On Being a Writer: Arrange

I’m joining in with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. The second chapter is about arranging our time and space to make room for writing.

About nine weeks ago, I decided it was time to get serious about my writing. So I tried to set up a weekly schedule that would include three afternoons a week for writing. What has happened since then reminds me of when I’m working on a jigsaw puzzle, trying to fit in a puzzle piece that looks exactly like it fits where I’m trying to put it, but it doesn’t. In frustration, I try to put it in other places that look like possibilities, until I finally give up on placing that piece and pick up another piece and start the same process with it

To help you understand why this is what happens when I try to follow a specific schedule, let me tell you a little about myself. I am a woman who suffers with a long list of chronic illnesses, which currently are causing weakness and weariness that often require me to I spend part my daytime hours in bed resting. I don’t work outside the home, but my husband has a Christian video production business and Ihandle his bookkeeping. I also have an adult son with special-needs, who receives in-home nursing care, so this is a busy house. And recently, I’ve had to spend a lot of time working out some problems concerning my son’s medical equipment and supplies. So I have more than enough to keep me busy without writing. Yet I’ve sensed the Lord Jesus telling me that I needed to make time for writing.

Since I made the decision to spend time every week writing, I’ve come up with a different kind of plan that is working for me. When I get up in the morning, I start by spending time in God’s Word and prayer. Then I ask the Lord to give me His assignment (or assignments) for the day. Some days, God brings to mind that our  business records need to be brought up to date. Others, I sense He wants me to focus on household tasks. Some days He says, “it’s time to write.”  And other days He’ll show me a couple small tasks to do and say when they’re done I need to rest. This may not work for everyone, but for me it has helped me to catch up on my many-faceted responsibilities (which I had fallen way behind on when trying to stick to a schedule) and write at least one blog post per week. And I’ve done so while going to numerous doctors appointments and taking time to rest when that’s really what I need to be doing. This may not be the answer for anyone else in this group, but it’s working for me.

The arrangement of my space is also probably different than most of the rest of the ladies in this group. Because of the problems with my neck and back, I am not able to spend long periods sitting at a desk or table using my laptop. So I do most of my writing on my iPad, using the WordPress app. And I work sitting in my recliner, with a shelf next to me holding materials I might need. I do have a laptop, which I occasionally use, but most of my writing is done on the iPad.

Tuesday at Ten {the words I live by and what that means to me

Love – The First and Second Commands

The words I live by are found in Scripture, in the Gospel of Mark (similar words are also found in Matthew and Luke).

“What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:28b-31‬ ‭NASB)‬‬

Jesus knew that the time was near when He would face the Cross, and He wanted to leave His followers with a message they would remember. He gave them two of the primary principles they would need to live by, once He was no longer with them. He wanted them to understand that LOVE was the most essential command.

Loving the Lord our God is the first great commandment Jesus gave His followers. 

 How do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind?

  • Pursue the Lord as our greatest treasure. 

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,” (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:7-8‬ ‭NASB‬)‬

  •  Make pleasing the Lord our chief aim in life.

“Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:9-10‬ ‭NASB)‬‬

  • Spend time daily in God’s Word to get to know Him.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

  • Obedience is the outward demonstration of our love for God.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John‬ ‭14:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

Loving our neighbors as ourselves is the second commandment. And remember …

IMG_1518 The Greek word used for love in these verses is “agape” – the kind of love that seeks the greatest good for others. In John 15:12, Jesus said:  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (NASB) Jesus loved us by laying down His life for us, so this means we need to be willing to lay down our lives for one another. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 gives us one of the clearest explanations of how we can live out this agape love. It’s a perfect description of how God loves us and how He wants us to love others.

IMG_1510

I AM A WRITER!

I’m joining in with the online discussion group that Kate Motaung is hosting on her blog Heading Home, based on the book Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts, by Ann Krocker & Charity Singleton Craig. The first chapter’s topic is Identify. 

My writing began during an English class I had in college, where for the first fifteen minutes of class the instructor had us write – on whatever came to mind.  His idea was that we learn to write by writing. Then when I became a believer in Christ a little while after this, I started keeping journals. This was habit forming – I now have many boxes of journals I have filled with reflections on my walk with God. Writing became a part of my daily life, yet writing professionally hadn’t even entered my mind. I never would have called myself a writer. Then about fifteen years ago, people started telling me I should write a book about my experiences as the mother of a special needs son. The idea began to take root, but the idea of writing a book was over-whelming. So I decided to start with writing an article and submitting it to a national magazine for the parents of special needs children. I had a friend who was a professional editor, and she helped me cut down my article to a length most magazines want, and I submitted it to Exceptional Parent Magazine. To my surprise, they decided to publish it.

This was a huge encouragement, but my real desire was to write for Christian publications. So I wrote several articles, had them edited and then submitted them (one at a time) for publication. Before long, I received my first rejection letter, actually a very kind one that said they had recently published an article on the same subject as my article and wouldn’t be able to use it. They encouraged me to continue writing and submitting other articles, and I did. But each new article brought another rejection letter, until fear of rejection caused me to give up writing for publication.

For the next several years, my hours were filled with care giving for my special son and my mother-in-law who suffered with Alzheimer’s, and I simply didn’t have time to write. Last year, Mom received her heavenly reward and suddenly I had time once again to write. But it was still a stretch to call myself a writer. I started studying books about writing, and even began a blog, but writing was simply a side bar on my busy life.

A few months ago, I sensed God asking me when I was going to get serious about writing. I actually set up a schedule that allowed me some time three days a week to work on writing, and I started using writing prompts from Tuesday at Ten and writing a blog post weekly. My dream is bigger than a blog, but this is a step in the right direction. Writing is only one part of my life – first and foremost, I am a Christian – but writing  is now a part of my weekly life.

This brings a story from the Bible to mind. As Joshua was going through the wilderness and preparing to cross the Jordan, the river looked like a huge obstacle. But Joshua had already learned the importance of listening for God’s directions and obeying them.  So this was just another time to listen and obey. And when he did, the first priest put his foot in the Jordan river and the waters parted. This was the first step for Israel as they moved forward to take their Promised Land. Writing to glorify God is my dream, my promised land, and I have now put my toes back in the river and am waiting for the waters to part, as they did for Joshua.

While I’ve used “readywriter” as an identifying name for me online for many years, I’ve never really come to the place of calling myself a writer. As my husband says, it’s about time, and I agree with him. I AM A WRITER.

Tuesday at Ten: Who am I? {I am … }

Who am I? When asked to introduce myself, I usually say that I’m the wife of a Christian film and video producer and the mother of two adult children. Depending on the setting, I might add that I’m the mother of a special needs adult son. Or that I’m a woman who suffers with a long list of chronic illnesses. These are facts about my life, but are they really who I am? No. If I have repeatedly been unsuccessful in reaching a goal, I might even identify myself as a failure. But all of these are simply what the flesh, the world, and the devil says about me. They are not who I really am, because they leave our the most important thing about me. First and foremost, I am a Christian, a daughter of the living God!
image

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” For me, that “someone” is Jesus Christ. In 1 John 2:6, the apostle John said we are “to walk in the same manner as He walked.” So being like Christ is the key to being the person I really desire to be.

This idea was a major key to accepting Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I grew up in church, but I was twenty-four years old before I made this decision. My pastor at the time decided to do a sermon based on the book In His Steps. This novel by Charles M. Sheldon asks the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” in various situations of life.image

Because of the challenge of my pastor, I asked “What would Jesus do?” and as a result changed my plans for the next evening. Instead to going to see a local play as I had planned, I decided to accept my pastor’s invitation and go with his family and a few others to a church service. The speaker that night was Dale Chapman, who had recently started a Bible college in Oklahoma City. As a result of that meeting, my life was changed for ever! First, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And I made a commitment to do whatever God said and to go wherever He led me. That resulted in me resigning from my job as a kindergarten teacher, enrolling in the Bible college Dale Chapman had spoken about, and meeting my future husband. I became a child of God, a daughter of the Kings of Kings and Lord or Lords. And I dedicated my life to serving Him. Since that pivotal day, the question “Who am I?” really has only one answer: I am a Christian.

image

Tuesday at Ten {Awaken}

If Jesus was walking on earth today in His human body, I believe His message to today’s church would be similar to what He said to Peter at the Garden of Gethsemane. I think He might say: “It’s time to AWAKEN from your spiritual slumber and pray!”


If you look up the word AWAKEN in a dictionary, it means to wake up from sleep and to action. Today, much of Christ’s church is in a spiritual slumber. We need to be stirred to action. We need to pray.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently. I’ve had a hard time getting to sleep, so when the alarm goes off in the morning I tend to push the snooze alarm to get just a little more sleep. This isn’t good physically – my days are usually full of things that need to be done. But “pushing the snooze alarm” spiritually is even more dangerous. God is calling His church to prayer, and to pray effectively we need to be spiritually awake.

Let me start by saying I am not an expert on prayer. Like most of you, I am a learner. I’ve made a commitment to spend time daily in prayer, and that usually begins by responding to the Scripture passages I’ve read that day, praying God’s Word back to Him. This is one easy way to know that my prayers will be heard.

There are many keys to effective prayer, so I will just list a few. This is an area in which most of us have room to grow, and numerous resources are available for more in-depth study.

Keys to Effective Prayer:

1. Remember that prayer is an incredible privilege that God has given us. Whether we personally are facing a time of need, or someone else we care for has a need for prayer, we can come before our Lord with confidence that He is listening.

  • “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
  • “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John‬ ‭5:14-15‬ ‭NIV‬)

2. Effective prayer begins with becoming quiet before the Lord and focusing on His presence. Be still, slow down and turn your mind from the things of this world to the presence of God, through praise and thanksgiving.

  • “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”(‭‭Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬)
  • “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (‭‭Psalm‬ ‭100:4‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

3. Sin separates us from God, so the next keys to effective prayer are to humble ourselves, confess our sins, resist the devil, and submit to God.

  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV)‬‬
  • “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭NASB)‬‬
  • “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James‬ ‭4:6b-7‬ ‭NIV)

4. Next, be su‬re that you are praying according to the will of God. Take time to listen to God’s voice, allowing Him to direct your prayers.  And as mentioned above, pray the Word of God, as specific‬ verses come to mind. Pray with faith that God will hear and answer, because He has been involved from the beginning of your prayer time.

  • “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:24‬ ‭NASB‬‬)


5. Pray for your personal needs, whether you need wisdom in a difficult situation, a financial need met or whatever is on your heart, lift it up to God in faith that He hears.

  •  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James‬ ‭1:5-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

6. Effective prayer looks beyond our own needs to the needs of others. Whether pleading with God for those lost in their sin, for others in the body of Christ who are struggling in some way, or for those needing physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, lift the needs of those God has put on your heart up to His throne of grace.

  • “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬)
  • “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John‬ ‭6:44‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” (James‬ ‭5:14-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

7. Finally, we need to pray for our city, state, nation and the world. Pray for the church, including those facing persecution for their faith. Pray for missionaries, who have the only message that can change individuals and nations. Pray for spiritual leaders, who need wisdom in these difficult times. Pray for those in civil authority. Ask God to show you who especially needs your prayers today.

  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Colossians‬ ‭4:2-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew‬ ‭5:44 NIV)
  • “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭2:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (NIV) – and if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are clothed in His righteousness.  So wake up! Receive your prayer assignment for today from God. And pray. 

 

Tuesday at Ten  {I Find Faith In…}

I Find Faith in God’s Word

The best way to find faith is by making a choice to spend time daily in God’s Word. Faith grows as we hear the preaching or teaching of God’s Word, as we read it aloud or even silently, as we memorize it and meditate upon it, and as we study it, being “diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:15‬ ‭NASB)‬‬.

Knowing God’s Word and standing on what it says – and not on what our emotions are saying – is the key to walking through any circumstance in a way that pleases God. For Hebrews 11: 6 makes it clear that the only way to please God is to walk in faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬).

  • The Word of God reveals the character of God. He is a loving, faithful, powerful God. But He also hates sin and will discipline His children when they stray from His ways.
  • The Word of God reveals the works of God. As we see what He has done in the past, our faith is built for what He will do in our lives.
  • The Word of God reveals the promises of God. He has promised to never leave us, to give us wisdom when we ask for it, to show us how to walk, to meet all of our needs, and so much more.
  • The Word of God reveals who we are. If we are born-again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are His beloved children, a part of His family. When He returns, we will be a part of His bride.

I hope you will join me in making a commitment to read God’s Word every day. It can make the difference between walking in faith or unbelief, in victory of defeat! 

This is a Tuesday at Ten post, the Tuesday blog link-up where you have 6 full days to use the “prompt phrase” as a part of your writing.

Tuesday at Ten     {If I could change anything …}

This writing prompt from Tuesday at Ten took a lot of deliberation for me. First, I thought I’d write about changing my problems with chronic illness, but then the Lord reminded me that He’s been telling me to let go of my “if onlys.” What I’ve walked through, and am continuing to experience, hasn’t been easy, but it is a major part of my testimony of God’s faithfulness. So I kept praying.

Finally, I came up with an area I actually have some power to change – the spiritual and moral condition that currently exists in our nation, where our rights as Christians are being threatened. So what can I do to change this situation? What can all of us, as believers in Christ, do to bring our nation back to the Judeo-Christian mindset  and culture we used to have?

The first step God has called me to make, like the Christian forefathers of our nation, is to be willing to “pledge our life, fortune, and sacred honor” to stand for righteousness in this nation. Our pastor preached on this July 5th, and my husband and I reaffirmed that our primary allegiance is to God. If our government asks us to do something that goes against God’s Word, we made the commitment to remain faithful to God. Since we don’t know what stands ahead for our nation, we don’t really know what this commitment will require.

My husband and I live in Houston, Texas, where our lesbian mayor and our city council passed a law in June 2014 prohibiting any discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation. This case make the national news when Mayor Parker filed a law suite againt several pastors who opposed this law, subpoening their sermons. After national outcry, the subpoenas for the sermons were withdrawn. But the law remains on the books. The recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling does in our nation what Mayor Parker did in our city, and goes a step further and overrules state laws prohibiting homosexual marriage, making it legal in all 50 states. So we are living in a time when Christian business owners, including my husband who is a Christian filmmaker and video producer, could be forced to take jobs that go against their Christian beliefs or face huge fines or even prison. This had already happened to several Christian business men and women across our nation prior to this SCOTUS ruling, and with this recent ruling the likelihood of an increase in such cases is high.


In Matthew 5, Jesus clearly called the church to be salt and light to the world around us. Unfortunately, the church as a whole has failed to obey this call.  Jesus’ statement in John 17:14 concerning the church, “they are not of the world any more than I am of the world,” is no longer true of a large portion of His church. According to Barna Research, the percentage of people who identify themselves as born-again Christians (but not as evangelical) who divorce is 33%, and the percentage for all Americans is 34%. The percentage of Americans who live together before marriage is 33%, with Protestants 30% and Catholics 36%. In both of these areas, there is virtually no difference between the church (at least the non-evangelical church) and the world around us. In our nation, 77% of individuals identify themselves as Christians, but only 33% believe that the Bible is the literal Word of God. Barna concludes by saying Christians in the U.S. are “less biblically literate, more fearful about sharing their faith and less influential in society than ever before.” What can we as individuals do to change this?


‭‭2 Chronicles 7:14 makes it clear that change in God’s people is the key to healing of the nation. While this was written to the Jewish nation, it also applies to us as God’s church. Culture does not change by winning elections, though being a responsible Christian citizen includes voting according to our beliefs. Culture does not change by evangelism and church attendance, though both of these are important. Two things change culture: prayer and being faithful representatives of Christ where He has placed us. According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, change begins with humbling ourselves, praying and seeking God’s face, and turning from our wicked ways. When we are obviously different than the society in which we live, people will notice. It may mean persecution, so we need to be prepared. But this is the key to changing our nation. It will start with prayer and repentance within the church, one Christian at a time. Will you join me in a commitment to pray for the church in America and to be a living witness of Jesus Christ to our nation, regardless of the cost?