Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Book Review - You Are Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

As if the title isn't enough to make you feel better ... this book delivers what it promises.  If you only buy one non-fiction book in 2012, this needs to be it!

You're Already Amazing, Holley Gerth, 978-0-8007-2060-5
Psst . . . pull up a chair and I'll tell you a secret. You'd better lean in close for this one.  Ready?
You don't have to do more, be more, have more.
I'm sure there are security alarms going off somewhere. You should probably hide this book when your in-laws come over.
But it's true.
It's the kind of true that will change your life, set you free, and make you wake up smiling for the first time in a long time. I know because that's what it did for me. . . .
So watch out, sister. If you keep reading you just might be next.

With this heart-to-heart message, Holley Gerth invites you to embrace one very important truth--that you truly are already amazing. Like a trusted friend, Holley gently shows you how to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds you and instead believe that God loves you and has bigger plans for your life than you've even imagined.

I had to read this book much slower than I usually read review books. It was loaded with nuggets of truth my soul needed to hear.  Things like ... "As I did, it seemed God whispered to my soul, "You think you have to take what's broken and make it perfect in order to be used by me.  But I think in a completely different way.  I took what was perfect, my Son, and made him broken so that you could be whole. And because you belong to him, your brokenness can bring healing to others too."

Holley writes in a very easy, smooth manner to reach out to your heart and plant truths that can be life changing.  I believe

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wanted dead or alive

I spent my morning writing an email message to a dear friend. She is currently overwhelmed with discouragement. So,  I pray and I try to speak words of encouragement but they all seem to fall short.  Why is that?

Today in my devotional book that I have been working through I received the answer.  Because it is God's job to rebuild, restore and rejuvenate souls ... not mine.

Our great and glorious God is in the business of rebuilding.  It is His finest work afterall.  Look what He did for His own Son.  It is not a difficult work for Him.  It is a great joy to Him.  It is us that have a problem with the whole process.  We want it now.  Or we want it to come in a different format.  Or we forget to even turn to Him for it in the first place.

The hardest part is ours ... trust.  We need to rest in a place of trusting God to finish what he started, bringing  us to completion and perfection.  Only it will take a long time. I know that hurts to hear.  Especially when you are struggling, barely surviving, and overwhelmed beneath the weight our of your circumstances. But may I offer this bit of encouragement to you today.  The Lord is faithful.  The Lord is continuously working on your behalf (and mine).  The Lord will not rest until it is complete.

Do you feel better now?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I can do this!

I have been learning some amazing things in my quiet time this week.  As you may remember I am working through a book by Debbie Alsdorf.  The book is titled He Is My Freedom.

This devotional uses scriptures I know and concepts I already get to reach deeper into my soul and imprint them there.  God wants me to do more than just know what His word says ... He wants me to feel it and live it.  (That is something I struggle with - do you?)

This morning I studied a small section from the story of Moses and Joshua.  The focus was the mesage God gave to each of them on separate occasions.  It is the continuation of a promise.

"I will be with you.  And this will serve as proof ..."  Exodus 3:12 
"For I will be with you as I was with Moses.  I will not fail you or abandon you."  Joshua 1:5   
I am reassured that this promise continues on to this day.  For I feel like Moses did (afraid, doubtful and unworthy) sometimes.  I also need the message God gave to Joshua (be strong and courageous) from time to time.  Both of these ordinary men felt inadequate for the job they had been assigned by the Most High.


Debbie Alsdorf says, "But God did not ask them to work alone or in their own strength.  Just as God gave them power, so He gives us power to do His work." (page 115)
"I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need."  Phil 4:13
The key to make this an everyday reality is to rest in God.  To abide in Him.  To listen for Him.  To follow His leading.  The rest of the work is HIS!  "The outcome totally rests on God's power, not on my performance." (page 116)  Look up the Philippians 4:13 verse in the message.  Then memorize it ... it is powerful.

Did you need to hear that today ... just like me and my friends, Moses and Joshua?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Is Risen!

Did you wake up this Easter morning with a little more hope than you had yesterday?

You should have.  Our Lord and Saviour is risen today!  No matter how dark or cloudy or stormy your days felt before today ... there is hope.  There is light.  There is a new and fresh beginning.

Take it and embrace it.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.


I invite you to check out a beautifully written devotional on starting fresh here from a favourite site of mine, Novel Rocket.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Three sides to every coin

Have you ever heard two people describe a scene of an accident. It can sometimes seem like they are talking about two different events.

I experienced that exact feeling this week.  I'd followed some advice to take the next step and I sent my writing out into the world to see what other people think.  This was an incredibly difficult thing to do. There were opposing emotions of fear and excitement.  But mostly fear!

I've entered three contests this year so far.  All of them are different than the ones I have entered before.  These three contests return the judges' score sheets and feedback.  As a writer this is extremely valuable to hear what people thought of the story as they read it.

However, I had been warned in other blog posting's about how you can receive opposing advice from the same manuscript.  This is simply because reading is subjective.  The books I like aren't necessarily the books you like.  And vice versa.

Well, they weren't wrong.  I received my first round of feedback notes yesterday.

I received 3 score sheets.  Two were complete opposites and the third sat right in the middle.  What am I supposed to do with that?

This contest requested the first chapter of a manuscript.  I chose Unwritten.  I chose this story because I love the transformation of the characters by the end of the story.  This contest was not specifically for inspirational writings and my hero (the point of view character) is not a believer ... at the beginning.  Therefore it will not read with a Christian undertone ... in the beginning.

The first judge wrote all throughout my manuscript how he/she did not like my characters.  The judge disliked their personalities, their dialogue and their interactions.  They also commented on how the setting was vague and the description was weak.  He/she stated that everything about it was confusing, slow moving and they would have put the book down several times if they could.  As well, the judge did not like that I wrote it in first person.  The score I received was 7.5 out of 10.

The second judge gave only positive comments throughout the manuscript - pointing out the areas he/she liked.  The comments at the end were good - "once I figured out the conflict, the story was very engaging. Dialogue sounds very natural. Well thought out."  This judge really liked my characters and found them to be a great match, hinting towards wonderful tension and excitement. However this judge scored me lower at 6.5 out of 10.

The final judge wrote zero comments in the manuscript and only two comments on the score sheet.  "Intrigue at the beginning" and "fast paced, characters developed quickly and smoothly".  This judge gave me a perfect score in one category and almost prefect in the rest, resulting in a total score of 9.5 out of 10.

What exactly do I do with these now?  

Two judges agreed with the slow start - okay, so I will work on that.  

Two judges liked my characters - and I know my hero sounds like a spoiled brat who has issues with women.  (I wrote him that way.)  So I won't change it even though one judge really HATED my characters.

Only one judge commented on the first person point of view; however in other contests this has come up several times.  Yet, this is me - this is how I write.  So I am choosing to ignore that comment - committing to learn to write it better.  That way, when someone who doesn't normally like first person can read mine someday and say, "even though I do not like that POV, I think she did it well".  That is my hope at least.

I am open to any other thoughts, you, my reading friends might have.  Thanks for listening!

In closing I want to share a prayer someone sent me this week.  If you are a writer I hope it can bring you a piece of peace.  If you aren't a writer, may it touch your heart as well as God's Spirit transforms its words to apply to your situation.

Psalm 45:1  "My Tongue is the pen of a skillful writer." 

Father, pour out your grace and wisdom as 
I strive to honor you with the gift you've given me.  
Let my tongue, my heart, and my mind be the pen of a skillful writer, 
and let my words always be worthy of you.