hurt to hear that, though. Clarity is important. She, too, wrote a sentence that included a wrong word order that ended up clouding the meaning of the sentence.

That’s why it’s so important to let writing set a few days so the author can look at it with fresh eyes. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury with this blog.

As a writer I hope to pen words that glorify God, encourage people, entertain or teach depending on the genre I’m working on at the moment.

I remember knocking on the door at my friend’s house. When she answered, music drifted out and the lyrics lifted my spirits. When I mentioned this to another mom, she said, “My teenagers tell me the words to their songs don’t affect them, I guess you just proved them wrong.”

I look forward to returning to the author’s home for our next critiquing session, although I have to admit I was a little nervous.

I wasn’t sure what they would think of my article. I’m glad they liked it. I hope to get it published.

I put Scriptures in it, such as Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

Yet, I hope it reaches a wide market.

May God bless you.

Writing Opportunities

I recently received “Christian Communicator” Magazine. Some months back they announced that they were going to combine their professional writer’s magazine with their normal writing magazine. This month that concept grabbed my attention.

One year at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, the editors and agents gathered for a question and answer period for the participants. They told us that we should pay attention to the business side of writing. I think this combination of “Christian Communicator” will help us do that.Christian Communicator 5 6 2017.jpeg

The first article this month is written by James Scott Bell. I like his fiction and his writing craft books. The article for the May/June issue is entitled, “Short and Strategic” under the heading, “Marketing.”

He gives advice for getting an author’s name in the public realm and he tells how to make some money and how to increase or establish an email list of readers.

The next article under “The Write Stuff” is entitled “Making Editors Smile,” written by Dr. Dennis E. Hensley. He too, is a prolific author and gives valuable insights to avoid rejections and to develop relationships with editors and to earn income as a freelance writer.

I didn’t write this with the express notion of advertising the “Christian Communicator.”

I tried one of James Scott Bell’s ideas as I wrote a small article this morning right after having time in the Word and in prayer. I called three different family members whose opinion I value and they gave critiques and support, so after I let my rough draft set for a few days, I hope to submit it. I just prayed today for an opportunity to earn some money since a freelance writer’s income is sporadic until they have established customers and even then they need to keep marketing their work and/or services to new editors and clients since circumstances change.

Reading in the book of 1Kings and of Solomon’s wisdom, it reminded me to ask God for help with my writing. In a dream, Solomon told God that he didn’t have the wisdom to lead the multitude of Israelis. He wanted to be a king who judged the people with insight and he wanted to please God. 1Kings 3:11, (ESV):  And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,

1Ki 3:12  behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.

1Ki 3:13  I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.

1Ki 3:14  And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Having read in James_1:5 , (KJV), “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him,” I figured God wouldn’t object to me asking for wisdom about projects to write and markets to send pieces to various editors.

He is a good God.

So, I’ll see what this latest opportunity provides. I thought I’d write a thank you note to “Christian Communicator” if my article gets accepted.

May God bless you.

 

Why Call Me Lord and Not Obey?

My husband has been preaching about the Beatitudes lately and this morning my devotional time lined up with his talks. In Luke 6:46-49, (ESV), Jesus says: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Luk 6:47  Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like:

Luk 6:48  he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

Luk 6:49  But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

As society presses us to conform more and more to its ways, we as people will find our lives crumbling around us when we go the opposite way of God.

I got a newsletter from Evangelist Dea Warford yesterday and he said that Fox television runs a commercial from the Ad Council showing two same sex people kissing and others clapping around them. The ad is called “Love has no labels,” and Dea tells us the announcer says, “Love is love.”

We stopped getting television some years back because the shows and commercials were offensive to my husband and me. He is a sports fan, so it’s been hard on him some days. We get Netflix and search to find wholesome shows.

We are not hiding ourselves from the world. What people believe, they act on. An acquaintance at the library over the past year adjusted to her husband deciding to become a woman.

Later, I asked her mom if she was going to remain married to him. She looked shocked. “Of course!”

The first time her daughter saw me after he published his name change in the newspaper to Joy, she lowered her eyes and gave me room to avoid contact.

We’d talked about marriage in the past. Once a year they talk and see if they’re okay. If they are, they remain a couple. I told her we made a commitment and divorce is never considered an option. We looked eye-to-eye, blinked a few times as we processed the different approaches and then went on our way.

Lately, I attended a writer’s meeting and she bustled around the room at the end. In a high-pitched voice, with enthusiasm I heard her speaking. “Joy did ….” “Then Joy said, ‘….’”

I couldn’t make out anything but the name from across the distance.

My husband asked, in the very beginning, “I wonder if he considered the medical risks of taking these sex-changing hormones?”

A bit later I heard him murmur, “I’d like to talk to him.”

Who knows, it’s a small world, as the saying goes.

It’s clear in God’s Word that He made each of us as male and female in the first chapters of Genesis.

What a slap in God’s face, fooling with one’s gender. I imagine they’re not considering God. They’re listening to their own thoughts and thinking of persuasive messages from the world around them.

Speaking of messages, I think God is telling me to write early in my day. Jesus said in John 10:4-5 (BBE):  “When he has got them all out, he goes before them, and the sheep go after him, for they have knowledge of his voice.

They will not go after another who is not their keeper, but will go from him in flight, because his voice is strange to them.”

Yet, Gideon asked God to prove he was hearing from God in Judges 6:36, (KJV):  Then Gideon said to God, If you are going to give Israel salvation by my hand, as you have said,

Jdg 6:37  See, I will put the wool of a sheep on the grain-floor; if there is dew on the wool only, while all the earth is dry, then I will be certain that it is your purpose to give Israel salvation by my hand as you have said.

Jdg 6:38  And it was so: for he got up early on the morning after, and twisting the wool in his hands, he got a basin full of water from the dew on the wool.

Jdg 6:39  Then Gideon said to God, Do not be moved to wrath against me if I say only this: let me make one more test with the wool; let the wool now be dry, while the earth is covered with dew.

Jdg 6:40  And that night God did so; for the wool was dry, and there was dew on all the earth round it.

God was not offended at Gideon. I ask God to confirm His still small voice when I think I’ve heard from Him and it always lines up with His commands in Scripture.

If I think God is telling me to kill someone – that is not God. If He wants someone to die, He can easily take their spirit from them without human help.

The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy it says in John 10:10 and Jesus came to give life and that abundantly. Those who embrace homosexuality and divorce their spouse destroy the security of their mate and if applicable, their children.

My acquaintance may be putting on a false, cheerful front with a transgender mate, but I imagine she’s shed a boatload of tears.

A friend in college got forsaken by her boyfriend. He told her, “I’ll either choose you or choose the homosexual lifestyle and she got rejected back in the 1970’s before I knew her. When I visited her at home, she turned on me and mocked me with some details I’d shared with her.

As we stayed apart until my departure time arrived, her mom asked if the problem arose from me or from her. I admitted it came from her daughter and she nodded her head as if she knew it.

His choice rocked her whole being and frankly it had nothing to do with her. She left college over that summer, so I never saw her or heard from her again.

I hope she healed from that rejection.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that when I follow Jesus and obey Him, trusting Him as best  I can, He upholds me during the storms of life. Godly choices keep me from experiencing the bedlam of worldly choices no matter how narrow-minded society calls me. I don’t have to taste from the yuck of life’s offerings to know they eventually bring about strife, death, over-emphasis on pleasing self, a lack of stability and well-being.

With God’s help I’ll call out to the Lord in times of trouble and obey Him along life’s way. A saying my husband had us repeat on Sunday, “I can’t do it without Jesus.”

Ain’t it the truth?

God bless!

Married Life

I spent over two hours writing about marriage tonight, or last night since it passed midnight, and my husband asked me to finish up. So, I will do my best to blog tonights’ thoughts tomorrow, or later in this day.

I thought I’d write about communication some more but it took off with a totally different slant. Hopefully those interested in marriage will be blessed. Until then, I’ll say, “Adieu.”

Marriage for Life

Portrait of a husband and wife with small baby child - stock photo         photo from shutterstock

My husband and I went to a meeting for area pastors today and statistics about marriages failing came up. 50% of marriages break up, the man said.

An older man gasped, but I’d done research for a marriage book a few years ago. I wasn’t surprised. I put the book aside, and now I’m seeking God about my writing because I set aside a finished novel because it lacked intrigue.

As I sought God today I thought He directed me to blog on marriage.

The main speaker for our function ate lunch with us. He asked how long my husband and I have been married. “Forty-one years.”

I also felt as if God led me to Proverbs 21 before the idea came to blog. There’s a lot of advice in that Proverb and verse 9 in the New King James Version says it is “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

Verse 23 says, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.”

So although the verses are not coupled together, I’m well aware that it’s harder for me to be contentious when I’m keeping quiet.

Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife.”

I’ve learned the hard way that words can steal the joy and drain ambition out of my husband with a well-phrased question or a reminder of a particular failed attempt. How I wished for a time machine to go back and re-live the moment with a positive response or a neutral comment.

Now, if you were to ask my husband, he would say I’ve supported him more often than discouraged him because he’s told me so. I’m just aware that there are times when I’ve been sorry my words slid by my self-control and then we both suffered the consequences.

Proverbs 14:1 (ESV): The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

So this discourse can be summed up by listing some strong helps for marriage:

  • Following God because He loves you both and He gives great advice.
  • Communicate in healthy ways when you’re not exhausted and after emotions have cooled down.
  • Respect each other. If there’s not a lot of room for respect, ask God to show you how He sees your mate.

No one is perfect – no one. If my husband were abusive, I would love him from a distance with my children safe from harm and removed from a negative influence that they may imitate when they get older.

May God bless you!

Fictional Worlds

As a child I was fortunate to find the library and the world of books.

Lately, I’ve found some authors that are becoming my favorites. I recently read Women’s Intuition by Lisa Samson, Out of Control and In Too Deep by Mary Conneally – the first two of a series, and then today I finished Secrets on the Wind, the first of a series by Stephanie Grace Whitson.

 (all photos from Amazon.com)

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These three authors, uniquely gifted, share the capacity to make characters so real and the story so compelling, that it is hard to come to the end of their fictional worlds.

The other night it occurred to me that living in a non-real world was effectively keeping me from enjoying time with my husband. I ended up apologizing and he forgave me.

So, with this last book, I made sure to read most of it when he was gone. My youngest daughter needed a favor, so the book took second place. It continued that way throughout the day – as responsibilities arose, a bookmark kept the page.

I enjoyed the last book all the more because even though it interfered with some of my plans, I chose mindfully instead of just getting lost in the tome.

I needed to go to the library for a quick trip. Last week I asked the librarian if she would order techno-thriller books written by Jefferson Scott since there were none in the cooperative counties’ library system.

She told me she couldn’t order them through her purchasing vendor. I thanked her and then turned away. Before leaving I returned. “If I buy them and read them, would it be okay to donate them to the library?”Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

She said yes and so I will.As I looked for them, I realized I had just called them technothrillers, not Ethan Hamilton Technothrillers and I almost missed them on Amazon.com’s site. No wonder she couldn’t find them. I learned that librarians like to buy books when it’s within their budget and they’re supposed to provide for an interest range to suit their customers. If worldly books fill much of the shelves, it does my heart good to see well-written Christian books available for perusal as well. If people don’t ask for the books they like, the librarians will purchase from selected lists.

Jesus told us to ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you shall find, etc. Matt_7:7, (KJV): Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
I love the Word of God even more than I like fiction.

May God bless you!

 

 

Writing Choices

I bought a book from the library last week by Debbie Macomber entitled Hannah’s List – a hardcover for $4.00 – copyrighted in 2010 and published by Mira, USA.

Since she’s a “New York Times”  and “USA Today” Bestseller, I thought I’d analyze her book. I just finished reading Changing Habits by her and liked how quickly the characters drew me in. It was copyrighted in 2004 and published by Harlequin Enterprises.

Changing Habitsphoto from http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/changing-habits-debbie-macomber/1100346303  

I’ve been praying about what God wants me to do with my writing. I bought a labeler for organizing and after the kitchen labels, I went to the office. I labeled four different notebooks and it could have been five.

One was filled with notes and outlining for a romance my younger sister and I were going to write. She moved and we both began to realize the immenseness of writing a novel. We decided to give it up.

Another notebook had the bare bones for a novel I thought of beginning last year.

The next notebook is filled with character sketches, pictures of furniture where the characters live, detailed outline notes. That’s the finished novel that fell flat.

The fourth notebook was going to be a non-fiction book for children on the Great Depression. An elderly lady wanted to co-author it with me, but then she told me she wanted to do it by herself since she planned on writing for adults.

The non-existent notebook would have helped with a book on marriage. I spent a lot of time researching and writing a book on marriage. Unfortunately I listened to an editor at a writers conference when she said, “You’re writing a book on marriage? There’s so many, why waste your time on that?”

So, I am seeking God for guidance.

I have a lot of interests and I’m picturing my writing life. Decisions, decisions – without distinct goals nothing will get done.

As I eliminate items from my home I’m seeing things more clearly. Praise God!

May God bless you.

Organizing the Writing Life

I’m reading James Scott Bell’s book Just Write: Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life straight through and then I’ll go through it and do the exercises. By reading straight through, I mean 15 to 20 pages at a time and then picking it up again. It’s been a few days since I last read it but it’s right up there with library books with looming due dates. He got this one published by Writer’s Digest Books and it’s copyrighted in 2016. It’s got advice that entails work hints and dedication and using brain cells and encouraging oneself – to name a few things.Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life

(photo from Christianwritersinstitute.com)

I like James Scott Bell’s fiction. I discovered his books while shelving returns from the circulation desk when I worked at the library. I bought his craft books, one from Barnes & Nobles, two from Writer’s Digest online. I recommend them all but this one is hitting me where I live and I’m glad I bought it.

We have a lady pastor at our church who’s told me that my husband’s preaching stepped on her toes. “I love it!”

The first time she spoke that way, my eyes widened and I said, “You loved it?”

“Oh yeah, I needed to hear that.”

James Scott Bell’s words to writers may step on my toes at times but I’m serious about improving. So, I appreciate the words of wisdom a published novelist passes along.

One of my goals this year is to finish Jerry Jenkins’ “Inspirational Market” writing course that I purchased as an online class.

As I get organized in my thinking and my environment I picture finishing projects and choosing pathways according to God’s direction. I do that now some of the time, but disorder affects me more than I’ve realized.

A friend of my husband’s and mine told me twenty years ago that he thought it was a spiritual battle and he may have been right. Anyway, God knows and I’m ready to organize the kitchen this week.

May God bless you!