For thirty years, Brian and Elizabeth Dunham have served on the mission field. Unable to have children of their own, they’ve been a father and mother to countless orphans in six African countries. When an unexpected beach-house inheritance and a lung disease diagnosis coincide, they realize that perhaps God is telling them it’s time to retire.
This week has been vastly better than last week! If you’re interested in knowing more about this challenge which right now has nearly 8,000 followers, click on the title above. Each week Cee Neuner posts some new questions for us. Here are my answers to this week:
Eugene Peterson, who wrote The Message version of the Bible, puts the verse this way: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.”
Do these words bring tears to your eyes? Do you feel a deep ache at the thought of a “real rest”? Yet rest is not a luxury. It is an essential part of our make-up. If we don’t rest voluntarily, we will become ill—and rest will be forced upon us.
Have you ever stopped to read a book and been consumed by guilt? Do you sometimes sit down with a cup of your favourite beverage and gulp it down before anyone sees you? Have you switched your PC screen for a “quick game” of Solitaire, which may not have been all that quick after all? Do you sometimes want to scream at yet another interruption from those demanding children? (Yes, those same ones you wanted so badly and love so dearly!)
My friend, don’t succumb to the lies from Satan, “If you stop work and take a rest during the day, you are weak and lazy,” he’ll tell you. “What will people think if they see you taking a break?” “A whole day off? Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t afford to take time out.”
God, the Almighty Creator, needed rest. He worked for six days—then he took a whole day’s break. If God needed time out, I guess I do too. And you.
Sydney Harris said, The best time to relax is exactly when you do not have the time for it.
My challenge for you right now is, choose a period of time, or even an entire day, out of the next seven days, and mark it off on your diary or your calendar as “Time Out for Me!” And then stick to it. You’ll be surprised. The world won’t stop turning. You will return to your writing, your work or your family situation with more enthusiasm and inspiration. God took time out. He expects nothing less from us, His children.
Do you wake up each morning and wonder
Why your life seems to keep spinning by?
At the end of the day when the house becomes still
Do you fall into bed with a sigh?
Do you long for the days when your time was your own?
Then feel guilty for thinking that way?
They’re your children, they’re precious, you do love them so,
Yet they need you each second, all day.
Do you wonder if God feels that way when you call?
If He ceases to care what you do?
Well my friend, that’s the wonder, He’s always right there,
He never takes time-out from you.
©Shirley M. Corder 2006
“In my distress, O LORD, I called to you, and you answered me. From deep in the world of the dead I cried for help, and you heard me” Jonah 2:2 GNB.
Imagine the scene:
Here comes Jonah, squishing along the beach. He’s covered in the stomach contents of a fish and smells of vomit. His skin and hair are bleached white from stomach acids. Seaweed drapes around his shoulders. This man has a message from God? You have to be joking! Yet amazingly, the people of Nineveh listen to this unlikely messenger. They repent and turn to God.
At the beginning of my cancer treatment, I prayed that I would continue to be a witness to others of God’s love. But toward the end of the year my thinning hair looked and felt like straw. My complexion was so pale and spotted that my sons said I was “transparent.” My eyes were sunken because I had lost so much weight. I don’t think I looked quite as bad as Jonah must have looked, but I didn’t see how God could use me. Yet surprisingly, He did.
Many people listened to what I had to say. They saw God at work in my life and asked questions about my faith. The Lord opened doors for me to write about my experiences so that others would be encouraged. 1
Years later I wrote about my experiences in a book of meditations. Many people have contacted me to share how the Lord has spoken to them through one or more of the messages. Yet they don’t even know me. I am only the messenger.
As I’ve thought many times about the story of Jonah and his terrifying fish ride, I have seen over and over again that it is not the messenger that makes the difference—it’s the message. Often when we are at our weakest, God can use us to spread His message of love and forgiveness.
As writers, how often do we face a writing project that seems beyond our abilities? We believe God wants us to tell a story, but we don’t have the experience. We lack the knowledge. We are too young. Too old. Inexperienced. Not well enough known. Whenever you feel that way, remember the story of Jonah. And remember, it’s not the messenger that makes the difference. It’s the message.
This week has been a real mixed bag of emotions. Here are my responses to the questions posed by Cee Neuer. If you’re interested in knowing more about this challenge which right now has 7,952 followers, click on the title above.
SC: Sad start to the morning:
I’m starting on a sad note today by answering a question not asked. We’ve just returned from the vet where we said goodbye to our little old lady, Zoe, who has been part of our family for many years. People who don’t love animals (are there really people like that?) wouldn’t understand, but I know if you are a pet-lover you will.
Zoe was, and always will be, a part of our lives and hearts, and our home is so empty without her. It was time. We knew that. She was very old (18), was almost blind, had hardly any hearing, and over the last couple of days had become increasingly disorientated. Last night she tried to get into my bedside cupboard on the opposite side of the room to her bed. So it was the right and fair thing to do. But right now, it’s hard to ignore the glaring emptiness in her bed beside my computer. (It will go later today, but right now all the bedding is in the washing machine.
At the rate I’m going, 2018 is going to be remembered as the year I took up new challenges!
I stumbled upon the “Outdo Yourself Challenge” which has evidently been going for some years. This year, it’s being hosted by Corinne Rodrigues for the third year in a row.
Reading the instructions, participants are supposed to “up their game” of how many books they read last year, and read more this year. However, I have no idea of how many books I read last year, so I’m starting from scratch.
SC: Hi Everyone! And to those whom I haven’t met up with elsewhere on the Blogosphere, a Very Happy and Blessed New Year to you! May 2018 be a year of great things, big or small. And no, that’s not a contradiction in terms. Small things sometimes turn out to be the biggest of blessings.
I’ve been out of action with this challenge for a few weeks, so I look forward to answering Cee Neuer’s fun questions in her Share Your World Challenge. By the way, it may interest you to know that there are currently 7,919 people following this challenge!
Here are my answers for this week:
SYW: Complete this sentence: I’m looking forward to….
A need is revealed!
A few months ago, I released a new eBook on Amazon: Miriam, Gifted Leader. I referred to it as Part 2 of the story of Miriam, a mistake I intend rectifying in the next week or two. I realized my mistake too late. Who would want to buy Book 2 if they hadn’t already read Book 1? The book is a stand-alone, but how would potential readers know that?
So I scheduled a five-day period on Amazon where Book 1 would be offered free. That would solve my problem. Well, it might have. But I forgot!
Four hours before the five days were up, I frantically called on my street team to get the news out! Book 1 was free–for a few more hours . . . which were soon gone. I didn’t sell ONE book during the 5 free days. Really?
Come the new year, I had to become more organised. I needed help!
Because I love learning new things, I was thrilled (and surprised) to discover two new tools I would need to put into almost immediate use.
Off with the old and on with the new
At one minute to midnight on December 31, 2017, my husband and I were in prayer when we heard counting wafting to us on the sea breezes: 10, 9, 8, 7 . . . The new year was about to arrive.
We rose to our feet, picked up our drinks (cola-tonic and ginger ale!) and made our way onto the stoep at the front of our cottage. Only three streets up from the beach and a few streets along from the Port Elizabeth pier, we had ideal seats for the firework display about to commence.
As the count reached 1 . . . a loud cheer emanated from the beach as millions of rand worth of fireworks shot into the air.
2018 had begun in S.Africa. Australia, New Zealand, India, China and many other countries were already well into the year–but we were ahead of the UK and the Americas.
I experienced the same thrill I feel every year. A new 365 days. 52 weeks. 12 months.
What would they hold?
What wonderful things will happen in the world? In our family? In our home? What sad things or tough decisions will we face?
It’s too much to expect an entire 365 days of joy, although my “theme word” for the year is “thankfulness.” I am determined to look for 6-7 reasons to give thanks every day this year. 39 per week. Some days, that will be easy, and I may think of more than six reasons. I’ll jot them down and get in advance. Some days will be a lot more difficult so for that reason, I’ve called it a challenge!
In December, I started preparing for my thankfulness project under the title, “Thankful Thursday.” I wrote two posts on my blog and posted another two guest posts in preparation for the new year. My goal? Two thousand and eighteen (yes, that’s right–2018) items of thanks during the year.
I decided to invite others to come on board. What a pleasant surprise as I watched the response. I would need a way to keep track of the other blogs as well as encouraging them to follow one another. Sue Loncaric, whom I know from a Facebook page for bloggers, wrote an excellent blog post for me on the topic, Linkies, a new word in my vocabulary.
Click on the frog to learn more! I have created my first blog button to use with the Thankful Thursday project, and I’ve learned (I think!) how to use it.
My first post in the Thankful Thursday went live on Thursday 4th January, complete with the first 21 thankful points. I had some issues with the html code on the link-up which may be why I only have three folk linked at this stage. The final chance to link-up to the first post is Tuesday 9th. Then the 2nd post will be published on 11th.
If you have a post on thankfulness (or gratitude), I invite you to leave a link to your post, and visit at least two of the other links.
The template for my second post, due January 11, is drafted, and I have post-its around the house so I can jot down thank you points as they come to mind.
I will keep you posted on how this works. Meantime, check out some of my “thankful” related posts (shown below) or better still, consider joining up with the challenge.
Why am I doing this?
For a number of reasons.
- It will discipline me with regular blog posts.
- It will improve my blog traffic.
- I hope it will encourage others in the same way.
- And if for no other reason, it can only benefit me as I search my day for things I am grateful for.
Can you see how this might help you too?
But I said I discovered two new tools.
Two days before New Year, a writing friend, Val Waldeck, introduced me to a tool I had heard of vaguely but knew nothing about. Trello. This is a project management system which is evidently used for businesses across the world. As Val shared her desktop with me over Skype, I became more and more excited. Although I didn’t learn “new words” as with the inLinkz tool, I learned new meanings for old words; boards, lists, cards, labels, etc.
If I can only get used to checking this regularly, there will be no more forgotten promotional projects.
I spent New Year’s Day and the 2nd January setting up new boards that will help me keep track of the many writing projects I juggle. The first board I created was to keep track of my blog posts, and especially the Thankful Thursday challenge about to commence.
Each board consists of a number of lists. For my Thankful Thursday I create a new card for each week’s post. The card gradually makes its way from the list called idea to the one titled in process and then on to written, awaiting graphics. Next it moves to scheduled, where it will await publication. I will then move the card on to published and promotion and finally Done.
My critique group will be thrilled to know I also have a list for them. So far, I’ve kept up well. (Okay, so at the point of writing, that’s less than a week into the new year but still . . . !)
Only time will tell how well I keep myself on track with this, but I have plenty of time to prove it! 365 . . . no wait! I only have 358 days left of 2018. Time is already starting to speed up! I hope this year I will be way better organised, thanks to these two new writing tools.
Have you heard of, or better still, used either of these tools? I’d love it if you leave a comment below.
If you have a thankful or gratitude post, please consider linking to the link_up “Thankful Thursday“.