Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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    • Celebrating the Church Year
      by guest author, Jessica SnellThe Lord is always with us. We are never out of His presence, never hidden from His eyes.But it’s hard for us to remember that.Where He is omniscient, and never sleeps, never slumbers, we are distracted and busy and fallible. Though He is always mindful of us, it is hard for us to keep our thoughts constantly turned towards Him. […]
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      Nola Landry barely survives a flood in her small Louisiana town by clinging to a tree on higher ground. While hidden in its branches, she witnesses the brutal killing of three neighbors who are shot by a man in uniform in a boat. After being rescued, and losing her home, she is rescued by three FBI agents who have come to town to track a serial killer nickna […]
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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Author Archive

Farewell

Posted by April W Gardner on December 12, 2012

Today marks the end of my journey at Reflections on Hindsight. It’s been a fun ride, and I’ve been blessed to be on board from the site’s birth well over two years ago.

There are many benefits to blogging, but the friendships alone that I’ve been privileged to cultivate have made every post worthwhile.

Thank you, Lisa for taking me on, for your everlasting patience, and for being the dear woman you are. I love you!

To the rest of my Reflections blogging buddies and to all my Reflections readers a fond hug and a massive Thank You! Without you, my time here would have been meaningless.

The blogging world isn’t such a big place, so I’m sure I’ll see you around…

Merry Christmas to all!

–April Gardner

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Keeping It All Straight

Posted by April W Gardner on November 28, 2012

Over the years I’ve been a writer, a lot of advice has come my way. Guidance, tips, sharing what works and what doesn’t—all of it is ALWAYS welcome in April World.

A good portion of those tips revolve around keeping organized. Organization is a must for a writer. Even “by the seat of your pantsers” need a certain amount of it to keep their to-dos straight.

The never ending To-Do List kicked my tush for years. The List hung as a perpetual nebulous weight about my neck.

Was I forgetting something? How much of this project should I work on before moving on to the next? What about all those things that I keep putting off? When will I EVER find time for them when so many other things are more important?

Such were my thoughts until twice in one week, someone randomly suggested using a spiral bound notebook.

I’d tried every gadget, app, and program to help me keep myself on-task, but until I pulled out an ugly, half-used spiral notebook, I failed to maintain any sort of consistency in keeping track of what needed doing.

To be fair, I did try this once before. My mistake that time? The lovely notebook didn’t stay open to the current page. If The List isn’t staring me in the face, I forget about it. (Hey, you in the front! No laughing!) If my pen doesn’t stay laying right on top so I can snatch it up and jot down a thought, it doesn’t happen.

My notebook rules?

  1. Keep it short term. I don’t write anything beyond what needs to be done the next day in my notebook. I do this because I can’t handle anything beyond today. It bogs me down, overwhelms me. God gave us today to worry about, and for me, that’s especially true. At the end of today (or even tomorrow morning over breakfast), I’ll write what I intend to accomplish THAT DAY. I’m NOT advocating ditching long term planning and goals. That has its place in my life too. The notebook is used solely for what I intend to accomplish TODAY.
  2. Permission to write sloppy. Remnants of my dyslexia display themselves most in my handwriting. Despite repeated attempts to reteach my hand to form pretty letters, my handwriting continues to be an endless source of embarrassment. So much so, that I worry about what the bank teller will think when she receives our mortgage check! Sad, huh? That’s why I allow myself to be as sloppy as I want in my To-Do notebook.
  3. Use the notebook for any extra notes. Coach calls with Saturday’s game time? It goes into the notebook. Think of the next blog post topic or tonight’s meal? Into the notebook it goes. Because it’s a tall notebook, and because I usually haven’t started filling out the next day’s to-do, I can use all the paper I want to take copious (sloppy) notes. And they’re always there to reference—with the day’s date scribbled across the top.
  4. Write down only what can be realistically accomplished that day. Small goals that are met are inspiring. Check Mark is my best friend!
  5. Do ONLY what’s on the list, and once they’re accomplished, consider work done for the day. I can walk away from the stack guilt-free because I did everything I was supposed to. Talk about liberating!

It seems simplistic and obvious, but for me, it’s exactly what I need to keep my thoughts and tasks organized. And another bonus? It’s cheap!

What do you use to keep your day organized?

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

AutoCrit Editing Wizard, a useful tool for writers

Posted by April W Gardner on November 14, 2012

Last month, someone on the John 3:16 Marketing Network recommended the website AutoCrit.com. Today, I looked into it, and so far, it has all the appearance of being useful tool for writers.

In the company’s own words, “The AutoCrit Editing Wizard is an instant book editor. With the click of a button it shows you the problems in your manuscript.”

Copy, paste, click “analyze.” That simple.

The free version analyzes 1,500 words each day. It will check for overused words, sentence length variation, and clichés and redundancies.

The paid version increases word count to 3,000 per day and adds on repeated words and phrases, phrases summary, pacing, dialog tags, initial pronouns, readability, and homonyms. The repeated words and phrases alone is worth the $47/year!

I put the first scene of my latest novel through the wizard. Mind you, it had already undergone four critiques, but I was still shocked at what the wizard caught. It’s mostly nit-picky stuff, but since I’m a nit-picky author, AutoCrit has potential to become by bestest buddy.

With a 30-day money back guarantee, it was a no-brainer to fork over $47, but I plan to test-drive it hard over the next month!

Swing by there now and pop 500 of your latest words into the wizard. Just for fun. Then come back and let me know what you think!

April W Gardner is an award-winning author and the founder of Clash of the Titles.

Posted in Authors, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dusty, Musty Old Books–A Writer’s Treasures

Posted by April W Gardner on October 24, 2012

Some of my old books.

When speaking of books, how old is old to you? To me, “old” is anything before 1900, but in England, books aren’t considered “old” unless they have 700 years-worth of dust. Not kidding.

When we lived there, I snapped up any book from the 1800′s I came across that was under 10 quid. If I’d been more diligent to look, I could have left the country with boxes upon boxes. As it was, I ended up with around fifty. They’re displayed in my living room.

One of my favorite pastimes is to open the cabinet and drink in the musty scent of them, then take one out and appreciate the feel of it. The binding, cover, paper—every part of the old books were carefully created to be thoroughly enjoyed, to impress, to last. Not so anymore. So sad.

My 1792 Bible

My oldest book is a Bible from 1792. I got it for a few pounds at a flea market. Incredible, huh? The history behind that one Bible has got to be rich. Too bad I don’t know it.

I thought I’d share with you a few lines from a few of my favorite old books. See if you can guess which ones they’re from. I’ll start with an easy one…

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Phew! I’m outta breath. Did the man not believe in periods? Can you guess who the author was? Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities—from my early 1900s copy.

Here’s another. A hint for you, think Disney…

Once upon a time, there was…

“A king!” my small readers will exclaim.

No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.

Figure it out? Charles Collodi’s “The Adventures of Pinocchio”—from my 1940 edition.

Odd are slim you won’t get the next one, so I’ll just tell you what it is, then you can enjoy the first line. It’s from a children’s novel called “Alone in London” written by Hesba Stretton. The inscription on the inside reads, “To dear little Freddie with love from Auntie Alice. 1891”

It had been a close and sultry day—one of the hottest dog-days—even out in the open country, where the dusky green leaves had never stirred upon their stems since the sunrise, and where the birds had found themselves too languid for any songs beyond a faint chirp now and then.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Here’s another set in the countryside, but this one is a fairy tale…

It was beautiful in the country, it was summer-time, the wheat was yellow, the oats were green, the hay was stacked up in the green meadows, and the stork paraded around on his long red legs, discoursing in Egyptian, which language he had learned from his mother.

Tough one, huh? I’ll just give it to you. It’s the first line from my 1851 edition of “Andersen’s Fair Tales, The Ugly Duckling.” The book was given to Violent Barnard for her “good conduct, satisfactory progress, and regular attendance” at High Wych C.E. School. So cool!!

Last, I’ll share with you the first lines from a novel written in 1859.

On the library wall of one of the most famous writers in America, there hang two crossed swords, which his relatives wore in the great War of Independence. The one sword was gallantly drawn in the service of the king, the other was the weapon of a brave and honoured republican soldier.

That snippet is from Chapter 1 of “The Virginians” by W.M. Thackeray. I’ve always wanted to read that one—a novel, written from the British POV about the Americans during our War for Independence. One of these day, I plan to!

Do you have any beloved old books? Care to share a few lines from them?

 –April W Gardner is an award-winning author and the senior editor at Clash of the Titles.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Hobby or Business—How Do You View What You Do?

Posted by April W Gardner on September 26, 2012

(This post is a carryover from my “Do You Need a Business License?” post from two weeks ago.)

When I discovered I needed one to be legal, applying for and obtaining a license for my fledgling home business did something for me I never expected.

I’m an author and, more recently, an editor with Astraea Press. True to their claim, authors don’t make much money. Pennies really. I got my first royalty check nearly three years ago and, for whatever reason, have struggled to go anywhere much with sales. Paying taxes hasn’t even been necessary.

But to be perfectly honest, I viewed writing more like a hobby than a business. Don’t get me wrong,

Me. Working from patio furniture purchased with my hard earned dollars.

I didn’t want it to be a hobby. I WANTED to earn money, but a person’s mindset has everything to do with whether or not that will happen. If a girl doesn’t take her work seriously, if she doesn’t appropriately value her skills and time, no one else will either.

Late last year, I came to a critical juncture in my career. Frustrated and weary, I decided I’d either swim or sink, but I was going to do it on my own. One of my 2012 New Year’s resolutions (the only one I’ve ever stuck with) was to have my writing support itself 100%—no more begging money off my very sweet and willing husband. I’d pay for business cards, fliers, or that $1,000 conference, or I wouldn’t have them.

It seemed an outrageous notion. I honestly didn’t think I could do it and actually get anywhere, but for half the year, I did OK.

This summer was turning point. It happened the day I decided to get a business license.

It took me some weeks to get around to making it official, and if you want to read step-by-step how I went about doing that, you can visit my last Reflections post.

Come to find out, investing (yes, investing!) in a business license was exactly what my floundering career needed. The moment I held that license, I felt like a business woman. Stupid, I know, but it’s true. I view my job in a whole different light now. Notice my use of the word “job”? Yep, writing and editing isn’t a hobby anymore.

It’s what I DO. And I treat it with all the value and respect of a business. I have a budget and daily, weekly, and yearly goals. My time is blocked for certain activities, putting the most time toward my DPAs (dollar producing activities).

I require others to value and respect my work and time, too. No middle of the day chats with friends. I love you all dearly, truly, I do. But if you call me while I’m working, I’ll let the phone go to voicemail and get back with you at my next scheduled break.

At the risk of sounding New Age, let me point out that the mind and one’s attitude are a powerful things. Do not underestimate them.

God called me to this job. He believes in me. I should believe in me too! After which, I’ll give Him all the glory for the skill, energy, and encouragement He provides along the way.

I’m not a name-it-and-claim it kinda Christian, and I’m not rolling in the dough (far from it!!), but I’m got business cards, fliers, and went to that $1,000 conference. No thanks to my sweet, willing husband’s wallet. :-)

In addition to that, at the suggestion of a my very business savvy sister, I set a goal to reward myself for my hard work. She told me to think of something–a luxury–I’ve wanted but couldn’t afford. Something I’d never spend the money on because there’s always something else more important that needs to come first.

So I did.

Somehow, that goal in mind made me work harder, and to my utter astonishment, I not only  reached my goal, I surpassed it. Now, I work from my patio on my lovely new furniture. (Pix above)

And you guessed it, I have set another reward-goal for myself.

My business has supported itself probably 95% this year. 2013 will be even better. Actually, in 2013 I plan to make a PROFIT. There have been times since January I’ve had to say “no” to whatever marketing venture I wanted to explore, but for the most part, God has provided.

What was the big change? It’s as simple as this–I’m viewing what I do as a business, and THAT makes all the difference.

How do you view what you do? Is it an accurate perception? What are your time and skills worth? Put a monetary value on them, then shoot for it!

–April W Gardner is an award-winning author, an editor,

and the founder of the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles

Posted in Authors, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Do You Need a Business License?

Posted by April W Gardner on September 12, 2012

The short answer to that question is—I have no idea. Every city, county, and state has different laws, but it’s your responsibility to know what those laws are. A quick call to your town’s city hall should answer the question for you.

My particular Georgia city requires me—author and editor—to have one. This is a recent discovery for me, but one I didn’t mind making. Obtaining one actually moved my career forward in a way I never would have expected. Next time I’m at Reflections in Hindsight, I’ll explain exactly what I mean by that.

Today, let’s talk nuts and bolts.

Before getting into how to get a license, let’s discuss what they ARE.

WiseGeek.com defines a business license this way: A business license is a type of legal authorization to operate a business in a city, county, or state. Typically issued in document form, a business license gives a business owner the right to conduct entrepreneurial activities as set forth in the license application. In most cases, there is a fee charged to obtain a business license.

Requirements for a business license vary by state and municipality. Some locations require anyone conducting a business to obtain a business license. On the other hand, some areas allow smaller home businesses to operate without the need for a business license. Such small businesses could include consulting, web design, or typing services.

When I set out to get a license, I had no idea what the process involved. You might be in the same boat, so let me share with you how MY town does it.

After making a call to my local city hall and discovering I did indeed need a license, I made my merry way there to collect the necessary paperwork. On the same visit, my name was put on the books for my license to be discussed at the next town council meeting.

I had a week to fill out the paperwork, which consisted of some basic, personal information and a section requiring me to describe what I do. The part I did NOT expect was having to visit seven of my immediate neighbors asking them permission to conduct my business in my home. The conversation went something like this…

“Hi, I’m here asking if you wouldn’t mind signing this form giving consent for me to sit at my desk and type on my computer.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

To the last one, they laughed, shook their heads in wonder, and happily signed. Of course, if I was a machine repairman who wanted to fix washers and fridges in my garage, they might be thanking the city for making people get their neighbor’s permission…

Forms complete, I turned them in and waited for the city to deliver my lawn decor. Yep, lawn décor. The city placed a “public hearing notice” in my yard that had to remain in place for three weeks—until the actual hearing. This was to inform the rest of the neighborhood that they were welcome to come to the town council meeting and protest, if they so desired.

The evening of the council meeting came, and I made my obligatory appearance. Just like they do at such meetings on TV, I was asked to come to the podium and speak into a microphone. Way cool. The chairman asked me to state my name, address, and give a brief description of what I do. After that, he asked if anyone wanted to object to the town allowing me to conduct “said business” on “said property.”

No one did. Shocker.

I was allowed to leave the meeting and advised to pick up my license in two days. I did. But not before forking over the pro-rated fee of $64.00. Come January, along with the rest of the business owners in town, I’ll renew my license. It should be around $120/year.

It feels like a lot for someone who earns as little as I do, but when I swiped my little business debit card, I did so on the faith that, soon, $120 wouldn’t be a suffocating, drain-your-account kinda number.

In two weeks, I’ll tell how that little step of faith is doing just that.

In the meantime, give your city hall a buzz and ask what your local laws are. What did you learn? I’d love to know!

–April W Gardner is an award-winning author, an editor,

and the founder of the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles

Posted in Authors, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

My God, the Artist

Posted by April W Gardner on August 29, 2012

*Guest post by Michelle Massaro

ImageI’m sitting drinking my pumpkin spice in the quiet of the morning and watching my guppies dart about in their tank. There appears to be some brand new additions– welcome to the world! I wonder what they’ll look like when they get their color? Right now I have several yellow snake-skin guppies, an ‘albino’ female, and a flaming orange/black male. So bright, so colorful, so artistic! The Lord must have so much fun. He must so delight in His handiwork. Could you imagine the drab world we’d live in if every fish looked the same; every human bore the same fingerprints, skin, or eye color; if the leaves didn’t change color, or the stars didn’t shine in patterns? If Mars wasn’t red or the rocks never held a streak of gold? Creativity overflows from the heart of God!

Don’t ever feel that your expression of creativity- gardening, painting, decorating, or yes- writing, is a poor use of your time. It is not the lesser way to spend your energy. Look how much energy God spends on his creations. He does not deem it wasteful; He called it very good- and thenImage sent His son to redeem that creation when it became stained with sin.

So the next time someone, in some subtle way, makes you feel frivolous about wasting time on creative pursuits when there are souls to be saved… look around you! Then use your gifts for His glory and take joy in the pastime of creativity that you share with your Maker…

Image–Michelle is married to her high school sweetie, Mike, and they have four amazing children. They attend Living Truth Christian Fellowship in Corona, CA where they have taught Jr High studies and where Michelle is involved in the worship ministry. Michelle is also a homeschooling parent and an aspiring author of contemporary Christian fiction. She hosts weekly Story Improvs on her blog, where readers are encouraged to jump in and add to the plot. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end.

Michelle’s Blog  Find Michelle on Facebook.

Posted in Encouragment, Inspiration, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Hands–His and Ours

Posted by April W Gardner on August 15, 2012

Last Tuesday was another big day for the Gardner family. We spent it on the road to see yet another doctor for Morgan. This time, it was for her hand—again. None of these issues that crop up with her are fun, but in the grand scheme of things, we’re tremendously blessed. She could have cancer.

Instead, she has a hand that seems to have a mind of its own. The muscles and soft tissue randomly become inflamed. Our next step into figuring this out is to get another MRI, then, Lord willing, take her to see a group of brainiac doctors at Emery in Atlanta. From what we hear, they live to diagnose rare diseases and conditions.

When we were done with the appointment, I made a comment on my Facebook page—“Maybe one day Imagesoon we’ll understand what’s going on. In the meantime, she’s in Gods PERFECT hands.” This morning I got to thinking about God’s perfect hands, and He brought to mind an article written for the church newsletter I edited many moons ago. It was written by none other than Ruth Millar, a.k.a. “Lizzie” the sweet, little heroine of my children’s novel, Lizzie and the Guernsey Gang.

Ruth has done more than survive WWII. She’s touched countless lives with her willingness to be used of God and speak His truth. Her articles always touch my heart; her Facebook posts always direct me to Him. Here’s what she has to say about Jesus’ Hands…

***

I can never look at a baby without noticing their little hands, so perfectly formed, small nails that are the right shape and size for the tiny fingers, and it is not long before they grip tightly unto whoever is near. How can any believe that anyone, other than an almighty God, could form these perfect little hands?

Quite some while ago, I thought I would do a little Bible Study on the Hands of Jesus, for I realised that He too, once had tiny hands like babies of today. I also realised that it would take more than an hour or two to write about everything The Hands of Jesus did, there are so many wonderful miraculous things which Jesus did with His hands.

Nowhere in the Bible do we read that He used His hands to help Mary His mother, but as He was the oldest child in the family, I feel certain He must have made Himself useful with various household duties, even baby-sitting occasionally. We do know that He helped His earthly father Joseph in his workshop; for it was there that Jesus learned to be a carpenter.

The Hands of Jesus were used so many times to perform miracles. The Hands of Jesus placed mud on the blind man’s eyes, and immediately He could see. These Hands were outstretched to save Peter when he stepped out of the boat to walk on the sea.

The disciples were fishing one night when a storm arose, Jesus was asleep in the boat, they were quite abrupt with their question to Him, “Carest thou not that we perish?” Of course Jesus cared. Again these Hands were raised as He said “Peace be Still” and the storm ceased.

The Hands of Jesus blessed the little children saying “Suffer little children to come unto me…” I feel certain His Hands held them very closely to Him as he hugged and loved them.

His Hands took the five loaves and two fishes; He blessed them and performed the miracle, for there was sufficient to feed over 5000 people with much to spare.

The Hands of Jesus were nailed to the Cross, and there he hung bearing the sins of the whole world. These Precious hands, these Healing Hands, these Nail-pierced and Nail-scarred Hands must always remind us how He willingly gave His life and shed His Blood to pay the price for our Salvation.

Although we can no longer see the Hands of Jesus, they are still open to us all; they are there to comfort us, to heal, and to save.

Image

Ruth Millar

OUR HANDS? Quite a contrast to The Hands of Jesus, but we can use them in so many ways in His service, for if we place our life in His Hands, we can do anything through Christ who strengthens us. Our hands which appear to be so weak in comparison, can become strong in His Might, for even though the Hands of Jesus were bound and nailed to the Cross, they were still Victorious Hands for they conquered death and paid the penalty for our sin.

We will never suffer like Jesus did, for He was forsaken by God His Father which surely was the greatest of all His sufferings. We can never repay the price that was paid for our Redemption, but we can endeavour to do all we can to show our gratitude, to the One who loved us so much that He allowed His Beautiful Hands to be Nail-Pierced for us all.

***

When I think of Morgan’s hand, her surgeries, the IVs, and MRIs–all the “little” things she gone through over the last couple of years—while I watch her grow stronger and braver with each experience, I can’t help but wonder what task God is molding and preparing her for. Her hands are weak, but through Christ’s power and the strength of HIS perfect hands, what might she become…?

What about you? What weaknesses and struggles can God turn into victories? Will you let Him?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Let’s Chat

Posted by April W Gardner on August 8, 2012

Take a moment to stop and think of someone in your life that is truly a delight to talk with. Mind you, I didn’t say “listen to” or “talk to”, I said “talk with.” This someone might not necessarily be your spouse or even your best friend. He or she might be a person at church, or work that you look forward to. Coming up with someone is easy, but have you thought about how pleasant or unpleasant it might be to talk to you?

Proverbs 16:23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.

There are a lot of things about a person that makes us want to be around them or avoid them, but one of the main ones is how they talk and what they talk about. How well can you answer these questions?

 
1. What is your favorite topic of conversation?
This is usually the area that needs to be tweaked the most, mainly because everyone’s favorite topic of conversation is himself. Our sin nature automatically makes every one of us self-absorbed. It rears its ugly head most often when we talk. We want to talk about what we do, think, how we feel.
Do the comments from the person you’re talking to simply remind you of something else you can say about what’s happening in your life? Do you impatiently wait for the other person to quit talking so you can steer the path back to yourself? Worse yet, do you interrupt? Proverbs 17:27-28 He that hath knowledge spareth his words; and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise; and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Want a challenge? The next time you’re at church or work, pick someone you don’t normally interact with and approach them with the intention of talking solely about them. Try your best not to refer to yourself in the conversation. I won’t lie. It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding! Phillipians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

2. Do you actively listen?
Have you ever attentively listened to a woman talk for a few minutes, but when it’s time for you to add your two cents, suddenly she’s concerned with her kids or something else distracting? This is a woman that has not learned to be an active listener. Active listening involves being able to comment or ask questions about what the person has just said. It means looking at them while they talk, nodding, saying “I see,” “how interesting,” and anything else that shows you’re listening. If you’re not practicing this, it tells other people that only what you say is important enough to listen to.


3. Can you play tennis with your words?
A healthy conversation includes both/all parties equally. Usually when there’s a problem with the “game,” the tennis ball is hogged by someone monopolizing the conversation. It takes skill to listen and at the same time be thinking of a comment and question to maintain a healthy interchange. Just like typing, knitting, or golf, for most it takes lots of practice to become a selfless, fluid, and confident conversationalist.
A tip to keep the tennis match going is to end every comment with a specific question—one they can’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no”. Put the ball back in their court. Proverbs 20:15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies; but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.
Think of how wonderful it feels to be asked, “Did you make it to that appointment on time?” or “You look a bit discouraged today. Is there something you’d like to talk about?”t
Asking questions shows that you care, that you’ve thought of them throughout the week, that you were listening the last time you talked.
Work on these three areas, and you’ll have improved your ability to carry a well-balanced conversation. Better yet, you’ll be more like Christ. Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

April W Gardner is a multi-published author

and the senior editor of the literary site, Clash of the Titles. 

*The Conversation by artist Arnold Lakhovsky –This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

*Tennis pix–Attribution: Vladsinger at en.wikipedia

Posted in Encouragment, Friendship | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

The Inside Scoop on Foreign Missions

Posted by April W Gardner on July 11, 2012

Ever wonder what a missionary wife goes through on a foreign field? What’s it like to haul your precious little ones into an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment? How do missionary wives cope?

Below, one such wife share a personal account of her first years on the foreign mission field. She wishes to remain anonymous, but God knows who she is. His eye is on her today as much as it was twenty-four years ago…

***

On September 28, 1988, my husband and I, along with our three children, arrived on our mission field. Before arriving, we were instructed to learn the culture and language. We were to be open and receptive to it. I had been taught that if mother adjusts on the field the whole family adjusts. My task was clearly laid before me.

Approximately one month later we had found an apartment on the ninth floor of an 11 story building. From the balcony, all the people below walking down the sidewalk and all the children playing looked so small, but they were our mission field. Those God had sent us to minister to.

We began language study as soon as possible, ourselves as well as our children. My husband and I had a language professor who came to our apartment twice a week for three hours at a time. There was a young American woman in the national church we attended who worked in the country teaching English to business people.  We asked her to give language lessons to our children.

After several weeks in our new apartment I began noticing differences in each of us. It seemed that our weak traits began to cause us more problems. My social, talkative husband become frustrated, angry, demanding, and not happy with anything. My oldest became more nervous and high strung. My second become more and more drawn into herself.  The youngest, 5 years old, no longer laughed. He just “existed”.  It seemed that the family was coming apart at the seams. Instead of coming together, each one dealt with the drastic change in a way that drove and severed him from the unit.

I suffered for each one. I had been taught that if mother adjusts on the field the whole family adjusts. So I felt a huge burden to be the anchor.

But how? I had no idea how to begin to be what was needed for my family! Here I was a wife and mother, more scared of her own shadow than anything else, in a foreign country that really was not inviting in the least. In this culture where revolting trash was thrown out apartment windows. A culture where the street language is two words normal, one profanity. Add to that the general rejection of anything foreign.

Our family was submerged in a turbulent ocean of foreign, unchristian, “savage” culture, each member drowning, and me, with absolutely no idea how to save them.

I turned to the only thing I knew. In utter desperation and panic of heart, I beseeched the Lord to teach me how to pray for my family in this time and place. All that came to my heart was to ask Him for someone to pray for us. I did not know why, but that is what was put on my heart. So I began begging God for someone to pray for us. Every night when I could not sleep due the heavy burden I would get up, read my Bible, spill my heart onto the written page and then get on my face before God begging him to have someone pray for us, because I was totally paralyzed spiritually to help them myself.

I do not know how long I prayed. All I can remember is that as time went on, the Lord brought to mind to look for open doors for activities for my children: craft classes, art classes, and horse riding lessons, taking family outings to see and get to know the country. Little by little things began to settle down and each one of us began to breathe easier.

I remember exactly the day, where we were, the sun that was shining, the sounds of the traffic as I was driving home with my 5 year old when he said to me, “This place doesn’t feel so different now.” Then I heard his big belly laugh for the first time in months. Such a beautiful sound.

It was beautiful hearing my children laughing again and speaking the language so fluently and with no accent. It was beautiful being able to share fellowship with the believers there. It was beautiful to see beyond the style of life of the culture and into their hearts and all the good qualities as well as the need for the eternal.

So our family adjusted, survived, and thrived. Two years later, the time for our first furlough came around. We arrived in the United States and relished American comforts like peanut butter and grape jelly. While shopping, I ran into a dear friend. They were missionaries in another country. In fact they had arrived in their country of service about a month before we arrived in ours. When she saw me, she grabbed me, gave me a huge hug and said, “Girl, what happened to you? About October I got such a burden for you all that I could not get you off my heart for months!” We had not been in contact for at least 3 years.

At that moment, I saw how God had honored my petition laid out to him in such pain and need. I saw how he honored my family and their decision to dedicate themselves to fulfill the last command of Christ.

More than 24 years have passed, and my husband and I are still on the field, in the same country God . Over the years, I have seen repeatedly how God honors prayer even though we do not see how He accomplishes it.  He is a God of detail, using what is unknown to us to meet our needs and the needs of those we love.


April W. Gardneris a multi-published, award-winning author. Her work includesthe historical romance series, Creek Country Saga.

Posted in Encouragment, Happiness, Heart and Home, Homemaking, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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