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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Story: Why Tell It? #4

Here it is! The final post in the series. Today I'm talking about why we need to tell our stories. 


But first, let me make this clear. While I do believe that we all have a story to tell, I don't believe we are all called to write about or even broadcast our lives to the entire world. I believe that we all have many stories to share, the bulk of which make up our 'story'. So while you may not be called to share your entire life's story in one place, such as a book, you need to be open to the fact that God will bring people and/or opportunities to you. And when that happens be ready to share a part of your story.  

Your story is your testimony. It is your opportunity to attest to the truth of what God has done and is doing in your life.


Telling your story helps others to know:

  • They are not alone
We all need to know that we are not on this journey alone. We were created for relationship…to exist  in community. When we find that we share a common trial, or circumstance with another it creates a feeling of connection. 
 What! You too? I thought I was the only one. ~C.S. Lewis
  • There is hope
When we see that someone has come through a trial we have hope that we too can make it through whatever trial we may be facing.  Hope awakens our soul to press on. Prayer gives wings to that hope. (click to tweet)
Hope is the dream of a soul awake. ~french proverb
  • There can be purpose through pain and trials 
That thing (pain, trial, persecution, illness, failure, etc.)  the enemy of your soul uses as a means to destroy you? That is the very thing that God in His great love, grace, wisdom, and mercy can turn around to be used for His glory and your good. 
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28 

Telling your story has the capacity to show that you have come through it all and you survived. You were not destroyed. And it may just complete the healing process for you when you realize all that God reveals to you as you begin to work through the telling of your story. 


You see when you tell your story you begin to find your place in HIS story…the story of God's great love, sacrifice, and redemption. 

Let me give you two illustrations of how God works through our broken mess to bring about His good purpose in our lives.



Kintsugi


Kintsugi is an art form developed by fifteenth century craftsman in Japan to repair broken ceramic wares using lacquer with gold or silver powder. The term kintsugi means to patch with gold. Instead of using a material to hide the breaks, the gold is used to highlight the quality of the repair work and to show the cost of redeeming something so valuable. 

author unknown: public domain
The artist has increased the worth of the item not only because of the craftsmanship of the repair but also because of the value of the material used to make the repair. The break becomes the stand-out feature on the object making it even more valuable than when it was all in one piece. 


The art of kintsugi beautifully illustrates our Master taking our broken pieces and putting us back together again. In the process, He uses the 'mortar' of the blood of His Son, Jesus, and the refining fire of the Holy Spirit to bring the pieces back together; creating within us a stronger spirit with more beauty than we ever possessed when we were whole. 

What is the 'break' in your life? That break is the very thing that becomes most precious as the blood of Jesus is that which glues you back together. You are not 'used goods'. You are not worthless because of your brokenness. 
No! 
God wants to use your brokenness to show the world His power and Glory in your life as He puts you back together one precious piece at a time. Then you will again be whole…yet not as before, but even more beautiful as His mark is now evident in your life.


Mosaic

When creating a mosaic the artist often takes broken tile, or glass from different sources and puts them together to create a beautiful work of art. A strongly bonded piece of art. Much like our group of beautifully broken women who came together to form a sweet community that shines brightly into each others lives and into the world. Together we form a much stronger bond that cannot easily be deconstructed. (I spoke of this group of women earlier in this series on story  here:  Story…Redeemable #2). 

Just as the store we visited took pieces of mismatched broken items and redeemed or re-purposed those items into beautiful pieces of art, God can do the same for you. Only God can bring about true redemption, restoration, wholeness and peace. 

You see the enemy creates that conflict within our souls and only our Savior can break the tie/sin that binds us to the enemy. He then brings us back into communion with Himself. We are redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus. It is with His blood and the word of our testimony, our story, that we have overcome!


And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, 
and the word of their testimony. Revelation 12:11a

So go ahead and pick up the pieces. Place them all in the hands of the Master Artist. Let God use your broken pieces to make something beautiful. Then go tell others about what He has done in your life.

It's time to tell your story! Don't you agree?








You can read the entire series by visiting these links:

Story: The Great Connector #1 

Story: Redeemable #2  

Story: The Conflict #3 

Story: Why tell it? #4

(art photos are public domain photos and used Under the rule in Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corporation, a mere 'record' photograph of a 2D work of art (i.e. a photograph which is an as-accurate-as-possible copy of the original) acquires no copyright protection.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Story: The Conflict #3

Do you wonder if your life matters? If the hard things you have gone through have a purpose? What is the point of it all? 

I want to assure you that, yes, your life matters. 


You matter. Your story matters!

But there is an enemy of the soul determined to destroy each and every one of us.  He is on a mission to do everything in his power to keep us from the LOVER of our soul. He calls us by name …but the names the enemy uses for us are names like: worthless, useless, stupid, failure, unlovable, and on and on. The enemy himself has many names. In John 8:44 we read that Satan was "a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because the truth is not in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." 

Satan, liar, murderer, father of lies. Names that describe the very character of the one who wants to lead us as far away from the Truth as possible. Revelation 12:10 tells us that he goes before God to make accusations against us day and night. Revelation 9:11 calls him Apollyon, which means destroyer. He wants to destroy us!

But there is One who is greater than the enemy. He loves you! His names are many: God Almighty, Healer, Comforter, Savior, Holy, Love, Merciful, the Redeemer…(you can find a list of more of the names of God here: 30 Days of Praying the Names and Attributes of God).
He calls you by name…a name that speaks into all that you were created to be. Child of God, forgiven, loved, redeemed!  God says that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14).  He sent His son to redeem your life from the lies of the enemy, to free you from your own sins. 

The names the enemy uses to bring you down do not define you. Your past, the events in your life, do not define you. Let the Father whisper His love into your ear and listen for the name He has for you. Beloved. Child of God. Forgiven. Loved. More than Conquerer. Overcomer. Redeemed! That is who you are!  

The Creator of this universe wants to be the hero in your story! Rest assured that He does not allow pain and hardship in your life to leave you there, defenseless. As my friend, Emily Wierenga, would say, "hardship is not the end of your story, but the beginning."  

When we surrender our life to God, we begin to live again. We begin to walk in the truth of His word. It may take time to work through the mess that we have been through, or even the mess we ourselves have caused by cooperating with the lies of the enemy. But God will complete the work He has begun in us.

This thing that God does in our lives…this bringing beauty from ashes? How can we not but be compelled to share this with others? And when He walks with us and gives us this inexplicable peace in the midst of chaos and suffering…surely that is worth the sharing. 

Why? Because this lost and dying world is aching for a voice of hope! Won't you be that voice? 

In the next article in this series I'll be to talking about 3 reasons you should tell your story.  You can read it here: Story: Why Tell It? I think you'll want to come back for that! If you want to read the first articles in this series check them out here:


Story: The Great Connector                      
 Story: Redeemable, #2                                                                                   








"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant those who mourn in Zion-to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness in instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified."  ~Isaiah 61:1-3

Monday, October 13, 2014

Story…Redeemable, #2

Back in April, 2014 the (in)Real Life conference was based on telling your Story.  I was blessed to attend this video conference with a group of women who were meeting together at a book launch retreat in Tennessee. This retreat was a gathering of women who had all been on Jo Ann Fore's book launch team for her book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice. It was a perfect combination, a gathering of women who were excited about the message of Jo Ann's book,  and the conference about telling your story!

We listened to speakers talk about Story and we talked about telling our own stories over the weekend, but there was one point in the weekend for me that seemed to be a living illustration of the importance of story. That point in time occurred in an outing we took to a store called Redeemables Upscale Resale



Redeemables is a wonderful store filled with all kinds of treasures. The two energetic and fun ladies who run the store, Debbie and Sherry, take pleasure in taking unwanted items and restoring and/or repurposing them…"redeeming" them into beautiful treasures. 



 Their motto: "Everyone is redeemable and most everything is redeemable!"


When we entered the store they had us gather around them as they shared their own story of how their friendship became this wonderful partnership. They lived out their motto not only in the fulfilling of this longtime dream of owning and running this store, but of the ministry of redeeming lives through their involvement with Rise Up , a youth development and mentoring program that  Sherry and her husband had begun around 20 years ago. Sherry and Debbie met while working in that ministry. 

This store represents not only redeemed objects but redeemed lives as they also employ and train young women who were students from the Rise Up program. As these girls work in the shop they see, touch, and experience a very visual illustration of the patience and work it can take to 'redeem' an item…to take something broken and restore it to something that is even more original and creative than before it was discarded. They also experience the love and grace that it takes to redeem a life. 
I loved this store and these women for being that living illustration of how our own stories can reveal and illustrate the redemptive work of our savior, Jesus Christ. 

If we allow Him into our lives, He takes those broken places…
 those things in our lives that we look on with shame,
 those things that make us feel like a failure, 
 those things that make us feel we can never be important or useful again,
 those things that we think are damaged beyond repair…
He takes all of that and weaves into us something gloriously beautiful, forgiven, redeemed, loved and valued! 

Do you have a story? Of course you do! If you have lived for long in this broken, fallen world you have a story!  

But what is the point of sharing our story if we are still walking in our broken state?  The enemy of your souls wants to destroy each and every one of us. He spends his time wreaking havoc in our lives…tempting us to do the very things that will wreck our souls and break our spirits. But we don't have to allow him the victory over our lives!!


We have only to accept the work that Jesus did on the cross…that act of redemption in 'buying back' our very heart, soul, and spirit…covering the sin in our lives with His life's blood so that we could be forgiven and restored not to religion, but to a very real and intimate relationship with God and to a life of real and lasting joy. We have only to surrender ourselves into His hands, and trust that the process, this healing journey that He is taking us through, is for our own good and His glory. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  ~Romans 8:28


I hope that you understand what that relationship has the power to do in your life.  I want to talk a little about that in my next one or two posts. How His story intersects with our story, and how that makes it worth the telling…why it makes the telling a necessity. 

(Be sure to read the next article in this series: Story: The Conflict #3.  If you didn't catch part one of this series, you can read it here: Story…The Great Connector.)

You...your story? Redeemable! Are you walking in the redemption or are you holding back?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Story…The Great Connector

It seems that everywhere I turn lately people are grasping hold of the idea of telling your story.
Story…it seems to be the catch phrase of the day. Just google the word and you will see what I mean. There is a...
  • magazine in Kentucky
  • store in New York
  • restaurant in Kansas City
  • nightclub in Miami
  • conference for creatives in Chicago
  • seminar and a book by screenwriter Robert McKee
  • band in the UK 
  • scriptwriting software
  • Disney family photo app for story telling

All of which go by the name Story. And of course, who could forget Paul Harvey's, The Rest of the Story.  So you see there seems to be this almost obsession with the word, or rather the concept ofStory.

We all know that this concept of story is nothing new. Since the beginning of time, stories have existed. Stories have always been fascinating to the human race. In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God(John 1:1-4).  Our creator, God, speaks to us through through His Word using 'story' as one avenue to tell us many stories that bring understanding to our own stories, our own purpose, as it fits into the bigger Story. His Story.

The methods of telling our stories have changed through the years, but the fact remains that whether it be through the spoken word, the written word, or even on the big screen, we still have an innate desire to either hear or tell a good story. 

History is told through story. More than just a string of facts, it gives us a treasury of lessons learned and points us to a better way of living into the future. History gives us heroes to emulate...teaches us to dream big. It shows us that there is always something to be learned…even through failure. 

In East Of Eden, John Steinbeck puts it this way,
I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one…Humans are caught-in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too-in a net of good and evil…There is no other story.  

I believe that Mr. Steinbeck captured the essence of storytelling.  We are all in this epic adventure…one of the struggle between good and evil. We see ourselves in the stories told. We come to understand life...our own life...through the telling of those stories. We sympathize with the characters within the stories we hear, and especially through those that we ourselves tell. 

In one other quote from Steinbeck's book we read the musing of Adam Trask's servant, Lee: 
And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule-a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting-only the deeply personal and familiar.
While I am not sure that I am in complete agreement to that last quote, I do know that it is human nature to listen more intently when the story being told resonates within us. When there is something being told that we can relate to on a deep and personal level our ears perk up. We lean in and listen just a bit more intently as we connect in some way to the telling of a good tale…whether truth or fiction. 

I think Steinbeck hit the nail on the head when he said, "…a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last."  There is a great and lasting story…in HIS story, God's Word.  And yes…we are all a very important part of that story. 
It is the very promises within that great story that keep us going, that give us hope. 

One of my favorite modern day story tellers is Liz Curtis Higgs. She is especially good at the retelling of the stories of the women of the Bible. In talking about the story of Ruth, she tells us that the Hebrew word that opens the story, wayehi, is translated as, "In the days," or "And it came to pass." She says that this hebrew word actually embodies so much more to those original Hebrew listeners. When they heard the word, wayehi , they would lean in eagerly so as not to miss a word, because it literally meant, "Trouble is on the horizon but redemption is coming."  

Trouble is on the horizon but redemption is coming! Isn't that just the essence of a really good story?  We want to hear what that trouble will be and we can endure the telling because we know that redemption is coming…things will be set right once again, by something or someone! And because we know there is something good to come of the bad, we eagerly lean in to hear the tale…the story.

STORY…what comes to your mind when you hear the word? Do you love a certain kind of story because it represents your own 'happily ever after'?  


I hope you'll come back to visit next week as I continue to delve into this word…this concept…to hear, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. 

Come back and be ready to lean in! {Story part 2…Redeemables}








..."The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim. ~Romans 10:8

 If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy one I wrote in the topic of Story for a Five Minute Friday post here: Five Minute Friday: Story, or as Paul Harvey would say, "the rest of the story…" 

Or here:   Hope Awaits: A Story Yet To Be Unfold

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gina Holmes: An Interview with the Author of Driftwood Tides

Today I welcome author, Gina Holmes. In addition to being an accomplished novelist, Gina is a practicing Registered Nurse, a wife to the love of her life, mom to two boys and stepmom to three daughters. She and her family make their home among the Blue Ridge Mountains in South-Western Virginia. I hope that you enjoy this interview and that it will inspire you to check out her latest novel, Driftwood Tides!


The Interview:


Please welcome, novelist, Gina Holmes. Gina is the founder of popular literary site, novelrocket.com. She is also a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader's Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.


Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.


Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn't match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she's adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack. 

She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby's father and themselves.


What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

At heart Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.


Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?

Oh, how I love that place! I'm not sure there's a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, and the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well except the sand in my bathing suit maybe  J )

You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it's not too personal, why do you think that is?

It is too personal, but I don't mind answering(wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father's house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters, brother, house and life.  It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I've been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.

The novel you've written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?

I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I'm under contract for three different novels, so I'm not sure when I'll have time, but I'd love to explore Craig's story and of course, Bella's. I miss Peg very much! 

You've said that your favorite novel you've written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite? 

Well for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too; despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don't understand. I've received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.

You're originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you're from up North?

Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I've lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I've got to say, NJ food is amazing and you've got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)

What do you like most about being a writer? Least?

Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I've learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.

Least would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)

Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

My advice is pretty much always the same. 1. Write. So many people want to have written but don't actually do the work. 2. Get to a writers conference because there's so much you don't know, that you don't even know you don't know. If you don't you'll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time. 3. Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!) 4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, 'cause you're sure going to need it!

If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?

Well, I wouldn't have told myself how many novels I'd write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn't have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn't have told myself that I'd still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3-bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn't your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this, is out of your hands, and that's okay. It's not going to be at all what you think it is, but it's going to be so much more. You won't get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that's going to be exactly what will fulfill you.


Where can my readers find your books and more about you?

Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon, Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Ginaholmes.com

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Gina, it has been such a pleasure and a blessing to have you!

                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you purchase her latest book, Driftwood Tides, be sure to hop over to her website or Facebook author page and enter the contest she is running through September 29, 2014! Fun 'door prizes' and this fabulous book table! I'm hoping to win this beauty myself! Wouldn't it look lovely in my home office?!


Oh…and please leave a comment below. I'm sure Gina would love to hear from you! I would too! 





Be sure to connect with Gina here:

Facebook Author page: Gina Holmes
Website: ginaholmes.com
Twitter: @1GinaHolmes

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Soul Whisperer…Five Minute Friday

It's that time again…Five Minute Friday…I'm linking up with Kate Motaung and the flash mob of brave writers who, as Kate says, "feverishly tap out five minutes of unedited beauty and post it for all the world to see."

It's a one word writing prompt and this week the word is:

Whisper...  

Can you hear?
Press in close or you will miss it


Push beyond the noise 


Open your heart and listen... really listen


Slow down and quit rushing about in every direction




Quiet the clutter in your mind



Turn from the cacophony of voices demanding more of you



Turn off the TV...shut down the computer...turn off the music



Be still….just be

Can you hear it?


That still...small voice?


Lean in, closer still


Come close


He is whispering to you


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. Walk with me and work with me…watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.              
                                                                              ~Jesus,  Lover of your soul
                                                                                                               ~Matthew 11:28-30(The Message)
              
Are you listening? Maybe it's time to stop all the activity, settle into the 'unforced rhythms of grace', and just breathe in His presence.
Just.breathe...









I'm joining Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday writers today.

Click over and join the fun!

Friday, August 29, 2014

To Reach or Not To Reach…Five Minute Friday

It's Friday and I'm actually writing the Five Minute Friday post ON FRIDAY! Can I get a standing ovation for this?  A high five?  No?   Oh well…this is the post where I join Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday writers.  It's where we all write on the same word prompt of the week.  The idea is to write freely for five minutes…no editing, no over thinking, no worrying about grammar or punctuation.
So here goes.

Reach

Reach for the stars.

Reach out and touch someone.

Reach your destination.

No one is beyond the reach of God….

Reaching is work. Reaching is striving.

Reaching is…

a funny word when you say it over and over.  reach…reeeeach…..reeeeeach. But I digress…

                                                                                                                     Reach


Reach within to find yourself.

We reach out because we need something…or is it because want something?

Sometimes we get what we want , but we reach again…it wasn't what we thought it was.

No…that's not really the best way to find myself…to find what I need. Do I really know what I need?

Reach…reeeeeach…reeeeeeeeeah! Is that a cry for help?


Look at the sunflowers.

They reach for the sun…

Or do they turn to the sun…the sun reaches down to nourish the flower…to give it life.



















So…

 I stop reaching and turn to the Son…and He meets me right where I am.

Planted here in this desert land…dry and parched, drowning in the sands of time.

He reaches down…

He makes me bloom, bringing rains to refresh,

 the warmth of His face to bring life to these dry bones.

And so I reach out to God….

Turn my face to Him, extend my arms, my heart, my whole being to Him.

Not tight fisted to grab hold in desperation…no…with open hands…freely

Reaching out to surrender… my life, my longings, my heart. my stubborn will...

To Him,

Who "rescued me because HE delights in me"!
He reached down from heaven and rescued me: He drew me out of deep waters. He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the LORD upheld me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me. ~Psalm 18:16-19
Do you long to be reached down to, or are you still reaching?
Let Him reach out to you my friend!









I'm joining Kate Motaung and the  Five Minute Friday writers today.

Click over and join the fun!