Fear Not, part II

As I said earlier this week, I was inspired by an article in the September 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest.

This is the Big 10 Issue and the article is 10 Ways to Harness Fear and Fuel Your Writing by Sage Cohen.

Point #2 tells us to “Acknowledge Your Fears Without Putting Them In Charge.”

Ew.

This is a tough one. Initially, I didn’t recognize what was holding me back as fear. I have to remind myself daily that I am afraid of failing. Last year, I happily submitted my manuscript to 2 agents and an editor. One Agent I still have not heard from – whether yes or no – and it has been almost a year since the manuscript was submitted. The first agent rejected the manuscript within a few weeks. As did the editor. The editors comments were helpful and disturbing. What she noted as problem areas, were places I thought I excelled in.

Just recently, and this article helped me realize what was happening to me, I realized I had been stuck in a mode of fear for a year. I was floundering. I wasn’t writing, wasn’t editing.

This experience with rejection was my confirmation that nothing is a sure thing.

I considered not writing. What would I do? There are plenty of hobbies I could explore…

But my passion for them wasn’t there. I have stories to be told. Whether they are ever published or not.

I’m still working my way out of the pain of being rejected. It hurts, but I have to remain focused that the story that was rejected just wasn’t right for those houses. There is a place for it. There will be a place for one of the stories I’m working on.

Someday.

And I do believe in God’s timing. It’s just hard to be a patient child sometimes.

So I leave you with a scripture that will help you, as it helps me each day.

Isaiah 41:10……….Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!


(picture from usa.usembassy.de)
The parades are fun, the games are competitive and sometimes the family get togethers are just as competitive and dramatic ๐Ÿ˜‰
But one thing I hope we all remember on this day goes along with the following scripture:
Psalm 95:2-3
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.

View for your day

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
So why do you worry about clothing? Consider, the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
Matthew 6:26-30 (NKJV)

What I learned from Brandt Dodson, and more…

Tuesday night I was battling sinus/allergy problems, had a viewing to go to for a family friend that had passed, and I wanted to go to my WORD meeting (That’s the GA ACFW Chapter). Of course I worked that day… everyone is looking at me funny and I know they’re wondering IF I have swine flu and if so, I should be at home.

Nevertheless, I stayed at work, left early for the viewing and headed over to the WORD meeting (after I stopped by RITE AID to get a large Kit Kat and Vitamin Water (The new cure for sinus/allergies, if you didn’t know…. well, it’s under the test phase right now).

Brandt Dodson was speaking. He writes suspense and was talking about character development. Brandt’s an interesting chap himself. Once an FBI agent, he now is a podiatrist and Suspense author. Bet you never thought you’d see those three descriptions in one sentence. One day, I’d like to interview Mr. Dodson and find out how his paths wound the way they have… but for now, I’m talking about my silly little world….

On the coat tails of Amy Wallace’s book signing the Saturday before, and Brandt speaking at our local Lifeway bookstore, the WORD classroom was full. I rushed in late and took a seat toward the back.

Brandt offered some advice on character development. Here are some of my notes:

  • Go by your gut.
  • Take your time to think your characters through.
  • Give a description of your character that is interesting to the reader. (This may not be what you would assume – Its beyond brown hair, blue eyes. Brandt suggests reviewing some memorable characters like Stephen King’s Carrie – Check out how Master King describes Carrie in the opening scenes.

Brandt also talked about Assumption, Dialogue, Bad Guys/Villains, and suggested some good tools and reading material for writers wanting to get better. That’s all of us, I’m sure. Here’s what I jotted down:

  • Creating Dynamic Characters – Nancy Kress
  • Beginnings, Middles, & Ends – Nancy Kress
  • The Plot Thickens – Noah Lukeman

All of this information I’m sharing with you was interesting and helpful to me. I listened diligently through annoying sneezing spells and wondering if I was ever going to shake this allergy/sinus-whatever-it-is illness. During this time some of our new members posed some really great questions and shared their frustrations as well as asked Brandt’s opinion and the other published authors with us that night about self-publishing. Sometime in the midst of this discussion, Brandt shared a story about how he became published AND he shared a story out of the Bible, 2 Kings 6:8-23.

This is about Elisha being surrounded by the Syrian army, under attack. Elisha’s servant saw the army and in fear asked Elisha, “What shall we do?” Elisha responded, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then he prayed for the Lord to “open his eyes that he may see,” and the Lord did. The young servant saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire, God’s army forming a hedge all around Elisha.

Brandt offered his story of publication with this advice to those of us not yet published. He told us not to look at the problem right at hand. It seems impossible. We’ve met with editors and agents and been rejected by the ones we thought were right for us. But we need to open our eyes. God’s plan is greater than these troubles and challenges before us. It happened for Brandt and now this full time 60 hour a week podiatrist is churning out 2 books in a year. He writes about 3 hours at night after the kids are in the bed and on the weekends.

He’s writing 2 books a year.

I was inspired. I work a little under a 40 hour work week and I can’t stay up past 10 or get up very much past 6 on some mornings. When I hear a story like Brandt’s I realize, what’s my excuse? I can do this. I can succeed. These days we can’t shuck our full time job. We can work our full time job and have our dream.

In closing, this is the most important thing I wanted to share with you. Well, it is to me because it happened to me. I have been lax in my bible study. I’d been doing so well rising every morning and spending the first part of my day reading from the bible and then praying. As you all know, challenges and troubles rise and the important things like quiet time with the Father get wadded up with the dirty laundry and left for another day.

This morning, following our WORD meeting last night, I woke up, still feeling all sneezy and congested, but I managed to pick up my bible and plopped down on the couch. I couldn’t remember where I’d left off in study because so many weeks had passed that I hadn’t picked up my bible except to go to church.

So I opened it randomly.

I opened it to 2 Kings 6 – and to the story of Elisha praying that his servant’s eyes be opened.

I realized my Father never left me. As a matter of fact, He just dropped a big old whopping hint in my lap.

All I could do was close my eyes and ask Him, Okay Lord, what are You trying to tell me?

Lord, I’m listening.

Are you listening to Him?

Enemies

I thought I would share a scripture that stood out to me today. As always, the word is timely and is always what I need to hear. Our enemies may not be in the form of a person. Our enemies can take many shapes and may be something we are fighting against – be it our finances, addictions, etc…

Deuteronomy 28:7-8
7 The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

8 The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

(NKJV)

… My bible’s commentator explains verse 7 this way, God spoke these words to a people about to learn about the danger of enemies. Yet He assured them–and us today–that no enemy can withstand His passion in standing up for those who belong to Him.
(This is from Charles Stanley’s Life Principles Bible.)

Children’s Devotional Bibles

When my husband and I came to the difficult decision to look for another church home, I knew I needed to take action with our daughter. Searching for a new place to worship has been hard on our four year old and in essence makes the move harder on us as parents. Until we decided to move on, I had depended on what my daughter learned at church and on the Bible songs we sang in the car to be her soul means of learning about God. Wasn’t I doing the right thing?

Of course I was, I told myself. I work. I’m gone ten hours a day. When I come home, we need to have time to play, sometimes I cook and for a time I was teaching Sunday School and I needed to prepare for my bible lessons. We had to go here and there. We had to go to Mission Friends and Sunday school and Children’s choir. My husband needed my time and I had to have time to write – because that’s my personal goal….

Whew.

There was always so much that flew ahead of me, things I was reaching for and thought I needed to accomplish.

So when we decided to look for another church home, that meant I wasn’t teaching a bible lesson to my daughter anymore on Sundays. You see, when half of that equation was removed, I saw how I was failing as a parent. That equation was never complete. Are you with me?

We parents are models for our kids behaviors. Any of you failing out there? Me too. My hand is up right along with you. I still have temper tantrums at 33! Why should I expect my daughter to behave any different when her role model can completely lose it at times?

I’m going to make mistakes. If I make a mistake in front of my child I apologize and tell her where Mommy went wrong. That’s one small piece of this puzzle. The main thing I was missing was instilling my values in her. The core of my being. I wasn’t showing my daughter to put God first, before everything else.

I was busy with everything else and then I’d pray for my own behavior because I was too tired and worn out and then I was slipping as a mom. I pray for the hand of God over my patience and wisdom on guiding my daughter. Through this difficult time of looking for another church home, separating from people I truly care about and worshipped with, I found God again. He’s always been there. He never left me.

My daughter was given this devotional bible by her aunt at least a year ago. It’s been sitting on the shelf, I’m sorry to say. But goodness, I was busy – Excuses, excuses….

I started using God’s Little Princess Devotional Bible as a way to share God with my daughter. Why shouldn’t she begin the habit of studying God’s word? She’s four. I’m trying to teach her manners, so why shouldn’t part of what I teach her be to love God and give Him the first fresh moments of her day?

When she wakes up in the morning, she loves for me to sit with her and watch TV. This is the time I read a devotion from this bible to her. Just a few pages a day, reading that takes five minutes. The Little Princess Devotional Bible is packed with colorful pages and interesting pictures that will get your pre-schooler and older child’s attention. It gives you reading material that follows along with the Bible. Its format is one that you feel you are reading a story, but what you’re doing is sharing God’s values with the most important person in your life.

Shelia also offers one for the special young man in your life.

I highly recommend you start good, Godly habits with your children now. It helps me to rise each morning and have quiet time with God. It’s amazing what is revealed during those times. God’s word is timeless, and I want my daughter to have the benefit of knowing God, wearing His full armor as she goes to school and moves forward in her life.

If you’re looking for another way to share God with your child, I highly recommend these two fun tools. As parents, we are planters. Simply put, we are planting seeds for our child’s life. It will be the seeds enriched with God’s values that will truly blossom.

Sometimes I feel like a…

I don’t know what your first impression was, having read the title of this post and then seeing the photo of two horses’ rear ends. I’d love to know, I need to laugh hard and long to finish out this week, which was a tough one. So if you’d like to know how I feel today, I feel a little like a horses’ patoot.

Read more on FAITH

HEDGE

I think good advice should be shared.

Well, I received some advice recently… What do you know about a hedge?

You may be thinking about a row of bushes, or trees. I have rows of trees that line our property line. They provide a division between my yard and the neighbors. It gives some privacy.

The meaning of “hedge” I want to center on today is any barrier or boundary.

Have you ever prayed for a hedge?

Until this weekend, I’d never heard of such a thing. My advisor directed me to the 1st chapter of Job. Job 1:10, Satan is speaking to God, asking if Job fears God for nothing?

“Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land…”

I’ve read this verse before, but when I read it all those times, I never understood what it could mean for me. My study bible explains that Job had no idea of the extent of God’s protection that surrounded him and his family. Isn’t it amazing that when we obey God by His Spirit, the Lord does the same thing for us that He did for Job!

When I pray, I ask God for guidance, for protection, for comfort for myself or my loved one. Praying specifically for a “hedge” seems to give a more solid, tangible nature to my request. I can pray for a hedge around my husband while he goes to work and into the world, where it seems everything is going wrong. We can pray for a hedge around our children as they go off to school, or into their lives, no matter what their age. We can pray for a hedge around our pastors… The enemy is consistent, but we must be more so.

And I say we writers should pray for that hedge around our writing. I don’t mean for the writing to replace our worship and time of quiet with God, but for that hedge to protect the brief amounts of time many of us have for writing. That if we show up at the computer, like one of our very own FAITH girls says of her pact with God, that God will meet us there. And if the stories we are meant to share are meant to be a vessel the Lord uses to reach someone else, then we need an even taller hedge around our writing time.

Just pray… God will deliver.

Good Morning, We have a new President…

The elections went as I expected, not as I voted.
Millions are rejoicing, but Christian, remember no matter who is in the
Presidential office, God has full control. He knows what Mr. Obama will do
even before Mr. President does it himself. We must remember that while we
are to respect authority, we are not to turn away from God or His ways.

โ€œMost assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.โ€
Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.
John 10: 1-6 NKJV

His First Sermon: Forgiveness

Sunday at church I was inspired and saw things through a different looking glass. Allow me to share…

Sunday I settled in the church pew and eagerly awaited the pastor West Hall Baptist had finally called.

Pastor D’Amico started in Job 3:1. And he was talking about when we’re hurt. When someone else hurts us, wrongs us. I think all of us, from time to time, struggle with forgiveness. Perhaps someone has hurt you with their words. A person’s actions can sometimes cause grave consequences. It’s the right thing to do, to forgive someone. Saying the words, “I forgive you… I forgive him… I forgive her…” are often said, but how heartfelt are the words?

In many cases, it’s down right difficult to forgive someone. Truly forgive them. And when I think I have found forgiveness, and felt at peace about the issue, it never fails someone questions or brings up a subject that raises anger and contempt in me and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I always come back to this scripture, Matthew 6:14-15:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Does this passage mean that if I can’t forgive a man’s actions against me or my family, or sometimes its a man’s lack of action that hurt as well, that I’ll go to Hell? If I believe in Christ, that He died on the cross for my sins, that He is sitting at God’s right hand, that if I can’t forgive someone of His sin that caused me or a loved one pain, that I won’t spend eternity with Him?

It was a question with out an answer and it’s been dangling in front of me for longer than I care to admit.

Back to Sunday. Pastor D’Amico opens up with Job 3:1-5. Job cursed the day of his birth. Job was hurt.

When Jesus was on the cross, He said, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”
Then darkness fell upon the earth. Darkness = Separation from God. The Spirit is no longer One at the time of darkness.

Matthew 6:22-23
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
If we don’t take our hurt to Jesus, a darkness will settle in our heart.

It’s all about the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ keeps everything in the right perspective. The answer to my question, to your question maybe, about forgiving someone is this:

And Pastor D’Amico put it so simply and beautifully – “Take the hurts of our lives to the cross of Jesus Christ… WE are unable to forgive – only THROUGH Jesus Christ can we forgive them.”

He’s always there, isn’t He? Always listening to our questions. Cradling us when we cry. Alone or in the middle of the crowd, the Spirit is within us, never leaving us. He is at the right hand. Interceding for us. He is the light in the darkness. Through Him, is forgiveness for me, you and for that person who wronged you.

It can be as easy as it sounds.

We must lay our hurts at the foot of the cross, and find the forgiveness He offers.