Lessons in Trust and Technology

Lessons in trust and technology

 

Sometimes I just have to laugh. (I’d rather laugh than cry, wouldn’t you?!) After I posted last time, I ran into major technology issues. It all started quite innocently, with the addition of a new e-mail address. After the creation of the e-mail address, I wanted to add it to my e-mail program so that I don’t have to check e-mail on the web. Although I thought I had the address configured properly into my Apple Mail program, I soon discovered I made some errors, which not only resulted in me not being able to access my new e-mail address, but also resulted in me not being able to access my website, or the website of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, or the admin panel for either of these websites. Why? Because my IP address was singled out as the source of a possible virus . . .  and blocked. This happened on May 21st and today is the first day I’ve had access to all my services again!

At first I felt stressed, frantic. I’m in the middle of taking an excellent course from Shelley Hitz, called Author Audience Academy. I started the section of the course on building an e-mail list, only to find myself locked out of my website. I couldn’t change anything, I couldn’t apply what I was learning, I couldn’t even look at my website.

Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I decided to focus on what I could do. I’m also in the middle of writing my second how-to book for Twitter (Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps). My original goal was to have the rough draft finished at the end of last week. That didn’t happen. I still have three chapters to write and edit. I’ve already told people I’m going to publish it the end of June and next week I’m going to Write Canada, which means no time for writing. More cause for panic . . .  Or not. As I thought about it, I remembered that I could upload a draft copy and put the book up for pre-sale. As long as that happens in June, people will be happy because they know the book is on its way. That gives me some breathing space and allows me to finish the book well. It also gives me time to get the book to beta readers for feedback. (If you’d like to be one of my beta readers, e-mail me!)

Although I wasn’t able to post on my own blog, I was still able to write two posts which were shared on other blogs:

 


Shadow (German Shepherd/Collie/Mongrel) joined our family when our oldest daughter was eighteen months old. He died peacefully in his sleep when she was fifteen, under the trampoline where he spent many hours “supervising” as our children played and jumped above him. He lived a full, long life, but it was hard to say “Goodbye” or think of replacing him. Nine months ago a beautiful white bundle of energy (Husky/Malamut) joined our family. Our children named him Olaf, after the snowman from the movie, Frozen. Olaf has reminded me of several important truths regarding parenting (Click here to read the rest of this post on A Beautiful Life.)

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” -William Wordsworth

It started at the breakfast table. After we read about what qualities God looks for in a person and how we should look beyond people’s actions and appearances.

“You’re dumb. I don’t like you.”

“I don’t like you either.”

“Mom, Levi’s bugging me.”

I sighed. My husband was already at work. “Are you guys being kind to one another?”

They gave me crooked grins and shook their heads. It was quiet for a few milliseconds before they were at each other,  again.

(Click here to read the rest of this post on InScribe Writers Online)

I believe God’s timing is perfect. I know that He is trustworthy. But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of HIM.

What have you been learning about technology and/or trust lately?


Psalm 32:8

Watching for guidance and direction

Psalm 32:8

As some of you know, my parents were missionaries during my early years. This meant that we often spent time in other people’s homes with different rules and expectations. My siblings and I knew we were expected to be on our best behaviour at all times. We learned to keep our focus on our Dad. When we were asked a question, or wanted to do something, we would check his eyes. My Dad had an uncanny ability to communicate clearly without saying a word.

I think of those experiences when I read Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

I’m now much older and away from the direct guidance of my earthly father. Instead, I look to my Heavenly Father for guidance and direction. I have to spend time with Him and pay attention to what He’s showing me to do.

In my work with InScribe, I often feel unqualified to lead. God continues to remind me that He has called me and He will equip me and guide me. This is His organization. He is the one who works in and through the executive and members to proclaim His Word. As we continue to keep our eyes on Him He will continue to counsel us with His loving eyes.

NOTE: I shared this devotional at the beginning of the recent InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Annual General Meeting.


Wedding Planner 2 Paperback

New paperback, book signing, & writers’ conference – all in one week!

Wedding Planner 2 Paperback

Yes, you read the title correctly! The paperback copies of The San Francisco Wedding Planner Complete Series II arrived yesterday. I’m excited to share them with you, my readers. As usual, they are available from Amazon.com (U.S.) or can be ordered directly from me. (I’ll have them up in my store next week.)

Fig Tree Book Signing

On Thursday afternoon I will join 5 other members of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship for a book signing at The Fig Tree bookstore in West Edmonton Mall. The address is Suite 1919, Phase I, West Edmonton Mall, 8882 170 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5T 3J7. We will be there from 1:00-4:00 p.m. and will be giving away a book every half hour. Come join the fun!

 

Although the first two events are very exciting, I’m most looking forward to our InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Fall Conference 2014 taking place on Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27th. There’s nothing like the fellowship, networking, and inspiration I enjoy when I spend time with fellow writers who love Jesus Christ. I will be teaching a workshop on blogging this year. Perhaps in one of my future posts I will be able to share what I taught and learned (I usually end up learning more than I teach during workshops).

What are you up to this week? Anything you’d like to share?

 


On my writing “To do” list

 

Ford Quote

As my children head back to school, I’m taking stock of my own “To do” lists. Here’s what I have on my list so far:

  1. Get my children successfully started in school.
  2. Start my Music for Young Children classes. I’m still putting my schedule together for the fall, so if you want to register your child, contact me as soon as possible. I’ll be offering some classes through the Bonnyville and St. Paul Parent Link Centres as well as teaching at home.
  3. Writing

On my writing “To do” list:

  1. Write consistently for my blog. I’m still aiming for 3 times a week: Monday – writing related posts, Wednesday – what I’m learning in my walk with God, Friday – healthy eating/fitness posts.
  2. Submit monthly to 3 sites: Helping Hands Press (published on the 11th), A Beautiful Life (my first post will be published on Wednesday, August 27th), InScribe Writers Online (published on the 29th)
  3. Organize my thoughts and notes for a workshop on blogging I’m presenting at the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Fall Conference on Friday, September 26th.
  4. Finish Olga’s story – I’m over 40,000 words into my novel, but need to get it finished, edited, and off to the publisher.
  5. Put together 10 devotionals for a new Uplifting Devotionals series. I’m excited to be working with four other Canadians on this project. Once the contracts are signed I’ll give you some details. This is scheduled to be released by the end of October.
  6. Write my story for the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series (Number 3). You can purchase any of the stories in series 1 or 2 from Amazon. Series 3 stories will be released bi-weekly, starting on September 4th. My story will be released on November 20th, and the complete series 3 bundle will be released on November 27th.
  7. Write a Christmas story for a Christmas bundle. Again, I’ll be collaborating with four other Canadians.
  8. Twitter manual for writers – This project is in the middle of being revised and edited. I’m planning to have it published early in the new year.

What’s on your “To do” list? Let’s cheer each other on!


My God Love Story

bandaged heart

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”

-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I’m enjoying another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. This one is based on Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Am I Messing Up My Kids? … and Other Questions Every Mom Asks. This week we’ve been studying the section titled, This is All I Have to Give. For our blog hop this week we were given three topics to choose from:

  1. My God Love Story
  2. Favorite Ways to Relax and Refill
  3. This is All I Have to Give

I would have found it easy to write about topic 2, but God told me I needed to share my God love story with you. So here goes . . .

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to feel weak, or flawed, or broken. In contrast, God’s Word says:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” I Corinthians 1:27

For the past year, God has been taking me through dark places, allowing things to happen to me and my family that I would never choose. I haven’t been happy with God. These dark places hurt. They’ve shown me things about myself I didn’t want to see. These places have left me weak, flawed, and broken, utterly dependent on God. Most people have no idea of what I’ve been going through, because I haven’t been at liberty to share. I’ve had to trust God. And, surprise! He’s been faithful (actually, that’s not such a surprise, is it?!)

In June I attended the Write Canada conference in Ontario. I thought I was going to learn more about writing and to spread the word about InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. God had other plans. He wanted to demonstrate His love to me through complete strangers who love Him.

Two women hugging

The first “hug” came through two ladies from Alberta who shared a hotel room with someone they’d only talked to on Facebook. Instead of having to pay the full cost of a hotel room, I only had to pay 1/3. Not only that, but these ladies shared from their hearts about the dark places God has lead them through. It was as if God was saying, “You’re going to make it. Hang in there.”

The second “hug” came through a pastor from British Columbia who prayed over me for no reason other than that God placed it on his heart to do so. He had no idea what I was going through, only that I was burdened.

The third “hug” came through a lady from Ontario. She has the same first name as me, grew up as a missionary kid like I did (but in a different part of the world), and has just finished going through the exact same deep dark place God is taking me through. We had never met before the conference. I went to encourage her after she asked a question during a session, and she started sharing with me about this deep dark place God had led her through. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She understood, because she’s walked the same rocky path I’m on. God used her to tell me, “There’s hope. You’re going to make it through to the other side. Trust God. He has a good plan for you.”

My way is still dark, but I’ve been reminded that God loves me, because His followers have been faithful and obedient. He cares, and He will bring me through. In fact, I think He’s carrying me right now. I can almost see Him smiling down at me saying, “We’re almost there. Just a little bit further. You won’t believe what I have in store for you!”

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but God does. Let’s trust Him together. He really does love us, and sometimes He uses other people to remind us of His love.


Life as a Writer – Author Support Blog Hop

Author Blog Hop

Thanks to Sharon Bayliss for hosting this author support blog hop.

WHAT do you do? Give us a summary of your crazy life and all your responsibilities

HOW do you do it? How do you manage to find time to write? What tips can you share?

  • I use a planner and calendar to keep track of activities and events for the whole family.
  • On weekday mornings I get up at 5:10 to have a quiet time where I read my Bible, pray, figure out priorities for the day, and write for a half hour.
  • When I have a project, I break it down into smaller steps and set daily goals for myself. I try to leave extra time so that if something unexpected comes up I’m still able to meet deadlines.
  • My children are all in school now, so I write while they are away.
  • My 16-year-old daughter enjoys helping me by looking after her siblings when I need extra time to write.
  • I’ve learned to say “no” to things that don’t fit in with my goals.

WHY do you do it? Other than just sheer insanity, what keeps you going? Why have you chosen the life of an over-stressed author? What keeps you motivated during dark days?

  • I write because I believe God has given me the ability and responsibility to write.
  • I primarily write for an audience of One. If I write to the best of my ability for the glory of God, that’s really all that matters.
  • When I write, I’m happy.
  • Other people enjoy my writing.

QUESTIONS and PLEAS for help. Other authors will be reading your post, so if you have questions or want advice, you can ask. Also, if there is anything you need, or anything you can do to help others, mention that here as well.

  • How do you help others understand the importance of treating writing as a profession?
  • I’m working on Twitter Tips & Tricks for Writers. If you’d be interested in receiving a copy in exchange for an honest critique, please email me.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about my life as a writer?


Why every writer needs to find his community

In my last post, I shared thoughts about what community means to me. Today I want to take that a step farther and talk about why every writer needs a community.

writers at a writing workshop

Writing is a solitary activity, one we do in any number of places, but always alone. Writers need to shut out the rest of the world in order to think and put words together in a way that makes sense and communicates clearly. The work of writing is rewarding, but often arduous and frustrating. Writers need to force themselves to sit and write, learning to ignore the many distractions around them. Writing is complex. There are many words to choose from, but writers need to find the right one to convey just the right nuance. Research takes hours. Characters take on a life of their own and put twists into the plot the author wasn’t expecting. Most writers squeeze their craft in while working at a full-time career or raising a family. Writers put their heart and soul into their work. It’s an art. And in the life of an artist, critics abound. Often the worst critic is the writer himself.

What does community provide for a writer?

  1. People who speak the same language – Those who don’t write, don’t understand how writers need to write. They don’t understand why we talk to our characters. They don’t get why we spend hours on our craft, often late at night or very early in the morning when most people are sleeping. A writing group provides a place to tell it like it is and find understanding.
  2. Encouragement and support – Writing has been compared to giving birth. We labor for months, sometimes years, over a project. We revise and rewrite and then sometimes we are brave enough to submit. Some writers have enough rejection slips to paper their walls. When our work is rejected, it’s hard to separate our work from ourselves and we can also feel rejected. When our work is published, we want the whole world to celebrate with us, but the reality is that many sell less than 500 copies of their books. A writing group provides a venue to vent frustrations and cheer each other on. In Christian writing groups we are also able to pray for each other and share encouraging verses that uplift others.
  3. Objective feedback – It’s almost impossible to edit our own work properly. Often when we read our own work, we read what we intended to write instead of what’s in front of us in black and white. Reading out loud helps, but it’s even more helpful to have a critique group who will give you objective feedback. Writing groups may provide critiques. Although it’s nice to have people tell us we write well, we also need people who will tell us when we need to go back to the proverbial drawing board or give suggestions on how to make our writing really come alive. We can pay editors to do this work, but getting a variety of opinions is also very useful.

One group of writers I belong to is InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. This group offers an annual fall conference as well as many ways to connect using the internet. I live in a rural area where there is no writing group that meets in person. InScribe has filled a huge gap for me. If you’re a Canadian writer who is a Christian, I invite you to come join us.


On the Battlefield: Ready or not

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.”  J. Sidlow Baxter

As a child playing Hide and Seek, I remember closing my eyes, counting, and then yelling out, “Here I come, ready or not!” We as Christians are in a spiritual battle, ready or not.

“Spiritual warfare is very real. There is a furious, fierce, and ferocious battle raging in the realm of the spirit between the forces of God and the forces of evil. Warfare happens every day, all the time. Whether you believe it or not, you are in a battlefield. You are in warfare.” Pedro Okoro from Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:10-20 says:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (New King James Version, Bible Gateway.com)

In September I accepted the challenge of leading InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship (ICWF) by becoming the president.  Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Words are powerful and can be used for good or evil. The members of ICWF all seek to honour God with their words. God is using those words to change people’s lives. Although I knew in theory that I would be subjected to spiritual attacks because of my leadership position, I wasn’t totally prepared. In this past year I have experienced struggles in areas where I never struggled before, or at least not to the same extent. Other members of the executive have also shared battles they are facing.

Yesterday I commented, “We’re in the lion’s den.” Thankfully, we serve the same God that Daniel served. We’re not in this battle alone! God has provided weapons for us to use, but we need to choose to use them – not once, but every day. Too often I rush into the fray in my own strength. Too often I see other people as the “enemy” instead of remembering that my battle is against spiritual forces. Too often I fail to wait on God; I fail to pray for His strength, guidance, and protection. I find it amazing that God chooses to use weak, frail, imperfect people like me to accomplish His will.

Heavenly Father, teach me to pray. Help me to wait on you and your perfect timing in my life and ministry. Thank you for the protection, armor and weapons you provide. Help me to take them up, to step out and do battle. Help me to be faithful in the things you’ve given me to do. Thank you that the battle is not mine, but yours. Thank you that the victory is up to you. Help me to be obedient in doing what you give me to do and to trust you for the results. In Jesus Name, Amen.