Tag Archives: fear

Parting Words From The WORD…It’s Summertime, the Livin’ Isn’t Easy, But Have No Fear

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I remember the carefree childhood days of summer in the ’50s and ’60s. Nothing to do but sleep late, ride bikes, and play in the creek. No deadlines. No schedules. No emails or phone calls or text messages reminding me to do this or plan that or show up for the other.

No worries of life or death or the future. But it’s not the ’50s and ’60s anymore, and what we face today certainly isn’t child’s play.

It’s serious stuff.

It only takes is a quick look at recent headlines to see the current condition of our world. It’s disheartening, to say the least. As a matter of fact, I originally began itemizing the issues here, but quickly realized that the simple act of listing them provided a route of sadness straight to my heart.

The truth is that left unguarded, our hearts can be consumed with fear.

But praise God, just as we had no fears of life or death or the future when we were kids, God’s Word makes it clear that as believers we have no reason to be sad or fearful today.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 (NIV)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:39 (NIV)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 (NIV)

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:14-15 (NIV)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

I especially love the last verse, spoken by our Savior, Jesus Christ: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In other words, yes, He tells us there will be hardships, struggles, conflicts, and hate, but praise Him, He has already overcome it all! Yes, the the struggles of being a Christian in this world may be difficult and sometimes scary, but we can have confidence that there’s no reason to fear.

Amen and amen!

As Rabbi Jonathan Cahn recently said, “Outside of Him, there is no safety. Inside of Him, there is no fear.”

I pray these words encourage us all to remain inside of Him, where there is NO fear…

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…The Words of Jesus: Live Brave, Love Big

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

For many of us, this is a difficult season. In relationships, in the culture, in our families, in our churches, our schools, and throughout the world, we’re experiencing conflict, hardships, frustration, shock, despair, and heartbreak.

We’re told we should think this way or act that way or feel some other way. But regardless of what we think, act, or feel, one thing remains constant: The Truth is always true.

As I searched for Scripture to comfort and strengthen me, I realized many of Jesus’ words, spoken to His disciples as He sent them out in Matthew 10, are fitting words for us as His disciples today.

(NOTE: Studies have shown that Christians are notorious for not reading long passages of Scripture printed in text. Once we start reading, we recognize the passage and think we already know it. PLEASE read this passage slowly, take it in, and then apply the verses to your life and our world today. I pray it will bring you the comfort, strength, and insight it gave me.)

Do you see yourself in these words from Jesus?

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!

“But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

‘I have come to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Your enemies will be right in your own household!’

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:16-28 and 32-39

How does that sound when compared to the events of our world, relationships, and family today? It certainly reminds me that regardless of how things look, God is still in control.

I think His words for us today would be: “Live brave. Love big. I told you it would be this way.”

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 1

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: Okay, friends, today kicks off four Parting Words Fridays that will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter! As many of you know, I just returned from teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where one of the highlights of my week was hearing author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins deliver his keynote, “Your ‘Write’ Role.” Another highlight was when he agreed to let me share the message with you over the next four Fridays!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 1.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your “Write” Role, Part 1
by James Watkins

 

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 12, as I read from the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers:

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If a writer should say, “Because I have not been published in Charisma, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be a part of the Body. If the whole body was writing for Guideposts, who would write for take-home papers?

But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many kinds of writers, but one body.

1. You have an important role in Christian writing

How many of you truly believe that you have an important role in Christian writing?

Writers’ conferences are the absolutely worst place for you to feel important! Here’s what happens. You visit the website or look at the brochure, and there they are: “important” writers who have written fifty New York Times best-selling books, won “major awards” and spoken to thousands around the world.

And there you are having not written fifty New York Times best-selling books, not having won “major awards” and not speaking to thousands around the world.

And to be perfectly honest, I look at the conference faculty bios and wonder What am I doing here giving a keynote address?!

Okay, I do have books with Zondervan, Tyndale, HarperCollins, but most of my books are with small houses. Yes, I’ve spoken around the world, but mostly in cement-block churches with tin roofs and circus tents (no editorial comments, please, about clowns). And, while four of my books have won national awards, but not one has been a best-seller.

“Hi I’m Jim. I’m critically acclaimed, but commercially ashamed.”

So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and underqualified, I feel your pain. But my most “painful” event was a book signing in Seattle sitting next to Frank This Present Darkness Peretti. Frank had a line as far back as Nebraska; I had one or two people at a time in line. He was frantically writing “Frank.” “Frank.” “Frank.” I was writing little essays: Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

Dear friend, thank you for stopping by. If you can just stand there for just a few minutes until someone else comes, I won’t look like a complete loser. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, here comes another person.

3 John 2, Jim

So, you’re not alone if you’re sitting here at this writers’ conference feeling less than important. But here’s that verse from 1 Corinthians 12 again.

But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 1 Corinthians 12:18

In your Bible, circle that name “God.” Then underline that verb “arranged.” God has arranged the body of Christian writers. He has you right where he wants you to be right now!

I hope and pray you feel safe here this week. It is so easy to feel all alone as a writers among people who just don’t get you. Here, you’re with your fellow peculiar people.

And most important, you are with fellow parts of the Body of Christ.

When you speak at churches in India, “honored guests” are outfitted with a gigantic floral arrangement around your neck, so you look like a Kentucky Derby winner. Plus, you have to take off your shoes when you’re on the platform. So there I was, the only white man in the entire church, dressed like a winning thoroughbred, in my sock feet, and they started singing “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” and suddenly—I felt right at home. I belonged!

I felt that same way in our two trips to Africa. I was with my brothers and sisters! Okay, I was white brother who can’t dance, but I was family!

But it is so easy to lose our sense of importance with three deadly C’s:

Comparison: Back to the conference website or printed brochure. Maybe you’re thinking I haven’t had 50 books published. I haven’t been interviewed on national TV. I haven’t spoken to a stadium filled with fans. So I must not be an “important” part in the body of Christian publishing.

So, we move on—and down . . .

Copying: I’m going to write like Max Lucado. I’m going to get on the national talk shows. I’m going to be a great Bible teacher like Beth Moore.

And when we all, inevitably, fail, we move to the third level:

Criticizing: We move from feeling inferior to them to feeling superior to them. I can write better than E. L. James. Okay, anyone can write something better than Shades of Grey. I’m a better, deeper speaker than so and so.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverI love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Galatians 5:4-5:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life (Galatians 6:4-5 MSG).

Comparison is a killer of creativity! And worse, a killer of your unique design as a writer. (We’ll talk more individuality later.)

For now, you may want to write this down:

I am important not because of who I am,
but because of Whose I am.

Give that a second to sink in, because it just may be the most important thing you’ll hear all week. More important than “Write tight,” “Show, don’t tell” and “Avoid adverbs.” Even more important than “Develop your brand and platform.”

My very funny friend, Jeanette Levellie, who has written two hilarious books reminds us, “God has already defined you. You don’t need others to tell you who you are.”

And from the founder of the Christian Missionary Alliance, A. B. Simpson:

Many Christians are in the place that the Lord has appointed them, and yet the devil is harassing their lives with a sense that they are not quite pleasing the Lord. If they could just settle down in the place that God has assigned them and fill it faithfully and lovingly for Him, there would be more joy in their hearts and more power in their lives.

So, you have an important role in Christian writing. But the enemy is ruthless. If he can’t convince you you’re not important, then he will try to make you feel you’re more important than you are! Look at verses 15-18 (New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers):

A writer for Decision cannot say to a writer of a church newsletter, “I don’t need you!” And a best-selling author cannot say to the one who writes letters to the editor, “I don’t need you!”

On the contrary, those writers who don’t command six-figure advances are indispensable, and the writers who don’t appear on the cover of Today’s Christian Woman deserve equal honor as those who do. And the writers who are never interviewed on Christian talk shows are just as necessary as those in the spotlight.

Paul is incredibly honest in acknowledging that there is an earthly hierarchy in the church and in Christian publishing. So, we need to maintain that careful balance that, “I am incredibly important, but I’m not any more important than anyone else . . . despite what the world may say and, particularly, despite what Christian publishing says!”

Moving on to verses 24-26:

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

If one part receives a rejection slip, every part suffers with it; if one part signs a contract with Tyndale House, every part rejoices with it (1 Corinthians 12:24-26)

Copyright © 2015 James N. WatkinsJim Watkins real headshot

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Vonda again: Thank you, Jim! Now friends, isn’t that a powerful application to us as Christian writers and speakers? Be sure to come back for our 1st Tuesday post next Tuesday and then return for more insight next Friday from Jim Watkins’ Your “Write” Role, Part 2.

Thanks for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Hilarious–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 by @JamesWatkinsCom via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

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Parting Words From The WORD…Is the World Out of Control?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thursday, as I began working on my Friday post, a friend commented on Facebook about a common feeling that things are out of control. That prompted me to put together this thought-line and combine it with an excerpt from my book, Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe. I pray this message encourages you today.)

Let’s face it, we can wake up feeling refreshed and renewed, ready to take on the day. But all it takes is a quick look at the headlines, Twitter, and Facebook to send us reeling.

This world is out of control.

There have been times when I’ve fretted and worried and made myself sick about a problem, all because I believed a lie of Satan—the lie that says everything is out of control. But in truth, it was simply out of my control.

We know we have the Holy Spirit. But the question is, does the Holy Spirit have us? Have we submitted to His authority and power in our lives? Have we swallowed our pride, exposed our weakness, and handed our mess over to Him?

If we’re truthful, most of us would have to admit we try to handle it on our own. Only after all other options have failed do we call out to God, admitting our frailty and acknowledging our need for help.

We’ve got it backward

One day, my pastor’s two children were playing in the den when the youngest began to cry because he had broken his toy. “Don’t worry,” his older sister said. “We’ll just take it to Daddy. He can fix anything.” You can imagine how Pastor Scott felt when he overheard his children’s conversation. His heart swelled with pride, knowing his children trusted him. They respected and honored him as their father—the one who could fix anything.

That’s how the Father wants us to see Him—as our Daddy who can fix anything. And although there is a limit to what Pastor Scott can do, our Heavenly Father doesn’t have any limits! He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. And He is all love.

That’s not to say our problems will be resolved according to our preferences. But God does promise that everything will work out for His glory, that He is in control, and that He—and we—can handle it. All we have to do is submit ourselves and our messes to Him, and then trust Him with the details of our lives.

He wants only the best for us, and He’s the only One Who knows what the best really is. It may not be the new house we want or the husband we long for. The best for us may not even be our healing. But Romans 8:28 promises us the best is what we’ll get . . . for His glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

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

Vonda

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Is the world really out of #control? #Peace is available. @VondaSkelton via Parting Words from The WORD (Click to Tweet)

 

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Parting Words From The WORD…Here am I, Please Send Somebody Else

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

I think I mentioned that I’m doing my third year of the Living Power Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year Online Bible Study, led by Christian Communicators grad, Shannon Mullins. I love this study. Regardless of how many times I study passages of His word through this study, I always find things I’ve never noticed before.

This week we started going through Exodus, and as usual, I found something powerful. Something that had been there all along, but I’d never grasped it quite like this.

I’ve known that Moses repeatedly responded to God’s call with excuses or questions, but I’ve never compared his responses to some of my own as a speaker and writer.

Moses gave excuses because he thought he couldn’t do what God was calling him to do. His five responses could have come from my own mouth at various times in my writing/speaking life.

  1. In Exodus 3:11, Moses asks, “Who am I?”
  2. In Exodus 3:13, Moses asks, “But what if they ask me your name?”
  3. In Exodus 4:1, Moses asks, “What if they don’t believe me?”
  4. In Exodus 4:10, Moses says, “But you know I can’t speak.”
  5. In Exodus 4:13, Moses says, “Please send somebody else.”

Sounds so much like me when God speaks His directions and His plans to my heart. I often question. I fear. I hesitate. After all, I’m just me. A human who’s frail and flawed. I can’t do what He asks me to do.

But I see from Moses’ life–yet again–that God is always able to overcome our frailties and flaws. The question is, will I let Him?

Will you?

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 Grace Fox

Today is a 5th Thursday, and that means a bonus interview with my friend, Grace Fox! Grace is an international speaker and the author of four books, including Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation (Harvest House 2007). In partnership with Stonecroft Ministries Canada, she recently produced a DVD-based Bible study titled Moving from Fear to Freedom: A Woman-to-Woman Conversation.

Grace is also the national co-director of International Messengers Canada, a mission agency that promotes creative short-term and career service opportunities in Eastern Europe. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gracefox.author. Visit her website for more information about her other books and speaking ministry. www.gracefox.com

And readers, this is your chance to win a free book! All you have to do is leave a comment for Grace and you’ll be in the drawing. Be sure to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

What’s the Big Deal About Fear?
by Grace Fox

Fear is a big deal for many of us. If left unchecked, it can prevent us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. So, what’s the answer? How can we move beyond fear into freedom? Read on to discover the truth…

Q: Fear seems to be an ever-present theme throughout the Bible. Describe the difference between healthy and unhealthy fear.

A: Healthy fear steers us toward wise decisions and actions. It promotes self-preservation. For example, we look both ways before crossing the street for fear of getting hit by a car. In contrast, unhealthy fear hinders our ability to fully embrace life because it consumes us with negative thinking and what-ifs. The effects can literally make us sick.  

Q: How does destructive fear stunt our emotional or spiritual growth?

A: Destructive fear—the fear of rejection, for instance—might keep us from admitting to someone that we’ve been physically or sexually abused. Without receiving the help we need to deal with those issues, we never experience freedom. Our struggles might hamper our ability to truly love and receive love in a marital relationship. This is just one example among many of how our emotional growth is affected.

Spiritually, fear can cause us to say no to God-given dreams or assignments because we’re afraid of personal inadequacy or financial insecurity. If we never step out in faith, then we never experience God’s ability to equip and provide in amazing ways. Spiritual growth comes when we say yes to God and “do it afraid.”

Q: You suggest we need to place our focus on God and not on fear. In practical terms, how do we do this?

A: Several strategies I’ve found helpful…

  • Write Scripture promises on 3×5 cards and post them where we see them often. Download a free list of such Scriptures and several relevant articles from my website: http://www.gracefox.com/resources/#downloadables
  • Memorize Scripture promises and meditate on them throughout the day and as we fall asleep at night. We are transformed as our mind is renewed.
  • Fill our homes with praise and worship music.
  • Spend time in God’s word on a regular basis, not just when we’re in a panic. The more we do so, the more familiar we become with His promises and the better prepared we are to face frightening circumstances when they come.
  • Talk to the Lord throughout the day. Invite Him into the mundane. Practice His presence. The more we get to know Him, the more we’re able to trust Him in the face of fear.

Q: Most of us feel inadequate at times. You suggest we cannot use our inadequacies as an excuse for not participating with God’s purposes. How do we get past this?

A: We get past our fear of inadequacy by admitting we have it. Then we need to retrain our thinking to focus on God’s adequacies rather than our inadequacies.

  • Tell God how we feel. “Help! I don’t think I can do such-and-such!”
  • Tell a trusted friend and ask her to pray for us.
  • Move forward. Do it afraid and expect God to equip us.

Q: How has fear affected you as a writer?

A: I balked for a year when I sensed God prompting me to write “Moving from Fear to Freedom.” One day I read a Henry Blackaby quote. He said something like, “When God gives you an assignment, it will always be bigger than you. How you respond reveals what you believe to be true about Him.”

Those words grabbed my attention. I realized my disobedience was rooted in the fear of failure. That fear had paralyzed me and robbed me of the privilege of experiencing God in new ways. I confessed my disobedience as sin, and I set to work. I chose to “do it afraid” and trusted God for His enabling. He surpassed my expectations. That book is now translated into Polish, and it also has an accompanying award-winning DVD-based Bible study that’s changing women’s lives.

Q: Any parting words of wisdom?

A: Yes. Don’t let fear rob you of experiencing God’s purpose for your life. Rather, embrace your fear as a catalyst to get to know and experience God in new ways.

Thanks for joining us today, Grace. Fear is an undesirable companion who makes himself at home in our hearts and minds throughout our lives. Your words will help us face our fears and show them who’s boss!

Be sure to leave a comment for Grace and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book. And don’t forget to come back next week to see if you’re the winner!

Blessings,
Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

 

Feeling inept today? Afraid you don’t have what it takes? Convinced that you’re unworthy for His service?

Join the crowd. Join the crowd of inept, unfit, unworthy servants, standing at the foot of a bloody cross, crying out for strength to do what they’re called to do.

Join the Apostle Paul.

Join me.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. I Corinthians 2:4-5

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

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Perhaps you’ve noticed there’s been a lot of recent conversation here at the Christian Writer’s Den about stress, weariness, disappointment, hurt, and other symptoms of living on this earth. You’ve seen quite a few comments on the blog, but there have been many, many more that were sent to me personally, ones that were too tender to post out loud.

For those who’ve shared your hardship with me, please know I continue to pray for you. But even for those who are just going through the daily struggles of life, the pressure can be wearying.

Regardless of what we’re going through, we’re often afraid to admit our frustrations and fears. After all, we know we have Jesus and His strength in our corners, ready and quite able to take our burdens. If only we’d admit our struggle. But we’re supposed to be strong. How can we admit such weakness to our brothers and sisters?

David, the man after God’s own heart, had similar hardships and fears. The difference is, he admitted them…in writing…for all to see. Like many of us, David was a writer, singer, and poet and his words written over 2,000 years ago speak clearly to me today. Do they speak to you?

In Psalm 3, David cried out to God while he was running from his son, Absalom, who was trying to kill him. But even though he was facing possible death, he knew where his strength came from…

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3 (ESV)

What a beautiful picture. The Lord Himself as a shield, surrounding David with His protection. I can see myself in that picture too, can you? If I close my eyes I can imagine Jesus sitting next to me as I rest against Him, my head gently cradled in His arms. I’m weary and tired and hurt…but He holds me with love.

Wow.

He is my shield.

He is my glory.

He is the lifter of my head.

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

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

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Parting Words From The WORD…

Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net

Friend and writer, Marilyn Shipe, sent a blog to share with us: Famous People Who Found Success Despite Failure by Ben Hsu is a list of just that–famous people who found success despite failure. 🙂

  • J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected 12 times.
  • Walt Disney was fired for lacking an imagination.
  • Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four.
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting his entire lifetime.

The list goes on and on.

Do you know anyone like that? As you look at the list, the truth rises to the surface. These non-famous people became famous people because they didn’t give up. They might have been afraid, but they took the next step anyway.

Gideon was like that. He was fearful. The Midianites were stealing their cattle, taking their crops, oppressing them on every side. Gideon was so scared he was threshing his wheat in a winepress, hoping to keep it from the enemy.

An angel of the Lord came to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:11). Gideon asked if God was with them, why was all this happening to them. To which the angel replied:

“Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14

Go in the strength you have. Now. Take the next step. Don’t look at the weaknesses and past failures. Go in the strength–in whatever measure it is–that you have right now.

Of course, we know the rest of the story. Gideon led a mere 300 men into battle and beat the Midianites.

Gideon is a man who found success despite Israel’s previous failures and fears. He found success because God was sending him and he took the next step.

What is God calling you to do? Whatever it is, you can be assured if He is calling you, He will be sending you. But you have to take the first step.

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

Vonda

(Photo courtesy of ChristianPhotos.net)

 

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Writing for Women

Photo courtesy of HealingDream/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve had the joy of writing in a variety of genres and am looking forward to adding a couple of more in the next few years. In addition to my goal of writing a women’s fiction loosely based on my experience of caring for my sister during her terminal illness, I’m planning to try my hand at writing a screenplay based on the yet-to-be-written book.

And although the ideas excite me, they scare me, too. After all, I’ve already written a book for women…and I know what it takes. If you’ve ever considered writing fiction or non-fiction for the fairer sex (note I did NOT say weaker sex), you might want to consider what it will require.

1.  Transparency. If there’s anything universally true about writing for women, it’s that it requires transparency. Whether we’re writing fiction or non, we must be honest about our fears, doubts, and failures.

Were you mad at God? Admit it. Ready to walk out the door of your marriage? Let us know. Frustrated with a child’s choices in life? Join the crowd. That means you’re like the rest of us. It’s what you did with that anger and struggle and frustration that allows us to learn from you.

I’ve read books, and I assume you have too, where the writer is such an expert Christian that she can’t admit she struggled, and perhaps still does at times. I just can’t respect or relate to those kinds of books. Let’s face it, as Christians, we’re never going to get everything right here on earth. To present ourselves as one who has arrived is to present a lie.

2.  Writing about real life. Dirty diapers. Bills. Scrubbing toilets. That’s real life for most of us. And that’s what will draw me in to your story. Yes, if you’re writing fiction, you have the freedom to help us escape through the lives of the characters, but we still must be able to find real life feelings and emotions within those characters. I don’t know what it’s like to have a husband who cheats on me, but I expect such a character to respond in a realistic way. Even if we don’t see it on the surface, we must be able to identify with what’s going on inside her.

In non-fiction, the topic must be something that is real to your target audience woman. Write it real to the subject and she’ll be able to identify with you and your situation…and you’ll be able to help her.

3.  The ability to laugh at yourself. Laughter is a uniting technique that breaks down walls and draws the reader in, especially when we’re plopping ourselves out there for our readers. Writing Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe was gut-wrenchingly difficult because of the transparency, but fun because I was able to laugh at myself. I was able to take many of my foibles of life and use them to present spiritual truths. Women could see the scene, find themselves in the character, and apply God’s Truth to their own situations.

4.   A we’re-in-this-together voice. You should refrain from using the words “you should.” 🙂 You should, you need to, and you must should be used sparingly and in a way that doesn’t point the proverbial finger. Yes, there are times when you may need to say something using those words, but that shouldn’t be the voice of the book.

Instead, using phrases like we can, we must, and if we…then… takes away the pointing finger and replaces it with a warm hug. It’s a sitting-around-the-kitchen-table-and-sipping-coffee kind of statement. And that kind of statement will draw your reader into your story and allow her to benefit from your experience.

Writing for women isn’t easy, but it’s a worthy calling, and one that I’m honored to have received. I know many of you have, too. As my tagline says, I’m thankful God can take my messes and use them for His glory…if we let Him.

After all, God doesn’t waste any scars.

Half-price sale for Mother’s Day! Want your own autographed copy of Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe for half price? What about giving them as Mother’s Day gifts? Just contact me and I’ll send you a charge through PayPal for only $6.50 plus shipping ($2.50) per book. PLEASE DO NOT ORDER HALF-PRICE OFFER THROUGH VONDA’S STORE–IT WILL CHARGE YOU FULL PRICE!

Here’s a recent review of Seeing Through the Lies:

5.0 out of 5 stars You will enjoy this humorous, fun and thought provoking book, May 24, 2011
This review is from: Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe (Paperback)

You will enjoy this humorous, fun and thought provoking book. There are many principles to apply to your everyday life. The amusing and personal stories will encourage you to continue learning and growing in your spiritual quest. The chapter’s end with a list of Bible readings that apply to the information you have just studied. There are also questions to answer to make sure you have understood the principle the author is teaching.

One of the chapters entitled “I’m So Proud of My Humility” explains how pride will get you no where! Using scripture and personal stories the author encourages you to leave the worlds lie behind that says you deserve more then anyone else.

The chapter entitled “Fear and the Faith Factor” was a personal favorite. Following the principle of scripture you will learn how to make decisions not on fear but on prayer.

“When does Happily Ever After Begin?” is a hilarious chapter and includes wonderful insight on how to maintain a happy marriage. The author is very clear that happily ever after does not exist and is just another lie the world has lead us to believe.

This book is filled with excellent principles and easy to follow steps to shake off the lies of the world and center your thoughts on the Lord’s truth. I loved this book so much I gave away copies as presents for Mothers Day!

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Healing Dream)

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