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Are You Thankful for Troubles? Building Character Through Trials by Jarm Del Boccio

William Shakespeare
Image from biography.com

Although my husband and I live in an almost-empty-nest, sometimes I catch myself reminiscing. Our homeschool history course many years ago includes a mini-unit on Shakespeare and his works.  We’d listened to an excellent 3 part DVD series by Schlessinger Media called, “Shakespeare for Students.”  The concepts are simply explained, but meaty.

In The Characters of Shakespeare (Part 1), we learn there are two types of characters in Shakespeare’s works. static and dynamic. Here is a summary:

Static (or Stock) Character: A person who does not change during the course of the story. A shallow two-dimensional figure used to carry along the story, add comic relief or provide a menacing presence. The Fool in King Lear is one example (which, by the way, is the most “tragic of his tragedies . . . nothing good comes from it unless it is a lesson for the readers!) A villainous character would be Iago in Othello or Edmund in King Lear.

Dynamic Character:  A person who changes, for better or worse, in the course of the play.  A deeper, three-dimensional character, such as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. She matures into a complex young lady by the last act, but, unfortunately, it’s too late.  Another example is Macbeth, who moves from a valiant war hero to a paranoid murderer within the course of the play. So, this got me thinking . . .  Not only is this good to know as we develop our own characters in a story (too many static characters spoil the broth, and vice versa), but ponder this:

What sort of character are you?  What kind do you wish to be? 

Hopefully, it’s obvious that you can’t be a dynamic character if you have no trials and tribulations. How many people do you know who have everything they want and need – are they shallow, or complex?

What character is God forming in you this Thanksgiving? Be thankful if God allows troubles in your life. It will make you a more well-rounded 3D character who will be wiser, more compassionate and helpful to others.

Now that’s character!


*This post first appeared on Jarm’s travel and inspiration blog.

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/

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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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Follow the Signs

Ahhh, summertime. There’s something about taking a road trip in the summer, convertible top down, wind in our hair. It brings out the teenager in all of us. Of course, I don’t have a convertible, but I can dream, can’t I?

The drives in my dreams almost always include an open road, maybe a long, picturesque highway. Reality is usually quite different, though. Stop-and-go traffic. High gas prices and low mileage. Traffic lights that aren’t synchronized. And let’s not forget being on a constant lookout for traffic signs that will lead to the destination.

The writing life has its own set of traffic signs. Are you paying attention to them? Here are some examples.

One Way

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).

If we want to honor God in our writing, we need to be true to the gospel, whether we’re writing fiction or nonfiction, chapter books or picture books.

Yield

The Bible tells us to submit to God (James 4:7) and to each other (Ephesians 5:21). This is a tough one for me. It’s easier for me to submit to God than it is for me to submit to some people.

But in publishing, authors often need to submit to others. We often need to submit to industry professionals, such as agents, who know what publishers are seeking. To editors, who polish our precious work to make it even better. To cover designers, who understand what will attract readers. It’s in our interest to listen as they share their expertise . . . even if we don’t always agree.

Stop

Stop signs prevent us from blindly entering dangerous situations. There are numerous stop signs in the Bible that warn us of attitudes and behavior we should avoid. We need to pay attention to those stop signs.

There are stop signs in writing, too. Rejection letters. Closed doors. Failure to obtain an appointment we want at a conference. God uses these stop signs to direct us and protect us. Ultimately, when He gives us the green light, our work will glorify Him in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

Keep Right

James wrote, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV). This command can be a huge “Ouch!” for me. It can be so much easier to quote the Bible than to actually obey it.

Are you and I practicing what we’re writing? Do we live by the same values we promote? Or are we writing with one standard for our audience and another for ourselves?

U-turn Allowed

I wish it weren’t so, but there have been many times when I’ve had to make a U-turn in my life and in my writing. Wrong choices require God’s solution: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NIV).

As writers, we may have our hearts set on one project, while God wants us to focus our energies on another. Are we willing to make U-turns in our writing?

God has promised to direct us, even in our writing. It’s just a matter of following His signs.

What signs are you following as you write? Share them with us in the comments!

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Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her 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 ClubhouseToday’s Christian WomanPower for Living, and Called. In addition to her writing, Ava teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 300 women. She is a passionate speaker and teacher and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s Word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Ava and Russ have been married for 40 years and live in southeast Florida. For more information, visit her at AvaWrites.com.

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Teaser Post: Trust and Obey

“Am I rich?”

“Am I famous?”

“Am I on a bestseller list?”

Often, we writers ask questions like these as we try to measure our success.

The problem? Most of you, like me, have to say no to these questions. Unless we’ve been fortunate enough to author beloved children’s books or a series of YA novels that launch a box office smash, most of us aren’t household names.

The questions listed above point toward the world’s measurement of our success and threaten to place our writing focus where it doesn’t belong. Too much reflection on these thoughts can tumble us into the Slough of Despond, where we wallow like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress.

The real problem? Those questions don’t reflect how God measures success. While it’s wonderful to craft a picture book that ranks high on Amazon or a nonfiction hardcover that funds a major purchase for the family, perhaps we need to consider the questions God asks.

“Do you trust Me?”

“Are you obeying Me?”

Hopefully, we’re saying yes to those questions about our daily living. But we should also apply them to our writing:

  • Are we obeying God by writing the truths He wants us to convey?
  • Are we pleasing Him by being good stewards of the gift of words He gave us?
  • When we’re writing in obedience to His prompting, do we trust Him with the words He gives us?
  • Do we trust His timing for those words?

The solution: In the push to finish manuscripts, find an agent, sell a series, and so on, focusing on God’s questions can take the pressure off. We can trust that God has a plan for us and our gifts.

As we move forward in our writing journeys, let’s be sure to ask the questions that measure success in God’s eyes. Will we trust and obey?

During the 2018 Write2Ignite conference, Kim will teach several workshops, including “Is My Manuscript Ready for an Agent?,” which will help writers evaluate their manuscripts. 

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Kim Peterson mentors aspiring writers. She has taught writing for twenty-five years, working extensively with both published authors and those seeking careers in writing, editing and publishing. Currently, Kim teaches in the online professional writing program of Taylor University (Upland, Indiana). She also leads two productive online writers groups—one for mixed genres and one for writers of children’s books and articles.

Kim, who is a regular conference speaker, previously served on the writing faculty at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana, and mentored writers through the Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. A long-time professional book reviewer, Kim reviews novels for CBA’s Christian Market magazine. She recently concluded more than eight years as fiction reader for the Les Stobbe Literary Agency until Stobbe’s retirement.

Working as a freelancer for forty years (she started young!), Kim has written for Indiana newspapers and various periodicals and websites, including AppleSeeds, Encounter, Evangel, Vista, and devotional markets. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Rocking Chair Reader, the Moments series, and other anthologies. She blogs about nature and loves writing for children.

Kim says of her childhood, “My mom made reading a priority. She surrounded me with books. When my morning chores were finished, she let me disappear up our cherry trees with a good book and a thermos of juice. I don’t climb trees to read anymore, but I can still disappear into a great story.”

 

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Give Your Best, Trusting God With the Rest

by Sally Matheny

15289922_s“What are you working on?” is a common question at writing conferences. Are you anxious about your current project? Are you second-guessing if you’ve got what it takes to complete the task?

Several years ago, I traveled with a mission team to a rural area of Vermont. After conducting the first night of VBS for the local children, we realized the standard curriculum we brought would not meet their needs. Most of the children had never heard of Jesus. We scrambled to make adjustments in our presentation of the gospel.

After we returned home, I mentioned to the lead pastor that there was a need for a VBS curriculum that introduces Jesus Christ to the unchurched. My suggestion brought a designation for me to write it for the following year’s trip. (Be careful when making suggestions!)

A yearlong roller coaster ride of excitement and terror ensued. I’d never written VBS curriculum before. Heavy prayer, research, and writing filled my free time. Satan must have heard about the project because as panic and doubts set in so did massive migraines.

Two months before the mission trip, I attended a writers’ conference. I thought the week away would give me just what I needed to wrap up the loose ends of writing and the “Who is Jesus?” curriculum would be ready to go to the printer’s when I returned home.

At the conference, I decided to attend a workshop on writing devotions, which wasn’t originally on my itinerary. I thought this was God’s answer to my prayers. Walking in with full faith that God was going to provide enlightenment on how to finish the project, I came dragging out in desperation at the end. The class did not help whatsoever. I cried out to God, I thought this was what You wanted me to do! Why would You ask me to do this when You know I can’t? I need help!

I believe that is exactly where God wanted me—in a place of acute awareness of my own inadequacy. In the following days at the conference, God showed His power. He brought in my path numerous people—a missionary writing a book on how to effectively do short-term missions, a Life Way children’s curriculum writer who offered to critique my VBS curriculum only minutes after I met her, and another writer who imparted a nugget of wisdom. She said, “You only need to do what God has called you to do. You have placed upon yourself the burden that everyone’s salvation depends on your writing. Relax. Do your best with your part, and then let God do His thing. He’s the one who does the saving.”

Wow. She was right. I had placed an unnecessary burden on my shoulders—one I couldn’t possibly carry. I prayed asking God’s forgiveness and a wonderful sense of freedom settled in as I completed my task.

God continues to use that curriculum for His glory.

It’s amazing – the simplicity of trusting Him with the outcome of our work, whether it is a book, devotion, or a handwritten message in a greeting card.

Learn the craft, sharpen your skills, and gain knowledge from others.

Ultimately, give your best, trusting God with the rest.

Photo credit/Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://write2ignite.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Sally-Matheny-1F1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Encouraging others is Sally Matheny’s mission in life. She enjoys “reflecting on ordinary life under God’s extraordinary Light.” A freelance writer and blogger, Sally’s ordinary days are blessed with her pastor-hubby of 25+ years, three children, and a home that can’t stay clean for more than seventeen minutes. Find encouragement from Sally on her blog: www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com/ and Twitter: @sally_matheny [/author_info] [/author]