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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  • RSS April’s Blog: A Writer’s Journey

    • 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. […]
      noreply@blogger.com (April Gardner)
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    • Featuring Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry (Doc)
      Back Cover Blurb:It was supposed to be a quiet dinner party with her colleagues. Not the scene of a murder.But the murder of a stranger on her front lawn is only the first in a string of events that have Dr. Shannon Frasier’s life teetering on the edge of chaos: She’s unable to make the deeper commitment her boyfriend deserves. Her sister shows up at Shannon […]
    • An Interview With Texas Author Richard L. Mabry
      Welcome Doc Mabry, we are so thrilled to have you here with us today. I hope you don't mind that I used a photo of your book signing with a different book. I felt our readers need to know you have published many books.And now we want to know more about your novel Critical Condition. What can you tell us about the story behind this book? Most of my books […]
    • Interviewing Christian Author V.B. Tenery
      Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Virginia. We are glad to have you here with us today.Question: Is there a story behind your book Works of Darkness?I wanted this story to show the consequences of not taking responsibility for ones actions, and the consequence of failing to do so. Question: What started you on your writing journey? I’ve always been an avid […]
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    • March New Releases Clash
      While we tally the scores for the 2014 Olympia, Clash of the Titles's annual contest for pre-published writers, have a look at these spectacular new releases, hand-picked just for you. After you've chosen your favorite, let us know which it is by casting your vote in the survey box below.We wish our contestants all the best!Mandy will risk everythi […]
    • Permanent Resident at the Purse Table, a COTT Feature
      “Keisha’s debut novel is a sweet reminder of the redeeming power of love, along with a dose of drama between good friends! Her characters are so relatable because they’re imperfect people who’ve made some serious mistakes—just like the rest of us!”-Michelle Stimpson,nNational Bestselling AuthorAbout the book:If you’re size six, you dance. If you’re Ava Alexa […]
    • Escape to Ireland in "Londonderry Dreaming"
       "If you need one of those “Ahh…” moments, consider taking a trip with Keith and Naomi and read Londonderry Dreaming"--Sandy Ardoin, Romance Author and BloggerAbout Londonderry Dreaming:Acclaimed New York artist, Naomi Boyd, and music therapist, Keith Wilson, loved one another five years ago, until her grandfather with his influence over Naomi sepa […]
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    • Spring's Tease
      April is here. It's supposed to be spring. Well, it was supposed to be spring in March but not much has been in evidence. We've endured a tough COLD winter. Now the weather is supposed to warm. Crocus, tulips, daffodils and such are to be poking their heads out of the ground. For every one springlike day we have been getting four to five cold winte […]
    • Seeing The Life - Chapters 1-2
      I'm working fast and furious on my next book, Seeing The Life. My goal is to have it finished by the 15th and the release date is June 7. I truly feel God's hand in this work more than any other. The life of Jesus is well known and studied by, hopefully, all Christians. It places a huge burden on me to make sure things are correct not only in his l […]
    • Help!! I'm Being Buried 
      I've done it again. My email inboxes are overflowing. In my personal email there are 658 emails with 441 unread. In my Soph [...]
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    • Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
      For Such a TimeBy Kate BreslinBethany HouseApril 1, 2014ISBN: 978-0764211607Print $14.99E-book $9.99Publication Date: April 1, 2014 Buy the Book:Barnes and NobleAmazonSee  my interview with the Author HERE for more about this special book.From the publisher:Powerful Retelling of the Story of EstherIn 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels a […]
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      The Ginseng ConspiracyBy Susan BernhardtEbook 5.95MuseItUp PublishingJanuary 2014  Amazon Barnes and Noble MuseItUp About the Book:On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the j […]
    • Women's Expo starts next week April 17!
      Thursday, April 17, 2014, time 1-4 PM CT location www.BibleStudyExpo.comHere's a taste of what you can expect:1 PM CT - Lisa Bevere starts off our Expo with the story behind her book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero  1:15 CT - Dr. Jackie Roese will share the story behind Inhabit: A Study on the Holy Spirit. 1:30 CT - Kathy Howard w […]
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    • BOOK REVIEW: GOING ONCE BY SHARON SALA
      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 […]
    • Book Release and Author Spotlight: Paula Mowrey, Legacy & Love
      Today I am featuring author Paula Mowery who has just released her first solo fiction book, Legacy and Love.Paula  is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. I […]
    • Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
      Every now and then a book comes along that will stick with you for the rest of your life. For me Unbrokenis one of them. The story is based on a true story about the life of Louis Zamperini.  Zamperini, the son poor Italian immigrants, grew up in California and was a wild child on the path to serious delinquency when his older brother Pete finally managed to […]
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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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Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

It Must Have Been the Magnet in my Ear – Lessons in Conference Etiquette

Posted by Lisa Lickel on November 7, 2012

I survived another conference in a state “over there.” Which I drove to, all by myself, through Chicago.

I am not a brave person.

And as I get older, I find myself inappropriately courageous in some places and inappropriately cautious in others. But more of that later. I paid for, attended, pitched, roomed with my agent, made fun of Canadians I only just met, hugged and cheered for people I had just met, sold some books, hopefully encouraged some people, enjoyed the company of strangers who I hope have become friends and marveled that I drove around as much as I did in a state of directionally-challenged fog and still made my pitch on time.

Seriously, the magnet taught me some things about conference etiquette.

1. Go prepared.

No matter how prepared I thought I might have been before, this was my time to shine. I checked out the acquisitions editor I targeted for my pitch, as well as recent releases in my genre from the publisher, and shamelessly name-dropped, which seemed to work in this instance. I also had my pitch for the books I wanted to discuss written out. Which I realized later that I handed to the editor as my brief synopsis and actually started with “Hello, (editor), thank you for seeing me…” I also had a session of acupuncture, admitting my nervousness, which resulted in the acupuncturist placing a tiny magnet in the cartilage of my ear to help with anxiety. Since people, even my Christian friends, have invoked the power of magnets for stuff like motion sickness, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

 

2. Be yourself.

Up to a point. Politics, favorite television shows, bathroom sharing, bedtimes, snoring, getting lost, favorite foods, eating and drinking preferences…I’ve discovered that leaving some mystery about yourself is good. Share what’s not overwhelming or too personal, listen to others a lot, keep that smile plastered no matter…and be kind and helpful.

 

3. Let bygones not haunt you.

I knew I was going to have to probably interact with a person I have not had a good relationship with in the past. I feel terribly unchristian admitting this, but I had to work at dredging up some compassion for this person. Not pity, but compassion. And it helped. No, I was not delighted to meet the person, and smiled from a distance and kept contact to a minimum. It helped. Along with touching that magnet in my ear. Which hurt.

 

4. Leave lots of time.

To get places. When I thought I knew where I was going because I had a picture of the exit in my head, but realized that I had not enough of the in-between route in my head and turned the wrong way several times, I had some time to be lost and still make my editor pitch appointment.

To get away from too much activity. It can be overwhelming to always be “on point,” so make an effort to find time alone for even a few minutes.

To listen to people. You just might make a new fan and a new friend…after all, don’t most of us simply want to be acknowledged?

To answer questions and share of yourself. I’ve been published multiple times now and I do have stuff to share, and I’m willing to share it when asked.

 

5. Keep your expectations realistic.

I went to the conference knowing that I was an unknown author, but also that many of these people were cyber-acquaintances. I was not presenting or offering a workshop at this conference, so I did not expect to sell much. But I did, thanks to a friend who recommended me to others. I also wasn’t sure how much new info I’d absorb from the speakers, but on the flip side, I was also there to support people who needed an audience, and that was okay. And yes, of course, a person can always learn something new, or reinforce or be reminded of past lessons. Usually the editors and agents will be kind and take something even they tell you no later. I was a bit surprised when the editor actually took my pages and chapters I had printed out. My agent was pleased as well. Another cool thing that happened was the big keynote speaker I was excited about said he’d heard about my most recent book.

 

6. And, finally, relax and have fun.

It gets easier for me each time I go. I’m still a little chicken to do totally new things, but with each layer of experience, I grow. I’ve gone from needing my best friend to hold my hand to using medication to the magnet. Maybe someday I won’t even need the magnet.

Posted in Anxiety, Author Marketing, Encouragment, Living Our Faith Out Loud | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Five secrets to make our travel safe.

Posted by janeteckles on November 3, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles

“Do you remember that time we were in an Arkansas?” my friend asked me on the phone.

“We had a great time.”

“I mean the drive to the country home from the airport,” she said. “That was the darkest road ever. It was black.”

“That was one of the most adventurous trips for sure,” I said.

“But even when it was so dark, I felt better because you were with me,” she added.

What a sweet friend…but felt better with me? What good would a blind friend be to her on a pitch black road?

We both laughed for a long while.

But reality isn’t as funny. While on the road of life, we bring along the wrong person—our insecurities. We invite whom we shouldn’t—our negativity. We pursue what isn’t the best—superficial longings. And we trust in others’ wisdom.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. During the journey, here are five ways to make sure you have the best companion for a safe trip:

1. Bring someone who can see the road ahead.
2. Make sure that person has knowledge of the surroundings, the turns and danger points.
3. Determine if that person has traveled that road before.
4. Know that you can trust in that person should your vehicle break down.
5. Be certain that person can take over at any time.

And if you find this person to be anyone else but the Lord—trouble and danger ahead. The road will be dark. Each turn will be dangerous. And the fatal cliff is waiting at the next curve.

But if you can invite Jesus on the journey…if you can relax as He’s beside you, then, no matter how dark the road is, your soul will whisper: “Great peace has those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119.165).

Father, often the road is black, no way out, no signs or lights to guide the way. Teach me to love your law, your precepts and ways. I will have peace, I will trust in your companionship, in your navigating and I shall not get lost, fall or stumble. In Jesus’ name I thank you, amen.

• What road are you on now?
• Who’s guiding your path?
• Who will bring reassurance for the journey?

Janet
Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Friendship, Inspiration, Life Experiences | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Laughter—God’s Gift

Posted by elainemcooper on November 2, 2012

By Elaine Marie Cooper

Author’s Note: This blog posted over a year ago on another site. With all the stress of elections and storms, I pray that you can take a breather and find a moment to smile. Perhaps even laugh. :)

When I was a little girl (but old enough to read) my brothers, sisters, and I looked at a wedding invitation sent to our parents. As each of us read the beautiful font announcing the happy occasion, we each fell on the floor laughing. So what did we find so funny? It read:

Announcing the marriage of Onessima Boelke to Valentine Putz.

We looked at each other through our jovial tears, and said, “She’s going to become Onessima Putz!” Peals of laughter ensued. We even managed to draw my mom into the humor of it. That, in and of itself, was the best part since Mom was not easily humored. It was a moment of pure hilarity that I have never forgotten, mostly because Mom did not often laugh.

But that memory always reminds me of the importance of having a sense of humor—even when circumstances are difficult.

Anyone who has read any of my posts or interviews before knows that my husband Steve and I have endured major stress in our lives. Yet somehow, laughter has become a welcome friend even in the most dire of circumstances.

I will never forget an evening at home when my daughter was ill with a brain tumor. While the setting was not funny in the slightest, what ensued still makes us laugh.

We often read chapters from James Herriott’s books to our daughter Bethany since she really enjoyed the tales of the Yorkshire veterinarian. His stories described his large animal practice during the 1930’s through the ‘60’s. This one particular evening, my elderly mom was reading a chapter to Bethany and the story concerned artificial insemination in cows. So picture a woman in her 80’s reading to a cancer patient about a sensitive topic not often discussed in such detail. I think we all nearly landed on the floor, weak from laughter, listening to my very proper mother trying to get through the reading. And yes, even Mom ended up laughing!

It was a moment of joy that relieved our stress.

So isn’t that what humor is? The opposite side of pain that relieves the tension in our everyday lives?

Consider some of the physical benefits of laughing (courtesy of http://www.humor-laughter.com):

- Lowers the levels of cortisol in our body. Cortisol suppresses our immune system

- Acts like exercise in stimulating our hearts and lungs. Improves our breathing capacity

- 15 minutes of laughter equals the benefit of 2 hours of sleep

- Laughing for 15 seconds adds two days to your life span (I have NO idea how they figured that one out)

- Laughter causes endorphins to release into the body with the same exhilarating effect as doing strenuous exercise (I, personally, would prefer to laugh than exercise—but that’s another topic).

A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore states that laughter along with an active sense of humor may help protect you against a heart attack. They quote the old saying of “laughter being the best medicine.”

So what does the Bible say about laughter? Well, it first appears in Genesis. Both Abraham and Sarah are caught laughing when God promises them a child in their old age.

Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself. “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Genesis 17:17 NIV)

Then the Lord appears in a visible form to Abraham and, within earshot of Sarah, promises that by next year at this time, Sarah will give birth to a son.

“Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of child bearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:10-12 NIV)

Notice that this particular laughter was at the irony of the situation. It was also rooted in pain, as both Abraham and Sarah had long hoped and prayed for a child. I suppose they laughed so they wouldn’t cry.

But as God is in the business of keeping His promises, Sarah did give birth to a son in her old age. The laughter this time was joyful.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”(Genesis 21:6 NIV)

It was a release of heartfelt happiness born after so many years of barrenness. I’m sure if she was able, she would have rolled on the floor laughing. But you never know—any 90-year-old woman who could give birth may have been doing an out-and-out belly laugh!

Laughter in the Bible is often described in its contrast to painful situations. In Psalms126:2, it describes former captives who are now released, returning to their home and filled with mirth:

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.”(NIV)

Again in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes, laughter is side-by-side with pain:

- “Even in laughter, the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” (Proverbs 14:13 NIV)

- “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:2 NIV)

- “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV)

I cannot imagine getting through the difficulties in life without the comfort of humor. It can be found in even the most desperate of situations, if we pray for the eyes to see it. I thank God for His joy.

So when was the last time you were consumed with laughter? Life is filled with stress and certainly there are times when laughing is inappropriate. (Think of a certain candidate in a recent vice-presidential debate…) But could it be that humor is a gift to us when times are tough? When we are beset with financial worries, concerns about our children, fears over a loved ones’ health—maybe God’s remedy to help us cope is as close as a giggle, a smile, a laugh-filled moment.

If anyone wants to borrow the hilarious movie, “While You Were Sleeping,” you can. I own two copies. I have watched the first one so often, I was afraid I’d wear the DVD out so I bought another when it was on sale. I know I can always count on a good laugh when I watch it.

May your life be filled with joyful laughter.

photo credit: maureen_sill via photopin cc

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tuesday Promotion in Motion: Because You Care

Posted by Lisa Lickel on October 2, 2012

About the Book:

Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers

Harvest House Publishers
Gift Book
ISBN 978-0-7369-4328-4
Retail Price: $12.99
Release Date: February 2012
Authors: Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk
Grand Prize Giveaway Description
  • Book—Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers
  • Book—Hope and Comfort for Every Season
  • Hallmark journal, list pad, and memo  pad stack
  • Glade “Angel Whispers” candle
  • Hershey’s Bliss dark chocolate

Instructions to Enter the Grandprize Drawing:

  1. Leave a comment about the book or author on the blog post during the blog tour.
  2. Each blog tour host will draw one name from those comments to send to the tour coordinator by October 12.
  3. The coordinator will put all the names into a drawing, and select a winner, using an online randomizer.
  4. The coordinator will notify the blog tour host who submitted the winning name.
  5. The blog tour host will notify the winner and collect the mailing info so the author can send out the prize.

From the Back of the Book:

As someone caring for an ill or elderly loved one, you understand that your role can push you to the limit, press on every nerve—and yet fill you with a deep sense of love and peace of mind.

Beloved authors Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk know this too. Beautifully written and full of gentle wisdom, their personal stories of caregiving will help you face some of the ups and downs of your journey.

  • Feeling guilty for doing too much, too little, or nothing at all
  • Answering other’s well-meaning but insensitive questions
  • Watching someone you dearly love suffer or die

Here are the stories from those living the life. Let their encouraging words lift your heart.


Book Excerpt:

(from the beginning)

This Is Who You Are

From Cec and Twila

Others may call you brave. They’ll use words like noble or sacrificial. They’ll admire and applaud you because you’ve offered your life to make yourself available to someone who needs a long-term caregiver.

“I couldn’t do what you’re doing for him,” a friend says.

You listen to the words your friend speaks, and you like hearing the compliments. Yet as you listen and smile, you don’t see yourself as exceptional. You’re doing the right thing for someone you love, and that gives you peace. You also know the reason you’ve devoted your energies to another person.

You can express that reason in a single sentence: “I do it because I care.” You might say it’s because you love the person, or you may do it because of a strong sense of commitment to God and to your loved one. Regardless of how you express yourself, you’re determined to give yourself as fully as you can.

Some days you may not feel like loving anyone. You get tired, lose your temper, or think of the things you didn’t accomplish. During the worst times, you wish the situation would change. And in those dark moments, you’ve probably prayed, Dear Lord, please take this burden from me.

The situation probably won’t change for a long time—perhaps years. It’s not the kind of life you would have imagined. You probably envisioned living out your years in blissful peace. Caring for your loved one wasn’t part of your dream, but this is the life you have. Despite the moments of sadness, perhaps even regret, your answer remains the same: “I care.”

Taken from: Because You Care. Text Copyright © 2012 by Cecil Murphey, Twila Belk. Artwork Copyright © 2012 by Betty Fletcher. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. Used by permission.

About the authors:

For more info about Twila, visit: www.gottatellsomebody.com.

For more info about Cec, visit: www.cecilmurphey.com.

Twila Belk and Cecil (Cec) Murphey are both long-term caregivers for their spouses. Twila, aka the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves to brag on God. She works fulltime with Cec as his manager, personal assistant, and biggest fan. Cec is a veteran author who has written or co-written more than 125 published books, including the bestsellers 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. Cec and Twilas’ second co-authored book, Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware (Guideposts Books), released in August 2012.

Posted in Anxiety, Author Spotlight, Book Giveaway, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Till death do we part | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Jesus Wants All Your Recipes

Posted by Luther D. Powell on September 13, 2012

As a forewarning, this post may come off pretty negative at first. I’ve been in an unpleasant state of mind this past week and it’s made coming up with cheerful writings difficult. Or rather, it’s made writing difficult, period. I don’t want this to be a “woe is me” post by any means, but I feel that bringing up certain issues in my life in such a fashion might prove to be more productive than pretending like everybody can relate to my “stuff” without explaining what it is. I want nothing more than to use this negative topic matter as a means to get a message of hope across to readers.

How often are you cooking up exquisite recipes of bitterness, sadness, anger, etc.? You know like, practically concocting a stew of reasons to be upset, just so you feel like your frustrations are justified? Do you ever empty every ingredient you can think of into the same pot, hoping to come out with some exciting, new “meal,” so to speak? A new outlook on life, a new line of mental and emotional defense against either positive thinking or negative? You may keep pouring into this recipe, trying to figure out how to get it to taste right, trying to figure out how to balance the health-factor with the flavor-factor, and you find that all your ingredients have gone bad. You ran out of this, you need more of that, you don’t have the money to buy new this, that definitely has mold on it. You NEED something new, but you just keep coming up with the same old casserole of frustrations.

Lately, this has been my recipe for bitterness. I don’t mind sharing this stuff because bringing it all to light makes it easier to conquer one way or another, and perhaps a reader or two may be on the same page with me.

First, start with a pot or pan which is clearly too small to contain everything you’re about to pour into it. I.e., your heart, because nobody’s heart was built to withstand these ingredients alone, but you only PLAN to use SOME of this stuff to begin with. Then again, what’s it going to hurt to cook a bit of extra, right?

I’m hungry. Hungry for answers, hungry for peace, hungry for the joy God says we’re supposed to express daily. I’m gonna mix ALL this stuff up whether I can handle it all in one sitting or not.

The order of ingredients may vary, but we’ll start with what we’ll use the most of. For me, that would be twenty-two whole years of “Nobody’s ever going to get me.” It’s not as negative a thought as the rest turn out to be, at first. I can feel like I’ve accepted such a reality enough that it won’t bother me anymore sometimes, but most of the time, it turns out to be a bleak reality that I’m not too content with.

Next, throw in several years of bullying. It really is tasty stuff. I, for one, love to sit back and tell myself, “I have every right to be mad at the way my life has turned out, and it all started with that jerk who chased me around at recess.”

Now that we’re getting some substance to our stew, let’s toss in some broken-heartedness. And by some, I mean ALL of it. How many shelves do you have full of rejection and failed relationships? Trust me on this, you ARE hungry enough. Pour it all in.

After you let that simmer some, you’ve got a good foundation for the meal and you can start adding some spices and seasoning. You know, seasoning, the little things that hang around whether ot not they have some root to stem from. Insecurities, lies, harsh words, turn your kitchen into an Olive Garden of pain using this stuff!

My personal favorites are, “everyone mistakes my kind nature for being-a-huge-creeper,” and “nobody wants to listen to what I have to say.”

Finally, sprinkle a dash of questioning-your-faith over all that. What better follow-up to all your invested bitterness than to argue with yourself over whether or not you actually believe there’s a God out there who cares about you? I won’t lie, I question my faith very rarely, but when I do, it finishes my recipe off with a kick, like a few drops too many of hot sauce or something.

So, you’ve got this dish full of hate and you’re ready to eat. Problem is, people don’t wanna eat that with you. You have to look at it, smell it, taste-test it, and you realize it’s a pretty disgusting mix and you’re not sure if YOU even want to eat it. You’re left with three choices:

1.  Eat it anyway. Suffer through it alone, then repeat the process the next time you’re “hungry.”

2.  Pour it out somewhere. If you don’t want it, get rid of it. Cast it to the wind and wait to see if you can think of something better. (Spoiler-alert: You probably can’t.)

3.  Invite Jesus over to share the meal with Him. Sounds harsh at first, yeah? If your friends don’t want to eat that, why would God share it with you?

You may have already chosen to pour the gunk out somewhere, but it seems like whenever I think of doing that, God stops me and says, “Wait! What do you have there? May I have some? Maybe we can get through this together, yeah?” God did not make us with the capacity to handle all of this on our own. In fact, He’s offered to share it with us, to fight with us, to turn our recipes of bitterness into recipes of love. God can make anything new, He can make anything good, and He can handle the hot sauce.

The best part is, He already did. Now you’ve just gotta wash the dishes.

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Anxiety, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Writing Withdrawal of Doom

Posted by Luther D. Powell on August 30, 2012

Aside from these very blogs, I have not written much of anything since moving back to Bowling Green. Not because I haven’t had time, not because I’ve been seeing people and going places, but rather, I just…haven’t. Part lack of motivation, part depression, part watching-kung-fu-movies-with-my-roommates-instead, I suppose. What really blows my mind about the span of time without writing is that, last night, I wrote some. And by some, I mean a lot.

It happened out of NOWHERE. I didn’t even plan on it last night! I was drawing a bit, eating a lot, hanging around the apartment, then BOOM. Thought I’d sit down and take a peek at the ol’ MS. Filled three pages, no problem. Granted, that’s probably way less than the average published-novel-author, but for me, after having gone so long without it, it was like Heaven. Listening to music, admiring my fancy-schmancy new font, lounging with my laptop on the bed. It felt great.

Writing has become my medication. Too long without it, and my mind grows numb. I don’t get writers block too often, I’ll just have phases where I don’t feel like writing. I get plenty of ideas; most of them I grab from my daily life. The parts of my life that I wish I could tell others about but can’t quite vocalize, I write into the characters from my imagination. My experiences bleed into these word documents and journals, and I feel like although I come up with cool and new ideas, I don’t really gain from them until I can see the words in front of me. I learn as I write. So then, how is it that I can just bail out of it suddenly and go a while without it? I don’t understand it, myself.

See, with art, drawing and all that, I don’t even have to feel like drawing to get a nice drawing done. If I know I have to complete something, I do it. That’s not the case with writing. I really need to feel it first, but half the time, I’ll feel like it and be in class or something else that prevents me from separating my conscious mind from body. What are some ways that you, readers and writers, hold tight to the writing-fire? How do you avoid the withdrawal?

It’s so odd to me, that I could get depressed and NOT feel like writing, because most of the times that I feel like writing (sad as it sounds) are spurred on by my more negative emotions. When I’m not enjoying the world I live in or the life I’m living, I invest more into the lives I create in my head (context is EVERYTHING). So, what do I need to do to get myself in the mood without being in a lame mood? Truly, writing horror has always been heavily-motivated by sadness and gloom, (just ask Edgar Allan Poe!… yeah…) but it doesn’t have to be. My writing doesn’t THRIVE on sadness and gloom, that’s just the most ideal state for me to be in whenever I want to come up with something uber-creepy.

Am I the only writer who gets these moments of withdrawal? I can admit, being a Christian and wanting to write for God, part of me believes that the enemy finds much pleasure in distracting me from my writings, though it’s hard to recognize some distractions. When you’re a writer, doing anything other than writing can become a ‘distraction’ if you think about it that way, but one must live to understand how to give characters life. So then, what am I living which has pulled me away from the lives of all my brain-children? How can I replenish my dose, get my fixes consistent again? Advice is much appreciated, readers! God bless!

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Anxiety, Inspiration, Life Experiences, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Smile and Wave Basis

Posted by Luther D. Powell on August 23, 2012

So I met this girl.

Ha, you probably thought this would turn into some romantic-rant the minute you read that, didn’t ya? Romantic-rant. Rommmant? Nah, that won’t work. ANYWAY, during my first work shift of the semester, a freshman girl approached me with the sincerest of faces and asked if I could explain to her how her mealplan system worked. I proceeded to do so, she thanked me and walked away. Since then, I have seen this girl on campus at least four times, and each of those times, neither of us have done much more than smile and wave at each other.

Am I the only person who gets internally frustrated by this sort of thing? I enjoy the occasioanal smile-and-wave, it lets me know people don’t think I’m an alien or something, but what does that MAKE that person to me? Are we friends? Acquaintances? How many variable timelines of history would be dramatically altered if I just talked to this girl like a normal person the next time I saw her? I don’t know, but friendships happen in weird ways these days. Nobody asks “Hey, will you be my friend?” anymore. It’s all about Facebook and texting and other moderately-useful technological advances I haven’t yet mastered. Sometimes you just straight-up meet people through Facebook! Sometimes those people get you published (thanks, Ben and Lisa)!

I may forever be entitled to a “smile-and-wave” basis with this girl, as I am with a select few other human beings on the planet, but I could break that. I could say, “Hey, I see you at places doing things and stuff. I do things and stuff too, so we should totally just be friends instead of passing each other awkwardly figuring out how to interact with each other for the rest of our existence.” I might not. We’ll see how daring I’m feeling the next time I pass her. But what about the smile-and-wave basis you end up on with friends occasionally? That happens too, right?

And I hate it.

You’ve been close to a person for a certain amount of time, but now there’s distance. Happens all the time. Could be because something actually happened to cause such distance, could just be you’ve run out of new things to talk about with that friend. If I know this situation well, and I believe I do, most of the time, before one of you or the other decides to break the silence and do more than smile and wave as you pass on the sidewalk, enough time may pass for you and that friend to have changed a lot. Changes in character can come about unexpectedly, and I, for one, am often intimidated by the knowledge of such changes. What if it’s too late to talk to this person again? What if my time has passed and I’ll just look weird if I try to say anything? What if he/she doesn’t forgive me?

HEY GUESS WHAT? This happens with God a whole lot. You may not recognize it because you’re too busy with whatever distractions have put distance between you and God in the first place. I know it happens to me frequently, and the silly part is, I feel exactly the same way with God as I do with friends and newly-met-friend-stranger-acquaintance-people. What if it’s too late to start conversation? What if I’ll look weird? What if He doesn’t forgive me?

Whether you’ve just met a person but haven’t developed a friendship, or you’ve become distant with someone you’ve already called a friend, the way you break the silence is pretty much the same: start new. The cool thing about God is that He doesn’t change. We do, but He’s always been God. He gives us a clean slate after every time we come to Him to confess our sins, so technically, we’re starting new with Him anytime we’ve got something to confess (which, unless you’re an android, is more than likely every stinkin’ day).

I try to treat God like a friend as much as I treat Him like God, and anything else. ‘Cause that’s what He is. That’s what He said He is, and what He was making a point out of becoming to us when He was here with us in bodily form. So when you’ve been on a smile-and-wave basis with God for a while and you don’t know how to fix that? Well first, be glad He’s still smiling back. He probably always will. Second, just come to Him any way you’d come to a friend in the same situation. “Hey, friend. I’ve been distant for [such-n-such] reason, and I see that I need to make amends. Can we start over?”

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Friendship, Life Experiences, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s Too Complicated!

Posted by Luther D. Powell on August 9, 2012

After a creative summer filled with commission work, brainstorming, reading, brainstorming, writing AND brainstorming, I have come to a uniquely unpleasant conclusion:

My story is way too complicated.

Not only do I feel that the plot of this book I’m writing needs some serious dumbing-down, but I’ve managed to cycle almost all the way back to where I began rewriting the whole thing two or three years ago! Stuff that I thought was cut out for good crawled back out of its grave and screamed in my face, “I’m good story material! USE ME!”

See, it was two years ago or so that depression reared its ugly head in my life, and basically told me that nothing I wrote was realistic enough. The pain I felt then didn’t reflect off any of my characters; none of them seemed human to me (I mean…few of them ARE human, but you know what I mean). After reading over my “first book,” I thought, none of this works. So I shelved it and started thinking up completely different stories. Now THOSE are shelved temporarily and I’m back to the first story. I’ve punished this keyboard all summer trying to get it where I want it. It has hit me now that I might have accidentally brought back everything that pushed me to rewrite it in the first place. That being, way too much stuff.

I, for one, love books and movies that make me think. Of course, you need good characters as well, but there’s something about how a plot leaves you immediately thinking, “I’ll definitely have to watch/read that again,” that goes to show that a writer knows what he/she is doing. Some examples of movies I enjoy that also make me think: Inception (first one that comes to mind), The Prestige, Donnie Darko (not the best movie ever, but it’s got style), Source Code, and Jacob’s Ladder. Call me crazy, but I can really get into stories that flip my brains inside out. The stories that you have to recover from, that’s powerful. It takes skill for a story to do that. I feel it’s safe to say, as a writer, I don’t want to write single-read books. I want my readers to feel compelled to pick my book up again to catch all the little details they missed the first time around.

Here’s my problem. It is obvious to me that not everyone likes to have their brains flipped inside out. In other words, some of my friends didn’t like Inception, because it was “too complicated.” One of my favorite TV shows, Community, is being rumored to get cancelled soon because viewers have complained that it’s “too complicated.” Community is a comedy, and I personally think it’s revolutionary to have comedy that makes people think, but I understand why some don’t enjoy it. I understand because I’m starting to see my own story as “too complicated!” I thought simplifying it would make it easier to write, but that made it kind of boring for me. Now I’m back at my original problem: it doesn’t feel realistic enough, but not because my characters don’t seem human enough. There’s just too much happening! Too may coincidences, and not enough quiet time. Keep in mind, I’m writing horror. I want to deprive my readers of sleep, but not because they’re confused; I wanna creep people out! …You know, for Jesus.

Part of me considers splitting the one book (one out of an already-series of books) into other books. Maybe a trilogy of its own? Ted Dekker is a big inspiration to me in that area of writing, because he hasn’t just written a series of books. :Spoiler alert!: Ted Dekker has managed to write separate trilogies, completely different storylines, and connect them so that readers will want all of it anyway! I’ve never seen anybody else do that, so naturally, new as the method seems, I kind of want to try it. But I don’t want to write three books right now! I want to write one! AUGH!

How does one go about cancelling out complicated stuff? I enjoy coming up with a few twists here and there, but once you’ve written yourself into the singularity of a black hole of swirling plot bridges and all-too-convenient coincidences, I think there’s an issue. What kinds of character development can be left out? Do so-and-so and whatshername really have to meet up in order to keep the story rolling? Do any of you writers out there ever have this problem?

I really need to work on endings for these blogs. That’s all for now, folks! Same time next week, I’ll be back in Bowling Green awaiting the start of a new school year. Weird. God bless, readers!

In Christ,

Luther D. Powell

Posted in Anxiety, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

What to do while we wait for God’s answer.

Posted by janeteckles on July 28, 2012

By Janet Perez Eckles

“How did they get to Paris without me?” my friend said when she got the news from the airline.

Has that happened to you? You reach your destination and your luggage ends up in another part of the world.

Frustrating. But not as much as missing your connecting flight because the previous flight was late.

That happened to me a couple of years ago. The wait for the next flight kept me in the airport for eight long, miserable hours. But you guys know this chica; nothing is miserable when adventure is your middle name.

When I got the news, gloom threatened to come in. But I gripped my white cane and smiled big at the lady across the counter. “Can you tell me where the nearest restaurant is?”

“Not too far,” she said. “It’s that way.”

No doubt, without thinking, she was pointing. Obviously, such gesture meant nothing to this blind chica. So, I did what every sensible blind person would do. I gave another smile. This one said, “I know you can find someone who can help me there.”

The smile worked. And although I said not a word, she called someone who helped me, chatted with me, laughed with me, assigned a waitress to me, and introduce me to another employee who became my friend. Those hours were entertaining and ever so pleasant.

See, friends, that’s how life is. While we’re waiting for that connecting flight between the pain we’re suffering and the victory God promised, gloom can creep up.

And it’s not easy to shake the temptation to give up, curse our fate, complain, and wish for irrational things to take us out of our misery. Have you been there? In the airport of transition, waiting for years for that flight to take you to the destination where answers and solutions await?

Good news: Often it’s in the waiting that God’s strength becomes stronger in us. God’s power becomes vibrant. And His whisper of reassurance becomes more soothing.

No wonder God said, “Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:5-6).

Father, I praise you because your work in me is not complete yet. Your work is still in process. Your hand is still carving, molding, and shaping my life. Remind me to rejoice while I wait, to hope while I ponder, and to count on the outcome while I live each moment. In Jesus’ name, amen.

• What process is God working in your life right now?
• Are you waiting for the answer, solution, and results with joy in your heart?
• How can you uphold the confidence that carries you till the day of triumph?

Janet

Posted in Anxiety, Encouragment, Hope, Inspiration | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Tuesday Promotion in Motion with Brenda Wood and The Big Red Chair

Posted by Lisa Lickel on July 10, 2012

About the Book:

The Big Red Chair, a storybook with CD for grieving children.

ASIN: B007BGD2UQ

$4.99 on Kindle

Book Excerpt—

There are two kinds of people in the world: gluttons and non-gluttons. Since I am a slightly recovered glutton, I feel qualified to point out the vast differences between the two.

Non-gluttons don’t hide chocolate in their toilet tanks, between the mattress and the box spring, in laundry hampers, or in the glove box of the car. They throw out stale potato chips, eat only one peanut at a time, and never celebrate holidays by eating ice cream under the dash of their car.

They may straighten a curtain, but never a block of cheddar or slice of pie. Not for them cold gravy sandwiches, aged green potato salads, or entire chocolate cakes at one sitting. They don’t make chocolate chip cookies just so they can eat the dough.

What others are saying about the book:

The Big Red Chair deals specifically with grieving the loss of someone you love and it is done with the love of a grandmother’s heart. The book includes questions that guide grieving children. A CD is also included. If you know a little one struggling with grief, this would be a good book to read to them. Laura J. Davis- http://www.laurajdavis.com

 

About the Author:

Brenda calls herself ‘the ABC girl’ because she survived the abc’s of abuse, bulimia, cancer. She’s working her way through the d’s (the death of her husband) and expects to conquer the entire alphabet with the help of her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Brenda is a popular motivational speaker, known for her common sense wisdom, sense of humour and quirky comments. She enjoys speaking at women’s retreats, church functions, community events, Stonecroft Ministries and more.

Her current topics include Overcoming What is Overcoming You, Living like a Princess when your Life is the Pits, Meeting Myself: Snippets from a Binging and Bulging Mind- a story of abuse, bulimia and recovery, and What to Do when You don’t Know What to do. Her devotionals appear regularly at http://everydaychristian.com/ / and http://daily.presbycan.ca/ / and Beliefnet.com

Brenda lives near Toronto, Canada. She loves to play with her five grandchildren but her other favourite things include writing, sewing, a warm fire, a good book, and pounding the pavement on her early morning walks.

 

Posted in Anxiety, Author Spotlight, Encouragment, Friendship, Heart and Home, Parenting | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

 
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