Monday, July 25, 2016

Festering Something Old



Strapping my seat belt across my chest, I drove to the church.

All the parking places in the upper lot were full. The sun beamed in my eyes as my car wind down to the lower lot. A parking space was vacant next to the stairs. I parked. Each knee bent climbing to the next step. A small group of older women stood at the top of the stairs. As I smiled, “hello” pushed across my Chap Stick lips. Each woman said, “hello” back.

Once inside the church, I walked past the information desk. A familiar face sat behind the desk. From across the room, we exchanged smiles.

Around the corner, classrooms line a narrow hallway. I stopped at one of the open doors. My Bible study meets in this classroom every Tuesday morning. In front of a chair, my feet stopped. The green purse on my shoulder slid to the floor. While the Bible and study book in my hands released into the chair. Not many of my Bible study partners were in the classroom yet. I spoke to the ones who were. Then made my way outside the door. Where I stood greeting those entering our classroom.

This particular week a new Bible study was underway. We watched a video, listened to worship music while journaling a few thoughts. For my comfort, I sat on the floor next to my chair. Once the music was over, I remained on the floor for the rest of the class period for group discussion. The topic of discussion was something along the lines “What’s something you feel God’s protected you from?”

My mind spun in all sorts of directions: not getting hurt when I drove my car through a ditch on purpose in high school, the misery of walking out the grief process when my father passed away, sparing my life from liver cancer.

My thoughts stopped there.
Mainly, because a woman in class started talking.
My back pressed against the wall.

From across the room, I continued listening to her response, “The Lord protected me as a teen. He guarded my heart against sexual impurity.”

My heart stopped.
I looked down.

Why would she say that? She knows my story. Can we not talk about something different?

The gut-wrenching knife poked in my stomach. Each breath forced it to turn deeper. The enemy did what he does best. He trapped me in the mindset “how could she”.

Class soon ended. I gathered my things bailing out.

Weeks went by.

My finger dragged upward on my phone screen. This navigated the news feed on Facebook. A sponsored ad appeared. My eyes were intrigued by a non-profit organization. Their outreach  encourages young unplanned pregnant moms.

The day in Bible study popped back in my head.
The Lord whispered, “I saved you too!” Then He continued speaking over my soul. Processing our conversation, on a notecard, I jotted down these words:

You may have been saved from places out of protection years ago. I have been saved too by going places most did not. We can all be safe. We can all be saved. Different paths. Different journeys. One true God.

See, I was that girl one day, pregnant unplanned. I was a pregnant teen at the age of 18 straight out of high school. My doctor engaged the subject of abortion when he told me, “you are pregnant”.  No way was I having an abortion. Although I accepted Christ as an early teen, not only did I have sex out of marriage, guilt and shame smothered many years of my life after giving birth. 

Until in recent years, He really revealed Himself to me through a friend saying, “shame is not of God”. He began restoring my soul mustarding those words over me. “Shame is not of Me.” I am happy to say my daughter is 20 years old this year.

Back to the day in Bible study, the enemy had fun festering something old. He knew right where he could attack me and did. My true God who rescued me once will again and again. He reminds me, I am His, I am loved, nothing of His is a mistake and by grace, He reigns forever life over me.

In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12 NIV

What He does for one He does for all.

Saved by grace.

Is the enemy festering an old sin of yours causing you to feel less than? 
Causing guilt to linger? 
Shame?
Are you someone who had a child at a young age? Out of wedlock?

*This post originally was entered in the Spring for a chance as a guest post on (in)courage blog.

You are awesome. You are loved. You matter. Please share this post with a friend. Be the light.

To read more of my personal story of my pregnancy read my first book, Daddy's Briefcase

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I want to write a book


I want to write a book. Now what? What advice do you have for me on getting started?

Three weeks ago, I published my second book Under Contract: Life in the Middle of Dreams. Since then, the response has been wonderful. I've been so blessed to have people come alongside me to cheer me on, gain readers and the list goes on. If you haven't already visit Amazon to purchase a copy and or leave a review.

Publishing a book triggers questions for inspiring authors. This excites me. I want to share my personal intense journey in hopes of helping others. Although everything from start to finish can not be shared in one blog post, I've prayed about how to answer the one question mentioned above, "What advice do you have for me to get started?" This is a very board question. One a book could be written about. We all know we have to start somewhere. So here goes. A good starting point for an overall view of knowledge of writing a book.

If you've known since you were a child you wanted to write a book and or people tell you often you should write a book. Then those two are good leverage for a starting point, but not to be mistaken for you should or the only reasons someone should. These two can be used by God to trigger work for His kingdom. Yet the timing could not be just yet. Knowing this, never give up. Write. Write some more. Read. Read more. Brainstorm. Pick a topic. Tell a friend. Pray. Believe. Trust. Press forward. If you've been called to write a book doors to complete the project will eventually open.

You will hear, create your brand, create your voice, and build a tribe in order to write a book, get published and then successfully have sales. These can be done by:

a blog
blog daily
vlog
vlog daily
make videos often
Twitter
Instagram
Pinterest
Facebook
email list
join a writers group
etc.

Although all of these are wonderful, an inspiring writer is sure to become overwhelmed trying to tackle all trying to gain author status. As each child's personality is different, each writer is different. What works for one writer's personality might not be good for the next. Focus on what's good for you personally, you alone. What is time manageable for you? The moment you feel overwhelm back away. Slow down. Pray. Ask God to show you what's natural for your life. If it's only two from the list, then that's awesome. If it's five or all then great too. There could even be some not listed here. These just came to the top of my mind. The overall point is run with what works for you. Just because you see a successful author brand themselves through Instagram, email, and daily blogging is not what's going to make you the same successful author or any inspiring creative person whether it is music, artwork, housewife, married woman or even your health status. Horn in on your daily prayer life, your relationship with Christ and ask for His direction for you personally. Run with what He communicates to you. Be confident. Why work so hard to fit in when you've been called to be set apart. 2 Corinthains 6:17.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind about writing a book:

- Will the book be fiction or nonfiction? One idea is all it takes. Love the idea you aim towards, because you will grow tired along the way. Say "I do" until the end. Day after day, things can tend to grow boring. You will want to bail at some point, give up, don't. If you say "I do" don't bail. Great rewards at the end. I promise. If your writing has characters talk about them. Be prepared to share what your work of progress is about. Build up curiosity.

Have a notebook.  Keep an organized notebook to your liking. Keep handy. Even next to your bed. Night time gains great writers. I wrote my first book, Daddy's Briefcase, in the late hours of the night.  Warning, you will not remember in the morning. Keep as many of your notes in one place, a notebook, or it's going to get crazy. If you tend to write on a slip of paper here and there transfer to you notebook or tape the slip of paper in you notebook. Notebook. Voicemail. Ipad. Iphone. I Notes.

Time management, manage your writing to fit your schedule, some write working full time, some write while home with their kids. Me personally, I've written both of my books, Daddy's Briefcase and Under Contract around my families schedule. I am married, mother of two girls who are eight years apart. Sacrificing ounces of your time adds up. Try to write every day. There will be days or weeks you take off. Don't be alarmed. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

- Writing a book can be comparable to having a baby. Researching. Planning. Writing. Creates laboring pains. You may even cry. One good thing is the book isn't going to cry. Like a dogs not going to talk back but they are still children. A book is your baby. It's fun the day of delivery, release day. Then the true work begins when everyone's back to their regular schedules. The pain you've been feeling, can't be compared to the joy that's coming. Romans 8:18

- The creative process is all yours. View other's work to inspire you. Go to the bookstore. Look at books. Look at books you have at home. Study the cover. Is it shiney or matte? Which do you like? White pages? Cream pages? Styles of writing? Which author grab your attention? Warning, don't compare your creativity to others. It's a trap to instant failure. You must seek the Lords guidance and create what only you've been called to.

- Not everyone writes an outline. I personally did not write an outline for either of my books. Others I know have not as well. Then I know others who have. Kinda like some can go to the grocery without a list and come out with all intended saving loads of cash. While some go by a step by step list to accomplish the same task. What works for one doesn't always work for the other.

- Write what you would like to read. This was done with my second book. Verse novels have grown to be a favorite read of mine through the years. It got to the point I was looking for a fresh, clean, family-oriented, faith-based, etc. verse novel. This type of verse novel did not exist. With these desires, the Lord opened a door for me to write one myself. I have a video on my facebook page about this very topic. It's under the Under Contract album.

- Editor + Proof reader. Value these people's time. It will take just that, time. Be patient. Work on something different while you wait. Make bookmarkers. Design book cover. Create a Goodreads account. Sign up for an ISBN number if your printing company doesn't provide or if you want full rights of you book. Apply for a Library of Congress Number. Think of marketing plans. Type copyright page. Type author note page. Type Acknowledgements page. Check print prices.

- Think of publishing early on. Will you self-publish or traditional publish? Self-publish is you holding rights to your book while doing all the work yourself. Basically, self-publishing is like owning your own business because technically you are. Traditional would be with a publishing house which typically hold onto certain rights. You will need to write a query letter and wait for acceptance from book agents. Rejection does happen. Rejection does hurt. Continue on until your print needs are met. I traveled the Traditional route sending out query letters with my first book. All response where rejection letters. I moved on after a certain time frame towards self-publishing. Self-publishing to some degree is easier this day and time. Even so, say 5 years ago. Remember, lots of people want to write books too. The time frame to write a book, edit and publish will take longer than you think. My first book took me 5 years and my second book took 3 years. Reminder John Grisham self-published his first book.

Think about: book theme, writing style, voice. You might not have all the answers at first. They will come. Start somewhere. Start writing. Get the first few thoughts out on paper. You can always back up, skip over or delete. There will always be a first draft. You can handwrite this or type in Word or something similar. When it feels off, it's off. Trust your intuition, always.

- Not everyone will support you. Find a trusted friend to bounce ideas off. Some will make you feel your writing is not good enough. So don't tell yourself it's not good enough. It is keep moving on. Whatever you do work heartily for the Lord, not men. Colossians 3:23

Writing can be fun one day. Then another day it can be torture. Press on. Write until it feels natural. Then when you're not writing you will have waves of anxiousness. Write again until your project is complete. Don't stop what the Lord started in you.

Write the book you've been dreaming of writing.

Did you find this helpful?
What questions did this trigger?
Would you like to hear more about writing?

Your comments, shares, and reviews are gold. Thanks for reading. I look forward to the next blog post. Hope you have a wonderful day. You are love! May this post be a light for any project you are working on. It doesn't have to be a book my friends.

You may find this post Answer Two or More helpful.