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Do You Live With Expectations or Expectancy?

Expectations or Expectancy

Have you recently experienced frustration? Plans didn’t go your way?

Maybe that meeting with your dream agent didn’t go well. Or the pub committee declined your project, despite enthusiastic championing by the acquisitions editor. Maybe you planned a full day of writing while the kids were in school, only to have your third-grader come down with a stomach virus.

That seems to be happening more lately. I’m irritated by circumstances that interfere with my plans and expectations. But what if the cause of the irritation is not external at all? What if I’m the cause of my own frustration?

Someone once said “the level of your frustration is directly related to the level of your expectations.”

Read that again.

Ouch.

So the real cause of my own grief is most likely…me.

Unrealistic expectations. Expectations grounded in reality as I want it to be, rather than the way it is.

Ancient Israel had a similar problem. Their expectations of the coming Messiah were based on cherry-picked prophecies. The sad result was that they didn’t recognize Him when He did come. They were so busy looking for a victorious military leader that they missed the Suffering Servant who came to redeem humanity.

So what’s the answer?

I believe the answer for a Christian is to live expectantly. And that includes Christian writers.

To live expectantly is to live in eager anticipation for how God will work in our life, without setting specific expectations or demands on what that will look like. Living expectantly allows us to recognize where the Holy Spirit might be moving in areas we would not normally look for Him. And it communicates that we are satisfied with whatever the Lord does, allows, or gives—without comparing it to our own agenda or shopping list.

Those who live expectantly have the privilege of living out a truth understood by martyred missionary Jim Elliot: “God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.”

Remember Theodor Geisel? Does his name ring a bell? If you write for children, it should. But you might know him by his pen name: Dr. Seuss. If you’re not familiar with his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, you’re most certainly familiar with his other books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

Dr. Seuss also fell victim to expectations. During one interview, he was asked how long he expected The Cat in the Hat to take to write. His answer? “I figured I could knock it off in a week or so.” How long did it actually take to write? “A year and a half.”

So you see, we’re all vulnerable to unfulfilled expectations, even the great Dr. Seuss!

Will you join me? Together, let’s put aside our expectations and live in daily expectancy for how God will show Himself active in our life, including our writing life. And as He does, share your experiences with others to increase their own sense of expectancy.

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Christian Writer:

by Carol Baldwin

Last week there were two more horrific shootings. One in a California synagogue, the second in a university in Charlotte, NC. This is not a blog about gun control or even an attempt to answer the question that plagues many of us, “What is our world coming to?” But it is a blog about what should we, as Christian writers, do to respond to events like this. Because the first shooter was a church goer and targeted another religious group, I’m going to focus on that event.

John Earnest, the man who allegedly killed one woman and injured three others at Congregation Chabad, attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church–the denomination which I attend. It is a conservative, Bible-believing church; the pastor wrote this public statement condemning John Earnest’s actions.

In his article, “Why White Nationalism Tempts White Christians” Jemar Tisby, president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, and co-host of the podcast Pass The Mic and author of The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, asks some sobering questions.  I encourage you to read the entire article and think about his summary: “If any lessons can come from a murderous hate crime, then perhaps it is this one: Sin in the form of white nationalism crouches at the door of every congregation.”

We are warned in Genesis 4:7 to consider, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Sin lies at our door. What does that mean to you and me?

Another article was published in the Washington Post, presumably by someone who does not confess Christ. But the author’s words should make every Christian stop and think.

Last week I had lunch with Vermelle Ely, an 86-year-old African American woman who has tirelessly shared her life experiences with me to make my novel, Half-Truths, authentic. We were talking about the two shootings  and I asked for her thoughts were about what was going on in today’s world.

Vermelle Ely and Carol Baldwin                Charlotte, NC, 2017

Without a moment’s hesitation she said, “Things are going backwards.”

I’d expected her to respond about the current shootings, but she turned the conversation to white nationalism and the shooting in Charlottesville, Va. two years ago. It is very clear in her mind that our country is going back to the prejudice and discrimination that she experienced growing up in the South.

I’m still mulling over this conversation and wondering what we, Christian writers for children and young adults,  should do about this situation. I’m glad to see a beginning trend toward more racial diversity in illustrations, picture books, early readers, middle grade, and young adult novels. Marley Dias is a young person who’s tackled the issue head on.  I’m trying (I hope!) to address issues of racial injustice in my novel.

Our readers are the next generation of adults. We have the opportunity–through quality literature–to create stories that can address issues such as injustice, inequality, and true equality in the Lord.

“There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3: 11

Christian writer: What do you think?

Leave me a comment and let’s begin a dialogue.

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Have You Heard?

The WRITE2IGNITE team has been working hard to select a theme and faculty for the 2019 conference. Just in case you missed our announcements, here are the links:

THEME: A True Witness

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

TEEN TRACK WORKSHOP OPTIONS

ADULT WORKSHOPS

FACULTY 

 

Can you tell we’re excited about this conference? We’re praying that it will minster to Christians who desire to use their writing gifts to write quality literature for children and young adults. Spring Registration (with the biggest discount) is on unto the end of this month. We look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones!

Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

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“J” is for Journey

Diane has always had a desire and a knack for impacting the lives of young children in the hopes of leading them to faith that embraces God and His son, Jesus. Whether that “calling” in life took the form of teaching preschoolers, being a church staff minister for children, or currently being a “lunch lady” for Greenville County Schools, the education, nurture, and care for preschoolers and children have been at the heart of Diane’s work.

JOINING the WRITE2IGNITE TEAM

So, it is with joy that she begins a further, deeper walk along the path of Christian education to one that includes writing with Union Gospel Press (very part-time job) and being a new Team member with Write 2 Ignite and the conference staff. Diane is ready and willing to serve in any way that God may open doors in Write 2 Ignite, so lives are touched and encouraged with the hope of God’s love. It is an honor to help leave a legacy of faith in Christ for a younger generation. What a surprise! What a delightful task for such times as this! What a dream come true in God’s timing. Being with this team will create a motion and movement in her spiritual life that can best be explained in this poem. Continue reading “J” is for Journey

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“A True Witness” – Write2Ignite 2019 Conference Theme

    Scripture makes many references to the concept or term “witness” in both Old and New Testaments. Christians know Jesus’s “Great Commission” words in Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NKJV) In church lingo, this is usually referred to as “witnessing,” sharing the good news of the gospel.

During Creation, God gave witness to the nature of His own created works, calling each day’s creation “good” or “very good.”

Similarly, Bible references to the created world as a witness are frequent. In some cases, the Creation or created object serves as witness to God’s judgment on human sin and guilt (Dt 4:26, Joshua 24:27, Romans 1:18-25). In others, the Creation testifies to God’s glory (Psalm 19 and other psalms).

From Genesis forward, “witness” occurs often in references to covenant agreements between persons or between God and a person or group (see examples in Genesis 21:30, 31:44 – 52, and Judges 11:10). The tabernacle, also called the “tabernacle of witness,” was a perpetual visual reminder of the covenant relationship between God and the nation of Israel (Numbers 17:7-8).

Write2Ignite Conference formed as a group for “Christian Writers of Children’s and Young Adult Literature” to encourage and equip writers to inspire Christian worldview thinking in young readers – a type of witness. Through prayer and discussion, we’ve identified Witness as an organizing theme for the 2019 conference September 20-21. This doesn’t mean every article or book for kids should contain a direct gospel invitation, but as we draw upon biblical principles, our writing should reflect God’s character, standards, and role in every area of human life.

I John lays out foundational doctrines and supporting evidence for Christian faith: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – . . . we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you . . . that you also may have fellowship with us . . . .”

John further states his purpose in sharing this gospel of “eternal life . . . . that your joy may be full.” (1:1-4, NKJV) He then lays out various signs, behaviors, and spiritual principles that demonstrate the truth of his claims about God, Jesus Christ, faith, and fellowship.

The Bible describes [fallen] human condition as lostness – of fellowship with God due to sin, of the Garden paradise, of peace and health. Results include perpetual seeking as people try to earn favor with God or a god, through sacrifice or good works. The gospel message is one of finding and being found. As we see God pursue the lost sheep (parables in Luke 15), the witness of lostness is exchanged for the witness of foundness. Through Jesus Christ, we have an Advocate, Mediator, Savior, Father, restored fellowship with God and the community of faith.

#Write2Ignite2019 will help us explore various facets of witness in God’s Word. As we gain insights into their effects in our own spiritual walk, we will also examine ways in which our writing in any genre or platform can serve as witness, proclaiming God’s truth and equipping young audiences to follow and serve Christ.

∞  Deborah S. DeCiantis

(photo courtesy of Jolee G. http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/witness-concept-background-photo-p262938)

 

Debbie DeCiantis first connected with Write2Ignite Conference when she was called on to act as liaison between North Greenvile University and Write2Ignite in 2009. She accepted the role of acting director in 2016 and the role of director in 2017. Debbie currently does freelance editing and critique writing. She enjoys living in the country and spending time with her husband, four adult children, six grandchildren, and too many dogs.

This and future discussions of biblical witness will be found in Author Resources.

 

 

 

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Welcome, Helena George

Last September, I made the drive to South Carolina full of anticipation. My first writers conference! Dreams swirled in my head. I would meet other writers…talk about books and characters…maybe catch the attention of a publisher…talk about writing and books some more…

I’ll admit, I was nervous. I’d probably say something stupid or spill a drink or get lost. Maybe someone would tell me point-blank that my story ideas were plain trash.

Well, let me be up front and say that I do not regret going. Write2Ignite challenged me to ask myself: Why do I write? What do I want to leave my readers with? Am I prepared to do the work that it takes to get my own writing published?

I learned a lot. I listened a lot. I talked a lot. Everyone I met with had a story. They told me about their own writing journey, their published works, their story ideas. And all our conversations were full of God–what He has done in our lives and in our writing.

I especially loved being told (in a writer’s conference!) to do my absolute best and leave the results to God; to seek Him first and bring all my writing concerns to Him in prayer.  As the popular verse in 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” God has given us these gifts, these stories, and we must do our best to learn the craft and write them well and not for ourselves, but for His glory.

While I haven’t been to other writing conferences, I can still honestly say I would recommend going to Write2Ignite. It’s run well, and the staff and speakers are friendly and encouraging. I rarely was confused about where to go and what was going on, and my whole trip went smoothly. One of the highlights was the mealtimes–getting to sit and talk to other writers and readers while getting unlimited cookies from the cafeteria!

I look forward to returning to Write2Ignite!

Helena George grew up in a house with books in every room, and acquired a taste for reading at an early age. She is currently finishing up her YA fantasy trilogy and blogs under the pen name Julian Daventry at http://juliandaventrymemories.blogspot.com/ When she’s not busy working or crafting stories, Helena fixes pasture fencing, pretends to be a runner, and rides her three horses.

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Meet New W2I Team Member- Tony Snipes!

 

Although he’s an illustrator at heart, Tony has always found himself helping creative people reach audiences and engage the public.

For more than 20 years Tony has carried out this calling professionally for newspapers, TV and now Christian radio, helping each traditional industry tell their stories using digital and social media platforms.

Tony’s path is starting to come full circle, as his experience in Marketing and Media are now being applied to ministry, coaching and the creative arts.

One of Tony’s cherished moments as an artist that happens to write, was publishing his book “God’s 7 Keys for Creative People”, an illustrated guide for individual and group study.

When it comes to Write2Ignite, Tony hopes to bring a new look at the proven business practices he’s seen corporate content creators use everyday. He believes Christian creatives can use the same practices to support and sustain their projects. He also foresees Write2Ignite being used as a springboard for young Christian storytellers, pointing them toward possible careers in Journalism and New Media.

Catch a glimpse of Tony in action at YourCreativeMission.com, and his latest visual storytelling project “The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co.”