In the distance, fireworks staccato an overture to 2015.
As this year comes to a close, I’m reflecting on all the difficulties, the challenges and the blessings of the previous year. Through it all, the good, the bad and the ugly, God has been faithful to heal, discipline, restore and redeem. Nothing is wasted with God. No trial too small or too big. No delight left unanswered. No heartbreak left unattended.
So, with all the pain and joy, it has been a good year.
A very good year.
And I want to thank you, my readers and comrades in this life journey for walking with me, offering encouraging words and prayers, supporting me and allowing me to speak into your lives with words that I pray have come from the Lord.
Will you celebrate with me over these milestones?
- I published my first book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater. Yippee! And people like it. I am humbled and grateful beyond words.
- I welcomed grandchild #7 and #8, a seven month old granddaughter who lives with mom and dad in Poland, and a grandson born one week ago yesterday. I have yet to meet Liwia, except on Skype for now, but we will become friends that way until I get to hug her in person. In two weeks, I will have the pleasure of holding my youngest grandson, Zion.
- I finished writing my first novel, A Voice from the Past. Double yippee! Looking for an agent, but may end up with another self-publish. We’ll see…
- We got out of the moldy house!!!!!!!!! Feeling so much better, but still on the mend.
- We moved across the country from California to Florida, and we all love it here. God has answered so many prayers with this move. (Though I sorely miss my family and friends – especially grandkids #4 & 6 – they grow so fast!)
- My husband has 2 great jobs now which we pray will soon stabilize us financially. Thank you, Lord for provision.
- I’m homeschooling our youngest two children in jr and sr high. I love having them around, and they are growing remarkably in every way.
- I’m working on a new e-book which should be out in about a month or less….(you’re curious now, aren’t you?)
- I’ve started work on three other projects: a non-fiction sequel called Beyond the Miracle: When the Fairy Tale Becomes Reality that follows the lessons learned in our first six years of marriage ; a biblical historical novel Rachel’s Son, and a suspense novel Silk Stalkings. Only God knows in what order they will be completed.
Thank you all for your wonderful support in every way. May God bless your coming year with fruitfulness and joy.
What are some of your highlights of the year?
I began getting sick more easily last November.
And it seemed to take longer than usual to shake it off. By January, I had been sick two more times and still felt under the weather. An unexplained rash began taking over my body with painful itching. At first, I didn’t make any connections. Stress governed my life due to family pressures, a beloved friend losing her baby, my grandmother passing and my push to sell myself to an agent. I assumed sleep would take care of my health issues. That is, if I could get any.
During the Mt Hermon Writers Conference, I silently itched and couldn’t sleep for the pain. But, after meeting with an agent who had some great ideas for me, I put my goals in place and plowed into my writing and marketing plans. Within a couple of weeks, the rash on my fingers had turned into painful, oozing blisters. My hand was so swollen I couldn’t type. Complete exhaustion prevented me from speaking a cohesive sentence let alone putting one in a book.
It was difficult to drag myself out of bed at all.
After numerous tests, the bottom line is a depressed immune and adrenal system – the result of a variety of issues. One of which is the driven, non-resting me that ties my worth to my productivity as a person, wife, mother, educator and writer. In the furthest recesses of my heart, what I do and how I perform dictate my value. Oh, my head knows this isn’t true. Jesus loves me based on who I am, not what I do or don’t do. A recent read of Embracing Grace by Daniel Brown, PhD, reminded me that God’s love is unconditional and complete. But sometimes my broken places scream otherwise. Especially when my defenses are down because of external or physical stress.
Here are a few things God’s been showing me:
- As I admired the amazing diversity of God’s creation on a recent trip to Florida, I was struck by a whisper of God to my heart. “Just as my creation praises me by being what I created it to be, so are you my creation and praise me by your existence. I delight in you simply because you are.” Wow! Really? Still wrapping my mind around that one.
- Rest is more spiritual than physical. Yes, I need to get enough sleep. But on my vacation, during which I basically slept or lounged all day, every day, the Lord showed me that my soul wasn’t at rest which was just as exhausting as not sleeping enough. I’m trying to grasp that I can be still because God is God and has everything under control. He says “I have everything you need. Relax. I’ve got your back.” I am finding peace by spending time each day in his presence—simply sitting and listening for his voice. I’ve read Psalm 23 about 100 times. Really.
- I need to listen to what God says. Not agents or bloggers or other authors (no offense to all you wonderful, wise writers out there). I was crazily trying to learn everything and do it all even as it shifted from week to week. Knowledge is helpful. God tells us to “get knowledge.” But God will lead my steps. His direction may or may not fit with the “101 Steps to Getting Published.” Therefore, I need to be selective with what I read (I do not have time or energy for all of it, even if it’s good advice), and I need to submit it to God to see if it fits with his plans for me. He’s the one who can make his good plans for me happen. I got off track. It’s easy to do.
- Reacting to others or circumstances rather than seeking God first sends me into emotional overload and gives the enemy a place to attack. Instead, whenever I start freaking out inside, I’ve been trying to ask God, “What do you say about that?” Sometimes it takes some sorting out the truth from the lies that swirl through my mind. Today my husband reminded me that whenever the thought I hear accuses or belittles me, it isn’t my thoughts or God’s about me. Satan hates me and wants me to hate myself. He is the one who tells me lies.
I’ve been learning so many great things. And while I’d rather have God heal me miraculously, I believe this has been the better way. Of course, God knew that.
And now I need to get to bed 🙂
Perhaps you can relate to feeling overwhelmed or exhausted because of an urgent driven place inside. Would you be willing to share your experiences?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a titled one worth?
This week while browsing some published author sites, I hovered over a picture on a particular site. The author was huddled with someone in an interesting setting, and I hoped to be enlightened as to the identity of both the other person and their intriguing background. But alas, DC536, or some such photo identity glared back at me. Can you believe I was actually disappointed? I had been on a scouting assignment (of my own mental making) and denied the information I sought.
I realized then, that what I stumbled upon earlier this year, I had assumed everyone else already knew and implemented:
You can label your photos on your blog or website with catchy or informational titles!
Since I discovered this, I’ve labeled my photos (unless they are abstract) so you can tell where I took them and who is with me. Not only that, but they can also be linked. For example, if I post a picture of my husband and I on our anniversary zip lining through the forest, I can label it and link it to Redwood Canopy Tours. Why don’t you check it out here.
You can label your photos in Word Press by:
- Clicking on Upload/Insert above the toolbar
- To add a picture from you computer click on Drop Files Here/Select Files
- When the photo loads, scroll down until you see Title – whatever your picture was saved as you’ll see here. You can change it if you like.
- Scroll down further to change the URL to link to a site
- Click on Insert into Post
- Click on photo – click on the icon on the left (edit). Click on advanced settings at the top. Scroll all the way to the bottom and check the box that says “open link in a new window.
- Click Update.
- In preview, test it to make sure the links have been saved correctly.
This may all seem very simplistic and technologically obvious (and probably is to many of you reading this), but perhaps you’re like me and are glad for every little bit of instruction. I’m happy to pass it on. If you already have been taking advantage of this, good for you! You probably have an easier/better way to do it! Either way, it seemed worth the mentioning as a way to further connect our readers by making it easier for them to pursue their search for information.
What little tips do you have to share that could make a big difference? Do you already label and link your photos? Have you seen a good result from doing so?
Are you ready to be published?
That is the question I asked myself after listening to an interview by Michael Hyatt with literary agent Rachelle Gardner earlier this week. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been working my tail off the past year and a half learning the craft and doing everything every agent, author and publisher has told me (or written for the masses). I want to be published. I’ve been working toward that goal. Not just so I can say I’m published, but because I long to inspire, help and encourage others with my struggles and the victories I’ve experienced because of God’s hand in my life.
But Rachelle made a very good point.
Being a writer is one thing, being a published author is quite another. Getting published opens a world of marketing and networking and business.That world is about producing a commodity and making it sell-able. It’s about promoting your writing, and being open about your experiences. Am I ready for that world?
Questions need to be asked.
Is this a hobby? Or a career? As I prepare to launch a speaking ministry to complement my writing, what am I getting myself into?
I’m taking a deep breath and proceeding with caution–and determination. Yes, I want this. Am I ready? I hope I will be when the door flings open and the lights spot me. Until then, I look at today. Be present. Be teachable. Be a writer.
Is writing a hobby or something more? Where do you see your writing going? Are you ready?