I’m a Writer!

Well, I still haven’t figured out how to make my new blog, Distractifying.com do what I want, sonfor now I’ll just have to post here.

My novelette, The Barbeque, has officially made me a writer. I got my first official rejection letter. So I now feel official – I AM A WRITER! However, my next goal is to become a PAID writer!

I have three stories in two publications. Paulie and Talitha I’ve mentioned before. They are in a book called “Reasons For Hope: Speculative Fiction and Poetry” by The Writing Journey. It can be found on Amazon.

The most recent acceptance is a story called Sunday Morning that has been recently published in, “Gleam: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2019.” It is available for purchase at:

http://www.clarendonhousebooks.com/anthologies

While there is no pay for this, but it is another feather in my writing cap. And, while I don’t know the details yet, there is a contest involved with this publication. As soon as I know details, I will let you know. Voting happens for each Clarendon House publication. The author that garners the most votes wins a contract for a future, paying, book. I’ll let you know when I learn how voting works.

Competition will be stiff for this. Not only are there many well crafted stories in this anthology, but there are some well established writers with large readership as well. No matter what happens, it is a privledge to be placed in a publication with such talented writers. It only whets my appetite for more.

With that said, I’m going to send this on it’s way, and get back to work! Have a great day!

Final Apology

So many time, in so many ways, I’ve apologized for having so many long gaps of time between writings. Each time I’ve tried to change, it has ended in failure. Of course, there’s always the possibility that I will change. I’m working on it again.

I’m working on changing many things in my life right now. And I’m actually being fairly aggressive about it. I’ve been writing on the regular for a couple months now. I mean writing things other than journal. Like actual, “real” writing. “They” say it takes twenty-one days to form a habit, and ninety days to turn it into a lifestyle. I’m about two thirds of the way to a lifestyle as a writer, and I’m enjoying it.

In the past I’ve allowed things to get in my way. This time I’m not. I’m seriously striving to create a lifestyle as a writer.

I had two stories published in an Anthology last year. The stories, Talitha, (my favorite), and Paulie, (good, but not as good as Talitha as far as I’m concerned), are in “Reasons For Hope: Speculative Fiction and Poetry” by The Writing Journey and edited by Tim Yao. It’s available on Amazon if you want to buy it. (Shameless plug!!) There are many good stories by many good writers. But when I saw my name in print, I knew I wanted more. Yet still I just dabbled.

In June of this year, in the midst of the hubbub of the busiest month at my j.o.b. I saw a facebook meme. I wish I could remember exactly what it said, because it’s changing my life. It had to do with focus, something I’ve struggled with for my entire life. It stressed that you have one thing that you are meant for, and you need to focus on that one thing. I believe, however, that there can be subsets, so to speak. Or, to put it another way, I hedged. I have more than one thing.

There will always be Jesus. He is my One and Only. And in spite of another near miss of a mission trip to Kenya, I still believe that I shall be a missionary in my future. But I also know that I AM a writer! Not, want to be, or will be in the future, but I AM a writer.

So, I have renewed my focus. I have a flash fiction piece and a novelette submitted to publishing houses for inclusion in anthologies. I’m hoping to hear something soon. I’ve also been involved in research to FINALLY continue my Ephesians study. And I’m looking forward to November and NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. I intend to finish my novel by the end of November, if not sooner.

Most of my off time, now, is spent writing or researching. I’ve looked up more stuff on Google in the last month than in the last two years combined. I’ve wondered what people would think if they looked a the history of Google searches by a writer, especially a mystery or horror writer’s history. 🙂

All this is to say that I will not be apologizing again. I’ll either stay focused, and write, or I won’t. You will either get new content, or you won’t. Also, soon, you will be able to read more from me on Distractifying.com. (As soon as I figure out how to get it up and running.) I’ll post something here when it launches. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I get distracted easily. Distractifying will be a way to use those distractions to continue writing. I look forward to turning it all into production.

Thank you for supporting me and not giving up as I’ve gone through so many changes, yet stayed the same. Here’s to enjoying the next months and years of shared words!

Sorry I’m Sorry

I’m sitting here on the couch, enjoying a day off, and being a total slug after being up late on Friday night. I get a notification on my phone. I’m excited because it’s another like of my latest post on Ephesians 1:1- 2. I go back to look at how many likes other posts have gotten. I’m even more excited that the Ephesians 1:1- 2 post has double the number of likes of any other post.

But then …

For 3 years now, I’ve been apologizing for having so much time between posts. I need to stop leading with apology and expressions of sorrow. I’m sorry, but I’m done! (Yeah, sorry again, but I really couldn’t help that one, or this one, for that matter. But really, I’m done now.) Far too many people use the phrase “It is what it is,” but it really is. Sometimes there’s not much else that can be said.

Moving forward, I’ll write what I write, and you’ll like it or not. I’ll write it and post it whenever it gets written and posted. And I’ll learn to deal with it. It’ll be okay.

Thank you.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it’s been quite a while since I wrote. And as you discovered last week, the main reason is, I’ve been struggling. It’s been a really rough year. And it’s been an all over struggle, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, with a little bit of financial struggle thrown in for fun. But I’m on my way back. There’s still a long way to go, but there are improvements in all areas and I’m on a definite upswing.

One of the things I’ve struggled with, not just over the last year, but throughout the life of this blog, is writing on a regular basis. One of the reasons, I believe, is not having a clear cut purpose for this blog. Well, that is changed. I said it last week, and I’ll say it again here, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” And I mean that literally, figuratively, and humorously as well, since every time I think or write that line actually sing it out. What I mean is, while I’ve tried using the blog simply to complete assignments for classes, or to showcase some of my writing, both of which will continue on occasion,  I have not had a clear purpose. It’s all been sort of thrown together whenever I’ve gotten around to doing something. Sure, there was purpose to the writings for my classes, but nothing ongoing, continuing – habit forming. And that’s what I believe I need right now, something habit forming.

So, there is now a theme to this blog. I’ve been trying to figure out how to combine some of the things I’ve been trying to do. Part of my physical struggle has been due to stress from trying to do too much. But I believed, and still believe, that each of the “too many” things I’ve been trying to do are things that I really am supposed to be doing. I’m now figuring out how to combine some of the things to be able to do the God assigned tasks yet still reduce my stress level. Pray for me that I am successful.

So, the new theme for the blog is going to be the youth Bible study that I had been doing. The biggest difference, as far as I’m concerned, is that it’s available to everyone. I’ll be posting every week, sometime on Sunday. And, yes, I have several posts banked already in case life gets in the way again. The other writing things may still happen, the school assignments, the occasional short story, but the primary commitment is at least one Bible study per week.

There will be a Scripture memory verse and a few questions for discussion or reflection. And, the biggie! A read the Bible in a year plan. Who’s with me? When was the last time you read every day? It’s really not all that bad. Yes, it requires discipline, but if we are going to be disciples of Jesus, we need to be disciplined. Keith Moore of Faith Life Church in Branson, Missouri says we need to discipline ourselves like Olympic athletes. Yes, that’s a LOT of discipline, but it really is worth it. The sense of accomplishment alone is worth the effort, but the better benefit is getting the Word inside you. You need to keep filling yourself with the Word until it starts spilling out of your mouth.

I know this intimidates many of you, especially the students. How are you going to get all this reading done in the middle of the school year when all of your teachers are acting like their’s is the only class you have, and they all schedule tests on the same day? Start now! Over the summer, get in the habit. It may seem like a lot of reading, but it’s really not all that much. Put down your phone and pick up the actual Book, and read for 20 minutes a day. I say again, it really is worth the time investment.

I’m using the reading plan at the back of my ESV Bible that I use for travel. There are readings from the Old Testament, Psalms, and the New Testament. You can use whatever plan you want, just be in the Word. Also, if you are following the plan, but the LORD arrests your attention on a particular passage, by all means, stay there. Don’t move on because the plan says you should if God is telling you to tarry for a while. The main thing to remember is that this is all about relationship. If a passage strikes you straight in the heart, dwell there with Jesus until you get things worked out. Read to learn, read to grow, read to become more like Jesus. Just remember, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16- 17).

So I hope you’ll join me on this journey, not just through the Bible, but through the studies, and my adventure to grow in obedience to form a regular habit of writing and study. I’m excited to see what the LORD has in store, and to learn and grow with you.

The first memory verse is the verse above, 2 Timothy 3:16- 17. It seems as good a place as any to start.

READING PLAN
Day 1 : Gen 1- 2 Matt 1- 2 Psalm 1
Day 2 : Gen 3- 4 Matt 3- 4 Psalm 2
Day 3 : Gen 5- 6 Matt 5 Psalm 3
Day 4 : Gen 7- 8 Matt 6 Psalm 4
Day 5 : Gen 9- 10 Matt 7 Psalm 5
Day 6 : Gen 11- 12 Matt 8 Psalm 6
Day 7 : Gen 13- 15 Matt 9 Psalm 7

Drifting

a2f0ce3f3c086c937cc27cd887a873cb

I recently attended a conference, well, actually, not a conference, but a council, the annual council for the Illinois District of Assemblies of God churches. I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that they have been posted specifically to fulfill requirements for certain classes. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned that the reason for those classes is that I’m pursuing credentials to become a pastor within the Assemblies of God.

Those words still rather scare me. It was never, and I mean capital N, NEVER, my plan to be a pastor. My plan was either to pitch for the Cubs (until recently, they couldn’t have done any worse with me than they were doing without me. But this is our year! Go Cubs!!), or join the Army. When the military fell by the wayside, hearing issues preventing me from fulfilling that plan, I decided to get a degree, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with emphasis in international relations and a minor in Military Science. (Yes, that Army dream died hard. But I got to take the ROTC classes at Northern Illinois University, wore the uniform proudly, and “served” three years in my small capacity.)

And then I drifted. What do you do when all your dreams, from early childhood, crash to the ground and you realize you have NO idea where to go or what to do. I had nothing. Sure, I’ve got a piece of paper that says I finished college. I’m the only one of my generation to do that in my family. And what do I have to show for it? I’ve got a piece of paper.

So I drifted, and I drank, and I drugged, and then drifted some more. I drifted from job to job. I drifted from home to apartment to home again. (Yes, Mom and Dad called my yo-yo.) Just like a boat drifts without an anchor, so I drifted.

And then, I found the anchor, Jesus. My life began to settle down. I got a job. (Been there over 10 years now.) I bought a home. (Six and a half years for that!) And settled into my new life. But those of you who’ve been boating know, if the current is strong, or if it’s windy and you’ve been drifting quickly, sometimes it takes a while for the anchor to grab the bottom. It may b down, but sometimes that anchor just drags across the bottom. Your momentum may slow, but you are still drifting. And that is how I fely, anchor out, tied to Jesus, but the current of the world still dragging me along.

And over the course of this last year, still drifting slowly in the current, dragging the anchor of Jesus through the muck and mire of the bottom of the lake I’ve been on, I didn’t even notice that I was also starting to let the rope pull through my hands. I was losing my grip. As John Bevere, one of the keynote speakers at the council made reference to, I’d been so involved in my own thing, drifting, loosening my grip on the anchor, that when I looked up, I no longer recognized my surroundings. I drifted farther than I ever realized. And it seemed to happen on the blink of an eye. In reality, it’s built up over time. But I allowed myself to become so distracted, it seemed as if just a moment went by.

I’m getting myself back on track, I’ve tightened my grip on the anchor rope again, and I’m beginning to pull in some of that rope that slipped through my hands. And even more important than that, through the speakers at this council, and more so than that, by my focus getting locked back on Jesus, laser sharp and ready to go, the anchor is set. Actually, it’s always been set. The anchor is ALWAYS the anchor. It never changes. What we do with, or to it, is what causes us to drift. But the anchor of Jesus will never be moved.

So I’m back to my study schedule, and I’ll finish up my classes, and I’ll become a pastor. That still sounds so strange to my ears. But if I look at my classes as training, homework and Bible Study as PT (physical training), if I shift my thinking, I’m actually, finally fulfilling my dream of being in the Army.

I have decided to follow Jesus, and I’m a soldier in His Army. No turning back. NO TURNING BACK!

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

I wrote this about two weeks ago, not publishing it right away, but just letting it stew for a little while. I love how God uses that stewing process to bring other things to light. As I was reading yesterday, for one of my classes, I encountered this from the author:

“The writer of Hebrews said, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). Drifting takes no conscious effort or strategy. The currents and winds of social trends and fads, in the church as well as in the world, are always in motion.” (Hurst, Randy; The Local Church in Evangelism, 3rd ed.; pg 155)

Isn’t it just amazing how God can pull things together from seemingly unrelated places, yet they suddenly appear as a beautiful piece of art, and you think, “Well, of course this all goes together.” So, this, along with the posts in the coming weeks, and continuing on, will be my project for this class. (Thanks Papa!)

Catch the Chariot

Ok, here it is, finally, my second story submitted to the Faith Writers weekly contest. This one scored a “Highly Commended.” It’s been strange, working at my writing. I don’t think I’ve ever made so many changes to anything I’ve written. I am beginning to look at it as a craft. I look forward to crafting more for you all in the future. Enjoy!

The room was full, the buzz, incredible, the excitement, palpable. Peter and John moved from one to another, quickly praying, laying on hands, then rejoicing as another believer poured forth his love for the Son with expressions understood only by God. It was as it had been for them on the day of Pentecost when Holy Spirit first came, praise, worship, pure love spilling from their mouths in a Heavenly language.

Philip watched from the wall. He arrived at this place from Jerusalem in fear, fear for his life, for being a follower of the Way, fear of the people here because of the stories he’d heard. These were the dreaded Samaritans, those who had allowed themselves to be corrupted, those whose worship was no longer True. But arriving here, running for his life from the persecution, he found them to be kind, loving, and real, different from those who followed the Sanhedrin, the ones who killed Jesus, Stephen, and so many others. Solace was found with the ones he had been taught to fear, and fear came from those who were meant to give solace.

He watched with joy as more Samaritans were filled with Holy Spirit, pouring out adoration to God in their new language of love. Suddenly a voice said, “Leave this place and go to a land that I will show you.” He shook his head, digging a finger in his ear, thinking there must have been a fly buzzing. Again the voice said, “Leave this place. Go to a land that I will show you.” There must be a mistake. Those were words spoken to Abraham, father of a great nation. But the voice came again, softer, gentler, yet compelling, “Just start walking, My friend. I will show you the way to go.”

Philip picked up his pack, walked to Peter in the middle of the room, saying, “Hey, Pete, I gotta go. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve got something I have to do.”

Peter, still in the throes of excitement for the Samaritans receiving Holy Spirit, gave a wave of dismissal, “Yeah, sure. See ya later.”

Philip walked out the door into brilliant sunlight, the voice saying, “Go south to the road, the desert road, that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” And so he did. He walked the dry, dusty path that served as a road, twisting and turning through the desert, sun beating down, the breeze gently wafting all traces of moisture from his skin. In the distance, dust arose from the wheels of a chariot, also headed south. The voice buzzed in Philip’s ear, “Go over and join this chariot.”

“You want me to WHAT? How am I supposed to catch up with a chariot that far ahead of me? Do you have any idea how fast a horse runs?”

“Just do it. Trust.”

So he ran. In spite of the heat, in spite of the condition of the rutted path, in spite of everything, he ran. A trail shot off to his right. His ear buzzed, “This is the way. Run in it.” Veering off the path, the trail dipped into a long-dried river bed, and rose again, depositing Philip just yards behind the chariot.

Philip could see the occupant, seated, reading from a scroll. As he approached, he heard the words, “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

“Hey,” called Philip, “I said HEY. Slow up a bit, would ya? Do you have any idea what you’re reading?”

The large, dark skinned man in the chariot signaled to his driver to stop. Philip, panting, hands on knees, catching his breath, twisted his head up, looking at the man, obviously Ethiopian. The man scanned Philip for a moment, taking in the dust covered tunic, the dirt streaked face, and the feet, the beautiful feet of this man who seemed to appear out of nowhere, running and actually catching his horse drawn chariot. “How can I understand if no one explains it?” was his reply, “Come, join me on the journey. We will talk.”

And so it was that Philip led the Ethiopian to Jesus and the salvation He provides. What came after that is a tale for another day, but suffice it to say, the continent of Africa would never be the same again. The director of accounting for the great Queen Candace of Ethiopia saw to that.

I Wrote Something

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I needed to start writing more than just babbling complaints in my journal. Well, in an effort to find some prompts to help me do that, I found a Christian writers’ site, several actually. But one in particular has drawn my attention. They hold a weekly writing challenge. I entered. I’ve been trying to wait until I know how I did before posting my entry, but I just can’t wait anymore. Besides, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter how I do, that can be fodder for another post here. If I’m “short” of writing material, I should be seeking ways to create more.

The challenge puts out a topic each week. Once it hits, entries are accepted for one week. You must write new material, no using something you’ve already written. Length must be between 150 and 750 words. Those are the only criteria for entry. The first topic I wrote for is “I surrender all, (don’t write about the song).” So, here it is. My first ever official writing challenge entry. Hope you enjoy.

What Would You Do For Me?

“I surrender all.” I’ve said it dozens of times. Dozens upon dozens. Maybe even hundreds now. Each time there’s a call to the altar, I say it again. “I surrender all, LORD. I give it all to You. I’ll go anywhere You want. I’ll do anything You want. Just tell me.”

Yes, I’ll do whatever You want, LORD. Just don’t make me work with kids. I don’t like kids. They’re so . . . young and immature. Mission trip to Paraguay?!? Sure, I’ll go. I’ve never been out of the U.S., I don’t speak Spanish, I’ve not even been Christian for a year. Yeah, that’s way out of my comfort zone, but I’ll do it for You, God, as long as there are no children involved. By the way, what will we be doing?

Uh, what!!?? Vacation Bible School!? Isn’t that…? I love You and Your sense of humor. Let’s do this thing!!

Yes, I’ll do whatever You want, LORD. Just don’t make me work with kids. I don’t like kids. They’re so . . . young and rowdy. Mission trip to Haiti?!? Sure, I’ll go. I don’t know Creole and I’ve heard it’s a scary place full of voodoo and walking dead. It’s out of my comfort zone, but I’ll do it for You, God, as long as there are no children involved. By the way, what will we be doing?

Uh, what!!?? Helping out at any all girls orphanage, a children’s hospital and another orphanage for profoundly handicapped children? Say WHAT!??! Your sense of humor is out of this world, LORD. But I was blessed in Paraguay, so, let’s do this thing!

Yes, I’ll do whatever You want, LORD. Just don’t make me work with kids. I don’t like kids. They’re so . . . young and boisterous. Mission trip to Tanzania?! Sure, I’ll go. Isn’t that in Africa, the dark continent? I’ve never been half way around the world, I don’t speak Swahili, and I’m terrified of creepy, crawly, scary things. It’s out of my comfort zone, but I’ll do it for You, God, as long as there are no children involved. By the way, what will we be doing?

A feeding station for nearly 400 street children? Really? Anything else, like maybe something withOUT children? Yeah, like that, a destitute camp for adults. That’s much more up my alley. I can do that. But why is it that they are destitute? Oh, it’s really a leper colony, but it’s politically incorrect to call it that. That’s way outside my comfort zone. I am continually amazed at Your sense of humor, LORD. Let’s do this thing.

You’ve called me to work with the youth group at my church. You’ve called me to start a Bible study for teenagers. You’ve called me, a young in the LORD, white female, to teach pastors in India. You’ve called me to a medical mission in the war zone of Ukraine. Each time You call, I tell You, “I surrender all to You.” I’ve offered up my time, my money, my peace of mind, my safety, left my home, my family, my friends. I was even willing to give up my life if that became necessary. What more is there?

“Will you give up your dog for Me?”

What? Really write Something?

Imagine my surprise recently, when I got the distinct impression that I’m supposed to start actually writing, not just whining and complaining in my journal time. And when I tried to respond to that impression, I came up with — NOTHING!! I had no cohesive thoughts, ideas, inklings, just nothing!

Hmmmmm. What to do? “Well,” I thought to myself, “there must be some sort of help online.” So I searched writing prompts and found that there is quite a bit of help out there. It remains to be seen if it’s good help or not. It’ll take a while to weed through all the possibilities that appeared online. I also found a couple of creative writing groups that I’m going to investigate for helps. Not just prompts, but encouragement, critiquing, and more. But one of the best prompts actually came from an Instagram caption from my grand niece. She said, “I go to seek a great perhaps.” What a great line! And the story lines that could come from it, well, the possibilities are just endless. And in view of that,…

“I go to seek a great perhaps.”