Don’t Stop Preaching to the Choir

You’re likely familiar with the phrase “preaching to the choir.” It comes up when one person is holding forth on some topic, and another responds, “Well, Bud, you’re preaching to the choir,”  meaning, “I know what you’re saying and I agree with you.” The choir, behind the pastor both literally and figuratively, are probably the most familiar with what he has to say and the most in agreement with it.

I’ve seen Christian authors use this phrase to describe their desire to write for the general market rather than the Christian one. Why keep writing to people who are already believers, who already agree with what we’re saying, when we can use our words to help influence an unbeliever towards Christ?

Writing as a light to the lost is a worthy goal. Yet I wonder just how “general market” one can be and still have any light shine through. One author friend was told by two Christian publishing industry professionals that he’d have more success if he wrote for the general market and took the Christian content out of his latest manuscript. But how can one have any kind of Christian witness without Christian content? Perhaps the idea that readers will like a general book so much that they’ll look up the author, find out he or she is a Christian, and seek to know more about their faith. Or an author might write a few books in both markets, and fans from one will seek out the other.

Some do manage to share Christian truth even in general market books. Jan Karon’s Mitford books share an amazing amount of truth even though they’re not marketed as Christian fiction. Perhaps unbelievers accept her Christian content because her main character is a minister. Or perhaps her stories are just so enjoyable, people who don’t like the Christian aspect are willing to overlook it. C. S. Lewis’s Narnia tales are marketed as children’s books or fantasy, yet they have a Christian undertone veiled by symbolism. One trouble with that veil, though, is that some readers interpret meanings in vastly different ways than the author intended.

What happens with a lot of crossover fiction is that Christians complain that there is not enough Christian content while non-Christians complain that there is too much. One post cited criticism by non-Christians as one reason to remove Christian content from fiction. But some non-Christians will always object to any Christianity in a book, no matter how winsomely it’s expressed. Jesus said the world would hate the Christian message and its messengers. In the past, when a majority of American society had a somewhat God-fearing leaning, general Christian-sounding content was more tolerated. Not so in these postmodern days. Yet we don’t win the lost without sharing the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Some have also cited a smaller Christian market as a reason to go “general.” The Christian market will always be smaller than the general one. There are more people on the wide road than the narrow one, Jesus said. But that’s no reason to leave Christian fiction behind. Though many Christian writers would love to make best-seller lists, most don’t write for that purpose.

A Christian author might write a great general market book that manages to share light and truth that non-Christians will accept, or at least tolerate. But there are still reasons not to keep writing Christian fiction:

  • To use God’s gifting. Both evangelism and shepherding/teaching are God’s good gifts (Ephesians 4:11). Neither is a lesser calling. Though we might be called primarily to evangelize or disciple, we’re to engage in both.
  • To help Christians grow in Christlikeness. The purpose of God’s gifts is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13). Christians are not perfect yet. Even though they agree and support the body of Christian truth, they’re all in various states of growth and maturity. Yes, we grow mainly from reading and hearing the Word of God. But Christian fiction helps flesh out truth. Many times I have been strengthened and encouraged in my own walk with the Lord by the journey of the characters in a Christian fiction book.
  • To help Christians increase and abound. Wherever we are in our Christian walk, there’s still room for growth. Paul prayed that his readers’ “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). Even though the Philippians were demonstrating their love, they needed to increase.
  • To provide the missing element. Years ago in Why Read Christian Fiction, I commented that Christian fiction has the element missing from all other fiction: God, His truth, His ways. The best secular story may show literary redemption, a protagonist pulling himself up by his bootstraps and conquering the obstacles. Christian fiction depicts real life for a Christian in dependence on God.
  • To help work through hard issues. Even mature Christians still wrestle with questions like suffering, seeming inequity, etc. Some who wouldn’t be inclined to read a nonfiction book on these subjects might appreciate a story with characters who ask the same questions they have.
  • To remind of the truth. New Testament writers often encouraged people to remember the way God had brought them to Himself, the truth they had been taught, etc. Peter said, “I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder” (2 Peter 3:1).
  • To help readers to be a light. As Christian readers grow and are encouraged spiritually, they will in turn shine the light of Christ in their spheres of influence. So those who write to other Christians are not wasting their light: they’re multiplying it. By strengthening other Christians, we’re helping God’s truth get out beyond our own reach.
  • To evangelize. Even though Christian fiction might be directed “to the choir” who already knows the truth, there are professing Christians who have found that they were not really saved. And Christian fiction is sometimes accepted by non-Christians. Some of my own loved ones did not like to talk about spiritual issues, but they loved to read and would accept Christian novels I passed along. In one situation, Christian fiction laid a great deal of groundwork towards a person’s salvation.

It’s not wrong for a believer to write for the general market. Some are called to do that and have done so with great success. Most of us need to be more evangelistic in general. We can do everything—eat drink, and write—as unto the Lord. Some people would never willingly pick up Christian books, so if writers can convey truth without being blatant, that’s wonderful. The book of Esther is not fiction, though it is written in story form. It doesn’t mention the name of God, yet His fingerprints are all over the narrative. If Christians can write in a similar way, wonderful!

I would encourage those writing for the general market not to try to be like the world in order to win it. That never works. Jesus was a friend of sinners, but He did not join in their sin. The Bible talks about all kinds of sin, but doesn’t drag readers through the gutter. There’s no need to add objectionable elements in the name of realism.

I also encourage Christian writers not to forsake the Christian market just because it’s smaller or because they don’t think they can be as effective. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned and more, Christians can have a great ministry in Christian fiction.

Have you been ministered to through Christian fiction? I’d love for you to share about it in the comments.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Kingdom Bloggers, Tell His Story, Purposeful Faith, Global Blogging, Happy Now, Hearth and Soul, Tea and Word, Anchored Abode, Let’s Have Coffee, Worth Beyond Rubies, Recharge Wednesday, Porch Stories, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith ‘n Friends, Booknificent)

 

Advertisements

Writer Newsletter Survey Results

A couple of weeks ago I invited you to participate in a survey I was conducting about writers’ newsletters.

Some of you subscribe to me blog via email. Someone asked me privately if that was what I meant by a newsletter. No, when you subscribe to the blog, you get an email from WordPress each time I post with that post’s content. A newsletter is something in addition to that, with additional news or thoughts not posted on the blog (though it may contain links back to the blog as well.)

I’ve been told that some publishers put great stock in the size of one’s newsletter list. As a reader, I don’t subscribe to very many newsletters myself, from either bloggers or authors. So I wanted to discern how other readers felt about them in order to know whether I should start one as I finish my book.

31 people responded to my survey. Here are my questions and their answers:

1. Do you subscribe to newsletters from authors or bloggers? How many?

    • Yes, a few: 17
    • Yes, several: 5
    • No: 8

2. If you don’t subscribe to any, why?

    • I don’t want any more email: 12
    • I already follow their blog or other social media: 8
    • Not interested: 4
    • Other: 4

3. What’s the ideal frequency of newsletters?

    • Weekly: 5
    • Monthly: 10
    • Quarterly: 5
    • A couple of times a year: 1
    • Only when a new book is coming out: 6
    • Other (please specify): 4
      • not daily or only if you have a new book that you is on sale. Weekly or whatever makes sense to you.
      • whenever the author feels the need
      • None thank you
      • Bi monthly

4. What do you like to see in newsletters? Check all that apply.

    • News about upcoming publications: 16
    • Chatty news about the author (family, travel, hobbies, activities, etc.): 12
    • Interesting background information related to book: 16
    • Sales: 3
    • Bonus material: 11
    • Quotes or reviews from other readers: 2
    • Upcoming events (speaking events, book signings, etc.): 9
    • What books the author is reading or recommends: 11
    • None – would rather read this on blog: 10
    • Other (please specify): 5
      • I am glad to see this blog with info about your book/s as they happen.
      • Summaries with links to make it easy to choose what you want to read.
      • Material relevant to my interests. I don’t have time for a bunch of fluff.
      • I subscribe to a few newsletters from bloggers who have “subscriber freebies”, mostly homeschool materials. But I don’t generally read the email except to find the password to the subscriber page. I generally dislike getting extra email and prefer to read content from blogs I can subscribe to in Feedly.
      • Giveaways (there should be some sort of perk for the reader)

5. What don’t you like about newsletters? Check all that apply.

    • Too frequent: 20
    • Too long: 15
    • Too repetitive (sharing information already seen on blog or other media): 17
    • Not enough information: 3
    • Other (Please specify): 8
      • dull colors; find some other color than gray for your background
      • I don’t want to read a blogpost – I’d rather have the feeling of being an “insider” into their real life.
      • Repeated items for sale. I don’t mind sales, but I don’t like to keep getting it in my inbox over and over. That’s annoying. Perhaps just a reminder that it is there if you want it, but not being pushy about it.
      • Always trying to say me something (perhaps “sell” was meant?)
      • I find them presumptuous.
      • When they are interesting I want to share them, it’s more difficult than sharing a blog post
      • I don’t like a cluttered inbox. I prefer to control what I read.
      • Too much bragging in general

6. Have you ever bought an author or blogger’s product directly from their newsletter or as a result of their newsletter?

    • Frequently: 1
    • Occasionally: 16
    • Never: 14

7: What is your preferred way to hear from a blogger or author? Check all that apply.

    • Newsletter: 11
    • Blog: 24
    • Facebook: 11
    • Twitter: 4
    • Instagram: 5
    • Other (please specify): 2
      • I use all of the above 🙂
      • their website

8. How do you feel about a writer’s offer of free downloads, booklets, printables, prayer guides, etc., on their blog or newsletter?

    • Great! I download lots: 4
    • It depends on what it is. I download occasionally: 20
    • Not interested: 5
    • Other (please specify): 2
      • I like downloads as do others. But the danger for you is that people like free things and just because they take your free things, doesn’t mean they will take your paid for stuff. And if you give too much free too often, then there isn’t a reason to for me to buy your book.
      • I don’t prefer them. I feel they are gimmicky and I cringe at them.

9. Have you ever subscribed to a newsletter just to enter a contest and unsubscribed later?

    • Yes, frequently: 5
    • Yes, occasionally: 14
    • No: 12

10. If your favorite writer has a blog and a newsletter, do you read both?

    • Yes, I do for several writers: 3
    • Yes, I do for a few: 15
    • No, I only read their blog: 9
    • No, I only read their newsletter: 3

First of all, thank you so much to those who responded! Your feedback is helpful and I really appreciate it! The survey was set up so that I have no idea who took it or who shared what responses, but I appreciate each one.

As you can see, opinions vary. People are pretty much agreed that they don’t want just sales flyers, a lot of repetition, or an excess of mail. Of course, if a writer has followers across several outlets, some of those followers will only follow on one. So some repetition is inevitable. That’s why I generally just choose one way to follow each writer.

But other preferences differ. Each blogger or author will have to experiment to see what his or her particular readers like, what they have time for as writers, etc.

My thoughts:

I probably should have put more distinction between newsletters of bloggers and authors. But these days most publishers want authors to have a platform before submitting a manuscript, so a lot of book authors started out as bloggers.

I only subscribe to one blogger’s newsletter, because it’s part of a reading challenge. I prefer to keep email for correspondence. With email, there’s an understated urgency to handle or answer whatever it is. I prefer reading blogs through Feedly. Plus, so many bloggers’ newsletter share a list of their blog posts from the last week or month, which I’ve already seen.

I don’t subscribe to many authors’ newsletters, and I have unsubscribed to those that have arrived weekly or monthly. One that I subscribe to comes out quarterly. Most of the rest are occasional, just whenever there is an update (which is my preference.)

My favorite author blog has maybe ten authors, so each only posts once every other week. I read a few of them, so when the other authors that I don’t read post, I often still skim over their writing. This is where I find a lot of newsy posts, background information about books, personal details, etc.

So as a general rule, as a reader, I prefer blogs to newsletters. One respondent mentioned web sites: I should have included that as an option. I was equating blogs with web sites, but usually a blog is one part of an author’s web site. I only follow a couple on Facebook because the information there generally comes too often for me.

As a writer, well, I am still trying to decide what to do. I’ve thought about starting a newsletter with information about what I am writing, where I am in the process, how you can pray, if you’re so inclined. It would probably come out no more than quarterly unless there’s exciting news (like landing a contract! 🙂 ). On the other hand, I could just put that information on the blog.

Some good posts I’ve found on the subject:

I’d love to hear your thoughts about writer newsletters, either as a reader or a writer — or both! Please share in the comments.

Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest roundup of good reads on the Web:

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to The Story Warren. “The good news is, it’s not our perfect love and perfect parenting that will reflect Jesus to our children; it’s admitting our dependence on Christ’s perfect love and perfect life that points them to their own need for a Savior.”

Love Hopes All Things–and Tosses the Worst Assumptions, HT to Challies. “With the admonition to be slow to speak we should also remember, So be slow to assume.”

What Do We Do When Our Stories Collide? “Yes, at first, the timing for the two stories could seem awkward at best, even insensitive. But it was also an honest view of real life. How we can be dealing with one thing – a joy-filled occasion – and be unaware that the person next to us can be grieving.”

Individual and Community Discipleship. Discipleship isn’t always about two people working through a curriculum. “I have a received a lot of discipleship from Christians who were just doing what God made them to do.” Me, too.

A “God Is Faithful” party. When friends didn’t want the attention of a going-away party, Sue turned it into a “God is faithful” party. Love this idea!

An RV Renovation, HT to Decor to Adore. Wow! Inspiring!

This video was shared at Appointment Etiquette at a Writing Conference. It’s all about the wrong ways to get your manuscript to an agent or publisher, but I think you’ll find it funny even if you’re not interested in publication:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another installment in my occasional sharing of good reads discovered online.

One of Those Days. “Today is one of those days when I don’t want to pray. I don’t want to open my Bible and read it. I don’t want to turn on worship music and listen to some artist express how Ioved they are by God and how they stand in awe of that love.” Ever been there? Christy shares an excellent response.

Is Anxiety a Sin? HT to Out of the Ordinary. It depends. This is the first article on anxiety I’ve seen that distinguishes between different types.

7 Threats From False Teachers, HT to Challies. “False teachers and abusive leaders need to maintain their power. Therefore, they use a series of threats to keep people quiet and in line.”

Jonathan Edwards and His Support of Slavery: A Lament. HT again to Out of the Ordinary. I’ve read people who think we should toss out all the Puritans because some of them owned slaves. This is a good response.

Old Folks at Home. Kitty has actively ministered in nursing homes even after her own mother’s passing. “Compassion comes in multiple forms, and there are many ways to spend it. But if you happen to be one of those with a heart for the elderly, and if you have the requisite patience and interest in others, you can make an enormous difference in the lives of these most obvious occupants of eternity’s waiting room.”

For those who are considering writing for publication, these posts have been immeasurably helpful to me this week. I’m often distressed at the writing advice so often given wannabe authors that we have to have a platform first, and we can’t even hope for a second look from publishers until our numbers are really high. Yet building a platform seems to be so self-promotional, not to mention taking time away from writing. I’ve been praying for God’s direction about this, and feel these are part of His answer.

No More Platform Anxiety, Please.

I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Platform

How to Build a Tribe (podcast). I appreciate the emphasis on serving others.

And, finally, I love this dog’s “smile.”

Happy Saturday!

My Second Writer’s Conference

Friday and Saturday were  a whirlwind of activity as I had an opportunity to attend my second Carolina Christian Writer’s Conference. I had a wonderful time, and my head is still spinning, processing all I learned.

Karissa Culbreath was the keynote speaker. Wow! She was both sweet and dynamic, accomplished yet relatable.

As with last year, there were four different workshops times over the two days, with about half a dozen workshops to choose from each time. Most times I wanted to attend two or three, so it was hard to narrow down the choices. I wish they all could have been recorded. Topics ranged from how to find (make) time to write, how to navigate social media, fears, grammar and editing, writing for children and youth, writing for various markets, aspects of nonfiction and fiction writing, mastering Amazon – and multitudes more.

There was an informative panel discussion Friday night, an opportunity to split into different genre groups with a few of the faculty members on hand to answer questions, a “lightening learning” session where we went in small groups from table to table to hear five minutes of each speaker’s best or favorite tips, and an opportunity to eat lunch with one of the speakers.

We also had an opportunity to send in an outline and ten pages of a manuscript ahead of time for a critique and then to have a fifteen minute meeting with the person who critiqued us. Last year the manuscript was given to one of the speakers, and we didn’t know who until we got a notice of our meeting time with them. This year we got to choose which person we wanted to look at our manuscripts. We were also able to sign up ahead of time for a fifteen minute meeting with another of the faculty members. I got both of the people I requested for each of those (last year the person I asked for had no slots available). Then Friday morning we had the opportunity to sign up for another fifteen minute meeting. That person ended up having a different role than what I had thought, so in a sense we didn’t really fit each other’s needs. Still, she gave me a piece of key, valuable advice that’s going to have a big impact on how I shape my book, and I enjoyed the conversation.

Last year, some of you may remember, I’d had no plans to attend a conference, and I had never even heard of this one. When I did hear about it from an online friend, it was only 2-3 weeks before the conference. Since it was in the city where we used to live, that sparked more of an interest and a possibility to go since it was in a familiar place. But it was so soon, and we had my mother-in-law’s care, and I had not traveled alone nor attended anything like a conference in eons, etc., etc. But God worked it all out. I had a manuscript I’d started, but it was really in no shape to be seen. But it was all I had, so I pulled it out of mothballs with no time to shape it up and sent it in. The critique last year was pretty devastating, with not one positive note, leaving me thinking perhaps writing was just a pipe dream. But the critique was good in pointing out some glaring mistakes I was (obviously) unaware of, making me now acutely aware of them. And the rest of the conference encouraged me that all was not lost yet. Last year I also missed all of Saturday mornings events due to being sick in my hotel room.

This year, I started off feeling sick before I ever left. I ended up missing the very first explanatory session, but was able to attend the rest of it. Last year my nerves were taut with the newness of everything, being in circumstances I was unused to with a lot of strangers. It wasn’t until the last few hours then that I just relaxed and enjoyed the rest of it. This year, though nerves did flare up, I was more at ease and relaxed through the whole conference. I enjoyed a lot of good conversations with fellow conferees.

Last year, since the conference came up so suddenly, I just kind of went with the flow and had no idea what to ask. This year, after a year of more intense focus on my writing and reading writing blogs in the meantime, I came with two pages of typed questions. 🙂 I didn’t get all of them answered – I wished my fifteen minute sessions could have been thirty – and I added several more questions after the conference was over.

My critique session was as different as night and day than last year. Part of that was the different personalities of the critiquers. The lady I had last year was not unkind, but she was just more of a matter-of-fact personality. The lady I had this year was very sweet and encouraging. She did have some corrections and valuable editorial notes, but the whole tone of the critique was more uplifting. I was so thankful and encouraged for the growth God led me through since last year, and the hard critique last year was definitely one of His tools.

One new aspect of this year’s conference was contests. We had an opportunity to submit writing in any of several categories. If I remember correctly, I think we could enter as many times as we wanted, but there was a $20 fee for each entry which was then used to provide scholarships for people who needed financial help to attend. The fee was for a good purpose, but also served to limit how many entrees most of us could submit. As it happened, I won first place in the Devotional category.

IMG_1391

And! EABooks sponsored a contest in which we could submit entries on the theme “Blessings in Disguise,” and they would choose 20-25 to be included in their book compilation. That would not only give us exposure and an opportunity to get our message out, but being actually published would increase our writing credentials. My entry was one of those chosen for the book.

IMG_1392

IMG_3919

(Special thanks to my new friend Tori for taking and sending me the last photo!)

Besides just being excited about winning anything, I am so encouraged. Though I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, the positive critique and conversations and the contests all help me know growth has occurred and I’m heading in the right direction.

Last year I shared some of my takeaways from last year’s writer’s conference. Those were all reinforced. It will probably take me several days to process everything from this conference. But I would encourage you to attend a conference if you have any desire to write, especially for publication. You can get some of the information from blogs and books on writing. But the ability to ask questions, talk with people inbetween workshops, have lunch with a writer or editor, listen in on some of the more informal sessions like the genre groups and “lightning learning,” and especially the fifteen-minute meetings with the faculty are experiences you can’t get anywhere else.

For me as a first- and even a second-timer, it helped that the conference was small. It wasn’t quite so overwhelming that way. Many areas have one or two-day writer’s conferences. There’s a really big Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference not too far from me that I may try to make it so some day. But it’s five days, and therefore more expensive. And if my head is about to explode after two days, I don’t know what it would do with five. But there are also that many more writers, editors, and publishers to hear from and opportunities to interact and ask questions.

Now – back to regular life, laundry, and more writing.

(Sharing also with Literary Musing Monday)

 

Book Review: Christian Publishing 101

 Christian Publishing 101 by Ann Byle is like a writer’s conference in a book.

Byle covers multiple aspects of writing and publishing, among them:

  • Writing from life and vocation
  • Facing nos
  • Writing as a spiritual journey
  • Pitching your writing
  • Creating a book proposal
  • Specialty markets
  • Writing for magazines and websites
  • Writing fiction, nonfiction, devotionals, memoir, poetry, flash fiction, etc.
  • Personal style
  • Writing for children, teens, and tweens
  • Platform and social media
  • Promoting and marketing
  • Different ways to publish
  • Legal aspects
  • Interaction with agents
  • Managing time

For each chapter, Byle consulted an expert in the related field. Most of the chapters are the result of interviews with each expert, but some are excerpts from the expert’s book, blog post, or article. I knew of many of those interviewed and others were new to me.

Some of the chapters are quite general; some are detailed and meaty, depending on the topic and the person interviewed.

Byle covered almost every possible topic related to writing and publishing. There were a few areas where I would have liked more information, but in almost every chapter she lists resources for further reading. In a book like this, as well as a writer’s conference, you’re not going to get all there is to know about any one topic, because that would require multiple volumes. But Ann gives a good grasp of many of the topics.

Best of all, instead of trying to madly get down all the notes in a writer’s conference session or having to process the fire-hydrant blast of information received there, in this book you have all the notes to refer back to and can go over any given chapter as slowly or as often as needed. And in a conference there’s no way to get to every interesting session: with this book, you have access to all of them.

Overall, an excellent resource.

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Laudable Linkage

My round-up of exceptional online reads discovered this week:.

It’s OK to Choose Grace and Space. “There’s no Goals Police or Resolutions Monitor waiting to slap your hand if you don’t produce.”

Wherein an Anthropomorphic Tree Upends Me. HT to Story Warren. Beautiful.

What If Motherhood Was Meant to Be Hard? HT to Story Warren.

Letters to Taylor: On New Beginnings. HT to Story Warren.

Being Lazy Is Actually Good For You sometimes.

And, finally, I’ve always loved this quote:

Writing Contest: You Are Enough

I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer. The following is my entry.

Writing can be cathartic, healing, freeing. Writing helps me think. Writing is the best way I express myself.

You, too?

But we often talk ourselves out of writing, don’t we?

Anything I could say has already been said by someone else.

Maybe. But each generation wants to hear from its peers as well as its ancestors. And no one else has our exact perspective or sphere of influence.

It’s scary to bare our souls to the general public. What if people laugh – when I didn’t mean to be funny? What if readers belittle and criticize my carefully measured words? Or, worse yet, what if my writing is ignored?

Writing requires a certain amount of vulnerability. But that vulnerability is what makes it good and keeps it from sounding canned and fake. That’s what invites readers in and helps them connect.

Writing is risky. Any of those scary scenarios might actually happen. No one will please everyone. Look for truth in any criticism. Learn from it. Use it to improve. Grow. Ignore haters. Keep going.

My writing isn’t good enough. So many others are much better writers.

There will always be people who write better than we do. There will always be room for improvement. But you know the only way to be a better writer in two, five, ten, twenty years? Start writing now.

Are any of us “enough” in the sense that at this very moment we have all the knowledge, skills, and experience we will ever need?

No. But we have enough to start.

To get there, we have to start here.

It’s in the process of writing, in making mistakes and learning from them, in exercising our writing muscles, that we improve. A baby learns to walk by taking one faltering step at a time. In the process, despite many falls, muscles strengthen, balance improves, sure steps increase until finally the baby is not only walking, but running. But walking never happens without those first shaky steps and many stumbles.

Take in: learn your craft, read books and blogs about writing, attend conferences, listen to speakers.

And step out. Go ahead. You can do it. Before long you’ll be running.

 

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

It has been a little while since I have shared noteworthy reads with you. Here are a few:

Encouragement for Bible Reading From Puritan Women, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “Let these seventeenth-century women remind you that even if there are parts of the Bible you feel upset about or don’t understand, there is life to be found in it because God speaks to you through it.”

Always Wanting More. As Christian women, we encourage each other not to compare ourselves lest it damage our self-esteem. But the issue is much large than self-esteem.

The Cost of Surrounding Yourself With Negative People. I’ve had some of these same thoughts. Avoiding negative people is listed in a lot of self-help advice for increase your own happiness and productivity. But what if God wants you to be a light to those people? And didn’t Jesus reach out to those who were negative in every way?

Whatever Happened to Civil Debate, HT to Challies. “We’ve simply lost the ability to think deeply, engage opinions different from ours, and do so in a civilized manner.”

Thank You, God, for Failure, HT to Challies.. There is much we can learn from it.

Don’t Sing Noisy Songs, HT to Challies.. No, it’s not about contemporary vs. traditional or loud vs. soft.

What Not to Say to Someone in the Hospital.

A Simple Hinge. Neat connection to inward beauty.

I’m noting this one just because this phrase is so apt: “…the spirit of this age, which eschews thoughtful argument about difficult issues for moronic and often malicious soundbites.”

On Writing (More) by Hannah Anderson makes much sense to me though it goes against much of the other writing advice I have seen. Except the part about comments: I enjoy comments. 🙂

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards Finalists, HT to Laura. These are always fun. One of my favorites:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

Here are some noteworthy reads found recently.

On Giving Criticism As a Christian, HT to Challies.

Personality Assessments and the Wondrous Knowledge of Being Known, HT to True Woman. While some personality tests are helpful, Lore Ferguson Wilbert says, they are limited. “I cannot worship at the altar of my personality, but I can look at it honestly and ask the creator God to make and remake me until Christ comes again.”

Biblical CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) vs. Worldly CBT in relation to depression, HT to Challies. Applying truth to our thoughts.

5 Better Ways to “Argue” About Social Injustice, HT to Challies. If you’re not aware of it, there’s a maelstrom all over the internet concerning just how social justice should be exercised and to what degree it should be under the purview of churches and governments. As with most online storms, there’s more conjecture, accusation, and misrepresentation than there is real conversation.

Lawnmower Parents Are the New Helicopter Parents, HT to Story Warren. “Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place…But in raising children who have experienced minimal struggle, we are not creating a happier generation of kids. We are creating a generation that has no what idea what to do when they actually encounter struggle. A generation who panics or shuts down at the mere idea of failure. A generation for whom failure is far too painful, leaving them with coping mechanisms like addiction, blame, and internalization.”

Hope When Hope Is Lost, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “While we commemorate the stories of freedom fighters, we tend to overlook the vast majority of regular people like my grandmother whose own hopes were sacrificed on the altar of someone else’s ideologies, ambitions, or societal norms. Their stories deserve to be heard as well.”

When Disability Makes Your World Feel Small.

A Writer’s Prayer, HT to Out of the Ordinary.

I’ve read biographies of Amy Carmichael, one of them a few times, and several of her own books. So seeing this tour of the Dohnavur compound that the Lord enabled her to build, where she lived and ministered most of her life and where she died and is buried, meant a lot to me. It was neat to see there are still people there who knew her personally.