Buried Safely

What are you afraid of? What have you buried to stay safe?

“I will be able to say, ‘Look how I tried! I gave it my best effort!’ Instead of, ‘I was afraid.’

Stephanie Rodda

I’d like to share a bit of our family Bible study with you. I’m hoping that there may be another person out there who reads this and says to themselves, ‘I needed this reminder.’ That was my reaction.

We were discussing the parable of the talents. If you’re familiar with this particular parable then, you have likely discussed it a few times as well. It is intriguing. I you are not familiar with it, you can read about it in Matthew 25.

As I read the familiar words to my children, I faltered a bit as I thought of my own handling of what God had put in my care and was surprised by the conviction I felt. Conviction. That’s a rather unpleasant sounding word when you first roll it around in your mind. But, contrary to first impression, conviction is a good and necessary experience.

Spiritually speaking and when…

View original post 586 more words

Blogs Beautiful Blogs

The first thing I need to say right away is I am no expert blogger. I’m not a total newbie and I’ve learned a lot along the way. But I am still smack-dab in the middle of figuring it all out. 

Tonight I will be speaking to the CAWG Central Alabama Writers Guild and our subject of discussion will be blogging. My first thought when they invited me was to tell them they needed to invite someone who actually knew what they were doing. Then, I began to collect the information that I had gathered along the way and realized I actually had a lot to share. 

As I often tell my homeschooled children, “I may not know all the answers, but I bet I can figure out where to find them.”  So, with that thought in mind, I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction. 


I attended my first writing conference almost four years ago and one of the first workshops I attended declared that every writer needed a blog. I went back to the hotel that very night and started a blog at WordPress.com. It was just as easy as they said it would be. It wasn’t polished. It wasn’t perfect. But I was able to do it without assistance. 

Since then I’ve learned a few things, discovered a few tips and made a few improvements. I can add a photo or meme. I can change the background color. I have a decent number of followers. I’ve made progress. 
Along the way I’ve made some good connections with folks who know a lot more than I do. One of those people is Rachel Thompson ( @BadRedheadMedia on Twitter ). Rachel is a writer, an abuse survivor advocate and a marketing guru. 

One of the best resources she offers is free and I have learned something every single time I’ve attended. One hour, every Wednesday evening with guests of her choice that address a variety of marketing strategies. She and her co-host @MelissaFlicks do a superb job of presenting, informing and answering questions. #BookMarketingChat


What does blogging have to do with book marketing? Everything, a lot, more than you might imagine. 

One of the guests at the chat has been Barb Drazdowich ( @sugarbeatbc on Twitter ). She has a unique ability to break it down into understandable lingo for people like you and me.  She’s authored a number of books as well as being a book blogger herself. 


Here’s the thing about blogging. It’s kind of like swimming. You can purchase the necessary equipment. You can study the theory. You can learn from the best. But nothing takes the place of jumping in and getting in the water. 

So, don’t require expertise from yourself before you begin. Blog and learn as you do. Blog and enjoy the journey. Blog and explore the possibilities. Just blog your heart out. And don’t forget to help the next hesitant soul to give it a try. 

Permanent Residence in a Life of Love 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house,”1 John 4:17-18 MSG

I like the thought of a ‘permanent residence in a life of love.’

“Permanent residence” is different than staying in a motel for a while or even renting a home temporarily. Which describes your relationship with God? Are you committed to this life of love? Does love have run of the house of your soul? Has your heart been overtaken with the love of God?


How can we know? 

  • Well, if you are doing what you should do but resent it, that isn’t love, that is obligation. 
  • If you are doing what you do to achieve status or influence or reward, that likely isn’t love, that is manipulation. 
  • If you expect to always be appreciated, noticed or paid back, that isn’t love either.

I think a house where love runs things will be furnished with forgiveness, the benefit of the doubt and second chances. I think a house where love is in charge will have strong walls of firm boundaries that keeps those who reside there safe. I think that a house where love rules is a house where growth is encouraged and people are respected. 


Today’s challenge is to make a permanent commitment to this life of love and let love reign.

Painful Possibilities

This week I have been reminded how pain changes our perspective. Pain can make us act differently, respond differently, make us see things differently. I believe it humbled us. I know that it makes me more compassionate to the pain of others.

Stephanie Rodda

Pain is seldom a welcome part of our life and yet a guaranteed result of living. From the tiny ouches to the excruciating, you can count on it. Don’t let that discourage or frighten you however. Along with that assurance of pain comes an accompanying assurance of possibilities. Let me explain.

My 12 year old adopted daughter has injured her foot. She hyperextended the tendons on the top that extend from her toes and let me tell you, she is experiencing some pain. She and I along with my 13 year old daughter (her birth sister) are heading out of town early in the morning where plans of hikes and zip lines have fizzled into disappointment. Instead she will be hobbling around on crutches, soaking her foot in Epsom salt baths and keeping her hands and mind otherwise occupied while her foot is elevated.

Although I am so very sorry…

View original post 431 more words

Ten Reasons Why You Should Attend a Writing Conference

Less than four years ago, I attended my first writing conference.  I had no inkling as to what to expect. I was nervous, excited, anxious, and delighted all at the same time. I’ve mentioned before that I felt much like Harry Potter as he first walked into Diagon Alley after discovering he was a wizard.

I was both amazed and overwhelmed. I was surrounded by hundreds of people who had similar dreams and aspirations. I had to choose which workshops to attend and that was difficult because I honestly did not know. In retrospect, I think I thought, at that first conference, I’d meet some fabulous person who would discover me and declare that they recognized my outstanding talents and offer me a contract. That didn’t happen, as a matter of fact, I doubt that it ever has.

Don’t be discouraged however, because although what I expected did not happen, things I didn’t expect DID happen. These unexpected things led to a very different life, a life I’d dreamed of for a long time. I like to call it #writerslife after a popular Twitter hashtag. So, why should you attend a writing conference.?

  1. Whether you have yet to write a single word of the story in your head or have a finished manuscript, there will be workshops that direct you to the next step, whatever that may be in your particular case. Among the very first things I learned was the importance of having a blog as a writer, for instance.
  2. You will network with people.  You will meet writers still learning what it is all about like myself, editors, literary agents, publishers, traditionally published authors, independently published authors, industry legends and probably make a few new friends. They may not “discover you” but you will discover them. They will encourage you, challenge you and inspire you. After all, they’ve been down this same path before.
  3. By taking the time and spending the money to attend, you are declaring, “I am taking my writing and myself seriously.” I once heard that if you want to know what is important to a person, look at their calendar and their bank statement. Find a conference you can afford and start there. I’ve even attended a workshop for free when scholarships were offered.
  4. You will learn so much. Already have a book published? Well, great, but don’t let that stop you from growing, learning, fine tuning, and developing your skill. I have just published my second novel, written a dozen freelance articles, blogged for several years now and I still have so much to learn.
  5. You will discover new venues for your writing. I had never contemplated writing magazine articles, but through a connection made at a conference, it has become one of my most lucrative and consistent writing assignments.
  6. You will discover that there is no one magical way to success. As a matter of fact, you may hear conflicting information and it will be up to you to chew up the meat and toss out the bones. In other words, take in what you can digest and leave the rest to gnaw on later.
  7. You will come to understand that there is no substitute for hard work and determination. You’re going to have to pay your dues, face disappointments, perhaps experience unfair criticism and rejection. Then you get to decide whether you will use those experiences as stepping stones to the next level, or allow them to be stumbling blocks.
  8. You may discover that your journey is worth enjoying on the way to where you’re going. It may become apparent that some of the best things in life can not be rushed. After all, timing IS everything and your day is coming.
  9. How you measure success may be adjusted. This was a huge one for me. I didn’t think I could call myself a real writer until I had been published and paid for my work. I didn’t think I could call myself a successful author until my books were traditionally published and sold in high numbers. I now have a different measure of success. I simply want to know that I’ve made a difference in the lives of those who have read my written words.
  10. Finally, you will find that your focus has changed. Your dream of writing no longer lives in your peripheral vision. Instead, this thing known as word-weaving has taken a prominent place in your life and will resist being boxed up and put away for another day.

 

Lodes and Nodes

Some times I really do think that we mommas think we are impenetrable, unstoppable, and without limits. Okay, well maybe that’s not what we think, but it is how we tend to live. We function on too little sleep. We operate under too much stress. We press on when we feel we must even when we are feeling exhausted. 

We are, after all, the ‘mother lode’. We are indeed the source of so much that our children, our husbands, our friends, our churches need. That’s what a mother lode is. It is defined as the abundant and rich source of something valuable. This is an apt description of most mommas that I know. 


Of course being a mother lode can be quite the load. It can be draining. It can wear you out and run you dry. And yet, still we are tempted to continue on, to hide our weariness, to pretend all is well when our well has run dry. 
As a Christian I fully understand that I am not the true source for anyone. I know exactly who my source is and when I’m thinking straight, I run straight to Jesus for strength beyond my own, wisdom beyond my years and courage beyond what is humanly possible. 


Yes, mommas are human too even when we don our capes and place the coordinating masks upon our face. We do have our limits even when we are desperately trying to ignore them. And guess what, they aren’t ignoring you. 

I am not a medical doctor nor a psychologist. I have however lived long enough to be convinced of a few things about physical health and emotional wellbeing. Here is one of them.

When we consistently ignore warnings and continually over stress our bodies and minds, there will be repercussions. It may be simple things like being short tempered and snappy at our family, poor performance at our job, or even lack of energy. It may also lead to serious health crises. 

I recently read a number of reports claiming that stress and anxiety can cause a number of issues, one of which I’m experiencing right now, swollen lymph nodes. Our bodies respond to our stresses. What stresses us out, stresses our body out. 


Tomorrow, January 26,  I will be having surgery and having a biopsy on a lymphnode. All the initial tests have good results and I’m so thankful. I am not expecting a bad report. But something is causing my axillary nodes to be distressed and I’m blaming stress itself. I believe the constant strain and drain I’ve put on the ‘mother-load’ has lead to consequences. 

Now, what to do about it? Be brutal. Slash that calendar load. Say no more often. Find time to rest and to spend time in the presence of God. Make sure you eat right, rest well and exercise often. Refuse to live in a manner that tears you down bit by bit. 

You might as well know that I’m talking to myself and letting you listen in on the conversation. I hope I’m listening well and I hope you are too.  

When Christians Disagree

As Christians we expect and can understand that we won’t see eye to eye on many issues with those who don’t believe. After all, a non-believer doesn’t recognize the Bible as having any authority to tell them how to live their lives. Naturally their viewpoint will be different. 

But for those of us who do recognize Jesus as the Lord of our lives, it would seem that we’d agree on most things and certainly the most important matters. And yet, that simply isn’t the case. So, how do we respond when Christians disagree? What if that person is someone you care about deeply? How do you react when they’re as convinced that they are right as you are convinced that you are right? 

I can’t recall a time when the differences of beliefs, convictions and opinions have been more starkly apparent than they have been the last few months. I honestly was never so eager for an election process to be over. I truly thought things would settle down, that people would settle down, that we would move on.  I was very disappointed when that wasn’t the case. 

It has puzzled me as I have observed the reactions of people, some of whom I admire and hold in high esteem. These are people who obviously love the Lord, openly profess Christianity and yet fall into polar opposition to me when it comes to extremely important issues. How can this be? We serve the same Lord, profess the same faith, read the same Bible. 


I’ve prayed about it, I’ve pondered it and I’ve yet to discover the answer to how one follower of Christ can so vehemently disagree with another. I only know that it does happen; it is happening now. This is why there are different denominations and ways of worship. Sometimes, perhaps ofttimes, we disagree.  

What does the Bible says about how to handle other believers that don’t agree with each other?

“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Look carefully. It does NOT say to accept their beliefs, agree with their convictions or compromise your own. It says to accept the believer. One might wonder, who is the one ‘weak in faith’? Well we probably can all agree on that answer. It’s whoever isn’t seeing things the same way we are of course. (A little light sarcasm). 

Bottom line, we can reject ideas, opinions, viewpoints, policies and lifestyles. We should not, however,  reject each other. There is a great difference. 

“Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As Christians, we belong to Jesus. He is our master. He is the one who will judge us, our actions, the way we live our life. Let me assure you of this, He is more than able to judge, approve, intervene, persuade, convict, and help those who claim Him as Lord. 

“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’m not accountable for the way you live your life. I’m accountable for the way I live mine. You are accountable for the way you live yours. Decide today that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall if there is a better way. Then find that better way.

“So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don’t tear apart the work of God over ____________________________ if it makes another person stumble.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭14:19-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬ (blank inserted)

I purposefully inserted a blank there. You can fill it in as you choose. Whatever the disagreement is, I know this, it never ends well for a house divided. 

“Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:25‬ ‭NLT‬


That applies to kingdoms (such as Christianity). That applies to churches. That applies to nations. That applies to families. That applies to friends. 

Please DO NOT misunderstand. I am in no way saying you should condone wrong behavior or compromise your own convictions. Be true to your faith, your beliefs and your God. But what I am saying is learn to stand firm without causing a fellow Christian to stumble. 

How do you do that? It is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. It requires you to say, 

  • I do not agree with you but I still love you. 
  • I don’t think you are right but I will leave the correcting to God. 
  • I am sure I am right but I will listen carefully to the Holy Spirit. 
  • I am worried about you, concerned that you have been blinded or deceived, and I’m confused as to how you can come to this conclusion and still be a Christian! But I will leave the judging to God and I will walk, speak and act in love towards you even if we can never agree.

Finally, there is the thing we should do firstly and continually. We should pray. We should pray for those we disagree with. We should pray for those we are concerned for. We should pray for clarity and understanding. We should pray that blinded eyes are open. We should pray that those who are deceived will see the error of their ways. We should pray for wisdom as to how to treat others in a manner that builds up instead of tearing down. We should pray and believe that God is still God and we can still trust Him. 

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In closing, if you are afraid, if you are worried, if your heart is anxious…


“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.


And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6, 8‬ ‭NLT‬‬