Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
You served me well, these last few years,
A silly poem, maybe, but ohhh - my poor car! It died Saturday night. It's almost humorous. Will probably be more so in about 6 months or so, though....
Peppy, my 97 black camaro, was my first car. I got it when I was 18 and the way God provided that vehicle was a complete miracle, which is why I have such strong feelings for it! Plus, it's just cool! I love driving a standard, being the first off the red light, shifting gears with the wind in my hair...
But it's okay. This was God's will and timing! Who am I to argue?
Saturday night my husband and I were driving down Bert Kouns (a very, very busy thoroughfare through our city) on the way to meet our friends for dinner when he went to downshift to a lower gear. We heard this horrible popping noise, followed by the spraying of metal shards onto the street. He immediately knew it was the clutch, just from the noise, but then tried to downshift, and couldn't get a gear. Any gear. Oops!! We coast into the turning lane about a 1/4 mile down the street and put on the emergency brake and flashers. Then, with cars whizzing by on both sides, we just look at each other. My hubby goes "Um, I think we need to pray." LOL So we did.Then my hubby explained to me that the clutch had gone out. Even this girly-girl knew that's expensive. Uh yeah. $900 + expensive! The car is only worth maybe 2 or 3 grand anyway, so we knew it was the end of the road for Peppy. We called our friends to come rescue us, they left the restaurant and met us in the turning lane. Now we're a real side-show for the people driving by, not offering any help! Just staring like we're all insane! Well, we probably are, because we decided we needed to get the car into the gas station across the street. Not an easy task in Saturday evening traffic!
So, with the car in neutral, me in the driver's seat steering, my husband and his best friend push my car backwards down the turning lane, until they gain enough momentum. Then, because God parted the Red Sea a second time, traffic suddenly cleared and I was able to use the momentum to steer BACKWARDS into the gas station, across Bert Kouns. (clutching the steering wheel with sweaty palms, half-screaming/half-praying, the entire way. I'm sure you can just picture me.) I get out of the car and my hands are SHAKING. It was really kinda funny (now). So we push the car beside the building, out of the way, inform the gas station manager, and then head on to dinner in our friends car! What else can we do? Can't afford a tow truck! Well, through another gift from God, our fireman friend who has a gooseneck trailer happened to be off work this weekend and Sunday morning, he picked up my hubby and they loaded the car onto his trailer and he kept it at his house until we went to the dealership yesterday.
And even though we had no down payment, no significant money in the bank, guess what God provided us with? A 2007 Sebring! "Modern blue pearl", 4 doors, power everything. What a blessing! Our "future family" car, safe, reliable, and...still cute. (yes, I am a girly-girl at heart!)
Though I was a little nervous, I knew God would provide! I attended the Beth Moore conference here in town this past weekend, just mere hours before my car broke down, and one of Beth's points was on God's provision, and our Ebenezer rock. (which means "thus far"). Thus far God has brought us, and He won't fail us now! I clung to that truth a few nights ago while sitting in the middle of Bert Kouns! God brought me and Peppy "Thus far", and He provided for tomorrow, as well.
If any of you are struggling with your writing, your ministry, your dreams, your goals - just know that God has brought you "thus far". Your "thus far", like mine, might be in the middle of the proverbial highway, problems whizzing to and from at a dizzying speed, leaving you to feel as if you might be flat run over...but His timing and ways are still perfect! Never lose hold of that promise. You might be run over with rejections, with doubts, with hopes deferred - but its not over! Who knows what is right around the next bend? It might be a brand new, shiny gift of obedience. Keep the faith. And keep writing! =)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Okay, I know this book isn't officially released until April 17th, but I had to let you know about it in advance! DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK! Allison Pittman's second novel in the "Crossroads of Grace" series, entitled "Speak Through the Wind" is perhaps more of a must-read than anything I've ever recommended. I know - that's huge, right? I read a LOT. =)
I enjoyed the first book in this series, "Ten Thousand Charms" and wondered how in the world Allison would make the second novel anywhere near as good as it. Well, she did, and she even passed it up and soared to an entirely new level!
The "Crossroads of Grace" series are about - get this - prostitutes in the 1800's. Edgy topic, yes, but Allison handles it with such grace and skill that there isn't a single soul who could be offended by these heartwrenching, touching tales of finding God's forgiveness and love. Her characters are so rich and vivid, I caught myself starting to pray for them several times through the day! I grew upset about having to do such things as work, eat, sleep... I wanted to read! Not only do her characters seem as real as the girl in the next cubicle, but the setting, the senses...just brilliant. I couldn't just see the streets of New York, I was ON them. I didn't just imagine the filth and dirt and fog, I SMELLED them. It is a rare book indeed that can get me so completely involved in the story that the real world simply ceases to exist and I am lost in the pages of time.
More good news - if you missed the first book, "Ten Thousand Charms", you can still read this second one! They're related but not in a chronological way that insists you read them in order. Of course, it is never too late to buy the first book and catch up while waiting for April 17th....
On a book allowance? Start saving now. Pennies a day, a quarter a day, SOMETHING - because April 17th, you better be hunting down this treasure!
I hosted an interview with Allison several months back, which is still available in my blog archives. Check it out! =)
AND RUN TO YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE ON APRIL 17TH!!!!!
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
After work, I got back in my car, the same c.d. still in my player, and drove home. Yet - something was different. My heart just wasn't the same. Nothing bad had happened during the day, I didn't feel as if I had some giant unconfessed sin hanging over my head, but something just didn't feel the same. I ended up listening to the Christian radio station instead, and singing along, but it was nowhere near the same experience I had that morning.
It could be several reasons, of course, but the one I believe was true for yesterday was the sipmle fact that - the day had gotten in the way. My day - full of work, people, attitudes, chores, copies, books, letters, networking, writing, blogging, eating, laughter, frustration, and Diet Coke - had taken precedence over the course of the afternoon. Just a regular day, but without a concentrated effort to keep Jesus beside me. It makes a difference. And is an effort I will make today.
How would that change our writing? I know most of you, if not all, pray to some degree before/during/after working on your WIP. But what we boosted it up? What if we spent REAL time in prayer before commiting our words to paper? Made an ongoing effort to talk to Jesus as if He sat beside us at work? At our desk? At home? On the couch? On the windowseat? What if we truly sought God's timing, plan, path and guidance before loading up the computer and typing away? I feel God has a bigger blessing in store for us if we just ask for it! If we just confess to Him how helpless we are without Him. My new phrase for my writing career, one I sign into several books, is "Without Christ, my words are in vain." This is something I remind myself daily. Without Jesus, I...am...nothing. My words are empty. He is the breath that revives my words. Without His life, I am dead.
The realization in my car yesterday had me thinking something else inspiring...I truly believe that Heaven will be an amped up, totally extreme version of my morning worship time. In Heaven, there won't be a "day" between worship to separate us from Christ. We'll be WITH Him! No more sin. No more distractions. Our words of praise will flow easily. No more writer's block! Can I get an AMEN to that?
I can't help but think that, in a sense, it'll be 'All morning, all day long'. =)
Friday, March 16, 2007
Persistence... A rather long word. But sometimes, it feels like it should have only four letters =)That was going through my mind last night during my kickboxing class.
I got to the gym early and spent a few minutes running on the treadmill to warm up, already regretting the fact that I skipped class last week. I knew once I got started in there, I'd feel the pain ten times worse than if I hadn't missed a class. So there I am, jogging on the treadmill, seriously debating whether or not to just go home and forget it. I was having a bad day - felt incredibly sleepy, already sore from my workout two days before, and overall - ladies, you'll get this - just having a "fat day"! The thought of going in that classroom already tired and unmotivated made me just want to go home and eat. Or truly, stop at Old Navy first, spend money I didn't have, and THEN go home and eat!
But for some reason, I didn't. Maybe my discipline showed up. Maybe I was just operating on auto pilt. Who knows? Regardless, I got off the treadmill, walked into class, helped set up the bags and mats, and dove right in.
Our instructor plays loud music during the 30-60 second intervals of various moves, which I have to admit, does wonders to keep our energy up. She'll demonstrate a move, say go, turn on the music, and make us do that one move steadily, for as fast and hard as we can, for the full time slot - usually a minute. Then its immediately off to the next instruction.
So I punched and chopped and kicked and spun and did the best I could, sweat dripping in my face, shoulders trembling, hands sore, but determined not to stop. Determined to prove I could do it, even though I missed last week and felt like laying down on the mats and taking a nap. I kept at it. Earned myself a few compliments from the teacher. And actually found myself doing better on some of the harder kicks than ever before.
At the end of the hour, exhausted, dripping, and shaking uncontrollably, I felt - GOOD. Really good! I didn't give up. I gave myself a great work-out, and women - there's no better way to beat a "fat day" then to move your rear in the gym!
I drove home thinking, what if I had given up before I ever started and went home? I'd have sat on the couch, watched reruns on t.v., ate something not-so-healthy for dinner, and regretted it afterward. How much fun would that have been?? Instead, I did what I knew I needed to do, I kept myself accountable to my class and instructor, and even enjoyed myself along the way.
The parallel hit home. These past few weeks have been very trying regarding various aspects of my writing. I've gotten a few negative, although helpful, comments on my novel. I've gotten multiple rejection letters from agents. I've fought doubts and Satan's lies of "I'm not good enough. I can't do this. I'm a terrible writer!" It's an exhausting battle yet... if I give up, how much fun will that be? None! I'll feel worse afterward, just as if I would have had I gone home to binge-eat intead of disciplining myself to attend class!
Sometimes we feel like giving up. Sometimes we think "this isn't what I signed up for". Sometimes we think "I'm not good enough". Sometimes we think "this is too hard" or "I'm too tired" or "I'm just not capable!" These thoughts are normal, for writers or any other people out there with goals and dreams. But normal doesn't mean right. Just because everyone has these thoughts doesn't make them true or correct! They're LIES. If God has called you to something, it's your job to DO IT. Regardless of the guarantee. Regardless of the pain and effort and energy spent.
If we want to accomplish our goals of being fit and healthy, we have to burn away calories, exercise our muscles and control our eating habits. In the same way, if we want to be accomplish our dreams, we have to burn away the fear, exercise our talents, and control our doubts! Sure, it's hard. But it's worth it. And the best part is - we're not doing it alone.
Jesus is right there, jogging beside you, wiping your forehead with a towel, and whispering "You can do this. I've already provided you with everything you need. Just...keep...going..."
Monday, March 12, 2007
My pastor's wife, who coordinated and encouraged.
My mom and grandmother, for filling in the gaps with decorations, food and prayers!
My aunt, for doing my fantabulous cake!
My pastor, who had this idea in the first place!
My friends, for sitting at a table nearby and keeping me in giggles.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Tomorrow is my first book-signing party!
My sweet church, Rose Park Baptist, offered to hold the event in their fellowship hall. I'm just a LITTLE excited. It's going to be so much fun! My aunt, who owns a catering business, is making one of her delicious cakes - with purple polka dots! And my mom is baking her fantastic tea cake cookies - in angel shapes! Friends from the church are pitching in to contribute chips, dip, and a fruit tray. I am so blessed - everyone has been so encouraging and supportive of this journey of mine to publication.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
It's simple - just go to www.betsystamant.com and read the instructions on the "contest" page.
Thanks for participating!
Monday, March 05, 2007
The subject? Witnessing.
Several of you might be wincing already! As Christians, witnessing doesn't always come as naturally as we feel it could or even should. I've realized that many Christians have various tactics that work for them. Some Christians are really great at just verbally telling someone else about Jesus. Others are best with words - like writers! (grin) Others live their lives in such a way that God's love seems to seep from their every pore - and people come to them, asking what they have and how they can get it!
However God has blessed you, whatever talents He's given you, use them for Him. Whether that's speaking, writing, singing, art, etc. Even "non-tangible" talents can be powerfully used for Christ! Do you have the gift of a soft heart? Compassion? Are you great at encouraging and uplifting others? Do you have the knack for cheering people up or offering wisdom and advice? Use those God-given skills for His Kingdom.
For us as authors, it's our words, or rather, the words God gives us that is our duty to share. And sitting there in church yesterday, hearing that sermon and feeling God move during the invitation...it struck me to share this thought: Are we truly writing for His purpose and His plan? Or are we dilly-daddling along on our WIP, not really caring if we finish it because an agent or editor isn't currently interested? Do you feel "what's the point" anyway? If you do, its understandable, and we've ALL been there! We are only human!
But the thing to focus on is - keep going. Don't give up now! If God put a story on your heart to share, then it is meant to be written. It's not your job to see it published or put on a best seller list. Only God knows the future of your manuscript. It's simply your job to write the story and share the words that God put on your heart. That's where your faith comes in - faith that God will see it through and not leave your dreams and desires unfulfilled. Sure, not every book we write will be published - maybe not even half (or any)! But He still has a purpose. He has a point. God doesn't do things in vain. If He gave you something to say, there is a reason why you should share it!
Today, writers - don't ask questions. Don't stare in the mirror and doubt. Put away the black balloons - no pity parties today!