Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Published Book

As you may or may not know, in January I published my first book on Amazon, for kindle. Then surprise! Two weeks ago I found out that it had sold nine times! (Currently I'm up to over 15 sales-which may not seem like a lot, but considering that I didn't expect it to's an accomplishment!)

I didn't promote the book or even tell anyone except for my family. The main reason for this was that it was experiment book. By that I mean that I did it to see how the process went.

Writing and publishing, getting yourself out there can be an overwhelming task, and I often find myself stuck in jumping from one idea to the next. Then getting stuck trying to figure out where I want to go from there with my story or book. So last year I decided to follow the advice I had read so many times: write what you know.

So I asked myself....what do I know? I then asked: what do people need?

Well, this book ended up being about gallbladder health, as for the last seven years I've struggled with my gallbladder health. Through that long journey, I've read a lot and heard from many people who have been in the same situation I have found myself in...having a problem, but no solution.

Granted, the easy solution would just be surgery, right? Wrong. One out of three people who have surgery continue to suffer in pain. Sometimes they will experience a temporary relief, but quickly fall back into ill health. (Find out more about this in my book.)

Should the need for surgery arise, I would pursue it, but after having been told by doctors- who like us to see them as experts- that I had nothing wrong with me, well, let's say going back to them is something I'm not too thrill with!

After doing research and experiencing the suffering on a daily basis, I began to find places that gave me answers. Or at least advice on how I could get relief and work towards healing my gallbladder- without jumping into surgery or something that could be more harmful.

Last year, as I struggled with my writing, I had the brilliant idea of writing out my gallbladder research. After all, every time an attack came on, or I had a rough day, I went in search of all the research I'd seen over a hundred times. I might as well write it out so I could easily access it.

As a side bonus, I'd been asked and it had been suggested that I share the information I had found. So I buckled down and started writing. Currently, it's just over 11,500 words- which is quite small for a book, but I will be working on some additions in the future, as I've been learning and will be trying some new things.

Granted, writing about gallbladders is not where I ever saw my writing going, but it was something i could finish and at the same time again experience that will help me in future endeavors. Currently, I'm working on multiple projects that have been keeping me so busy that at times it's hard to know what to focus on!

But I am hoping something will be ready in the next few weeks to publish.

In the mean time, I've learned so much about publishing for Kindle (right now it's the best way for me to get started), and well, just getting the writing done in general! I'm no where near an expert, and I know there is so much information on this topic, but perhaps by sharing what I've learned, I can assist someone in their own journey of writing and publishing!

Keep tuned for further posts with tips and helps for writing and publishing! 

And if you'd like you can get my book on Amazon:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Faith To The Extreme

"...for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
Matthew 17:20

Faith as a grain of a mustard seed; that's how much faith we need to move the mountains in our life. When I was younger, I always thought that the mustard seed faith was so small. And if it was so small then couldn't we all have faith to move mountains?

But as the years have passed I've realized that to be perfectly honest, mustard seed faith, is faith to the extreme. There is nothing small about it! What do I mean by that and where am I going with this?

Our faith gets put to the test constantly and at times with not so great results. Why? Because a big part of faith is trust! Have you ever had someone come up to you and tell you to hold out your hand and close your eyes?

I've seen the scenario play out in front of me many times- most people believe right away you're up to no good! It's like the person asking you to hold your hand out has a worm or something equally gross and is going to play a prank on you!

That's a problem with trust. You don't believe this person who is smiling and fairly bouncing with glee has something good for you! Sadly, there have been times I've felt the same way with God. And why do I feel that way?

He asked me to trust him. To put my hand out and close my eyes. Instead of putting my hand out without hesitation, I question him. I doubt that he has my best interest at heart. I figures he just wants to put a worm in my hand and then laugh uproariously when I yelp in surprise at the gooey disgusting prank he just played.

But God isn't like that. He doesn't come to you offering a undesirable gift.

"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? 
or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

Luke 11:11-13

Granted we don't always like the way situations play out on our life and often bad things do happen. Sometimes those bad things are in our control- based on choices we make- and sometimes they aren't. As i mentioned in the "Still Hoping" series-ultimately faith is believing that while God doesn't want the bad to happen in our life, he uses the bad in our life to accomplish things for him.

What ways can we increase our faith to get to that mustard seed spot? There is a saying, "Practice makes perfect!" You're going to have to make the difficult choice and practice your faith on a daily basis.

Finances, health, car, family situations- I never thought about how God could work in the little areas. I suppose I assumed they weren't always important. But God works in little ways more often than those big ways we seek.

When we get to heaven I have a feeling we're going to see how much God worked  on our behalf in those small areas and realize that while the big mountains he moved were awesome and amazing- it was the little things that kept us going.

And it's those little things that will help you practice and increase your faith- not just the big answers to prayer you're looking for.

Lastly, what do you do when you want more faith, during the situation you're going through, but don't feel you have anymore strength to give?

The apostles prayed, in Luke 17:5- "Lord, increase our faith."

In Mark 9:24- a desperate father, in tears, cried out, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." 

In those moments, cry out to God, and even say those those verses out loud. Remind God that you are flesh and weak, but  he can make you strong. Ask him to give you the strength to walk through that valley you're going through.

After all, he is the father, who when you ask for bread, he's promised not to give you a stone. God's got this and it's time to believe, have faith and trust!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Still Hoping Part 4

Thank you for joining me for part four of the Still Hoping series! If you missed any of the previous posts you can check it out on some earlier posts on this blog or check out the videos on my YouTube channel (actually if you can't wait to see the last two parts of the series you can jump ahead and find them HERE). 

When you start making progress and you then fall back, do you get so discouraged you don't feel like you can keep moving forward? What do you do that encourages you to take another step? 

Another's Shoes

There is a saying: "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes."

One of my pet peeves is how few people actually follow this advice. As children of God we should remember those words even more than anyone else...and yet, I often see the opposite.

There are two ways this can become a problem: the first is between you and another person, the second, it between two friends or family members- while you remain in the middle.

Understandably it can be difficult to stand strong on remaining neutral, especially when you have friends or family at odds with each other, but to take a side can be a huge mistake. Especially, if you don't know the whole story! Naturally there are times where taking a side is the same as taking a stand on what it right, but the example I'm using with this is in relationships and misunderstandings, not right and wrong situations.

In my life I desire to live in a way that honors God. And having been on both sides of this problem, I've learned a few tips that have helped me work on this area of my life.

1. Don't jump to conclusions

It's so easy to side with what you first hear and believe that that's the way it is. Or it's easy to believe you've been wronged and just assume that the other person is out to get you!

Whether someone jumps to a conclusion before knowing all the details or someone just believes one side of a story as truth without truly knowing what happened, it can be the start to a lost friendship and open a whole can of worms that quite truthfully can be avoided.

There have been people who came to me and complained about what another person did to them. Having been through enough situations like that to know that all I was hearing may not be a while truth- I listened and asked questions to try and get an idea of what was happening. I would occasionally nod my head in agreement that I didn't believe what had been done was right, but I kept from becoming too attached to the story to  begin thinking wrongly about the other person.

Funny thing is that with situations like this eventually both parties bring their problem forward. So I wait and just observe the situation and pray.

When the other party come forward I do the same thing I did before: listen, ask questions, nod my head and pray. It's not always wise to jump in and say, "Well, so-and-so told me this is how it happened!"

More than likely they already know you've been approached or know something about the situation. So if it's appropriate the next step happens in one of two ways: You can help both parties seek a resolution (not always needful or necessary depending on the timing) or you can keep praying (which is always needful!).

2. Choose to see the best in others

Perhaps one of my biggest weak points is that I chose to believe the best in people...I suppose it could also be a weak spot too, but I truly want to believe that someone is just having a bad day, misunderstood, or is just plan naive about the situation.

I  mean, why create everyone as a bad guy up front? It's not like we're any better than anyone else.

I've been in many situations where friends both talked about one another- they both firmly believed they were right in what they believed to be true.

But ultimately, what matters isn't who is right or wrong. What matters is how we act and what we do. Are you building someone up or tearing them down? Are you acting in a way that is pleasing and honoring to God?

3. Challenges with other people are purely based on each other's point of view

Our character, the way we act, talk and react is based on so many of the experiences we've faced in our personal lives.

When someone makes a statement about a situation or opinion, there is more going on in their brain than just the simple sentence they said.

For instance, if I say: "I don't like bananas."

You could scoff and say something like: "Why not? Bananas are sooooo good!"

But behind my statement is the perhaps the fact that I ate so many bananas that I made my self sick. But since I didn't tell you that you're assumption is that I'm being snobby or ridiculous. Obviously, I'm using a silly example, but I'm trying to make a point. This could happen with any type of circumstance or situation.

From my point of view bananas were not something I enjoy, from yours well you could make banana smoothies, banana cream pies, and eat bananas all day long and love it!

4. Don't condemn someone for having their own opinion.

Last I checked, even God himself gives us a free will to think, act and make choices in our lives. Don't go criticizing someone for making a choice that is different form yours.

Obviously you have an opinion- so why can't someone else have their own thoughts? If they make a different decision then don't just assume they are dumb. Listen to what they say, if it has no merits to you- don't just jump on them like they're an idiot.

There have been many moments where you were an idiot and someone gave you try to add a little grace in your life.

And don't automatically assume someone is looking for the worst in you! The only person who has permission to make you feel down, like an idiot, and bad about you! You can choose to ignore it.

Often when someone does something to me that I'm not too thrilled with I make up my own story of why they did what they did. Yes, it may not be the truth, but it helps me to not take it so personally!

5. Don't take everything people say about you so personally (Didn't I just say that? Why yes, yes I did.)

What happens to you and your life is between you and God....not some third party person who feels they have a say. True, decisions we make affect others, but when you come to those kinds of decisions, look at all the angles and make the right choice. Not the best one for you, but the best one overall.

I'm not condoning selfishness. What I'm trying to get across is the biblical principles of:

Love your neighbor as yourself
Don't judge others
Take the beam from your own eye before removing the mote from another's
Give grace and mercy to others- it's what God does daily for you

6. Forgive

While there are those who believe that apologies aren't necessary, as they know it's not a true apology, forgiveness isn't about someone saying it to feel better about themselves. Some people will pick apart your act of seeking forgiveness. They will even tell you you're not truly sorry- which can open up a while new can of worms. But don't rise to the bait!

Forgiving isn't to make someone else feel better- nor should it just be to make you feel better about yourself- it should be to help you let go and move on. It should be the act that helps to keep bitterness from tainting your heart.

If you have a challenge accepting someone's apology then be honest with yourself. Go to the Lord and tell him how you're hurting and having trouble with forgiving the other person. Have I been there? Yes, way more times then I care to remember. Did I feel someone apologized but wasn't sincere? Um...let me think...YES! Once again way more times then I can remember.

But it's not my job to judge how sincere they are or aren't. My job to to forgive even when I don't feel it. Why? Because forgiveness is like love- it's not a feeling, it's a choice.

Even if you can't feel forgiveness in your heart- say it. Then seek God about letting it go. I know it's not easy. I've been hurt and my family has been hurt very badly by people outside of my family over and over again (a side effect of being in the ministry or maybe even just living life- lets' face it we're all pretty selfish when it comes down to them or us).

I've had to go to God on almost a minute by minute basis seeking help to forgive some one and let it go. But it's the right thing to do.

7. Pray

Lastly, and this is the hardest part of all, but I promise it gets easier after the first 50-100 times....Pray for those who have despitefully use you. Pray for those who've hurt and wounded you beyond what you feel you can overcome.

I will be honest, when God showed me that I should pray for some of the people who hurt me, and I started to pray for them...I felt like I was choking on their names. I almost couldn't say the names- unless it was to complain about what they had done- and in some cases I'm ashamed to say it was even years after the event had passed. But it still hurt! And then God said, "I want you to pray blessings over them."

I felt like sharp pointy things were invading my throat and preventing me from speaking. And at first I prayed very quietly- as if saying the name would bring some kind of cooties on me! But over time, it became easier and I found that I couldn't and didn't harbor the same hurt feelings.

Yes, the knowledge of what was done was still with me. But instead of hurting me I used it to push me forward to better and greater things so I could be used of God to my fullest potential!

Remember, Jesus loved us much that he came to die for us while we were yet sinners. With that in mind, I think we can try to forgive those who don't follow the advice: "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes."

And for you- don't forget- "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." ;)

Till next time!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

God Provided The Lamb

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Today is the day Christians celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior. He is the reason we have hope, forgiveness of sins and eternal life! 

A few weeks ago I spent a day recording a few songs, some were not ready and I was just playing with ideas for an arrangement, while others were ready but I had some difficulties with the final recording. So it's back to the drawing board for them! But this song- the one I didn't think was ready turned out okay- minus the really out off tune piano and a puppy jingling it's collar in the background! ;)

The song God Provided The Lamb was actually a song that took over ten years to write. The chorus was written in the 90's but I never could figure out what the verses would say. Then one summer day in 2008 the verse flowed freely and the song was complete!

I hope today is filled with joy and many blessings as you remember our Lord's sacrifice!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Still Hoping Part 3

If you've been faithful and following the Still Hoping series then I am very grateful to you! Lamentations 3 is one of my favorite chapters for moments where I need encouragement and to remember that my hope is in God- not on the circumstances around me.

Well, here's part three!

What's your favorite bible chapter/verse to read when you're in those tough moments?

Don't forget to join me next week for part four!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Busy as a beezzzzzzzzzzzz

Yes, after the long winter I am still thinking a lot about how I'm lovin it being April...except, now is the time the bugs come out. Just yesterday I found a bee in my kitchen. Suffice it to say, I was okay....but my brother may need therapy!

I don't mind being a busy little bee- but I'm grateful I have a little breather this week! I won't be backing off in working on my writing or music, but at least I will have the time to work on it! Last week I had something almost everyday where I had to leave the house on an errand or for an event. I loved being able to get out and see the world and my health cooperated where I actually felt okay most of the time!

While I didn't get many pictures my sister and I got these at the Keck's show we went to. It. Was. Amazing! So much good food! They also had a photo booth and some props so Rach and I got some pictures done. As the theme was from the early 1920's we have the hats and super fluffy scarf!

After the Keck's show I had a day where my sister surprised me with a manicure, then a day where we had a surprise b-day party, the next day was a bridal shower and of course my normal day for errands and shopping! 

Right now I just finished a video....more info on that to follow....and a whole bunch of writing. So I'm off to get the dogs some exercise and then going to rest! Enjoy the beautiful day!

Monday, April 14, 2014

April is for new beginnings!

April has brought a lot into my life, mostly hope. I think it's appropriate that  April is the month we celebrate Resurrection Sunday- the date we celebrate our Saviour rising from the grave. Ultimately finishing what was needed for our forgiveness of sins and so we could be reconciled with God. 

It is also the month, where if you live in the North, you've survived the winter and spring has officially started! Yay! This winter was especially a rough winter with most of the days feeling like it was well below zero and of course loads of snow! I'm so grateful for the warmer weather; it always makes me feel so much better when it's warmer and I can get some sun!

April just brings about so many new beginnings. And with those new beginnings comes that hope I mentioned earlier. This year I was able to finally record some of my Resurrection songs- or songs that talk about Jesus dying and his sacrifice for us.

This first song that I'm going to share with you has an interesting background story to it. The chorus was originally written way back in the 1990's and the verses weren't added to the song until June of 2008. One of the biggest lessons God has showed me through writing music has been that he will work in his time, but it will work out. 

So often I will get parts of a song, either a chorus or a verse possibly just a line to a song. It will take days, months or even years before a song is fully written. I've learned to not rush it as when I'm trying to write and not letting God mind just can't work. It goes blank!

I had tried over the years to add verses to this song but none ever came. And then one day God just gave me what I needed to complete it. If God is working on your life he will bring you to the completion of that work. Don't get discouraged during the writing and waiting moments!

As April continues to fly by I pray that you are filled with the hope of our Savior and what he has for you. Remember his sacrifice was made because before we even knew him- he loved us and was willing to offer himself for us! If you don't know the Savior ask him into your heart today.

Look for the newest song I'm sharing on Resurrection Sunday. Right here at this same blog or on my facebook page!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Still Hoping Part 2

Here is part two of the Still Hoping series! In the first part we looked at Jeremiah and his struggle. Today we get to see how despite being down in the dumps he still had hope. Why? Watch to find out!

How has God encouraged you during your rough moments? Do you count your blessings, allowing you to focus on your hope in God, or do you count your troubles? 

Remember, God's mercies are new every morning! As you face the world today, claim that promise!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Still Hoping Part 1

I wasn't sure what my first video series would be about, I had a few ideas, but nothing concrete. After having everything culminate from the last few weeks into this past weekend I decided to go with what God was using in my life right now. Although I have to admit it was still a hard choice because he's been showing me so much!

I love Lamentations 3, it's such an encouragement when you're down and out. The main point of the chapter to to have hope in God even when you are in the deepest, darkest place in your life. Naturally, that while over the next six weeks you will see some of the thoughts I had, there were many more I could have and wanted to share.

We've all faced afflictions in our life through even circumstances that surround us each day. But Jeremiah, who faced many afflictions through his life still never gave up on God. He basically couldn't give up on God because his belief that God was working was greater than his troubles. I'll get into that further, but for now, here's the first video!

I'd love to hear how God is working in your life! Have you ever been in a position like Jeremiah? What helped you to keep moving forward?