Keep Going

IM000331.JPG“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Joshua 1:9

Breathing increases, heart pumps faster, the adrenalin flows when we are about to experience something new. Entering places or situations unknown to us can be scary and uncomfortable.

When God spoke the above words to Joshua, Joshua was taking over the leadership of the Israelites. He was to lead the people into the land God promised them, a land full of pagans with strong armies. God’s words provided Joshua with confidence to proceed with God’s plan for the Israelites.

Writers love to write. The passion within us to write keeps growing.We have a collection of things we’ve written. Now comes the scary part. We need to let someone else read them. In order to know for sure if our writing is good or needs some improvement is to let someone critique it. It doesn’t matter how many times we go through this process it’s nerve racking. However, to become the best writer we can be we must go through it. “Be strong and courageous.”

OK, we’ve had our writing reviewed by our peers in the writers’ group. We’ve done the rewrites. Now it’s time to send it out to a publisher/editor.  “Do not be terrified.”

A few months later the dreaded rejection letter might arrive.  “Do not be discouraged.”  We do more rewrites and resubmit it to a different market.

Do not be afraid to get your writing out there, to try new approaches, to keep learning the craft. The one thing to remember in this whole process is “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Dear Lord, As I write out of the passion You have given me, help me to keep going and not be afraid. I know there will be obstacles along the way. I also realize I need to keep learning in order to improve my writing. I want what I write to be the best I can do to Your glory. Please give me the courage to keep going and continue to remind me that You are always with me. In Jesus’ Name,  Amen

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Peace In Times of Pain

IM000700.JPG“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.”   2 Thessalonians 3:16

After being married for almost 15 years I suddenly became single again. Several years later, once my children were grown, I found myself wanting to find another man to become a part of my life. I spent way too much money on dating sites with no success, not even a nibble. In my frustration and longing I turned to God. “Lord, is there someone out there for me? If so, where will I find him?” God answered me immediately and it was not the answer I expected. Through my mind this is what I heard God say, “Jesus is the only man you need.”

That one statement, which I heard loud and clear, changed everything. I began feeling a peace come over me. I didn’t have to fret and struggle about finding a mate. Jesus, himself, was going to fill the void I had in my heart. I realized at that moment I didn’t physically need a male presence in my life. I had Jesus.

Believe me, I’m no saint. That twinge of wanting a man in my life still hits me once in a while. It would be so nice to have that special man take me out for dinner, go on trips with me, share life with me. I do get tired of being the single person in a room full of couples. Then I remember the voice I heard from God and none of that matters anymore.

Are you going through a struggle in your life right now and feel there’s no peace in sight? There is a peace you can experience. The situation itself my never go away, but Jesus can provide the peace you need to deal with it. Open your heart and soul to Him. Tell Him what you’re feeling and ask for Him help. You might not hear a voice immediately like I did, but Jesus will answer you. He may bring someone into your life to assist you. He might lead you in a whole new direction you never thought of. There are hundreds of ways Jesus can bring peace if you let Him.

Are you ready now to open yourself up to the peace only Jesus can give and let Him take control? Your life will change forever. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:7

Dear Jesus, I am struggling today and I don’t see any way out. I feel so all alone, I am crying out to You, Lord. Please lead me in the direction I am to travel  and let me feel Your peace in my life.    In Your Precious Name,   Amen

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Book Review – Abraham, One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith

978-1-4143-8063-6Charles Swindoll draws the reader into the life Abraham lived, the struggles and the joys. Abraham was willing to leave behind the life he knew to become a nomad, following God to an unknown destination. Dr. Swindoll does not shy away from including Abraham’s flaws as well as his strengths. Abraham was human in every sense of the word yet God used him for great things. Dr. Swindoll tells it as it is.

This book would be for people who enjoy Bible history and finding out new insights into this strong Old Testament man. Also, people who don’t always see the modern day relevance in the Old Testament should read this book. Throughout the telling of Abraham’s story Dr. Swindoll interweaves principles for us today. It is an easy read and hard to put down. I give it 5 stars.

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Our Work

IM000726.JPG“I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”    John 17:4

These words are part of a prayer Jesus prayed to God before He was arrested. He came down to this earth for a specific purpose and He fulfilled that purpose. God gave Jesus a job to do – to spread the Good News of His love and grace – and then to physically demonstrate that love and grace by suffering on a cross for our sins.

We have our own jobs to do. We are doctors and nurses, police officers, garbage collectors, teachers and preachers, farmers, bus drivers. These are the jobs God equipped us to do. How are we doing our work? Are we happy each day, excited for what the new day may bring? Or are we grumpy and hate our jobs, dreading to face another day? Which attitude is showing glory to God?

God has given Christian writers a job to do. The work He gave us is to spread His Word to as many people as we can. What is our attitude? Do we grumble and complain when we have a deadline to meet? Do we procrastinate thinking we’ll write double the amount of words tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes?

How about what we write? Are the words we put down on paper bringing glory to God or only attention to ourselves?  What’s our motive for writing? Is it to see how much money we can make or how many people we can lead to Christ?

God is watching to see what we do with the work we are to perform. I don’t know about you, but some day I hope I can stand before God and say I completed the work He wanted me to do.

If God wants you to write, write all you can to bring Him glory. Be His messenger through your written words. Make God smile when He sees what you’re writing. Will you be able to say the words Jesus said? “I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”

Dear God in heaven, You have equipped me to do a specific work for You. Please help me to do that work to the best of my ability and with a joyful heart. May what I do bring You glory and show the way to others so they, too, can experience Your love and grace.    In Jesus’ Name, Amen

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Final Day at the Writers’ Conference

9-18-14 8 BookstorePeople made a final visit to the bookstore this morning because it closed at noon. The topic of the conference today was “Craft and Creativity”. There was a panel discussion on Creativity which was interesting and very fun. We also saw first hand how an editor critiques a manuscript.

9-18-14 14 lunchLunch ( our final meal at the conference) was a salad bar and build your own tacos. Delicious! I hate to step on the scale. We were fed too well this week.

This afternoon I attended three workshops. At the closing of the conference I won a free book. Also, one of the authors there gave everyone free copies of three of her books. Plus I bought 2 books. I have plenty to read for quite a while. Now it’s time to get to work and start improving my writing.

As I was leaving the conference I discovered I had a flat tire on my car. Luckily, two young guys who work at Maranatha just got out of work and they changed the tire for me. By the time I got home I was exhausted. It is going to feel so good sleeping in my own bed tonight. The conference was fantastic! I am already planning to attend next year and I hope I can have enough money to stay on site again like I did this year.

People from several other states, as far away as Colorado, attended this conference. If you have the opportunity to attend a writers’ conference in your area take advantage of it.  It is well worth your time if you are serious about writing.

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Day Three of Writers’ Conference

9-17-14 8 Panel discussion Publishing optionsToday the focus was on publishing. There was a panel made up of agents and publishers who discussed the various publishing options from traditional to independent to hybrid forms of publishing. this afternoon I attended only two of the three workshops. The first one was “Top Ten Mistakes Self-Published Authors Make” led by author/publisher Eddie Jones. The second one was “Growing Your Writing Resume Through Articles, Blogs, and Devotions” led by literary agent Ann Byle. Later in the afternoon I met one-on-one with Ann and we talked about the way I should go to continue building my platform and getting some of my devotionals published. I’ve known Ann for a few years and trust her information. Instead of trying to get a devotional book published Ann suggested I work towards being published in magazines and to definitely continue my blog.

9-17-14 13 cheesecake dessertTonight was a banquet for dinner with yummy cheesecake for dessert. This was followed by our evening speaker Cliff Graham. He is a former Marine and also served in the Army military police. He is a novelist and filmmaker. His Lion of War series is about King David and his mighty men. It is in the process of being made into a movie trilogy. He discussed his writing journey. He also discussed the work he and others are doing in other countries to fight the sex trafficking of children. It was a very interesting presentation. I bought his book “Day of War”. 9-17-14 15 Chris Graham

After all this we had the option of going to the beach for a bonfire and S’mores. I chose not to go and hopefully I will get to bed earlier tonight than I did last night. Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I can’t believe it’s almost over. The days have gone by so fast. I have learned so much. Stay tuned for more coverage of the conference tomorrow.

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Writers’ Conference – Day Two

9-16-14 6 Panel discussionThe day was packed full of information. Following morning worship there was a General Session on Reaching Readers and a panel discussion on Marketing and Social Media. This was followed by a Social Media show ‘n tell.

9-16-14 12 LunchThey are really feeding us well. All the meals are buffet style and the food is delicious. After lunch the afternoon was spent attending workshops. We could choose 3 different workshops to attend. I choose: 1. Writing and Speaking to Change Lives; 2. Your Part in the Marketing Plan; and 3. Building an Author Page on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. Everyone of them was immensely informative.

9-16-14 27 Lake MichBefore dinner I took a walk down to Lake Michigan. It was beautiful. Sunshine, sea gulls on the beach, waves rolling in – such a relaxing sight.

The speakers for our evening session were Newell and Colleen Cerak, authors of the book “Mistaken Identity”. You might remember the story. In 2006 their daughter, along with several other students from Taylor University, was in a horrible car accident. The Cerak’s were told their daughter had died. Another girl had survived and was severely injured. Five weeks after the accident the Cerak’s found out their daughter was the one in the hospital, not the one they had buried. They gave us details of what happened and how they dealt with the media after the book came out.

The final event of the evening was small critique groups hosted by Word Weavers writing group and Redbud writing group. Nine or ten members of the West Michigan Word Weavers came for the evening. We conducted critique sessions so people could see how helpful critique groups can be for improving their writing. The day finally ended at 10 PM.

It was a long day, but a fun, educational day. I am meeting so many new people. I am excited to see what tomorrow will bring. But for now I’m exhausted and the bed looks very inviting. (To be continued).

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Day One of the Conference

9-15-14 17 Welcome sign in lodgeThe first day at the conference began at 2 PM. The theme for the conference is EVERY WRITER NEEDS A TEAM. The theme verses are Romans 12:5-8. Today was basically an overview of what the rest of the week will be about. The speakers today mentioned the different types of publishing available to writers: such as traditional publishers, e-publishing, independent presses, and self-publishing. These will be discussed in more detail during the various workshops and speakers this week. We learned that we need to understand our readers and know what our marketing strategy will be. We need an editor to review our work. We must be persistent, roll with the punches, and remember that the master over it all is God.

9-15-14 24It was fun talking with people I had met at this conference last year and meeting new people from Michigan and other states. Dinner was delicious. After the evening speaker we had an ice cream social.  Tomorrow we really start digging into the craft of writing and the publishing scene.

9-15-14 15 lower lobbyThe lodge where I am staying is beautiful. We are only 2 blocks from Lake Michigan. I hope to walk down there sometime this week. Today it was too rainy and chilly. I have a room to myself which is very nice. This is going to be a great week. It’s only the beginning. Stay tuned for more to come.

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Getting Ready To Attend A Writers’ Conference

Main signMy blog is going to be a little different this week. Instead of the usual devotional I am going to write about attending a writers’ conference. This week I will be attending the Christian Writers’ Conference at Maranatha Conference Center in Muskegon, MI. I’ve been waiting for this week all year. When I get my income tax return each year I always set aside money for this conference.

The conference is four days and the setting is beautiful. Lake Michigan is just a very short walk down the road. It is an intense four days with speakers and several workshops. Author, publishers, agents and editors come from around the country to share information. We even have time to meet one-on-one with the ones we choose to briefly discuss our writing. Lake MI 3

The days start at 8 AM with devotions and music, followed by a speaker or panel discussion. The rest of the day (until supper) is the time we attend the workshops. After supper is another speaker and then something fun, like a campfire and making s’mores.

Descriptions of the workshops were posted about 6 weeks ago. I spent a great deal of time reading about each one and choosing the ones I will attend. Throughout the conference there are nine time slots for workshops with 3-4 to choose from in each slot. That’s nine different topics on writing to learn about, from the basics of writing a story to setting up an author page on social media sites to learning which form of publishing is right for you.

There is also plenty of time to network with other writers, to encourage each other and to find out what’s worked or not worked for them in their writing journey. People from several states and even from some foreign countries attend this conference. I can’t wait for tomorrow when it begins.

If you have a passion for writing I strongly encourage you to attend at least one writers’ conference a year. You can just goggle “writers’ conferences” and you’ll find there are many to choose from all over the country and various times during the year. Once you attend a conference you will want to go again and again. The excitement for writing at these conferences is contagious. You will leave inspired and motivated to continue writing. Whether you are a beginner or a published author writers’ conferences are beneficial and very fun.

Over the next four days I will share my experience at the Maranatha conference and post some pictures. By conference end on Thursday I hope you, too, will be inspired to find a conference to attend in the near future.

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Equipped

IM000252.JPG“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen”    Hebrews 13:20-21

No matter what activity we pursue we need to be equipped. When we work in the garden we have gloves on and use a spade or rake. If we’re running a race our equipment is a healthy strong body and good running shoes. Road construction requires heavy machinery. For everything we do the prayer above is prevalent.

I especially like this prayer for Christian writers. We have been given a mission to work on for God. Our writing is our work. God gave us the job of spreading His word. How does He equip us for this work?

1.  He gives us the passion to write. Something inside us keeps pushing us to write. (The Holy Spirit is telling us we must to this).

2.  He gives us ideas to write about. How many times have ideas popped into your head and you can’t wait to start writing? (The Holy Spirit is at work).

3.  At times we get stuck on the words. God leads us to the words to write. Suddenly we start writing and are amazed at what shows up on the paper. (Yep, it’s the Holy Spirit again.).

4.  God provides the audience for our writing. It may be one person or a hundred. There are people He is preparing to read what we write. (The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of others).

With all the help we receive from God, through the Holy Spirit, we have no excuse not to write.

If you are having “writer’s block” pray this prayer from Hebrews and let God Almighty take over and equip you for the job ahead.

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