Tag Archives: busyness

Parting Words From The WORD…Majesty, Majesty

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I have the joy of being at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville again this week. I can’t believe it, but this is our 6th Christian Communicators Conference and when we include our two Advanced conferences, this make our 8th! My goodness, how time has flown!

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has flown by. I often wonder how different my life might be if I had continued fighting with God, never submitting to His plan for a new, unique speaker’s training conference. I’m thankful He stuck with me. It’s been an exciting, scary, life-changing journey for me and for others.

But the more I consider what God has done, the more I realize what a small part I am of it. I have nothing to offer but my flawed, sinful self. If there is any gifting or talent, it came from Him. If there is any good in me, it is Him. On my own, I’m weak and empty-handed. I have nothing to offer. But praise Him, He loves me anyway.

As usually happens, the weeks leading up to the conference have been crazy. Simply too much to do and not enough time to do it. I have to admit that when I walked into the service Sunday morning, my mind wasn’t ready. Instead of calming my spirit and going straight to that place of worship, my heart and mind continued to work on my mental and written To-Do list.

But within minutes, the truth of the words on the screen cut through my fog of too much stuff and spoke to my fretful heart.

Majesty.

Soon my mind was quieted, my heart was at peace, and I was moved to real worship, acknowledging how great He is and how small I am. I may be empty-handed, but in His hand, I’m alive.

Written by Martin Smith and Stuart Garrard, this song says it all. It ministered to me again today as I wrote this post. I hope it touches you as well.

Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
Psalm 104:1

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…A Change of Plans

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

As some of you know, this year has been a busy one. Beyond the usual writing and speaking demands, Gary and I are honored to be able to love on his precious parents as they need more care. Needless to say, my days are full.

So on those rare days when I’m home all day and can attack my business To-Do list, I have a big list. A really big list.

I had such a day recently. No meetings. No errands. No responsibilities other than work. All…day…long. I couldn’t wait to hit that list. I was going to get so much done!

Then the phone rang. Instead of hitting my list, I put it down and hit the road.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted to do what needed to be done. It just hadn’t been in my plans, so it felt more like an interruption.

This past Tuesday I opened my copy of Jesus Calling and turned to the day’s devotion. On this predetermined day, God chose to use Sarah Young’s words to break my heart.

In respect to Sarah Young and the copyright of her devotion, I won’t use her words, but here is the gist of what she envisioned Jesus saying:

Vonda, you’re one rebellious woman. You think your plans are so important, and you become frustrated when something happens to change your day. If you truly believe and trust in my sovereignty–as you say you do–why can’t you consider the change in plans come from Me? Who do you think you are?

My heart broke as I read her beautifully-written words. She was right. Who did I think I was?

My devotion time that morning was spent confessing my sin and praising God for His attention to the minute details of my life…regardless of what I might have planned. And just for the record, I’ve had to recall that lesson several times since Tuesday.

Am I the only one?

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Author & Speaker Linda Gilden; And Who Won Cindy Sproles’ Book?

Yep, you read the calendar right. It’s NOT the 1st or 5th Tuesday and it’s not the 5th Thursday, but I just had to share my friend Linda Gilden and her new book with you this week! Linda’s been with us before here at The Christian Writer’s Den, but I want to let you know she has another book out–a Christmas book!

I’ll let Linda tell you about her book, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, but I do want to remind you to leave a comment and you could win a free copy–just in time for Christmas!

Welcome, Linda. Let’s jump right in. We just finished Thanksgiving weekend. But the retail world has been focused on Christmas for months. Despite all the commercialization, how can Christians keep the focus on Jesus, the real meaning of the season?

Well, I hope my latest book, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, will help with that! But the bottom line is that if you are not focused on Him all year long, you will probably not make Him the center of your Christmas. So the first step is a personal relationship with Him. Then, your heart’s desire will be to keep Him at the center of your Christmas.

A few tangible things – Display manger scenes in your home. Put an advent wreath on your table. Joyfully attend Christmas programs. Give to help others. Teach your children to recite the Christmas story. Plan ahead but be flexible (yes, there will be surprises in the schedule!).

Why did you write Mama Was the Queen of Christmas?

Christmas is a very special time of the year when we celebrate Jesus’ birth. But it shouldn’t be just one season. The older I get and the more children and grandchildren I have, the more strongly I feel the responsibility of encouraging them in their faith. I grew up in a home where Christmas was talked about, thought of, planned for, and celebrated all year long. My mother was indeed the “queen of Christmas!” I want the same experience for my family.

I know Mama Was the Queen of Christmas isn’t your first book. Tell us about your other writing.

I’ve written six books and ghostwritten, compiled, or edited dozens. My writing career began with writing articles and I really love that area of writing. I still write several articles every month. Articles are a great way to increase awareness for your books and to establish your expertise in the subject area of your book. At the moment I seem to be focused on books, with one recently released, a new book deadline the middle of this month, and another deadline January 30, 2013, for a book called Becoming a Writer on Mission.

What is one of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?

When all my children were at home, I think one of my favorites was the cousins orchestra. On Christmas Eve my children and their first cousins, ranging in age from 20 to 3, brought their instruments and played Christmas carols. The three-year-old played the triangle and the one cousin who didn’t play an instrument was the narrator. Even practices were entertainment worthy of videoing!

What would be your best holiday tip for busy families?

Don’t stress unnecessarily. There are things that are important to celebrating Christmas but none more important than being together as a happy family. Create memories but be sensitive to the needs of your family. If your only family time is around the dinner table on Christmas Day, that’s where memory-making takes place. Plan a dinner table game or create directed conversation that will draw your family closer. Eat the same foods. Don’t have unrealistic expectations.

One of our favorite traditions is “reading the plates.” Several years ago my husband gave me Christmas china called “Bethlehem.” The Christmas story is written around the rims of the plates. When our family gathers, before we put anything on our plates we read the Christmas story from the plates. The plates are on the table in random order so you have to know the story to read your plate at the proper time. This tradition has not only been fun but has driven us to keep the Christmas story the focus of our mealtime.

Any parting thoughts for writers at Christmas?

Try to have your writing projects to a point that you can put them aside for a few days. Decide now that you will enjoy the holidays with your family and put celebrating Jesus first. Gather writing material for the next Christmas season as you enjoy family time and worship Jesus together. Thank God for our freedom to celebrate and honor God’s greatest gift to us in everything you do. Merry Christmas!

Bio: Linda Gilden in a freelance writer living in SC. Her recent book, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, shares her love for Jesus’ birthday season and how it really should be a year-long celebration. Linda is also a speaker, editor, and writing coach. She has written hundreds of articles as well as the Love Notes series, Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, and has ghostwritten or contributed to over three dozen books. As Director of the CLASS Christian Writers Conference, she encourages others to clearly communicate God’s love to the world. Linda’s favorite times are those spent with family – a source of tremendous blessing as well as speaking and writing material! www.lindagilden.com www.queenofchristmas.com

Thank you for sharing your new book with us, Linda. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing for your own copy! Don’t forget to come back next week to see if you’re the winner.

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And speaking of coming back to check on winners…

The winner of Cindy Sproles’ book, New Sheets, is Comment #23–Cynthia Lott Vogel! Cynthia, just contact me with your mailing address and we’ll get that book right out to you!

Thank you for stopping by, dear friends. What a joy to have you with me each week. You bless me more than you know!

Vonda

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The Wisdom in “No” and Who Won Brenna’s Book?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s wisdom in saying no…

I remember watching The Jetsons back in the ’60s and dreaming of the day technology would take over. Our lives would be easy! Following George Jetson’s example, we’d only work three days a week, three hours a day.

And home life would be equally tranquil. At the push of a button, four-course meals would appear at our fingertips; communication would be instant and visual (with no busy signals, of course); and thanks to robots like Rosie, housework would be a thing of the past.

The Jetsons even gave us the picture of quality futuristic family fun—watching the big-screen TV. (Well, one thing has come true—the family is sitting around the big screen TV, although I doubt that meets the quality-time-family-fun criteria).

But even with the advent of microwaves, cell phones, and labor saving devices, the rest of the dream is a lie.

The truth is, we have become servants to technology, making our lives more demanding and stressful than ever. Snail mail and traditional phones have been relegated to the dark ages as voice mail, email, text messaging, and social networking control not only the hours, but the seconds of our lives. In the old days we were thrilled to have answers to our questions within weeks; now we’re frustrated if it takes more than a few moments.

I admit it…I’m guilty. So why do I—a reasonably intelligent woman—fall for the trap?

Because I’ve inadvertently adopted the philosophy that says I must produce every minute of every day; that my worth is tied to my busyness; that my value is defined by my production.

This lie sets us up for failure…and that’s what I feel like much of the time.

It seems the more I try to learn about technology, the more there is to learn! We “must” do this. We “have to” do that. If we want to grow our ministries, our numbers, our followers, our you-fill-in-the-blank, we have to learn the latest and greatest technology.

And I’m tired.

Yes, I know that if we expect to be published authors and professional speakers, we must be the ones contributing the most time and effort to the marketing of our product—our message.

But I’m also learning that I can’t do it all.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Please know this isn’t a call to argue the value of any of these technologies. After all, none of these products are evil.

Instead, it’s a call to myself to find a healthy balance between work (which, let’s go ahead and admit, ministry requires work), rest, and play, especially since my husband is planning to fully retire in November.

It’s a call to “No.”

And so—AGAIN—I’m setting boundaries for the sake of my health, my relationships, and my ministry.

1. Work
*I will work most weekdays from 9am to 5pm.
*I will begin each day with a plan and will address interruptions at specific times during the day.
*I will restrict adding more work than I can reasonably handle.

2. Rest
*The computer will be off by 10pm.
*I will observe the Sabbath day of rest.
*I will plan for 8 hours of sleep a night.

3. Play
*I will take a periodic play day with my mother and sister, who also love games.
*Gary and I will find things we both enjoy doing and schedule play days as well.
*I will not feel guilty for playing!

4. And of course, I will continue my time with the Lord—after all, that’s one thing that’s non-negotiable!

So there, you have it…my sanity schedule. I’m finally accepting the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be, and let’s face it, regardless of how healthy I am at this moment, my time—and yours—is running out.

I will work. I will rest. I will play. And I will say “No.”

I think the Lord and my family will be much happier. I know my doctor will. 🙂

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is,
and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

For more on the subject of saying “no,” check out this Crosswalk.com article, Learn to Say “No,” by Doug Fields.

(“NO” photos courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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And who won Brenna Stull’s book?

Arcelia, you’re the winner! All you need to do it contact me with your snail mail address and your book will be right out to you. Congratulations!

And for those who didn’t win, don’t worry, you can order your own copy of Coach Mom: 7 Strategies for Organizing Your Family into an All-Star Team right here!

Thanks again, Brenna! You have an awesome team!

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And thank you, dear readers for joining me today. It’s always a joy to have you!

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Christmas Chaos? Check Out Mary’s First Christmas

Courtesy of Evan Courtney

Let’s face it, we usually have an expectation of how Christmas must look, sound, feel, smell, and taste. The trees…the decorations…the gifts…the baking…the parties…the cards…the wardrobe…the lights. ARRGGGGHHHHHHH! Who can find time for it all?

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