Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Healing the Wounds

Someone asked me recently if my story line in Like A Cedar In Lebanon happened to me. That answer is a simple no. I was not molested by someone in the church,  I didn’t suffer childhood abuse, I didn’t get taken advantage of by an older male when I was a teenager, I haven’t had an abortion, and I didn’t go into hiding.

But I know people who have had all of the above happen to them.  I cover all these issues in my book.  I have been a Christian since I was fourteen years old and asked Jesus into my heart. Before that I attended church.  I’ve seen and heard of all the above things happening within the church. It’s a fact of life. Maybe we haven’t made national headlines like the Catholic Church for atrocities perpetrated by priests, but nonetheless, things happened.

We can’t ignore it, and hope it’ll go away, hope that victims will somehow miraculously be all right while we refuse to talk about what happened to them.  I remember when I was a counselor at youth camp one year. I had a dorm of thirteen teenage girls.

Before breakfast every morning we were required to have a time of prayer and devotions with our campers. A college student who was over sports for the camp, also bunked in our dorm. One particular morning during devotions, she asked, “Have any of you ever been molested?”

The silence was palpable. Then one girl raised her hand, tears streaming down her cheeks. Soon all but two of the girls had raised their hands. Most had never told anyone what happened to them. All unburdened their hearts that morning with sobs and trembling.

How many people put a smile on their faces and pretend life is fine while they harbor a deep, buried wound?  If you have ever been the victim of abuse, molestation, undergone an abortion -- don’t hold it in. Talk to someone you trust, preferably an older, wiser person. Allow God to start the healing process today.  He knows, He cares!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pleasing Others With Your Writing

“I don’t care what anyone else thinks or says about me!” How often have we heard someone say that? How many times have we said it ourselves?

The truth is that most of us really do care what people think and say about us. I heard someone, a preacher I think, say that the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. So unless you can be totally indifferent, you probably do care what others say and think.
The degree to which we let others’ opinions affect us will determine the negative effect it will have on us. Do we become people-pleasers? Been there, done that, and it’s a heavy load to carry because no matter how hard you try, you can’t please everyone. It's a no-win situation when our insecurities drive us to please people. We're happy when people are happy with us, which drives to please people more.  When people aren't pleased with us, it wounds us, so we strive to please people more. (I know, I've overused the words people and please, and the writer in me will be unhappy that people aren't pleased with that)

When it comes to writing, you will be faced with positive and negative voices speaking into your writing journey. You will have to come to the place where you decide whether to write what others want or what you want. Where is your passion, your desire, the driving force behind your writing?

Go with your heart, especially if you feel God-directed. The people who will be pleased or touched by your writing will be the ones God intended to be your audience. You can’t please everyone, so please God and yourself. All else will fall into place.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It's Not About The Money

“It’s not about the money!” We’ve heard that statement from politicians, actors, athletes, celebrities, and many others. My husband says every time you hear it, you can take it to the bank that it is about the money.

When I started my writing journey, I had visions of earning a comfortable living, people clamoring to be my agent or publisher, and even movie offers for one of my novels. Aren’t we all dreamers? Don’t we all want recognition for our accomplishments? It reminds me of that song we sang in church when I was a child –This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.

What is the purpose of having a light if we don’t let it shine? With my first completed novel, I expected the world to love it like I did. Well, if not the world, at least an agent or publisher. When that didn’t happen – and I must confess that I didn’t try very hard – I began the journey of discouragement and questioning whether writing was really what I should be doing.

So I did what I’ve done my entire life, I began to earnestly pray about it. Lots of tears and fears accompanied my prayers. The sweetest thing the Lord spoke into my spirit during that time was, “Who are you, Leola? Are you who others say you are or are you who I say you are?”  When the great “I Am” speaks, we better listen.

Now I write for the glory of God – with the hope I make some money in the process. The first half of that sentence sounds pious and sanctimonious, so I included the second part. As Christians, everything we do should be for the glory of God.  And the money would be nice too.

There’s nothing wrong with desiring to make money with writing. I repeat, there’s nothing wrong with that. As we surrender our desires and expectations to God, we free Him to open doors and make things happen. My heart’s desire became, “God, I want to touch others, minister to others through my writing.”
Lord, today I pray for those who are struggling with doubts and discouragement about their writing career. Envelop them with Your presence and love. Encourage their hearts, and reveal Your will to them. In Jesus name, Amen!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Be An Encourager

Me and my friend Jan
Are you an encourager? A motivator? Or are you the opposite? Do your words and actions belittle others, put them down, steal their joy, or fail to affirm them?

You can speak truth, rebuke, and critique to someone without damaging their sense of self worth. A person, whether it be an adult or child, who is pursuing a dream, achieving a goal or just taking a risk to try something new, needs encouragement. Failure to do so is a travesty.

Likewise, it’s equally a travesty to not speak correction to someone when that correction will help them grow, mature, and become better at what they are hoping to accomplish. You can do so in love. Make it evident to that person how you support their efforts and dreams and goals. Be like the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. Whenever he addressed an issue that needed correcting in the early church, he always began with praise. Then Paul dropped the “But.”  The but always pointed out the failures and shortcomings.

Praise someone first, then voice your rebuke or correction. Praise makes the ground fertile to receive the seed you want to plant. In my writing journey I’ve had people who have encouraged and motivated me to continue writing. This has been invaluable, especially during my times of discouragement, the times I cried out to God, “Am I supposed to be a writer?”

So today, I give a shout out to my wonderful husband, Jeff Ogle, and my friend, Jan Glaze Christiansen. Jan prodded me to continue writing, and pursue my dream. Jeff always believes in me, and listens patiently as I read what I've written pout loud to him. Be a Jan or a Jeff today. Instill hope in others.

Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”