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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One Writer's Mind: Pursuing the Dream

After 18 years of writing almost every day, a few hundred articles and seven books, I am at last taking the plunge. I am going to try to make my living writing.

I don't know much about how it will work. My agent, Chip MacGregor, talks about thinking of income in terms of quarters. How much do I need every three months to get by? And I know I am close.

The question comes, how will I make up the difference? It's a business. I have to treat my computer as my office and sit down each and every day and write for the length of time I would be working at Echostar--probably more. I have to explore open markets and introduce myself.

And trust God to open and close doors.

When I say "write," I don't mean I am writing a novel or an article for eight hours a day. That includes time spent researching, marketing, planning--even blogging. Writing and editing take up only a portion of my work time.

Pray with me for discipline for getting "to work" in a timely manner each day, and for a balance between my family's needs (where will Mom go after the hospital?) and my need for income.

And start pursuing your own dreams. What do you need to do to get there?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mountains and Valleys

This past weekend I got to dive into the Oklahoma Christian writing community by attending the 2nd annual W.I.N. (Writers of Inspirational Novels?) conference in Tulsa.

How many people worked together to make it happen for me individually--Dianne back in Denver who paid my way. Janet from Edmond who drove three of us up to Tulsa. Josanne who worked tirelessly to find me a hotel room and Vickie who put me up for a night. The numerous people who welcomed a newcomer and talked with me. I got to meet Margaret Daley and Brandt Dodson, two of my favorite authors.

The weekend was the mountaintop. Tulsa is hilly and lush and green. By the time you get to Oklahoma City, the plains have about started and it's no longer hill country.

I almost didn't go. Mom had a stroke on Thursday. She's in the hospital.

She appears to be doing well. The stroke affected her tongue; swallowing is hard. She doesn't want to do the exercises, but without them, eating and talking will be hard. We don't know when she'll return to the Assisted Living center, but it may be soon.

She insisted I go ahead to the conference, so I did. I am so thankful I was here when it happened, and not back in Denver.

Thanks for your continuing prayers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Three Girls

I spent several hours with my grandchildren yesterday--Savannah, 13, Shannon, not quite ten, and Jordan, 6 months.

Savannah and Shannon had already been hatched when they joined my family. My first memories of Savannah are of dashing through a water sprinkler on a hot summer day (when she was still young enough to enjoy such things) and convincing her that Jaran's Mom could be cool. She survived a difficult first year of junior high and has matured into a sweet young woman.

Shannon had adopted every animal on her Mimi's farm when I met her. Unfortunately, the bunny rabbits and chicken died. But now she has rescued a box turtle named Peyton and is keeping it as pet. So far the cat Pinky hasn't decided to devour it. Whenever I turn up, she pulls out a game and challenges me to a new round of Wii or cards or whatever.

And Jordan--well, you've heard me talk about her plenty.

I came home in mid-afternoon, happy and drained. A friend told me "Good. That's what you moved to Oklahoma for."


Now for finding some friends that AREN'T members of my family. A bit lonely so far ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jolene Speaks

Now that I am settling into my new place, it's time to renew my celebration of Jolene's work.

Here are 2 poems from January 14, 2001:

Oh How I Come to Thee

Oh, I come to Thee
Oh Lord I bow down to You
Oh in Your tempe of grace and power
Oh how I shall sing holy holy is the Lamb
Oh God in the highest I shall praise Thee
Oh God how I shall know Thee

Holy is the Lamb
Holy Holy is the Lamb
Lamb of heaven
And lamb of God
Oh Lamb of grace
And Lamb of power
Oh how I shall praise the Lamb

Monday, June 22, 2009

A New Dwelling Place

"Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desire." (Psalm 37:3-4, HCSB)

Verses to cling to as I make a new home in Oklahoma. I have been here for a week. Have I unpacked yet? Are you kidding? The kitchen is mostly done, so I can cook. The rest remained untouched while I spent much of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday taking care of that precious grandbaby. (Kisses to Jordan here). I lack the strength to attack it all at once, so I will juggle the remaining dozens of boxes with writing.

Highlights so far?

Talia the cat took to the road like a seasoned traveler. She curled up on the child's seat in the moving truck and didn't complain the whole way. Praise the Lord!

Jordan is a happy, healthy six-month-old, who stares at Grandma and grins widely. She's cute and intelligent and ... any of you grandparents out there, fill in the blank.

Hoping to meet people soon. Visited a church yesterday, but it doesn't feel like the right place, so I'll keep on looking.

Mom isn't doing well. She's much weaker, she's lost a lot of weight, she's forgetful and disoriented. The good news is that yesterday she went out to church and she went out to dinner with me. Two outings in one day! I hope she will take more of an interest in things now that I'm here.

Great apartment. Jaran did well! It's at the center of things. And it's more spacious than I remembered, which is lovely.

Unless the Lord shows me otherwise, I plan to try to write full-time. Jaran and Mom need me for significant amounts of time. Pray with me for discipline in work and for God's blessing on sales.

I have the same email address for anyone who wants to write. belovedfranklin (at) msn (dot) com.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Move those Feet

It was one of those "aha" moments when I wonder, how did I miss that?

In describing the "armor of God," Paul urges us to go "with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:15, NIV)

I've always taken that to refer to evangelism--readiness to share the good news of Christ as we go. I still believe that's part of the meaning. After all, Isaiah 52:7 says "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who boring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'"

But yesterday our pastor preached about friendship. One of his points was that while shame and guilt keep us from being friendly, in Christ we are free to take risks and reach out to someone else. Because of the peace God gives us, we can move our feet.

A door in my mind opened. I can be ready to go wherever God leads--because He's given me shoes for my feet, made out of His peace. I don't have to be afraid.

What wonderful words of encouragement as I undertake this huge step. All that comes with living in a new city--new job, new friends, new church--God's peace softens and prepares each step I take.


For those of you who prayed for my singing: it went well. But something funny happened. I stepped up to the music stand, and the left lens popped out of my glasses. The pianist was already playing the introduction. I took off my glasses, thanked God that I had memorized the verse, and sang. I've been laughing about it ever since.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Full mind or Mindful

I'm too scatterbrained this morning to write much sense.

In fact, my mind started racing so quickly when I got up that I forgot my quiet time. Thank God I remembered it when I went back to get dressed, and spent a few minutes with the Lord.

Since Monday, three writing buddies came along and helped me pack up half the house. Thank you, thank you!

Last night, the music minister at our church had told me "You WILL come to choir on Wednesday." Why, I wondered. The choir wasn't scheduled to sing again until June 14th - when I'll be gone.

Was I surprised--thrilled--honored--when he asked me to sing a solo with the choir for this Sunday. It's the first time at this church, and I have been singing nonstop since he asked.

So pray for me as I pack up the remaining spots around the house and as I sing on Sunday. Pray for the book proposals out there, for my job situation in Oklahoma.

And if you like, I'd love to see you at the morning worship service at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church on Sunday morning. (10:30)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Free Book

I also tacked this on to the end of my last blog.

I have received my author copies of my historical romance, Beacon of Love. The story takes place in 1815 Rhode Island during a hurricane. Can the doctor overcome his fear of the ocean and help the lighthouse keeper's daughter keep the lights burning during the Great Gale?

Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy.

Hallelujah Time

The day I wrote my last post, I received some disappointing news (writing related, of course!) and my spirits plummetted from giddiness to a bad bout of self-pity. There are a lot of scary things ahead, starting with the lack of a job in Oklahoma.

With God's help, I could affirm some bed rock truths:
God wants the best for me--even if His definition of the best doesn't match mine.
God loves me even when I'm throwing a pity party and He'll carry me through to the other side.
My definition of success is short-sighted. I want God's approval more than man's--although man's affirmation is always nice.

My dear son prayed with me, and I began to feel better.

After that bottoming out time, God began to pile blessings on. On Friday I turned in my resignation and paid my last month's rent--tangible signs that the move is coming near.

Also on Friday I received my author copies of Beacon of Love. Yay! Those of you who are members of the Heartsong Presents romance club should receive it soon, and anyone else ... you can contact me, or Barbour, directly.

On Saturday, several faithful church friends showed up. One gentleman moved out the boxes and furniture I had designated for donation. Two ladies stormed through Mom's room and packed it up. The task ahead is still daunting, but no longer seems impossible.

Best of all, I learned that my middle granddaughter Shannon received Christ at church camp. Praise the Lord! She will be 10 this summer, and her salvation has been much on my mind.

Thank God for His faithfulness and goodness when I'm so far from faithful.

P.S.: If you are interested in winning a free copy of Beacon of Love, please post to this blog with your contact information. (john dot smith at msn dot com)