When Voting Your Conscience Is Unnerving, God Is in Control

I voted my conscience today and am trusting God to handle all the side issues and fallout of this election. And though, yes, I trust Him to do what’s best that’s actually a very unnerving thought in this case. Here’s why:

  1. Sometimes God gives us what we want. Israel wanted a king even though His plan was for them to live by a different system than the nations around them. He gave them Saul. Internal war and strife ensued. 1 Samuel 8
  2. Sometimes God uses evil rulers to get his people back to where He wants them to be – even if this means a time of chaos and captivity in the meantime. (See Ezra 5:12 and the story of King Nebuchadnezzar.)

I have thought for many months, “We may just get what we deserve” in regards to this election. And though all this is indeed frightening, my hope and trust is still in the Lord because …

  1. even when He gives us what we want (or what we deserve) when we go against His will, God is always working for the ultimate good of His people.
  2. even heathen rulers ultimately answer to God and can be used to accomplish His purposes. (See Daniel 4 for the rest of Nebuchadnezzar’s story.)

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9 (NASB)

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#PitchWars, #PimpMyBio and (Too) Much #Pondering

So, I wasn’t going to do the #PimpMyBio for #PitchWars, but after a night of writing (and wasting time playing games) I’m just slap-happy enough to give it a shot. I’m mainly doing it to help spread the word about Pitch Wars.  As described by Brenda Drake, who started the contest five years ago (Thank you, Brenda!), …

“Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round.”

Yeah, it’s a little late, but if you have a completed manuscript you could still enter by 10 pm (EST) tonight.

At any rate, as an unofficial part of the contest, Lana Pattinson started the #PimpMyBio Blog Hop for participants. This is just one example of how the contest is not only a great opportunity for aspiring authors, it’s also a community building experience.

The point of the Bio Blog Hop is for those of us involved to get to know one another, so without any further ado (yeah, I just used a cliche) … Here are a few things about me:

  1. I don’t generally fit into a mold easily. That’s one reason I didn’t want to do the bio pimping. My thought processes went something like this …
  2. But, I also don’t like to be a party pooper. There are enough naysayers in this world. So, I’m trying to get on board with this. However, …
  3. I’ve always been a firm believer in valuing the uniqueness of the individual. And, more recently, I’ve realized that includes valuing my own uniqueness. So, I’ll come to the party, but I might not wear the proper attire.
  4. I’m sensitive to the feelings of others. That, ultimately, was one of my main hang-ups with “pimping” my bio. My daughter has been involved with #pimpinjoy for several years now. She once hosted an event and I asked a friend to join. She said she liked the idea, but had real trouble using the term “pimp” in a positive way given her history of abuse. We talked about the evolution of language and the pros and cons of the pimpinjoy movement. I did participate in my daughter’s event, but it was less public than this. So, I pondered … and pondered … and, well, …
  5. I ponder a lot. And I like to do such pondering both in solitude and in community because, …
  6. I think dialogue is the key to better relationships and to working toward a cure for the issues that plaque our society.

Well, there it is. I thought my #PimpMyBio party dress was going to be much more fun and whimsical than it turned out to be. I’ve always said I’m a mood dresser. I used to have one blouse I called my “I don’t give a crap blouse.” I warned my office assistants if they saw me wearing that blouse on any given day I might not be very attentive to the “squeaky wheels” that might stop by to complain. Maybe I should put that blouse on now because, on the one hand, I’m tempted to try to give a name to my #PimpMyBio party dress. On the other hand … well, the said blouse would fit because my creative juices have run dry for the time being. But, if you have any suggestions, let me know.

How I Beat Writer’s Block – This Time

As you can tell from the lack of posts here recently, I’ve been in a writing funk. It’s affected not only my blogging, but also my journaling. Worst of all, it was hindering me from getting out a proposal for my book.

In the past, painting has helped me get back in writing mode, but it wasn’t working this time. I tried other things that have worked before. I did some reading, went to a few of my favorite outdoor writing spots, and even watched movies I thought might inspire me. All that to no avail. So, there I stayed – for weeks – stuck.

Then, an interesting thing happened. I was scheduled to make a presentation to some college students on boundaries. I love public speaking. And I especially enjoy presenting on boundaries because it’s such an important topic. As I was driving home from the presentation, I was invigorated. I thought, “Yeah, that’s my sweet spot.”

I didn’t do the presentation to spark my writing. I did it because I had it on my schedule. But when I got home, I immediately started working on a post for LinkedIn. I had been thinking of doing the post for a few days, but … well, I had writer’s block. After completing the post, I went on to another writing project and have been back in the zone since. I even got the book proposal done and sent out!

My take-away from this experience? When you find yourself unable to write, do something else you love to do. Something that refreshes you. Something that builds your confidence because you know you do it well, even if it’s seemingly unrelated to writing.

Looking back now, I realize I had been feeling defeated because several things in my life had not gone as planned. By doing something that made me feel accomplished I regained my “I can do this” attitude.

Big Things Often Start with Small Change

small change by Lisa Womble

My daughter is getting married in November, so our family has started a weight loss challenge to prepare for that day of constant picture taking. The six of us have lost a total of 71.8 pounds in the two months we’ve been at it. I lost ten pounds in February. That was a tremendous start for me. I’m not sure if I’ve ever lost more than five or six pounds in that amount of time before.

Unfortunately, after that record-breaking start, I only lost one pound this month. After reflecting on why that might be, I’ve come to the conclusion that it comes down to three changes I made in the first month, but didn’t continue in March. Three small changes: not drinking soda, having a tablespoon of coconut oil each day, and keeping track of what I was eating on myfitnesspal.com. So, I’ll go back to those three small changes for the month of April and test my theory.

All that got me to thinking about a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time on how small change(s) add up to big results. So, after a long hiatus while I finished my book, I thought I was finally inspired to get back to blogging. But after inserting the graphic into the draft, I was suddenly … uninspired … again.

I’ve been finished with the book for almost a month, but just haven’t been able to get back to writing of any kind. I know a break is good every now and then, but I also know my all-or-nothing approach to things means I could easily slip into a pattern of not writing for way longer than I should. And since I’ve set a goal to make writing my career focus, that simply won’t do.

So, I decided this less than perfect blog post would be my one small change. I may write that other, more profound 😉 , article later. But for now, this one small step will have to do. After all, if I can’t take my own advice, why would I expect others to?

Help Me Decide: To Prologue or Not to Prologue?

I’m stuck on whether or not to use a prologue for my book. Maybe you can help me decide by taking the following two single question polls.

My first question for you: Do you ever read the prologue to a book?

Now, to get more specific. Should I put the following information in a prologue or in the first chapter? Before taking the poll, here’s some information and excerpts to help you understand the decision I need to make.

The following is my prologue. I can’t decide if I should leave it as a prologue or make it the introductory paragraphs for the first chapter. The reason I have it separate for now is because the first chapter is actually a flashback to when my main character is a child.

Here’s the prologue:

Newman got up from his desk and stretched. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been at it, but sometime during his studying and writing, the sun had come up.

He twisted and rubbed his neck as he walked into the living room. He stopped when the bloodstains on the window frame caught his attention. He shifted his gaze to the stains on the grey damask sofa and then up to the ceiling, zooming in on the bullet hole.

Most days now, he could pass by without noticing these reminders of his past. It had been five years. He knew some people thought it strange he never patched the hole or removed the stains. But he didn’t want to forget where he’d come from – what he was saved from.

Shhh, man, I wish I could put all that in this sermon, he thought as he made his way into the kitchen.

Back at his desk with a fresh glass of water, he tried to get back to work. If I did tell that story, they’d probably kick me out of the church. He looked at the giant sticky note papers on the paneled wall to review the outline and thoughts he’d worked up so far for Sunday’s message. The title of the sermon was written in bold blue marker – From the Pit to the Palace. Lord, I want them to know you didn’t just do that for Joseph. You did that for me.

A few minutes later, he was thinking of another Bible passage. It was one he wasn’t planning to use in that week’s sermon. Am I my brother’s keeper? He pressed his fingers to his eyes to take away the sting of tears and hold them back.

After several more attempts to focus, he closed his Bible. He switched documents on the computer to work on the book instead. The truth has got to come out. There’s been too many lies. I’m tired of people not even knowing my real name. The feds already know I don’t want their protection from those in my past. And I’m tired of worrying about protecting my secret from those in my present. Twenty years has been long enough. His stomach churned as he started typing.

And here’s how the first chapter currently begins:

1 LITTLE MAN LEARNS THE HUSTLE

He was shy until he learned he could hustle. When he was a child, it was just a game. He never imagined it would become a game of life and death.

Newman “Little Man” Barton was known for walking the streets of his neighborhood with a newspaper or two under his arm. People said, “If you want to know what’s going on, ask Little Man. He’s always in that paper.” He also had a reputation for being charming and helpful. Newman’s love for the newspapers and his desire to be of assistance were traits instilled in him by his mother.

. . . He strolled along on his own more often than with his mother these days. The old heads on the bench outside the convenience store usually asked him to run inside and grab something for them. Honey buns were their favorite. They’d let him keep the change for his effort.

From there, he’d head over to the barbershop. It was just one of the places he was often called upon to help settle a bet by answering questions about the latest news or sports stats. The men always got a kick out of him being able to answer almost any question in the deep voice which had earned him his nickname.

“Hey, Little Man, how many field goals did Dr. J attempt last night against the Boston Celtics?”

“Dr. J was 10 of 25 from the field last night,” he’d answer with his broad, whole-face smile. That smile would usually make its way from his thick, broad lips into his cheekbones, causing them to round up toward his brown eyes, which in turn squinted almost shut … but not so much that the smile wasn’t still radiating out of them as well.

“Heh, I told you. Now, pay up,” the winner of the bet would chuckle to the loser. When the money was handed over, Newman was given his cut and he moved along to the next spot on his run. Making his hustle with the newspaper was one of his favorite childhood activities. Besides the fun of it all, he was glad he could bring home money to his mother who was struggling to raise six children without the support of a father in the home.

So, what do you think? Should I leave this as is or change it?

Thanks for your input.

Hearing the Plea from Those Who Need Encouragement – January Encourager’s Devotion

Make it a year of encouragement.

Pull Up a Chair

Paul to TimothyPaul to Timothy (NKJV)

Image Source

 Welcome to The Encourager’s Devotional Series. I’m so glad you took the time to see what it’s all about. Before we dive into the devotion, here are a few notes about this devotional series:

Since this is the first post in a series that will continue throughout 2015, you may want to take a look at the introduction to the series (if you haven’t already) for information regarding the schedule for posting and what you can expect in the weeks to come.

Throughout the devotions, I will present many ideas on how you may apply what you’re learning to minister encouragement to others. I pray you will see the suggestions not as a list of “to do’s” (who needs any more of those?!), but as “prompts.” Let the Spirit stimulate your thinking, but don’t let it stop with just thinking. As you…

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The Meanderings of an Extrovert on the Introverts

I’m on my annual writing retreat. As one of the introverts mentioned in this post by a friend here with me, I’m staying on task and not blogging yet. 🙂

Ordinary People Extraordinary God

This week is my annual get away for a writer’s retreat.  I find myself looking forward to it each year.  It is a time when a group of my friends who love to write gather together in solitude. I know that does not make much sense–but in actuality we each have our own room where we write to our heart’s content and only come together for an evening meal. Some of us are night owls and some are early birds. The flexibility of only coming together for dinner allows us the freedom to work in our own time frames.

My friends (who are all introvBasic RGBerts) are great at getting right to business and accomplishing many of their goals during the week.  They write goals and state their BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). They are good at eating frogs. Which means they get the hard things done first and then …

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Hope – by Anonymous

Patriarchal institution keepers – please, hear her story.

wmyn4wmyn

My education had mostly ended after eighth grade. So when I was sent off to college I was less than confident. I was informed not to worry about failing. I could go back home.This was no doubt said as a comfort, but to me it was a painful reminder of my inability. If I was to fail at college, I was to be sent to Alaska to find a husband. Not kidding.

This was repeatedly said to me. Followed by a laugh. Followed by a, “No really, I’m serious.” I would have to work as a hard as possible to maintain a C average. To my surprise, working as hard as possible produced A’s instead. Yet before I could receive my report card, I had been proposed to. I tentatively accepted on the advice of my Father.

I was hopeful to get out of it swiftly. Yet a series of…

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An Evening with One of the Most Encouraging People I Know

For the “5th Wednesday Free-for-All” of the Encourager’s Devotional Series, I’d like to tell you about one of the most encouraging people I know. His name is Kent Sanders and I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for his new book The Artist’s Suitcase last night.The Artist's Suitcase

One of the things that makes Kent such an encouraging person is his positivity. I had the honor of working with Kent on the faculty at St. Louis Christian College and served on several committees with him. Committee work is seldom fun. The teams we worked together on often had to tackle some tough issues. In situations where there was much room for complaining, legitimate complaining, Kent has a way of looking ahead to solutions instead of focusing solely on the problems.

Kent’s not a “hide your head in the sand” kind of guy. He doesn’t white wash the situation. He’s realistic. But there’s something about his approach that makes you think, “We can do this. We can make things better.” Whenever I needed to assemble a team for one of my projects, Kent was one of the first people on my list (sorry for the extra work, Kent).

Another way Kent is encouraging is that he shows a genuine interest in others. A conversation with Kent is always affirming in some way. As he celebrated the launch of his new book last night, he took time to ask me how my book was going. And, as yet another illustration of why I find him so encouraging, he said, “Let me know if there’s any way I can help.” I know he truly means that. If you take a look at his blog (linked above), you’ll see he has a passion to help others do well.

Kent shared a story about how he even encouraged himself at one point in his life. I found that amusing, thinking, Wow, he’s that good at the gift of encouragement. To watch the video of Kent sharing that story, reading an excerpt from his book, as well presenting some beautiful music by his guest band BlackFolk, click here.

We can learn a lot about how to be better encouragers by studying the attributes of the people we know who display that gift. How about you? Can you tell us about someone you know who is an uplifting person and share a few examples of how they encourage you?