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One Hundred and Forty

This was written by Cory Boyte, another one of the winners of the “Blog Post Contest.” This is his post.

The number 140 holds more power than any other number.  It limits thoughts, it is the barb-wired fence of ideas, it is the cataclysmic death to a train of words formed together to make a sentence. Unlike most other social media sites, 140 commands a person to use word combinations to prove a point in a way that requires skill, determination, and a perfunctory grasp on whatever language they speak (if you’re like me, we can both forget about that last statement).  You may have a world-changing idea. You may have a universally renown invention just waiting to be shared with all mankind. You may hold a thought that will absolutely revolutionize your surroundings. If it ain’t 140 characters or less, baby, it ain’t gonna happen. Unless of course you go ahead and post that idea and then all of your followers have to click on a link that takes them to a special page where they can view the entirety of your message, increasing the chance of picking up spam by, oh let’s say, 36%. I mean let’s face it. Who clicks on those links anyway? If it ain’t under 140, Skippy, I ain’t gonna read it.

And now they are storing every tweet. Yep. Big brother. Eagle eye. Conspiracy central. Logging. Every. Tweet. Imagine what that will look like. I wonder who’s job it is to have to read and file Paris Hilton’s drunken tweets, Miley Cyrus’ gleeful thank you’s for another sold out show, words of unspoken love that make one want to puke (hey, I’m guilty of this one), President Obama’s calls for changes, or your pastor’s encouraging words?  Could it be possible that the whole world that Jesus talked about in Matthew 28 may be able to be squeezed under the microscope of social media and be seen as 140 characters? And last time I checked it was in our job description to reach this whole world. Could it be done in 140 characters? The chances are looking very good my friend.

I was reminded of the power these 140 characters have several months ago after the passing of Steve Jobs. Inspiration hit. I was ready. I was determined. I whipped out my iPhone (thank you Mr. Jobs) and pecked away.  So I tweeted:

“The creator of the iPad, iPhone, iTouch, and iMac now faces the iAm.  Life is short folks.”

And that was that.

And then I got retweeted. And retweeted. And retweeted. People I didn’t even know retweeted me. People who are so far out of my league in ministry. Yet they liked something I said good enough to retweet it to hundreds of other people. Would it have been effective if it had been more than 140 characters? Absolutely not.

I believe a true Christian will behave in a 140 character fashion. Concise, readable, inspiring, captivating, retweetable. Not having to look to other people to get their  “rest of the story” but rather they write their own story. And the words of their story cannot be found on the pages of black and white, phones, or computer screens. No. Their story is written in Red, dipped in the ink of the Blood of the Lamb, forever changed. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

To the reader of this post, you just may be 140 characters from changing the world. Use them wisely.

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in encouraging posts

 

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Blog Contest

My friend Mark is hosting a blog contest and I get to be one of the judges! We will choose 12 winning entries. One will be posted each month starting in Feb with the final one posted Jan 2013. If you would like to be a part of this, see below. I can’t wait to read all of the entries!

Blog Post Contest

 In April 2010, I started writing and publishing an online Blog tilted, “Mark Showalter’s Blog.” What inspired me to start writing and publishing my thoughts and inspirations was another Blog that I began following in late 2009. During that time of my life, I had many doubts and questions surrounding my relationship with God and the church. The Blog posts more often than not were exactly what I needed at the time. After reading and being fed by them for about five months I began to feel God impressing me to write and publish my own Blog.

 At first I argued with God. I reminded Him that I had never written anything for the public to read nor did I have any formal training in the art of writing. I felt extremely under-qualified, and thought, “Nobody would ever want to read or would be fed by anything I wrote!” I reminded God that He had far better people out there who were much more qualified to write and publish a Blog than I was.

 But God wouldn’t let up. He reminded me that my salvation isn’t all about me and that “He” is the one that is the giver of good gifts! I began to think, “What if this Blogger that I now enjoy would never have published their thoughts? What other form of help would God have to find me? What if everybody denied God because they felt inadequate or under-qualified? Sure, we would still have the Bible, and wasn’t that written by just a few ordinary men? However, even the Ethiopian Eunuch, when reading the scripture, needed Phillip to help him understand what God’s Word was trying to tell him. And wasn’t Peter just a regular guy with a moderate education!? He wrote two books of the Bible! So, if God could move on some ordinary men to make an extraordinary difference, why couldn’t I do the same?”

This is when I decided to write and publish an online Blog. Since April 2010, I’ve written just over forty-one posts. I’ve been honest, open, and best of all transparent. I know that in a world of so many people trying to hide, out of shame or fear, who they really are, I had to be honest. As a result, I’ve received numerous comments or email responses from people dealing with issues including suicidal thoughts, manic depression, and divorcing their spouse. Others issues mentioned were believing that God had failed them or that they had failed God, while others have felt like the promises God made them could never come to pass. All of these hopeless people felt that due to major failures or sins, they had resolved to live a life of empty church going with no hope of ever being used by God again. Honestly, the list truly goes on and on with numerous accounts of hopelessness, regrets, fears and doubts. But God has been faithful to help! Through the posts, many have received the answers and hope they needed to face the situation once more, and now, they KNOW God is on their side and has never given up on them.

 More recently I’ve felt like God is wanting others to speak out and be an encouragement. Problem is, most don’t know how to do so, or even how to get started.  This is where the “Blog Post Contest” comes into play. Most, if not challenged, will never really step out and do anything unordinary. So, this is your challenge, your chance, to be heard, to express your thoughts, but best of all, “overcome the Devil by the word of your testimony.”

Below are a list of guidelines that will help you to get started.

Twelve winners will be posted

1. Of all the posts submitted, twelve will be posted over the next twelve months. The last and final Post will be posted on January 2013.

2. The first Post will be posted on February 6, 2012, (That will allow us enough time to read and pick the twelve Posts that will be posted.)

Rules for entering Post

  • •All Posts must be submitted by January 14, 2012.
  • •Post must be less than 1,000 words but more than 500.
  • •Posts can be any form: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, devotion or creative prose.
  • •The post must be written by the one submitting it. (May be submitted using another’s email, but must be clearly stated as such)
  • •Must have Biblical references, and be sound in doctrine. (Can be a personal story or life principle, but must have scriptural thought and reference to back it up.)
  • •Your post must include a small letter of permission stating that you give us permission to judge and post your Post in my Blog. It also must include your full name and date.
  • •Your post may remain anonymous if you so choose. (You can state that in your letter of permission to post your Blog Post. Your confidence will remain with me only!)
  • •Posts will be judged upon the above – regardless of age, race, gender or religious affiliation.
  • •All posts should be submitted to marksblogcontest@yahoo.com

All Posts will be read and winners determined by three People:

Mark Showalter     (Blog Host)

Kris A. Newman    (Author and Publisher)

Christina Li          (Author and Publisher)

NOTE: Winning posts will be published on the following Blog sites:

Mark Showalter’s Blog – mshowalter.wordpress.com

           Through a Writer’s Eyes – krisanewman.blogspot.com

           ChristinaLiBooks—christinalibooks.wordpress.com

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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2 Steps to Writing Your Novel

Have you always wanted to write a book, but never had the time? Have you started a book but never finished it? Have you just about given up on your dreams of being an author because it’s just too hard?

Well, writing can be really hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Recently, I participated in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, where you have 30 days to write a 50,000 word book. To some that sounds like a lot of fun. To others it sounds a lot like their worst nightmare. To me, it showed me that not only is it doable, it’s also exciting and fun. The trick to writing, not just in a challenge like this one, but writing in general, is to have a workable plan.

I’ll show you the two steps first, then I’ll go into greater detail. So, (drum roll please) here’s the two step plan for writing a novel:

  • Focus on getting to the next big scene in your book.
  • Put in the time and effort to hit your word count goal for the day.

What?! You mean that’s it? Just focus on going from big scene to big scene and do word count goals? That’s just too easy! Of course there’s a little more to it than that. However, taking something big and scary and breaking it down into manageable chunks, makes just about anything doable.

First off, step one: Focus on getting to that next amazing scene that is crying out to be written. In order to get anywhere it’s a good idea to know where you’re going. Wandering aimlessly does NOT work in writing. You must have a destination in mind. In writing your book, that destination is your next big scene.

Larry Brooks in his book Story Engineering
says there are five major scenes in every best selling book.

  • The first is your hook, some way you have of introducing your character or story and making your reader want to know more. This, obviously, takes place somewhere near the beginning of your book.
  • Your second big scene is your first plot point, where the main character is forced to take action that will begin his journey to change his life. That takes place right at the end of the first quarter of the book.
  • The third is the mid-point, which takes place obviously, in the middle of your book. There is usually some major shift here for your main character from reacting to actively taking part in his own destiny.
  • The fourth major scene is the second plot point or climax. That usually takes place right at the end of your third quarter.
  • Your last major scene is your satisfying ending.

A terrific visual of this was created by Rachel Savage. For more tips on the craft of writing check out Larry Brooks’ blog, www.storyfix.com.

Step 2—Put in the time to meet your word count goal for the day. If you aim for the stars, you may not make it, but you just might hit the moon. The point is to have a workable goal for the day, every day. If you want to write a book, you must not only plan your major scenes, you must actually sit down and write. Writing a 30,000 to 50,000 (or more) word book is still done one word at a time. If you set a goal of writing 1000 words every day, you will finish your book in 50 days (for a 50,000 word book). That’s about a month and a half. If you do 1000 words a day five days a week, it will take you ten weeks or right around three months. That’s completely doable. But, you still have to just sit down and do it.

I know, in some ways these steps are simplistic, but that’s the beauty of it. If you keep at it, you will finish what you start. The key is to start and then keep going until you’re done. And, you know what, I did it and so can you. I believe in you. Every person has a story to tell. The world is waiting to hear yours. Get moving!

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Thankful for this Life–Marriage, Mommying, Making a Difference Serving and Writing

When I think about just how blessed I am, I am overwhelmed. The Lord has made so many changes in our lives recently, but even that has been a blessing.

It hasn’t been easy, picking up and moving seven people from Minnesota to Chicagoland, leaving a thriving business and precious violin students and their families, leaving our amazing pastor and church, our precious friends that we worked with and ministered to. We will always love them and continue to pray for them. Just because we are no longer in MN in person, doesn’t mean that our hearts have completely left.

Through it all, I am amazed at all the blessings the Lord has just poured out. We have a lovely home here in Chicagoland. We have a dear pastor and his family that love us. We have new friends that we are working with and ministering to. The Lord has blessed my husband with a job teaching the violin to inner-city kids in Chicago. Our kids are adjusting and making new friends and I am settling in getting stuff unpacked and put away. (Of course, I’ve had lots of help from my sweet husband and children!)

Then, there’s my writing. What an incredible thing to be able to write and publish and get paid! 🙂 Wow! I checked out my Amazon dashboard the other day and someone had bought an e-copy of one of my books over in the U.K.! Someone on the other side of the world bought my book!!! How cool is that?

I am also grateful to be able to do things like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month–50,000 words in 30 days). It’s shown me that yes, the Lord is calling me to this, and that it takes work, discipline, and dedication. I love it! (Of course my daughter finished her 50,000 words about a week ago! That’s okay. I’m so proud of her.)

One of the things that the Lord has been dealing with me is truly walking in His love and peace and His Spirit all the time. Whenever I’m writing, or cooking, or homeschooling, or looking for something buried in a box that still hasn’t been unpacked, I still need to walk in His Spirit. I can try to do everything in my own strength and get stressed out and make everyone miserable, or I can choose to live that ‘peace that passes all understanding’, that ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’. The Lord will never force His way into any conversation. I can choose to ignore Him or include Him. When I actively include Him, I am always blessed.

The biggest thing is surrender and submission. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, so long as the Lord is glorified. If I am willing to surrender myself, the Lord is free to work in my life and I and many other people get a blessing! That’s the way to live! That’s the adventure!

I think the biggest lesson of all is a simple question: Do you trust the Lord to keep His word? If you do, then you will see your mountains moved. You will see your desires come to pass. You will see the blessing in your life. We say we trust the Lord, but when that’s tested, with moving and job and house, do we trust Him or do we freak out and get stressed? Do you choose peace or stress? It’s your choice.

If you want to see more victory in your life, check out the book Defeat Fear Forever. It won’t work if you don’t apply it though. I’m living proof of that! However, if you apply those principles and live the promises of God, you will go beyond what you ever thought possible in your life!

As we enter this season of holidays, may it be a time of hope for you and all yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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Just Settling In—the Joys of UnPacking

 I will admit up front that I do not like unpacking. I would probably like it a lot more if I had de-cluttered before I packed in the first place, but here we are. However, I’ve been surprised at all the joyful moments I’ve experienced in this crazy process.

For one, I have so much to be thankful for. I have pretty clothes, pans to cook in and food to cook! My children have clothes, warm coats for the approaching winter, and toys to play with. As I put things away, I realize just how blessed I am.

Another joy I’ve found in unpacking is through my husband’s strong arms and back and his wise ideas in helping to make this new place truly a home. As I appreciate him, I am blessed.

My children have also been a source of joy. While this move has most definitely NOT been easy, it has brought us all together in some beautiful ways. In order to survive, we have to work as a team. I love that. For the most part, their attitudes have been good. Of course, they’ve needed motivation here and there to just get moving, but then, so have I! If I give them clear direction, they do a great job!

Day by day, as this house is turned more and more into my own fairy tale castle, I can’t help but smile. We’ve still got a garage full of boxes (and a basement too!), but that’s okay. We’ve got each other. We’ve got an incredible God who is happy to offer comfort, encouragement, and wisdom in how better to do things.

As I come to Him with problems and frustrations, He patiently listens and guides me to stop trying to do this on my own. I can’t. I need help, not just from my family, but divine help as well. I can either walk in the joy, peace, and love of the Lord, or I can walk in stress. My greatest joy is the joy of the Lord, so easily available. All I have to do is ask. He even helps with unpacking!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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Be Real

Jesus loves you. We hear that statement a lot, but how often do we take the time to actually think about it? I mean, I know Jesus loves me, but do I realize that He loves the real me, or the me that I try to be? Think about that for a moment.

In my journey in learning how to trust God more and more with absolutely every aspect of my life, the Lord showed me that He can handle even my failures. On the one hand, that should be a bit of a ‘duh’ statement. On the other hand, how often do we think, ‘Oh no, I’ve really blown it now. I’ve ruined everything!’ Yes, we all make mistakes, but God knows that and we cannot thwart Him. We can’t mess Him up no matter how hard we might even try to. He has a purpose and a plan for our lives that is great. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know what plans I have in mind for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and  a future.'”

One of my biggest struggles is in trying to control things. I like to plan. Planning is not necessarily bad. However, I can’t plan everything, such as when a child is born or when someone gets sick or other surprises of life. I need to trust the Lord first, plan second. I need to give Him control and seek His guidance and plan accordingly. Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly.” The Lord is absolutely trustworthy. He knows what He’s doing and nothing surprises Him, ever. If we will trust Him and seek after Him with everything we’ve got, He will listen to us. He will bless us and He will give us a hope and a future.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” We all have dreams and desires. When we choose to trust God and seek after Him, delighting our lives with Him, He will bless us with the desires of our hearts. Our dreams will come true. In fact, He will bless us beyond our wildest dreams.

Don’t be afraid to be real. God can handle reality. In fact, He wants you to be real. When we stop trying to be the person we think everyone expects us to be and start being real, we are set free to become what the Lord intended for us. We are set free to dream. We are also set free to minister to others and to touch and change lives.

Jesus has a purpose and a plan for your life. Don’t be afraid to dream. Seek the Lord and see that He is good. Share your dreams with Him. Seek Him and see what His dreams are for you. I promise, God’s dreams for you are amazing beyond anything you can even imagine!

I’d love to hear some of the amazing things that God has done in your life. Please feel free to share!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in encouraging posts

 

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God Hears You and He Values You

 

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