Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where to Now, Lord?

Head spinning, thoughts twirling, mounds of information...,"Where to now, Lord?"  An amazing weekend at the Writer's Conference in Spartanburg, SC proved to be the place I was supposed to be.  I learned a lot about how much I truly do not know and how much I need to be writing, writing, writing. 

"Writing is not a hobby.  It's a lifestyle!"  This quote is from J. Countryman, one of the publishers at the CCWN. (Carolina Christian Writer's Conference) Many who don't write don't get this, but to do anything well, you need to do it often. 

My Bible study manuscript was critiqued by a sweet, precious lady, whom I already knew.  The fact that she was assigned to me solidified that God was with me. Mmm, let's just say, I have a lot of work to do and she has the patience of Job.  The idea for the Bible study was very well received, but the format of presentation...well, that's another story. Bless your sweet, southern, huge, encouraging heart, Edna! I am forever grateful!

Many times we thwart God's best for us because of fear.  To put ourselves at the mercy of others is scary and can cause us to walk away. But, when we are obedient to what the Holy Spirit has impressed on us to do, we can walk by faith through our fears with a confidence that is not boastful, but teachable.  We can be bold, not with selfish pride, but with courage in Christ. 

Here are some questions and answers that I can reflect on from the conference: Was it successful?  Certainly!  Did I get a book contract?  No.  Did I learn how to present a manuscript to receive a book contract? Yes. Am I content in what God has called me to do? Yes.  Did I pitch an idea to a publisher? Yes.  Was it well received? Yes. Did I meet wonderful people? Yes, some newbies and some seasoned writers.  Were they encouraging to me? Yes!

So, where do I go from here?  I begin working on the manuscript with the suggested edits from Edna.  I continue to write, blog, learn, and listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides my steps.  I will work on my "pitched idea" to a publisher which is different from the Bible study manuscript.  I will be writing, editing, and working on the next isssue of Living Real Magazine now and throughout the summer.  I will continue carrying my cross, dying daily to myself, and living with the joy of Christ in my heart.  And I will, as another writer said so fearlessly, "Stay Calm and Write On!"  (Thanks, Carol!)

"For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." 
                                                                                                                   (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

My Pleasure,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cross of Obedience

This title has been swimming around in my head for quite a while now.  I chose to use it today because of what I am doing tomorrow- carrying my cross of obedience.

As I prepare, pray, and pack, I am being obedient by attending a Writer's Conference.  I have never submitted a manuscript before, nor have I ever met with a publisher.  Usually, I just go and learn. But last summer, God impressed on my heart to do something special for my sweet daughter who will be graduating from high school in 43 days.  He told me to write a Bible study for her.

All fall, God put me in His Word to write this study to encourage, disciple, and mentor young women who are moving into adulthood.  These precious girls are preparing for college, careers, family, and making decisions that will follow them the rest of their lives.  I wanted to give them something that they will be able to use every morning, even after they graduate.

My heart was drawn to share with my daughter, and girls like her, about how to dress for success. "What to Wear...from this day forward"is a strategic plan for choosing their attire wisely; not just their physical attire, but their spiritual wardrobe.  Once the spiritual is in place, the physical will follow suit.

The spiritual wardrobe, designed by God Himself, is crafted to dress them for spiritual success in a world full of darkness.  The process includes cleaning out the clothes that don't fit or flatter the Person of Jesus Christ, and replacing them with the Designer's line of clothing that will enhance the beauty of Jesus Christ; the One who's glorious light we are called to display every day.

This is what I'm taking with me to the Writer's Conference tomorrow and Saturday.  I don't know if they'll tell me it isn't good enough to be published, or if God will once again amaze and daze me through this process of obedience.  Either way, I'm following and carrying my cross of obedience for the joy set before me just like Jesus carried His cross for the joy set before Him.

An obedient heart is a joyful heart!  I'm wallowing in His joy today as I follow Him into unchartered waters tomorrow.  Thanks for your prayers everyone!  I'll let you know what happens.

My Pleasure,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hearts Lifted High

I've been distracted for the past few weeks and MIA on the blog scene. Here's why...

Because of some heavy heartache that my children have been experiencing, my focus has been solely on them and cradling their hearts in my hands.  Without going into detail, my purpose here is to share with you what an honor it is to be their mom; to love and to hold the hearts of my children.

From the moment of conception, a mom's heart is connected to the heart of her unborn. With every heartbeat, as the miracle of life is growing inside her, she anticipates their birth. That God ordained moment when they gasp outside the womb and the Lord breathes His holy breath into their tiny lungs.

As our sweet little babies continue living outside our bodies, all of their days are numbered and known by their Creator. (Psalm 139) They are known by God intimately, inside and out; even the hairs on their heads are being counted at all times.  He made them and allowed us, their moms, the privilege of carrying them- close to our hearts.

With every new discovery and accomplishment, a mom has the opportunity to clap her hands in jubilant celebration.  With every disappointment they experience, she has the opportunity to wrap her arms around them in loving consolation.

These past few weeks have been times of consolation.  These moments of disappointments and heartache have been really hard.  I've shed many tears on their behalf. But even through the tears, I can find gifts and I give thanks. 

In my gifts journal I list the hard eucharisteo that author Ann Voskamp writes about.  The hard is teaching them and me about how faithful our God is through the tough stuff in life, and how He loves us through our hurts and suffering.  He's always working all things for our good, and for His glory!

God is also teaching me that I can't kiss away their hurts anymore, as much as I would like to.  As they grow up, they experience pain in a deeper way, a more personal way; the kind that a mother cannot fix.  I'm learning that, as God is weaning them from my care, He is leading them to a complete reliance on Him.  They are learning how to own their faith, to live their faith, and to trust their God.

My job of raising my children is almost over, but my job of praying for them is never over.  I've always prayed that He would give them teachable hearts, soft enough to be molded into hearts that look and act like His. God has honored that prayer in ways I could never have imagined. And now, God is showing me that I have to trust Him with their hearts; even their broken ones. It's time to act on the faith I claim.

These past weeks I have had to put my faith into action. As I've held their hearts in my hands, I have tried to caress them, love them, and heal them, but I've been drawn by the Holy Spirit to lift their hearts high to heaven, to open my hands, and to release them to Him, and to trust Him.  This is the difficult part of the growing up process for the parent; remembering Who they belong to ultimately, and releasing them back to His loving care. 

I'm giving thanks today for the privilege to hold these hearts close and for the letting go. This doesn't mean I can't wrap my arms around them when they hurt, or clap my hands when they achieve. It means that I have to trust their hearts to the God who created them, who has a perfect plan for their lives, who loves them more than I ever could, and believe that He has their best interest at heart for His glory.  So to my children I say, "Remember this... 

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.  When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him." Isaiah 43:1-3a,7 NKJV
My Pleasure,
Melanie (Turner and Madison's Mom)