Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Sightings

Today I just want to share a few observations from a very different "day in the life."

They will be totally unrelated ponderings and postulations...

(For those picking up in the middle, I'm writing this entry from Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina)

Here goes:

• My 9-hour bus ride yesterday was eye-opening. I'm not even sure how to describe the education I received from the trip. I overheard descriptions that would have been censored from the sex ed for prisoners 101 manual. I saw some hardworking folks just trying to make an honest living, some young mothers traveling home to be with family or friends, some folks who weren't feeling well who should have left their viruses at home, and some young adults who had more ambition than gas money to travel cross country. It was an amazing journey. If a writer can't find "fodder" on a bus trip halfway across the country, then she should just hang up her writer's cap.

• After several incidents occurring these past few weeks, I understand much better the saying regarding "faithful are the wounds of a friend" and the whole need for "iron sharpening iron." When friends hold me accountable, it might sting, but because I know they love me, I can swallow the medicine. I know they have no other motivation than my good and God's glory when they suggest a change of attitude or actions. On the other hand, when someone who does NOT hold my heart in their hands tries to sling harsh words at me or about me, I need to learn how to not let it get under my skin as well as not weigh on my tender heart. I do realize that there are often seeds of truth in even the most wicked criticism, and I pray for awareness of that knowledge. But I also know that when those who have ought against me say stinging words, their only motivation may not be for my good, but to put me in a place where they can step on me. I pray God will show me the difference-the times I need to learn a lesson, and the times I need to just "let it go."

• Today I attended a worship service with the other faculty arriving early to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Alton Gansky was the speaker. He made the book of 3rd John come to life for me. No coincidence in the timing of the lesson. Here are the basics from the Bible study today:

What words do you want associated with your name when others remember you?

John calls 3 people by name-and describes them to us.

1. Gaius-beloved elder. John loved him in truth. He prayed the prayer that we should pray for all our loved ones-a prayer for health and prosperity. In fact, he was a man of truth inside and out of church:
truth possessor (internal)
truth walker (actions)
truth supporter (giver of others who walked in truth)

2. Diotrephes-a church leader who blocked what John wrote so the others couldn't read it, and opposed him. Diotrephes desired the prominent recognition and position, and did not accept what the apostles had to say. John promised to call attention to it the next time he came to visit. Diotrephes unjustly accused these men of God, using wicked words. He also forbid others to agree with John's team, and if they did so, he put them out of his church. John warns us NOT to imitate Diotrephes.

3. Demetrius-received a good testimony from everyone, from the Truth itself, and from John and his team. His testimony was TRUE.

God gives us the gift of choice. We get to choose our life direction, and how we are remembered. We will be remembered for our actions, our responses, and our words. Who do we choose to be like? One of these three men? Keeping in mind that our great purpose is to bring glory to our Creator and God, what choice will I make?

This great lesson came to me for such a time as this! I need to know that not everyone will have my good at heart, and might even say cruel things about me and encourage others not to fellowship with me. But my choice is in how I will respond. Will it please my Heavenly Father?

Rather than spending time responding, today I choose to look ahead and see what God has for me on this NEW DAY. How can I encourage the writers gathering as I write this blog entry here at this beautiful Ridgecrest campus? Let me see their needs, and put my own needs on the back burner. The blessing is knowing how God works-when I see others as Christ sees them, that He will also burden someone else to see my needs, and will equip them with ways to meet my needs. I'm not ministering to others BECAUSE of it being reciprocal, but I can rest in Him, knowing that I am being taken care of. I pray my motives are pure and my intent is full surrender.

• At dinner tonight I got to meet an acquaintance from an online writers' group. The really cool thing is we hit it off right away, and she said she is interested in talking to me about being a part of her team in an upcoming project that could become as national as Women of Faith. I would freelance some work for her. She sounded pretty serious, in that she gave me her card and requested mine, so already God is putting people in my path. I know that a reputable organization is already footing the bill for her first conference, so this is not a pipe dream, but a project of great worth. I'm excited for her, and excited for the possibility to be a part of it!

• Tonight's keynote speaker was a friend of mine-Jim Watkins. He did a great job on the topic of "I Am A Giant Killer." He revised the biblical accounting of David and Goliath to fit writers slaying the scary editors (in getting our work published rather than rejected by them). It was a great message-both humorous and thought provoking. And the thing he ended with is what I'm pondering tonight. What are the giants in my life right now? I'm praying for God to equip me to slay these giants. If I'm being transparent (and that's just how I am), I'd have to say my giants are:
1. me fluctuating between battling pride and low self-esteem. Either I wonder if someone will notice me for "such and such" or I tell myself I'm not good enough to measure up. This is a continual struggle for me, and I think it is a universal struggle. My ONLY identify should be in Christ-and in that identify I'm uniquely designed to be exactly what God wants me to be. And when I give myself that sort of affirmation, I can take the focus off of self, and then I won't battle pride and I won't battle low self-esteem.
2. having so many dreams and aspirations, and so little time and energy. I pray the Lord continues to refine me and show me His purpose in me so I only commit to those projects He would have me to do.
3. wanting to live up to the expectations of others. No matter how hard I try...I just can't do it. And you know what? It's wrong of me to place that sort of pressure on myself.
4. having the wrong expectations for others. The shoe is on the other foot here. I need to want less when it comes to others. It's not about what they can do for me, but what can I do for them.
5. time wasters. I still need to identify those things that waste my time and cause me to feel "up against the clock" when it comes to self-imposed deadlines.

• After the evening meeting, one of the agents made a beeline for me. He said he had been wanting to meet me for quite some time, and was glad to put a face with a name. We know each other from having some of the same clients, and also from being in the same writers' online group. He picked my brain for a bit, dished about work, and then there was a line forming of other people wanting to talk to him. It meant a lot for him to take time out of his busy night to have face time with me, because I knew he will only be at the conference for another day and must leave early. So he had many folks to meet in just a short period of time. But probably what made my day the MOST was that he sought ME out. WHY? Because back in 2003 I was a budding author with bigger dreams than training, and I sent him a very "green" book proposal, asking him to consider being my agent. He took the proposal to the committee and they turned me down. He let me down easy, but he had to decline being my agent because they did not get a unanimous consent to do so. So for him to WANT to meet me now, just meant so much to me!

• The blessings of this day, were just as if God was gifting me with the sort of refreshment I needed:
-challenging messages to edify me to grow, not just as a writer, but as a Christian
-words of affirmation to build me back up after a time of being torn down in other situations
-new friends and business acquaintances and new potential business dealings

It's as if God was filling me up today, so that tomorrow when the "press of the crowds" come-the ones who want time with me so I can show them how to grow as a writer-my cup will not go dry from being poured out to others. It's as if God made sure I was so full of good stuff today that it overflowed to the saucer for lack of space inside. Now I can be used by Him and not be drained, but energized!