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Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

As you already know if you follow my blog, I had a different year in 2017. My mom lived with us for seven months before she passed, and after that I couldn’t seem to engage in my writing. I’ve kept up with my blogs, but my novel plans have languished. I needed to grieve and to heal.

Then two things happened:

  1. My husband and I read a devotional writing this morning (mid-March) that revolved around Ecclesiastes chapter three:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (verses 1 and 4b, NIV).

My mind went to seasons and times, and I realized that I had spent enough time in this season of mourning. Yes, it’s important to mourn, and I will never forget my dear mom, but I think it is time to move ahead.

  1. That same morning, I received a phone call from a dear friend. “My neighbor called me,” she said, “and told me she can’t find your third book in this latest series.”

    from pixabay.com

Hmm. That’s because it’s still in my head and on my heart. It has not yet fully migrated to paper and certainly hasn’t come near publication. I confessed this to my friend and she said, “I thought so. You had told me about your mom, and I told my neighbor. We understand.”

But her words were the kick-in-the-pants I needed to confirm the nudge from Ecclesiastes.

This missive is to inform you, my faithful blog-followers, that I have re-engaged in my novel activities. I have been writing, with paper and pen at the moment, a manuscript that will become the third book in my In Search of Freedom series. I plan to use a somewhat different format, so it’s a challenge, and that’s another reason I’ve been procrastinating. It’s scary to try something new.

If you are a praying person, I could use your prayers. I’ll let you know how it’s going, and please feel free to contact me and ask, or to offer another gentle kick-in-the-pants to keep me motivated.

Thanks for listening, and I wish you a day that matters.

 

 

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It’s called perseverance. That stubborn drive to reach for a goal. Dedication to a cause. Steadfastness. Endurance. Growing in spite of obstacles. Doing our absolute best.

These days of winter here on the prairies continue to drag. Temperatures are cold enough to freeze my brain. My focus shifts like the drifting snow and ideas are elusive. All I really want to do is curl up by the fireplace, wrap myself in a cozy blanket, and read a good book.

But where do those good books come from? They come from persistent writers who push through the dreary times when ideas are hard to pin down. They come through the tenacity of dedicated storytellers. Good books take work and resolve and heart.

Good books require effort, just like good marriages, good parenting, good friendships. All of life requires commitment to make it rich and worth living. But no one is going to do it for us.

I’ve come to the realization that no one is going to pull me along on the path to my goals. I’m the only one who can stretch to attain them. I’m thankful that over the years, God has pushed me in the right direction, helped me find connections, gently reminded me of my responsibility to apply myself to my calling (vocation, mission, passion). That’s because I foster my relationship with him. But the work is up to me.

Whatever your work, I encourage you to put your best into it and keep on keeping on. That’s what it takes to make a better world. I remind myself that God’s creation was never “good enough.” It was purely and simply “good.”

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41xf2woejl-_sx317_bo1204203200_This little book—mine is copyrighted 1961—which I’ve had in my library for many years but never read, has now become an inspiration to me. I  pulled it off the shelf this January, with the hope that it would help me grow as a Christian. In the book, Tozer explores The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (subtitle).

Chapters include discussion on God’s Infinitude, Wisdom, Omnipotence, Faithfulness, Goodness, Justice, Mercy, and many more, set forth with the idea that these attributes are not separate entities that stand on their own, but that altogether, they form a picture of God as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through Scripture. (The Scriptures Tozer uses to illustrate his points are listed at the back of the book.)

Some of my favourite quotes from Tozer’s book:

  • “He does not possess [the divine attributes] as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures.” (p. 22)
  • “God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself.” (p. 38)
  • “To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away.” (p. 40)
  • “The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the worshiping heart needs none.” (p. 65)
  • “The attributes explain each other and prove that they are but glimpses the mind enjoys of the absolutely perfect Godhead…To magnify any attribute to the exclusion of another is to head straight for one of the dismal swamps of theology…” (p. 85)
  • “Christ walked with men on earth that He might show them what God is like and make known the true nature of God to a race that had wrong ideas about Him…” (p. 90)
  • “To fear and not be afraid—that is the paradox of faith.” (p. 91)
  • “There is nothing in His justice which forbids the exercise of His mercy.” (p. 94)
  • “It is a strange and beautiful eccentricity of the free God that He has allowed His heart to be emotionally identified with men.” (p. 107)
  • “There is freedom to choose which side we shall be on but no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made.” (p. 119)

The last chapter offers, as the chapter title suggests, the Open Secret of how to grow Christ’s body, the church: Acquaint thyself with God. It must “begin with the individual.” Only as we acquaint and re-acquaint ourselves with God (read: lose some of our preconceived and sometimes false ideas of who He is), will we be able to properly represent Him here on this earth, and serve Him as we should.

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Revisiting Christmas…

One of the highlights of our Christmas season is a visit to our kids in Gem, Alberta, in time for their school Christmas program. Over the years of our grandchildren’s attendance at the school, we’ve managed to take in several of these.

Gem School is a very small rural school, just over twenty students of varied backgrounds. They are divided into two classrooms: grades 1 – 3 with one teacher, and grades 4-6 with another. There is also an educational assistant employed a couple of days a week, and a half-time secretary who doubles as the music teacher. Parents are encouraged to volunteer for various events or to just help out in the classroom. Class pairing—matching students from the first class with students from the second for reading—has been a great success.

When we were at the Gem School program this year (December 2017), we met the new first-classroom teacher, as well as her husband. He told us that as a behavioral consultant for the district, he doesn’t get called to Gem because they don’t need his services. They handle their own issues as a community, as a family.

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Beginning in November, teaching of regular curriculum in Gem School is set to simmer on a side-burner as practices begin for the Christmas program. Each classroom puts on a skit. For many years, these skits have been written by a now-retired teacher and her husband. Many of the jokes relate specifically to certain students or teachers, or even the director of education for the district. Everyone finds them very entertaining.

Students who take music lessons play their instruments in between scenes, and smaller groups sing Christmas songs. The grand finale is a black-light show based on the song: Do You Hear What I Hear? The students do an excellent job of this wonderful production.

Why is this annual Christmas presentation so important? What do the kids learn that makes the time spent so valuable? Here are a few of my observations:

The children:

  1. learn to work together to put on the show
  2. develop self-esteem as they play their parts and sing their songs
  3. learn public speaking skills, including the use of clear and audible voice projection. I could hear every spoken word, even at the back of the long, narrow hall. After this year’s performance, I heard people talking about the boy who never speaks. But he did speak his one- or two-word parts loudly and clearly. Truly a success story.
  4. find out how to work the audience with in-house jokes, humour, and enthusiasm
  5. gain basic play production knowledge: acting skills, acceptable backstage behaviour, onstage movement, positioning of props, presentation of the black-light display
  6. learn to support and encourage each other
  7. strengthen their memorization skills, although it’s not the end of the world if someone forgets a line and needs a cue (this is rare)
  8. learn to adapt when things don’t go exactly as planned, and to enjoy themselves as they learn
  9. develop musical skills
  10. come to appreciate a sense of community within the group
  11. become involved in helping to build props and sew costumes
  12. get to earn a reward, besides the sense of accomplishment. (The day after the program, the Gem School has Pajama Day, where the students all come to school in pajamas, watch the recorded show, and play games.)

During the program, parents and community volunteers take care of lighting, recording, props, and student control. After the program, the students move through the audience talking with people and handing out Christmas oranges. They are obviously pleased with their accomplishments, as well they should be.

One of the welcome aspects of this small school program is the freedom to include a nativity scene in the black-light display. Even though an active debate continues to swirl around the place of religion in schools, I personally am thankful we can preserve the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Jesus Christ—in the school in Gem. I know this may not be possible forever, but I hope and pray it will be sustained as long as possible.

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I know this phrase has been used before, but I’ll borrow it for the Gem School: They truly have the best Christmas pageant ever! Kudos to all those involved in this production, especially the students.

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Accuracy is important in all areas of life for many reasons. We want, I assume, to represent our thoughts, actions, and written words with reliability; to communicate with precision and correctness. In other words, say what we mean and mean what we say.

Attention to accuracy in life implies integrity.

 

The first four verses of the gospel of Luke (NIV) read this way: 1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of things you have been taught.” [I love http://www.biblegateway.com]

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Luke was determined to share only the truth with his readers. With the help of God’s Spirit, he listened, recalled eyewitness accounts, investigated, researched, and organized. He did this for two reasons:

* He wanted his readers to get the message as it was meant to be transmitted and understood.

* He was a servant of the word and strove to glorify the Lord.

For writers, especially those of us who write from a Christian worldview, accuracy is doubly important. If our facts aren’t correct and well-represented, our readers will not trust the underlying spiritual takeaway values we wish to leave behind.

It’s critical to be credible.

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Thanks to Dianne J. Wilson for granting me permission to share her blog on my site. It previously appeared on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog on January 21, 2017…

I’m writing this devotion 10.5 hours away from home. Why? Because this week my eldest kiddo started university. It is truly the most bizarre concept… pack up all her things, drive for a day, dump her and all her packed things off.

And.Then.Leave.Her.

Wait, WHAT?

Every instinct is screaming against this foreign concept. Since the first day a crying pink bundle landed in my arms, my job has been to Be There, Mop Tears, Hug When Life Sucks, Cook Food, Clean The Dirty Dishes, Wash Dirty Clothes, Help, Listen, Love. Now I have to leave her and drive 10,5 hours in the opposite direction. That’s over 1000 kilometers, not that anyone is counting. If you need me, I’ll be over in the corner sobbing.

Driving away from Stellenbosch without her is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve bought tissues.

Wow. As her mom and dad, Scott and I are thinking of everything she may need so that when we leave town, she’ll be able to do what we brought her all this way to do. She is here for a purpose and we are providing access to everything she needs to make sure she can get on with it.

All this sounds familiar though, doesn’t it?

Jesus felt the same when He left us humans after living with us for a while. But, in His usual perfect way, He had a plan. And what a plan it was! John 14:18 tells us that He didn’t leave us as orphans, but sent Holy Spirit to be with us. If you read 2 Peter 1:3, you’ll know that He has provided all things for life and godliness. And just as I can’t wait for the first holiday when she gets to come home (and man, you can be sure her room will be ready!) Jesus is longing for the day we get to be reunited with Him too. He has already got the place all spiffied up for us. It’s all there in John 14:3.

But do you know what would break my heart?  If my girl chooses not to use the bookshop account and struggles without textbooks for the year. If she chooses not to use the chemist facilities when her allergies get bad. If she doesn’t use the cash we put in her bank for food and clothes.

Sounds crazy, right? But many of us struggle daily with things that Jesus has made provision for. I want to spend this year combing through my Bible and figuring out everything that He has provided.  Then I want to access it and use it lavishly for myself and for those around me.

Knowing how I feel about my kiddo, I’m pretty sure it will delight His heart.

7756237Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She has just signed a three book contract for a YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

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One year ago, I decided to make the leap into independent publishing. Here are some of the things I have learned, in no particular order, along with a few tips:id-100355999

  1. I am capable of launching my own publishing company, including the various forms and fees required. (Print copies of documents so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, so says experience.)
  1. I am capable of editing, formatting and creating covers for my books. I have carried out each step. However, if I wish to maintain my sanity and the quality I desire, I know I cannot do all these things myself all the time (kudos to those of you who can, and I know a few of you).

img_1237An Aside: I thought of an analogy this morning as my husband and I sat at breakfast contemplating a few upcoming renovations to our home. Three years ago, we transformed our attached garage into an office/guest room (it was too small for our vehicle). We, mostly my husband, did all the work. I helped where I could, including taping and mudding seams and corners after the drywall was up. I can do mudding, but I’m quite bad at it. I don’t ever want to do mudding again. The end result looks better if someone more skilled and patient does it. Just like I can do book covers and formatting, but it’s better for all concerned if I let someone more skilled do those jobs.

  1. Excellent and reasonably priced services are available to help indie authors in areas where we don’t feel competent, or where we can’t manage it all time-wise. Some of these skilled people may already be in our circle of friends/acquaintances. Trading skills is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
  1. Marketing remains my pianissimo (as opposed to my forte). I must continue to ask, read, search, learn. Again, there are people who are good at this, trained, willing to help. I need to reach out.
  1. I love the flexibility and the control that indie publishing offers. I decide the order of projects on my to-do list. I decide on the cover, the size, the interior design, et cetera, together with those I’ve asked to assist me.
  1. I am ultimately responsible for the outcomes, for my promises to my readers, for deadlines.
  1. A Reminder: As a Christian author, I am not my own boss. God is. That adds a much higher lever of accountability to my writing life.
  1. A human accountability partner who knows my writing, at least some of my personal situation, and my overall goals, is an immeasurable asset. We can pray for and support each another.
  1. I must continue to learn, to review, to experiment, to observe, to ask.
  1. I must continue to write so I have something to publish. I must learn balance.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.

Tips in a Nutshell:

— Pray for wisdom, guidance and strength daily (or moment by moment)

— Do what you can

— Ask for help when you can’t

— Trade skills

— Count the costs, make a budget, treat this writing like a calling/career/vocation

If you are a self / indie published author, what are some of the things you have learned about the process? I’d love to hear from you.

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