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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Debbie Macomber - a friend and great encouragement

A good writer is also a good reader.  Attend any writing class and you will hear those words.  I constantly feel like I'm behind on my reading.  Maybe it's because I always have a stack of good books that I know I'll get to sometime....but just haven't had time. 

We were all laughing too hard to make a good picture!
Debbie Jansen and Debbie Macomber
A few days ago I decided to move Debbie Macomber's book Knit Together up to the top. I sat at lunch with her a few years ago at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference.  What a joy!  She was so encouraging and a lot of fun to be with.  We laughed....we talked....and we cried.  I can still hear her saying, "We have the same name and that makes us forever friends!  Don't listen to the negative voices Debbie.  They just don't matter.  Follow your heart and your dream.  Don't give up."

I have an MP3 recording of her talks.  When I'm especially down I'll pull them out and drink in her inspiring words.  Talk about someone who had all the odds stacked against her....Debbie had an uphill climb.  Yet, she kept trying and kept pushing and now she's one of the biggest selling authors out there. 

Her book, Knit Together describes her challenges and her journey to success.  I hope you will purchase her book.  I promise you it will be a great source of strength for those challenging days that every writer faces. 

And if you aren't sure you want to pursue a full writing dream....get the book anyway.  It will encourage your life no matter what dream you have.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are you afraid?

A lot of new writers I know are afraid. It’s an underlying thought in all their conversations.

“I have this great idea. Not that anyone will want to read it…..but I really want to tackle this subject.”

“I know God has called me to do this. I have thoughts that I know didn’t come from me. No one is going to like what I have to say, but someday….I know God wants me to say it.”

“I want to write about that but I’m no expert on the subject. I guess I better leave that to someone else.”

And then there’s the fear that so debilitates that they can’t write without approval. Those young writers who can’t even write a comment to this blog or any other for that matter – all because they are afraid that they might not say it right or that they might be attacked or that they just might make a mistake.

Fear can totally eliminate your HOLY CALLING. Fear has far reaching tentacles and can infiltrate every area of your life. Fear can and most of the time will attack your “inspiration” with a vengeance. Why are we so fearful? You can’t watch TV for more than 15 minutes without being bombarded with subliminal fear. Humor has gone from being situational or slap stick to being a complete emotional destruction of one of the weaker characters. And the worst of all is the thought that someone in the media will find out about something you’ve said and will hold you up to public ridicule.

Commercials are worse. We are bombarded with the fact that the only way we deserve anything that’s being shown is if we are beautiful, popular and smelling sweet. Those who are overweight with bad breath, wrinkles and bad hair – those people don’t deserve respect or any of the fun stuff. And if even if you are one of the beautiful people….try saying something stupid and O’Riley will label you a pinhead.

Add to that the way the news sensationalizes anyone trying to do something good. If they decide they don’t like the message, they will attack the messenger. They will be more diligent than the CIA at tracking down something bad about your life. “Why are you writing this book? When you were three you were a spoiled brat.”

Man!  Why would anyone ever want to speak up? Only the most courageous of all will stand up during a confrontation and take on the resident bully!

Writers must be courageous! Writers must take on the battles of truth, Christianity, love, parenting, greed, politics etc….

We start the arguments that lead others into fighting the war! What a responsibility. That responsibility includes understanding your craft enough to know how to create a desire to eliminate evil without inciting deep seeded anger.  While I believe there is a way to speak out and not incite violence, why would anyone want to blow the whistle on evil and risk the chance of being attacked?

Because it must be done! The world needs your voice! God asked you to speak up and you must!

I don’t have time to learn all there is to know about computers….I have to trust computer techs to know what they need to know so I can trust them with my precious computer. Likewise…I don’t have the time to become a doctor. I have to trust my doctor to use his expertise to keep me healthy.

Whatever God has called you to write about….the world needs to know your views so they can make an intelligent decision on what to do. This country has been and hopefully will continue to be the best country in the world – mainly because we have free speech.

Please don’t take that free speech lightly. If you allow fear to keep you silent, that’s the same as hiding your light under a bushel. Remember the old song This little light of mine?

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

If God has given you a message to deliver, you must follow through. You can’t allow family, friends or even the media stop your message. You must speak up against evil. While we still have free speech, you must have the courage to speak.

I didn’t and it made me miserable. For years I was tied in knots worrying that someone would be negative about what I had to say. It took years of prayer and study of God’s word to finally bring me to the point that I no longer care about the negative statements of others. What I do care about is doing God’s will and being logical about the issues of life. What I do care about is responding properly to social issues.

And guess what? I’ve had less negative statements since I developed a determined attitude. While there are less negative statements….there are also more positive ones. That tells me that God will protect and lead as we follow His will. How wonderful!

What are you waiting on?

God loves you and has called you to write,


Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year????

My parents (age 78 and 82) live in Georgia. I'm an only child and I live in Ohio.  My children are scattered.  One in Illinois, one here in Ohio and one in Arizona.  We were/are extremely close but it's getting harder and harder to have everyone meet here at the same time.

For the past twenty years I've had my parents come up for Thanksgiving and stay until New Years.  It gave them a special time to experience a lot of quality time with all of us.  It was nice being together when the children were young and as they moved into the work force - it was helpful to have one place for everyone to gather.  It also gave me peace of mind to know that my parents wouldn't be alone on a major holiday. 

Was it a challenge at times?  Of course.  Were there times when it interrupted our normal schedules?  Yes.  I was cooking more, celebrating more, concerned about more people and were they okay get the idea.

Looking back I wouldn't change those times for anything.  It was a special gift that I could give to my parents and to my children. 

But now....I see problems and a need to formulate a new plan.  My parents have multiple illnesses and special needs that require more interaction from me.  Fulfilling those needs means less time to write.  My adult children have needs and that can also take away from my writing schedule.

Some of this truly is my fault!  I was a stay at home mom who wrapped herself around her family.  I was the go to person and I served my family with great pride.  My commitment to family is a huge part of my resume and my ability to be a "mommy detective".  Then...God called.  He placed within me a desire to use my writing talents to share my knowledge and research with others.  My family wasn't/isn't doing anything wrong - they love and appreciate me and I want to serve them.  They are proud of my work and encourage me to continue. But how do I make the transition from total involvement to creating a place for my writing?

Here's the problem.  Being with them and taking care of my family is the right thing to do.  Yet...even the right thing to do may cause damage to the calling God has placed in my life.  Damage can be as strong as a complete rejection of what needs to be done or it can be as simple as procrastination in favor of daily disturbances.

It's as if I'm standing in the middle of a field with my family all around me.  It's proper and right that I take care of them.  Amie needs this.  Jamie wants that.  My parents need this and Ken is calling for advice.  I look up to see Ron on the outside of this circle of love patiently waiting for his turn.  His sad eyes look at me as if to say, "I'm waiting.  I know you are busy, but I hope you will have time for me."

Suddenly on the edge of this field I see Jesus.  He has a big package in his hand.  It has a bright red bow on top and bold black letters across the side, "Debbie's Writing".

I want both.  I want to serve my family and yet I want the gift God has for me.  I realize that he is not going to bring the gift to me.  I have to walk away from the normal - loving - situation I'm in and walk toward the package.  It's not going to come to me and stand in line waiting for my attention.  I have to make the time to walk toward my gift.  I have to consciously make the effort every day to open and protect and cultivate that gift.

Sound familiar? 

Every popular author I've talked to admits they have this problem.  It's nothing new.  Just like the selfish and mean who fight for your attention - the ordinary, absolutely good things will also fight for your attention.

If we are to change this world, if we are to following our Holy calling, if we are to get the work done - we must find a way to handle this issue. 

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season with your family.  I hope that you had a great start to a Happy New Year. 

I believe it's time to get busy and "be about our Father's work".  With only a mere 7 days of "Happy New Year", while Congresswoman Giffords was getting back to work - evil attacked with a vengeance.  You may have watched the news like I did and cried. I was horrified that a nine year old girl had to endure that horrible situation.  Then when I read about her life Christian Taylor Green  - I was reduced again to tears. You may have shook your head in horror and prayed for all the victims. also may have listened to some views and shook your head in amazement at the ignorance of their rantings.  What to do?  What to do?

WRITE....Go to your computers and write.  Write the truth.  Write with compassion and strength and the knowledge that you have answers that others don't.  Be verbal.  Be strong.  Be filled with the Holy Calling God has given you.  You must write and be part of the conversation.

Ephesians 5:15

"Be very careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is."

This world is evil and I'm afraid that in many ways I have not been wise.  I've been so busy being good to those I love that I've sacrificed a portion of my calling. I want to make changes, but how? 

#1  The first thing we should always do is take our problems to God.  I'm going to spend time everyday praying for God to give me wisdom on what area's I need to change in order to have more time for my work.  I think I give a lot of time to my work now....but the reality is that I could do more. 

#2  I have made schedules before but when they don't work - I quit.  Just because my schedule is interrupted doesn't mean I should be unstructured.

I hope you will join me today in prayer.  Prayer about God's will for your life and prayer about how to structure your life for optimum work.  Let me know if you have insight into these issues.  What changes do you need to make in order for God to use your work to it's fullest?

God loves you and has called you to write,