Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
~ Hebrews 11:1 KJV
Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be a loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:8-14 WEB
2012 was . . . interesting. A lot of really good things happened (we bought a house! I made it into Round 2 of NaNo Virtuosos!), and a lot of really awful things happened (um . . . yeah . . . can’t really tell you a lot of that, because of sensitive family situations. Just keep us in your prayers.), and yet I still don’t understand all of these people I see posting on Facebook saying “good riddance!” to 2012.
I didn’t hate 2012. It was definitely NOT the best year ever, but some of the best things to ever happen in my life happened in 2012. They just also happened to accompanied by some of the worst things.
But if I hadn’t lived through them, I would not be the person I am today. I would not be as strong as I am today. I would not be ready to take 2013 by the . . . okay, I won’t say THAT, because my mother might read this post.
But 2013, I am ready for you. Because this year, I am not going to live my life based on the whims of people or politicians, of political correctness or polite company, or expectations or complications.
This year, I am going to be ME. I’m going to be the best me that I can, and that is a me pursuing God above all else, because God is the One who, when several years ago I laid all of my hopes and dreams before Him on the altar – including my then new-found love of writing – gave writing back to me and said “do this.”
Because even before being an American, a wife/daughter/granddaughter/cousin, or a writer (which is evidently engraved into my very soul), I am a child of God. And God is far higher and far more powerful than politicians, or people, or circumstances.
That is why, even though some terrible things happened in 2012, that I can say it was a good year. Because I have a good God that is still standing with me, and His promises never fail.
Not in the old year, and they will not in the new. Even if I can’t see how something will work out, God does. And He will guide me there.
. . . and that totally went in a tangent I was not expecting, but I think I really needed to say that!
What I really meant to say:
Since one of my New Year’s goals is to read the Bible daily, I want to extend an invitation to you!
Several years ago, my grandmother assembled a Read-The-Bible-Through-In-A-Year plan. It averages out to approximately three chapters per day. (And I have resolved that I will make a PDF version of that plan by the end of the week so that it can be printed out.)
I know of at least a few people who follow this blog that have made “reading the Bible daily” part of their goals for 2013.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to read the Bible from cover-to-cover, whether it was in a year or not, would you like to join me in reading it THIS year?
Ideally, I want to post once a week and give my thoughts, impressions, and opinions on that week’s readings. This is also to motivate myself, though, because even though I’ve read the Bible through three times in my life, I haven’t actively studied it, and that’s what I want (need) to do!
I’ll mostly be reading in the New King James version, but for blog posts I’ll be referring to the World English Bible (WEB) translation, available (completely free and in the public domain!) here.
The WEB does include what is known as the Apocryphal books listed in the books of the Bible (Tobit – 4 Maccabees – these are Jewish books), and those will not be included in this reading-through-the-Bible plan. I do want to read them one day, but since I was raised in Protestant denominations, I haven’t been taught that they were a part of the divinely inspired Word of God (though the Roman Catholic church includes them). (There will be more discussion about this later.)
So, please come along for the ride with me! I promise that I have a very unique perspective on certain things, so this trip through the Bible will not be boring!
Otherwise, I believe you can still sign up through the end of Jan 1 for Health Month, if you want some encouragement for becoming healthy(ier) in the New Year! Don’t forget to join my WriteMeHealthy team!
Like I said in the title . . . where did July go? I can’t believe that it’s already passed, and that we’ve been in our new house for a month now! I also can’t believe the shambles the house is still in >_<.
I have not made the progress I hoped for in any of my goals this month, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking because of it.
When I started this blog, it was because I had a personal blog (that has since fallen by the wayside) but I had so many writing things I wanted to talk about! And I still do – I mean, seriously, I’ve been blogging for a little over a year here and I’ve done over 400 posts. That’s almost a post per day. Most of them writing related.
My pitfall is this – I talk a lot about writing. So much so, that i actually forget to write a lot.
Of course, there are other things going on – I also got caught up in the platform building side of things, and I would set writing aside to do that instead. And reading. I’ve done so little reading compared to what I used to do all the time . . .
And then there’s . . . the family stuff.
I can’t go into a lot, to respect the privacy that they’ve requested, so I’ll just say this – there is someone in the family who has not been a very supportive (or even nice) person who is facing a life and death situation, and is not willing to do what needs to be done to live a good-quality life. This person is also in a position to make the lives of people I love dearly miserable, and is placing the family in a financially straining situation.
There’s another person who isn’t facing the health-situation, but is only making the situation worse by trying to be controlling and manipulative.
I am the one holding people together when everything falls apart – which has been happening on at least a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.
I am an introvert. A severe introvert. When we had a blizzard (yes, an actual blizzard – as in 3 ft of snow in 24 hours) a few years back and were snowed in for 4 days because the city of Tulsa couldn’t figure out that no, the construction crews couldn’t keep fixing the actual pavement, but they could be moving snow, I was HAPPY. I loved the fact that I didn’t have to leave the house for 4 days! I had my husband, my cat, plenty of food, internet access, and a snow shovel if I really needed to get anywhere. It was like a vacation!
So when I have to reach inside and find the strength to hold my family together, it leaves me exhausted.
It’s very hard for me to write when I’m exhausted. I can write during any other time (just ask my Wrimo’s – during our six-hour marathon write-in last November, I was juggling rude and hurtful phone calls from one of the said problem people above and STILL managed to write 10,000 words through some very intense frustration and anger) – angry, sad, bored. But complete and utter exhaustion . . .
And complete and utter exhaustion is what I’m living in right now. I’m getting done what I have to for survival and the minimum of sanity.
That said, I’m realizing that I have to make some changes. Somehow, I have to be able to do my writing and still be there for my family.
I’ve completed a year of my Sunday Devotionals now. And I’m going to take a break from them. Between writing the devotionals, and my Sunday responsibilities at church (I am a pastor, too, for those of you who don’t know that yet), I’ve been wearing myself thin on the spiritual side too. I need some time to recharge. So, there will be no more devotionals through at least November, and only at Christmas time if I feel like it, because I absolutely love Christmas. After that, I’ll re-evaluate and see where I feel God is leading in that area.
So, there’s a few steps I’m going to take:
1. Less blogging, including putting the devotionals on hiatus, and go through my list to see who I’m following blogs for, because I’m overwhelmed on that front. I’m going to try for 2-3 blog posts a week, rather than 4-5. I’m also going to get rid of blogs that I find myself skipping over repeatedly.
2. Get a writing schedule in place – where I sit down at the computer and write. Not read fanfiction (yes, it’s my guilty pleasure) instead of writing, not blog instead of writing, and not talk on the phone instead of writing. Just an hour or two a day where I turn off my phone, put on headphones, and WRITE. There’s another Camp NaNoWriMo session in August, and my goal is to remember why writing is fun.
3. Take time to read – both my Bible, and FUN reading. I love reading as much as I love writing, and it helps me stay excited about writing, so it’s no wonder I’ve been burned out. And fun reading means ones I’m not being pressured to review, unless it’s a book that I really want to read anyway.
I’m still going to keep up with #writemehealthy, because that’s good for me. We’ll see how I’m doing when the next round of #writemotivation is up. It’s not that I don’t want to do it . . . but I think I just need a break.
So, on to my #writemotivation goal wrap-up for July . . .
1 Get devotional book drafted, start polishing.
Still pretty much at the same point that I was before, except I did find a public-domain Bible translation in modern-day English that I can use for commercial purposes. So we’re one step closer!
2. Work on Blood of Trees, to be ready to pitch in October.
hm, yeah. This is why I need a schedule.
3. Write at least 500 words a day on Undoing.
I’ve just decided to save this for NaNo this year.
Now, for my own #writemehealthy goals:
1. To help my grandmother get a good back-up supply of the foods she needs to stay healthy (she’s on a pretty strict diet), since grandpa is proving unreliable in keeping up with it.
Getting this one under control!
1. To get at least one massage before the end of this round.
I need to call my friend Sarah and see if she’s still willing to come to my house and give me a massage.
2. To read at least one book about time management.
Any one have any good recommendations?
1. Get in the habit of drinking 8 glasses of water a day (again). I was very good about this, until a couple of months ago.
Yeah, still working on this. Thank you to everyone for your helpful comments last time! I will be attempting to implement some as soon as I find my coupon for a free box of True Lemon. And as long as walmart has one of the other flavors. Because I don’t like lemon in my water.
2. Do a full body cleanse at some point in this experience.
3. Get in the habit of working out at least twice a week.
but . . . . but . . . it’s so stinkin’ HOT! I don’ wanna workout . . .
But you remain in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from you have learned them. From infancy, you have known the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I command you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables. But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry.
~ 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 WEB (World English Bible)
Every person has a calling, whether or not you follow through on it.
Every person is created to know the Creator – to become more and more like Him, whether you fulfill that purpose or not.
No matter how much we mess up, how many mistakes we make, the original purpose God placed within us is still there – and it’s never too late to come back to it.
That’s the beauty of mercy and grace.
Our mistakes are our testimony. They temper us, but only when we surrender them to God. When we let Him take them and redeem them, so that they can become our ministry.
To minister is to be of service. It is to be a servant, and any Christian who thinks that they are in this for their own gain is sadly mistaken.
As much as we are children of God (Romans 8:14-16), we are also soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3-4) and servants (Ephesians 6:6) of God.
Children are provided with all their needs, but soldiers and servants willingly set aside those needs for the benefit of others (2 Corinthians 8:9-15).
As much as God has already given us, and with everything that He longs to give us, the least we can do is fulfill our ministry – our service – in this world.
How are you going to fulfill your ministry?
- Be Diligent – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
~ 2 Timothy 2:14-15 KJV
In the New King James Version, rather than King James, the phrase “study to shew [show] thyself approved unto God” is “be diligent to present yourself approved unto God”.
The life of faith, and the life of writing, is like a test. Honestly, it is a test.
To pass the test, you have to study the material. As a Christian, this means reading the Bible, praying continually, and fellowship with other Christians. As a writer, it means writing continually, improving our craft through input from other writers, reading books on writing, and taking classes and workshops.
If you are passionate about something, you have an obligation to know all the ins-and-outs of it, so that when someone asks you a question, you are able to answer them – with truth.
- No Corrupt Word – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
- The Word – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
- Write the Vision – Sunday Devotional (blackanddarknight.wordpress.com)
Let no corrupt communications proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
~ Ephesians 4:29-30 KJV
Edify (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) – to instruct and improve the mind in knowledge generally, and particularly in moral and religious knowledge, in faith and holiness.
As a Christian, how does one write the gory, the painful, the tragic? We authors intentionally mess with emotions – those of our characters, those of our readers, and those of our own. Can this really be edifying to the reader?
And yet . . . the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God, is filled with examples. The book of Judges, and even 1st and 2nd Chronicles, and all the Prophets are filled with gore and promiscuity. The Psalms will toy with your emotions like nothing else – I’m convinced that David went through some severe bouts of depression.
But none of it is meaningless – and it all goes to show a bigger picture. The bigger picture of the amazing love God has for every person on this earth.
That is what our writing is supposed to do, as well.
Even if there are tough subjects that we deal with, there should always be hope infused to every story.
Because life, without hope . . . well, what is it worth?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
~ John 1:1-15 KJV
There is one nightmare that every writer looking to be published has to face – writing a pitch and a synopsis.
How on earth do you condense your story down into two-to-three sentences, and then less than 10 pages? Or sometimes as few as a couple of pages?
And yet, in the Bible, John condenses the entirety of the Triune Godhead into a few verses, along with the important points of the Gospel message.
As a writer, I have no choice but to greatly admire that.
The Bible is always spoken of as a guide for living – but it is also one of the greatest pieces of literature to ever exist. What have you learned about writing when reading the Scriptures? Have you even considered it before?
And if John can condense all of that, surely we can condense our novels into a synopsis!
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit unto the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I gi e three, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. IF though therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord they God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus said unto him, it is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. ~ Luke 4:1-13 KJV
The written word is the most permanent record mankind has.
Oral tradition is a beautiful thing, but human memory is so fallible.
So we write – so that future generations can read and understand our very thoughts, emotions, and actions.
The accuracy of the Word of God is proven – the Dead Sea Scrolls contained the book of Isaiah word for word as it is in the Bible today, among others.
The written word is also used as evidence – everything spoken in court is written down, certain documents must always be signed.
Satan didn’t take this into account when he twisted the 91st Psalm as he tempted Jesus to jump from the temple.
The Bible is the greatest witness of all – no other book has affected the world so, no other book ever will.
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables that he may run that readeth it, for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
~ Habbakkuk 2:1-3 KJV
The writing life involves a lot of patience – the same with the Christian life when you’re pursuing your relationship with God.
Have you ever asked God for something? There are so many times in my life, even more than when the answer is “yes” or “no” that it’s simply “wait”.
Waiting is hard. I hated what people would say – that waiting produces patience and character. In my experience, it produces a lot of whiners!
When Someone asks you to wait, there is an amazing amount of trust involved. We live in a world where everyone is encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient – so when God says wait, it means we have to set aside our own experiences and judgment and trust that He knows what lies before us.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. ~ Joel 2:28-29
Is there any greater dreamer than a writer?
I’m not demeaning anyone’s dreams – each one is unique to every person, whether it is to see different lands, to be a mother, or to write a best-selling novel. Perhaps it’s all of those.
But we writers have HUGE dreams, because for every wildly successful author, there are so many that don’t make it.
So what keeps us going?
Well, in my case, it’s the realization that I’m not simply telling stories – I’m being a witness. If I don’t tell the stories in my head, no one will. There is no one else who can do it the same way that I can.
I’ll be honest – not every story I write has a Christian theme to it. Blood of Trees doesn’t, but it deals more with a struggle I went through when I was younger – finding my place in a world where I wasn’t entirely sure that I was ever supposed to exist.
But God knows all – He knew the mistakes that were going to be made that affected my existence, and He put a dream and a purpose into my life anyway.
No matter what – your age, your past, your present, and even your future – God has given you a purpose, and dreams and visions according to that purpose.
He has given you access to His very Spirit to enable those dreams.
So what are you (what am I) waiting for?
Why do we writers have the need to write?
If you’re trying to be a writer, and you think it’s all fun and games on the computer, I have some news for you.
Writing is not easy. It’s a commitment you make because there are stories inside your heard and your mind that will not leave you alone until you get them out on paper.
We writers are usually very solitary creatures – our characters give us all (if not more than) the socialization that we need, though we are still aware that we’re not actually communing with real people. And because of that, we feel the urge to leave something behind.
IF we can’t make our mark on the world now, then we’ll make certain that we’ll be able to one day – even if it’s years after we’ve left the earth.
We may write to quiet our souls, but record it for those to come.
So write. But write with Him.
The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand forever.
~ Isaiah 40:8 KJV
Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
And he [Isaiah] said, Hear ye now, O house of David;
is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign;
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
~ Isaiah 7:10-14 KJV
As a fantasy writer, I like to consider the “what-if’s?” of a situation. Kathy Tyers, a long-time favorite author of mine recently did a guest post on the Speculative Faith blog. In it, she describes some of the “what-if” behind her ideas for her Firebird series.
For her, it all hinged on what if Mary said no when Gabriel asked her to carry the Christ Child?
But let’s go back a bit further – back to when the promise was made. That one little phrase - ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God.
How many times does God ask us to make our own destiny? How many times does He ask us what we desire, and we say “But God . . . surely You wouldn’t do that!”
Then, so there is no room for doubt, He says, “Just watch what I can do.”