Sunday, December 29, 2013

First Review and Be Thankful

In these last few days before we jump headlong into 2014, I'm considering my goals for the year. I know, those good ol' resolutions often fall by the wayside before the month of January even winds down. But, before putting pen to paper to list a few goals I will try to keep, I first take a little review.

For the last couple of years I have done this and find it to be a blessing to count my blessings. I take a little stroll back through the past year to see what God has done in and through me. With pad and pen in hand, I sit down and actually list things I'm thankful for. I am always surprised as I start this process to find that I can fill more than one page.

Let me encourage you to do this little activity. Take a moment alone with the Lord. Ask Him to help you to recall your blessings from this year. Write each one down. Then, reread the list.

You can do this in different areas of your life - personal, occupational, spiritual.

When I made my list for my writing ministry this year, I was floored by what God had done through me. Here's just a sampling:
Co-authored a book and made some lifelong friends
Saw Be The Blessing release
Saw Brave New Century contracted
Brave New Century released and making Amazon's Top 100 Bestsellers in religious historical fiction
Saw Legacy and Love contracted
Invited to join the faculty at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference
Came on board with Prism Book Group as an acquisitions editor

And, that's just the first half of the first page.

This exercise forces me to stop and recall all of the blessings. After listing them, I write a prayer to God, thanking Him for blessing me. Only then do I proceed to ask Him what goals He would want for me for the coming year. After writing those down, I write another prayer, asking God to help me to do what He would have me to do. I rededicate that area to Him and His guidance.

So, you see, it's not your normal resolution-writing session. The looking back lets me know just what I can do when I let God work through me and lead me. That encourages a different sort of goal-setting.

Remember Proverbs 16:1-3
"Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place."

I pray God will do some wonderful things through us this year. Take time to thank Him for what He has done, and then put Him in charge.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Joining the Ranks of Humanity

Take a moment to read and reflect on this excerpt from Sarah Young's Jesus Calling:

"When I joined the ranks of humanity, born into the humblest conditions, My Glory was hidden from all but a few people. Occasionally, streaks of Glory shone out of Me, especially when I began to do miracles. Toward the end of My life, I was taunted and tempted to display more of My awesome Power than My Father's plan permitted. I could have called down legions of angels to rescue Me at any point. Imagine the self-control required of a martyr who could free Himself at will! All of this was necessary to provide the relationship with Me that you now enjoy. Let your life become a praise song to Me by proclaiming My glorious Presence in the world."

The humility and restraint of Jesus Christ on my behalf is mind-blowing. To think that He was born in a dirty barn with a feed trough for a bed. To think of His resistance to display His power. To think He denied his very deity for a relationship with mankind.

In light of what Christ has done for us, we should not hesitate to let our lives become a praise song to Him. This Christmas let's make sure people know that Jesus is present and available for those who will trust in Him. In light of all He endured for us, we can surely risk embarrassment or being politically incorrect to share about Jesus.

Choose you this day whom you will serve - whether public opinion or what is popular or acceptable - but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Have a merry Christ-filled Christmas! Never forget the Love that came down on that first Christmas.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Diann Hunt

Several authors who are members of American Christian Fiction Writers decided to declare this Diann Hunt Day.

Diann Hunt's titles are many and even award winning. You may have read some of them. Everything about her testified to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What a goal to aspire to!

As many of you know Diann recently went on to heaven after a well-fought battle with ovarian cancer. Isn't it encouraging to know, however, as Christians we are only separated for a season. That's the hope we have that death isn't the end.

I only knew Diann through ACFW interaction and her books, but I know she heard: "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Please check out her website and blog for more about Diann in her own words.

Thank You, Lord, for Diann's life and testimony.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Little Black Book

At this time of year, I always tend to think back over what I have accomplished. Specifically, for me, I like to look back and see what I have done in my writing ministry. But, do you know that I forget many things if I don't write them down? Relying only on my brain to remember what goals I can check off isn't quite efficient enough.

I also find that in those down times when I feel like I'm spinning my wheels or in those rejection moments, I can find a pick-me-up just by reading through what God has done through me.

So, what's a person to do to keep up with these accomplishments? I employ the use of a little black book. No, I don't keep addresses there. This is a lined blank journal in which I can record my thoughts.

First, I place the date at the top of a page. I label this first page: Updates. I list everything I can think of that I have done in regards to my writing since my last session of recording. I refer to my goals from the last session to see if any of those can be placed in the Updates section. Second, I label another page: Goals. I then proceed to list the goals for my writing for that next month or so.

After entering updates and goals, I put the book aside for a month or maybe even two. When I return the next time, I do the same as before.

When I need to feel encouraged or like I have accomplished something in my writing, I will pick that little black book up and start reading. It still surprises me to look through the entries, seeing what God has done.

Let me give you an example:

Finished edits on The Prayer Shawl
Submitted proposal to teach at a writing conference

Submit The Prayer Shawl for publication
Finish edits for first contracted author

The next few months after that when I returned to my book, I was able to write this:

Got contract for The Prayer Shawl
Set release date for first contracted author

Then, I proceeded to list the next goals.

This is a simple way to evaluate where you are and where you want to go as well as motivation to continue when you can see progress.

Let me warn you about something. When I return to my little black book and read through, seeing all God has done through me, I am humbled. But, I tend to also have a little praise session.

Try employing the use of a little black book for several months for some motivation and encouragement. Let God show you how He is working in and through you!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Passion

In Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life, he states: "God wants to say something to the world through me." This is a point Warren gives for readers to ponder.

Earlier in that same chapter he says: "God gives us different passions so that everything he wants done in the world will get done."

Christian friend, consider for a moment that God - the God of the universe - wants to say something to the world through you. God desires for you to communicate to others about Him in your own unique way. The second quote hints at this. He has given all of us different passions - gifts and abilities that really spark us into action.

Personally, I feel that spark when I write Christian fiction to share with others the truths God instills in me through life experiences. This is the way God speaks through me.

This writing passion isn't for everyone. Notice the quote says that God gives us different passions. The world can't be reached through just one avenue. My passion will strike a chord with some, and your passion will strike a chord with others. Together, we reach the world and accomplish what God wants done.

It's so easy, especially during this time of year, to lose sight of what really matters. Only what is done for the Kingdom of God will last. Any other endeavors are futile and have no lasting value.

This Christmas season let's give God the gift of our availability, letting Him use us to speak to the world in our own unique way.

What passion has God given to you to share with the world?