Restored Life

By Karen Baney

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Psalm 71:20 (NIV)

When I was thinking about what to write for this post, I came across thisA Life Restored Cover Art thumb verse. It’s one that I wished I had known before I published my novel A Life Restored, because it sums up the theme of the book very well.

In the novel, Thomas Anderson has faced many bitter troubles. Even though most are consequences of his actions, there are times where he struggles to catch a break. At one point he gets very discouraged and even starts to look away.

Do you ever feel like you can’t catch a break? Have you been tossed around by trial after trial after trial? Maybe you’re not currently facing so many troubles but have in the past. How do you deal with it?

From this verse, we can remember that God does restore lives and will bring us up from our deepest lows. I know it’s hard to remember when the waves feel like they are drowning you—but that doesn’t make it less true. Over and over in the Bible, we learn that God never leaves us. He never forsakes us.

The next time you face insurmountable trials, I hope you’ll remember this verse and be encouraged. No matter how deep or how long they last, God will restore you and lift you up again. Ask him to give you the strength to live through the trials well.

Karen Fall 2011 ThumbKaren Baney writes Christian historical and contemporary romance novels. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys traveling the state of Arizona with her husband, exploring museums and the picturesque landscapes the state has to offer. Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs.

For a limited time only, pick up a free copy of A Life Restored (Prescott Pioneers #3) by Karen Baney.

Visit Karen at her website: http://www.karenbaney.com or on Facebook or Twitter. Visit her special blog for authors at http://www.everythingauthor.com.

I’m Not Perfect… I’m Priceless

My dear friend Staci Stallings is visiting us today with a special message for us, without further  delays I’ll let you enjoy this delightful read…

By: Staci Stallings

My almost-ten-year-old daughter got a little too much of her mother in her.  What is it with this perfectionist gene?  You’d think one generation would be far plenty for it to run its course and leave us alone.  Alas, it has not.

My gorgeous, lovely, loving, wonderful daughter got this one in spades.  I first knew this the year she took violin lessons and adamantly REFUSED to play for anyone she knew.  When Grandma came over, we begged and pleaded and bribed… to no avail.  She simply would not play a note lest she not sound just perfect and reveal to all the world that she was anything less than.

We battle this monster in school.  She has all-A’s for now.  And truth be told, I’m not looking forward to that streak coming to an end.  (I still haven’t recovered from MY OWN three-week cry-fest when I got my first B in 5th grade.  Don’t laugh.  Trust me, it makes it worse!)

With the beginning of volleyball, we are wading once again into the deep waters of perfection psychosis, and I have to be honest with you–I would have thought that since I’d been through this one, it would be easy to diagnose and treat in my own child.  Sadly, I was mistaken.  The diagnosis has been easy, but wow is this thing hard to heal.

Tonight on the way to volleyball, my beautiful, kind, wonderful little girl spent most of the trip in tears.  “Why does everyone think I have to be perfect?”  “They don’t.”  “Yes, they do. If I do one little thing wrong, they yell at me.”

Now, really.  How do you argue with that?  Because too often we do sound like we’re yelling.  Our corrections sound to a delicate perfectionist like we don’t or won’t love them if they aren’t perfect.  It’s such a vile, rotten trap.

On the way home later, we were hashing out the whole perfection thing again because this time it was the coach who yelled, “just because I missed one serve!  I got all the others.”

I finally made this simple observation.  “You know, you’re not perfect.  You’re priceless.”

That stopped her. “What does that mean?”

“It means you are not perfect.  You have chips. You have flaws. You make mistakes.  But God and Mama still believe you are priceless, and no matter what, that will never change.”

Strangely she stopped arguing and crying at that point, and inside, so did I.

Maybe I’m not perfect, but God says I am priceless, and who am I to argue?

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2008

Thank you Staci for those wonderful words. Guys, don’t forget to enter into our Valentine’s book giveaway. Go to the top and give us your email address for a chance to win one of three copies of “Love Letters to my Queen Bride”. The winners will be picked on Valentine’s day and announced on Friday February 17th.

To add sweetness to the pot, you can get your copy of Growth Lessons for $1.99 until Valentine’s day (better than chocolate).

Find Staci online:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/StaciStallings @StaciStallings

Facebook profile:http://www.facebook.com/staci.stallings.author

Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spirit-Light-Author-Staci-Stallings/266593276699576

WF: All Jesus did for us

Jesus death and resurrection should not be something we just remember just when the church tells us to commemorate it through a holiday or when we are in trouble. Every day new mercies are given to us. Let’s worship the Lord remembering what he did and does for us.

Enjoy

WF: Worship Friday

Brief announcement to all my twitter followers

If you’re following me on twitter. My account was hacked last night. The problem has been solved, but some of you may still have the malware message in your direct message box. The message states that I found a picture of you. Please, Do Not Open that message. Delete it immediately or your account will  be hacked as well. If you accidentally opened it. I sincerely apologize. Please change your password and any application that you didn’t authorize to have access to your twitter account from your profile page. Then notify twitter of the transgression.

I have followed these steps and no further illegitimate messages should be sent from my account. I appreciate all your support and following.

God Bless You!!

Naty

So far on writing goals

Writing samples: Parker 75
Image by churl via Flickr

Starting the third month into the year I was prompted to evaluate how my writing goals have worked so far. Kind of assessing if I actually kept my new year’s resolutions or if they were already been postponed.  I feel closer to my writing than I have ever felt. Writing has slowly snuck up on me and it’s a need like eating and I love to eat! Every day I feel the need to write, but not every day I think I have something relevant to say.

I’m pushing myself to be a better writer and what are some of those things that I have put in place to accomplish that in 2011…?

  • I’ve returned to my reading roots. Last year I dedicated a lot of time to writing, but not enough to reading. I believe that a healthy balance is important for any writer.
  • I’m actually following my calendar. In December I created a calendar of contests I wanted to participate (if you’re interested in peaking at that calendar it’s on the publication and achievements page). Last year I created the calendar but actually did only a few of those. So far I have submitted to each and every one of those competitions that I committed to participate in. It doesn’t matter the outcome, it’s about the exercise of meeting deadlines and writing more.
  • Joined wordpress post-a-week challenge where I’m committing to at least post on my blog once a week.  I’ve been trying to post more than that. At my current rate I could have joined post-a-day, but at least once a week still gives me the necessary breather for days when things get complicated.
  • Accountability- I hired a proofreader who is aware of my deadlines, so the expectation of the workload I have to provide for her it’s a constant reminder that I have to come through with my committed contests. Also, I have some readers who have decided to contact me when I go without posting for more than two days to ask when the next post will come. I’m flattered that they enjoy this blog, but also the feedback gives me the sense of responsibility to keep it up.
  • Class- I have committed to be part of at least one writing workshop before the end of the year to improve my skills. I have invited a teenager aspiring writer to take the workshop with me. Have you been able to promise something to a teenager that they will forget? Trust me we will go to the workshop!
  • Social Media- I’ve subscribe to the Kristen Lamb’s Blog. She not only gives great advice for writers but also advises about how to utilize social media more efficiently. I just found this blog last week and I’ve learned a lot.

So these are some of the things that I’m doing to take my writing to another level and so far so good… Have some tips of your own? Share them!!!

Stay tuned.

Having a bad writing day, week, season… you get the idea!

Some women experience bad hair days, I think I’m having a bad writing day (or season) not all days are inspired in a writer’s mind. Some days words flow and some days it’s really hard work. Even I’ve had great revelations when I’ve been tired or sick, but lately it’s like my brain has ran out of steam and finding the ways to express myself has been nothing less than challenging.

I guess it’s because I’m trying to force myself to write in a certain way, my head is not going in the direction that I’m trying to steer it. So it basically has come to a halt. I’ve been having somewhat of what I have called writer’s ADD. Multiple ideas, stories and sentences are all popping into my head not enough to do anything with them or that would make any sense and by the time I sit down to write, they are gone. Having lost the routine of walking around with my netbook, which has been in ICU for a while, giving me only glimpses of available usage every now and again; I have missed plenty of opportunities of random usable muses that have crossed this brain of mine. (My netbook has been crashing and freezing and now that finally I can get a new one, I’m emotionally attached to the dysfunctional one and can’t part from it. You don’t have to say it, I know!!)

I went to the website of writer Lisa Scottoline. I recently read one of her latest non-fiction books; she’s funny and real and I wanted to gain some perspective from a professional writer. On her website,  She was talking about the everyday of a writer. She has a word count goal everyday. I started thinking that I write most days, but not everyday. Not because I don’t want to, I just don’t do it. Ironically, the day I don’t write I spend the day agonizing about the fact that I have not written a thing.

 Then I started feeling insecure about my writing. I think most writers would agree that there are days when you write exceptional things and some days you just write junk. I think that’s part of why there are some days where I don’t do the commanded “butt and chair” exercise of writing is because I already know in my head that whatever is coming out is junk and I don’t like to write junk. So I get discourage before even sitting to write trying to achieve perfectionism, where do you even find such thing?

I had read about writing everyday before, I want to come up with a reasonable word count goal, as I’m not yet (calling it in faith) a full time writer and I hold a normal 8-5 job and a life, (well something like a life…hahaha!) I don’t consider writing a hobby. Writing is a part of me; it’s my way of expression, so even when today I think that my writing sucks, I don’t think I could stop doing it. The times that I did, I felt dead and I’m not going backwards. Writing like anything in life takes practice, so the more I write, the better it would get.

I decide today to start writing everyday, (not necessarily a blog post). I’ll think of my reasonable word count after a few more hours of sleep, right now I couldn’t decide between chocolate or vanilla ice cream. I promise to start browsing for a new laptop, and pray that I fall in love again with one that will follow me for a few more years in this journey.  I chose to just abandon myself in the words and allow them to flow instead of trying to control them…that’s why they don’t want to come out…LOL! …and look, who knew? I had tons to say from someone who didn’t know what to write about! (All 650 words and all 🙂 )

Jesus on Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Continuing some of this technology talk, I was going through a phase of condemnation about my quiet time with God. Every morning I try to at least read a verse and meditate on it, but I usually don’t find that verse in my actual big bible on my nightstand. I felt bad thinking that because I was not opening the book all the time I was not doing enough.

First of all, I discovered that reading the Word of God is for me and not for God. I always felt that reading the bible was my ritual of worship and that it was done to please God, so I would read some, kind of like you read a billboard on the side of the road and my duty was done. As I’ve grown in my faith I’ve realized that although reading the Word of God it is an act of worship, it’s my heart and meditation in the Word what makes it an act of worship. Also, the bible is my manual to seek God’s wisdom and will for my life, so it’s actually for me that I should read it.

I had this idea that in order to do it “right” I had to do it with the actual big paper book and that’s why I was feeling bad about it. So I stopped being religious about it and realized that I had been reading, meditating and studying the Word of God, it was just in less traditional ways. So I wanted to share with you some of the ways I do so, maybe it will help you expose yourself more to the Word.

  • Biblegateway.com- Sometimes when reading the word you get a particular message about what God wants to say to you, but sometimes you want to know about what the bible says about a specific subject and it can be hard to find things, especially if you don’t have too many memorized scriptures or if you’re like me that I know the bible says something about that but I don’t know where. This site has a keyword search field that makes it very easy to search by topic or keywords.

            This site also has daily newsletters that come to your e-mail and are very educational.

  • Bible.com- it’s very similar to the one above. To me the distinction is that this particular site has some bibles studies about some very specific topics.
  • Twitter- Yes, believe it or not twitter has several “tweeps” that post scriptures all day. If you have a Smartphone and you have twitter on your phone, you can follow these people and wherever you are you can meditate on a verse. There are people who actually pray on Twitter everyday, twice a day (@Virtual_Abbey) some of my favorites are: @TopBibleVerses, @GreatBibleVerse, @DailyVerseTweet, and @Gods_Lighthouse You can stop and meditate wherever you are. Of course there are pastors, preachers and speakers who are on Twitter that also post very good things, but I’m focusing on those who just post scriptures. (side note: and if you’re on twitter I hope you’re following us as well @therisingmuse)
  • Bible on your phone- most people have smartphones these days and there is a free bible application available for most of them. I have a blackberry and the one in my phone not only allows bible reading in most popular versions, but it allows keyword searches and has some bible studies as well.
  • Facebook- I’ll be honest, I don’t use this one. I do have facebook on my phone, but I rarely look at it, but I’ve seen in some of my friends news feeds some bible verses pages.

 So being a technology geek should not keep you from feeding your soul.

 Do you know of any other sources and want to share? Feel free to comment we would love to hear from you…

Blessings

Facebook News Feeds, really?

Yesterday was the big day, Super bowl XLV where the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers were going for the grand honor of being the best of American football for 2011. Congratulations to the Packers on their win. Disclaimer to all football fans: I know very little about football, so forgive me in advance for any wrong terminology used in this post. The subject is not football anyway.

I like to watch the Super bowl, just because of the commercials. Advertising agencies get very creative with these mini movies that have very little to do with the products they’re selling and more to do with the entertainment of the viewers.  In between commercials I admit to be smitten watching the Puppy bowl on Animal Planet. It makes more sense to me to see the puppies playing, no offense, that’s just my preference.

The thing that came to my attention was the commercial for the new Chevy Cruze.  Their pitch was that the car reads your facebook status while driving. Really? I know social media plays an important role in our modern life, but our facebook news feed? Is that how shallow we have become as a society? Just like a friend commented sarcastically, “Of course we need to know that our farm is ready for harvest”. One thing is to reunite with friends, have fun online, but we are creating a new undisguised addiction that could be unhealthy for both children and adults.

People have lost their jobs for things they have posted in social media or the use of it during inappropriate times. We see commercials were families at the table are not communicating; instead they are using text, e-mail to communicate when they are in front of each other, and we laugh at those commercials, but that’s becoming our sad reality. Slowly we are buying into a culture of alienation. There’s no time for family, prayer, creativity, reading or to look at ourselves, we’re too busy being entertained.

Not to be a hypocrite, I have a facebook and twitter account. I look at my Blackberry more times than I should. I play Farmville and Café World, but I do enjoy a good conversation with a friend or a family member. I like to have silent times to actually place my thoughts in orders. I like the silence in the sweet presence of my Creator who doesn’t speak through the noise. All this is kind of hard when you spend your time entertaining yourself with other things. I think that like with other things moderation and balance are the key word here and we’re losing sight of it.

Just my opinion.

Disclaimer: images taken from the internet, they are not mine. Page me if credit required-therisingmuse@gmail.com

Process of writing this blog

I was asked how long it usually takes me to write a blog post. The answer, it depends. I try to write often because it usually means that I’m connected to the source of my inspiration, God.  Also through the process of writing I can learn and understand the spiritual impact of my surroundings and compare it with what the Word says regarding my experiences. There are days were I can be sleeping, and I’m awaken and I just turn on my laptop and start writing and the words flow. Sometimes just a scripture or a situation triggers me to be inspired and write.  If I’m connected and inspired I can even write two or more postings in one day and save the extra ones for rainy days (days where I can’t even remember my name).

On days when I’m not inspired or not connected with God and I’m trying to write just to make sure that all my readers don’t think that I’ve fallen from the face of the earth, a post is like pulling teeth. Nothing makes me flow, nothing makes sense and I end up writing ramblings that I end up not publishing.  This is an inspirational blog, so if I have nothing to say that can enrich my reader’s lives, it’s better for me to shut and see why I don’t have anything enriching my own life that day to share.

After I write the content, I look for the specific scriptures that will exemplify what I’m talking about. I know the words in the bible but not the biblical references and that’s when biblegateway.com becomes my friend.  For example I know that the Word of God says he will renew our strength and that we will be able to fly like eagles, but I have to look up where it says that. (It’s on Isaiah 40:31 by the way)

The last part of the process is the visual additions. Looking for the perfect picture or the perfect song to add can take some time, especially when Google is not cooperative or when our internal WordPress Zemanta (an image system) thinks that we’re talking about dogs when we’re talking about burgers  and it gives you all the wrong images.

Back to the original question, how long does it take me to create and publish a post? On a good day, thirty minutes. On a hard day, which is a day when I can’t find the right or perfect images or sounds, then it can take me up to two hours in any given day.

So now you know the secret behind this blog’s writing.

Have a great day and enjoy this song!