Saturday, September 29, 2012

No Comparison: Lessons from Conference

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. 5 Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life" (Gal 6:4-5 (from THE MESSAGE))

Fearless Fiction Writers--No Comparison
At the ACFW conference--a Christian writers' conference , I had the opportunity to sit in my continuing ed session for a grand total of five minutes. Literally. During that time, Karen Ball said, "Do not compare yourself with anyone." That message changed my life.

Revolutionary quote? Maybe not.  But God spoke it to me in an indelible manner. She uttered a truth God proceeded to demonstrate throughout the conference. 

  1.  The Genesis Winner. I sat in the cafe with a dear friend who'd been writing her whole life, and she had ten completed manuscripts that had so far netted no agent and no contract. This year she won Genesis--a contest for unpublished writers. Her time in the trenches will end. Soon.
  2. The Contract Deal. During one dinner, our emcee, announced a call another writer received--her first two-book contract. She announced the name of the author, and my immediate thought was, "What does this woman have to do with the unpublished author?"  The answer was everything. She received the deal. After having  taught, mentored, served on the Board--after having networked and encouraged others, her day came.
  3. The Falling Into Your Lap. My roommate announced to the world after her first conference she had been given a contract with a popular agent. A few months later, he actually offered her the contract she thought she had.  Her "oops" mistake turned prophetic. One conference--one manuscript (that semi-finaled in Genesis), and she got what she needed.
 God sets our lives on a course. Once we recognize it, we must walk it. Because it doesn't follow our plans, because others succeed when we fail, does not measure our failure. We need to be faithful to our calling (and this does not apply only to writers), and in due season we will reap the windfalls.

What are your (no ) comparison moments?



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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Life Is a Farmers' Market

Jeremy and his watermelons
I roamed our local farmers' market and discovered my friend April had wonderful blueberries. I bought a quart, ate them all week and came back for more. Then one day, April had no blueberries and only one stand carried any. They were a little overripe, a tad mushy. Obviously, the last of the season.

Then Jeremy brought in his watermelons--the best the North Country had to offer. None ever tasted so fresh, crisp and sweet. Until this last one. Obviously, the last of the season.

I'm now onto Honey Crisp apples. And as I watch one fruit or vegetable I love fade and another take its place, I can't help but think about Ecclesiastes 3:1. "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven(.)"

While we work our lives, sometimes the seasons are too dry or too wet or too short. Sometimes we produce much, other times we lie fallow. However, if we live our lives honoring God, we are like the fruit of the farmers' market. We'll grow and flourish in our season, and then lie fallow for a bit. Don't despair--the preacher of Ecclesiastes has also said we need to enjoy the fruit of our labor while we can.

The prophet of our ages said--what goes around comes around...I choose to believe, if I live righteously, I'll reap joy.

PS I LOVE the benefits of our farmers' market--but that's another blog

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Let 'Er Rip: Don't Fear Looking Foolish

Like the soft winds that hint of a distant storm, the happy notes of an indistinct song wafted over me. I swung on my porch swing and smiled. Someone's happy. Then the strains intensified, and I knew. The Singer approached. Without seeing her, I pictured the young woman: MP3 player to her ear, playing music only she could hear. The singer belted out the lyrics in a manner that would have made Paula Abdul cringe, let alone Simon Cowell. The song intensified, and she wailed like a cow giving breach birth to co-joined calves.

You'd never catch me doing that. The more's the pity.

The world would be a better place if we just cut lose and enjoyed ourselves. Because I refuse to look the fool, I lost out on many things in life:

  1. I refused to learn the guitar in high school because I felt silly carrying the huge instrument. It wasn't until my late thirties that I dared picked up the bassoon (talk about the aforementioned cow).
  2. I never sing if I can be heard--and it certainly brings me down in church and other places. I used to love it, and singing is a cathartic activity. I have nothing on The Singer--except a loss of joy.
  3. In my twenties, I refused to run because I thought I looked silly. Turns out I'm a fast runner. Today, I love it--but it took me twenty years to overcome my fear of looking foolish, and to discover the joys of a runner's high.
How have you allowed the fear of looking foolish hinder you.