The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Giving up -- what difference does it make?

CK wrote and asked...

"I have spent a lot of my free time learning all I can about the publishing world. I've polished my grammar and worked on personal marketing. I have a ministry with abused women and I feel like I've learned important tips that should be passed to a greater audience.

I feel like a failure even asking this question publicly, so please don't use my full name. How can I know if I will ever make a real difference? My world is so small. I feel God in every conversation I have with a battered woman. What if that's all God wants me to be? What if my voice isn't developed for publication? I keep wondering if maybe I should just quit."

CK - you are not alone!

I don't know anyone that hasn't felt that way. I've felt that way and I know others that deal with those same issues.

I won't dare presume that I could know God's will for your life. I do know with 100% certainty that no one will ever get the Good News to this hurting world without pushing through the "tar" barrier.

The "TAR" barrier stands for "Things are rough". Rough can stand for anything we are facing that wants to stop our progress - even our own discouragement.

When I was a kid in the South we used to love those super hot days. The tar roads of our subdivision seemed to be covered with a steamy heat wave. My friends and I would find sticks to poke at the bubbles or big rocks to ease down into the goo. Even worse though, was to be playing tag and chase someone across an especially gummy part of the road. The goo didn't stop me, but it sure made running fast difficult.

Being an effective writer is some of the hardest work anyone can do. The only job that comes close is being a mother. A mother will work 18-hour days for years without pay, acknowledgement or even the hope of success. She gives willingly of all her talents and all her energy. Her only hope is that when her child reaches adulthood that he/she will turn around and say, "Thanks, Mom." Years of work for a simple "Thanks, Mom" before he/she heads out into the world. I dare say though - no one will deny the great importance of that her contribution. Her child will be different because of her dedication.

You sound tired and overworked. Maybe you are putting so much time into preparing to write that you don't "feel" like writing. Inspiration is a funny thing. It usually only strikes when we are rested.

So here's a few tips:

Take a vacation from your writing. Not a long one, but give yourself permission to rest. Hug your child, kiss your husband and go for a walk.

Try writing something small for a while. Start a blog or send encouraging notes to a friend. Write small items and build day by day to larger pieces.

Read, read, read. Reading helps us to get in the flow of writing.

Ask God to center His perfect will in your heart.

Let the scriptures inspire you. Here's a few to consider just for writers:

Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

I Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, (writes) he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:13-16 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life - in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing,"

Philippians 2:13-16 is my favorite verse. It tells me that God is in charge of results. I am only in charge of doing my best and continuing on the path he has laid before me. My energy, perseverance and success are all in God's hands. I am just his vessel.

I love the way Marlene Bagnull puts it in her "Writer's Statement of Faith".

"[Not in my own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in {me} - energizing and creating in {me} the power and desire - both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight" (Phil 2:13, AMP)

CK - you will never be able to effectively tell the world what you know without God's help. Don't go it alone. Ask Him daily to stand beside you and give you the inspiration you need to be all He has called you to be.

Let's pray, "Dear God, please help CK and all your writing soldiers to be encouraged today. Help us to remember that you are in control. Help us to lean on you for our strength, our encouragement and our talent. We offer our writing to you first. We ask that you bless it and help it to multiply to those that need it. We trust you for the direction of our lives and our talents."

I will be praying for you. You can do it!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Saturday, February 9, 2008

When your writing is tested.....

My life has been a journey. Sometimes I can clearly see where God is leading. Sometimes I can't. There is a knowledge buried deep within my heart that my journey here is not routine. God has called me and I must follow his purpose.

His calling has led me down many wonderful roads. The best road yet is the knowledge that I am called to write. I am impatient at the time it seems to take for me to learn this business. However, there are times when I look back and I'm grateful for the small tender ways God is tweaking my thoughts. I am grateful for the years he has taken to gently change and redirect my writing.

This last year has been my hardest and deepest lesson. Perhaps it was my final. (I hope so?!?) If God has more trials in mind for me, I am sure that I will survive based solely on the lessons I learned this summer.

Last March I attended the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Even though I was scared, totally inexperienced with conference requirements, felt in awe of the talent pool and sure that my abilities were inadequate....I pushed on through. There were rewards. I made friends, contacts and had a favorable return on a critique. I was so excited to win the MP3's of the conference. I left with a hopeful heart determined to make 2007 a successful year.

I could make this a long post by giving you all the details, but let me just list the issues I faced when I returned home.
  • My son (a music minister) was having trouble at his church. "Please come out Mom and see what you think." I spent a week with him.
  • When I returned home, my mother had arrived and stayed for six weeks. It was obvious she has beginning dementia.
  • Three days after she left I went to the hospital with chest pains. Stayed overnight - I'm okay.
  • MRI for chest pains revealed a spot on my lung and two on my thyroid.
  • We experienced three deaths in the family.
  • My son decided to leave the church and move home...we helped him.
  • My daughter decided to leave her job and move to Florida. We helped her.
  • I am the Administrator for our church library and we were in the process of changing 8,500 items from the card system to a scanner system.
  • My husband Ron was told his retina might be pulling away from the eye.
  • Ron's job was causing enough stress that we worried about his heart.
  • I have TMJ and the bite split was causing problems that resulted in more migraines.
  • One doctor was adamant about more testing of the spots on my thyroid.
  • My husband and sons were leaving on their annual motorcycle trip when I received a letter urging that I see the doctor at once about possible cancer. We prayed and promised to trust God together.
  • That evening Ken called and said, "Stay calm Mom, everything is fine. Jamie is fine." I panicked as he continued, "There's been an accident."
  • Jamie had extensive surgery 4 days later. He had two pins in his hand and 9 screws and a plate in his leg.
  • I was sitting beside him the night after his surgery when the BP monitor went crazy. His BP went to 260. Nurses flew in from every direction. 45 minutes later it happened again. Tests revealed he had two blood clots pass through his heart. Everyone kept saying... "Most of the time people die with this."
  • Jamie has a huge photography business. For the next three months (because he couldn't walk) we all had to pitch in so he could save his business. Since everyone else had rigid schedules - I kept my house clean, his house clean, helped with his business and went to weddings with him - pushing his wheelchair and carrying equipment.
  • I finally had a biopsy done (had to postpone because of accident). It was more painful waiting but I finally found out, Thank God I'm cancer free.
  • Ken found a wonderful job in Illinois. We helped him move to Illinois, finished moving from his previous employment and kept his dog for a while.

That's not all, there's more....but it's enough for you to get the idea that this year will be used as a benchmark. From now on when something bad happens we will instantly feel better by saying, "Well, at least it's not as bad as the summer of '07 !"

Why am I telling you all this???? What could this possibly have to do with your writing soul???

YOU CAN DO IT ! I found out that if you "know" in your heart that God has called you to write, you can do it! Maybe it won't be in your time frame. Maybe you won't accomplish everything on your list. Maybe you will only complete chapter one instead of a three book series...but YOU CAN DO IT!

While all of that was going on I cried a lot. I also looked at the sky. I wondered how I could take the peaceful clouds and the beautiful colors and bring them down to my crazy life. How could I possibly "feel" the peace of heaven during the tremendous storms of life?

One moment at a time. One tiny second at a time. I learned to accept a little peace here and a little peace there. I learned to savor the smiles and the moments of quiet. I learned to do as Paul instructed...

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil: 4:12

I found great strength in the writing contacts and friends I made at Mount Hermon. Holly Miller has always been a great source of strength and comfort as my dearest friend. As I said in my first blog, I would close my eyes and see the face of Vicki Crumpton as she insisted, "Just do it Debbie, Just do it." I remembered the encouraging words of Nick Harrison, Barbara Curtis and Jim Denney. I felt their encouragement and it made me want to go the extra mile and push - just a little longer. What a comfort it was to sit and read Marlene Bagnull's devotional book for writers, Write His Answer.

You can also find that strength. If you are called, you must continue to "fight" for your writing talents. As Holly Miller has told us..."You must MAKE time for your writing."

I am living proof that you can do that. During all the stress, worry and turmoil I found tid bits of time to accomplish the following.

  • Finished my website.
  • Wrote over 150 blogs.
  • Sent out articles.
  • Reworked my book.
  • Read 12 books.
  • Redesigned my business.
  • Started 10 new blogs including this one so I could help more people.

And how did that help my writing? Just like everyone at the conference insisted, if you spend at least 15 minutes a day writing, you will improve.

God is so good. Jamie is alive, Ron's eyes are perfect, my children are doing well in their new jobs and I am cancer free. What an added plus that I now have this wonderful blog to encourage others.

Not only will I continue to keep God #1 in my writing, I will pray for you that God will keep you centered in His perfect will.

I am not special. God isn't just working on me. I know that no matter what you are going through, God will bring forth your talents. YOU CAN DO IT!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Monday, February 4, 2008

Exciting News !

Your ideas are needed !

In designing this weblog page, it is important to us that YOU are the focus. Over the next six weeks I will have the opportunity to interview over 25 authors and editors. I have a list of questions that I would like answered. I am sure they are not the same as yours.

You can be a part of these interviews by sending your questions to

I will be attending The Florida Christian Writers Conference as well as Mount Hermon Christian Writers conference.

Your participation will insure that my interviews with people like Sally Stuart, Barbara Curtis, Judi Perry and Ces Murphey will include the questions you want to ask.

Also, as described on the What's New page, you can win an autographed copy of When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall. To win her book simply send in a short story about your favorite act of love. It can be a story about spousal, parental or agape love - true or fiction.

If you are a frequent reader of Just Write, be sure and let me know. Your name will be included in a drawing for the book Writing Clinic by The Writer's Digest.

February/March are exciting months!

God loves you and has called you to write,