Author: Erin Taylor Young

206 – 10 Things to NOT Hurry

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10 Things to NOT Hurry Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungMany things in today’s world make us feel we need to hurry up and get them done. But there are some things that we should NOT hurry to do. Here are 10 specific things you need to do for your career—and life—but never in a hurry.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

The new year started a few weeks ago, and by now we’re probably deep into the commitments, resolutions, and activities of life. If you’re like most people, all that has probably come with a sense of rushing about.

Now, rushing isn’t always bad. If, say, your carbon monoxide alarm is going off, rushing out of the house is prudent. But if rushing becomes the normal course of our lives, it leads to stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. That isn’t the way God designed us to live and function.

This year we want to encourage you to slow down. To NOT live your life in a constant state of “hurry.” To help you do that in concrete ways, we’ve made a list of 10 things to NOT hurry. We’ll start off with something writing related.

1. Don’t hurry to publish your first book

Some of you may have started the year with a goal of finishing your book and publishing it this year. That is not necessarily wise. Especially if it’s your first book, and most especially if it’s the first draft. Trust us when we say that learning the craft takes time, and you can’t put a deadline on that. 

Most writers don’t know what they don’t know until AFTER they write their first book AND get professional feedback. The last thing you want to do for your writing career is be in a hurry to publish something that isn’t ready. Unless you’ve been studying craft for a few years and revised that first book multiple times, it’s very likely not ready.

Trust us. We have seen lots and LOTS of manuscripts over the years that were pitched to agents or publishers, or self-published, long before they were ready. So take your time. Don’t hurry.

Proverbs 19:2 (NLT) says, “Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.” We want your first book to have every chance of success, not mistakes.

2. Don’t Hurry Learning

With so much information and advice available these days, it’s easy to take in huge quantities of ideas, techniques, facts, and so on, without ever stopping to absorb any of it. Instead of putting new ideas into practice, we just skip off to the next interesting idea. This year, we encourage you to slow down. To let a new idea or technique soak in. To reap the benefits before you move on.

Think about how many writing craft books are out there. And blogs, and articles, and workshops, and courses. You could spend a lifetime hurrying from thing to thing. Don’t do that. Spend some time applying what you’ve learned about dialogue, for example, before you go off to read that book on subplots.

We’re not saying you have to be an expert in one thing before you can move on, because improving craft does seem to go in waves. What we are saying is that you don’t want to let distraction pull you away before you’ve gained real and lasting benefit from what you’re learning. 

This same principle applies to life lessons. Take the time to reflect on new insights and experiences. Often your newfound knowledge will apply to other areas of life. You just need to stop and connect them. This is a great practice to not only gain wisdom, but to improve creativity, because creativity is about making connections.

3. Don’t hurry conversation

The next thing to NOT hurry is conversation. James 1:19 (NLT) tells us “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

Think about the good old days when people sat on the front porch and chewed the fat. My dad is in his eighties now. When he was a kid, his family lived in a small town. No one locked their doors when they left the house—that was considered rude because a neighbor might need to borrow something while you were gone. Since the doors weren’t locked, it wasn’t uncommon for his family to come home from somewhere and find folks sitting in the living room waiting for their return, just to visit, to talk in an unhurried fashion.

One of the ways we see hurried conversation these days is a “like” on Facebook, or a thumbs up on a text. Or a quick direct message or email. This seems to be today’s preferred method of communication. Or if there is an actual conversion, it seems that people just want to get their point across and move on.

This year we encourage you to change that. To stop and have deliberate conversations, not quick information exchanges. Put your phone down, turn off the TV, close your laptop, look someone in the eyes, and listen.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to devote hours and hours to every conversation. Five relaxed minutes of undivided attention is worth far more than an hour of distracted “uh-huhs.”

4. Don’t hurry relationships

Going along with not hurrying conversation, the next thing to NOT hurry is relationships. The writing business, and life, is all about relationships, and good relationships take time.

Get to know people through unhurried conversation. Spend time with them. Get to know them over time. Go to writing conferences not once, but year after year to meet industry professionals and other writers. Ask them questions about what they do, who they are, and what they like. 

You don’t want to end up with an agent whose style is completely wrong for you. Or a publisher who likes to work with the type of author that you definitely ARE NOT. You don’t want to end up with a critique partner who isn’t as experienced as you need. You don’t want to line up a newsletter swap with a writer who turns out to be unreliable, or hire a PR person who doesn’t understand your brand.

Your goal is to learn about other writers and industry professionals as human beings—not instruments to help further your career. 

But don’t forget about the non-writing relationships in your life. They need time too. Life is busy, and the dual careers writers often have makes things even more challenging. But if we don’t slow down for relationships, we’ll be missing out on the very thing God created us for. We have been made by a relational God for fellowship. This year we encourage you to NOT hurry through the very thing you were made for. 

5. Don’t hurry through prayer time

In our hurry-up life, we can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking we have no time for prayer. Or our prayer time becomes a quick recitation of our list of “needs.” This is not what God intended when he told us to pray—and we are indeed instructed to pray.

Prayer isn’t just for the super spiritual or the super devoted. It’s for everyone, all the time. When we hurry through prayer time, we’re hurrying our relationship and our conversation—two things we’ve already said we shouldn’t do.

In our last episode on Silence, we talked about how incorporating silence into our times of prayer can help us focus on God and hear him better so our prayers become a relationship-building conversation. This year, we encourage you to pay special attention to your time with God. Make it unhurried. Make it deliberate.

We’re not saying you can’t have short times with God, or that a short sentence of prayer before you head into an important meeting, or phone call, or whatever, is inappropriate. But we are encouraging you to stop, to focus, and to be mindful of who it is you’re speaking to.

6. Don’t hurry through accomplishments

The writing journey is a long-haul effort. It’s built upon a series of accomplishments. Everything from your first attempt at writing an article, to your first draft of a novel or memoir, to your first critique, your first published work, to your first book sale or contract, your first critical review, and so on to the next and the next and the next.

Too often our focus is on getting to “somewhere down the road,” and we forget that being right here, right now, is important. It’s a place of learning and growing. And—now hear this everybody—it’s a place that is actually JUST FINE.

This year, wouldn’t it be nice to simply be okay with where you are and not feel like you’re always in a hurry to finish whatever you’re working on so you could get to the next thing? Because there is ALWAYS a next thing. Consequently we’re always trying to move on and never satisfied with where we are or what we’ve done. That is not a happy way to live.

Don’t hear us saying that you shouldn’t set deadlines and you shouldn’t try to grow. We’re simply saying that if, for example, you’re at the “freshman level” of writing, enjoy your “freshman year.”

That doesn’t mean there is no movement forward. Of course there will be. But move at a reasonable pace. Don’t spend all your time rushing or wishing you were at the next grade. Take time to celebrate each small milestone and to acknowledge and enjoy the fruit of your efforts.

7. Don’t hurry through trials

The next thing to NOT hurry through is trials. Yes, we know that might sound dumb, but hear us out. What we mean is that when you’re going through trials, and the writing life—even the Christian life—can sometimes feel like one big trial, don’t put all your focus on trying to claw your way past the trial.

There are things we can learn in trials—things we can’t learn any other way. There are ways we meet God in trials, and these are ways to meet him that won’t happen outside of trials. If your sole focus is on escaping the trial, you’ll miss God. 

You need your energy and your focus on God, not on the emotional turmoil you’ll feel as all your attempts to escape trials fail. There is a reason God left believers on this earth and didn’t whisk us all to heaven the moment we gave our lives to Christ. Part of that reason is for us to experience him—and his grace—here and now in this futile, imperfect place.

Don’t miss out on the way God can reveal himself as a stronghold and refuge in this place.

8. Don’t hurry into decisions

The next thing to NOT hurry is decisions. What we’re talking about here are big, life-changing kinds of decisions. Not decisions about whether to have tuna or chicken for lunch. The writing life is filled with decisions so here are some dos and don’ts that can help you not hurry into a decision:

Don’ts:

  • Don’t hurry through the first open door. This might mean you don’t take the first offer of agent representation, or the first publication contract, or the easiest method of self-publishing. Just because a door opens doesn’t mean it’s the only door or the RIGHT door.
  • Don’t hurry your decision because of someone else’s timeline. For example, this might come in the form of a sale that’s about to end, and you’re tempted to hop on board in order to not miss out rather than because you feel confident it’s the right thing. Or maybe someone gives you a deadline which forces you to say yes or no even though you’re not sure.
  • Don’t hurry to get answers you don’t need yet. This might mean, for example, that you stop asking God whether you should indy publish or whether you should look for a traditional publisher, because right now God just wants you to focus on finishing the first draft so you can learn the craft and develop relationships in the industry. You don’t need any other answers yet.

Dos:

  • Do pray and wait on God, and remember that his timeline is almost never the same as ours. 
  • Do seek godly wisdom in Scripture and through other trusted believers.
  • Do seek professional counsel such as industry experts, watchdog groups, and so on.
  • Do listen to your gut. We’re not saying that every decision needs to be a long, drawn-out affair. Sometimes you really do just know, and second-guessing can be paralyzing. When you’re in tune with yourself and with God, it’s not uncommon to sense his leading one way or another, or to sense a check in your spirit if God means for you to wait or run away. There’s a big difference between acting rashly and acting on good instincts.
9. Don’t hurry through your day

Schedule white space into your day. White space is a buffer where nothing is scheduled so you can slow down. Breathe. Reflect.

Think about your daily choices and activities so you’re not stuck in poor habits that you do without even thinking about. Experience your life. Don’t hurry through it.

10. Don’t Hurry…

Our next thing to not hurry is personal. It’s individual: Don’t hurry whatever it is that God may be telling you that you’re hurrying this year.

Take time to think and pray about this. Where are you dissatisfied? That might be a clue. Where are you in a hurry where you shouldn’t be? Maybe it’s something we already said. Maybe it’s something we didn’t say. Maybe there isn’t anything, and if so, good for you! But do go to God and ask.

It could be something that you’re hurrying for yourself, but it could also be something you’re hurrying someone else into. God knows, so seek him and patiently wait to hear from him. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT) tells us, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”

The chapter goes on to list all kinds of different activities and seasons, like a time to laugh and time to cry, to build up and tear down, and so on. But one thing it doesn’t say is “a time to hurry.” 

God doesn’t mean for us to live a hurried life. He means for us to live a purposeful life in relationship with him and others. Part of why we hurry is because we don’t always trust God with where we are. We don’t trust him with the times and seasons of our life. But that’s the very thing we need to do, because only God is sovereign and only he can see the whole picture.

Let’s leave the times and seasons to God and rest in an unhurried life, confident that he has our best in mind and will bring it about.

How often have we told ourselves to hurry up? Here are 10 specific things you need to do for your career—and life—but never in a hurry. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What’s one thing you want to NOT hurry this year?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our January sponsor of the month Kimberley Woodhouse! She’s an award-winning and bestselling author of more than forty books.  Her books have been awarded the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Reader’s Choice Award, Selah Award, Spur Award, Christian Market Book Award, Golden Scroll Award among others. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared with over 1,000,000 people at more than twenty-five hundred venues across the country. Check out her latest book: The Secrets Beneath. Connect with Kim at www.kimberleywoodhouse.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at PodcastPS for their fabulous sound editing!

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205 – The Beauty and Blessings of Silence

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The Beauty and Blessings of Silence Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungEverywhere we go in today’s world, there’s an abundance of noise. Silence has become a thing of the past, yet we’ve never needed it more. Learn how to tap into the beauty and benefits of one of today’s most precious commodities: silence.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

It’s a new year, and it’s a time where many people take stock and evaluate the past year, or the coming year. What do you hope for this year?

At Write from the Deep our hope and prayer for us and for you is that we’d all grow and deepen in our relationship with God. In our intimacy. Toward that end, we started a series last year on activities, or practices, to deepen our relationship with God. 

As we said before, some people call these practices spiritual disciplines, but we don’t necessarily want to think of them that way. They’re not disciplines for discipline’s sake. We’re not doing hard things just to make ourselves spiritual.

These are activities that are all about spiritual growth. They’re about tightening our connection to God and flourishing in our relationship with him. We want to grow in our conformity to Christ and in our role as his witnesses.

Today we want to talk about silence. Maybe you’ve had a very busy holiday season, and silence is something you welcome right now.  Or maybe the never-ending cycle of busyness has restarted after a holiday break, and silence feels like an impossibility. Or maybe you miss the sounds and festivities of friends and family celebrations, and you wish it weren’t so silent right now.

Whatever your situation, we want to give some thoughts and ideas of the good that can come from silence. We’ll talk about how and why you’d want to nurture and establish silence in your daily life.

WHAT IS SILENCE? 

First let’s talk about what silence is. Good ol’ Merriam Webster has several definitions, but the first one we want to talk about is the “absence of sound or noise: stillness.”

Absence of sound or noise; stillness

When you think about it, true silence—the absence of ALL noise—is hard to come by in our world today. There’s an abundance of mechanical sounds like cars, washing machines, office printers, and lawn mowers. There’s also a plethora of technology noise: beeps, whooshes, dings, rings. There’s entertainment noise—TV shows, music, social media videos, news broadcasts, the neighbor’s barbecue party. There’s even natural noise: birds, rain, wind, cicadas, waves.

Some people may never have experienced total silence, so just wrapping our minds around it might be difficult for some of us. It’s no wonder that silence can make us uncomfortable.

Dallas Willard, in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, has this to say: “…noise comforts us in some curious way. In fact, we find complete silence shocking because it leaves the impression that nothing is happening. In a go-go world such as ours, what could be worse than that!” 

He goes on to say, “Think what it says about the inner emptiness of our lives if we must always turn on the … radio to make sure something is happening around us.”

But creating silence—an absence of sound—involves more than just turning off devices that make noises or isolating ourselves from other natural noises. Silence forces us to cease activity, to cease making sounds. Remember this first definition of silence is stillness. We spend way more time than we realize on the go, either in body or mind. Spending time in silence means we stop moving, and we stop our thoughts from endless whirling. 

This stillness can make silence even more disconcerting. Dallas Willard says, “Silence is frightening because it strips us as nothing else does, throwing us upon the stark realities of our life.”

So why on earth would we want to create silence? What are the benefits of this disconcerting, possibly even frightening activity?

The Benefits of Stillness

1. Stillness promotes awareness.

Stillness gives us a time and place to evaluate what’s happening within us and around us. 

  • Are we stressed? Sometimes we don’t even know it.
  • Are we exhausted? Sometimes we won’t stop to acknowledge that and do something about it.
  • Are we creatively sapped? Has our creativity just been dwindling, forcing us to work harder with worse results? It can be difficult to notice this type of slow drain.
  • What troubles are we carrying that we should give over to God? Again, we don’t often realize that we’re piling on burdens, when really Jesus tells us his yoke is easy and his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). That should be our norm.
  • How much activity is really going on in our lives? We don’t often stop to take note of how we’ve overbooked ourselves or how we haven’t stopped moving in longer than we can remember.
  • Is there somebody around us who’s hurting, whom we haven’t noticed because of all the other noise in our life?

Silence gives us an opportunity to stop and evaluate and make changes.

2. Stillness strips away the world and leaves us only with God.

Another benefit of silence, of stillness, is that it gives us time to relish and acknowledge a simple, quiet connection with God. God is the only one who can fill our deepest longing and desire.

Acts 17:25 (NIV) tells us “…he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” We need time to soak in this truth, to let it sink deep into our hearts. It’s an acknowledgement of our full dependence on God. That gives us proper humility, gratitude, and a willingness to serve.

3. Silence helps us sort out and identify meaning.

Another benefit of silence is that it gives us time and space to ponder meaning. “Silence attracts meaning. If you stay silent for a whole hour, it will be hard not to write a poem.” (Richard Rohr, “Silent Compassion”)

We don’t want to go through life not recognizing our purpose, our meaning, and the meaning of what God is doing in us, through us, around us, and in the world. We’re here for God’s glory, to recognize his value, to worship and adore him. Meaning and purpose come from him and if we don’t take time to stop and recognize that, we’re missing out on his design for us.

Forbearance from speech or noise; muteness

We’ve talked about silence as stillness, so now let’s turn to another definition of silence. Merriam Webster says silence is “forbearance from speech or noise: muteness.”

The first thing we want to focus on with this definition is ceasing to talk. This can be very difficult for some of us. Why?

  • Sometimes the reason we talk so much is because we don’t like silence. We find it awkward. So we talk in an effort to fill the empty space.
  • Sometimes the reason we talk so much is because we’re too self-focused to stop talking. It’s sad to say that, but it’s more and more true. Our culture is “me focused.” The pursuit of self-satisfaction is not just normal, it’s expected and celebrated as a “right.” We don’t need to listen because our own thoughts and opinions matter most to us. Here’s what the Bible says about that in Proverbs 18:2: “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
  • Sometimes we talk too much because we simply don’t like to listen. Also, as we become more and more a product of our culture, sometimes we don’t listen because we simply don’t know how. We’re either out of practice, or we’ve forgotten, or we’ve never even learned. That seems harsh, but take an objective look at what’s happening in our world today and see if you don’t see some of these signs. 

Ceasing to talk is “forbearance from speech,” but what about the other aspect of this definition: “forbearance from noise”?

We already talked about personal stillness and not doing things that make mechanical noise, but what we mean in this definition of forbearance from “noise” is avoiding things like clamor, babble, grumbling, and piling on of pointless arguments.

  • These things show up in arenas like social media and email. Do we need to add to the endless chatter? The overwhelm we already all feel? We don’t.

Many writers have newsletters. Are we saying you shouldn’t send them out because they’re noise? Not exactly. What we’re saying is that you need to take a good look at the content you put out. Be objective and critical, because yes, it might be noise. If it is noise, either change it so it’s communication that truly matters, or don’t send it out. There’s nothing wrong with telling your readers that you’re only going to send letters when there is news.

  • Gossip, useless arguing, and unwholesome talk are also a form of noise. We need to practice muteness in those cases.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

James 1:26 is a pretty scathing pronouncement about our ability, or lack thereof, to control our tongue: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” NIV

Titus 3:9 tells us, But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”

In those days they quarreled about the law, but we can strongly consider applying this same notion to arguments about things like politics today.

The Benefits of Muteness

What are the benefits of NOT talking or making noise?

1. We learn how to listen. 

When we are forced to cease talking, there is room for someone else to speak. That’s a crucial first step to listening. We need to be silent. If we’re not talking, that also helps us interrupt our own self-focus, which will increase our capacity to actually listen to whoever is talking.

The next step is to ask the Holy Spirit for help in truly paying attention to what we’re hearing. To focus on listening, on considering what someone else is saying, on empathizing and learning, rather than sitting there looking like we’re listening when really we’re formulating our own response.

2. We gain insight.

Listening then turns into another amazing benefit of silence: we gain understanding and insight.

Remember that the Bible calls those who don’t want to understand, who just want to air their own opinions, fools. As followers of Christ, we’re called to compassion, concern, and love for others, which starts with understanding.

3. We learn prudence.

Another benefit of not talking is that we learn prudence. Practicing silence helps our first response to become listening rather than leaping in with an opinion, an argument, or an unnecessary comment. Our words will then become prudent, compassionate, timely, respectful, and wise. 

4. Muteness allows for life-transforming concentration on God.

Dallas Willard, again in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, lists another important benefit of not talking: “Only silence will allow us life-transforming concentration upon God. It allows us to hear the gentle God whose only Son ‘shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice above the street noise.’” (Matthew 12:19 KJV)

5. We gain a richer and more satisfying prayer life.

The benefit that flows out of our concentration on God is a richer and more satisfying prayer life. In our prayer life, how often do we go on and on with our talking, and we completely forget to be silent and listen for God? 

How often do we complain that we don’t hear from him, and yet we’re always the one doing the talking and never the one doing the listening?

When we stop talking, that opens the door for listening, for hearing God speak, and for time to let understanding come. If we don’t take time for silence in our prayer life, how can God direct us in how HE wants us to pray? We’re in danger of just babbling, or at the very least, neglecting prayer for things God would like us to pray for.

It’s very clear in Scripture that God ordained prayer. God wants us to be prayerfully involved in what happens in our daily lives, praying for our daily bread even, as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:11). And we’re to be prayerfully involved on a spiritual “world war” scale as Paul says to the Ephesians in chapter 6:10-20.

When we’re praying as God directs, we can’t help but feel a more dynamic relationship with God and his involvement in all aspects of our lives, from the mundane to the very real struggle between good and evil.

Absence of Mention; Secrecy

One last definition of silence we want to cover is what Merriam Webster says is “absence of mention: secrecy.”

  • One meaning of this is to honor the trust of someone who’s shared something with us in confidence.

We don’t go blabbing a secret. We don’t “share it as a prayer request,” and we don’t hint about it to others. We practice the absence of mentioning it. Obviously there are some exceptions in the case of harmful activity, but that’s not the typical situation.

 The benefit of secrecy is that you become trustworthy.

People need trustworthy listeners. God made humans to be relational people, and as Christ followers, we should do that in the best way we can.  

  • Another meaning of the definition of silence as secrecy is avoiding the type of talk that we do to hide poor self-esteem or our lack of confidence.

This might show up as bragging or the need to point out our own importance. Or It might show up as excuses, or assigning blame, or constant diffidence.

In The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard says, “We run off at the mouth because we are inwardly uneasy about what others think of us…we use words to ‘adjust’ our appearance and elicit their approval. Otherwise, we fear our virtues might not receive adequate appreciation and our shortcomings might not be properly ‘understood.’”

The benefit of the absence of mention is reliance on God.

What happens when we refrain from speaking to “manage our image”? Dallas Willard says, “In not speaking, we resign how we appear to God. And that is hard.” But he goes on to point out that God is always for us, and Jesus is always interceding for us. The Bible tells us that in Romans 8:31-34:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Ultimately the practice of secrecy will help us rely on God for our identity and our confidence. It helps us gain an inner confidence that has no need to speak. 

This type of silence, “absence of mention,” or “secrecy,” may bring up a few questions like:

1. What about the need to “defend ourselves” if someone slanders us?

What should we do if someone writes lies about us? Especially if writing is our profession and it could hinder our sales? Are we just supposed to let our publisher take the hit in sales?

    • Our first action should be prayer. What does God want us to do about this? We need to take time to listen and obey. Sometimes we’re to respond, but there may be times we’re not supposed to respond. There may be times when we should do as the Israelites were instructed to do as they faced the Red Sea with Pharaoh and the Egyptians hot on their trail in Exodus 14:14. They were told: “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
    • We also need to discuss this with our agent, if we have one, and our publisher, if we have one. Depending on the situation, it might be their job to defend us or speak for us.
    • If we’re an indie writer, again, prayer first, then heed what God says.
    • Bear in mind that responding to bad reviews is never a good idea. That’s a case where we need to let God be in charge. That person didn’t like our writing. They may even have a malicious attitude. We need to let that go.

2. How do we practice an “absence of mention” in light of the need to market our books?

    • Make sure you know what your motives are. Is your marketing about boosting your self-confidence? Is it about “proving something” through sales? Or is it stemming from a task God has given you to spread the message he gave you for his glory? Ask yourself: Who’s glory are you working for?
    • Using endorsements from others is another way to market without directly tooting your own horn, so to speak.
    • The bottom line is that marketing should come from a desire to serve rather than a desire to profit, even though making a profit isn’t wrong! Supporting your family isn’t wrong. People DO want to read. They want entertainment. They want hope. They want answers to problems. It’s okay to help them find that. It’s okay to serve others and be paid for it. What you want to avoid is believing that you’re the one ultimately in charge of making readers buy your books. God does that. 
HOW TO FIND OR FOSTER TIMES OF SILENCE

We’ve talked about what silence is, and what the benefits are of this practice, but how on earth can we make it happen in this noisy world?

1. Be willing to face it.

To benefit from silence, we first need to be willing to face it. Like solitude, which we talked about in a previous episode, the discomfort or the difficulty of silence may make us shy away from it. We may need to force ourselves. Ask God for help!

2. Start with short periods.

Consider starting with short periods of silence, even as little as 30 seconds. You’d be surprised how long that can feel like. Then gradually build up to more time.

3. Incorporate silence into your prayer time.

Every time you pray, start with silence, quieting yourself, even if you’re just meaning to pray a brief prayer before a meal, or for something you just got an email about, or whatever. As you go to God in more extended times of prayer, incorporate longer a period of silence, or several periods.

4. Take time for silence when you practice solitude.

We said in our episode on solitude that solitude doesn’t have to include silence, but it can. Being silent without the presence of others is much easier than achieving silence in the presence of others.

5. Take time for silence before you fall asleep at night.

You could have take time for silence when you first get into bed, or maybe you find a chair in a quiet corner of the house right before you go to bed.

6. Take time for silence when you wake up.

If you have chronic insomnia like Erin does, you have lots of opportunity to practice silence during the night. Or if you sleep well, then try taking time for silence when you first wake up in the morning. Maybe before you get out of bed, or maybe before you shower or start whatever morning routine you have. Or maybe you make a time of silence part of your morning routine.

Consider memorizing Habakkuk 2:20: “But the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before him.” You can recite that to yourself first to help you submit yourself to him and put yourself in the right place before him—humbled, submitted, and taking the time to be still and know he is God.

7. Go outside when it’s snowing.

If it’s winter where you are, like it is here in the United States where we are, maybe you’ll have a day or night where you get a peaceful snowfall. Bundle up and go sit out on your back porch or in your garage or backyard. Chances are that the flakes will fall silently, and snow that may already be on the ground will help to mute the surrounding noises to help you find silence.

8. Pray a specific prayer for silence.

We already mentioned asking God for help with practicing silence when it’s uncomfortable, but you can also pray for help with the practice of not talking in the presence of others. Ask God to remind you to keep your mouth shut and wait and listen. 

Psalm 141:3 says, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” We encourage you to memorize this and repeat this prayer often!

9. Don’t give up.

Don’t give up if you can’t find true silence. It’s not always possible. I (Erin) have tinnitus, so there’s no longer any such thing as true silence for me. There’s always a ringing. But I can’t let that stop me from practicing as much silence as I can.

There is a reason for the saying, “Silence is golden.” It really is. In our silence, God can do much in our hearts and spirits and minds. Enter into that silence right now and let him know you are listening and ready for his word!

Silence isn’t just golden, it’s necessary. Come discover why. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
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How do you feel about silence?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our January sponsor of the month Kimberley Woodhouse! She’s an award-winning and bestselling author of more than forty books.  Her books have been awarded the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Reader’s Choice Award, Selah Award, Spur Award, Christian Market Book Award, Golden Scroll Award among others. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared with over 1,000,000 people at more than twenty-five hundred venues across the country. Check out her latest book: The Secrets Beneath. Connect with Kim at www.kimberleywoodhouse.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at PodcastPS for their fabulous sound editing!

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204 – Advent Anchors for Troubled Waters

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Advent Anchors for Troubled Waters Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

The Advent season is about celebration and expectation. Though we’re almost finished with Advent, the four themes of the season can be anchors for you all year long! Come explore these Advent Anchors to keep you safe and steady in troubled waters.

But first, thank you to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

I love Advent. I love the sense of anticipation, the way it teaches us to watch and wait, to celebrate and prepare for not just Christ’s birth, but for the day He will return to this broken, weary world. It’s celebration of what has happened and expectation of what will happen. Though the Advent season this year is almost over, the four themes of Advent—hope, peace, joy, and love—can carry us all year long. In fact, we need to carry a spirit of Advent through the whole year. To help us do that, we’re going to discuss four Advent anchors that can hold us firm and fast, no matter what troubled waters come our way.

Advent anchor 1 – Put your hope in God’s word

Let’s start with the Advent theme of hope. Writers are well acquainted with hope. When we embark on the task God gives us to write, we are full of hope and expectation for what God will do in us and through us. As time passes, though, and we experience the good and bad of the writing life, it can become harder to hold on to hope. And when we get bogged down in the state of the world and the church and publishing, it can become almost impossible.

How do we hold on to hope? We take a firm grasp on Advent Anchor 1 from Psalm 119:14: “You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.

Advent Anchor 1 is to put your hope in God’s Word! What does that mean? It means trust. Trust what his word says rather than what you see around you, i.e., the world and all its problems.

If you trust what the world is saying, there’s no way to avoid becoming discouraged. Hopeless. But when you put your hope in God’s word, you understand this world is the enemy’s playground. He’s doing all he can to derail God’s work and His redemption of the lost. Compelling truth.org says it this way: 

“When humanity chose to listen to Satan rather than God, Satan became ‘ruler of this world’ (John 12:31). This means that Satan has a degree of authority on earth, and Satan’s objective is to cause suffering, death, and separation from God. …Never forget that ‘the devil prowls like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is the king of deception and desires us to believe the lie that God does not care about our suffering (John 8:44).”

The key to being hopeful in a seemingly hopeless world is to keep our focus on God and the undeniable truths in his word. 

John 3:16 begins with, “For God so loved the world…” That means he cares about every one of us, believer and nonbeliever alike. He sent his Son to die for us and restore us to Him and His love. 

Psalm 34:18 tells us that God comforts the brokenhearted. If He didn’t care, why would He do that? And Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne; love and faithfulness go before Him.”

These are only a few of the many Scriptures that put the lie to all Satan is and does. Hope in God’s word, friends. Trust what God says. Then, no matter how turbulent the waters around us, we can know we’re held fast by Almighty God. We can echo the psalmist in Psalm 42:11, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Advent Anchor 2 – Let Christ’s Peace Rule in Your Heart

Many of our books have carried a theme of peace to readers. We’ve crafted stories that take readers on a journey through struggles into the arms of God’s peace. Yet, how often do we ourselves wrestle with anxiety, fear, and a sense of inadequacy? How often do we wonder if God really gave us this task to write his stories and books, especially when we consider things like sales and contracts and the many human measuring sticks of “success”?

Which leads us to Colossians 3:15: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” That leads us right to Advent Anchor 2: Let Christ’s peace rule in your heart.

Colossians 3:15 ends with a fascinating fact: “…since as members of one body you were called to peace.” Called to peace. I looked in Webster’s for a definition of call, and found a boatload, many of which didn’t seem to fit in this context.

Then I looked for the Jewish word used in this verse, and found that it’s kaleó, which means “I summon, invite” and “I name.” That last meaning really hit me. In fact, kaleó is also used in Matthew 1:21: “…and they shall call his name Immanuel.”

God summons and invites us to peace. But more than that, as his followers he names us peace. In other words, that’s who we are in him. His peace is a part of our spiritual DNA. Even as a father imparts traits to a child, so God, when we accept Christ, weaves his peace into the very fabric of who we are. All we need to do is embrace it, as his beloved children. To choose it over those powerful worldly emotions that seek to drown us. 

If you’re struggling with negative emotions, with wondering why God asked you to write when you can’t seem to gain any ground, with family or personal crises…it’s time. Choose God’s peace. Place it, not emotions, on the throne of your heart. Usher God’s peace in with an open heart. Because his peace is more powerful than any turbulence. His peace pours oil over troubled waters. 

Okay, story time. I’ve always wondered where that phrase, pouring oil over troubled waters, came from. Turns out it’s an Irish priest named Utta and the Irish missionary, St. Aidan. Before a sea voyage, brother Utta went to St. Aidan and asked him to pray for them as they traveled on the sea. He did so, but also gave them some holy oil, saying, “you will meet with a storm and contrary wind; but be mindful to cast this oil I give you into the sea, and the wind will cease immediately; you will have pleasant calm weather to attend you and send you home by the way that you desire.” 

Sure enough, Utta and his companions were caught in a terrible storm, and were sure they would die. But Utta remembered St. Aidan’s words, grabbed the vial of oil and threw it on the raging waters. Immediately, the waters calmed and the sun came out, and the rest of their voyage was safe. 

What we see in that story, and in Scripture, is that embracing God’s peace requires action on our part. Yes, it’s a part of us, but we must turn to it and choose it when everything seems to be saying the last thing we should be is peace-filled.

How do we do that? Philippians 4:6-9 gives us the perfect guide: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

Step One: Prayer and petition with thanksgiving in every situation

To be clear, this is telling us to be THANKFUL for the difficulties that have made us anxious. Why would that be? I think it’s to give us opportunity to do exactly what our guest Rachel Hauck was talking about in our last podcast episode: Watch and wait and see what amazing thing the Almighty God is going to do.

Step Two: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

It’s an old principle: Garbage in, garbage out. What you put into your mind will produce a result. Put in what is true, noble, and so on, and you get God’s peace. Put in Satan’s lies or the world’s ideologies, you get anxiety, worry, and worse. 

Step three: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice…” Philippians 4:9

There’s so much wisdom in the Bible, and Paul shares a wealth of guidance for godly living. But we need to do more than just read it. We need to put it into practice. Follow the wisdom in the word of God. Do the things we’re instructed to do as his followers.

The result of following these three steps? “…The God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9

Advent Anchor 3 – Tap Into God’s Joy 

I’m sure you’ve all heard people speak many times about the difference between happiness and joy, so we’ll just start here with this: Joy is based on internal factors. Happiness is based on external factors. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with happiness. It’s fun and positive. But it can be gone as fast as it comes. Poor book sales, canceled contracts, massive rewrites, unfair reviews…so many things in the writing life can kill happiness.

But joy that’s based in God has staying power. It’s an attitude of the heart and spirit. Because it’s from God, it can co-exist with other emotions, even negative ones. We can be joyful in the face of anger, fear, even unhappiness. Joy is grander and deeper than happiness, and God’s joy carries us through whatever storms we encounter. 

Advent Anchor 3, then, is tap into God’s joy. How do we do that? How do we immerse ourselves in that divine, sustaining joy?

David gives us some tips. Consider Psalm 16:11: “…in your presence there is fullness of joy.”

Step One: Spend time with God

Just as you can’t build a healthy relationship with other people without spending time with them, you can’t find joy in your relationship with God unless you spend time in his presence, talking with him, getting to know him and learning what he thinks of you. Trust me, it’s good news!

The great thing is that wherever you are, God is there, too. All you need to do is turn your heart and thoughts to him. Seek his presence. Revel in his accessibility to you. He’s never too busy, never distracted, never dismissive. Think about that. There is no other person in the whole wide world you can say that about. God’s attention is always on you, and he’s waiting for you to seek him out. So do so. 

David’s next tip is from Psalm 33:21: “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”

Step Two: Trust God

My hubby and I have been through a lot of difficult things over the nearly forty-four years of our marriage. Some of them were devastating. After a number of years and crazy things happening, we developed a sort of mantra for our lives: “God is in control. I may not understand it, I may not even like it, but I trust him.”

Do you trust God? Really trust him? To the point that you can echo with Job, “Yea, though he slay me, I will trust in him” (Job 13:15)?

If you’re not sure, then let me encourage you to dig in and explore whether or not God is trustworthy. Even if you do trust him, dig in and be reminded of God’s character. If you seek him, he’ll show you who he is. I guarantee it. 

The next step to tapping into God’s supernatural joy comes in the first half of Psalm 9:1: “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart”   

Step Three: Praise him

When we praise God, we focus on who he is, what he’s done. Praise ushers us into his presence, and centers our hearts and minds on him. Praise reminds us of God’s intervention in our lives and of the blessings he has given us. Praise breaks the chains Satan tries to put on us by enlisting God’s protection and action. Praise restores our souls and infuses us with joy. 

Finally, consider the second half of Psalm 9:2: “I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.”

Step Four: Testify

If you’re a parent, remember the first time your child took a step? What did you do? Told everyone about this amazing feat! Or the last time you saw a great movie, what did you do? Told your friends and family about it. Or the first time you got a writing contract? You sang it from the rooftops!

When God works in your life, when he blesses you or upholds you, when he brings you relief or an answer to prayer, when he opens your imagination and gives you a story solution you never would have thought of, when he speaks to or through you at a writers’ conference…whatever he’s done through and for you, tell others! Let people know the wonder of following this loving, all-powerful, unbelievably kind God. Don’t keep it to yourself, friends. Sing it out!

Follow these tips from David, and you’ll be able to say with him: “I will be filled with joy because of you…O Most High.” Psalm 9:2

Advent Anchor 4 – Dwell in God’s Love

Love is my favorite Advent theme. My favorite theme for the whole year! Love. Not just any love, but God’s love. There is no comparison to God’s love. No love so amazing, eternal, or far-reaching. His love is what draws us to him. It’s what motivates us to do whatever task he’s given us, even when it’s something as hard at times as writing. 

Advent Anchor 4 is the simplest, and yet the most profound: Dwell in God’s Love.

There are so many verses in the Bible about God’s love. In fact, He tells us about his love 310 times in 280 verses! But here’s the deal: even if you read those verses over and over and over, you’d never fully understand God’s love for you.

In Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:18-19 he says, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” 

Yet there is nothing more deserving of study and exploration. God’s love is the beginning and end of all that exists. It is what brought us all into existence, and it is what will usher us into eternity with him. So what are some resources to help you better understand God’s love? 

  • Scripture is your number one resource. Meditate on it, read it, study it. God’s word is a love story.
  • Fellowship with other believers is another resource: church, Bible studies, fellowship groups. The more we share our experiences with God’s love the better we all understand it.
  • Books about God, both fiction and nonfiction
  • Podcasts about God
  • Spending time with God, listening to him
  • Singing or studying hymns

As someone who grew up in the church, I’ve long cherished hymns. I’ve often told writers that if they want to see powerful, concise writing, read the classic hymns. Their powerful truths reveal the wonder of God’s love.…

O Love that Will Not Let Me Go

“O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.”

The Love of God

“The love of God is greater far
  Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
  And reaches to the lowest hell.

“The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
  And pardoned from his sin. 

“O love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.”

And Can it Be?

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died he for me, who caused his pain, for me, who Him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

Can it be? You’d better believe it! Because God’s love for us has no end. When we accept that love and dwell in it, every moment of every day, nothing can shake us. No storm, no trial, no disappointment, no upheaval…nothing can dislodge the anchor we have in his love. Not just for the coming year, but for our whole lives. 

As Romans 8:38-39 tells us:

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Benedictions

As we close this podcast, we want to offer the following benedictions for each of these themes. May they encourage and bless you today and in the coming year. 

A benediction of hope from Romans 15:13:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

A benediction of peace from Philippians 4:7:

“[May] you …experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

A benediction of joy from 1 Peter 1:8-9:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and … you believe in him… [May you be] filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

A benediction of love from 1 John 3:1:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

The writing life is almost never smooth sailing, but as Christian writers, we have rock solid hope. Here are 4 advent anchors to keep you safe and steady in troubled waters. #christianwriter #amwriting Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What is your favorite thing about the Advent season?

THANK YOU!

Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our December sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir called Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will release with Redemption Press. Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com and follow her blog for the TBI/PTSD community.

Many thanks also to the folks at PodcastPS for their fabulous sound editing!

STAY CONNECTED

Want the latest news from Karen and Erin? Click here to join our newsletter and get an exclusive audio download.