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Sunday, February 26, 2006

God Wants Your Success More Than You!

Ok, it's been 2 weeks since I've posted. Kept meaning to come back and had a lot of thoughts to share. One thing that's been hitting me again and again recently is that God WANTS us to succeed. He's pulling for us. He DESIRES our success. And are you ready for this? He desires it MORE than we do!

Isn't that amazing? God can not only make our dreams come true, but He WANTS to! And as much as we crave our dreams and our desires, it doesn't even come close to how much God wants FOR us.

We just need to live every day in faith and not fear. We need to believe it WILL happen rather than fearing it won't. God's promised it to us. And He's faithful to fulfill those promises, just as His Word says.

Read God's Word.
Believe God's Word.
Speak God's Word.
Be diligent and patient.

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." If you meditate and dwell on His promises, your heart will believe it, and you'll see it!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Unearthing Nuggets of Gold

Well, I'm pretty much snowed in tonight with the winter storm hitting the area. They're predicting anywhere from 6-23". Wowzers! When winter finally decides to arrive, it arrives in grand style! It's about time we got a decent amount of some of that white stuff this season.

Perfect time for writing.

Or in my case, editing and going through saved files of stored research only to find information I'd researched that I forgot I had! One of my books is an historical, with at least 3 books planned for the series. To write them, I had to research the 1600's and 1700's in what became the colony of Delaware around 1770. The notes I'd saved specified a famous historical ship that sailed from Sweden and brought settlers who became colonists in New Sweden, as this area was called during that time. I even have a ship's log with passenger names and trades, as well as the land division of the northernmost county into "hundreds" for every 100 square miles of land.

Completely forgot it was there. Sometimes I wonder if we're like that with God's word. We read it, digest it, highlight it, take notes, then store it away and forget the important information stored within its pages. Now, just like I have to go back and figure out if anything can be used in the book I've already written or if it should be incorporated in future books in the series...I should also go back and refresh my mind on the messages God has for me.

Snowstorms. Perfect time to reflect and refresh.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Beating the Past!

I sang for the first time this morning on the Worship Team at church. First time at this church, anyway. I've only been attending for about 2 years, with 5 previous churches in my repertoire. At the 3 previous, I was a member of the choir and sang solos at one of them. So, I'm familiar with being on stage. Put me in the limelight, and I love it. Ham it up real good!

Some have said it's why I'm a writer. Even as a child, I loved being in the spotlight, always telling stories or overly dramatizing the retelling of an event that happened. Experiences were always so much more interesting when I told them! *g* Of course, some of that desire to impress stemmed from moving 9 times by the time I was 14 years old. Never had time to make many real friends, so I always tried doubly hard to be accepted through my flare for dramatics.

Wasn't until recent years that I realized I've been struggling with a self-esteem issue and feelings of inadequacy for years. Unaware of it, I continued with life as normal. People were drawn to me, had fun when they were around me, thanked me for making them smile. How could there be a problem?

But, there was. And I'm still dealing with it.

Thank God for a solid Bible-based church like the one where I attend now. So far this year, the focus of the messages from the pulpit have been on personal anointing, purpose, self-worth, kingdom seeds within and being created for influence. Considering my inner struggle and constant battle, these messages went straight to my heart.

I'll separate the highlights into more than one message so this one doesn't get too long. But, to start, the focus was on anointing and how we each have it on our lives. The anointing flows through us and touches everything we touch, everyone we touch. It's our responsibility to pass on that anointing to others, to teach them what we've been taught so that when we pass from this life, the anoninting doesn't die with us in the grave.

There is also a divine purpose laid out for our lives. We have been strategically placed where we are to have an impact. Our abilities and talents and wisdom have been given to us so we can be *good* at what we do. We have been called to change society, not be changed by it. As a writer, that means getting the story written that has been placed on your heart so the words can touch other lives. It also means establishing relationships with other writers, so you can share your wisdom and knowledge and experience to guide them as they embark on their own writing journey.

For someone like me who was told at a very impressionable age that I couldn't possibly have any insight or wisdom to share with anyone older than I was because I hadn't lived enough of life to have any experience...the idea that I have a purpose and have been placed where I am with the abilities I have to make an impact is a refreshing change of pace.

I pray I don't squander any of it!

Created for Influence!

One of the best messages in this series stated that we were designed to be an influence. We are created to have an impact. Influence is hard-wired into our human condition. Whether we invent the future or allow the future to invent us, influence will in one way or another will flow from our lives.

One point that stood out to me was that we are not created to be ignored. It doesn't feel good when we're in a relationship or a friendship, and the other person ignores us. It hurts when we're in a group and our opinions or insight isn't valued. But rather than sit back in silence and bitterness because of someone else's oversight, stand firm in the knowledge that you're not created to be left on the outside looking in. You're not intended to be discarded.

As writers, we often lead a very solitary existence. We spend hours locked into our writing space, pouring out our stories to meet a deadline of some sort. It could be from an editor, an agent, a mentor, a critique partner, or even from ourselves. But even though it's a calling, there are times when we need to step out of that bubble and explore the rest of our sphere of influence.

In recent years, the invention of the Internet opened up the world to millions in just seconds. Web sites appeared by the thousands. Stories were told and people all over the world were reading them. And then came the blog. A place where you can share your thoughts and engage in a random stream of conscious about any given topic. Some more industrious bloggers have a specific focus to their blogs and each post advances or centers around that focus. Maybe someday I'll get around to that, but for now, I'll leave you to wander the crazy and mixed up trail of my internal ponderings.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Spheres of influence. We all have one. Our job is to fill it. Real success will come when we build and grow into our own sphere. We can't be jealous of someone else's sphere. It's not ours. And ours is much bigger than we think, so we have more than enough opportunity for success and achievement right where we are. We don't need to borrow trouble by trying to step into someone else's sphere. Our sphere is our niche.

And it's more than just a one-time deal. It's a lifetime process. It requires consistent hard work and effort. In order to sustain influence, we have to be willing to learn and grow and be taught. We have to increase our knowledge and seek guidance from others who have expanded their own spheres. If we look at those who have gone before us, we'll see that their spheres have grown because they didn't allow their past or other people's opinions to stop them from engaging the future.

The measure of influence we have is not defined by what other people think of us, but by how much people defer what we have to say or teach when they have a decision to make. As writers, this is measured by the message in our stories or writings. We can't define our success by how many books we've sold or how many readers we have or the number of zeros in our checks and contracts. We define successful influence when the message in our writing is ingested and processed and helps our readers reach a positive decision in their lives.

Once that success is attained, it must then be carefully invested. We can't simply sit back and rest on our laurels as the reports of success arrive on our doorstep or in our inbox. We need to take that success and establish relationships with those we've influenced. We can best maintain our influence through relationships and not politics. We can't get caught up in our level of success. We need to continue to touch lives.

In ACFW, a fantastic organization for Christian fiction writers, that's a primary aspect that has stood out to me from the start. No matter how successful any author is, we're all on the same playing field of God's world. We all have our zone and some zones cross others. But, we're all there to help each other reach the ultimate goal of spreading God's word.

You just never know where your sphere will take you or who it will grow to include. I've been amazed at the people I've met and the emails I've exchanged from people all over the world. The more active you are in your sphere, the further your influence reaches. Set forth with the expectation that you're going to succeed and prepare for what you're going to do when it happens.

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." Grab onto that hope and that future. Influence is about forward motion. God spoke to me today and said the forward motion can't happen if I don't put the sphere in gear. I hope you do as well.

You Are Worth It!

Another message really hammered the topic of self-worth. The world today specializes in demeaning you, making you feel insignificant, trying to stop you from achieving the purpose God has for your life. Instead, the world exalts the self-serving individuals and celebrates their achievements. But for every 100 of those, there is 1 in God's kingdom impacting more lives than the ones impacting by those 100. And it only takes 1.

As I mentioned above, I've struggled for years with self-worth. Still do, in fact. But, as it was pointed out, I can't depend on any person to have my worth needs met. My worth can't depend on what the world tells me, but on what God tells me. My life might be the culmination of all I've done, but my worth is in God. I know it's time to lay aside the pity party and claim what god has for me. I need to leave the past behind and cleave to the promises in His Word. When I can do that, I'll conquer the giants in my life.

We all have giants and they'll hit just the right spot to discourage us. It's time to know and recognize our purpose and go for it. Security and feelings of worth come from knowing that purpose and pursuing it. When we do that, God will fight our battles for us. Whether those battles be fear of rejection slips, belief that we can't finish the books we've started, wondering if our story has a place in the market for which we're writing it, inadequacy around other authors who have jumped those hurdles ahead of us, writer's block, or any number of other issues.

Writers have a story to tell. It needs to be written. Fill your muddy pitcher of past attempts with God's word, and the mud will be gone, replaced with the clear truth of God's promises. Like so many others, I'm sure, I need to stop wallowing in my mud pit and stand tall. I need to stop coming up with excuses and succumbing to distractions, and get those stories done!

And when I have that accomplished...I move on to the next story, and the next story, and the next story...well, you get the picture. *g*

It's Planting Season

And the final message I'll cover that was shared pertained to kingdom seeds that are planted within each one of us. We need to stop dwelling on the old and start focusing on the new that is going to come into our lives. We each hold a seed or many seeds in our hands, but they need to be planted if they're going to grow.

As a writer, that means planting myself in my seat and watering the story I've begun on my computer. It means spending time tending to it, nurturing it, removing the weeds, giving it room to grow. Sometimes, it might need its location or root system changed so it gets more sunlight. I like to think of this as changing the course of the story to receive more "Son" light, more inspiration from God. And when I'm stuck, God uses what is troubling me to help me grow as a writer.

No matter how I feel about my own abilities...and when I look at multi-published authors or authors who have sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their books, feelings of inadequacy creep in...God has a plan. He can use what appears insignificant in the eyes of the world to become significant. There is no limit to what can be achieved if you don't care who gets the credit. It all belongs to God anyway, and when you're willing to step out of your comfort zone, God will help you have a large impact.

There are dormant seeds in each one of us, ready for the rain and the nourishment and the TLC to help them grow. Plant them. Care for them. You haven't seen anything yet!