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?

Why a Writer Needs Solitude

When your writing gets interrupted.

When your writing gets interrupted.

Experts say it takes 20 minutes to refocus after a work interruption. I’d say that figure at least doubles when it comes to writing. In a previous post, I wrote about my hesitation to ask for help getting the time I need to finish the book I’m writingBut, I’m getting desperate for two reasons:

  1. I’m SO close to finishing the complete first draft of this amazing story. I’ve been saying for weeks, “I should have it done by this weekend.”
  2. After I get the draft finished, I want to travel to the city in which the story took place to do a last bit of research and some interviews. BUT … I have to get the draft finished first … sigh.

Purposely Not Meeting My Self-Imposed Writing Deadline

I once reblogged a great article entitled “The Rush To the End Syndrome.” That was a little over a year ago, so I guess I avoided the pitfall the article warned about – failing to create a strong ending to your story because of the impulse to just get the writing project done.

This week, however, I almost fell into the trap again. I had five days off work, so I was determined to finish up my book … well, finish up the complete first draft of the manuscript. I was so excited to be this close and couldn’t wait to dig in. But then … life interrupted. A surprise visit from out of town family. An unplanned guest one evening. A few hiccups that sent me down the rabbit hole of research – again.

Still, I was working my night owl super powers to the max (I can go with very little sleep for quite a few days) in an effort to meet my goal. After finding myself, for about the third time, contemplating ways to “condense” the final three scenes I went back to the article about rushing the end. I’m glad I did.

As another blogger who found the article helpful said, “We all suffer through the urge to tie it up at one point or another. Resist and you’ll have an ending worthy or your story.”

I’m banking on that as I readjust my goal. Thankfully, I have the same work schedule this coming week. Barring any life interruptions, I hope to have the complete first draft of the manuscript done by NEXT weekend.

Stepping Into The Minefield (To Those Who Love A Depressed Person)

“You can’t measure your care by the reception it receives. As is so often the case, the act of loving is itself the victory.”

john pavlovitz


Life with depression is precarious business.

It’s like living full-time in a minefield.

You never quite get comfortable with your surroundings, even when things seem quiet. You always move gingerly, knowing full well that any step could blow it all up and send you reeling again; a bit of bad news, a difficult moment, or worse seemingly nothing at all. And every single time something triggers the sadness and that inner detonation occurs, parts of you get ripped up and shredded—and losing a bit of yourself in this way never gets easier.

One of the things most people don’t understand is the way mental illness isolates you, how it forces you to the periphery of all of your relationships because you know how unstable the ground you walk on each day is and how quickly everything can get ugly. You desperately want to avoid the collateral damage to people you love, so you learn to keep them…

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When Hearts are Revealed through Social Media

Reposting an older article I wrote just because I like it … and because it applies to several more current issues.

Pull Up a Chair

Lord, heal our hearts. Lord, heal our hearts.

Today my heart is grieved by those who spew hatred. I’m especially troubled by those who claim to be Christ followers yet don’t seem to realize that what they post and share on social media is saying so much about their true feelings towards others. As the St. Louis area still reels from recent events in Ferguson, the last thing we need is more people stirring up animosity.

So, I was tempted today to challenge some of the posts I’ve seen. But then I thought of the Scripture in which God says He can change people’s hardened hearts from stone to flesh. Healing for our region and beyond will require dialogue, debate, debunking and determination on the part of those trying to foster peace. In this moment, though, I am not suited for the battle because my own heart is agitated.

I’m choosing instead to make the…

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A Closer Look at Ethical Issues Involving First Christian Church of Florissant and the Counseling They are Offering to Sex Abuse Victims

No matter which “side” you’re on, or what you believe about any of the he said/she said in this terrible church situation, THIS is absolutely unacceptable! At the very least, it shows a total misunderstanding of the needs of victims. If it goes uncorrected, it shows a complete lack of true concern for them. I pray that those who attend this church will voice, in no uncertain terms, their concerns to the leadership that this is a very unwise approach to “helping” the victims.

Thank you, Julie Anne for a very insightful and thorough explanation of why this must be corrected.

Spiritual Sounding Board


Pastor Steve Wingfield and First Christian Church of Florissant offer counseling to Brandon Milburn’s sex abuse victims, but are there ethical issues involved?


There is a large group of people, some current and some former members of First Christian Church of Florissant (FCCF), who have been very disappointed in how Pastor Steve Wingfield and church leaders have mishandled a sex abuse case connected with the church. Brandon Milburn, a former church employee who also worked with the youth at FCCF was sentenced to 25 years for rape/sodomy of two boys a few months ago.

Why are the people in this large group unhappy? For many reasons. I’d like to discuss an important one today. While church leaders have claimed not knowing about the sexual abuse allegations, others in this large group have said otherwise, indicating they had brought the sexual abuse allegations to the attention of church leaders and the church leaders failed…

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Pushing Aside My Pride to Make Sure His Story Is Told

My Novel Project by Lisa Womble

I am a terrible fundraiser. I simply hate asking for money. For this reason, I have never taken a salary for the full-time work I do for our church plant. I just couldn’t raise funds for my own pay when the ministry needed the support. Almost two and a half years ago, I drew up plans to start a crowdfunding campaign for the book I’m writing (lacking a paycheck greatly hinders my ability to travel for the last leg of research I need to do).

But two days ago, I swallowed my pride and finally pushed the button on the campaign. As I’ve written before, I simply must get this book done as soon as possible. The friend I’m writing about has lived under an assumed name for over two decades and it’s time for him to reveal the truth about his life. He desires to do so in order to more effectively help others escape from the kind of life he used to lead. I’m honored that he’s asked me to help him tell his story. And now I’m asking if you would like to help, too.

The Go Fund Me campaign I’ve created offers rewards for this who choose to give to the project. Each reward level helps donors become increasingly more involved in the process to get this book written, published and promoted. I look forward to working with all who come along side me to get this story told. I am convinced many will be blessed by the book and by my friend’s ability to finally share how God brought him out of the “slimy belly of the underworld.”

To check out my Go Fund Me page and see the rewards I’m offering, click here or on the icon in the sidebar of this blog. And please, feel free to share with others. Your prayers will also be appreciated.

1 Question Poll for Readers of Fiction and Creative Nonfiction and an Excerpt from My Book

Author James Patterson says, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.” Of course, I read this just after finishing a section in my book where I narrate the same scene twice – once as my main character’s wife (girlfriend at the time) saw it and then again from his point of view. I did this to show the different mindset each had at the time and also how that mindset determined which details of the event stay in their memory. I found it quite fascinating, but Patterson’s advice has me second-guessing my decision. I know, too, that we writers often fall in love with our own words and fail to cut things that are of no interest to the reader. So, I thought I’d throw the question out to you. Do you/would you enjoy reading the same scene twice from different perspectives? (I’ve included an excerpt from the scene in question below the poll if you want to read that before answering.)


Note: Names and other identifying information has been blacked out since the true identity and location of the main character will not be revealed until the book is published.

She said:

The day I finally found out everything about TEXT HERE‘s past began as just another one of those times when he was being evasive and turning my questions back on me. I was still asking the simple question, “What’s your real name?”

He gave one of his standard put-off question-answers, “Where you think I come from?”

But this time, I wasn’t in the mood for his games, so I told him, “I think you’re in the Witness Protection program or something.”

He went silent for a second and took a step back. Then he asked, “What makes you say that?”

“Because you’re insanely fanatical about your privacy. You have all these rules about what I can and can’t know, where we can and can’t go together, and what I can and can’t do with you. I know you’re dealing drugs. All the time, you’re leaving me alone all night and I don’t even know where you are. I’m sure that must be the kind of thing you were doing in your past life, too. I get worried sick. I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

“You’re right. TEXT HERE is not my real name,” he said, and started pulling out pictures of his former life in TEXT HERE. That was interesting and all, but it still didn’t really tell me who he was. Eventually, he said, “I tell you what. I’m going to leave, but I want you to look this over.” He got out a cream-colored photo album he had not shown me yet. “You should also search the Internet for the name TEXT HERE from TEXT HERE while I’m gone. There will be a lot of news articles to read over, besides the ones in this album, so take your time and go through it before I come back.”

As he was leaving, he asked if I would swear to secrecy what I was about to find out. I said I would. I was honored that he had finally entrusted me with the information he had guarded so fiercely. I kind of liked the idea that I would be the only person in TEXT HERE who knew his secrets. But, when I read those articles, the gut wrenching part of it was finally realizing that I didn’t know TEXT HERE at all. He was a figment of my imagination. A made up character out of some book.

Dealing with him was so exhausting day in and out. He never wanted to spend holidays with my family or me. It hurt to think he was always with that other family during those times. I took some comfort in thinking he was our little secret. I wore that like a badge of honor, until I found out later I was one of several people he had told some portion of his story to.

It was a weird situation and we had a strange relationship. It was like he held me to the highest expectation of loyalty and faithfulness but I dared not hold him to the same standard. All I can say is that I was a young girl with no self-respect. I could not see my own potential. I thought this was just how life was.


He Said:

I remember vividly the day TEXT HERE came to my house on TEXT HERE Lane. This was a different house than the one we lived in together. I told her to meet me there because I needed to see her. Prior to her arrival, I was in deep meditation over my real life and the great affection I had for TEXT HERE. I really cared about her and trusted her, but I felt a deep guilt because I was living a lie. She didn’t even really know me. She had stole my soul and I wanted to advance our relationship. But before we did, I had to be honest with her about my past.

I was so tired of lying. I needed someone to accept me for me, so I was ready to tell her regardless of the consequences. I cried so bad before she got there because I wanted to be free and the pureness of her life and personality had made me begin to believe I could be.

I made the decision to tell her after calling my surrogate mother, TEXT HERE. I said, “I must tell this girl who I really am. If something would happen to her while she’s dealing with me … or if she put either me or her in danger because she’s unaware, I wouldn’t want to blame her. And I wouldn’t want her to blame me. Plus, I want someone I can trust to call my family if I get killed while running the streets here in TEXT HERE.” Mom had been saying I should tell her even before this, so she encouraged me to do it.

Once TEXT HERE got there, I started by describing different situations and asking her would she still deal with me if I done those sort of things. We was in my living room and I started showing her pictures of me from my past life, just to see how she would react and what questions she would have. At first, she asked simple questions, like how was I surrounded by so many celebrities and what my real name was. I was surprised when she finally said something about thinking I was in Witness Protection, but I thought, “Okay, now she’s ready to hear the rest.”

I took her into my office and showed her some of the newspaper articles about the organization I had been in and the trial. After telling her the so-called good part of my life (drug dealing, fame, fortune), I told her the story of my best friend TEXT HERE, and how much I loved and missed him. I explained that I had revenged his death and that’s what led me here to TEXT HERE. Then I told her that I was separated from my family because of that.

She had a look of bewilderment but she still seemed okay. She said, “I don’t care. That’s not bad. You’re good now, getting your life together. It’s no big deal.” That’s when I told her I wanted her to read some things, because I felt she didn’t understand. I must not have explained things fully. I reached in the file cabinet and pulled out my documents from the Witness Protection Program. They had all the information about the crimes I committed and so forth. I left the room. I was scared but it felt so good to finally tell someone everything about my life. It really didn’t matter if she accepted me or not, because it felt so good just telling her and handing someone else those documents.

I went back in the room later and asked her, “Now do you see who I am?” She acted like she was not fazed! I then told her all the details that wasn’t in the articles and paperwork. She stood there listening, showing no emotion. Like a judge, I thought. I was shaking inside, but it felt like I was in a Catholic confession booth being cleansed. Like a faucet turning on, the water of my story was running out my mouth and I didn’t stop until it was all drained.

She was not shaken afterwards. She hugged me and made me feel like she accepted me. I cried and, for the first time on this journey, I felt a sense of freedom.

I gave her the option to leave me, but she said not to worry about that. I felt she didn’t fully grasp what I had revealed, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was I finally let it all out.