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I often think that in this crazy writing journey I’m on, one of the main attributes required to keep going is plain old courage.  In the past few weeks, I have spent hours investigating more online sites and social networks where my novels could perhaps be promoted – and in my opinion, such a task isn’t for the fainthearted!  Many times I found myself tempted to give up on the whole idea – particularly when, after painstakingly entering bits and pieces of information on one occasion, I managed to lose the lot!  And after all, who would bother to give more than a cursory glance to the information and images on any ‘author page’ I might put together – particularly those subscribers living in the US, from where most of these sites emanate?

Then in the midst of all this frustrated effort, a phrase I heard over twenty-five years ago popped into my mind.  It was from another time in my life when I was embarking on something quite challenging for me.  I was returning to study after a long break looking after our three children – and this necessitated my ‘resurrecting’ any German and Japanese I had known from around thirteen years earlier but had hardly touched in those intervening years.  Eventually, I found myself in a class with eight other students, one of whom was a native German speaker, having to introduce myself in German and speak for a few minutes about my life.  I remember shaking in my boots, as I tried to dredge up that hidden cache of German words somewhere in the depths of my brain, and hoping against hope the lecturer would excuse me from such an ordeal.

But he didn’t.  Instead, he smiled patiently at me and said softly: ‘Sie brauchen Mut!’  (‘You need courage!’).  And he was right.  Taking a deep breath, I stumbled on and somehow made it out the other side.

So how about you?  As you face the new year, do you need to hear those gently challenging words too – ‘Sie brauchen Mut’?  Do you too need to take a deep breath and plunge on, despite all the misgivings churning around inside you?

Isn’t it wonderful though that we’re not left to do it all alone?  Yes, we have to take courage and act – but God has promised to be with us every step of the way.  We have God’s Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Encourager – the one whose very name means ‘the one called alongside’, the one sent for the purpose of helping.

And I find that more than a little encouraging, don’t you?

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