Two Writers Walk Into This Bar . . .

Celebratory drinkWhat happens when two writers unexpectedly find themselves with a free evening together?

A nice dinner and a glass of wine? Laughter and bonding? Sharing experiences from both on and off the author trail?

Yes. All that, and new marketing ideas, too.

At least that was my experience two weeks ago when my agency colleague Anita Agers-Brooks made a short-notice trip my way and we were able to spend a few hours together – hours that had no agenda other than getting to know each other. And even though we write in different genres (Anita is a leadership guru, while I write humorous mysteries and memoir), we had much to offer each other in the way of marketing and business ideas. Here are a few nuggets from our impromptu party to spark your own ideas:

  1. Writing is a business. Do you treat it that way? Anita reminded me that I needed to file paperwork to become an LLC (limited liability company) as legal protection of my assets. We live in a litigious world, and a writer must be a good steward of her assets both spiritually and financially. As Anita pointed out, if you wait to protect your business till someone sues you (yes, it can happen!), you’re already too late. (And be sure to include Errors & Omissions insurance while you’re at it.)
  2. Goodreads.com is a publicity goldmine. Are you on it? For my new book release, 658 people entered my giveaway drawing for 3 free copies. That’s a lot of eyes on my book the day it released. And giveaways are just the tip of what you can accomplish on Goodreads. (Read this marketing tutorial on using Goodreads.)
  3. Pay attention to casual comments. After a pastor told Anita her book would be a good topic for a sermon, she found a template online for sermons. She plans to fill it out using her book and then share the template with pastors. She’ll get her message presented by pastors, and she won’t even have to be present! (Does that qualify as bilocation – being in two places at the same time?) I’m going to take her idea and see if I can make it work for me.
  4. Take ownership for your promotional campaign, because ultimately, the book is your baby. Both Anita and I have been surprised by the limitations even large publishers can have when it comes to marketing; our publishers can pull some big coups for us (Anita spoke to a filled college auditorium thanks to her publisher, and I’m getting phone-in radio interviews thanks to mine), but the local press and on-going events calendar that make up the bulk of your PR efforts remain in your own lap, not to mention getting your launch team recruited and equipped to spread the word.
  5. Learn from each other’s experiences. After spending an evening with a writer in the same phase of our careers, I feel like I may still be in the same boat. But now I know there are other boats traveling along beside me, happy to share their own tips and advice. In fact, maybe a small-group marketing retreat would be a good idea. Hmmm….

(FYI – I was kidding about the walking into a bar. Anita and I did walk around a golf course, however. The air was much fresher.)

Frozen in Time: Writing and Healing

Photo/LeahSchultzHealing … is change from a singular self, frozen in time by a moment of unspeakable experience, to a more fluid, more narratively able, more socially integrated self. (Writing and Healing, Charles Anderson & Marian M. MacCurdy)

These words challenged my heart. Am I “frozen in time”?

The writing process helps me work through the painful trauma of my “unspeakable” experiences. It enables me to view my story from a more objective viewpoint, melting my frozen numbness, offering me hope beyond the icy boundaries of emotional bondage.

Helpful process. When I write about traumatic events, I often sense fear closing in on me like the twisted, frozen branches of a tree—wrapping its bone-chilling claws around me, choking the inspiration right out of me.

When I work on certain writing projects—like my book proposals—I freeze. I can’t control my thoughts, and chaos emerges, stealing my creative energy and organizational skills.

I try to forget some things for fear of stirring up painful memories, but they resurface when I least expect them. Often something unrelated triggers a memory—like a smell, a song, a picture, a person, or a place. Then, panic sets in again. And I freeze from the memory, unable to cope, until I regain control of my thoughts and reactions.

Healing narratives. Sometimes I‘m not sure how to begin composing my healing narratives. But I know the writing process will bring restoration. So I just start writing, even if I don’t know where the process will take me.

Do you fear writing certain projects? Are the stories too painful to consider? Do you fear the memories will trigger hidden emotional scars? Can we escape being “frozen in time”? Yes!

Hopeful vision. I long to write my stories without fear of a panic attack rooted in painful memories. But sometimes the writing process seems impossible. Luke 1:37 promises, “… nothing is impossible with God” (NLT).

I’ve observed the power of writing and healing as a writing instructor. Many students seem compelled, like I am, to write their own gut-wrenching narratives. And many of those writers come out of their secret hiding places, free from their emotional bondage. They experience change and healing—“to a more fluid, more narratively able, more socially integrated self.” And they begin to live new stories, delivered from their “frozen in time” memories.

As I write my healing narratives, I pray that I have the faith and courage to tell the stories that matter most and encourage others to experience the power of writing and healing.

What stories have you written that have brought healing to you and others?

Photo/LeahSchultz

Reflections from a Songbird

Photo/KarenJordan

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. (E. O. Wilson) 

“Silly bird! Why are you pecking on the window?”

“She’s defending her territory,” my husband Dan surmised.

We watched in amazement as the female cardinal, fooled by her own image, continued to swoop down—over and over again—attacking her reflection in the window.

Dan snickered. “I know you’ll find a story here.” Then, he closed his eyes and dozed off in front of the TV.

I turned my attention back to my laptop and whined, “I’ve got to get this blog post written.”

Dan mumbled from his recliner, “Why don’t you give yourself a break?”

I agreed under my breath. “I AM taking a break! I’m sitting here with you, watching a movie.”

I needed rest. But I stared at my never-ending “to do” list. I felt the pressure of some impending writing deadlines and speaking commitments, along with our holiday plans. The weight of my schedule and expectations pushed me beyond my comfort zone.

Dan interrupted my thoughts. “I’m just saying, you’ve had a lot on your plate lately.”

“Thanks for the reminder,” I grumbled. I took a deep breath, trying to focus on my project and forget about my failures and limitations.

My head ached. My heart fluttered. I felt short of breath. Oh, no—not another panic attack! Red flag!

I closed my eyes. Focus on breathing. Inhale. Exhale. REST. Remember, “ … The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything …” (Phil. 4:5-6 NIV).

How do I NOT be anxious? “ … in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (6-7).

Like the songbird, I continued to attack my own image, focusing on my worries instead of the truth revealed in the mirror of God’s Word.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (Jms 1:23 NIV).

I took another deep breath and exhaled. “That’s enough!”

“What … what did I do?” Dan muttered in his sleep.

Realizing that Dan thought I was fussing at him, I sighed. “I’m just talking to that crazy bird.”

I turned again to face the songbird, still flapping and responding to her reflection. “Silly bird!”

What experiences have you had in beating yourself up lately?

Photo/KarenJordan
YouTube/KarenJordan

Writing Down Our Faith Stories

Photo/TaraRossIn the Psalms, David expresses this divine purpose for writing our faith stories.

Write down for the coming generation what the LORD has done. So that people not yet born will praise him. (Ps. 102:18 GNT)

What has the Lord done for you? Do you have stories about God’s intervention?

God expressed His love to humanity with the gift of His Son, Jesus.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. (John 3:16 MSG)

Have you ever considered how much God loves you? I never really did, until the birth of my only son, Adam. I cannot fathom the love that it takes to sacrifice your only son, so that others might live. I’m sure many parents of soldiers come close to knowing how that feels, and I love to read their inspiring stories.

Someone once challenged me to ask God to show me how much He loved me. I believe God can speak to us. He speaks to me every day—through His Word, prayer, worship, people, and His beautiful creation. But I had never asked God how much He loved me.

So, I shut my eyes in prayer and asked, Lord, how much do you love me?

The answer I received still seems too intimate to share, for fear of being misunderstood and judged. I did not hear an audible voice. I just caught a little glimpse of Heaven, where God promises,

He will wipe every tear from (my) eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things (would be) gone forever. (Rev. 21:4 NLT)

When I faced the death of both of my parents, this vision of heaven brought comfort to my grieving heart.

I challenge you to ask the Lord that same question, Lord, how much do you love me?

Then, listen quietly. And be sure to write down your story.

God told His Story to the world when He sent His Son—the Word of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14 NIV)

Jesus told His stories (or parables) to teach us “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 13:6).

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. (Luke 18:1 MSG)

Is there a biblical mandate for sharing our stories, especially our faith events?

In Acts 1:8, we read this charge from Christ to His followers,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (NLT)

What stories are you telling about your life? Or rather … what stories are you not telling? What about your faith stories? Who can write them, but you?

I hope you will consider writing down some of your faith stories as you celebrate Christmas this year.

What faith stories have you written down? I hope you’ll share one of your stories in the comment space below.


YouTube/twofiress (“I Love to Tell the Story” – Alan Jackson)

Photo/TaraRoss 

The Trick to Becoming an Author

Pavillion_d'Armide_by_A._Benois_05The other day, a colleague asked me if I thought the burgeoning popularity of memoir-style books of the sort I had published had to do with the fact that the people who read them wanted to write such books themselves.

Reflecting on what he asked, it occurs to me now that—the underlying argument being that my writing’s appeal had nothing to do with my writing itself but only the envy of my readers and that the underlying argument of my readers’ envy being that anyone could write as well as I could—I should have gotten offended. But I didn’t. (Thanks, surely, to the Holy Spirit, who tries to protect me, usually in vain, from bouts of narcissism that make me think I’m a great writer and cause me to take offense at any reminder that I’m not.)

I didn’t get offended, too, because I knew, as anyone who’s ever published a book of any sort does, that what he said was true. We know it from the people who show up in our doorways wanting publishing advice. We know it from acquaintances who know about our good luck as writers and come up to us in the grocery store, or sitting at the vet’s office, or walking to our cars after church, and want to tell us their latest book idea. We know it from the mail we get when our books come out. Fast on the heels of a fan email, if not within the fan email itself, comes a question about how to get the fan’s own work published.

Everyone these days has not just a story in them, as they used to say, but a published book—even though it’s rarely written or even begun. All it takes to write a book, the would-be writer hopes or believes, is an idea and the need to tell it. What happens between that and getting something published is a trick they plan to learn from established writers.

But there is no trick. Just the arduous and time-consuming work of writing and rewriting and sending stuff out and waiting and trying to believe there’s a chance that someone who makes a difference in the world of publishing likes it and finding out there mostly isn’t (or, if you really are lucky, that there might be a chance with some major changes to what you’ve written) and then writing and rewriting again. That’s the part no one wants to hear or even know about. That to be a writer is to write. Period.

They’re like Simon the Magician, that guy in the book of Acts who—though Luke makes clear that he’s a genuine believer—tries to buy from the apostles the trick of touching people and thereby filling them with the Holy Spirit.

“Just teach me the trick of getting published!” EveryWriter begs. Often, as Simon does, they even offer to pay for the trick.

But there is no trick.

Sermons on Simon’s story often go on about how wrong-headed Simon was, thinking to buy the Holy Spirit, and sometimes they posit that Simon wasn’t really a believer at all, even if Luke says he was. But such sermons miss the point, I think—whether it’s the gift of writing we’re talking about or of imparting the Holy Spirit. Being a servant of the word, or the Word, is not a magic trick. You have to get out there and do it.

Hard Work--George Herriman 1907-11-24That said, I remember having had the same response to other writers’ writing—not just to their memoirs but to their novels and even textbooks. I’ve thought to myself, if they can do it, why then so can I. And so began this article and that book. So began my current writing project, a novel–my first. So began, indeed, my entire career as a writer.

If others can do it, so can you, but don’t sit around hoping to discover some trick to make it happen effortlessly. If you want to write, if you want to inspire others, if you want to fill them with good news, with the very spirit of God, you’ll just have to get out there and do it.

God Has the Plan, Not Me!

Chess pieces on chessboardI’m a planner.

In the days before I go on a trip, I make a list of everything I need to take, so I won’t forget something in the actual process of packing. I mark items off the list as I pack them. When I close the last suitcase, I tuck the list into my purse, so when I return, I can use the list again to be sure I don’t leave anything behind.

The fault with my method of preparation is obvious, though – while I can control what I bring on the journey, I can’t control what actually happens on the journey. Sometimes the weather is much hotter than I expected, and I end up wearing the one sleeveless shirt I brought for the whole trip. Or the opposite occurs, and I wear the same sweater nonstop because everything else I packed was perfect for the 75-degrees that had been expected, but got pushed aside by an unseasonably cold weather front.

Again and again, I think of the Yiddish proverb: Man plans, and God laughs. And while I appreciate a good laugh – I’m something of a humorist, you see – it can get very tiresome when I’m trying to apply my planning penchant to my writing career.

Here was the plan: Choose a niche, write a great book, get an agent, get a publisher, write more great books in the series.

This is what happened: Wrote a book tailored to the niche (cozy mystery), wrote second book, got turned down by every agent for three years, not a word from any publisher, began writing third book in series, began writing another series in a different genre (supernatural thriller/romance) to see if I could do it and since the first series was getting nowhere, why not?, and finally found a small regional press for the mystery series four years after finishing the first novel.

Encouraged by that success, I pitched the thriller/romance to an agent, who snapped it up. That was five years ago, and that series now has two books in it, but no bites from any publisher. In the meantime, I’ve had five books in the cozy series published by the regional press, and my agent for the thrillers has now sold a humorous spiritual memoir I wrote six months ago (which grew out of several blog posts) to an international publisher.

From mystery writer to memoirist. I never could have planned that, not to mention the wonderful community I’ve found here to share the journey with at my agent’s company. It’s funny to see where my ‘plans’ have taken me, even though they haven’t taken me where I had planned.

They have, however, taken me exactly where God wanted – I just didn’t know it at the time. So every time I feel God laughing at my plans, I know the laughter is with me, not at me, and I know I’m not alone in this very human experience, for as the prophet Isaiah declared:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

So go ahead and plan all you want for your writing career. Then let God show you the higher way.

Want to Write a Memoir? Read These Books . . .

????????????????

 

Now that I published my memoir, I’ve received a few inquiries about how I accomplished my goal.

Good question.

The genre of memoir is tricky. I worked on Sun Shine Down for four years and then spent another two years writing the book proposal, finding an agent, and landing a publisher.

Here are a few questions I get about writing memoir.

“I have a story to tell, but how do I get started?”

“What is your advice about writing?”

“Any words of wisdom regarding the publishing world?”

I am by no means an expert, but here is my best and most basic advice for those who want to write memoir (this goes for breaking into the publishing world as well because if your book isn’t at its best, you won’t break in): 1) Read a lot 2) Write a lot and 3) Find a class or a group of people to read and critique your work.

In this post, I’d like to tackle my first piece of advice: read a lot. Here are three books every budding memoirist must read.

Situation and the story

In “The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative“, Vivian Gornick explains the art of writing personal narrative by reviewing key elements like the persona (or narrator) of the writer, her writing voice, and the importance of knowing who she is at the point of writing. The book is broken up into four parts: Intro, Personal Essay, Memoir, and Conclusion. Gornick draws examples from famous books and essays, explaining the situation and story of each, thus causing the reader to pause not only to appreciate beautiful words, but also to break down and understand what makes a memoir or essay sing .

“Every work of literature has both a situation and a story,” Gornick writes. “The situation is the context or circumstance, sometimes the plot; the story is the emotional experience that preoccupies the writer: the insight, the wisdom, the thing one has come to say.” (page 13)

My copy is covered in red notes and underlining. There is just so much good stuff in this book.

writing the memoir

If your not certain about the ins and outs of memoir, this book is for you. On the cover of Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art by Judith Barrington, it states the book is “A practical guide to the craft, the personal challenges, and the ethical dilemmas of writing your true stories.” My writing instructor at Story Studio Chicago, where I participated in an advanced memoir workshop for two years, uses this book with her beginners class. In my opinion, it is a book even the most seasoned writer can glean knowledge from. The table of contents includes chapters on finding form, dealing with the truth, writing about living people, and getting feedback on your work. It also has short writing exercises at the end of each chapter.

“Telling your truths — the difficult ones and the joyful ones and all the ones between — is a big part of what makes for good writing. It is also what brings you pleasure in the process of writing.” (page 74)

If you write memoir or want to write memoir, this book must be in your library.

Handling the truth

Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart just came out this year and I picked it up a couple of weeks ago. This book is not so much about the ‘how to’ of memoir, but more about the value of the genre of memoir. It is broken up into four parts: Part I: Definitions, Preliminaries, and Cautions, Part II: Raw Material, Part III: Get Moving, and Part IV: Fake Not and Other Last Words.

“If you want to write memoir, you need to set caterwauling narcissism to the side. You need to soften your stance. You need to work through the explosives — anger, aggrandizement, injustice, misfortune, despair, fumes — towards mercy. Real memoirists, literary memoirists, don’t justify behaviors, decisions, moods. They don’t ladder themselves up — high, high, high — so as to look down upon the rest of us. Real memoirists open themselves to self-discovery and, in the process, make themselves vulnerable not just to the world but also to themselves.” (Page 8)

See … you need to buy this book.

Attempting to write and publish a memoir is an arduous task. Start by writing, sharing your work, and reading these three books.

“Penetrating the familiar is by no means a given. On the contrary, it is hard, hard work.” (page 9)

Right on, Vivian.

I would add that it is worth it, if you are up to the task.

Seven No Nonsense Book Launch Tips for Broke Authors

Seven no nonsense book launch tips

 

Sun Shine DownI am launching a book.

My memoir, Sun Shine Down, published at the end of August with T. S. Poetry Press. Eeek!

As a broke, green as the grass in mid-July first time author, I tackled the daunting assignment of launching a book like any other able-minded individual in North America.

I googled ‘book launch.’

In .02 seconds, reputable results-driven marketing and publicity firms jumped into my line of vision. These people surely could launch my book into the stratosphere!

But after some number crunching and a realistic talk with my husband about where hiring a publicist falls in the needs of a family of six (braces, soccer, therapy, FOOD), I conceded. We could not hire help for Sun Shine Down.

These days, whether we sign with a big publisher, a small press, or self-publish, we bear much of the responsibility for launching our own books. And it’s hard work.

If you, too, are a broke new author, here are seven no-nonsense book-launching tips:

1) Plan ahead

If you wait to plan your book launch until your book is out, you’re toast. Plan ahead. Start six months before you are to publish. Research, and consider elements of a book launch you will utilize.

2) Launch your book online

Social media is a marketing ocean. You’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram … Where do you spend your time online? How can you introduce your book in those venues? With Amazon stomping on the book industry, it is a mistake not to market online.

3) Launch your book offline

Is a book party right for you? I’m hosting a party at a bar down the street from my house. I’m doing it on a Monday (because the venue is free then), providing appetizers, and using evites and Facebook events to publicize. Extra tip: Don’t call your gathering a book signing. Call it a book party. Who doesn’t love a good party?

4) Don’t spam people to death with your book

Not everyone is excited to hear about your book all day every day. Post about your book (especially on your Author Fan Page–don’t have one? Um, get going), but don’t post several times a day. It just makes you look full of yourself. The trick is fun, cool content, and looking like you’re not trying that hard even when you are.

4) Create a Facebook launch team

In an effort to build buzz about Sun Shine Down, I invited Facebook friends to join a super secret launch group. I offered perks for joining ( a free PDF advanced copy of the memoir, a thank you on the blog, access to a secret group, and interaction with the author) and requirements (help promote for five weeks, post about the book on your blog, etc.). My secret group has been the highlight of promotion so far. Why? Because relationships are being strengthened and we are having fun! It is also a great way to ensure Amazon reviews once the book is published (make it a requirement).  Read this post to see how I did it. 

5) Get help!

OK, I know that I sound like I am contradicting myself. But next time (God willing), I will hire someone or ask a friend to assist with some promotion. I’m talking about someone to help with a couple time consuming tasks and who is affordable (as opposed to a publicist who would do everything and is expensive). I’m talking a flat rate per month to run a blog tour or help with the launch group. I’d like not to have that pressure, and I am finding out with this book that there are virtual assistants and others who could fit this description. *Note: I LOVE publicists, so If I get to that point in my career when I can hire one, I probably will.

6) Create a new email address to send out official book launch news

I simply created a new Gmail account with the name of my book and merged it with my current email account so that when I send out press releases and other book emails, it looks official (instead of the author sending them, which she is :) ).

7) Set expectations low

This is my Eeyore personality coming out, but I suggest you set your expectations low. Then you’ll be pleasantly surprised when something remarkable happens. Not an Eeyore? More a Tigger? OK, then expect like crazy. We are all different. In my experience, though, the people I thought would help publicize and raise excitement about Sun Shine Down haven’t. I did have one or two wild cards, individuals I knew for a short time long ago who have become cheerleaders and promoters complete with pom- poms and cardboard signs.

Here’s to successful book launches, and to many more hours with our butts in chairs, getting books written so that we can, gasp, go through the nonsense of launching again and again!

Facing Your Fears as a Writer

Photo/TaraRoss

Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him. (Ps. 102:18 GNT)

I’m always looking for ways to encourage people to tell the stories that matter most. As a writing instructor, I’ve often observed the need for others to tell their stories.

Passing along our faith and family stories helps us make sense of some of the crucial issues that we face in life. When Christians begin telling the stories that matter most, lives change and hearts heal.

But fear silences the voices of many Christians, preventing them from telling their stories. And if you’ve considered writing for publication for any length of time at all, you’ve probably faced the emotion of fear in your work. Many obstacles keep us from telling our stories—personal insecurities, writer’s block, or a variety of excuses.

Excuses. I can think of so many examples through the years when I just sat back and waited on someone else to do something that I knew I needed to do myself. And I can always come up with an excuse about why I can’t do something.

Before my own children became independent, I often reminded them, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.” I never wanted Adam and Tara to be afraid of me, but I knew delayed obedience might be dangerous and harmful at times. But even though my instructions were motivated out of my love and concern for them, they often resisted. Yet I persisted in my discipline. I prayed that they would learn obedience as children, so they would obey God and their God-given authorities as adults.

I even offer myself excuses now, when I don’t want to do something, like making my bed. What does it matter if my husband Dan does that? It’s his bed, too! And our unmade bed obviously bothers him more than it does me anyway.

But what about the things that God calls me to do? What kind of excuses do I use to attempt to justify my disobedience?

  • That’s not my “gift.”
  • I’m not trained to do that.
  • What do I have to say?
  • I’m not a “good” speaker (writer, teacher, blogger … whatever).

Insecurities. As I searched the Bible to try to find some answers to my problem of fear, I discovered that I was in good company.

In fact, when God called Moses to lead His people out of bondage, “ … Moses protested to God, ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?’” (Ex. 3:11 NLT).

Moses knew that this assignment was way out of his area of expertise and experience. And Moses knew that he couldn’t do this impossible task in his own strength or with his limited wisdom. But his awareness of his own limitations proved to be one of Moses’ greatest leadership qualities. It forced him to become totally dependent upon God.

Do you think that God was shocked by Moses’ questions and concerns? I don’t.

Promises. In fact, God responded to Moses with the assurance of His presence, not His judgment. “God answered, ‘I will be with you’” (3:12).

I don’t believe that my questions surprise God, either. God still promises to always be with us today. “… And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).

And He also promises to provide all that we need to do what He calls us to do.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished … ” (Phil. 1:6).

What’s keeping you from telling the stories that matter most to you?

Photo/TaraRoss
YouTube/JoshWilsonVEVO (“I Refuse”)

Three Requirements for Christian Writers to Consider

Photo/KarenJordan

… The right word at the right time—beautiful! (Prov. 15:23 MSG).

I opened the book package at my mailbox and read the title, Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelming World

Renewed. I need to read this book today, I mused. 

But my “to do” list interrupted my daydream of relaxing in my recliner, enjoying a tall glass of iced tea, and reading Renewedby WordServe author, Lucille Zimmerman.

Renewed

I placed my copy of Renewed on the end table next to my chair and revisited my checklist. Speaking engagement? Check. Four Bible studies for newsmagazine? Four checks. Blog post? Maybe tomorrow. Three book proposals? Question mark. Post for WordServe Water Cooler? Oops. Just breathe … I guess the book proposals go on hold again. Drat.

Responsibilities. After a few minutes of brainstorming about my WordServe post, the phone rang. “Mom, do you have two large suitcases that the boys can borrow for next week?”

Next week? I cringed with this pressing reminder of my commitment to keep my youngest two grandchildren in Texas, while my daughter attended church camp with two of her older boys.

Requirements. When I return to my computer, I’m drawn to Renewed again, desperate for a word of encouragement and a sense of renewal. As I read the first chapter on self-care, Renewed offered the exact words that I needed for that moment. Later, a reference to Micah 6:8  reminded me of a question that I had failed to ask earlier as I struggled with my other commitments.

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)

Did I read that right? Only three requirements? 

  1. To act justly.
  2. To love mercy.
  3. To walk humbly with God.

Maybe I should check out another translation. 

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously. (MSG)

Relief. I breathed a sign of relief, as I read the answer again. Then, I whispered a prayer of thanks to God for the healing power of His Word, the encouragement of my writing friends, and the gift of His call to be a writer.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:4).

Lord, give us the courage to listen and obey Your Word.


Photo/KarenJordan

YouTube/CastingCrowns (Courageous)

What recent encouragement have you received from God’s Word or gleaned from another writer’s work?