Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘International Christian Fiction Writers’

Jo 17Who would have thought? Way back in July 2009, I started my personal blog journey, wondering whether I would continue to have enough things to write about. Yet here I am, five hundred blogs later, still finding something each week to share with others.  Also during this time, I have written over ninety blogs for various Christian author groups, sharing lessons from my writing journey and encouraging other authors. Phew!

Now that represents a lot of words cobbled together—around 325,000 in fact. If I had decided not to blog and instead shaped all those words into full-length books, I could have produced three and a half more novels in that time, to add to those I did manage to complete and see through to publication. No one made me choose to churn out those blogs each week, but I continued doing it for various reasons.

Firstly on a practical level, committing myself to producing a blog each week—or perhaps several ahead of time, if I planned to be away or had a busy schedule coming up—has kept me writing consistently, even if that meant less time to spend on bigger writing projects. Also, for wordy writers like me, it is good discipline to restrict myself to around 550 words, while attempting to say something worthwhile each week!

But perhaps more importantly, writing my blogs has become a little ministry that seems to suit my particular gifts and personality well and provides a way for me to connect with those I have known in past years, as well as many readers I don’t know personally at all. It is a way I can encourage others via sharing something God has done in my life or some lesson I have taken to heart from God’s Word or perhaps something God seems to highlight in the people, places or events in the world around me. And in the process, I often encourage myself all over again, as I reflect on what I feel God wants me to say and crystallise those thoughts running around in my brain.

Recently, I chatted with a friend who was preparing a eulogy for the funeral of a close relative. I shared with her how some of Jesus’ words as he prays to his heavenly Father, just prior to being arrested, had challenged me that morning:

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. John 17:4

How wonderful it would be, we decided, if we, like Jesus, could truly say that at the end of our time here on earth! It is what we both aim for in our lives—to do the work God has given us to do, however big or small that might be. And I feel that my writing, including my little effort with my blogs, has been part of that work God has gifted and enabled me to do.

Recently when I spoke at an event, I mentioned some similar words that the Apostle Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy and that I would like at my own funeral:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

I hope I can say that when my time comes. Is that your hope too?

Read Full Post »

Jo 17No, I’m not talking about a huge cricket score, much as I love my cricket. I’m celebrating the passing of yet another writing milestone—the posting of my own personal Blog Number 300. Woohoo!!

‘I don’t know how you can come up with a different blog each week,’ someone said to me recently. ‘I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to write about.’

Back when I began blogging in July 2009, I myself wondered if a weekly blog was too ambitious a goal. Yet I am so thankful that, time after time, God opened my eyes and ears and birthed an idea just at the right moment. Some blogs I wrote seemed to hit the mark better than others. But even in those weeks when fewer people read them, I would often receive some encouraging online comment. It was worth it, I decided, if God blessed one person through what I had written.

During these years, I have also written over sixty blogs for Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Downunder and International Christian Fiction Writers. I have enjoyed producing these writing-related blogs as well and hope other authors have been encouraged in their own journeys as a result, just as their blogs have helped me in various ways.

In all this blog writing, however, I know I am the one who has benefited most by far. But for my blogs, I might well have not been so alert to the many diverse ways God has touched my life, whether it be through Scripture, through some experience or event, through a friend or family member, through the Spirit’s prompting within me, through a book or article or through the wonders in the world around me. As well, collecting my thoughts together and fine tuning them has enabled me to take what God is saying to heart so much more myself. Then, from a practical writing perspective, the mere discipline of writing five hundred or so words each week in a way that will connect with others has helped me put things more clearly and succinctly. And, beyond all that, my blogs have connected me with so many of you, my readers, who have taken the time to comment from wherever you are in the world, often sharing your own beautiful thoughts in the process.

In January 2012, I received the following message from a reader:

I was at an IT in-service day last year where one presenter talked about his Biblical perspective on the use of the internet and encouraged us to be cyber salt. I always think of this now when I read your posts. Thanks for all the encouragement you provide. I love reading your gems.

What a privilege to have provided some of that ‘cyber salt’ three hundred times now, even if only in small amounts! In God’s hands, it can make a big difference in another’s life. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus says:

‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?’

So, however God gifts and enables, let’s all continue to be salt in this world so that others may ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (Psalm 34:8). As for me—well, I’m aiming at the four hundred mark now!

Read Full Post »

I wonder if you’re like me and have a drawer or a box or a folder where you put all sorts of precious things you can’t quite bring yourself to throw away? My drawer of treasures is almost overflowing. It currently contains old certificates, cards of appreciation from the various places I have worked, funny little messages my children or grandchildren have written, various orders of service from weddings and funerals we have attended, newspaper and magazine cuttings about people I knew—and so the list goes on. But in one folder I unearthed there recently, I found some of my writing from over twenty-five years ago. I didn’t even remember clearly that I was doing any writing at that stage of my life, but there was the evidence before my eyes. As I sorted through it, I found an old church newsletter from 1985—and on the front was a poem I had written.

Now I don’t pretend to be a poet. I have enough trouble being a novelist! But I immediately remembered the emotions and frustrations I was feeling at that time in my life as I read my poem again—emotions that stirred me enough to work hard to express them on paper. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I came through that time, but it occurred to me that there may be some people out there who are going through similar frustrations in their lives right now, particularly in their writing journeys. So last week, I chose to share my poem in a blog I wrote for the International Christian Fiction Writers blog (http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/).  And lo and behold, already two people I have never met have contacted me from the other side of the world, expressing how much the poem had meant to them and asking for permission to reproduce it. One lives in the Adirondack Mountains in the north of New York State – I don’t even know where that is!

If God could use a simple, little poem to bless someone else so far away, I figured that maybe he also wants to bless someone closer to home. So I decided to share my poem again, in case any of you identify too with what I wrote. The poem really is a prayer—a cry from my heart at the time—and is based on Isaiah 9:6:  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Wonderful Counsellor, surround me with your wisdom.

My mind is tired, with indecision torn.

Where is the path prepared for me to follow?

I need you, Lord, to watch, to guide, to warn.

 

Almighty God, defend me with your power.

My weakness wins, my courage ebbs away.

O Holy One, great Lord of all creation,

For strength to stand secure I humbly pray.

 

Everlasting Father, how you love me!

I am your child, forgiven, forever free!

O hold me fast, transform me to your likeness,

Till men in me your face more clearly see.

 

Prince of Peace, bestow your calm assurance.

My heart is troubled, turmoil takes control.

O send your soothing Spirit to surround me.

Speak, Lord, till I am still within my soul!

 

Is that your heart cry right now? May you have listening ears to hear what God is saying to you. And may you know the loving presence of the Prince of Peace close by you and around you this Christmas, giving you all the wisdom and assurance you need.

Read Full Post »

This is my fiftieth blog since beginning my blogging adventure almost a year ago now – and what an interesting journey it has been!  I have reconnected with various friends and acquaintances from the past as a result of these writing efforts of mine, and have also made several new friends who have bothered to write a comment on my blog.  Truly today we live in an unprecedented age of opportunity in the area of communication.

This is brought home to me every time I make or answer a call via skype on my laptop.  One minute I can be sitting writing merrily away and the next talking to my friend in Turkey and seeing her as well across the thousands of kilometres that separate us.  And we can chat and encourage each other for however long we like – after all, it’s free!  The same goes for a writer friend in Tasmania, who has in turn linked me up with various other writers across the world via the International Christian Fiction Writers blog and also the American Christian Fiction Writers website and email digests. The possibilities are endless.

And then there is Facebook and other similar online social networks, which, despite the difficulties these might cause, are nevertheless amazing ways of keeping in contact with and finding both new and old ‘friends’.  Each week, I link my current blog to Facebook, which provides me with a much wider readership than would otherwise be possible. And when the time comes, I can also let any number of people know in a second with one flick of my finger that my latest novel is released.  I can even upload in image of the cover as well – amazing stuff.

With all this ease of communication, however, why is it that many of us seem to ignore the ability we all have to talk with God whenever and wherever?  Forget the mobile phones or emails or blogs – God is everywhere and ever listening, always wanting to communicate with us.  That was the idea way back in the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and hid among the trees (Genesis 3:8).  They didn’t want to talk about what they had done – and I guess we’re not much different today.  How much we all need to step out from our hiding place of fear and shame and rebellion and into the presence of our loving God, who is good and gracious and compassionate and longs to speak to us on a daily basis!

I want to be in a place where God and I are communicating constantly, with no barriers or ‘static’ between us.  I want to be one of those ‘sheep’ Jesus talks about in John 10:27-28 who easily recognise his voice, listen intently and follow him. ‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand’, Jesus says.  Through Jesus, the gap was bridged and our whole relationship with God was restored, so that we can communicate freely again.  And that would have to be the best ‘communication revolution’ ever, eclipsing email, blogs, Facebook, the lot – don’t you agree?

Read Full Post »