Category Archives: Blogging

Done With Average

You’ve seen this curve before, right? That’s because the world around you is based on averages – education, industry, science, economy, everything. You name it, there are averages. This obsession with average has created a society that says it’s cool to go along with the crowd. To be just good enough to get by. To blend in. After all, if you’re average, you’re okay.

What a lie.

Being average was never God’s plan for us.

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12 (NKJV)

Does that sound like average to you? I don’t think so. Jesus did some pretty awesome things during His time on earth, yet this scripture says that if we believe in Him, we will do the same things He did – and even greater.

I thought about this and decided to be done with average. No more mediocre, second-rate, or uninspired. Average does not reflect the person God created me to be.

When you read through the Bible, you see how much God has promised to those who serve Him – joy, peace, strength, power, blessings, abundance, forgiveness, confidence, wisdom, success. That’s a supernatural life. And definitely not average!

So, there’s a choice to make.

Will you continue along, frustrated and dissatisfied with where you’re at? Will you write your dreams off because you’re too afraid to pursue them? Or will you take a bold step of faith and leave average behind?

Get into the Word and read all of God’s promises you can find. Take them personally. Act on them. Ask God to reveal those things you need to do in order to walk away from average and become what He’s wanted you to be all along. Stay in really, really close touch with the Father. Talk to Him often. Listen to what He has to say.

You’re on your way to being done with average.

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Filed under Bible, Blogging, Christ, Christian, Faith, God, Hope, Jesus Christ, Prayer, Writing

Now What?

Although we’re nearly a week into 2014, today is the first day of the first full week of the new year. So, now what?

All those lovely resolutions and mental promises you made to yourself have either been put into play, or fallen into the ditch. Yeah, I know how that goes.

I spent a good portion of this past weekend reading, praying, and making notes to prepare myself for a journey. A life journey. A journey of growth, change, and incredible success.

When you embark upon a journey, whether it be a vacation, business trip, or to visit family, there are always preparations to be made. You to confirm travel arrangements and accommodation. You pack a suitcase. You make sure things at home will be taken care of in your absence. You do a little research to see what kinds of things you can do and see while on your trip. You’re filled with anticipation.

It would be ridiculous to simply show up at the airport one day with no ticket, no luggage, no plans, and expect to get on a plane for the best holiday ever.

So, why do we expect the best life ever when we haven’t got any plans to make it that way?

God had a plan when He created us. A very detailed plan. He didn’t just shrug His shoulders and wave His arms, hoping for the best. Jeremiah 29:11 says ” For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God thinks about us. He has a future for us. He has given us hope in Jesus Christ, His Son.

Now what?

Get yourself into God’s Word. Read what He says about you, what He thinks about you, what His plans are for you. Talk to Him every day. Let Him in on your dreams and ideas – it’s a pretty good chance that He gave them to you in the first place. He’s a little smarter than you are, so listen to what He has to say about how you need to go about making those dreams happen. He’s got some excellent suggestions. I know this.

Pray. Plan. Prepare.

And get ready for the journey of a lifetime.

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Filed under Being Creative, Bible, Blogging, Christian, Prayer, Writing

Kick-Start the Brain

Kick-start: to make something start to happen, happen more quickly, or improve.

I’m at the tail end of a long dry spell. Very long.

Disjointed ideas. Lack of continuity. Writer’s block. Procrastination. Excuses. Shall I go on?

Aside from the last nine months providing more life change and upheaval than I care to repeat anytime soon, I have no logical explanation as to why I have not produced the great Canadian novel which, had I actually written and published said novel, would be flying off bookstore shelves as we speak.

So, I am turning over a new leaf. Again.

The whole New Year’s Resolution thing doesn’t do it for me, but there is the allure of a brand new number like 2014 to spark some interest in making an effort. I’ve spent the past couple of days reading through old notes, refreshing my memory on a W-I-P that I haven’t touched since last April. I’ve also taken  Austin Kleon‘s book, Steal Like An Artistoff my bookshelf in an attempt to kick-start my brain.

It’s working.

And now I have to prove it.

I could give you all kinds of suggestions as to how to stay motivated through the entire writing process. I could tell you, in sixteen easy steps, what it takes to finish that novel. I could even point you in the direction of many extremely helpful websites. I am not, however, going to do that.

Because the key is this: WRITING. IS. WORK.

There is no magic formula. (I would have found it by now.) No write-it-for-you software. (Don’t waste your money. Trust me.) No celestial inspiration. (Seriously?)

It’s all about exercising a little bit of self-discipline, keeping your rear in the chair, and resisting the temptation to spend the next four hours reading your friends’ Facebook status updates instead of writing  2,000 words.

Whatever it takes for you to kick-start the brain, do it!

I’m going to do the same.

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The Toddler Rules

Being the grandmother of eight – several of whom are toddlers – I regularly receive the play-by-plays of their escapades. I can sympathize with their parents. Sort of. I just can’t help but smile and think to myself, “Haha! It’s payback time!”

This article in today’s Huffington Post is for all the moms and dads with toddlers.

The Toddler Code of Conduct: 20 Rules Toddlers Live By

By: April McCormick
After observing my toddler, and talking with other parents of toddlers, I am convinced that toddlers have the following Code of Conduct hardwired into their DNA.

1. You are the family alarm clock. It is your job to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn every day.

2. ALWAYS crap your pants AFTER leaving the house. Your best bet is to clench those cheeks together until you have left your street, and then EXPLODE!!! To achieve Legend status, do this when your parent is in a huge hurry to get somewhere very important.

3. Do not be content doing anything for more than two minutes. You have to constantly keep moving. NEVER SLOW DOWN!

4. If you are not interested in being picked up, get as low to the ground as possible. Think dead weight. Feel free to flail and cry for added difficulty.

5. If someone tries to take something from you, teach them a lesson by first throwing it, then jumping up and down while making your best “oh you are going to be REALLY sorry,” face, then falling to the floor and starting to spaz out, screaming and crying extra loud if you are in public.

6. If you do not like the food that is served to you, throw it on the ground in disgust, then at your parent, then at the cat/dog. For extra credit smash the remaining food into your hair and clothes. When you are given something to drink immediately dump it in your lap.

7. Whenever possible terrorize the family pets so they know who is in charge.

8. NEVER EVER let your parent get the house clean. EVER! Once something is picked up off the floor, put something in its place. A good rule of thumb is dumping out the cat/dog food daily. Feel free to snack on it as well.

9. You are in control of your sleep schedule. If you do not want to go to sleep, then don’t, and if someone really wants you to go to sleep, then definitely do not do it. Do your best to get so tired that you become an evil miserable crying mess. That will show them!

10. Always do your best to be in the way, including but not limited to: playing at your parents’ feet while they are cooking, cleaning, fixing something, talking on the phone, getting ready for work, or doing anything that looks remotely important.

11. Take ALL of your toys out of the toy box before playing with any of them. This goes for books, too — rip all of them off the shelf before reading one. Your job is to make a huge mess. Hint: To keep things interesting, never ever play with the same toy or book for more than one minute.

12. Under no circumstance will you make diaper changes or potty training an easy venture. If poop does not get everywhere then you have failed.

13. Every time you leave the park throw a fit big enough to make it look like you are being kidnapped. If you are lucky, this will buy you five more minutes on the slide.

14. The minute you learn to walk, refuse to be held. Insist on walking EVERYWHERE!

15. The minute you learn to talk, DO NOT STOP! Do not be discouraged if you are not understood — talk away anyway. It is not your fault if people are too stupid to understand you.

16. EVERYTHING in this world belongs to you. Feel free to touch it, take it, hide it, throw it, smash it, break it and completely ruin it. HINT: ALL of the telephones in the house belong to you — store them in the toilet.

17. Your mantra is, “Catch me if you can you silly fool.”

18. “No!” means, Good job! Keep doing that!

19. NEVER EVER do anything the first time you are asked.

20. And last — the most important code of toddler conduct — for every five minutes you spend terrorizing your parent(s), sibling(s) and/or pet(s), provide one minute of pure sweet lovin’ to ensure complete forgiveness.

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Giving Thanks

It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada and we will be celebrating with our family later today. Turkey, mashed potatoes, salads, desserts – yes, we will be “feasting”, as our nine-year-old grandson Caleb likes to say.

While we zero in on giving thanks for this one weekend every year, it’s something I have been striving to do on a regular basis.

Thankfulness is an attitude.

A mindset.

A way of life.

Even when I don’t feel grateful because of some sort of crisis (often of my own making), I have much to say thank you for. There are the usual things like family, friends, health, and home, none of which I take for granted. But then there are these:

The laughter of my grandchildren.

Technology that allows me to Skype with my mom and my kids.

The beautiful women in our Wednesday morning bible study group.

The cashier at our local grocery store who always smiles and chats and brightens my day.

Tim Hortons extra large decaf double-double (Canadians will know what I’m talking about).

My husband who knows me so well and loves me anyway.

Books.

A brain that thinks and reasons and imagines and creates.

And I am always and forever thankful for my Father who loves me, for His Son who saved me, and for His Spirit who guides me.

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. – Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

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It’s a Girl!

I haven’t posted anything for a while, not because there was a lack of blog-worthy material, but just because life got so darn busy. That’s it. No excuses.

Now for the BIG NEWS . . .

We have a brand new granddaughter in our family! Little Adelaide Margaret was born at home last week, with daddy and the midwife in attendance. She weighed in at 8lb 4oz and is #8 in the birth order of our “grands”. She’s perfect and beautiful and is a very special little girl after six boys in a row. Her almost-12-year-0ld cousin Emily is thrilled to finally have another female in the mix, and I have no doubt that Em and Addy will be great pals, despite the age difference. Look out, boys!

I could go on and on at this point, sermonizing about the miracle of life. Seems fitting, right? But all of us in this family are simply thankful to our Heavenly Father for Adelaide’s safe arrival, for a healthy mommy, and for the blessing this little one is to us.

That’s all.

 

 

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No Fail

Here’s the thing: there is no such thing as failure.

What? Impossible, you say.

I can see the eyebrows raised and I can hear the gears grinding in your brain.

Well, just think about it for a minute. Whenever you try to do something and fail, you simply end up doing something else instead. You can’t fail. You can only produce results. Those results might not be what you wanted or expected, but they are still results. Maybe you learned what didn’t work. Or you figured something out that you didn’t even know you needed to know. Or you managed to discover something that is even better than what you were trying to do in the first place.

Any way you look at it, there is no failure.

The key in all of this is to TRY. Make an attempt. Take a risk. Step out in faith.

Your imagination is a powerful tool. It can dream wild and fantastic things to excite and motivate you into areas where you never thought you’d see yourself. And it can tear you down with fears so great that you never even try. It’s your imagination. Your choice.

Here’s the other thing: there is no fail with God. Ever.

He’s the One who created you – the One who gave you the ability to dream and to imagine. He wants you to use that ability to be His hands and feet in the world. To think up ways to do all the wonderful things He always knew you could. To be the person He destined you to be.

So what are you waiting for?

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Err On the Side Of Caution?

We just spent the past three days at our church’s annual family camp. Along with the usual lake-side, rustic-setting outdoor activities, we had some awesome Holy Ghost breakthrough meetings with our pastor and the guest speakers he invited to share with us. Wow! We will never be the same.

I’ve had a few holes poked in my nice comfortable theological box. Much needed, I might add.

You’re familiar with the phrase, “err on the side of caution”, which means to act in the least risky manner in a situation where one is uncertain about the consequences. This is human nature. As a matter of fact, we’re even encouraged to take this approach to a give situation. It’s safe.

But what if God is asking you to take a risk? To ditch the easy way and try something new? To take a leap of faith, not knowing what the outcome will be?

I can see the expression on your face. You’re wincing.

What if God is asking you to err on the side of believing too much and acting on it rather than not having enough faith and questioning everything? Don’t you think He would far rather have you take that step and make a mistake than never take a step at all?

These are the questions I am asking myself.

And maybe you need to ask them, too.

I sat in those meetings at camp, knowing that the Holy Spirit was nudging and challenging me to take some of those risky steps. I could almost hear Him asking me what in the world would make me think He wouldn’t ask me to do something so completely out of my comfort zone that I would have to trust Him. Did I really expect the Lord to let me just relax in my easy chair for the rest of my life? Um – no. I guess not.

So, it’s time to find out what my next steps are.

I’m sure there will be opposition, because people will always try to stop you from doing what they don’t understand.

I’m sure there will be difficult days. That’s a given.

I’m sure there will be some stumbling along the way.

But I have no more excuses. I’m being pursued by Jesus Christ, who loves me and knows me like no one else does. He has work for me to do, and saying “no” isn’t an option.

 And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.  Joel 2:28-29 (NKJV)

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The Introverted Extrovert

I frequently find myself in the middle of the introvert vs. extrovert debate. For some odd reason, it seems to be of the utmost importance for people to be able to slot themselves into one or the other of these labels. Personally, I don’t care. I’m an extrovert and that’s that. End of discussion.

Or is it?

I read an article from the Huffington Post that pinpoints 23 signs that you’re secretly an introvert. Then I got thinking. Perhaps I’m not the extrovert I thought I was. Maybe I am an introvert in disguise. Check this out:

Not sure if you’re an innie or an outie? See if any of these 23 telltale signs of introversion apply to you.

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

I have to give myself a point for this one because I despise small talk. I put up with it for so many years in the corporate world and there is nothing more annoying, boring, and phony than small talk. Cut the fluff and get to the point.

2. You go to parties – but not to meet people.

The older I get, the less I enjoy social gatherings for the purpose of meeting people. I go when I have to, but I would much rather spend time one on one with a good friend or family member.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

Boy, oh boy, this is so true for me – feeling like an outsider in the middle of social gatherings or group activities, even with people I know.

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.

Yup, absolutely.

5. You’ve been called “too intense.”

I’ve had people tell me that to my face on more than one occasion. Since I find small talk cumbersome (#1 above), I prefer to get to the heart of the matter very quickly.

6. You’re easily distracted.

I do have the classic extrovert tendency to get bored easily when I don’t have enough to do, but I also have the opposite problem of becoming easily distracted and overwhelmed in environments with an excess of stimulation. And then I can’t sleep at night.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.

I definitely need my time alone. Give me a good book and a diet Coke and I’m good for the day.

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoy speaking to large groups of people, and I’ve done lots of it over the course of the past 30 years. But the post-talk mingling? Nope, not my thing at all.

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench – not in the middle.

That would be me.

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

Also me. I just zone out.

11. You’re in a relationship with an extrovert.

Yes, very true. My husband loves to be with people. Loves small talk.

12. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.

Well, no, I’d have to say this is not true for me. I love to try almost everything.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.

Absolutely true.

14. You screen all your calls – even from friends.

I admit it. I do this quite often.

15. You notice details that others don’t.

I definitely do notice details. And I remember them.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.

Yes and no. I don’t really know what that means.

17. You have low blood pressure.

No.

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” – since your 20s.

No for this one, too.

19. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings

I’ve changed, I think. I used to like nothing better than huge parties and gatherings. They don’t interest me anymore.

20. You look at the big picture.

I am definitely a big picture person.

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”

No, never.

22. You’re a writer.

I’ve always been able to communicate better in writing.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.

Yes, that would be me.

Am I an introvert because I scored 18 out of 23 on this little quiz? No, I don’t think so. And most people who know me well would probably agree. But I’ve recognized that I do have significant introvert-ish tendencies, and I am satisfied with being an introverted extrovert.

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The Idea Mill

As a writer, sometimes I just plain run out of ideas. Call it writers’ block or a dead end or lack of inspiration. It’s no fun. I have a few tricks to generate the idea mill and get my imagination working again. Go ahead and try some of these:

– Read a book. Maybe even one you’ve read years ago.

– Explain your dilemma to someone who doesn’t know much about what it is you do and ask them what they think. You’ll be surprised at what they come up with.

– Think about a significant event from your past and write down one-word descriptions of the emotions you felt.

– What seems impossible, but if it were possible, how would change it things? No limits.

– How would you pursue your goals if you had unlimited resources?

– Visit your local library and spend some time in a section of books or magazines you’ve never read before.

– Read the news online. Especially the stuff way down at the bottom of the page.

– Describe the barriers to your challenges. Then ask some trusted friends/family/coworkers  give you some possible solutions.

– Take yourself out to a coffee shop and order something you’ve never tried before.

– Think of 10 absolutely ridiculous ways to solve your problem.

– Laugh. At nothing.

– What’s the one question you would ask God if He were in the same room with you?

– Look at a list of baby names, pick a few of them, and write descriptions for characters who might have those names.

– Have someone else look over your notes to see if there is perhaps an idea you’ve missed.

– Look into some old notebooks to find ideas that may have seemed silly at the time, but now have some value.

– Get more than one opinion. Maybe even from someone you don’t particularly like.

– Write down the problem down and use the fewest number of words you possibly can.

– Take a walk, relax and observe. People watching provides a wealth of ideas.

Every situation, conversation, problem, or success has potential to produce ideas in abundance. Just open your eyes and look around you.

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