Writing The Shepherd’s Song: Prayer Made the Difference.

Welcome! Today, I invited The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, to share their new book, The Shepherd’s Song. These award-winning authors and speakers believe in the power of story, “When we hear stories or tell our own story we connect, heal, and grow. Each of us is part of a bigger story – the story of God’s love and work in the world.”

BookCover/TheShepherdsSongThe Shepherd’s Song was a different writing experience for us.

After twenty years of writing children’s books for the general market we were now writing our first book for God. The books we wrote before were from a Christian worldview. What made this book different was our desire to submit every word to God and to reflect in our words what He would say. An overwhelming task on our own.

But what if we could connect with God and hear from Him as we worked? C.S. Lewis wrote once about “taking dictation” from God. The connection with God was key. But how?

As we shifted from our writing for the general market to the that we would write for God, prayer became important and critical. We prayed individually, together in groups with others and we enlisted a prayer team to pray for the writing of the book.

Three times stand out as we reflect back over how prayer entered our work and kept us grounded and focused as we wrote The Shepherd’s Song.

The first came at the beginning of our efforts. When we began writing together, we were full of enthusiasm and ideas. We both took off with to do lists and ideas and quickly we became stressed and anxious. A book by Andy Stanley, Visioneeringpulled us back and helped us focus.

The book challenged us to look at whether we prayed first, then acted, or acted first, then prayed.

The question was convicting – the notebooks full of our plans and ideas were the evidence against us. In our enthusiasm we had gotten ahead of God. What to do? We stopped and made two decisions:

We decided we would stop all action and spend one week just praying for the book and for direction.

And we also agreed we would never move forward on an idea or action unless we were unified through prayer about the decision.

Throughout the week anxiety vanished. Clarity came, peace descended. As we individually surrendered the work to God He brought us into unity.

The second prayer time came later. The book was finished and accepted and paralysis set in. Now what? The second book, The Father’s Prayer, was drafted and outlined but we were blocked. At the same time we were working to build a platform and determine what we should be doing for marketing the first book.

Was it right? How did we know? We stopped again and brought the work and ourselves into a time of deeper prayer.

This time God spoke to us through a book by Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle, The Forty Day Prayer Challenge. For forty days we read the devotions and “circled” our work in prayer during our personal time with God. It was amazing how God used these devotions to speak to us separately and together as we submitted to Him through these prayer times.

Reading this devotional series together and praying through Batterson’s forty days helped us to connect with each other and with God and allowed God access to us through our time with Him.

The third was a prayer for protection. During the year leading up to publication we both went through difficult times with friends and family, mostly medical issues. We were both pulled off track and struggled to keep focus while undergoing struggles to take care of those we loved. We remembered our great grandfather’s favorite scripture from Ephesians 6, the armor of God.

We began to pray this daily for each other. Each morning we would turn to this passage and pray each article of armor for the other—belt, shield, helmet, breastplate, sword, shoes. As soon as we started, peace reigned and through our outward circumstances did not change, we had peace and we able to resume our work on the book.

The end result?

The end result for us is peace. We have no regrets about the writing, no doubts about any decision along the way. We have assurance that the book is in God’s hands to use as He will.

Our prayers continue. Now we pray for each reader of the book. That God would use our words to accomplish His will in each reader’s heart.

Prayer is the key.

Photo/TheWritingSistersThe Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars.  They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, is being released in paperback April 2015.

You can connect with Laurie and Betsy on their monthly newsletter where they send out updates and their popular free devotional books. Contact them at WritingSisters.com and find them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

Grab your copy of The Shepherd’s Song here.

Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…”

Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”

Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.

With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller, Andy Andrews’s, The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.

Why I Love Platform University

“If you want to be a nonfiction author, you’ve GOT to work on building your platform?”

Photo/CCWC.workshopI perked up when I heard the word “platform” mentioned for the umpteenth time at my first writing conference.

Building my what? I didn’t expect this advice at a “Christian” writing conference. In fact, I didn’t even know what the workshop leader meant by “platform.”

Hands popped up all over the conference room, asking questions about “building a platform.”

“Can you give us more information? Another frenzied writer whined.

A few seats down from me, an older lady with a wrinkled brow mumbled, “Yeah, what does she mean by ‘platform’?”

“I didn’t think ‘Christian’ writers should focus on building a platform,” someone whispered. “Is that even scriptural?”

The murmurings continued …

I felt my blood pressure rise as I listened to all of the questions and observed the body language of the writers all around me.

I shook my head in disbelief as I considered all that I had done to prepare for this moment, particularly the last five years of writing courses. Is she saying that I need to study marketing now? Oh, great!

A few days later, I abandoned my first writing conference early for a family crisis. So, I didn’t get a chance to hear more about platform building.

Overwhelmed, my thoughts about building a platform and my mother’s untimely death left me dazed and confused. Should I even go forward with “writing for publication” right now? 

One workshop leader warned us against “quitting your day job.” But I had just turned down the offer to teach writing again that semester. I needed to help with our on-going family crises, and I wanted to pursue writing for publication.

After the conference, if someone even mentioned the word platform, I would voice my favorite quote from Gone with the Wind, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow” (Scarlett O’Hara).

I did start following Michael Hyatt’s blog on the advice of another writer. At that time, he served as CEO for Thomas Nelson Publishing; so, I welcomed his expertise. Plus, I heard other writers talking about him being an expert on “platform building.”

BookCover/PlatformWhen Michael Hyatt published his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, a few years later, I ordered a copy, hoping to improve my own “platform.” And I recommended it to writers seeking help in that area.

Yet I sill struggled with all the details of platform building—blogging, social networking, speaking, and writing. With all of my other responsibilities, commitments, and family crises, I knew that I needed to stay up-to-date with publishing info to get published.

platform-university-members-logoI joined Platform University in 2014, seeking more information. With all the innovations in publishing and technology, I’m grateful for all of the helpful content offered on that site

So, I want to offer a big THANK YOU to Michael Hyatt and all of my Platform University connections.

I JUST SIGNED MY FIRST BOOK CONTRACT!

Now, I look forward to staying connected with Platform University, as I anticipate my first book launch!

What resources have helped you fulfill your dreams?

Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over: Anita Brooks

Have you lost hope of ever getting over a traumatic experience?

BookCover/GettingThroughAre you searching for a resource to encourage someone else who may be suffering from some heartbreaking life event?

There are some things in life people never get over. No matter how much they want to. Many experience abuse, financial disaster, serious illness, death of loved ones, and other common traumas making them believe they’ll never move past the pain.

Songbird Reflections

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all. (E. O. Wilson)

 

Photo/KarenJordan

“Silly bird! Why are you pecking on the window?”“She’s defending her territory,” my husband Dan surmised.

We watched in amazement as the female cardinal, fooled by her own image, continued to swoop down—over and over again—attacking her reflection in the window.

A Love Story: TEEN MOM by Trisha Goyer

Most moms will agree—motherhood brings unexpected challenges.

BookCover/TeenMom-TrishaGoyerTeen moms deal with issues of guilt, denial, unsolicited advice and pressure from others, and even unrealistic fantasies about motherhood. “Fear is an overriding emotion in nearly every teen pregnancy” (“The Pregnant Teen’s Dilemma” Focus on the Family).

I agree. I stumbled along that difficult road myself when I was 18, and then again with my daughter two decades later.

Being a teen mom will lead you down a new path to an unplanned destination. But it also can be the catalyst that launches you toward the adventure of a lifetime, bringing positive changes and blessings that you never anticipated.

5 Powerful Stories: The Day I Met Jesus

Can you imagine meeting Jesus face-to-face? Book/TheDayIMetJesus

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to step back into biblical history and experience a real “come to Jesus” moment?

In their new book, The Day I Met Jesus, Mary DeMuth and Frank Viloa set the stage for us to observe the stories of five women in the Bible who experienced personal and powerful encounters with Jesus.

Looking forward to teaching a storytelling workshop for the Perry County Writers on May 16.

Telling the Stories That Matter Most. Do you want to record some of your family stories, but you don’t know where to start? This writing workshop offers practical and creative ideas to help you capture and craft some of your legacy stories.

Date: May 16, 2015
Time: 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Event: Perry County Writers: Storytelling Workshop
Topic: Storytelling Workshop
Sponsor: Perry County Writers
Venue: Perryville Second Baptist Church
(501) 889-2554
Location: 1520 Fourche Avenue
Perryville, Arkansas 72126
US
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Looking forward to encouraging the deacons’ wives at Trinity Baptist Church, Searcy, Arkansas, to tell the stories that matter most.

My Story Matters. The first time I tried to write my faith story, it changed my life! Years later, I recorded the events surrounding a family crisis, and my heart began to heal. So, I know from experience—when women begin telling the stories that matter most, lives change and hearts heal.
Date: February 27, 2015
Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Event: Deacons' Wives: Trinity Baptist Church, Searcy, Arkansas
Topic: My Story Matters
Sponsor: Trinity Baptist Church
501-268-8219
Venue: Trinity Baptist Church
(501) 268-8219
Location: 1601 E. Moore
Searcy, Arkansas 72143
US
Public: Private

An Icy Memory

The ice storm in Central Arkansas during the past few days reminded me of a holiday trip almost two decades ago.

Photo/KarenJordan

Facing the ice. In 1989, the ice storm arrived as predicted. I warned Mother that we might not be able to make the dangerous eight-hour journey for Christmas.

Even though Southeast Texas seldom experienced freezing rain or snow, we already saw evidence of the storm in Arkansas. But Mother belittled our fears and urged us to attempt the trip. “The weather report here looks okay to me.”

Mother’s pressure prevailed again, as usual. Against our better judgment, we submitted to her demands and packed our car.

Just Write!

How’s that book that you’re NOT writing coming along?

Photo/TaraRoss

Photo/TaraRoss

I rarely, if ever, blog about someone else’s post. I don’t know why—because a lot of my writing friends and connections write outstanding posts that offer many helpful resources and ideas. So, I hope to write more about the articles and books that inspire, encourage, and inform me.

Today, I’m sharing a post by Jeff Goins, “The Totally Boring Process of Writing a Book.” Jeff’s post really hits the target for me while I’m writing a book.

Writer. As a writer, I’ve always struggled with transitioning from research to writing.

Why? I give many excuses.