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101 – Make the Most of Your Writing Season

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Make the Most of Your Writing SeasonDid you realize there are seasons to a writer’s life? From the beginnings of spring to the seeming death of winter we all experience these seasons as we seek to honor God in our writing. Unlike nature’s seasons, though, each season of the writing life can last a short time, or a long time. And each season brings blessings and obstacles. Learn how to thrive in whatever season God has you in right now!

But first, don’t forget about our newest Going Deeper Workshop: Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk. We understand the struggle to keep our thoughts filled with truth rather than doubts, lies, worries, or fear. This self-paced audio course will help you fill your minds and hearts with the ultimate antidotes to your specific negative thoughts and words. Check out this workshop (and our others) at writefromthedeep.teachable.com!

How to make the most of your writing season

If you’re hearing this when it first airs, it’s September in the United States, and we’re just getting ready to head into autumn. God created such beauty when He made the seasons. There’s so much for us to learn from each season, not just in nature, but in our life and in our writing journeys. Because whether you realize it or not, writers have seasons in their journeys.

From the first spring, when you start on this amazing journey of writing, to the springs that happen after years and years of writing, these seasons always bring us both blessings and potential obstacles. So let’s take a look at how we can embrace the blessings and avoid the obstacles in the seasons of the writing life.

The Spring Writing Season

Spring in the writer’s journey can be when you’re just starting out and everything is new and exciting, or it can happen when you’ve been writing awhile and your journey is coming out of a winter season. When God is breathing new energy and focus and ideas into you.

The Blessings of the Spring Writing Season

Everything is new. You’re planting the seeds of ideas, then nurturing them. You’re learning the craft, going to conferences, getting involved with a critique partner or group, etc. Those seeds will grow and bloom in a story. Then a book!

When spring shows up in nature, many of us welcome the sunshine and fresh air by opening up windows and letting them flood in. Likewise, spring on the writing journey is the time you open the windows of your heart and mind to the fresh ideas God has for your writing.

For those who’ve been writing awhile, spring can be when you discover a new direction or element of the craft, and that discovery breathes excitement and creativity into you. You sense you’re perched on the edge of something powerful and life or career altering.

Spring in the writing journey also brings us the nourishment of community. We’re meeting new people, finding new allies. The wealth of encouragement that brings us is as refreshing and restorative as spring rains. Hosea 6:3 reminds us how important and necessary those “spring rains” are: “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”

The Obstacles of the Spring Writing Season

1. Too many ideas in your head.

Solutions:

  • Jot your ideas down but stay focused on your current project.
  • If something won’t let you alone, then set aside time to pray about it. If it’s something God wants you to act on now, He’ll let you know.

2. An abundance of advice from varied sources can be confusing, even frustrating.

Solutions:

  • Focus on one area of improvement at a time, weigh carefully what you hear from others.
  • Give yourself time and space to decide what works for you and ditch the rest without guilt.

3. When we see book after book release, it’s easy to get discouraged, to think there are too many books out there vying for attention, so how will anyone ever find your book(s)?

Solutions:

  • Get your focus off of others and their books, and onto the One who has given you this task to write.
  • Embrace Isaiah 40:31 because it reminds us what our focus needs to be, and how energizing that focus will be: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
  • Stay focused on God and where He has you in your journey. Leave others and their books to Him. They’re not for you to worry over. In fact, if you’re going to focus on them at all, let it be to celebrate with your brothers and sisters who are serving the same God you serve!
  • When you feel like your book is lost in a sea of other books, be willing to invest time and money in cultivating readership and growing an audience. Make it about serving, not numbers. Let it be a time of you nurturing others and let the results grow over time.
The Summer writing season

Summer is when nature shows off the fruits of all the spring labor. All that diligent planting and tending and feeding and watering produces a beautiful abundance. Likewise, in a writer’s summer season, all the work and study and prayer of the writer’s spring brings things to life! Things heat up, and it seems growth and blooming in your writing is happening fast and often. You find yourself working harder than you ever thought possible, but that’s okay, because this summer also brings you boundless energy. Energy that writers can harness to work and to play.

The Blessings of the Summer Writing Season

Nature’s summer is a great time to absorb important nutrients like vitamin D. Likewise, when your writing journey is in a summer season, you need to be sure you’re absorbing the “nutrients” that will strengthen and sustain you. What nutrients? God’s Word! No matter how frantic you are or how busy you feel, you MUST take time to soak in God’s word. 1 Peter 2:2 tells us, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”

A writer’s summer season is when we experience boundless energy, productivity, and, as a result, growth. Sometimes that’s growth in your career, but more often it’s inner growth. We gain a firmer understanding of what our journey is about, and what God is doing in us as a result. Those deeper insights and understandings flow from our hearts and spirits onto the page.

Writers can also harness the energy that comes with a summer season to play! To gather with other writers at conferences or retreats and share ideas and experiences. To read those books you’ve been longing to read but haven’t had the energy. And so much more!

The Obstacles of the Summer Writing Season

1. With everything that’s going on, you can become overwhelmed and even burned out. You can end up hot and tired and not able to do what you need to do.

Solutions:

  • Be aware of your pace, be aware of your surroundings, most people don’t notice sunburn until it’s already happened.
  • Work to prevent your writer’s burnout before it happens by putting safety measures in place. Pay attention to things like your posture in writing and the proper height for your keyboard to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Get a good chair, stand sometimes, and pay attention to the length of your writing sessions.
  • Be aware of your writing schedule and avoid putting yourself in the position of having to schedule an excessive amount of words per day.

2. Drought. Creativity dries up, passion dries up, our closeness to God feels dried up too. These are usually all connected. When we lose touch with the Creator, we have a harder time creating as beings in His image.

Solutions:

  • Always stay tuned to your “why.” Why are you writing? Know the answer!
  • Know what restores your passion, know what nurtures your creativity, and schedule time for those activities.

3. A growing sense of competition. When we realize other writers are having a summer season and things are happening for them, we run the risk of entering an emotional competition with them. If they show up on a best-sellers’ list, we wonder why we didn’t. If they get a movie deal, we think there must be something wrong with us, or they sold out to get the deal. As a result, we end up frustrated and discouraged.

Solution:

  • Write the very best book you can and trust God’s plans for it. Whether God intends your writing to be traditionally published, indie published, written for friends, or for just you and God, know that His purpose will stand, and His purpose is always perfect.
The Autumn writing season

The autumns of our journey are those times when it feels as though we’ve settled in to the writing journey. We’ve learned a lot, have put much of it into practice, and now a harvest of confidence and return is happening.

For some, we finally have a routine and it’s producing a harvest of words on the page. For others, words have become books on the shelves, and letters from readers sharing how your writing has touched them. In our autumns, we find a sense of belonging in the writing world and richness in what God is teaching us through the process.

The Blessings of the Autumn Writing Season

While summer seasons can be a lot of fun, our autumn seasons are calmer and more relaxed. We can just do what we know to do, and leave the details to God.

Our autumn seasons remind us that change is inevitable, Nothing stays the same. God didn’t create the world to be stuck in time or one season. And just as the animals use autumn to store up for winter, writers should use their autumn season to store up for whatever changes are coming. And for winter. Store up on what? Well, here are a few suggestions:

  • God’s truths and wisdom in His Word
  • research and craft books
  • fun books to read and savor
  • anything that encourages us

The Obstacles of the Autumn Writing Season

1. Because we have a sense of being settled, we have a tendency to ease off. To be more distracted and tempted to go off on rabbit trails of “Hey, that’s something new I can try!” But those rabbit trails too often don’t lead us where we hope, and we lose ground we’ve gained.

Solution:

  • Never forget the admonition in Philippians 3:14 to remain diligent and press on toward the goal. Our ultimate goal, of course, is to reflect Christ to the world. But we also need to be diligent in performing the tasks God has given us.

2. The leaps and bounds of our summer season may start to slow and even out. People who loved your book when it released aren’t talking about it as much. Your traffic on social media seems to be stalling, and you’re not in the spotlight. Too often writers see this as loss rather than the natural pace and pattern of the publishing world.

Solutions:

  • Learn from the leaves. Let go! Accept that God’s in control and let Him do what He desires.
  • Hold fast to two powerful verses:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

The Winter Writing Season

In nature, winter can seem desolate, a time when everything dies and is buried under heavy blankets of snow. A season cursed by cold, little daylight, and a dearth of the colors in the other seasons. But in reality, winter is a season of wonder and great beauty. But you have to have your eyes open to see those things.

Likewise, when our writing journey enters winter, things slow down and even seem to be stopping. Maybe dying far earlier than we wanted. We look at where we are and it seems everything has just…frozen. But we writers must keep our heart and spirit open to what God has for us in this remarkable season on our journey.

The Blessings of the Winter Writing Season

There’s no time more conducive to rest and being restored than winter. With the busyness of the other seasons gone, we can give ourselves a break. Breathe deep of the Spirit’s presence.

Winter in a writer’s journey is the perfect time to sit back and think. To savor the quiet. To ponder what’s happened in the past, and where you are now. Are you where God wants you? If your career seems to have slowed to a standstill, ask God if it’s time to do something different. Ponder your goals. Write them out and then spend time praying over them, seeking God’s guidance.

Winter is also a time to simmer inside, like a cabin in the snowy woods with a warm glow in the window. Stuff is happening in that cabin, even if the rest of the world looks like it’s asleep.

The Obstacles of the Winter Writing Season

1. Not understanding the difference between dormant and dead. If something is dead, there’s no bringing it back to life. But if it’s dormant, there’s hope. Maybe with a little attention it can bloom back to life. With the right kind of effort and intention, it can bloom in more amazing ways. With prayer and study, it can surge back to life, stronger than ever before.

2. Harshness. The winter season can bring harshness such as bitter reviews, cold decisions from your publisher (like dropping you) or trials from retailers (like bookstore closings, changing royalty rates, or new fees). Maybe you got your social media account cut off or a plagiarizer stole your books.

Solution:

  • We have to go back to what we’ve said before. Trust in God. Take refuge in God. He’s the shelter from the elements, the storms, the bitter cold. Psalm 46:1says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

3. Barren market. Maybe no publisher is looking for what you write, or your genre is frozen over in the market.

Solution:

  • This industry is cyclical, bide your time and be faithful in your daily tasks
  • If, after you’ve spent time reflecting and seeking God, you feel you should change your genre, then use your winter season to prepare

4. Barren mind. No ideas are coming to you because you feel you’ve used them all up. They’ve had their time and their growth and now that’s over.

Solution:

  • Look again at what you stored up in autumn. You may find a kernel that needs to simmer before it reaches full potential.

5. Barren sales. No one is buying your book.

Solutions:

  • This is a good time to evaluate if you need a new cover, a new description, or a change in categories.
  • It’s also a good time to learn and explore new ideas for marketing, new tactics for reaching readers.

Always remember that winter is just one of the seasons writers experience. There will be light and color and new growth again at the end of this season. God is for you, and what He has planned for you and your career WILL happen.

Final words

Whatever season of the writing journey you’re in, embrace it. Yes, sometimes it can seem you’ve been in one season for-EVER! You long for a different season because surely it will be better. But as with nature, God is in control of the seasons in our journey as writers. He’s the one who changes the seasons, not you or I. So instead of fighting or resenting or being frustrated about your season, surrender to God’s work in your life and career and embrace your season. Sink deep in the blessings it holds, and seek God’s wisdom and strength to deal with––or even avoid––the obstacles. And know that the one thing that will never change, regardless of what season you’re in, is God’s Spirit being with you every step of the way.

We want to hear from you!

What writing season are you in? What blessings and obstacles are you finding?

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Are you in a writing season of growth…or decay? Learn how to thrive in any season!

THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our September sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! She writes atmospheric and charismatically character-driven suspense. You can find out more about Tammy and her book Blood Beneath the Pines at her website tammypartlow.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous sound editing!

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100 – Best Advice for Writers from Writers

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Best Advice for Writers from Writers Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungThe Write from the Deep Podcast wants to thank you! We’ve reached a milestone, and you’re a big part of that. It’s our 100th podcast! To celebrate, we’ve asked proven authors from across the states to share with our listeners their very best advice for the writing life.

But first, a reminder that our newest Going Deeper Workshop: Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk is now available!

As writers, we understand the power of words. We want the words that fill our hearts, our minds, and our pages to sing God’s truth. Yet too often they don’t because we struggle with lies, unrelenting negative messages, and imposter syndrome.

But you can learn to stop those damaging messages in their tracks and replace them with specific truths to set you and your writing free.

That’s what this resource is all about! Learn more about Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk.

Welcome to our 100th podcast!

We’re so excited to reach this milestone, and so grateful to all of you for listening.

This podcast is all about equipping you—heart, soul, and mind—to be the best writer you can be, so to celebrate our momentous 100th podcast, we contacted established authors and asked them to share their best advice for writers.

“The best piece of advice I ever received was by Colleen Coble….she told me that writing was a business and I needed to invest in my business. Meaning, get the programs I needed to write in, take the classes from legitimate resources, attend writers’ conferences to learn and meet industry professionals and network, and join legitimate writing organizations to keep up with what’s happening in the industry as well as to keep learning and growing in the craft.”  – Robin Carroll

Robin Carroll’s latest book: Darkwater Truth

“Start saving now for a writer’s conference. Conferences can be expensive, but they’re an investment you’ll never regret. Besides invaluable workshops and a chance to get your work in front of editors, agents, and publishers, the contacts you make with other writers—people who get you!—are priceless.”  – Deborah Raney

Learn more about Deborah Raney

“Here’s my advice: Keep your butt in the chair. Perspiration beats inspiration hands-down.”  – Bill Myers

Learn more about Bill Myers

“As a full-time writer and a full-time administrative assistant, I’ve had to learn how to be disciplined about my writing time. That means setting manageable goals. Instead of being overwhelmed by a deadline and the sheer volume of words needed to meet it, I break the manuscript up into monthly, weekly, even daily word counts that are much easier to swallow. For me, one thousand words per day translates into about an hour and a half each evening. On the weekends, I try to double or even triple that. Using this approach has made me a better communicator and a much more prolific writer.”  – Elizabeth Ludwig

Learn more about Elizabeth Ludwig

“To quote writer Norah Ephron: ‘Everything is Copy.’ For the believer, this means that nothing is wasted.  Not one tear. Not one celebration. Not one wrong move. Not one right one. Every moment is precious. Golden. Worthy of capturing in a snapshot. The breathtaking, agonizing, seemingly unimportant moments we go through on a day to day basis aren’t just potential copy for future books; they are also copy in the great story God is writing in and through us. They shape, mold, and define us, and carve us into the image of our Creator. They also make us better writers. No matter what you’re facing today, God will use it to His glory.”  Janice Thompson

Learn more about Janice Thompson

“I think I’ve learned that the writing journey is full of the unexpected – because God often is. He’s more interested in shaping us, than concerned about the books we write. That means we might have twists and turns that can be hard – but they are for our good. Even if we can’t see it in the moment.”  – Sarah Jeffrey

Learn more about Sarah Jeffrey

“Dare to go to the places you are asking your readers to go to. Superficial writing makes for superficial impact.”  – Mary DeMuth

Mary DeMuth’s latest book: We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis

“Embrace being a beginner! No one expects beginners to be experts, and there’s a great deal of freedom in that. Instead of faking it and praying no one notices that you have no idea what’s going on, own the fact that it’s new, that it will take a while to figure it all out, and that you need some help. Then be prepared because after you get past being a beginner writer, you’ll publish a book and you’ll be a beginner all over again, this time as a first-time author. And again, you’ll benefit from embracing your beginner status and not being embarrassed to ask questions, learn from those with more experience, and accept that there will be a few bumps along the way.”  – Lynn Blackburn

Lynn Blackburn’s latest book: One Final Breath

“Writing is a creative passion; it’s also a skill that must be honed. Be patient. Take the time you need to learn the craft and the business side of writing before you take the next step, finding an agent to represent you to publishers. You only get one chance at a first impression.”  – Lori Benton

Learn more about Lori Benton

“God created us for community, and we shouldn’t try to do any part of life alone. I believe all writers need a group of like-minded friends with whom to share the journey. Some will have more experience and insight than you. Others will lean in to hear the lessons you’ve learned that they haven’t yet. You should seek critique partners who’ll help you craft your words, maybe brainstorming partners to help you develop your ideas. When you neglect to build a community of Christian writers, not only will you miss out on all you can learn from them, but they will miss out on the wisdom and knowledge God has given to you. We were not created to do life alone. If you don’t have a community of writer friends, start praying for one now.”  – Robin Patchen

Robin Patchen’s latest book: Legacy Rejected

“My best writing journey advice is aimed straight back at me, because it’s so HARD for an introvert! Stay connected to the real world by loving and serving people outside your writing cave. This will ensure that you have something worth writing about.”  – Beth White

Learn more about Beth White

“Don’t be afraid of a terrible first draft. It’s OK if you hate it. That doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, or that you should delete the work. On the contrary, it means that you see room for improvement, and that’s a good thing. I have more confidence in a writer who’s embarrassed by their first draft than I do one who is proud of it and thinks it’s ready for publication.”  – Regina Jennings

Regina Jennings’s latest book: The Lieutenant’s Bargain

“My advice is rather simplistic, but it’s so true. A writer must do two things: she must read, read, read and write, write, write. The habit of writing begets writing. When one style of writing stalls, try something else for a little bit. Whenever I need a break from fiction, I write more nonfiction and poetry for awhile, then dive back into writing fiction with a renewed sense of calling. I could also expand it to say a writer writes even when she doesn’t feel like it.”  – Darlene Franklin

Darlene Franklin’s latest novella release in the collection: Love and Hope at Christmas

“Once you have published, remember to take care of your self. Protect and nurture the creative force inside, or as some say, ‘Refill the well.’ It sounds cliche’ but it’s incredibly important. Spend time reading. Spend time with Jesus, with family, with friends. Anything that’s not writing. Make time to recharge. To do otherwise leads to burnout from which you may not ever recover. For new writers, II Timothy 2:15 says to “Study to show thyself approved.” This is true in our Christian walk, of course, but also in our writing journey. Writing is a craft that must be learned. So write, study, and then rewrite using what you’ve learned. Rinse and repeat. Don’t be impatient to get your work out there. You want it to be the best it can be.”  –  Linda Goodnight

Learn more about Linda Goodnight

“Persevere and never give up no matter how long you wait and learn all you can from those with experience. When the time is right in God’s eyes, He will open the door for you to enter the new adventures that wait with your writing.”  – Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers’s latest book: Diagnosis Love

“Don’t make any move in writing or publishing without waiting for that peace from God in your spirit. If you don’t have an answer from Him, don’t take a step forward.”  – Misty Beller

Misty Beller’s latest book: Hope’s Highest Mountain

“Do not fall in love with winning awards, making money or being published. That part of writing is an emotional roller coaster. Instead, make sure what nourishes you, what gets you out of bed in the morning, is sitting alone in a room listening to the keyboard click while you create worlds, watch characters grow and change and get at some deeper truth that only a story can reveal.”  – Sharon Dunn

Learn more about Sharon Dunn

“Writers have a tendency to procrastinate, then write like crazy near a deadline. That’s dangerous, as it’s highly stress-producing and too easy to miss that deadline. Whether you are a seat of the pants writer (pantser) or an outline/synopsis writer (plotter), it’s good to get a handle on that procrastination. Set a daily goal, even if it’s just 1/2 hour or four hours. Write something. Sometimes stream of consciousness writing gets the juices flowing. If you’re staring into space, think about something creative – preferably about your characters and your story. Write down those thoughts. Make writing something down a habit. Ideas begin to flow when we put our minds in gear.”  – Sunni Jeffers

Learn more about Sunni Jeffers

“Write what you need to read, and dedicate your work to the Lord from the beginning. Also, remember that You can’t run a race if you’re looking around at what others are doing.  You’ll stumble and fall flat on your face. We have to keep our eye on the goal – pleasing Jesus!”  – Francine Rivers

Learn more about Francine Rivers

“Soon after my move from the ABA (general market) to the CBA (Christian market), someone asked me how I measured my success. For many writers, measuring success is all about bestseller lists, awards, and/or the amount of money one makes. For someone writing for the Lord, that is dangerous ground. Measuring leads to comparing, and that’s a slippery slope. Back in 2000, I highlighted these verses, followed by a note in the margin:

So Peter seeing [John, the disciple whom Jesus loved] said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’ (John 21:21-22)

“The note in the margin said:

Jesus was saying, ‘Don’t look at what I’m doing with someone else’s life. Don’t look at what I’m doing with their career. All that should concern you is what I’m doing in your life.’ In other words, keep your nose out of John’s business!!

  – Robin Lee Hatcher

Learn more about Robin Lee Hatcher

“Don’t compare yourself to others. Because if you do, as the Desiderata instructs, ‘You’ll either become vain. Or bitter.’ Run your own race and cheer on the authors running beside you. Truly being able to rejoice with your author buddies when they get a movie deal or a major award or make the #1 Bestseller slot is one of the best things about writing. Because when you realize that God has your writing, your career, in the palm of his hand, it’s easier to let go of the comparison game. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever be tempted to look over at the next lane and think, ‘Wow, I’d sure like to be running her race!’ Hey, the ‘old flesh’ dies hard. But it does mean that you can ask the Holy Spirit to recenter your thoughts on Jesus and on the race that God has specifically set out for you to run (Hebrews 12:1-2).”  – Tamera Alexander

Learn more about Tamera Alexander

“Stay focused on God and on Jesus and on what they’re asking you to do. Don’t worry about marketing. Don’t worry about a publisher or an agent liking your manuscript. Don’t write for that reason. Write out of obedience and just focus on being obedient. All the details of your journey, whether or not you’re published, whatever God is seeking to accomplish through you on this writing journey, that’s His circus and His monkeys. The only thing you have control over is you and your obedience. That’s where you need to stay focused.”  – Karen Ball

“Go with God and enjoy the journey. Enjoy with God, and go deep with Him. This is all about what you and God are doing together. What are you learning from Him? What exciting things does His presence hold for you? Do that. Stay there and He’ll give you things to write.”  – Erin Taylor Young

Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young’s latest book: Finding and Working with an Editor: Everything You Need to Know for a (Nearly) Pain-Free Edit

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

What’s your best advice for writers?

TWEETABLE

Celebrate our 100th podcast with us as proven authors share their best advice for the writing life!

THANK YOU!

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

Special thanks to our August sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff! You can find out more about another important cause she sponsors at friendsofrenacer.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

STAY CONNECTED

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

 

099 – Spiritual Footholds: When Words Lead Us Into Sin

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Spiritual Footholds When Words Lead Us Into Sin Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungDoes what you say to people matter? Even some off-handed, albeit snarky, comment to a total stranger? Don’t some people deserve our disdain or even condemnation? Really, who cares if you use your skill with words to put someone in his or her place? The answer just may surprise you.

But first, some exciting news!

Our newest Going Deeper Workshop, Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk, is now available! 

We all hear those voices—the ones that tell us we’re not good enough. That we’re wasting our time. That everyone will someday discover we’re a fraud.

But you can stop damaging thoughts in their tracks and replace them with truth. This course will help you:

  • identify your damaging self-talk
  • recognize lies and replace them with truth
  • develop the mindset you need to eliminate negative messages
  • discover the connection between feelings and the words we speak to ourselves
  • and so much more!

Because we believe this material is so important, we’re offering an introductory price of $49, which will last through the end of August. CLICK HERE to start now!

Spiritual Footholds: When Words Lead Us Into Sin

In our first podcast on spiritual footholds (episode 94, “The Danger of Discontent”), we talked about what footholds are and why we need to be so aware of and careful about them. Today we’re looking at another foothold that can open the door to the enemy, granting him access to our hearts and minds: our spoken words.

We all know that words contain power. They can breathe life or death into the world and into the lives of those around us. They uplift and encourage. And they tear down and destroy. Words, especially our spoken words, don’t just go out into the world and have no impact. God makes that clear in Isaiah 55, especially in verses 9-11.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Consider if we rework verse eleven a bit and apply it to our own spoken words: so are my words that go out from my mouth: They will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I spoke them.

The trouble with us, though, is that we too often speak words not fueled by a desire to water the earth and make it flourish.

Far too often, our words are fueled by emotions, especially negative emotions. And what happens when we speak those negative emotion-fueled words? They will not return to us empty. They will accomplish what we desire in the moment we speak them and achieve the purpose for which we spoke them.

And they’re not good purposes.

That’s not a good thing. Not for others. And not for us.  When we let emotions fuel our words, we use the very gift God gave us—words—to sin.

We need to consider where our words stem from. In Matthew 12:34b, Jesus says, “…For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  (ESV)

Jesus calls us to a higher standard with not just our words, but with our hearts that birth our words. Listen to what Jesus says in the sermon on the mount:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’”

It’s easy for us to say, “Great, I’m in the clear because I haven’t killed anyone today.” But Jesus knows us too well, so he follows up with:

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

So, let’s take a look at what can make our words sinful. What are possible sources?

1.  Words that stem from anger

Angry words too often contain violence and are dishonoring to God and to His creation.

Anger in and of itself is not a sin, so long as it’s anger at things that anger God: Righteous anger. But when our anger comes from our self-focused emotions, and when we let those emotions build without seeking God’s work through it, it can become a cancer in our hearts and spirits. And it can lead us deep into sin, such as when it goes from anger to rage. Or violence, sometimes in actions, sometimes in words.

Consider James 1:20-26:

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you…Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

Did you catch that? Our human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires! There’s a word planted within us that can save us but if you don’t control your tongue, your religion is worthless! Hard truths that we need to take to heart.

Then there’s Ephesians 4:26-31:

“Do not give the devil a foothold…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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

When our words stem from those negative emotions, they can grieve the Holy Spirit! And they give the devil a chance to establish a foothold in our hearts and minds.

Even worse, those spoken words can give the devil that same opportunity in the hearts and minds of those to whom we speak those angry words. When we say something in anger, it can bore into a person’s heart and spirit and change their lives. But not for the better.

Two more verses about anger:

“Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, For anger resides in the bosom of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16:32

Anger, friends, can be a powerful weapon against others when we let it spark words that hurt and destroy. And when we do that, we give the devil an opportunity to form a foothold.

2. Careless Words

When we write, we’re so purposeful in what we put on the page. That book is going to be out there for a long time, right? We analyze our written words. We edit and revise to make sure what we write says what we want it to say, and that it’s clear in communicating what we want. But let’s face it, we’re seldom that careful and purposeful with our spoken words.

In today’s world, people seem to be more careless with words than ever before. Remember how in Ephesians 4 we’re warned not to let any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths? But nowadays, criticism, sarcasm, even obscenities are everywhere. Even among God’s people. And all of that is unwholesome.

Webster’s defines unwholesome this way:

: detrimental to physical, mental, or moral well-being : UNHEALTHY

The second description is :

: CORRUPT, UNSOUND

: offensive to the senses : LOATHSOME

How often have we laughed at a sarcastic comment without considering the feelings of the person that the sarcasm is directed at? It doesn’t feel good to them. It’s detrimental to their well-being.

Have you noticed how profanity seems to have seeped into everyday conversation? Again, even among believers. So many today say it really doesn’t matter if you use profanity. But it’s clear it does matter. To God. And to us. Profanity doesn’t belong in the life of a believer. At all. Why?

Because, according to Colossians 3:8, it belongs to our baser, earthly nature, not our new nature in Christ. “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

According to Matthew 15:10-11, it defiles those who use it. “Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.’”

The bottom line of careless words, no matter what kind they are, is that each of us will have to give account for our words, and—get this—we’ll either be justified or condemned by them. Matthew 12: 34-37 says, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

3. Words that stem from contempt

Words that stem from contempt give the picture of our heart. And it’s not pretty.

Here’s what Romans 3:13-18 has to say about people who speak such words:

“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness…ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Let’s go back to Matthew 5:22:

“…whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Why is the judgement on these kinds of words so severe? Because what’s in our heart when we say, “You fool” is judgment. It’s Pride. It’s Contempt. It’s us saying, “I don’t value you. I’m better than you.”

There is nothing more arrogant than that, because all people are created in God’s image. He values them, they belong to Him. We have no right to place our own judgments ahead of God’s truth.

Judgment belongs to God, and we need to trust Him. Just because someone has insulted us or hurt us or cut us off in traffic, or whatever we consider wrong or unforgivable in the moment, that doesn’t give us the right to speak words of contempt. Or to let ourselves become bitter and judgmental. We’re not perfect either.

Psalm 37:7-8 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm.”

4. Words from the enemy

Words that stem from the enemy wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t listen to them. But for some reason, we seem oh-so-attuned to what he has to say. And what’s more, we take those words in and turn them into negative thoughts (John 14:27) and negative self talk. In fact, negative self-talk is so prevalent, and so pervasive, that we’ve developed an online workshop, Overcoming Damaging Self-Talk, to help people get rid of it. It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Practicing mindful speaking

How do we become better stewards of our spoken words? How do we ensure they don’t stem from any of these potential footholds?

First, the moment you start to let such words escape your lips, stop. Pray. Seek God’s truth.

And second, in place of such words, speak God’s words. For example:

  • In place of anger, speak peace

You can make it a prayer, here’s one you can adapt from Romans 15:13:

God of hope fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in You, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • In place of hurt, speak restoration

Memorize this: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

  • In place of pride, speak appreciation

Focus on what touches you in others. Focus on seeing Jesus in others.

  • In place of criticism, speak God’s delight in them

Focus on the good things in that person or in what that person did.

“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” Psalm 149:4

  • In place of fear, focus on confidence

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8

  • In place of regret, speak praise

Instead of fretting over the past, praise God for the path He’s put you on, for the way He’s working in it. The way He’s been present.

  • In place of discontent, focus on gratitude

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

  • In place of self-focus, focus on God

Think about God’s goodness, God’s character. Think about who you are in Him, and that without Him, we are nothing.

Confidence in God

The good news is we don’t have to do this on our own. Ezekiel 36:25-28 gives us an amazing promise:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.”

we want to hear from you!

Have you ever regretted words you’ve spoken? What steps do you take to guard your mouth?

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

Special thanks to our August sponsor of the month, Bobbi Updegraff! You can find out more about another important cause she sponsors at friendsofrenacer.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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098 – The Joy of Writers’ Conferences with Guest Marilyn Rhoads

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The Joy of Writers Conferences with Guest Marilyn Rhoads on the Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor Young

Writer—and president of Oregon Christian Writers—Marilyn Rhoads shares what makes the OCW conference such a joyous event. And how God uses writers’ groups and conferences to build lifelong friendships and support systems for writers. Come listen in and share the fun!

About Marilyn Rhoads

Marilyn Rhoads serves as president and Cascade Writing Contest Co-Chair for Oregon Christian Writers. She has taught in the Salem and Eugene public school districts and owned her own bookstore, Books and Things. As executive director of Orchard Inn, a non-profit agency, Marilyn wrote an extensive number of well-funded grants. She also fund-raised and marketed for the organization. Marilyn free-lanced for Harvest House Publishers as a proofer and end-reader for several years. She is involved in two critique groups and writes historical romance novels. The mother of two grown daughters, Marilyn and her husband, Jim, reside in the countryside near Eugene, Oregon, and are University of Oregon graduates. Marilyn holds a B.A. and an M.A.

Thanks to our patrons on Patreon, we can now provide an edited transcript of our interview!

Erin: Welcome, writers. We’re so excited to have you here with us in the deep. We have a guest! Yes we do!

Karen: Yay!

Erin: Her name is Marilyn Rhoads, and I’m going to let Karen tell you guys all about her.

Karen: I met Marilyn years, and years, and years ago at one of the Oregon Christian Writers Conferences. We’d been writers for a lot of years and have both participated in this conference, which is a great conference, and we’ll talk some about that. She’s a writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest, the best place in the world to live.

She’s the president of the fifty-six-year-old Oregon Christian Writers. They’re the group that holds that conference. And, just so you know, Oregon Christian Writers is a 501c3 organization. You know what that means? That means you can make donations that go to tuition assistance for the annual OCW conference or to one of their three one-day conferences. They really believe in giving back to conferences.

Marilyn has been a secondary teacher and a reading specialist, an independent bookstore owner, and she’s a prolific grant writer. She’s also a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. Marilyn, welcome! We are so happy to have you here with us.

Marilyn: Well thanks! It’s wonderful to be with the two of you.

Erin: So, Marilyn, right off the bat let’s put you on the spot. We always ask people what does the deep mean to them. It’s different for everyone, and we love hearing the answers. So what does the deep mean to you?

Marilyn: The deep means laying down your life for Jesus. Doing whatever it takes to obey. To love others.

Karen: I love that.

Erin: That’s a great answer. As you’re in the deep, doing whatever it takes to obey, that makes me think about your service to Oregon Christian Writers. How did you even get started going to Oregon Christian Writers? What led you to them and led you to now become the president?

Marilyn: I was interested in doing fiction writing and I love historical romance. I spent a number of years doing various things. I had a bookstore, I was a teacher before that. I ran a nonprofit, a 501c3 here in the city of Eugene for homeless young women under the age of 21.

Erin: Wow.

Marilyn: I did extensive grant writing, and I’d sit there working with budgets which had to comply with the IRS. And I’d say, “Lord, someday please could I write something I enjoy?”

He gave me that desire. He fulfilled it. And I had started working for a missionary. She had a worldwide ministry. I had helped her write a book and then I wrote a book for her. We were going great guns and the Lord said to me, “No, you’re done.”

I said, “What?”

He said, “No. Write.”

I said, “I am writing. Write what?”

He never did tell me. I said, “Fine. I’ll write what I like.” So I did. I started writing, and I thought, “I need some help. I really do need some help, even though I’m an English major. There must be other writers somewhere.”

My husband saw a tiny little 2 x 2″ notice in the local paper and said, “There’s a Christian writing conference being held in Eugene. I think you ought to go.”

So I did and I thought, “Oh, what a sweet little organization with a little Mennonite president in her cap, and a treasurer who’s in her eighties, aww, how nice they are.” And then I heard their budget and I went. “Whoa. These people are professionals and they mean business!”

I have been a teacher and a union rep years ago so I understood what it took to run an organization like that. So I was very impressed.

Karen: That is very cool.

Erin: So what benefit do you think you’ve gotten from being involved in that organization?

Marilyn: Well, you make a lot of lifetime friendships. I’m very close to people in my critique group. I’m close to people I volunteer with because we’ve been through a lot together. As you go through challenges together and you have to rely and lean on one another, you value one another more. You learn together.

Erin: Yeah.

Karen: So talk to us about your volunteering—you volunteer as the president. That’s a rarity these days, for someone to volunteer and do such a big job. So what draws you into being a volunteer?

Marilyn: Well, the answer I always give people is that I just made the mistake of volunteering one time too often! The real answer is that the selection committee came to me and said, “You have a choice.”

I said, “Really?”

They said, “Our president is retiring and her position will be open, so you can have one of two positions.”

I said, “I thought I was done here. I’m thinking I’m in my twilight years, can I just have some rest?” No.

So they said, “You can have either the summer conference director position or you can be president.” Lindy was already doing the summer conference director position, and she was one of the selection committee.

So I said, “Okay then. I guess I’ll be president.”

So they put my name up, and you know, we got in. I do have an interesting story of how I got my first job at OCW if you’re interested.

Karen: Yes, please.

Marilyn: Well, I had only been around for year. I had been to all their conferences, and one of the nominating committee was in my critique group, and she nominated me. They didn’t want me because I had only been in the organization for a year and some of these people had been in there since Moses was alive.

So they didn’t want me, and I thought, “Great, I don’t want you either. I mean, you’re wonderful, but I don’t want to volunteer. I’d been a professional volunteer for years. I don’t want to work that hard.”

The person they had in mind decided not to do it, so they asked me again. They just asked if I’d allow my name to run. So I asked my husband and I asked my Bible study leader, whom I respect greatly.

They said, “Did you pray about it?”

I said, “No, I don’t want to do it, so I didn’t pray about it.”

Karen: Because I know what God’s gonna say…

Marilyn: Yeah I knew what he was going to say. So I did pray, and I said, “All right here’s my bio. You can run my name on your election.”

One of my other critique partners said to me, “Marilyn, congratulations on being the new program officer!”

I said, “No, no. I just allowed my name to run.”

She said, “Sweetie, they only run one name.”

Being naïve is not exactly safe. You need to do your homework.

Karen: I love that. Well, you do a terrific job. You had me come in to be keynote speaker for one of your one-day conferences. In addition to doing the annual conference, which is a big deal, you guys have three one-day conferences throughout the year. That was so much fun. I only live about three and a half hours south of where the conference was being held and came in.

The thing that has always impressed me about OCW is just how warm and friendly everyone is there. And how open they are to hearing what you have to say. When I got up on the stage to speak, everybody was just on the edge of their seats. They were there, and they were excited, and they were involved and ready to hear what God had for them. I really enjoy the conference a lot.

Marilyn: Well, we liked having you. I have a story about you. You were there, and there was a glitch at the summer conference. You know, big conferences, there’s always a glitch when you get that many people together. I said to you as we were passing in the hall, “I need a favor. We have a new conferee who’s heartbroken because she submitted her manuscript but it didn’t get reviewed. I’ve heard you say before you spend five minutes per manuscript. Would you spend five minutes on this lady so she won’t cry?”

You said, “Of course.” And you did it. So I thought that was wonderful!

Karen: That’s neat!

Marilyn: I remember at another conference, one of the editors was ill, and he had nineteen manuscripts to review. He was deathly ill with the flu, and you came up and said, “I’ll do it.” So I think when it comes to laying down your life, Karen, you have really done some wonderful things for OCW.

Karen: Oh, thank you. Well, I love you guys. I really do. It was interesting, for a lot of years the summer conference used to be over my birthday. When I was working at the publishing houses, you guys invited me every year. I told my husband, “I love this conference, but I’m only going to do it every other year so at least I have a couple of years of birthday at home.”

Marilyn: Aw, that’s wonderful.

Erin: The cool thing about those conferences, you mentioned Karen as a faculty member, I mean, being on both sides—I’ve been on both sides as well, as a faculty member and attendee—I love how the faculty are always pulling for the conferees.

For those writers out there who maybe feel a bit intimidated by going to a writers conference, the faculty there are pulling for you. The volunteers are pulling for you. The people who put those conferences together are pulling for you and rooting for you. We’re always there to help, to do good, wherever and however we can, because we’re all on the same team. We all want to see God glorified. We want to see words on paper that change lives through God’s grace.

Marilyn: That’s right. We are all on the same team headed for the same direction with the same ultimate destination in mind.

Karen: Right. That’s one of the blessings of writing for God. You’re not in it for yourself. You’re in it to accomplish His purposes, and only He knows what those purposes are—whether it’s publication or whether it’s something else. The beauty of it is when you meet people at a writers conference and when you establish, like you said, those life long friendships, you can support each other in the midst of the journey. When things get difficult you have friends there to lift you up. When things are great you have people to rejoice with you. You can’t replace that sense of community.

Marilyn: No, you can’t.

Erin: Having been, as you have said, to many OCW conferences, tell us a little bit about what one day at one of the conferences would look like. Maybe the summer conference? It’s coming up right? That’s in August?

Karen: It is.

Erin: We’ll have a link to that conference, guys, in the show notes. So, Marilyn, if you can, describe what one day at the summer conference would look like.

Marilyn: Well we do breakfast however you want it, which is relaxing. You don’t have to be downstairs at 8 AM. You can choose when you appear. We have devotions. Which aren’t likely because I’m a night owl.

Karen: Yeah, me too.

Marilyn: I’m with friends for a long time in the evening. Our theme is Cheetos and chocolate in my room. We actually had someone show up and think that we had chocolate-covered Cheetos. No, we don’t. We have Cheetos and chocolate, and we always bring extra food. My roommate is Julie Zander. We do the Cascade Contest together, so we’re war veterans. We have to work very closely together on that one.

So we get up and do breakfast however you want it. You can go sit in the restaurant and look at the river, which is fabulous. The location is incredible. Or you can have room service. Or we usually just bring a muffin and coffee or tea or whatever. And then we go downstairs and we have devotions and morning worship. And that’s fabulous. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. This year Bob Hostetler is going to give our little devotional messages every morning.

Karen: Aw, he’s great.

Marilyn: He’s funny! I know, he’s wonderful. Then we go to our coaching class. I’m going to go to Stephen James this year. By the way he’s doing the early bird the first day of the conference. So we go to a coaching class, whatever you choose, I think there’s thirteen different ones, seven hours total.

Erin: Nice!

Marilyn: Then we get out for lunch. OCW still does the name tags on the table so you can sit with an agent or editor or whomever you choose to sit with. We also do something wonderful for new people. I’m kind of in charge of the newbies, and we have special tables for them. If they want to get together, network and pass around cards and be there together, they can do that.

I always have special people situated at those tables to give them great advice. Sometimes it’s a shortcut. They wanted to see a Karen Ball or an Erin Taylor Young, but they’re trying to publish a cookbook, that might not be in their best interest. So we’ll try to put them with the right person and shortcut what’s happening with their conference objectives.

In the afternoon, there are two workshops. People choose from about twenty-four. Then we usually have a panel at about 5 o’clock. An agents panel, magazine editors, book editors panel, something current that’s going on. And then we break for dinner.

The bookstore is always going on, the prayer room is always going on. On day two, the writing center appointments go on, where you can actually meet with an editor or an agent for fifteen minutes each.

Erin: Nice.

Marilyn: Or we have something different, which are mentor appointments, and those are half an hour. For example, I hope to get a mentor appointment with Brian Bird, the screenwriter.

Karen: Ah, right.

Marilyn: Yeah. So there are all sorts of things to do. After dinner, we start night owls. Those usually go until ten o’clock at night. When you’re through, you can socialize, do your homework, or read the note book and find out what’s going on the next day.

The wise person doesn’t do everything. I usually do everything. There are poetry readings. We had Frank Paretti come, and he brought his guitar and they did a jam session downstairs. So there’s all sorts of breakout points. I think Thomas Umstattd is doing podcasting.

Erin: Nice.

Marilyn: There’ll be a critique group one night. All sorts of things. And then we have the big Cascade Contest awards. That’s done by James Rubart and Susan May Warren. They’re awesome, and it’s very, very funny. Susan May Warren wrote the script last year, and my name is Marilyn, so they did the James Bond thing and they called me M and my partner Q. So they’re very funny. They’re hysterical when they get wound up together. That’s a very fun night with dessert afterwards.

We close the conference on Thursday morning with the half a day. We go to our coaching classes, then we come in and take communion together, which is a very sweet, touching, moving time. We’re bonding together. Some of us won’t see each other for a whole year because I believe we have people coming from twenty-four states and two countries.

Erin: Wow.

Karen: That’s great.

Erin: I love the way you describe this, Marilyn, because it’s so clear that it’s a joy and it’s a passion of your heart. That’s one of the reasons Karen and I have been wanting to talk about writing conferences—to help people know what a beautiful thing these are and how beneficial they are. I love the way you’ve described it. It’s like a big party where you get to learn stuff and praise God.

Karen: That’s right.

Marilyn: That’s exactly what it is. We try not to tell our husbands that, but that’s what it is! And we get more and more men, by the way, every year, which is great. For many years that wasn’t the case, but now we’re getting more and more men interested, and lots of pastors are in that audience.

And we have Aaron Doerr from Rolling Hills Church, who is their music director, and he comes and directs our Music for the evening sessions. It is over the moon, I’m telling you. It is fantastic. The spiritual depth and quality is something that many people don’t have at home. We always get people remarking on that and the evaluations.

Erin: Right, and I think for people who don’t have the support at home, necessarily, this is also a good shot in the arm. Not everybody feels like they’re getting support and understanding from their friends and neighbors and all that.

I want to go back to the Cascade Writing Contest that you mentioned. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Marilyn: That’s something that happens every year. It opens on Valentine’s Day and closes on March 31. People can enter in whatever category they choose. I think we have 22 or 23 categories. If the category is thin, sometimes we’ll put middle grade books in with young adult or something else suitable.

I do published and my partner, Julie Zander, does unpublished. So we have something for everyone. Then we ask our members to put their hand to the plow and do some heavy sacrificing to judge all these things. We have preliminary rounds. I go to a midsized church, and they’re getting to the point where they call it Marilyn’s book club. Because if you’re there and you’re breathing and you’re a competent human being, you are automatically judging. We get some wonderful reactions.

In the final round, we have professionals do the judging. They judge three finalists. Jane Kirkpatrick was a judge this year, and Jim Hill. We have a number of notable people judging.

Karen: That’s terrific.

Marilyn: Then we do two trophies beyond that. Generally two. We do a Writer of Promise, where we’re looking around to find somebody who we think has a wonderful future ahead of them. Karen Barnett was one, and Camille Eide, and April McGowan. Then we do the Trailblazer Award for people who have been there and who’ve given and given from their heart to help empower other writers. One of them has been Leslie Gould. Melody Dobson. Judy Gann. So we have people who are powerhouses. Sally Stewart who did the Christian Writers Market Guide for twenty-seven years.

Karen: Sally is wonderful.

Marilyn: OCW has birthed some powerful people in the past. I’ve heard Lorraine Snelling say that more than one time. She came out of OCW.

Erin: Wonderful.

Karen: Well, Marilyn, thank you so much for sharing your excitement and enthusiasm. It’s so clear that Oregon Christian Writers and their conferences are all focused on serving God and helping writers do that same thing. I’m just so grateful for the conference and for all that you’ve done for them and for sharing about them with our listeners today.

For those of you who are listening, you can learn more about both the organization and the conference at oregonchristianwriters.org. You can find out more about Marilyn on her website at marilynrhoads.com. So, Marilyn, again, thank you so much for coming. Here’s to another great conference this year.

Marilyn: Thanks, ladies!

Erin: Yes, thank you!

Oregon Christian Writers Conference

We want to hear from you!

Do you have a writing group? Have you met writers at conferences who’ve become close friends?

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Guest @MarilynRhoads shares what makes the OCW conference such a joyous event!

THANK YOU!

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

Special thank you to Wendy L. Macdonald, our July sponsor of the month! You can learn more about her at her website wendylmacdonald.com. Aside from being a writer, she produces a short, weekly, inspirational podcast called Walking with Hope for HopeStreamRadio.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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097 – Words of Life

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Words of Life to Battle Busyness Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWe all want to write them: words of life. Yet all too often we get so caught up in the constant busyness of life that we reach the end of the day exhausted and even discouraged. But there’s a cure for that: God’s Words of life! This podcast is your chance to stop and listen. To let the comfort, encouragement, and power of God’s Words fill you to overflowing.

As Christian writers, we want to write words to refresh this weary world. Words to bring hope, joy, and peace in the face of struggle, sorrow, and temptations. But we can get so caught up in doing that task—and everything else that goes with it in the midst of our busy lives with all our responsibilities—that we can end up living our life in one big rush. We forget to get our fill of God’s Words of life. To drink from God’s refreshment waiting for us everyday as we meet with Him.

We want to dedicate this podcast to doing just that: being refreshed by God. If you do nothing else today, stop. Listen. Absorb. Soak in God’s Word.

“Slowly, steadily, surely the time is approaching when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems long in coming, be patient! It will not be overdue a single day.” Habakkuk 2:3  

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:5-8

“When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, ‘What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?’ So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

“When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.'” Exodus 14:5-16

“Never dread any consequence resulting from absolute obedience to His command. Never fear the rough waters ahead, which through their proud contempt impede your progress. God is greater than the roar of raging water and the mighty waves of the sea. ‘The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever’ (Psalm 29:10). A storm is simply the hem of His robe, the sign of His coming, and the evidence of His presence.” F.B. Meyer from Streams in the Dessert

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth….Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:12-18

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?'” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 11:33-12:13

“‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'” Isaiah 41:10-13

“…Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’…This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:24, 27

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

“In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 1Timothy 4:1-5

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:19-25

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” Acts 17:24-25

Take that minute and stop and breathe and know that every breath is from God. He gives it to you, and He’s in control.

We hope that this time in God’s Word has been a refreshment and a blessing to you. It’s so important to take a moment and be immersed in what God has to say to us in His Word. So much truth. So much power. Let these words infuse you, and fill you, and remind you that you’re not in this alone. You’re not in this in your own power or doing it with your own ability. Everything you need to complete the task that God has given you, He supplies you. It’s not on your shoulders, it’s on His, because He’s the one who has given you this task.

“May the Lord give strength to [you]! May the Lord bless [you] with peace!” Psalm 29:11

We want to hear from you!

Do you have a life verse? Or what Scripture is especially meaningful to you right now?

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Don’t let the busyness of life exhaust and depress you!

THANK YOU!

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

Special thank you to our July sponsor of the month, Wendy L. Macdonald! You can learn more about her at her website wendylmacdonald.com. Aside from being a writer, she produces a short, weekly, inspirational podcast called Walking with Hope for HopeStreamRadio.com.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast Production Services for their fabulous editing!

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