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Posts Tagged ‘David Benner’

In recent days, I have been involved in finalising the cover of my fifth novel, ‘Heléna’s Legacy’, due for release in June. I was asked by my publisher, Ark House, for suggestions and in the process, told them one thing I don’t like on a cover – a front view of the hero or heroine! I like my readers to imagine these characters themselves. And as the author, no image ever seems to do justice to this ‘real’ person I have walked beside for months who has persevered and struggled and triumphed and lived through so many different experiences.

When the cover was returned for approval, however, I found a front view of the main character on it! And yet … well, she looked lovely, with a rather pensive, sad expression that exactly suits the storyline. So I rapidly had to revise my own mental concept, step back a little and try to appreciate what the graphic artist had come up with. Now I’m very happy with the result – and I hope my readers will be too.

It’s sad but true that we do tend to judge a book by its cover. For this reason, I’m very glad all my novels have excellent covers. In this day of economic downturn and questions about the future of books and bookstores, we authors need all the help we can get! But all of this has led me to wonder how I myself come across to people – how the ‘cover’ I present to the world expresses what is inside me. What do people see when I get up to speak somewhere? What do people notice about the way I live my daily life?

Well, I know they see a grey-haired woman who is definitely not slim and perhaps make judgments about that! It is amazing how people are put in ‘boxes’ simply on the strength of having grey hair, I’ve discovered. Perhaps we would be suitable to speak to Seniors’ Groups, it is suggested nicely – when I absolutely love speaking to young mums or people of any age, including Seniors! But much more importantly, I hope I carry with me in what I do and say – and yes, even in my appearance – something of who God is. After all, each of us is created in God’s image, as Genesis 1:27 tells us. And as the psychologist David Benner puts it in ‘The Gift of Being Yourself’, each of us, when we are prepared to be our true selves, actually is a ‘unique face of God to the world’! What a privilege – but what a responsibility as well.

So I hope both in my life and through my novels, by God’s grace, I reflect that grace and love clearly in a way that points people to God. ‘Let you light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven’, Jesus tells his disciples (Matt 5:16). I hope as I speak, that my words carry something of the ‘fragrance of life’ that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 2:16. And I hope and pray that the ‘cover’ of the book of my life will attract people to God and not turn them away.

But I’m so relieved that when God looks at me, the inside matters much more than the outside! In 1 Samuel 16:7, when Samuel is sizing up Jesse’s sons as potential future kings, the Lord reminds him:

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

How about you? What does your ‘cover’ convey? And what does God see in your heart?

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It happens to be my birthday this week – and yes, that definitely indicates I’m getting older!  Now I can let that mournful truth affect me in either of two ways.  I can be discouraged, decide I’ve done enough and slow down a little in my writing and speaking endeavours – or I can be encouraged, redouble my efforts and forge ahead, knowing I have even less time to complete all those novels in my mind that are waiting to burst onto the page.

I’ve decided I’m choosing the latter.  In 2010, I will put my best foot forward once again to speak wherever I’m invited about God and about writing in whatever ‘mix’ seems appropriate.  And I’m also aiming to complete my sixth novel, which has patiently waited in the wings these past few months when I have been too busy with other things.  Not that I know myself yet exactly how my characters are going to develop and what they actually will want to do in the end.  I think I know – but I might be wrong.  And I can’t wait to find out!

But how about you?  What unique contribution does God have for you to make to the lives of those around you this year?  Because each of us has something to offer, however little we believe that.  Just today I received a very apt birthday card in the mail, featuring a quote from Max Lucado that says:

Your life has a plot; your years have a theme. You can do something in a manner that no one else can.

I didn’t always believe that, particularly the last part.  I think that many years of my life were spent trying to be like someone else or trying to be the sort of person I thought God wanted me to be, without ever realising it was okay to relax and fully be the person I had been made to be in the first place.  Some time back I read some interesting words written by psychologist and spiritual retreat leader David Benner in his book ‘The Gift of Being Yourself’:

(Our true self) is the image of God that you are – the unique face of God that has been set aside from eternity for you.

That’s a sobering but amazing thought, isn’t it?  Each one of us, created uniquely in the image of God, as Genesis 1:27 talks about, is given the ability to mirror God to the world in a completely unique way as a result.  No one else is going to write my books.  No one else is going to speak exactly as I do and will.  No one else will relate to others or work or care for people or simply live the exact same way as you do.  Each of us has the opportunity to show the world something of God in a unique way.

Are you up for the challenge in 2010?  Whatever your age – go for it!

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