Saturday, October 26, 2013

True Confessions of an Almost Author

I'm a writer; I love to write.  I blog. I've read countless books on writing, taken writing courses, am currently enrolled in COMPEL(a fantastic writing course through Proverbs 31 Ministries), and Jeff Goins, that talented guy who wrote Wrecked, The In-Between, Writer's Manifesto; he says I'm a writer.  He wrote a book about it: "YOU ARE A WRITER (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins.  I grabbed the Kindle Edition.

So where am I on this writing journey?  Probably right about where you are...

There's a book in me; several books in me.  If you're reading this, there's probably a book in you too. The thing is, they need to come out.  Besides reading about the craft, studying the craft, practicing the craft; eventually, we'll have to take the plunge, put ourselves "out there".   I'm just not too sure where "out there" is.  I know for a fact there are thousands like us; dipping our toe in the pool.  The water may be cold at first, takes a bit of getting used to.  Let's dive in; it's time to swim.

I've read that commenting on blogs is a good thing.  Does anyone else get obsessive about checking for replies after they've made a comment?  Confession:  I do.  Having said that (yes, overused), I have no hidden agenda when it comes to commenting on blog posts;  very simply, I have something to say that may hopefully add value to the conversation.

We know social interaction is obviously good for a writer; name recognition, branding, all good.   So my email address is my name, my blog address includes my name, my new blog is my  I find this difficult since it seems in direct conflict to humbling myself, and the important reminder "it's not about me."  Still, I'm thinking God is okay with others knowing my name; after all, He calls me by name.

Have you ever googled your name?  Confession:  I have. I googled my name yesterday, guess what popped up? A few pics of me, a pic of my friend Lisa (?), and umpteen images of "Doris" Day and Taylor "Swift".  I'm thinking a cross between the two of them wouldn't be a bad thing.  I guess that would be me.

Would you say you've struggled with doubt and fear?  Confession:  I would.   Yes, doubts creep in, yes they do. I'd like to think of myself as pretty fearless; I've given my fears to God and I'm in a good place as far as fear goes.  I would have to say though, there is one fear I have to keep pushing back, pushing down; a fearful thought I have to continually take captive to the obedience of Christ.  What is this fear? The fear that this dream will never take shape, will never come to pass.  Satan loves to tell us that lie repeatedly, doesn't he?  Do you ever have that same fear?  I do know love casts out fear, so I draw on that unconditional love when the fear and doubt creeps in.  If He's called us, He will equip us.  He will.

Then there's that word... the word most of us at this stage of the game get a little creeped out about; platform.  I'd like to think I'm a pretty likable person, but unless something goes viral, this is going to pose quite a challenge.  To aim for 100,000 hits on my blog in one month, a little intimidating.  Let me rephrase that, a lot intimidating. Intimidating yes, but not impossible:

Jesus said to him, 
   "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  Mark 9:23

Yes Lord, I believe.

Confession: I have exactly 5 blog followers, whom I love dearly; My number of facebook friends only slightly exceeds the current balance in my checking account; and I have "grown" to 34 followers on Twitter.  I follow Jesus, but I don't think He's on Twitter.

Viral is another catch phrase popular in today's culture. The closest I've come to viral is having Chickenpox in 3rd grade.  So, until I can teach my cat to flush the toilet, I'm thinking viral might be a bit far-reaching for me.  

Have you noticed after a video has gone viral, these people wind up as guests on the Today Show?  Hey, wait a minute, I've been on the Today Show!  Well, I'm using the word "on" a bit loosely.  Brian and I were in NYC for our 25th anniversary in 2009.  We had been watching the Today Show for years, laughing at all the crazy people standing outside for hours; then, we decided to become one of them.  We had our daughter DVR the show that morning, hoping we'd make the big-time with our hot-pink, homemade sign.  We did!  We were seen on camera during several shots as they panned the crazies.  We carefully avoided deleting the recorded show, until the DVR finally crashed. Thankfully, we had taken a photo of the TV screen.  See....
No, that's not me standing with my husband under our anniversary sign, oops!  I must have been out of view trying to wave down Al Roker. The highlight of the morning for me (sorry honey), was when Meredith Vieira smiled and shook my hand!  That was during a commercial break, but what a treat!  She was as lovely in person as she looked on TV, and extremely gracious.  Here's a close-up (I don't think she'll mind, she looks great):
Sorry Savannah, this was before your time.

So last night was date-night.  I wasn't even near ready, I'd been reading and writing most of the day.  Thursday night we "COMPELers" were blessed to dial into a live conference call with Esther Fedorkevich of The Fedd AgencyPumped is the word I'd use to describe my emotion after the call.  So pumped in-fact, I replayed it again on Friday. Amazing. The entire COMPEL experience so far has been amazing.  Thank you Lysa Terkeurst and the P31 team!  Now back to date-night.  I was having a bit of trouble switching gears; my mind manufacturing a continuous stream of sticky statements.  Stalling for time, I took a bubble bath.  I figured dinner at the restaurant would be a little strange if I kept spatting out statements like "it's great to eat steak, but save room for the cake" or "a bloomin' onion to start, could clog arteries in your heart."  See what I mean?  I wasn't ready.  We did eventually go, and it was worth the wait.

Worth the wait, yes, this is.  We will get there.  Wait on the Lord, He appoints us and gives us the desires of our heart when we trust in Him. He'll give us that platform we need, because HE IS our platform; our firm foundation.  That's a promise, and our faithful God keeps His promises.

Perhaps as this journey unfolds, it won't look anything like we had hoped for; no, it will be more, it will be better.  More than we could ask or imagine.  So write!  Whether this dream comes together like fallen Manna from the sky, or whips us into shape so we can chase it, God is in control.  We don't have to scream out "I'm here!  Notice me!  Know my name, know me!" cause the only One that matters already does.

May blessings & joy fill your hearts, as you bask in His presence and grace.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Follow the Pattern

As a young girl growing up in New Jersey, I have fond memories of participating in a 4-H sewing club "The Darkroom Darners."  Interesting name, isn't it?  I don't believe darners do their best work in the dark, but when it came to sewing, that pretty much summed it up for me, "in the dark."  Our group would meet weekly at my friend Leann's home, where we would work on our sewing projects in preparation for the 4-H Expo. 

When I first joined the group, my mom & dad went out and bought me a Singer sewing machine.  What a treasure that sewing machine was to me.  My first pattern was a Simplicity pattern; a simple pant with elastic at the waist, and a long vest to match.  I have no idea why we chose a hideous dark-gray material, but oh well.  I can still remember meticulously pinning the pattern to the material, or was it material to the pattern?  Finally, the pattern was cut and sewing began.  It was a wonderful learning experience, and my seams weren't all that bad.  There were great tricks of the trade learned, like ironing down the pinned pant leg to create a guideline to sew along; and we all need guidelines, don't we?

The days leading up to the 4-H Expo were a bit stressful, as an incomplete garment could not go down the runway.  Exaggerating a little, there was no runway; just a hanger on a display.  I think it may have been the night before the event, while sewing the red binding/piping on the hideous grey vest, the material began to unravel!  Nice, now what?  My mom could pretty much make anything all better; she doubled up the piping and stopped the unraveling, saving the vest from being reduced to a mere pile of threads without form.

Patterns.  I woke up with this word on my heart one morning, so I wrote it down in my journal.  There are several references in scripture regarding patterns.  God instructed Moses in making the Tabernacle, including the furnishings, that it must be executed exactly according to the pattern He would give:
 Exodus 25:9
 "Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you."
Lampstands were also to be made according to a pattern:
Numbers 8:4
"This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold—from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the Lord had shown Moses."
We also find other references to the word "pattern" in scripture, both in a negative reference, such as:
 Romans 12:2
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
As well as positive:
 2 Timothy 1:13
"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus."
How about Noah?  I'm sure he was extremely thankful God gave him a pattern for the ark, right down to the last cubit!  Can you imagine how the ark might have turned out without God's specific instructions of size, shape, depth, width, and construction?  God wasn't going to give Noah instructions to build the thing, then just say "Ok Noah, you're on your own."  No, God didn't leave Noah out on a limb, and He won't leave us out there either.  
Conforming to the pattern of this world can cause our lives to unravel, much like the hideous dark-gray material of my first ever attempt at fashion; and who wants to turn into a clump of frayed threads without form?  Thankfully, we have a pattern of sound teaching, a pattern established through Jesus who not only shows us the way, but is The Way. 

If I remember correctly, I received a "Very Good" red ribbon for my entry into the 4-H Expo.  This of course, was thanks to my mom who saved that garment from certain death.  How thankful I am that Jesus came to save us from certain death, He is the giver of life.  Follow Him, and He will bind our unraveling, so we may be a new creation according to His pattern; we are cut from the same cloth, a garment of praise.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Finding Joy in Our Calling

Praise the Lord!  On October 12th I was very humbled and privileged to speak at a women's event, Bagels & Blessings at Edgewater Alliance Church.  This season's theme is JOY, and it was just that to bring God's word to a room filled with beautiful sisters in Christ, and perhaps some that were searching for answers.

I was super blessed to have my mom, sister, and niece in attendance.  My family used mom's cell to video tape most of the message, just missing the first segment.  There were two stories not captured on video, "The $5 Bank Story", and "The Peggy Story", of which I pray I will have another opportunity to share those again.  The $5 bank story tied into how Awesome our God is; our Jehovah Jireh, Our Provider, and El Roi, the Strong One Who Sees Me.   Next we explored "wrong doors" after the Peggy story.  How sometimes we stand in front of wrong doors, doors that look attractive and inviting, only to find they are not the doors God has for us to walk through.  If the door has been shut, stop looking through the window!  That we can trust Him to open the right doors; He opens doors no man can open, and shuts doors no man can shut.  Praise God!!

The video picks up with a word about wrong directions.  "A change in direction begins with our reflection" We were made in His image; are we living a God-focused life?

I truly LOVE speaking, and know that it is not me but The Holy Spirit who inspires and delivers the message; I am but a willing vessel, and boy am I willing!!!  I so love speaking, I have no fear of it at all.  I pray God opens more doors that allow me to speak wherever He calls and according to His will.  Here is the link to the video, I pray God speaks to you through this message as you walk in His will for your life.  There is power in the Name of Jesus!!  Amen!!

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