On Your Mark. . .

BXP135660 (Photo credit: tableatny)

Something about the first week of the year makes me feel like I’m starting a race, lined up ready for the gun to sound. This week I flipped over my calendar to 2014 and suddenly deadlines loom closer. Email messages are flowing in reminding me of promises that I made. It’s time to begin working on the goals listed on the paper before me. It can be overwhelming.

On your mark…

English: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line
English: Anxious Athlete Waiting at Starting Line (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where is our starting point for the New Year? It’s a good time to take inventory. What were my achievements in the past year?  What are my goals for this one? If we are rooted and grounded  before we start, the race will go better. We wouldn’t get far in the race if we didn’t know where we were headed.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

Get set…

English: Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at...
English: Athletic Feet of Runner Positioned at Starting Block Français : Pieds d’athlète positionnés sur les starting blocks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a breath. Focus on one thing at a time. Life is lived one moment at a time. Writing requires perseverance, one word, one paragraph, one page, one chapter at a time. A slow persistence.  Persevere. God provides our daily bread – just enough for today.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24


English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin...
English: Swift Form of a Runner about to Begin Race (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay. Time to begin. The route is marked out ahead. Let’s run it. The New Year has already begun. Let’s live it well!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

Happy New Year,

Betsy and Laurie


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

  Hebrews 12:1

What Can We Offer This Christmas?


On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:11

Yesterday I read an article listing the ten best Christmas gifts for writers.  Pens and markers, Starbucks gift cards, back and neck massage — all good. This brought to mind the story of Harper Lee and an article that she wrote for McCall’s magazine in 1961 describing her best Christmas gift. She was staying with her friends in New York for the holidays. Christmas morning she was surprised by their gift to her. In a simple envelope on a slip of paper was written:

“You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.”

The family providing the gift was not wealthy; they were raising young children. With their gift they gave a young writer hope and encouragement. Who can measure the impact on hearts around the world of To Kill a Mockingbird?

Harper Lee reflects on the gift:

“Outside, snow was falling, an odd event for a New York Christmas. I went to the window, stunned by the day’s miracle. Christmas trees blurred softly across the street, and firelight made the children’s shadows dance on the wall beside me. A full, fair chance for a new life. Not given me by an act of generosity, but by an act of love.”

What can we offer this Christmas?

Our best gifts are given not as acts of generosity but as acts of love. Take time to reflect on your giving this season:

Look at each person on your Christmas list and ask yourself: What do they need that only I can give? Maybe it is not a new tie or a gift card. It might be the gift of an affirming note or your time.

Look at your community and ask yourself: What do they need that only I can give? It might not be a check. It might be your prayers or the time to touch one person well.

Look at the world and ask yourself: What do they need that only I can provide? Maybe the words you write today will change the hearts of the world like Harper Lee’s words did.

Finally, look up at God and ask yourself: What does He need that only I can provide? He doesn’t need what we have materially. It’s all His anyway. But what about our love? Our worship? And our sacrifice?

Our prayer for us all this Christmas is that our gifts be given “not by an act of generosity, but by an act of love.”

Merry Christmas, The Writing Sisters

And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest.

They are the magi.

– O. Henry, The Gift of the Magi

Praying Psalm 23 for Writers

Sheep (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lord is my Shepherd:  Sheep are stubborn, fearful, and crowd followers, like people. We need a shepherd to lead us. We must surrender our life and work to God.

Lord, you are my Shepherd. I place myself and my words under your authority.

I shall not want: God is all sufficient. When we trust God to provide for us, we can let go of the wants of ego. He redefines success.

Lord help me to want what you want for me and for my work.

He makes me lie down in green pastures: Writing is endless and the refreshment of rest and renewal is essential.

Help me find the balance of work and rest.

He leads me beside still waters: We know the difference between our own exertion and divine filling when the words flow like gentle waters.

Lead me to inspiration and fill me to overflowing with your words.

He restores my soul: We are strongest in the areas where we have been healed.

Restore my spirit, Lord. Heal me that I may heal others.

He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake: He provides that daily connection that guides us in the truth, as we write–for His glory, not ours.

Help me always to know the truth and to remember that I do my work for your glory, not mine.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me: We give deeply of ourselves and our experiences, making us vulnerable and easily hurt. We fear exposure and criticism and we receive it, but we don’t need to fear it.

Protect my heart, Lord.  Help me to be bold in my work and not to fear criticism.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil: God gives us provision in the midst of our problems and he continues to protect us.

Thank you for your provision. Anoint my head to protect me from the small things – the annoyances and thoughts that distract me.

My cup overflows: Every good gift comes from God–the good days, the letters and notes of encouragement from readers, the joy of seeing a life change because of the words He has provided.

Thank you, Lord, for this work and the abundance in life with you.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever: It is not for this world that we write. It is for eternity.

Lord, accept the offering of my words. Use them as you will.  Lead me, provide for me, protect me. I will follow.   


Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers: The Writing Sisters


Avoiding the Comparison Trap


Each one should test their own actions.
Then they can take pride in themselves alone,
without comparing themselves to someone else.  Galatians 6:4

Nothing stops the flow of creativity more than comparing myself to others.  Usually I’m comparing my insides to their outsides. My rough draft to their finished book. My internal  mess to their polished perfection.

Comparing makes me insecure. I look at the work of others and all my doubts surface. In my mind, questions arise about my abilities. Inspiration is lost and work stops.

 “Don’t always be appraising yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers.  Besides, since you are like no other being ever created since the beginning of Time, you are incomparable. ” Brenda Ueland

God has created me and He knows me. He has given me the ability to write. I want to be confident in my work.

Comparing makes me ungrateful.  I can be pleased and thankful for my work – then I walk into a bookstore and begin to compare.  I no longer appreciate the unique words that God has given just to me. I am no longer content with what I have.

 “Comparison is the death of joy.”  Mark Twain

God has blessed me with the gift of writing.  I want to rejoice in that.

Comparing makes me judgmental. I can find myself looking for the weaknesses of others to bolster my own pride. I need to watch out for any thought that starts with, “Well, at least I didn’t . . .”  Each of us has a unique calling to write. We should always examine ourselves, not others.

 “How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” Marcus Aurelius

God has given me colleagues in writing. I want to rejoice with them.

Comparing pulls me off course.  I can lose heart and focus when I am concerned about what others are doing instead of the work that God gave me to do.  When I am too busy watching others, I am not working.

 “Peter must have thought, “Who am I compared to Mr. Faithfulness (John)?” But Jesus clarified the issue. John was responsible for John. Peter was responsible for Peter. And each had only one command to heed: “Follow Me.” (John 21:20-22)” Charles Swindoll

God has called me to write. I want to be productive in my work.

How can we avoid the comparison trap?  I must keep the focus on God and what He has for me to do today. Then I can appreciate my work, be grateful, celebrate the work of others, and stay on track.  Simple! Or is it?

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2

How about you? Do you compare?

Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

WordServe News: October 2012

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases


A Year of Biblical Womanhood, by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson)


Finding God in the Hunger Games, by Ken Gire (eChristian)


In the Twilight, In the Evening, by Lynn Morris (Hendrickson)


Still Lolo, by Lauren Scruggs, with Marcus Brotherton (Tyndale)


A Bride Sews with Love in Needles, California, Erica Vetsch (Barbour)


Resolve, by Bob Welch (Berkley-Caliber)


Christmas in My Heart #21, by Joe Wheeler (Pacific Press)


New WordServe Clients

Christy Johnson: www.christyjohnson.org working on women’s non-fiction, spiritual growth

Angela Strong: http://angelaruthstrong.blogspot.com/ working on romantic suspense fiction

Dr. Wintley Phipps http://www.christianlifemediacenter.com/wintleyphipps.html working on Christian Living non-fiction, Spiritual Growth

Laurie Myers and Betsy Duffey, affectionately known as “The Writing Sisters.” Together they’ve written 30 children’s books in the general market that have sold 1.2 million copies. They’re writing both children’s works for the Christian market and Women’s Fiction. http://www.writingsisters.com/WritingSisters/Welcome.html

Cristobal Krusen, a film maker, screenwriter, novelist and collabortor. Recently had a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly for writing Undaunted, Josh McDowell’s memoirs. http://www.33hope.com/team/crist%C3%B3bal-krusen  and http://www.messengerfilms.com/

New Contracts

Wayne Cordeiro signed with Zondervan Publishing House to write and edit the NASB Leadership Bible. (GJ)

Deb DeArmond signed with Kregel Publishers for a book titled Related by Chance, Family by Choice. A book for moms and the daughters-in-law they love. (BS)

Jo Ann Fore signed with Leafwood Publishing House for her first book of nonfiction called When a Woman Finds Her Voice: God’s Healing for the Women Who Have Been Wounded, Controlled, Abandoned, and Silenced. (GJ)

Denver pastor and missional thought leader Hugh Halter signed for two books with David C. Cook. The first titled Flesh, a book that shows how to allow Jesus to live His life through you in daily living, the second untitled. (GJ)

Henry McLaughlin signed with Gateway Church to write a book on stewardship for one of their pastors. (SF)

Joe Wheeler signed with Howard Books for Great Christmas Love Stories. In every Christmas in My Heart book (21 straight years), Joe writes his own heartwarming Christmas story. This book will have the best of these love stories around Christmas. (GJ)

What We’re Celebrating!!

Excited for Rachel Held Evans, whose book A Year of Biblcal Womanhood has been getting some nice PR. She’s already done “TheToday Show,” “The View,” and will do “Inside Edition.” People magazine confirmed they’ll review it.

What can we help you celebrate?

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