Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Spirit of Gratitude

Just some brief thoughts today on having a spirit of gratitude.  I had the pleasure of speaking at my local ACFW chapter this past weekend, the DFW Ready Writers, now DFW-ACFW.  And in my closing remarks, I spoke about working with a spirit of thankfulness.

Sometimes in this world, we're frustrated with our job, marriage, family, co-workers and more.  But what would happen if we approached each day with an attitude of thankfulness. Being thankful that we have a job, home, spouse, family and more.

How would that change your attitude?

Something to think about.  

Below are my closing comments from the speaking engagement with DFW-ACFW.  It's geared toward writers, but I think all of us can find a nugget worth thinking about.

We all know this is a tough business… but we all know that God has called us here.  Called us to write.  So, while he equips us to do the hard work that must be done, we also need to trust Him to get our words into the hands of the reader who needs to see that message the most.  So, we can get twisted up with are we doing enough marketing, do we have the right platform, etc.  That’s all important.  But we also need to trust God.

Remember to pray over your work daily… daily.  

Romans 12:1 from the Message says:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.” 

Do your work with a spirit of gratitude…thanking God for your abilities and thanking him for what he’s going to do with your story…. Place it before God as an offering.  The audience of one!

Walk Worthy of Your Calling.

Whatever we're called to do in this life -- we need to walk worthy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just Show Up

I've just returned from the wonderful American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Indianapolis.  For full disclosure, I work for ACFW, but there's a reason I work for them, and ran for and served on the operating board.  I love this organization!  Their goal is to train writers in their craft, teach them about the industry and more.  But the things I love about conference go beyond the great workshops and opportunities to speak with editors and agents. I love the fellowship and our worship times. 

The fellowship with other writers provides the encouragement and support we all need in what is usually a very lonely job.  But these fellow writers are cheerleaders.  We all want to see each other succeed! I love that spirit.

And our conference also has worship times, where we pause and praise with our great worship band (Rachel Hauck and company are awesome!).  So, in the midst of learning, pitching, and enjoying fellowship, we keep our focus on God and send our thankfulness and praise to Him, who makes all things possible.

We even have a prayer room on site. Sometimes dreams are dashed at conference, and some dreams come true. ACFW provides a place to be with God and have him minister to your heart.

Our keynote speaker this year was Robin Jones Gunn.  What a wonderful woman of faith and light, and a good writer to boot!  She was a marvelous storyteller and gave keynote addresses that spoke straight to the heart. 

I could go on and on about the ACFW conference, but there's more on my heart today. Often in our Christian walk (and Robin brought this up during her keynote address as well), we talk about "God showed up."

I use that expression myself, even texting a friend from the conference, that "God had already showed up."

But we need to remember that God's already there. He didn't "just show up."  It's up to us to show up...every day...with God, with our prayers, with our quiet time, and in our work.  Whether we write, have an office job, are parents, or whatever we're doing.  We need to show up with a full heart, trusting that God has placed us there and knowing that God had already showed up long before we began our day.

Things had changed with my own writing direction, and I didn't want to go to ACFW this year. A change away from novel writing meant that most of the classes wouldn't be beneficial and pitching to an editor or agent wasn't in the cards. But as I love the conference, and had my plane ticket, and oh yeah, I work for them (happily), well, I showed up at conference.  I showed up feeling a bit lost about my own direction in my career and what God had in store for me.

And guess what?  Because I showed up, wow, did God ever bless that!! He didn't show up -- he was already there. He knew what I needed, knew what I was praying about, and knew that I was struggling when I arrived. I obeyed him and showed up where he wanted me to be and filled my heart to overflowing.

He placed people in my path that blessed me, and hopefully used me to bless and encourage others.  And it was an amazing and wonderful weekend.

But guess what? I had to show up. I did, and God was there.  I'm home now (a little bleary eyed and on brain overload), and God is here.

I need to show up with my prayers and faithfulness to him, and through any upcoming frustrations, bad days, and awesome times and good days -- God is there.

We need to do our best and trust Him with our direction in life. It's up to us to show up...every day. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Leap of Faith

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the "Pioneer Spirit."  And the week before that, we talked about "Living an Adventurous Life."

Do you sense a theme here?  I'm now struggling with making my own leap of faith, while seeing others around me taking their own and stepping out in faith.
Photo courtesy of: http://transparentwithmyself.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/cliff_jump.jpg

In my life group from church, we have transitions taking place.  One couple has just joined us. They were happy and content in their home state, with their family nearby as they raised their own family.  Yet he was unhappy with his job --- very unhappy.  A friend told him about a job in Texas. They had never been to Texas, never even visited.  Yet here was this opportunity for them, and through fervent prayer, and discussions with their family, they took that leap of faith and moved to a state they had never been to and settled here. Thankfully, they found our church and life group and we're happy to welcome them and look forward to getting to know them.  God has a purpose.

Sadly, another member is leaving us and moving back to her home state, to care for her ailing and aging mother.  She's leaving her job and friends here to go back to her hometown. While her hometown is familiar to her (unlike the couple who had never been to Dallas before), she is still taking her own leap of faith to balance her life with that of honoring her parents, leaving her job and not knowing if this is a temporary move or permanent. Only God knows the plans he has for her.

Finally, another young couple I'm very close to is also leaving Dallas.  They are young, still in their 20s and newlyweds. She has a great job opportunity in another major city in Texas, and he is supporting her and so they are moving. It is a leap of faith for them to venture to this city that they've never lived in and know few people. In my heart, I know this is a great move for them and a wonderful opportunity, so off they go on their new adventure.

But not all leaps of faith require uprooting your entire life and moving to a new city.  Sometimes a leap of faith can be a new direction in your life, whether it be career oriented or a new church or just letting your kids grow-up and releasing them to the adult world.  It can be a change in your attitude, in how you conduct yourself day-to-day.

For me, I'm struggling with a change of direction in my own writing career. It's a strange emotion as I let go of one dream and start to embrace another -- still fearing, still wondering if this is the right decision.

So, it makes me ask: what makes you take a leap of faith?  I'd love to hear your stories and ideas. How do you get past fear and even your own emotions?  How do you get out of your own way to take that leap? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Teachable Spirit

My husband and I were talking over the weekend. We both hit milestone birthdays this year, and that seems to have provoked conversation about our journey in this life.  The events of our crumbling world have also provoked discussions.

No, I don't have any answers for our nation and world, or for any "mid-life crisis" I may be going through.

What I do know is that no matter what we're doing in our life, with our job, with our hobbies, and even with friends, church and beyond is that we need to have a teachable spirit.

The older we get, we always need to be willing to learn new things, try new things, and stay open to whatever God has in store for us.

I saw this lesson during an ACFW writing conference a few years ago. I was sitting in a class, and across the aisle from me was a well-known, multi-published author, who was scribbling notes from the instructor as fast as I was!  That image stuck with me, because although this person was multi-published, she never lost her spirit of learning more about her craft.

Whatever your job is, you need to have an open, teachable spirit.  It's too often that sharing ideas or a new way of doing something will bring out a defensive posture in someone else.

Not all new ways of doing something are the best way, but being open and willing to listen can sometimes lead to an updated idea, or determine that what you're doing now is indeed the best way, or lead you down a completely new path.

As Christians, we always need to be studying scripture and learning and growing more in our Christian walk.

Having a teachable spirit can open you up to so many new things and take you in a new direction to something exciting and wonderful.

Especially as I grow older, I want to keep experiencing new things or at least be open to new ideas. I never, ever want to stop learning.  It's a way to keep living this adventurous life.

How about you?  Did opening yourself up to something new lead you in a completely different direction than anticipated? I'd love to hear your stories.