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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

It’s raspberry picking time again at my place on the Canadian prairies. The bushes are full this year, thanks to June rains after a very dry spring.

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If you’ve ever picked raspberries, have you noticed that after a rain they are harder to pull off the stem? Some innate force makes them tighten up so the rain doesn’t wash them off.

As I was picking and thinking about this, verses from John 15 popped into my mind: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine…I am the vine; you are the branches… apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:4-5.

Those of us who follow Christ are to remain dependent on the Vine, holding on tightly. When storms come, we are to tighten our grip even more.

Such a simple analogy but so important in our lives. We need the nourishment provided by the Vine, that is, Christ, and so we hold fast to Him.

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I’m thankful for this example from nature of how to live in the strength of God. May you also remain in the Vine as you go through your peaceful times as well as your storms.

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I recently came across the following quote sometimes attributed to motivational speaker Tony Robbins: “If you do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.”

The quote resonates with me, because I am preparing to launch a new book the same way I launched the previous two, yet expecting it to sell better than they did. How can I honestly expect anything different if my plan of action is the same as it was? Or if I don’t really have a plan? Obviously, I desperately need to redirect the process this time.

              photo credit to pixabay.com

If my expectations aren’t being met, if my goals go unachieved, then something has to change.

How will I go about making the necessary changes?

  1. Become aware of the problem. In other words, stop pretending it’s not there. Stop denying.
  2. Decide what I want to accomplish. What are my goals? My expectations?
  3. Decide when I want to accomplish my goals.
  4. Decide how to meet these goals. This may take a bit more effort to break down, but this might be a good time to put the SMART method into action. I was reminded of this at an InScribe WorDshop I attended in Saskatoon this spring, in a workshop led by Sally Meadows, who expanded the acronym to SMARTER:

S — Specific

M— Measurable

A— Actionable

R— Risky (discomfort can be a catalyst for growth)

T— Time-keyed

E— Exciting

R— Relevant

  1. And one more thing. I need to make myself accountable to someone, at regular intervals. I need to reassess my progress from time to time. And I need that objective viewpoint to encourage me forward.

               photo credit to pixabay.com

Even if the changes I make are small, the outcome will improve. And life is for learning.

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My last remaining aunt passed away yesterday (at the time of this writing). She was my mom’s youngest sister at 88, but her health wasn’t good. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it always is. This passing. This finality.

The past few years have reduced the family generation above me to nothing. My dad’s been gone for twenty-five years, and even though he came from a large family, all his siblings and their spouses are also deceased.

Marg – Mom (2), Erna (5), Mary (1) Beth (4), Kay (3)

My mom was the second-born of five. The eldest passed a number of years before Mom, the third in line was next, but Mom carried on quite happily until her 95thyear. She passed beginning of November 2017, then her next youngest sister went in December, and her youngest sib left us this January.

And that’s it. The older generation is no more.

My brother and I spoke of this recently. “Everybody’s dying,” he said. I agreed, and added that our generation is next in line. It’s a sobering thought.

Aging is a process best understood, unfortunately, when our time is nearly up! Most of us find a comfortable age and continue to “live there” as long as our bodies allow us to deceive ourselves. Suddenly we are old, and have no idea how it happened.

There are several ways to handle this issue of mortality:

— ignore it…but it won’t go away

— embrace it…but you will age more quickly (I aged a lot when Mom lived with us her last year)

— gain a balanced perspective…we were not made for this world only

To further explain the third option, this life is short, and for many people on this earth, very difficult. I’ve been blessed with love and “more-than-enough” my whole life, and yet I can find things to complain about. But the point is, this life is only a training ground, a weeding out, if you will, for eternity.

Three generations: daughter Wendy, me, Mom

We were made for Eden, but we goofed it up big-time. Then the One who created us had mercy and took our punishment for our sin by sending His only Son—that’s Jesus—so we could be free from the penalty for our failure. And now, IF we accept His unmerited gift of grace, we can look forward to eternity in heaven as a reward for accepting mercy. How cool is that?

Yes, the journey may be unfamiliar, even frightening, but the destination will be worth it all.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,

for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

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I am excited today to offer you a guest post from my dear friend and fellow author, Janet Sketchley. Thanks for this beautiful inspiration, Janet.

Unfailing (Unlimited) Love
by Janet Sketchley

Have you ever personalized a Bible verse as your own?

Some verses we speak back to God in prayer, and others we cling to as promises.

In an effort to fill my mind and spirit with good things, I’m working to memorize Scripture verses. I have them on note cards that I see in the morning and when I’m getting ready for bed, and I try to recite them to myself at traffic lights and other moments of waiting.

 

But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
Psalm 13:5-6, NLT*

 

 

What I first loved about this one is that ending with “He is good to me” builds a warm reassurance that yes, God is good to me. It makes these verses good weapons for times of discouragement.

Then I saw something new. Don’t you love it when God does that?

“I trust in Your unfailing love” — why had I limited that to myself?

This is a personal psalm, affirming the writer’s personal trust and declaring his needs, but trusting God’s unfailing love can go way past the boundaries of trusting for ourselves.

We can trust His unfailing love for others — for the ones so painfully heavy on our hearts, the ones we fear won’t turn to Him, the ones in crisis, the ones who are sick or grieving, lonely, or lost.

He doesn’t just love us. His love reaches for each one, and that love has the power to draw and to save.

When we speak these verses, silently or aloud, it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves that His unfailing love is big enough to trust for our loved ones as well as for our own needs. And yes, He is good to us.

~~~

Janet Sketchley is the author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional book, A Year of Tenacity.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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“Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul. Listen to that inner voice, and don’t get to the end of your life and say, “What if my whole life has been wrong?”


– Dr. Wayne Dyer, bestselling author

That’s all. Find your passion, your God-given passion, and follow it.

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Fiction writers constantly consider the elements that comprise their craft: plot, characters, setting, theme, voice, and so on. These are important focuses to maintain in order to produce quality work.

As fiction authors who write from a Christian worldview, I would suggest that we also continually think of the components of our lives, the realities that make us who we are.

IMG_1708Sometimes I allow my life to become stagnant. I neglect relationships because they interfere with my writing time. I avoid conflict for the same reason, as well as the fact that it crowds my mind. I hide from daily events in order to pursue my work—or to soothe my inner introvert.

But I’m often reminded, by what I see around me and what I hear in church or from Christian friends, that if I draw back from life, I will have nothing of worth or conviction to share through my stories.IMG_1442 Colouring Easter Eggs

No matter who we are, we will experience uneven roads on our respective journeys. Writing is living out our thoughts, dreams, fears and observances through our characters, in a particular setting, with a specific goal. It requires input.

So let’s not stop living in order to write. Let’s live the life God has graciously given us, and pay forward by sharing our experiences or conclusions or even questions with others who are walking alongside us. I think that’s part of our privilege and responsibility as writers who are Christian.IMG_1665

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I love a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to improve, to avoid pitfalls from the past, to review and make new plans.

This past year (2015) I’ve poured a lot of my time and energy into writing weekly blogs on my website in an attempt to connect and gradually grow a following. Writing blogs was never something I thought I’d pursue. I’m a fiction writer. But surprise, surprise! I love it.

I’ve created four columns a month, one every Tuesday (and a random blog on each fifth Tuesday). The regular crafting of a meaningful bit of communication has proven an excellent discipline as well as an opportunity to practice my writing skills and become more comfortable with my voice and purpose.

Looking Back

Looking Back

 

As I look back, the blogs have been fun and challenging. You know how it goes, you always learn more by preparing than by partaking. According to comments, these blogs have been beneficial to readers as well.

 

NOTE: If you appreciate a blog or other online article, let the writer know. Leave a brief comment, or if you’re set up to do so, tweet or share on various social media. It means a lot to the writer and can expand their readership. We need to help each other on this journey.

Looking forward

Looking forward

Looking ahead, I’m tweaking my column themes for freshness and variety in this new year. I’ve had to evaluate my use of time in order that the blogs don’t take over all my writing time, leaving nothing for my novels.

Speaking of which, I have three novels going out of print, so I need to decide how to re-release them. Then there’s the sequel edit languishing in my WIP folder, waiting for attention, and the contemporary cozy still longing for readers.

Looking back is essential. As a historical author, I do this all the time. But looking ahead is also important as it keeps us on track. Zig Ziglar said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

I wish for each of you a time to re-evaluate your 2015 writing path, and to formulate plans to reach your goals for 2016. God’s blessings to you as you move forward with confidence.

“He who called you is faithful, who also will do it” I Thess. 5:24 (NKJV).

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