Saturday, June 29, 2013

Power Up

Last weekend, I completed a 4-day Immersion with psychologist, writer, and world-acclaimed teacher, Margie Lawson. Her courses are all about powering up your writing. Anyone that has taken an online course or an in-person workshop knows that Margie is a slave-driver, but she improves our writing. She teaches her students how to empower descriptions and dialogue cues, similes and smiles, driving our writing to a higher level.

The tool she uses most is compliments and smiley faces. What student wouldn't work hard to get a word of praise from the master?  Margie points out several areas where our writing needs help, and we hurry against time to make every change suggested. With the finish line in sight, (Margie's praise) we race for the ribbon.

But, in Margie's classes, we receive praise and then new instruction. Each session with her sends us scurrying with a new assignment to empower the same few sentences. We fix, we change, we scrap old copy and write anew.

"Are you ever satisfied?" one student asked Margie.

With glasses on her head, and legs tucked under her hips, Margie flashes a know-it-all smile that answers that question in the negative. Switching from college professor to long time friend in the course of an hour, she provides the tools, the trials, and the kick in the already-sore-from-sitting behind to inspire us to reach for the prize-winning prose.

Thinking of empowering my words reminds me how anything in life can be powered up and improved if we set our mind to do so. Power tools are needed in every field. When my husband and I married, he used a crank style screwdriver and a hand saw for those around-the-house chores. The invention of power tools revolutionized the building industry. Now, we want electric screwdrivers and chain saws.

Low fat foods and plentiful fruits and veggies are the hand tools that help me maintain my weight loss, but turning my anger and pride over to God daily is the power tool that boosts me to lasting success.

Computers power up our global communication, allowing us to talk with a friend from Australia as easily as we can call a neighbor across the street. The internet changed the face of my husband's real estate business and added oomph to my books sales.

Even our walk with Christ benefits from powering up our prayer life. The Holy Spirit is our power tool for Christian living. Our own abilities fall flat and weak without the power and strength that only the Spirit can add to our attempts. Just as I improve as a writer by submitting to Margie's tools, so also do I draw closer to God, magnify my mission, and inspire others to love Him by submitting to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

What do you find that you need to power up today? Is it your writing? Your weight loss? Or, your witness?

There's a power tool for that.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Check out old post

This weekend, I'm attending an "Immersion with Margie" Lawson, that is. I hope to learn how to make my writing POP.

This last week I submitted my sequel to Victoria and the Ghost to 4RV Publishing. While I wait with fingers crossed and a prayer in my heart for a contract, my mind still dwells on ghosts. The working title of my new book is A Ghost for Shelley. This story is based on a real life ghost legend in the old Collin County courthouse in McKinney, TX. My first story Victoria and the Ghost told of a real life ghost legend in a Texas ghost town, Clara.

What do you think about ghosts? Read my old post on "Are Ghosts Real?"

http://www.janetkbrown.com/2012/04/are-ghosts-real.html

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sovereignty

The Kingdom of God is not a democracy.

I am God and there is no other.
I am God, and there is none like Me.
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.
My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
                                                                     Isaiah 46: 9-10

America is a republic. We have no king. We run the country with democratic ruling. We vote on laws, we protest ones we don't like, we elect those that have the say over our lives.

In the Kingdom of God, He is King.  What He says will happen regardless of the way we believe it should be. If you don't think this, then you have yet to be knocked down by trauma. All it takes is one time. Sickness or disability strikes you. A child or grandchild dies. A tornado rips away your house and all your belongings. Then we realize, we only have two choices; to accept God as sovereign and trust Him to mean us good, or to fight and rebel which will end in our ultimate defeat.

Our resolve should be to trust in the one who was before time begun and who has the final say. We can't understand the Mind of God. It's far above our human comprehension. We can't see the future or the repercussions of our decisions, but God can. He leads with the end result in His plan.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
                                                                     Isaiah 55:9

A few years ago,  one of Kathy Macias' online devotions explained a Dennis the Menace cartoon that she had read. I shall never forget the picture it reveals. The little guy is kneeling beside his bed, cowboy hat askew, and plastic gun still holstered around his waist as he folds his hands in supplication, and says, "I'm here to turn myself in."

If you're going through struggles today, remember the posture we must take; head bowed, all fight gone, submitted to our Sovereign God.

(Just a note: 2 of my favorites are highlighted today; one of my favorite books in the Bible, Isaiah, and one of my favorite authors, Kathy Macias.)

The time when I had to bow to God in submission and realize it was all in His hands was when we lost our 8-day-old granddaughter. All I could do was fall on my face before God.

Have any of you felt the arm of God's sovereignty in your life?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

RESENTMENT

I've struggled with resentment over the years. Anger hoarded and hidden becomes resentment. Our emotion may not even be recognized by us. Resentment may drive us to overeating, overdrinking, overspending or many other addictions without us understanding the root cause.

     Anger directed outward, we call conventional anger, which leads patients to shake their fists at God, hit their spouses, or yell at their bosses.
      Anger directed inward, we call depression.
                                                               "Love Hunger" by Minirth, Meir, Hemfelt, and Sneed 

When I was younger, I suffered depression though I never realized it until my children were grown, and God healed me. God urged me to make amends to my children for all the yelling, and emotional outbursts they suffered during their growing-up years.

      My oldest daughter caught the brunt of my inward-aimed, yet outward-driven anger. In her typical analytical view of things, she told me, "If that had been now, the psychiatrist would've put you on anti-depressants."

That's true, but back then, we didn't discuss mental illness in the same manner that we do today. Also, I must remember the definition for depression according to the book above.

 I was an angry person.

 I resented my sister-in-law that had the favor of my husband's mother. I was left out of family plans. I got angry, or as I preferred to call it, "got my feelings hurt" whenever I sensed my children, my husband or myself was slighted at church or in the community. I hated myself because I was fat.

The cause for our resentment isn't significant. God gives examples in the Bible where resentment can be understood, but still not approved. Think of Jacob's ten older sons who worked hard and longed for their father's love. Yet, the scrawny younger boy received that love, that favor. Look at the telling verse below:
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours     Genesis 37:3 
Joseph's older brothers deserved better. The father did them wrong. Yet, God refused to bless the ten because they allowed resentment to turn them into hard, angry men.

Look at the story of Mary and Martha. Martha worked away in the kitchen to serve Jesus and His disciples. The more tired she became, the more resentment tainted her thoughts. Finally, she let that anger explode to the Master. Look at this verse:

        But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not
        care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Luke 10:40

The devil may find it harder to tempt a strong Christian to murder or steal, but he has way too much success weaving resentment into our hearts, and with that, he destroys our witness and perhaps even our souls.

In my inspirational YA, Victoria and the Ghost, Victoria faces her mother's rejection and her father's favoritism. Can she learn to allow God to change her resentment into love?

Have you ever suffered resentment? Why? Did you allow God to heal it?


Saturday, June 1, 2013

WATER


Water is the earth's new gold.

This last week floods swept into San Antonio, Texas with ten inches of rain in a short span of time. Last night, tornadoes and floods once again tormented Oklahoma City and the surrounding area. These storms brought devastation and loss of life, I pray for the situation still in progress.

Yet, a part of me longs for a tiny bit of their weather problems, not the tornadoes, but perhaps the floods. Wichita Falls, Texas (near the Oklahoma border in central Texas) watches storms build to our west and slide along to our north without a drop of rain to spare for our area. Our land remains parched and dry.

City government tells us that unless we get rain, we have enough water to last to the end of 2014. We conserve all we can. Beautiful green grass and the scent of flowers on the breeze must be sacrificed so we can continue to drink water and take baths. Hot winds stir up wildfires because trees and shrubs are brown and brittle.

I'm reminded of the importance of water to our planet, not too much that would overwhelm our homes, our family, but just enough to provide for our needs.

This is the challenge of our century. Surely if we can travel to the moon and conquer visiting with family and friends on the great web from anywhere in the world, we can figure out how to solve our need for water. We discuss how essential our system of interstate highways is. Do we not also need a system of interstate pipes with valves that can be shut or open to divert water from a flooded area to a parched zone? Come on smart people, think.

(The picture above comes from the Cascade River State Park in Minnesota)

As the hart pants and longs for the water brooks, so I pant and long for You, O God. My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? Psalm 42: 1-2

I can't think of our need for physical water without remembering our requirement for spiritual water. Does your heart pant for the living water that only God can give as much as it thirsts for rain to soak the dry ground in drought. Drought from God's presence leaves us cranky and ready to explode into fiery anger just as drought from the rain exposes trees to the chance of wildfire.

Are you living with floods or drought? Spirtually, or physically, or both? Both answers come from our Heavenly Father. I cry along with the signs in most yards of our city as we "pray for rain."