analysis, Big Creek Appalachia, Faith, featured, leadership, op-ed, rethink, scrutinize, Summertime, Tonya Jewel Blessing

LEADING THE WAY

By Tonya Jewel Blessing

I am a leader. As a woman in leadership, some days I feel great about leadership and other days. . . not so much.

Leadership is the ability to influence others into following your lead. It comes in a variety of forms and is defined in numerous ways. Making presentations, forming a company, bookmaking, posting articles, publishing blog posts, teaching and coaching, and other expressions are readily available to peruse principles for leading others.  
 
I train leaders. I am a partner in ministry. I teach, inspire, and preach in a variety of settings. I also write books. For me, one of the key ways I measure leadership is through effective communication. Am I communicating biblical principles in what I do and what I say?

In a time when there is great fear… LEADERS are more necessary than at any other time. (anonymous)

In order to communicate biblical principles, I need to experience daily intimacy with God. I want to use tactical, God-inspired, insights in my communication.
 
Another way is to gauge whether others are able to hear my words. Lately, I’ve been testing whether I communicate in ways others can hear, not merely the way I voice my vowels and consonants but also hear me in a way that they are able to live out those words in their own world. It isn’t just once that my husband has told me I have talked around issues of importance so that when I am done speaking, I may have left people wondering about the heart of what I have said.

T-Junction

I’m working on direct and healthy communication by a method of asking some questions. Have I presented my point? Have I given applicable examples? Have I given too little information, or have I rambled and overwhelmed the audience with too much?
 
It is likewise vital to me that others can emulate my leadership. I want my strides along the paths we walk as leaders to be in a clear direction not just speak about guiding lights as principles. Combining my words and actions, is my model of leadership effective? Can others put Jesus-living into practice?
 
As women in leadership, my prayer is that each of us becomes great communicators through words and deeds. I hope that those who view our lives and listen to our words are personally moved forward and are able to move those around them in a good and wise direction.

Tonya Jewel Blessing
Tonya Jewel

Tonya Jewel Blessing is a sought-after teacher and speaker. She is the author of The Whispering of the Willows and The Melody of the Mulberries. Her writing leads the way for Christian authors to write difficult scenes of gender and sexuality in fiction.

Subscribe
breath of joy, ingenuity, Kathy Joy, op-ed, poetic, poetry, rethink, scrutinize

Lilacs and the Silence In Between

By Kathy Joy Hoffner

We’re experiencing some threshold moments: the silent in-between spaces where we have left something behind but have not yet entered the next portal. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart expressed it this way,

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence in between.”

Breath of Joy: by Kathy Joy

That interval between moments? That’s the space where we can be awake and ready for the next wonder.

You know what’s really beautiful in this moment?
The lilacs.

Nature considers them “essential” as they hang in abundant clusters from their branches. They have shown up to spread the fragrance of the familiar into our world of ambiguity.
With little regard for restrictions, the lilacs and magnolias, dogwoods and redbuds, are shaking off the grip of winter and spreading their glory onto a grateful canvas.

They are doing the essential work of being beautiful and sending healing.

Silent caregivers, these delicate buds nurture us back to curiosity; we are re-honing our ability to be astonished.

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”

Nancy Levin, Network for Gratefulness
Singing Spring, by Kathy Joy, photos by David T. Sayer, Glenn Damon

If we are stuck living inside the uncertainty, it’s at least really nice to look around at what’s real; what returns and wildly splashes color onto the landscape — year after year.

Be watchful. It only happens in the silence in-between. Let’s try to hold these moments with greater openness, in that uneasy experience of curiosity and trust.

Lunch Jab

Kathy Joy is the author of the gift book series, Breath of Joy. She is available for a variety of retreats, speaker events, and conferences. Book her now through her agent. https://booksforbondinghearts.com/contact/

Book Cover, Singing Spring
Subscribe Here

breath of joy, Faith, featureed, ingenuity, Kathy Joy, rethink, Sequestered at home

Cracked Leather, Split Soles, Tattered Laces

By Kathy Joy, author of the Breath of Joy Seasonal Coffee Table Books

“Good Shoes Take You To Good Places” Seo Min Hyun

One thing we’re not using much of these days is shoes. I don’t know about you, but I’m mostly going barefoot around the house. 

Shoe wear is optional while we remain sequestered at home.

A comfy pair of sneakers park themselves at my door for the occasional walk to the mailbox, or happily, a walk around the block; other than that, my work shoes lie dormant in the hall closet, grumpy about neglect and murmuring obscenities in the dark, behind the closet door.

There’s an artist in Fort Myers, Florida, who is busy painting sandals with messages of love and hope, decorating them with jewelry and then stringing them onto a line. Her name is Annette Brown, and her message is simple: “I think everybody needs to reach inside themselves and create something because we are all artists in whatever form.”

Annette’s neighbors are stepping up, decorating sneakers and pumps and sandals, creating visual reminders of creativity and survival. 

It has become an outdoor gallery of curated shoe art. People are out walking, and they are looking up.

Dangling Shoes
Shoes on the telephone line

Life-giving messages are written, painted and glued onto the shoes to spread cheer for all passers-by.

Shoes are a pretty accurate reflection of our personalities – much like each our own handwritten signature, they are seals of style, a unique identifier for “you”, “me”, fashionable “us”.

On a walk recently I came across an old, worn-out pair of men’s work boots on a neighbor’s front porch. The leather was cracked, their soles were split and their laces tattered. Even so, they looked amazing. 

Because inside of them, some creative person had planted a bright bunch of impatiens.
The flowers nodded in the breeze as if to say, “Look! We can bloom here and re-purpose even this ratty pair of boots!”

New life inside of worn-out containers.

No longer serviceable for feet, yet perfectly whimsical to hold a cluster of perennials.
We’re kind of like that: our bodies feel worn out at times, like a pair of old shoes.
Tired, achy, holding the shape of a hug from six feet away. But, infuse laughter, spring flowers, a hug of safety, some repurposing, and our souls fill up these bodies with sudden vitality.

If we think of our weary souls as conduits for beauty, then maybe we can feel a new infusion of love, peace, kindness and growth. With good soil, water, sunshine and God’s provision, a worn-out soul can be rejuvenated.

We, like that shabby pair of work shoes, are quietly being re-purposed for the future.
Strange soil is spilling into the holes. Unnecessary things are being shed. New and hybrid Seeds are being planted inside our worn leather, things that will sprout in due time and declare our resilience in new fruit and sweet blossoms. These things will delight our private days as well as our days when we are all back together.

Wiggle your toes and step into that.

“How beautiful are the feet of the messenger who brings good news!” Romans 10:15

Jodi Jensen, watercolor artist

This blog supports www.booksforbondinghearts.com, and Capture Books Publishing Group, timely gifts for all seasons. Please visit the link to see my seasonal books, the “Breath of Joy! series. Breath of Joy! Singing Spring is a favorite this time of year.

Kathy Joy, Author of the Breath of Joy calendarial gift books
Subscribe
analysis, breath of joy, family caregiving, Inbound and Outbound Marketing, ingenuity, rethink

I PREDICT GREAT THINGS FROM SOCIAL QUARANTINE

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

Yesterday my husband and I made a concerted effort to not go anywhere. 

We have enough food, enough toilet paper, enough entertainment. By the end of the day though, we were tired of lounging in our jammies saying to each other, “Isn’t this great?” The roast and potatoes and carrots tasted like Sunday dinner without the guests.  Hmm. Maybe a shower and getting dressed would have helped the humor after twelve hours of forced leisure.  Even our dog seemed lowly, dumped out on the carpet. I looked at his water bowl and realized that in the change of routine, we’d neglected him.

Still, I predict great things to come of this social quarantine, don’t you?

Boredom births games, boredom births conversations, and silliness, and sex.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’d already seen several programs on the T.V. and just wanted to click off the power button. It felt like the reruns after 9/11. I decided to clean a room, and I found some forgotten treasures! In that little corner of heaven and for a couple of hours, I saw why cleanliness might prove to be next to godliness.

Explorations in the bookshelf, the stored software-to-learn list, webinars held on the back burner, homeschooling and getting to know one’s kids will all take shape.

All that attention kids need and crave from their parents will feel a little awkward at first. Arguments and fights will break out. They’ll look each other in the eye after a few hours and think, is this really happening?  Do I even know this person in my house?!  Then, the serious discussions will start to take place.  Values, politics, meaning, personal strengths and weaknesses, the I-never and what-if discussions.

Things you never wanted to do, you’ll do, and discover you’re pretty good at it given some time.

After we slap our foreheads, remembering to feed our pets out of routine, we’ll tire of the couch and go out to weed the garden. Who weeds the garden anymore? Lawn services are the closest thing to beautifying the landscape we see around our neighborhood.

  • So, we’ll go outside there, and find some twigs to tie into wreaths and furniture. 
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • We’ll decide to whittle a piece of wood into shape. We’ll find some glue or caulk or paint and start playing around. Our faces will relax. Smiles will be found.
  • Families will tell stories about grandparents and ancestry and wonder whether they should plan to visit their past in another state, another country entirely.  Budgets for historical discovery will be made.
  • Designers will remember that they enjoyed drawing at one time, and they will begin to design upgrades to their houses. Negotiators, desperate for an income, will negotiate prices for work.  The economy will plunge and adjust and perhaps prices will take a turn for the more reasonable.
  • Inventors will grow industrious.  I remember we had installed a gas fireplace with a self-lighting pilot light in our old home because, at the time, rolling electrical black-outs were an issue in winter.  In this particular crisis, I’m not sure how helpful the self-lighting pilot would be to eradicate COVID-19, but I am sure that industrious minds will begin to invent heath systems, tools, and hacks for hospitals, homestays, working from home, and bartering.
  • Would-be authors who have always wanted to write their masterpiece will begin an outline, a first page, a rewrite.
  • People who fear big brother’s orchestration of society and privacy will invent new protections and products and ideas.
  • Lawsuits will be settled outside of courtrooms. Fences mended.
  • We will face our inconsistencies as human beings and personal failures won’t spiral into martyrdom into, “Yes, I’m the trash heap of humanity.” We’ll have the time to talk through specifics, and analyze behaviors, and practice improvement.
  • Stress factors will release their vice-grip on life, and when we take a long look at what our parent or child is capable of, we will want to form a production line in the family to make the best ideas flourish.
  • The wiggle worms will get in their cars and drive around to discover what is going on around them, what spring looks like, what birds congregating in gangly trees sound like in chorus.
  • Adult kids will remember their neighborly shut-ins, their elderly parents and grandparents, and try to do whatever they can to assist them out of loneliness and fear. Concerted efforts to meet these needs will be met with surprising rewards.
  • Those who enjoy singing will sing again, privately or from their balconies, together in their families, in devotion to their God and to each other.  Songs will be written. Pictures painted.
  • Family meals prepared and eaten around a dining room table. And, someone will say, “Thank you!” “Um, this is good.  Is there more?” And, someone else will decide to eat together on the sunny patio and say, “What did you learn today from this strange isolation? Did you invent something wonderful?”
  • And, a kid will say, “I found the sewing machine and decided to hem my pants, but then I tried to make something else, and guess what?  I can sew!”

All of these things will happen because we are not toting each other to hockey, basketball, concerts, the gym, school, our places of worship, and work.  Deadlines will not rise up and press against our very bodies for closet space. Instead, Leisure will introduce herself as the new skeleton in our closets.

In your leisure, accept our free gift to read Mister B: Living with a 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist.
analysis, Author tools and hacks, featureed, ingenuity, rethink, scrutinize, Tonya Jewel Blessing

TO POST OR NOT TO POST

When and How to Leave a Review.

Book reviews are an author’s lifeline. To sell books, positive reviews are required. The reviews also need to appear in a variety of venues and sales platforms such as Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.

Do you know that there are bookstagrammers on Instagram stirring up goodwill for authors these days? And even Pinterest boards are a great way to share a book review!

My book sales flourish in direct relation to the number of reviews others have posted for each title.

I am an avid book reviewer on Goodreads, and although I’m sure that somewhere there are specific instructions for writing a book review, my personal perspective on reviews are as follows:
  

1. I write reviews for genres that I enjoy or because of information gained.  It isn’t fair to write a biased review based on a genre that might not be a favorite of mine.

2. I also don’t write reviews on books that I read out of necessity but might be about topics that I don’t particularly enjoy. 

3. I don’t include criticisms in a book review that are outside the scope of the story.  Authors often don’t have control over font size, book covers, chapter heading designs, etc. 

4. I also pay attention to a book synopsis before reading the material. If a book overview gives direction about the story, I don’t want to complain about something that I knew upfront. 

5. If I have a criticism about book content, I research and do my best to make sure that my input is valid. 

6. Some books are agenda driven. If I know that in advance, I don’t believe that I should use a book review as a platform to debate a personal agenda. 

7. Authors have no control over book orders and shipping. If I order a book and there is a shipping problem, I don’t penalize the author by writing a negative review. 

8. I am diligent about sharing just enough information about the story but not too much information that might spoil the book’s story for the next reader

MOST IMPORTANTLY – I enjoying reading and sharing feedback freely and appropriately.
 
As an author, I welcome reviews. The positive reviews warm my heart, and the not so positive reviews challenge me to grow in my writing.