Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another step on the journey

The ACFW national conference begins one week from today and I find that the nearer it gets, the more I eat, dream and breathe ACFW. Thoughts, anxiety, hopes, pitch, fears, excitement, one sheet, questions, ideas, prepare, do's and dont's, pack, memorize, research, polish ... I'm sure some of my fellow newbie's can relate! And I know that the friends I talk to regularly are sick and tired of hearing about it!  Even my bed has been completely taken over by my suitcases!

I've become hyper focused on what to wear (and what to eat so they will fit), what to bring, what to pitch, and the list goes on. It just feels like this is the single most important weekend of my entire life. And if I mess it up it will be the death of a lifelong dream. (I'm not damatic at all - wink, wink)

No wonder I've been stressed! That's a lot of pressure to put on myself. And the beautiful, freeing truth is  this is not my make-it-or-break-it moment. It's only another step on the divinely charted journey God is leading me through - a journey that is far from over, no matter what happens next week.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can summon scripture from the recesses of my memories, brush the dust off of them and present them to me as if they were brand new truths, perfectly applicable to my situation. How sweet those precious words are when they are whispered to my anxious soul just when I need to hear them! How wonderfully patient my Savior is as He reminds me of the promises He delivers though His word!  

Here are some of the gentle reminders that have been popping into my head in the last few days.

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Joshuah 1:9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psalm 27: 13-14 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Scripture is the balm for my soul - and it's unscented, so I can take it with me to ACFW. ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Generational Wisdom

This evening I was discussing ACFW and the delicate balance of hopes and fears with my mom. After pouring out all my anxiety and excitement over my first writer's conference, my mom, (Janelle Wood) shared some wonderful truths with me. These truths transfer so very well to the plight of the unpublished writer that I asked her permission to post her thoughts here. I hope it is as meaningful to all my fellow writers as it is to me, especially in light of the stress of preparing for ACFW.

A little background about Janelle Wood: Almost three years ago, after working at the same place for 15 years, Janelle was unexpectedly laid off. She spent almost two years searching for a job in the difficult job market. After hundreds of applications and dozens of interviews, she wrote this article to remind her of the lessons God had been teaching her thought her season of unemployment.
Lessons from the Unemployment Line…and Exodus
                Last Sunday our pastor spoke on the familiar passage from Exodus 14. After watching God’s awesome power demonstrated in the ten plagues, the Israelites were finally released from Egypt. But Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his armies in pursuit. When the Israelites came to the Red Sea, they could not go forward, and were surrounded by the enemy. The Israelites complained to Moses, saying “what have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? . . . It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" (vs 11-12)
                Over the past months, there were many times when I could identify with how the Israelites must have felt—a sea of hopelessness at my back, and the enemy of self-doubt surrounding me.  I must confess that at times I have demonstrated the same lack of faith as the Israelites, even though I have seen God’s faithful provision many, many times. I have wondered if God knew what he was doing.  I’ve wondered if God brought me to the desert to die. I’ve wondered if God really did have a plan.  But even through my doubt, God’s answer has often been the same as His response to the Israelites: “The Lord with fight for you; you need only to be still.” (vs 14)
                 During this unwelcome journey through unemployment, I am learning many things—most of them things I really should have learned long ago. But, if you are among the one in ten people on the journey with me, be encouraged by these reminders. If not, thank God for your work, and rejoice in these truths. 
Lesson 1: God is my provider.  It is not my job that provides my needs, it is God. Sometimes he has provided through my job, but right now He simply wants me to trust Him alone.
Lesson 2: God is my sufficiency. I don’t need the approval or affirmation of anyone except God.  As long as my heart is right with Him, and I am walking in obedience-it is sufficient.
Lesson 3: God is my identity. I am not defined by my job or my income. I am not incomplete because I don’t have a title or a business card. I am a child of the King and complete in Him.
Lesson 4: God is my creator.  I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that He prepared in advance for me to do. (Eph 2:10) He created me to be perfectly suited to do the things that he wants me to do. He didn’t miss a skill or aptitude, or forget about an attribute when He created me. I am exactly as He intended.  
Lesson 5: God is Faithful. I do not need to be afraid, He will never leave me nor forsake me.
Lesson 6: God is my destiny.  My professional future is not in my hands, or the hands of my interviewers or evaluators. It is in God’s hands and His alone. This does not excuse me from doing my due diligence, but it frees me from the bondage of perceived failure.
The Red Sea has not parted for me yet, but it is no longer the sea of hopelessness.  It is becoming the sea of opportunity—opportunity for God to show himself strong and faithful—to work a miracle in my life.  The enemy of self-doubt is still poised, but the angel of God and the pillar of cloud (vs 19-20), in the form of some lessons re-learned, have come between me and this destructive enemy just as they did for the Israelites.

Shortly after writing out these thoughts, a door was opened and Janelle has now been happily employed for almost a year.
Thanks Mom for sharing these thoughts!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tag Line

As the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) national conference nears I'm frantically trying to finish up all the little projects that I thought I had all the time in the world to do. Today's panic project is ordering business cards. I've designed several but haven't decided yet which one I should send to print, and time is quickly running out! (Thank goodness for three day shipping!) I've asked around and read blog posts and emails from people who are much more experienced about what to include. Recurrently, these advisers have suggested that I include my tag line. Problem is, I don't have one ... yet. So I need your help.

A tag line is like a writers motto. It should explain the writers style and genera or intended audience. Examples: Camy Tang (romantic suspense) Romance with a kick of wasabi, Kaye Dacus (Romantic comedy) Humor, Hope and Happily Ever Afters, Trish Perry (Romantic Comedy) True Love. Real Laughs. Pure Fiction., Lauralee Bliss (Historical Romance) Love the way it should be. These are just a few examples. Look up your favorite authors web site. Authors usually list their tag line right under their name on their site heading.

I've come up with a few ideas, but nothing I love.
Cord of Three Strands Romance,  Redeeming Romance, Lost and Found Love Stories, Chosen One Romance, Faith, Hope and Love Stories ...
I think I like Redeeming Romance best so far. Is it too overused? Please feel free to vote for your favorite or give a suggestion in the comments. Thanks!