auralee arkinsly, Author tools and hacks, better together, family caregiving, improvisation, op-ed

Closeted Confidence in a Shoe box

Two days ago, I discovered a shoe box on a shelf in my closet.

For six and a half years, I’d been caring for a parent, hence most of my stuff had been closeted away all of that time.

I brought down the shoe box intending to toss it borne on a tad of disgust for the things one keeps. To my great delight, I rediscovered all of my favorite jewelry and hair clips inside! Even my wedding ring was there, and I might have tossed it away!

As I sorted through it, I remembered, however vaguely, that I’d put it all in there and hidden it under the bed when we were selling our old house so that strangers walking through the house wouldn’t find it. Then, when we moved to my parent’s house, I’d just stuffed everything I had into closets, including this box. I never imagined that it would be almost seven years before I’d find it again.

An elastic bracelet was one of the first things I touched. I slipped it on remembering the women’s retreat in which I’d made it. The letters read, C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T. It was from the retreat in which a speaker helped us examine our names and the way we felt about ourselves. She had challenged us to lay our insecurities, failures, and sins at Jesus’ feet, and allow Him to do what He’d promised, to give us a new name. Then, the speaker asked us to make a piece of jewelry with the new name on it so that we would have our own landmark of His promise over us. It was a way to help us live in the new name.

I’m so glad I found that little elastic bracelet. It brings me to my knees in Christ, and it raises me up in the same instant to live fully in Him.

Some people have said they stand in awe of the things I’ve tackled and accomplished in life, but that just isn’t the way I feel. Naturally, I am never very confident when my eyes are on myself, my failures, my longings, and my attempts to figure things out. I do tackle things that others don’t try out, but then, I pay the price for trying because there usually isn’t a “how-to” list or a mentor to help me get ‘er done. So, like Peter who got out of the boat and began walking toward Jesus then began to sink when he looked at the waves, I also tend to sink in despair and self-loathing.

I knew a girl in college who couldn’t find her voice. She whispered whenever she spoke. Several years later, I ran into this sweet girl who was transformed and now vivacious! I saw that she had become a leader in her church and she’d somehow found the umph of her vocal cords. She was happily married, and people had only good things to say about her. She told me she’d found her voice when she read all about the Lord and His goodness toward her particularly, and His plan for her.

Some people struggle because of the things they’ve been told by a parent or someone in authority over them, things that are lies. Some people struggle because they do not feel beautiful or mentally or physically or socially well-equipped. How did the Psalmist get to that place where He could praise God for his mind and body?

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:14

My emotional life has honestly been a roller-coaster for good reason. However, when I take my eyes off of myself and put them firmly on the Lord, I can find the courage and confidence to keep on keeping on.

Jesus said very little about being confident. He only said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 We often skip over the first bit and go directly to the piece of evangelism, but does this verse say Jesus is the life? Does that mean He wants me to live fully and pursue the dreams in my heart and to increase my skill and to be a good steward of my relationships and things? Why YES!

The Bible is clear that He also “was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of humanity.” John 1:1-4 — Okay, that’s a WoW!

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To clarify, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27 This says to me, that you and I have been given relationship, assertiveness, creativity, ideas, and the abilities to articulate and to make things happen in teamwork as He did.

I can be confident to initiate and also to ask for help. The Triune God acts as one mind and spirit. Wouldn’t it be great to act in unity with each other, helping one another succeed? Confidence is about a solo act, but it does begin with an understanding of who I am in God, and beyond that, who I am hidden in Christ in God.

Those who trust in their riches will fall, but

the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28

This is the confidence we have when approaching God:

that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

In Him, and through faith in Him, we may approach God with

freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
Jeremiah 17:7

“[. . .] With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. 2nd Chronicles 32:8

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Find more Bible verses about confidence here.

God bless you and all you accomplish as you put your faith in Him! Here is a benediction to lift up your life forever. This is what God says:

I will change your name ... You shall no longer be called Wounded, Outcast, Lonely or Afraid. I will change your name ... Your new name will be Confidence, Joyfulness, Overcoming One, Faithfulness, Friend of God, One Who Seeks My Face. - Isaiah 62-4

Auralee Arkinsly is an author with Capture Books. In each of her books, Before Long, a housewarming book, and her book for first and second graders, Darling Hedgehog Goes Down a Foxhole, Arkinsly writes about life’s quandaries with great humor. ©2020 Capture Books and its authors are happily represented by the publicity of Books for Bonding Hearts where you will find several children’s books of high literary quality.

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Book Blurbs, book excerpt, breath of joy, Bridges, Kathy Joy, literary, op-ed, Pennsylvania author, poetic, simply summer

The Ordinary Normal Is Still Here

Everyone’s talking about the “New Normal”.

It’s important, though, to remember the former elements of “normal” are still with us, if we will only take a minute to notice.

Take fireflies for instance. What a wonder a single firefly still is to me!

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There’s a quote that’s traveled with me for a long time. It’ on my fridge:


Normal Day,
Do not let me pass you by in search of some Rare and Perfect Tomorrow.

Mary Jean Iron

This power-packed memento has been a mainstay through all of life’s seasons. With every move, every new fridge, this little saying has traveled with me as a reminder of the splendor in little moments.

The little ordinary moments are ever-present while we sigh and long for:
Brighter tomorrows, better sleep, happier children, perfectly manicured lawns, stronger connections, brighter lighting, exotic destinations, more flawless skin, shinier memories…

Here’s the thing. When we are off chasing after a happier reality, the one we’re IN is quietly passing us by.

A page from Breath of Joy: Simply Summer

I’m not asking you to embrace The Summer of Covid, but I am suggesting you uncover the good stuff inside this interval.

Your “normal” will look different than mine.

Here’s mine.
The texture of my kiddo’s voice on the phone; it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about – the sound of her voice is life-affirming.

The smell of towels that have been line-dried in fresh air and sunshine.

Summer kids riding by my window on their bikes and skateboards.

Dandelions gone to seed.

  • Waking to sunlight,
  • That first sip of coffee,
  • curbside pickup,
    • the hypnotic hum of a lawnmower,
    • Old Glory rippling in the breeze.
    • a real letter in the mail,
      • silence,
      • my music jam,
      • fireflies in the whisper of dusk.

Not everything is a joy-bringer; some things are a slog through scary passages.
But still – not everything is skewed into some narrow margin of “the New Normal”.
We can still count on the ordinary, normal things.
And those will sustain us.

Kathy Joy, Author of the Breath of Joy calendarial gift books

Kathy Joy writes for The Daily Jab, for Books for Bonding Hearts, and for her own blog, Coffee with Kathy. You can transition directly from ordinary to extraordinary with her Breath of Joy seasonal coffee table books. Find out more! Sign up here for inspiring posts from this author!

Learn about Kathy Joy’s inspirational gift books on this site.


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analysis, book excerpt, Bridges, inspirational, op-ed, Welcome to the Shivoo

Rooted in the True Story

Excerpt from the book, Welcome to the Shivoo!

“Weeding a bed of iris rhizomes in late summer taught me something about the Creator’s winnowing tactics.

“I had left the irises all spring and summer. Their roots became infiltrated with grass roots.  It seemed daunting trying to pull out the grass that year. Every time I yanked at a few long pieces in irritation, the bed hollered, “I need your focused attention, please!”

So, in the fall, I decided to pull out all those evil pencil grasses choking my bed of prized spring flowers. 

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“It was difficult work digging up the entire bed and chopping apart or wrestling out the clumps of rhizomes.

“Hidden within each clump were grass roots that clung to the rhizomes as if they were the same thing, mimicking the iris rhizomes. The grass roots, though they looked succulent and almost identical to the hairs of the root, were not part of the root at all. They didn’t belong, they were fakers. They would never produce blossoms for me.

Even healthy, good grass is just “weedy” when woven into beds of blooming irises.

“When I tugged at each hair of the rhizome, they clung to the root because they belonged. When I tugged at a grass root, it would slide out of the other hairs, because it was not connected by anything other than dirt. This hard work made me think about the work the Lord does in pulling out the wild grasses in my life. He has to do this work even in the lives of very mature and colorful groups of people.

“Learning to thank the Gardener of our souls early on for the means in which He manhandles our lives helps us to recognize what keeps us healthy and blooming. Hardship means to bring us maturity and glory.

“Living a creative life is the closest sort of metaphor to living a life of faith that I can think of. Music infuses grace as a spirit-transforming wonder like a blessing. There are so many risks taken being creative and also living by faith. Yet there is hope! Inspiration. And, many self-adjustments.  So many prayers. So much involvement and intervention of God. So much personal growth.

“Being creative in a godly sense means turning out something of positive purpose from very little.”

Pages 54-55, Chapter 3, Welcome to the Shivoo! (Bartnick)

  • Q: What is creativity in writing?
  • A: You give someone a disaster, and they find a human spirit pulling a wagon with a child in it.
  • Q: What is creativity in writing?
  • A: You give someone a maniac, and they put a history onto her like a sack of stones so that you find the salt of sympathetic tears, empathy weeping, dashed upon her oily hair. You learn God’s mercy, and maybe redemption. Learning to experience mercy can be an artistic leap for anybody. Page 56, Welcome to the Shivoo! (Bartnick)

How are you working to winnow out a good result from a bad situation? Below the ground, we all find good roots and tangly, weedy roots. Telling the full story in a memoir is surprisingly more compelling than just telling the flowery stuff.

Find out more!
Book One, Reviewed by
Christian News Journal, June 10, 2020 here.

Book Two is reviewed by Midwest Reviews as “Exceptionally well written” on August 20, 2020, in the General Fiction section here and “is unreservedly recommended for both highschool and community library collections.”
https://www.amazon.com/Simply-Summer-Breath-Joy-Kathy/dp/0997897686/
Learn more about singing the Psalms!

Dust and Sparkles in this children’s Trilogy of faith
Check out our children’s picture book selection.

©2020 Capture Books and its authors are happily represented by the publicity of Books for Bonding Hearts where you will find novels, memoirs, gift books, and several children’s books of high literary quality.

Advice, featured, How To, inspirational, op-ed, Tonya Jewel Blessing

The Woman Writer

Tonya Jewel Blessing

Most often when the day draws to a close and bedtime is near, my thoughts turn toward the story I am currently reading, and my heart swells with anticipation for when I climb between the sheets, gather two pillows on which to rest my head, switch on the lamp next to my side of the bed, and open a book to the dog eared page where I left off the night before.

Reading in Bed

I read myself to sleep most nights. Sometimes the book is so engaging that I read myself awake until the wee hours of the morning.

As a small girl, I fell deeply in love with books, and my admiration has not waned.

Along with my love of reading as a child, I dreamed of being a writer. I thought all writers were famous and lived loftily in houses in lovely places. They were also people of means who traveled the world looking for the next setting for their grand-scale story.

I have written three books (two novels and a leadership tool for women in ministry) and have a third novel in mind. BUT, somehow, the exotic places in my dreams and the resources to explore and experience adventures around the world based on book sales have not happened.

Writing and publishing are time-consuming and costly. In fact, it took me several years in the business to begin seeing a small profit. For the first two years, virtually nothing much sold. Sometimes, that can be the entire life of a book. But something hit a nerve somewhere in the third year of marketing of my first West Virginia book, and it made such a turn around that I wrote my sequel.

Writing and publishing a novel is a long, complicated, collaborative affair…

Jim Fergus

Last year, an audiobook organization located in Atlanta, Georgia approached me about recording my novels: The Whispering of the Willows and The Melody of the Mulberries (Book 1 and Book 2 in the Big Creek Series). I was paid a nice advance, and the contract included receiving a small sum of money from each recording sold after the number of books represented by the advance had been sold. I paid my publisher, Capture Books, for negotiating the arrangement out of the advance. I am proud to say that last month, I received my first royalty check from the audiobook distributor for $34.

This morning, I opened my email to find a nice review from Midwest Book Review, the official book reviewing agency of Amazon. This is what it said,

“An exceptionally well written and entertaining work of historical romance for young adult readers that is unreservedly recommended for both high school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that ‘The Melody of the Mulberries’ is also readily available in a paperback edition.”

A young writer recently asked me about the probability of her making a living writing. My initial thoughts were about the costs involved and the time spent in meetings and working on marketing, but instead, I told her to read every book placed in her hands, to write long into the night, and to wake-up dreaming about traveling the world either in her thoughts or in heels walking on faraway soil.

I don’t drink alcoholic beverages but have been known to toast with a ice-filled glass of water, a swirl of diet soda, or even cranberry juice – so here’s to the writers young and old, those starting out in publishing or the seasoned author – read, write, and dream!

Tonya Jewel Blessing is a founding author and partner of the Capture Books boutique publishing group. Her vision and contributions to the group have been a cornerstone to the ministry and success of several authors and readers to date.

If you would like to view the original post and join Tonya Jewel Blessing’s personal email list, find it here. https://mailchi.mp/1cc476cfbead/author-updates-the-woman-writer?e=babc5eea8a

Read Book 1 Today
A 2020 Resource for content copy writing
Recent Review of Whispering of the Willows

“I am thoroughly impressed! I specifically enjoyed your characters. When I finish a book and continue thinking of the characters as people I care about and want to hear more about, I gage that a success!!! They are flawed individuals who are trying to live out a genuine Christian life, and that is refreshing!

“I also enjoyed the real tragedy these characters experienced…So often Christian fiction is hesitant to portray realistic tragedy. Thank you for facing some of the ‘ugliness’ of life and showing how Christ can carry us through it!
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Advice, Christian Writer's Manual of Style, editing, featured, How To, Lisa Thompson, Psalm Hymns, Welcome to the Shivoo

How I Edit Manuscripts with Bible Verses

Lisa Thompson, editor

Some of my editing clients seem to think that it’s easy to edit a manuscript with lots of Bible verses in it because the editor doesn’t have to do any real “editing.”

I can’t begin to say how incorrect that thought is. There are many technicalities for correctly citing and formatting Scripture, and I certainly won’t cover them all in this post. But I want to go over just a few guidelines here. These are taken from “The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, the Fourth Edition,” which should be used when writing a Christian book. This style guide is a complement to “The Chicago Manual of Style.”

The following list is by no means exhaustive.

  • Put Bible verses in roman (plain) font. Do not italicize or bold them.
  • Some versions have italicized words in the text if you cut and paste the verses from an online source. Change these to the roman font.
  • Use italics to add emphasis only. Example: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16, emphasis added).
  • In the above, move the period to the end of the sentence, after the parentheses.
  • Verses should usually run in the body of the manuscript. There are two exceptions: the Psalms and poetic citations, which should keep the identical formatting of the Bible version; and block quotes, which are longer than 100 words and indented from the left margin. (Indenting from the right margin is optional. I usually don’t do this.)
  • Blockquotes do not need quotation marks at the beginning or end of the quote.
  • Do not bold or italicize the references. Leave them in roman font.
  • Per the publisher’s request, you cannot make global changes to the entire verse. In other words, you should not put the entire verse in bold or italics. If you want to do this, you need to ask permission from the publisher. The only exception would be for a version that is in the public domain.
  • Use en dashes — not hyphens or commas — to show a range of numbers in verses. Example: Romans 8:28–29. Not Romans 8:28, 29. Not Romans 8:28-29.

This post is by no exhaustive. Please reach out to me if you have further questions about this or any other editing topic.

Lisa Thompson, editor

 

Happy writing!

Lisa Thompson
http://www.writebylisa.com

Lisa has been writing since she could hold a pencil. She has a degree in elementary education and a minor in English. After working in retail, law enforcement, and education for years, she transitioned to writing and editing full-time in 2009. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her sons and eat chips and salsa. When she can do both at the same time, she’s especially happy.