Saturday, January 5, 2013

I've Moved!!

In case you're wondering if I dropped off the earth last summer....I didn't. :)
But last spring, God began burdening my heart to change the direction of my blogging toward a more intentional purpose. He answered so many prayers and opened doors to bring to pass the launch of Embracingrace.com on November 1st, 2012.

My new website and blog is designed to encourage, edify, and inspire women in their walk with God. As a pastor's wife and a writer, I enjoy using this God-given outlet to bless others.

I also have an emphasis on pregnancy support, resulting from my own experience with two life threatening pregnancies. 

I'd love for you to connect with me at Embracing Grace as we grow in Christ together! You can also find me on Facebook here, on Twitter here (Twitter handle @mbracingrace), and on Pinterest here. Join me?

With Grace,
Leah

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 10: Sharing My Favourite Writer's Words


Great writers share.

I was musing recently about some of my favourite writers...the authors whose books I want to read all of the books they wrote....and then read them all again.

And I was struck with a somewhat brilliant (to my mind, anyway!) and very encouraging thought.

God is a writer.

God is a published Author.

I know....most of you have already thought of that.

And it's not that I didn't know it already.

But in the context of this challenge, and in the context of writing in general, I had not really stopped and realized that my Heavenly Father is the most perfect Writer Who ever wrote.

His are the only words that are life-changing.

Today I want to share some of those life-changing words...

That He has shared with all of mankind.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Not only did God share His wonderful words with us in His book, the Bible...

He shared His only Son so that we could have free salvation and eternal life.

He shared Himself- the WORD.

I want my writing to always reflect God's words....even more than reflecting them, I want my writing to be infused with them....

So that they are life-changing for others.

Great writers share.

Great writers share God's Words.

~Leah


Are you caught up on the posts in this challenge? Read Day 9 here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 9: Connecting Is Affecting


Great writers connect.

I don't like this part.

I'm just being honest.

I'm an introvert who is learning to be more extroverted because of the life God has called our family to: ministry.

It's my responsibility to be the first to say hello, to make that encouraging phone call, to think of ways to keep a conversation from getting awkward, to make that person feel like they are my world when I'm talking to them.

I'm not the kind of person who cares deeply if I don't have a big fan club. I'm  pretty uncomfortable "putting myself out there."

I'm happy if God uses me to minister to 5.

At the same time, I realize that in order for my voice to be heard in the subjects that I am passionate about, I have to be willing to be more aggressive with expanding my audience. 

I have to connect.

If I keep my dreams and projects hidden under a rock, they help no one.

There are two main people groups in this season of my life that God has burdened me with a passion to encourage:

1). Women in ministry.

There are very few support networks dedicated specifically to women in ministry. It is a great need, echoed by scores of pastor's wives and other women in various ministry types. 

It is a great need in my life.

As I observe how God is honing my talents, I see how much encouragement is a big part of my ministry to others. I want that ministry to grow.

2). Women (and subsequently their families) who suffer with HG during pregnancy. (Hyperemesis Gravidarum) 

Many of you know that I suffered a  life threatening (to both of us) pregnancy with Caleb. 

As of yet, no one except my husband and I  know the full details of all that happened...the fear...the physical trauma...how God sustained and provided...the miracles...the heartache....the ways it affects our family today....

Even our family members do not know the full extent of our story. Facebook was just being invented...we were alone.

2% of women in the world face HG during pregnancy. The families who support them would raise that percentage. Most of them have no idea what is wrong with them when it strikes.  It is somewhat of a medical mystery and there is no cure.

They need awareness....answers....hope. They need to know that someone else has been through that...how they got through that.  

Is it a sob story? No. Looking through the glasses of God's sovereignty and healing, I see it as a story of hope. 

There are a handful of forums and websites devoted to HGers. 

There are a handful of books written on the topic (I can find only 2 confirmed).

Finding women in both of these categories won't be hard- they clump together to form a lifeline.

But I have to do the connecting. 

Find those key people who will get on board with me and help spread the word...

Maybe they will proofread and edit....maybe critique....maybe sponsor....maybe design....maybe promotion....the endless possibilities reflect the many needs to come.

Maybe they will simply read.

That is the ultimate goal, is it not?

To connect with the intended audience.

Connect.

Connecting is affecting.

~Leah

New to the Writer's Challenge? Start here with my Declaration of Dreams.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 8: Can We Build It? Yes, We Can!


In the spirit of Bob the Builder, Day 8's topic comes to us:

Great writers build.

I want to add that great writers build consistently.

They have a goal in mind- they see the finished project.

And little by little, they know find out how to get there.

Starting is good, but building is essential.

Why would I nullify my start by neglecting to build?

So what does it take to build?

Building materials.....which may look different depending on what your project is.

One building material that is essential often becomes our enemy:

TIME.

Our lives are pulled in so many directions.

We try to do everything.

We try to do everything perfectly.

We try to do everything perfectly today.

We try to do everything perfectly today alone.

What ever happened to 'laying bricks' consistently?

If we did so, we'd have our 'house' before we knew it.

Whatever happened to writing consistently?

We'd have our books, our articles, our essays, our blog posts.

Writing would be part of who we are.

That's what building does.


While in PEI in the Avonlea village, we came upon a man working in a massive pile of red clay/sand. It was bigger than him. But he was working away, and gradually the goal in his mind was taking shape. He paused to show us how to build stairs and tunnels, and then gave us his tools to try. I was impressed with the fact that as he chipped away on this sand village, he was actually moving millions of grains of sand.

There's a verse found in Isaiah 28:10 that depicts what this process looks like:
 "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little."
I've always thought of this phrase in light of teaching children about God, or from the perspective of how God teaches us.

But isn't this how we build meaningful, worthwhile things in our lives?

(Relationships, work ethic, education, etc.?)

Why not in writing?

Word upon word....

Line upon line....

Paragraph upon paragraph...

Page upon page....

Chapter upon chapter....

Book.


It's the little things. Let them add up.

Build.


It goes beyond start.


~Leah


Did you miss yesterday's post? Read Day 7 here.


Begin the journey with Day 1: Declaration of Dreams.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 7: Start....And Let Me Tell You!


Today I'm joining the myriad of quotable lines about big things starting out small with a line from our Writer's Challenge host, Jeff Goins:

Great writers start ugly.

So do most things worth doing.

Paintings, music, home renovations, craft projects, etc. and etc!

I remember learning to sew as a young girl.

I would love to say that I comprehended the craft from the very beginning, and that every project I put my hands (and machine) to was a stunning success!

It wasn't.

Many, many  times my mother made me take my project apart and start over.

Did you catch that phrase? Start over.

But I already started it!

Start again. It can be better.

How about starting for the first time?

Sometimes that is the hardest thing to do!

We have to psyche ourselves to haul out the tools, supplies, and materials to begin our project. 

We know that we have to make a big mess in order to create something beautiful.

But wait....

We have to make the time first.

This is where I get hung up a lot of the time.

I have toddlers.

Two of them.

What is 5 minutes of uninterrupted time like? (If you know, you can embellish the thought in my comments section)

If I wait for a 2-3 hour time block....or even 1 hour....it may never come.

I need to start.

It's going to be rough.

That's why they call it a rough copy.

As I type this, a bit of reality is sinking in about the book I started last summer.

Part of me is afraid I'll have to start over.

The other part of me wants to start over, using what I have already written, and making it better.

The perfectionist side of me doesn't want to touch it....because I know it's really rough....just a sketch. 

And I know it will never be perfect.

Will I look back in 25 years and cringe at my first book attempt?

Maybe.

But you know what?

I'm the only one who can tell my story.

If I don't start....and start over, it won't happen.

Start....and let me tell you.....

~Leah

Want to follow my writing journey? Start here with my "Declaration of Dreams."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 6: Steal Away...


I've just been told by the host of our challenge, Jeff Goins, that great writers steal.

Whaaaat?

What about "Thou shalt not steal?"

Well, we're not really talking about plagiarism here, but more along the lines of idea sharing.

The Ecclesiastes way of "There is nothing new under the sun."

Really, nothing is original.  (Except with God.)

Even a brand new invention patented for protection against copy-catism (like my  original word?!) is simply sprung from objects, laws, and philosophies that already exist.

The whole world is an idea-sharing fest.

Take Pinterest. 

You see a picture of something you would like to re-create. You pin it.

You forget to make it.

Oh...actually you go right away and get the supplies to make it. But while you are shopping, you think of a way to "tweak" it so that it reflects who you are.

Truth be told, the person who pinned it originally saw the idea somewhere else and they did the same thing- tweaked it to fit them! 

Then they blogged about it, thinking they were the first person to come up with it.

They waited for the post to go viral and the server to crash from too many comments.

TIME                                  GOES                              BY.

You re-create the item.

You blog about it, thinking you are the first person to come up with doing it this way.

You wait for the post to go viral and the server to crash from too many comments.

.....It doesn't and.....it doesn't.

Why?

Because it's not original. Somewhere under the sun, it's old news.

See the circle?

Here's the deal with writing (yes, this is going somewhere- stay with me!):

We try too hard for absolute writing.

Ever heard of absolute music? It's pure music without any other outside influence- no drama, no operatic story, no poem, no Shakespearean novel. Just music.

The Free Dictionary defines it like this:

Absolute music (abstract music, pure music) is music for its own sake—concerned only with structure, melody, harmony, and rhythm. It is music that is not designed to depict or evoke any scene or event.

When we write like we are an island, and try to come up with something original that doesn't have any outside connections, we end up with words.

Just words.

Not a whole lot of meaning for the reader.

We need each other to write our stories!

Do you realize that when you write your story, you are writing parts of others' stories too? 

If it were not for them, you wouldn't have a story.

We need to read others' writings, to be inspired, to experience life with a world of other people.

Couldn't God have made us each our very own planets to live on...setting us up for a self-sufficient life with no pulls on the ideas or sympathies of anyone else?

(Yes, I'm cringing now too...because I dislike being totally alone.)

God created us with a very valid need to reach out to others and to receive from others. 

Why do we try to do so much alone? (There are many reasons)

We need each other.

Open your heart. Listen to others. Read others. 

Move off the island.

~Leah

Day 5: Prepare To Share



We're on vacation on Prince Edward Island.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, we've been grilling our supper every night, and our days have been filled with exploring, relaxing on the beach, reading, biking, and enjoying each others' company.

It's really been amazing.  (Don't let your jealousy stop you from finishing this post....)  :)

I'm wondering something.......

How did we get here?

Did we push a magic button and land ourselves in a beautiful cottage with a lovely ocean view?

Hmm, well, I wish!

But no.

We began by planning- back in March.

As the time became closer for us to leave, we switched gears and began preparing.

Bless the menfolk in our lives, but they don't always get this preparing thing.

Me to my husband early late the night before we left, "Hun, have you packed your suitcase yet?"

Husband to me, "No. But I'm going to."

Ok....great planning ahead there! And kudos on the preparation, too!

Not.

(Somehow, miraculously, nothing was forgotten.)

Maybe it's because I did about 1,000 loads of laundry, made about 500 lists, packed about 100 items of clothing, planned about 50 meals (including snacks), filled about 25 suitcases, and charged about 10 electronic gadgets.

You know what? It sure did pay off to prepare for this family vacation.

We got into our car, drove the 2 hours to PEI, made a stop for groceries, and then settled in.

For the past 4 days we've been enjoying the fruits of our labour. 

The rewards?  Full bellies. Plenty of clothes. Comfort inside and outside in all kinds of activities.....

Blessings. Smiles. Laughs. Lasting memories. Great photos and videos.

Family bonding. Time together. Precious moments.

It was so worth preparing for!

You're probably thinking, 'What has this got to do with writing?'

A lot.

Making a dream come true takes preparation.

It goes beyond the planning stage.

Perhaps millions of people in the world dream of writing a book.

Not that many actually do it.

It remains simply an idea if it never goes beyond planning.

I must prepare.

As I stated in my "Declaration of Dreams" post, I wrote almost an entire e-book last summer. First I bought Sarah Mae's e-book "How to Market and Sell Your E-Book." I was totally inspired to put feet to my dreams of telling our story.  And I got right to work!

But...it's been almost a year since then! (That was hard to admit)

The sad part is that unless I prepare, another year could go by...or two...or my lifetime.

I'm not going to let that happen.

I'm going to prepare to make this dream happen.

A thought to leave with you: "Planning isn't preparing."

~Leah