Monday, June 29, 2015

Done Nothing Wrong

My poor little car.

It was sitting in its parking place, minding its own business but ready and waiting for the next time we needed it when BAM!

A family truck rolled downhill from the barn, sideswiped a tractor, took out a porch post and took a bite out of my car.

My poor car.
It had done nothing wrong.
It wasn’t even in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was exactly where it was supposed to be, doing what it was supposed to be doing. But it didn’t matter. It was still knocked out.

While still down for the count, still right where it was supposed to be, waiting to be back in service, insult was added to injury. The back window shattered. We don’t know how or why. It’s happened before here. Once when a rock was thrown from the mower and once from thermal shifts in the winter. But this time there was no way a rock shattered the window—the is shielded from rocks by they deck. There wasn’t any huge thermal shift in the temperature. Sure, it cooled down a LOT after being hot, but it doesn’t seem like it’d be enough to cause it to shatter. Still, the window is shattered.

I’ve seen this happen to people. They’re exactly where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to be doing and BAM! They’re knocked down and put out of service. Then, while they’re waiting and mending, they’re kicked from behind. Broken even more.

My heart cries for them. Why Lord? They were in Your will, doing exactly what You gave them to do. Why did all this happen? Wasn’t it enough they were hit the first time? Did they have to have that final blow?

As people we see the damage of the here and now. We see the seemingly unnecessary and unfair events and injuries and we want to shake our fist and rant. But God’s ways aren’t ours. He sees the big picture and knows.

'For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'  Jeremiah 29:11 NAS

I’ve learned as I’ve watched this happen time and time again. Months, maybe years later, I’ll see the fruit of their time spent waiting and healing. Their roots will be deeper and the fruit of their lives will be sweeter and more plentiful.

When you see someone slammed by life, broken and knocked out of service for a time, stand by and lift them up in prayer. Pray that they don’t become discouraged but that their faith will become stronger through this time, that their roots will grow deeper and their fruit sweeter.

God knows what He’s doing. Trust Him and pray for them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Waiting on Blueberries and Prayers

A few days ago my son told me that the blueberries were ripe so I ran out to pick them, except they weren’t ripe. Each time he came in from being near the blueberry bushes he made sure to tell me they were ready but those times I wasn’t able to run out and check them, but I wondered if I was missing them. Again this morning he told me, stressing that the birds were getting them, so I dropped what I was doing and ran out with a container, ready to pick.

Guess what.

They weren’t ripe. Oh, they looked ripe at first and second glance, but they didn’t drop into my hand like I expected. I pulled it with my thumb a little harder. When it rolled into my palm I saw it wasn’t as ripe as I thought. Shrugging, I popped it into my mouth, eager for the soft sweetness. It had a bit of a crunch and wasn’t sweet. Unripe and not near as good as it would’ve been if I’d waited a day or two.

Unworried I moved on to another dark blueberry. When it didn’t roll into my hand with the gentle pressure I know ripe berries require I stopped and really looked. Its top, near the stem, had the reddish tinge of an unripe berry. With the tang of the last berry still in my mouth I left it hanging on the stem. A dozen unripe berries later I heard the quiet whisper in my soul.

Unripe blueberries are like unripe prayers.

If you press the issue and take a prayer before it’s time, you may find it to be hard and on the bitter side. It wasn’t God’s timing.

So how do you know when a prayer is ripe? Maybe the same way you know when a blueberry is ripe. If it rolls into your hand easily, without tugging, it’s ready. If you have to tug maybe it’s not ready. God will release it from its stem when its time.

Don’t tug on blueberries or prayers. Check them, expect them, but wait until they’re ripe. God’s timing is best.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Feeling the Fog

Fog is an amazing thing. It captures my attention and quiets my mind and soul.

Yesterday, on Facebook, I posted a picture like this and asked my friends how fog affects them. Some said it quieted them and a couple commented on driving in it and how difficult it is. As I thought about that it made me think about my Christian walk…

Often when the outside world is fuzzed out and not in sharp focus my heart and mind are quieter, more at peace than when everything in my world is easily seen. That fog tends to insulate me from all the goings-on around me. I know it’s still all there and happening but it’s not right in my face. I like that. It’s soothing.

Then there are the times I feel like I’m living in a fog bank and can’t see anything at all. Sound and light are muted and I feel isolated from everyone and everything, even though I know they’re very close by. Like a foggy day, I find I reflect more and think about deeper life things that I’m often too busy to bother with.

While I like the reflection and peace the fog often brings, I tend to get disoriented and lost easily when I’m feeling like I’m living in a fog bank. And when I try to move forward it’s hard. I want to go my usual speed and hurry along but have to slow down. Sometimes the fog feels so thick I have to feel my way along. That makes me hold on to my Father’s hand tighter, relying on His vision and guidance. And that’s a good thing! It’s uncomfortable, often scary, and can make me chomp at the bit because I like to move fast and get there—but holding onto God and needing HIS guidance is good!

Maybe that’s one reason why He sends the fog our way sometimes.

So tell me, what comforts you when the fog descends on your life?

Not my Facebook friend? I'd love to be friends there!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Cookie for Your Thoughts

One of my favorites...

Sometimes, a cookie makes everything better.
At least a little.

So tell me, what do you do when your moment gets unpleasant?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Blogging Workshop

Coming to a location near you...
if you live in Southern Illinois or thereabouts.  ;-)

Date: Saturday, March 14, 2015. 
Time: 10-2ish 

Part One:
Blogging Basics--the who, what, where, when, why, and how.

  • What exactly is a blog? (It's not just a blog!)
  • Do you need a blog? 
  • Why do you need one anyway?
  • Who's your audience?
  • What do you write about?
  • Where do you blog?
  • How do you do it?

Part two: 
Build a Blog! Hands on building, not just theory. 
(Bring your computer! Internet provided.)
Time: 12-2ish

Cost: FREE! (lunch details coming)

Where: 1522 North Main, Benton, IL. (The old True Value building on Rt. 37, on the north side of town.)

Feeling called to write? Want to learn some basics that will help your writing and lay a foundation you can build on? Blogging is more than it first seems but it doesn't have to a dizzying, scary ride. 

I've taught blogging and platform classes several times, online and at small conferences. If you're interested in joining us at the workshop or have questions, let me know. I'd LOVE to see you there!! 

Everyone is welcome, and feel free to share this with friends!! :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

I've Missed You

Have you returned somewhere after being gone a real long time? You know that feeling of hesitancy? Nervousness? Even a touch of fear mixed in with the anticipation… Will they remember me? Will they still like me? Have our lives moved on so much that I won’t fit in or that we won’t connect like we used to?

That’s how I’m feeling.
I’ve been gone a long time. I never dreamed I would be gone…silent…for so long. During that time a lot of water has gone under the bridge (yes, a cliché. Forgive me?). We’ve both changed, grown. But friendships can survive time and distance. I hope ours can too.

I’ve missed you.

I’ve come to visit with you often, but like Zacharias, nothing came out when I opened my mouth, set my fingers to keyboard. There was so much I wanted to say. So much to tell you, but it was all too fresh. Too raw in my heart and mind. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know how to start. So I’d leave the keyboard, the blank page disappearing into the fog I was walking through. But I never forgot you. I often thought of you, prayed for you, my friends.

But now it’s time.
The burning in me is greater than the hesitancy, the nervousness, and the fear. I’ve remembered why I came here... Why I write.

And obedience leads to joy.
I can feel it returning even now. Joy welling up, clogging my throat and filling my eyes…

And now that I’ve started, the words are coming fast. Crowding, anxious to catch up with you.

I know I’ve changed over the time. My thoughts, my actions, my voice. Age and experience do that to us. But inside I’m still me. And I bet you’re still you, changed but still you.

Cookie, one of our newest additions to the family.
Remember the old nursery rhyme… Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? Like the cat, I feel like I’ve been to London to visit the queen…only I’ve seen so much more than the queen. LoL. Family, fairs, fun. Mom-stuff, monkey-stuff, mail-stuff. More change than I ever, EVER would’ve guessed. But through it all: God’s presence and faithfulness. Always. In all circumstances and all situations.

And now? Now I manage a shipping warehouse. I have a wonderful, God-given job that I love. My boys go to the warehouse with me everyday and are able to finish their homeschooling even though I work full-time. The family is constantly in-and-out of the warehouse, visiting, working, eating lunch, hanging out. It’s wonderful. It’s like having my cake and eating it too. Something I’ve always enjoyed. ::grin::

So tell me, what have you been up to? What’s new in your world?
I’ve missed you.

Monday, November 03, 2014

10 Ways Introverted Writers Can Handle Marketing Their Books

Today I'd like to introduce you to Zoe M. McCarthy, one of my accountability partners and someone who has amazed me with all she does as she systematically plans her work and works her plan. Her debut novel, Calculated Risk, comes out this month and here she's sharing some secrets on how she's dealing with the marketing as an introvert.

I’m a writer not a promoter. When writing, I do little socializing. I research my books on the Internet. My agent is happy to correspond through email. I even got contracted through email.

So, how do I become a marketer and face live people, saying clever things?

We introverts can market our books as well as our extroverted friends. Click to tweet.

Introverts get their energy from within, not from other people like extroverts do.

So, all the interacting introverts must do to promote their books siphons their fuel.

Here are 10 ways I handled marketing activities.

Approaching Experts for Help

Way 1 - Talking to experts. First, I always researched the subject on the Internet. When I knew terminology and what I was asking about, I wasn’t as intimidated to talk to experts. This helped in calling about newspaper ads, booking a signing, and ordering promotional materials.

Way 2 - Ordering Promotional Materials. I used the “chat now” option when ordering bookmarks, posters, etc. After written exchanges with the expert, I got comfortable with the person. Then when things got complicated, I was ready to communicate in a more efficient manner – a telephone call!

Way 3 - Talking on the Phone. Before I called newspaper reps or bookstore managers, I made a cheat sheet. I wrote my own name and phone number, the name of the company and contact person, the title of my book, any dates I was considering, all my questions, and anything I might trip on. Just writing it calmed me.

Way 4 - Calling on Fellow Authors. I joined several author groups and participated through emails and Facebook. We help each other. Some are veterans at marketing activities. They share what they’ve learned and field questions. It’s much easier to ask my questions of a friend, even a cyber friend, than a stranger.

Way 5Finding the Energy. I tackle visits and phone calls in the morning. Because I lose energy quickly in interacting with others, I need to be well rested. I also make time to pray.

Way 6Using the Internet. I belong to a Yahoo group of authors with the publisher of Calculated Risk. They organize group ads published in a popular magazine. They also hold monthly Facebook meet-the-author parties with readers. I haven’t done a blog tour, but I accepted invitations to post on several blogs, all through relationships with online writer groups.

Being The Focus Of Promotional Events

Way 7Getting the Right Helpers. For my local book launch party, I enlisted two helpers who are active in church and the community and know many people. They amazed me when I listed the people I needed to contact. Each took turns saying, “I’ll do that.” Helpers like these are an introvert’s dream.

Way 8Interacting from a Distance. For promotional exposure, it’s easier for me to give a prepared talk from a podium than to mingle in social events. I know numerous introverts who are energetic speakers, but flee from circulating with attendees afterward. I lead writing workshops and speak at spiritual retreats. It’s dining with the participants that’s hard for me. But the more I do it the easier it is.

Way 9Role Playing to Interact. Many actors are introverts. After dress- as-your-character dinners at conferences, I learned it’s easier to promote my character than me. Others concentrate on the costume and the character, and less on me. So, I’ll wear my Cisney marketing rep costume to signings and my launch party.

Way 10Giving Yourself a Break. Radio and TV interviews can be effective to promote books. Even with prepared answers, I’d be terrified interviewers might ask unscheduled questions. The clever answers would occur to me ten minutes after the interview’s end. I gave myself permission to avoid such torture. I compensate by signing up for as many written interviews as I can.

My marketing attempts might be ineffective, but it won’t be because I’m an introvert.

What ways do you other introverts handle marketing your books?

Zoe M. McCarthy believes the little known fact that opposites distract. Thus, she spins inspirational contemporary romances entangling extreme opposites. Her tagline is “Distraction to Attraction, Magnetic Romances Between Opposites.” Calculated Risk, Zoe’s debut novel, will be available November 21, 2014. Christian Fiction Online Magazine published two of her short stories. Zoe enjoys leading workshops on the craft of writing, speaking about her faith, planning fun events for her 5 grandchildren, and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she lives with her husband, John.

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