I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm afraid. Very afraid.

It’s October 31st and I am terrified. I feel the same way every year when this day rolls around. I’m not afraid of the ghouls and goblins that will be roaming the streets bargaining for treats; the fact that today is Halloween has absolutely no bearing on my fear.
I fear the last day of October every year because it’s the day before November begins.
As the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night, NationalNovel Writing Month begins, and with it, all the fear and anxiety I have semi-effectively kept buried all year long bursts forth like a geyser. NaNoWriMo reminds me that I am a writer, but at the same time it seems to shine a giant spotlight on how very little writing I’ve done since last year’s NaNoWriMo. I’m pretty sure November comes around a little faster every year, and I suddenly realize all the things I planned to do to prepare for NaNoWriMo haven’t gotten done. I haven’t finished plotting in my Book Buddy. I haven’t figured out what lie my heroine believes.  I haven’t even stocked my freezer with meals for my family.  
I’m not ready.
And yet, here we are. Mere hours until my thirty day writing odyssey begins and I’m already feeling like a failure. I find myself wondering if I even have what it takes to be a “real” writer. Then I remember Pat’s Monday post. She began it with a Bible verse, Psalm 37:4.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Delight. Not fear. In fact, God tells us in 2 Timothy that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. A sound mind. Not a mind that is in total freak-out mode, flooded with anxiety and self-doubt.
H. Jackson Brown says, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and those are all the qualities I want, I need, to do what God has called me to do. I believe I am called to write. But as long as I’m dwelling on all the things I cannot do, I am missing all the things God can. (Thank you, Pat!!)
Jesus told us in John 15 that “the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine; neither can you, unless you abide in me.” So, I think that instead of fearing the dawn of November, I will go out on a limb, delight myself in the Lord, and grab all the fruit I can carry!
~Heidi Larson Geis

Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm Happy Dancing and Here's Why

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This has been the verse I've clung to during my writing journey. I've always believed God gave me the gift of writing and expected me to do something with it. And for the past couple of years, I've tried to enjoy the journey…this is after I realized that getting published was in His timing, not mine. The Lord knows I've tried to make it in mine. In His timing (July of this year), I signed with my fantastic agent, Mary Sue Seymour, and she sent my book out to the publishing world.

Fast forward to October. Mary Sue had emailed me that Shadows from the Past had been approved by the pub board at Revell, and we would be hearing something by the 26th. Friday I was on the road, coming home from Chattanooga to see my mom so I had my email alerting me whenever I received a message. An alert would sound and I would pull over and look at my phone, but it was never from Mary Sue. I emailed her to ask if she thought we’d hear from Revell. Every so often, I’d stop and manually check my email, but nothing. Nada. My hopes were getting lower and lower. By the time I made it home, I was preparing myself for bad news. Made a stop at Walmart to get makings for soup and called my mom to let her know I’d made it home. I was on that call when an email beeped in. I looked at it and it was from Mary Sue, so I told my mom I’d call her back.

I opened it and read I hope so.  It was Mary Sue’s reply to my email. Two minutes later as I exited Walmart, another email beeped in. The subject line read—One more thing. I opened it, and it was a forward of a follow-up to another email the editor at Revell had sent, and it didn't make a lick of sense to me. At the top, Mary Sue had written—see additional note…
I quickly emailed her I hadn't seen the other note. She emailed back—you didn't get the email with the offer?

Nooooooooooooooooooooo! I hadn't gotten the original email with the offer. By this time I was in my car (thank goodness not driving), but someone wanted my parking space and sat waiting. I put my phone down and gave them my space, then pulled over as another email beeped in. It was the offer.

Did you know your body doesn't handle good news much better than bad? As I read the email, I.Could.Not.Breathe. My mind went numb, blank actually, my heart took off, I thought I was going to faint. But I was so deliriously happy. After years of waiting, God had given me the desires of my heart. Only He’d done it in his fashion.
            Me   = One book
            God = Three books

And that's why I'm Happy Dancing! Oh, and soup didn't get made Friday night.

Tell me about a time He’s done more than you asked or even imagined.

Pat Trainum writing 
Winner of
2012 Daphne du Maurier-Inspirational Unpublished
Touched By Love
Genesis finalist-Romantic Suspense

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quotables: Thoughts on Straws

Image from freefoto.com
I’ve been feeling little this week. Small and irrelevant, really. I go to work, do my job and go home to be a wife and mom. Then I hit “reset” each night and do it all again the next day. I know feeling this way is a lie to create distance between God and me. Rationally, I know I’m priceless to God (Psalm 139:13-16), He has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11), and doing my best each day honors Him (Colossians 3:17).

I know all this.

But sometimes I need to hear truth presented in a different way to force a fresh perspective. I’m a visual person, and a quote God provided spoke truth to the lie I’ve been struggling with this week.

“The Gulf Stream will flow through a straw provided the straw is aligned to the Gulf Stream, and not at cross purposes with it.” –Anne Lamott, writer

I can relate to a disposable straw. A cheap, red and white striped McDonald’s straw floating through life. Not a lot of power, not a lot of control, either. Flimsy and weak.

Now back the boat up. Did you know the Gulf Stream transports nearly four billion cubic feet of water per second—an amount greater than that carried by all the world’s rivers combined? (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/gulfstreamspeed.html)

That’s sweep -off-your-flippers-and-snorkel kind of power…

…if you’re lined up.

Perhaps this is the piece that’s shifted out of focus recently. If I’m looking beyond where I’m at now in life to the next thing I want to accomplish, I risk being at cross purposes with God’s power in the now.

Your turn: Has God ever given you a fresh perspective through a quote or a song? What has He been teaching you recently?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Ashamed of Your Call?

Hubby and I at the ACFW 2012 Dressed in Character
Yeah, you heard me right.
Christian. Romance.

At first when people would ask me what I write, I would tell them a variety of answers depending on who I was speaking to.  “I write Christian Fiction” or “I write women’s fiction” or “I write Spec.” just because I didn't want to deal with their reactions.  “Christian romance? Isn't that an oxymoron?”

One day I asked God, “Can’t I just write Speculative fiction? No one looks at me cross eyed when I say Spec, unless they don’t know what it is. Even then, it’s more acceptable to write Spec than it is to write romance.”

I know this is going to seem completely unrelated but stay with me, okay?

I like to read the Bible. I mean I really do. I study it every day and usually walk away thinking, “Well, that was some good information. But what did I learn?”

One of my writer friends, who happens to be a woman theologian, came over. I mean she’s really a Bible scholar. She talked about things the Lord was teaching her and I finally stopped her. “Christa, I envy you. I wish I could be a Scholar. I long to see the profound, the deep things of God. To be able to relate them to others. How do you do it?”

“Well, Ginger, I simply go to God and ask Him what He wants to teach me. One stint in my life God simply had me reading one chapter a day and then writing down what I learned about Him in that chapter. It took four years but it was the most productive thing I've ever done. As I went through those chapters, no matter what book I was in, I could see the nature of God in them.”

Something clicked.

It clicked because every time I went to the Bible and read, all I could see was God’s love for His people. I could hear His voice crying out in love, “If you don’t do this, than that will happen to you. Hear me!” 
Yes, I could hear His love, even in the midst of His judgment.

I got it. I knew.

God was revealing His love to me through the scriptures because He called me to write about it. Not in non-fiction matter-of-fact ways, but through story. Through the journeys of my characters.

God’s love. Yeah, I can do that.

So if you ask me, “What do you write?”
I write Christian romance.

Tell me, how did you come to understand your calling? What do you write? 

ginger r. takamiya

Friday, October 19, 2012

Family Worship Changes Hearts

 photo by Suzanne Sherwood
As Christian parents, we know we should have family devotions. But many of us don’t. In my home, family devotions could often be described with Paul’s words: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Though we wanted to raise our children as disciples of Christ, we found evening devotions difficult to fit into our busy schedule. With a broad range of ages, it was hard to find a one-fits-all approach. Sometimes, we opened the Word and discussed it. Other times, we’d plow through a devotional book. But gathering the children together for family worship in the evenings felt like pushing rope. It just wasn’t working.
Until now.
My friend, Ginger, a fellow Ponderer, told me to start with baby steps, then shared how her family is growing closer to God and one another by gathering each night for two worship songs. She encouraged us to do the same.
Psalm 22:3 says, “God inhabits the praises of His people.”
In fact, Psalms is a book of songs, and the Bible mentions trumpets, lyres, harps, and other instruments. God created music, so He must be a big fan of worship songs. (But if you’re a believer who worships through hymns, He’s a fan of those too.)
I’m pretty sure the heroes of the Bible praised God with simple instruments that didn’t require electricity. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use every advantage we have, and thanks to YouTube we’ve got hundreds, if not thousands, of worship songs with lyrics at our fingertips. If your family knows a lot of songs, you can sing a capella, use CD's or even showcase your child's piano talent. It doesn't matter as long as it works for you, but we really like having words. (You can literally go to YouTube and type “worship songs with lyrics.”)
In our family, we each take turns selecting songs. The song chooser also leads out in prayer that night, just to get our children to learn to lead. My husband reads a daily devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, we sing two praise songs, then we pray together. That’s it. It only takes 15 minutes, and we look forward to it. No more pushing rope, or lassoing stragglers and dragging them in. Sometimes, our six-year-old is already asleep, but when he’s awake, he sits watching the YouTube videos as the rest of us stand and worship. As he learns more songs, I imagine he’ll participate more too.
We’ve only been doing this for a few weeks, but we’ve already noticed a change in the hearts of our teenagers. One son said, “It’s not enough to worship once a week at church, I need to worship God daily.” When I was having a difficult time with my youngest son, this same teenager was quick to ask if he could do anything. Could he help in the kitchen? Normally, he would have just laid low. Now, he felt compassion for my struggle and wanted to help. The sincere prayers of our young teenagers are just blowing me away. Besides drawing closer to God, we’re drawing closer to one another. Because our format is so simple, we’re faithful to meet nearly every night. But it’s so simple, it hard to believe how much fruit it’s bearing. Yet, it is! Attitudes are changing. Walls are dropping. People are noticing differences. Imagine what God will do in us and through us when we’ve worshipped as a family for months and even years. Maybe our fruit will be a whole orchard for His glory!     
For those who aren’t in a family unit, I now use worship music to "prime the pump" during my private prayer time too.
Your turn. How do you worship God more effectively?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Guest Michelle Lim: Idea Sparking

Lisa here...I'm thrilled to host my craft partner, Michelle Lim, as our guest today! Her new writing resource, Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel, is available now at the My Book Therapy store: Idea Sparking. I started reading Idea Sparking on the plane home from ACFW. This is a fantastic resource for writers, especially if they're struggling with plot and conflict like I am. 
As a young girl I dreamed of being a gymnast like Mary Lou Retton, a skater like Tara Lipinski, and a singer like Amy Grant. Never in all of my dreaming did I ever imagine I would become a writer.

I did join gymnastics and learn to do walk overs on the beam. I even learned to ice skate backwards on a pond near my house. As for singing, I joined a group in college called Refiner’s Fire.

But all of those things were hobbies, they didn’t bring alive that passion in me to spend hours becoming the best.

Little did I know, the thing that I spent the most time on would become and important part of my second career after deciding to be an at home mom instead of an elementary teacher.

What did I spend hours of my childhood doing? Reading. Everything I could get my hands on. I journaled, wrote songs, wrote poems, devised better endings for a book in my mind.

God knew that love of print and story would become an important part of the passion I have for writing. All the ideas flowed in and began to pour out on the page.

Believe it or not, I’m a fiction writer. I write Romantic Suspense, but I learned in working with other writers that many are challenged by the fear of the blank page or the sag in the middle of their story.

Buy Idea Sparking
That’s when the idea for my book, Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, began to take shape in my mind. I hadn’t realized brainstorming was a gift. I thought everyone naturally brainstormed well.

Not so. In fact, some writers struggle so much that they take more time coming up with and plotting story ideas than they do to write the manuscript.

Idea Sparking is designed to help you learn to brainstorm in your own way. It provides strategies and a diagnostic tool to identify the problem and solve it. Anyone can be a brilliant brainstormer—you just have to learn some strategies to help with trouble spots.

From one writer who gave up the balance beam and ice skates to another, find what you love. Where do you spend your time? Pull ideas from your favorite things. Nothing is impossible if you take off the ice skates that don’t fit your purpose.

Yes, I still go skating from time to time, but I spend much of my time with my nose in a book or a manuscript, because that is how God created me.

Your Turn: What did you dream of becoming when you grew up? Are you living that dream, or has it changed into a new one? How are you living your dream now?

Michelle Lim is the author of the new book Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel. Also a romantic suspense author whose manuscripts have earned recognition in The Rattler Contest 2012, the Genesis Contest 2011, and the Frasier Contest in 2010. Michelle is the Brainstorm/Huddle Coach at My Book Therapy and serves as Vice President of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Learn more about her at www.thoughtsonplot.wordpress.com. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Friends and Success

Photo by kirsche22/stockxchng.com
By Beth K. Vogt

“The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.” 
~Bette Midler (1945-), American singer-songwriter & actress

We're writers. 
By definition, as writers we're hoping to achieve some measure of success along the writing road, right? 
But if you believe the words of Bette Midler -- who has accumulated accolades and awards to prove she's successful -- then success is going to cost us something.
What exactly?
Our relationships -- our friendships -- with other writers.
I couldn't disagree more with Ms. Midler.
Whenever I've had reason to celebrate something along the writing road, there has always been someone to "happy dance" with me.
Some of the MBT Ponderers -- celebrating together at ACFW
I can send an email to my writing buddies. Fast dial a few friends. Put a quick shout out on Facebook. Or show up at critique group and share it face to face with other writers. I've never had to go looking for someone to be happy for me. Quite the opposite. Sometimes I'm amazed by how I'm surrounded by other writers who want to celebrate my successes, both small and large.
Maybe I've managed to get a tough scene to say "Uncle." 
Or chopped a huge chunk of writer's block down into itty-bitty pieces.
Or pushed "Send" on a submission.
Or  signed on the dotted line with a publisher.
Or finished the galley edits for my debut novel.
The best part of all those successes is how my writing friends have been happy for me.
Now here's the flip-side of this experience: Do I take the time to be happy for others when they experience success? 
To be brutally honest, there are times I have to tell the green-eyed monster to go crawl in a hole where she belongs. Envying someone else's achievement is the quickest way to show up at their party and ruin all the fun. 
I made the decision early on my writing journey that I wanted to celebrate my friends' triumphs -- not diminish them by wishing they were mine. I want to be happy for my friends when they achieve something -- not be sad for myself. 

How have your friends celebrated your successes -- and how have you celebrated theirs?

Friday, October 12, 2012

God’s Protection

By Delores Topliff

God is love—bright, shining, and as constant as the sun. Satan is the opposite—malicious, dark, and filled with hatred—an enemy determined to kill, rob, and destroy.

I learned the difference years ago when college authorities scheduled one English class I taught in a Zoology building due to campus crowding. The classroom space was fine but hallways were lined with glass cages holding lizards, Gila monsters, and poisonous snakes. Male students intentionally rattled cages as they rushed down the hall making agitated snakes strike, eyes glittering, venom dripping down the glass, at females following behind. The boys laughed while the girls shrieked, “Make them stop.” I tried—but failed.

One Saturday my two young sons and I used the campus Laundromat which lacked a restroom. When my 4-year-old had an urgent need, we dashed across the lawn to the Zoology building’s facilities, forgetting all about snake cages in the hallway. Since the building was empty, my 4-year-old took the lead, feet pounding down the hall. My taller 6-year-old raced next, his curl-topped head high enough to create visible motion in front of the glass. Suddenly, SMACK—a wrist-thick ugly timber rattler struck hard aiming right for Andrew’s head, hate-filled eyes glittering, mashed fangs straining, hurting itself as venom dripped down the glass. My hair stood on end. I got cold chills. “Why,” I asked God, “does this snake feel such crazed desire to harm that it even hurts itself trying to harm my son?”

This answer came: “It can only fulfill its evil nature. It can’t do anything else. But remember—though you may see terrible evil near you, trusting Me provides full protection. Though evil strains to reach you, I am the thin glass between you and harm, keeping you safe.

Poisonous snakes? I still dislike them—even inside locked cages. Though we may see the enemy’s plans for destruction, I thank God for protective glass, knowing He stands between us and harm.

When or how have you learned to see evil but not fear it?
Delores Topliff
2011 Genesis Finalist


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

God has a dream--for you

By Jennie Atkins

God has given all of us a dream. A dream to write. To reach out to the world with a word of hope by using our fictional characters, intricate plots, and black moments. He wants us all to succeed. At times, it’s hard to imagine such great design. Like when the rejections come, when your critique partner tells you “sorry, it’s just not working for me”, or when the words won’t come and every sentence is an effort.

I read about an author who was tired of waiting and decided to self-publish, just so they could say they had a book published. But what if there next pitch would have landed a contract with a big publishing house? (I am not in any way putting down self-publishing. Instead, my intent is to encourage you to hang in there—see what God has in store for you.)

Being a writer is not easy, getting published for most of us takes many manuscripts, numerous ideas and rough drafts, and an ongoing fear of never measuring up to the publishing houses expectations.

But I encourage you today to never give up. I know I’ve written on this topic before, but after reading that person’s comments, I wondered . . . did God have a bigger plan for them? Like Abraham, did they so want the dream that they tried to rush the process? What if they were supposed to learn something in the journey?

Arthur Ashe quoted “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

Make your writing a journey, a voyage through the lives of your characters. Enjoy each leg of expedition, rejoice in the small steps, dance with the big ones, and learn from the hard ones.

Actually, I’m preaching to myself here, as my friends will attest to. I can be my own worst enemy. So remember you are not the only one second guessing the time you spend on the craft, the money poured out for conferences, or your ability to be published. I’m in the trenches with you!

Now it’s your turn. What has been the hardest thing you’ve encountered while writing?

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Expected Squeals of Joy...

The author, Teri Dawn Smith, is in the back row, center, wearing the red top & dark jacket.

By Teri Dawn Smith

Love often comes slathered with smiles and hugs, but I’ve found out recently that it can also come drenched with tears.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter, Sarah, took me to see my Ponderer friends for the first time since my aneurism.  Susan May Warren threw her annual My Book Therapy Pizza Party on one evening of the American Christian Fiction Writers conference, and the Ponderers came out in full force for a boot-stomping good time. Reba even pinned on a sheriff's badge, and patrolled the party making sure every one obeyed the law of having a good time.

Since I hadn’t seen my Ponderer friends since the nasty brain explosion in November of 2010, I expected hugs and squeals of joy.

And smiles. Lots of smiles.

What did I get?


And hugs. Plenty of hugs.

But even more tears.

At the end of the party, we took our officially required Ponderer picture, displayed above.  Afterwards we huddled together for prayer.  The Ponderers cried some more and thanked the Lord for my return to them.

 By the end of the prayer time, my daughter ended up wiping away tears.

Well, phooey on expected squeals of joy. I cried too!

Have you ever cried tears of joy? Or cried when you expected to laugh? I’d like to hear about it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wherefore Art Thou?

Happy Friday, y'all! Jenness here, ready to confess that one of my weaknesses when it comes to writing is setting. I want to get to the action, romance, fun dialogue, intense emotional...not describing where all this great stuff is happening. I can see it. Why can’t you?

I guess because you don’t live in my head. Since I’m very grateful for that fact, I suppose I should figure out how to describe things to you. To tell you the truth, when I’m writing, a lot of scenes take place on a shadowed stage with headless people. So when it comes to the second draft, I need to see things a little more clearly before I can help you. Here are some ways that could happen:

Write about a familiar setting. Bliss, my first co-authored book, was mostly set in my hometown. Some of the shops are real, the tree-lined road to the beach is real, the local deli subs truly are amazing, and I lived the whole cleaning-jobs-on-the-Island life. (I never actually met Granny, however, which I should probably be very grateful for, as well.) Setting-wise, this was the most fun book I’ve written. I could see things more clearly, and I got to share my love for a real-life place.

Keep a notebook. For those organized, school-supply lovers among us. Find magazine pictures—home d├ęcor, travel, etc.—that fit your story. Make sections in your notebook and keep it handy to refer to.

I don’t get many magazines, I’m not very organized, and my traveling budget is limited. Thank goodness for the internet! Millions of options there. Here are a few places to get started:

Pinterest. Yes, I’m addicted. I admit it. I haven’t gotten into posting much about my stories in there yet, but I plan to. Think about all the options. Your characters’ homes, their furniture, their city, their vehicles…all on a digital scrapbook. B&H started doing this for the Bloomfield series (read more about that here, and find the boards here), and one of my Garden Club character’s yard is taking shape as I run across pictures that just feel right. Seeing the other authors’ in the series post pictures from around the square, etc., helps me to see the town more fully in my head. The online version of the notebook.  

Youtube. Know where you want to place your story? Look it up on Youtube.com. You never know what you might find. Historical footage, festival fun, boring but helpful tours by moped…Who knows? It might spark a twist that surprises even you.

Home planning sites. There are many sites (like this one) that give you tons of blueprint options. My co-author and I are working on a trilogy revolving around a plantation. Which means we kinda need to figure out where everything’s at inside that big old house. Before we resort to drawing an undecipherable map, we can look for blueprints to base it on.  

Tripadvisor. For real-life settings, look up the city on tripadvisor.com. There you’ll see which restaurants are the favorite hang-outs, which hotels not to stay at, get ideas what to do and where to go, see snapshots (as opposed to promo pictures) of food and places, and read reviews which just might give you a feeling for local life.

Google Earth and Google Maps. Check out the former to get the lay of the land, see the buildings and terrain, etc. Use the latter to get more of a street view.  

Facebook. You've got friends all over. Use 'em! Ask, and I'm sure they'll be happy to tell you all about their neck of the woods. It's gotta be more fun than playing Farmville.

Your turn! How do you make the setting come alive for yourself and for your readers?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Friends For The Journey


Friends For The Journey

My friend and I went for a morning jog the other day and I was discouraged because of the lack of progress on my writing journey.  Its not where I planned to be by this time.  Like miles away! 

And if you didn’t know, planning should be my middle name.  Yep, my parents should have named me Alena “Planner” Auguste. 


When I get this way, I remember King David. 

Check out Psalm 42:5, King James Version, where King David asks himself, 

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?”

When he needed a friend, God gave him Jonathan.  

What do we do when we ourselves, or our friends are discouraged?  

My friends always seem to get a nudge to help me back on the write track (pun intended).

I’ve been traveling, so it took a little bit for an email, from one of my mentors to catch up to me, but when it did I had to sit and read it over and over.

Psalm 37:34 “Don't be impatient for the Lord to act. Travel steadily along His path. He will honor you, giving you the land.”

It was the reminder, I needed.  Keep going.

God is faithful.

He’s kind enough to give me friends and mentors who stand on the sidelines not allowing me to stop, but encourage me to keep going. Helping me to press on towards the finish.

Most of all, remember as you run this race, He is right beside you.  Whether you are crawling, walking, running or sprinting towards the finish.  The greatest friend of all is right beside you.

By the way, my friend Diane and I finished our run that day, despite almost 100 degree weather, stifling humidity and rolling hills.  Step by step, we finished.  Together. 

How about you?  How do you help your friends stay encouraged?


Alena Tauriainen

Monday, October 1, 2012

Walking God’s Path and Living His Plan

 By Pat Trainum writing as P. T. Bradley
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

God has a plan for each of us, a pathway for us to walk, and it doesn’t always include what we think it should.
That thought kept running through my mind as I drove the 550 miles back from Dallas last week. I've always believed God gifted me to be a writer. I’ve worked hard to improve my writing skills and gone from getting scores in the 50s and 60s in the Genesis contest to this year being a finalist. (Thank you, Susie May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Deep Thinker's Retreats, The Ponderers and my Imagine-That-Writers crit partners)

Since I never go into a contest thinking I’ll win, I wasn’t really disappointed when I didn’t. I’d said all along that I’d won when I became a finalist. And I meant it. Winning the Genesis wasn’t in God’s plan for me. And that’s the point. God has a plan. He will give us exceedingly abundantly more that we can think or ask, but it will be in His time frame, not ours. In the meantime, we have to do our part. We have to be ready.
I have a cross stitched piece on my wall: Success is that place in the road where preparation and opportunity meet. But too few people recognize it, because too often it comes disguised as hard work.

Let’s face it, sitting behind a computer, opening our veins and bleeding words on the page is hard work. A lot of those words are never seen by anyone other than our crit partners. That’s why it’s so important to know Who you are writing for and why.
If you’re writing for fame and fortune, you’ll probably never get either. But if you are writing to glorify the One who gave you the gift of writing, you’ll be able to handle the disappointments that will litter your road to publication.

So, that contest you entered and didn’t win, the editor or agent you didn’t get—don’t fret about it. It wasn’t in God’s plan for you, at least not right now. But it was His plan for someone else. Be happy for them. Your time will come.
Remember Psalm 34:4: Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. But also remember just 3 verses later the psalmist says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.”

What has God whispered in your ear this week?
Pat Trainum writing as P. T. Bradley
Winner 2012 Daphne du Maurier Unpub Inspirational Category

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write