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Hopes and Fears

The Christmas season is filled with hope . . . and for many of us, with fears too.

One Christmas hymn in particular speaks to my writer’s hopes and fears.

“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Hopes and fears. We writers can be an insecure bunch anyway, but as we approach a new year, all our writing hopes and fears push to the fore.

Hope

What do you hope for in your writing life?

  • New contracts?
  • New contacts?
  • An editor who likes your completed manuscript just as it is?
  • A book on the ECPA bestseller list?

What do you fear?

  • That your last contract is your last contract?
  • That you won’t ever connect with your dream editor?
  • That your completed manuscript will bleed edits on every line?
  • That your sales won’t rise above a trickle?

Rather than ask what you hope for or what you fear, the better question to ask is, To whom do you belong? The answer is found in the third stanza of this hymn:

“How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.”

Jesus is the Christ—the Messiah—the Anointed One, who was born to die. Because of what He did, we have the opportunity and privilege of belonging to the sovereign God of creation. And if we belong to Him, then how can we not trust Him for all our hopes and fears?

Our writing is not our own. We don’t do it for ourselves. We do it for the glory of the One who gave us this gift. The fifth stanza says it all:

“O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!”

Emmanuel. God with us. Lord over us and Lord with us. He is with us when . . .

We’re staring at a blank computer screen, desperate for words that don’t come.

We’re sitting with an editor at a conference, tripping over our tongues.

    We hit the send button on that finished manuscript.

Our book sales are stellar . . . or in the basement.

Trust the One you belong to. As the new year begins, give Him your hopes and your fears. Your words and your books. Your contracts and your sales results. Do it, knowing that the God who sent His Son to die for you is the same One who gave you the gift of words, and who will use that gift for His glory. If you do, no matter what happens, 2016 will be a terrific year.

***

Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and CalledIn addition, Ava teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s Word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.

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Put in the Big Rocks First

I seem to have misplaced something. Actually two somethings. Can anyone tell me where 2014 went? To make matters worse, January 2015 disappeared, too.

There were so many things I wanted to accomplish last year. Things I didn’t get to because I was distracted with too many time-wasters. While I wish I could recapture that time, I can’t. And even though I’ve lost the first month of the new year, I can change the way I approach the rest of 2015.

Have you set goals for this year?

  • If you’re serious about writing, what will you do this year to develop your writing skills?
  • Are you ready to complete that manuscript?
  • To whom will you send queries and proposals?
  • If you’re a published author, what will you do to give back to the writing community—especially to the next generation of new writers?
  • What about balance? Are you making time for the Lord (most important of all!), for family, for friends?

My lost year reminds me of a classic story:

A philosophy professor picked up a large, empty jar and filled it with rocks. He asked his students whether the jar was full. “Yes,” they answered.

He lifted a bag of pebbles from his desk drawer and poured them into the jar. When he shook the jar lightly, the pebbles settled into the open areas between the rocks. Again, he asked his students whether the jar was full. Again, they answered, “Yes.”

The professor reached into the drawer again and brought out a container of sand. He poured it into the jar. The sand filled all the remaining spaces. He asked the students one last time whether the jar was full. Of course, they all answered, “Yes.” But this time, they sounded less sure.

Finally, the professor took a bottle of water from the desk drawer. He poured it into the jar, filling even the tiniest spaces between the sand.

What’s the point?

The jar represents your life. The rocks are the truly important things: your relationship with the Lord, family, friends, and health. The pebbles are the other things that matter, such as your job or your home. The sand is everything else. If you put the sand in the jar first, there’s no room for all the rocks and pebbles. The same goes for our lives. If we spend all our time and energy on the small stuff, we’ll never have room for the things that are truly important.

It’s not too late. A new year still opens before us. Be sure to put in the big rocks first!

How are you ensuring that the important things are added to your life first?

 

Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts Ministries founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of the Faith Basics for Kids series. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and CalledIn addition, Ava teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s Word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.