They say, actually, I’ve said, blog titles matter. A lot. Most of you–like 89.7% of you, decided whether or not to read this post by my title alone. I have a feeling this is doubly true for my subscribers. Fail. (Actually, I’m wondering if any of y’all are receiving my posts in your inbox because my hubby’s signed up but hasn’t.) Another 5% of you, well, of them because clearly if you’re still reading, you’re in the top 5.3%. … Or is that the bottom? Regardless, unlike that other 5%, you have not checked out after this long and rambling paragraph. And for that I applaud you. (Or pity you.)
But it’s the holidays, and my brain is saturated by a bit too much junk and random storylines (only one of them being my own.) Plus, I just learned from two sweet blogging friends, Renee Blare and Eileen Rife, that I’ve been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers award.
How fun is that? I’m normally pretty bad about those types of things because well… I can be technologically lazy. But this one intrigued me, and like I said, I’m in a jing-jingaly (AKA goofy, adventurous mood), and I thought some of you might be interested in a pre-2015 update. (Is that a thing?)
Oh, but first, fun news! Book reviewer Julie Arduini chose my debut, Beyond I Do as her favorite fiction read for 2014. 🙂 You can read her review here. Here’s hoping she (and all of you) likes When Dawn Breaks even more! And if you’re up and looking for an encouraging message to motivate you toward spiritual greatness this New Year’s, visit Cynthia Simmons Heart of the Matter online show to listen to our discussion of surrendering our giftedness into God’s hands, enduring the often painful growth process, and allowing Him to use you and your uniqueness to minister to others and build His kingdom. You can listen live at 9:30 EST here, and I should have a link to the archive soon.
Now for the blog award. Having accepted, here are the rules I now must follow:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the 10 questions they’ve sent you.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.
So, here’s the questions Renee posed. I’ll post and answer Eileen’s after. (For those of you really up for massive amounts of Jennifer-randomness. ha!) Come back Saturday or Monday (I’m not sure when I’ll post yet) for a regularly scheduled yet rescheduled blog post. 🙂
1. How is your blog different today versus the day it began?
You know, I think it’s pretty much the same–Christian living based, mainly testimonial in style. I do have a lot more guests now than I did initially, and I love that. I feel that makes it more well-rounded. After all, we need each other. We all have unique insights into spiritual matters, unique experiences and unique yet universal challenges. 🙂 (Come back… uh… next time (maybe Saturday?) to read a great post from Stephanie Prichard on forgiveness. (Perfect timing post the holidays, maybe?)
2. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
Easy! Spur every Christian to live out what they believe. Can you imagine what our world would be like–how many hungry would be filled and hurting would be healed if we all got off the church pew and started tangibly showing the love of Christ? I’m seeing this happen more and more at my church, and it’s awesome. Truly beautiful. Life changing, like truly. We see life change every day.
3. Who or what would be your ultimate post?
Oh, this is hard, but if I could somehow write one succinct, clear, and powerful post on surrender that stuck with my readers, truly stuck with them, I think my answer to question 2 would happen naturally. Now, if I could find and maintain a position of surrender myself…
4. In 2015, what are your plans?
Oh, my, I have a lot! Were you wanting a novel answer, Renee? 😉 First, I’m working on an exciting fundraising project for Takin it to the Streets, an Omaha Metro ministry I serve with. I also have two books releasing this year (one that has already released, When Dawn Breaks, and the other that is scheduled to release in October). So, I’ll have edits and such to complete. I’m also working on a new story, one I recently realized I need to majorly gut and start over on, but that’s a good thing. A great thing, because I know the changes will be awesome. Necessary. I’m going to the Mt. Hermon conference in Northern California this year and hope to meet my editor in person. Yay! Then my loves will meet me in San Jose and we’ll head south to San Diego. Then in September my hubby and I will celebrate our 20th in Seattle, where my 4th novel (scheduled to release in winter of 2016) is set. Busy but exciting year. 🙂
5. Do you have a favorite day of the year?
The one I’m in? haha. You know, when we first moved to the midwest, I hated winter. But a few years in, I’ve found I love every season. Though I probably love fall most. The colors, scents, flavors, activities. Valas Pumpkin Patch, Nebraska City with its beautiful, vibrant foliage.
Oh! Do you mean day-day? That’s Easter, hands down. My life would be devastatingly different if not for Christ’s death and resurrection.
6. Why and how did you start blogging?
I’m not entirely sure. I’ve often wondered if it’s just part of the writer’s brain, as if we need to someone include the ENTIRE WORLD in everything we think and do. It’s like I’ll be reading a Bible passage and God will speak to me through it, and I’ll think, “Oh! I need to write about this!” Or I’ll be having a fun day with friends and will absolutely have to chase down a random stranger to cajole into taking our picture so I can post it here. Or on Facebook. Most likely both. As to how, I just started. This blog is hosted by WordPress, and they make it pretty easy.
7. What do you like about blogging?
It gives me an outlet to share the 5,000 conversations zipping through my brain every day. 🙂 It also makes me feel more connected to my readers, well, when they converse back. 🙂
8. What have you discovered through blogging?
That God is amazing. Faithful. Loving. Gentle. Attentive.
9. Who or what is the one thing that means the most to you?
One thing? I’d have to say Christ, but can I add two more? My hubby and princess. Love them both to pieces.
10. What do you want the readers of your blog to know about you?
That I have been dramatically changed by grace, and that that same grace is available to them. 🙂 Really, I hope they know less about me and more about Christ in me. Because truly, I’m a let down. But knowing Christ on an intimate level? Now that’s life abundant!
Now, for the 1.5% of you who have made it this far, you really deserve a cookie or something. Well, now, isn’t that a great idea! If you’ve made it this far, let me know in the comments what one thing you’d like me or perhaps others to know about you, and you’ll get entered to win a copy of my latest release, When Dawn Breaks. 🙂 Considering everyone else has long since closed out this window, you stand a great chance of winning. 🙂
Now for Eileen’s questions.
1. What is your foremost prayer in this new year?
I’m not sure if it will remain my top prayer, but this morning I wrote down Psalm 105:1-4 as my first memory passage and have determined to make it a prayer. (I love personalizing and praying Scripture!) The verse is: Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
3 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the Lord.
4 Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
I could expand on and camp out on each line indefinitely, but I really love verse four–search for the Lord and for His strength; continually seek Him. Each day, I long to do just that, asking the Holy Spirit to help me.
2. Name three goals that you’d like to shoot for.
To consistently memorize Scripture, to draw near to God at regular intervals throughout the day, and to follow a prayerfully planned schedule each day.
3. What is your current writing project?
I’m working on a sequel to Beyond I Do. Here’s the blurb:Sixty-one year old Angela Meadows is ready for a clean slate, to launch a career, and to embrace her new life in Christ. But self-loathing and remorse for a life forever lost hold her back. When she encounters a single mom married to an incarcerated felon and her children, Angela’s shame becomes swallowed by something greater—compassion. Her past draws her to them, but will it drive away the only man she’s truly loved?
4. What do you enjoy doing for fun?
Spending time with my hubby, daughter, or amazing friends. And if I can get them all in the same room, it’s even better!
5. Other than the Bible, name the book that’s had the most impact on your life and why.
Probably Living Proof: Sharing the Gospel Naturally
. It’s really helped me understand nonbelievers more, has greatly shaped my evangelism efforts, and has had a tremendous impact on how I do ministry. It’s a phenomenal book!
6. What will you do in this new year to reach out to someone else other than your family?
Oh, my, this could be a long list. 🙂 I serve in numerous ministries, so I have plenty of opportunities to share the love of Christ. Our church does a great job of facilitating events designed to get our church family off their pews and out into the community. Our next one will be an epic Easter celebration. 🙂 In addition, I’m part of a women’s connection leadership team that plans monthly events designed to facilitate closer friendships, spiritual growth, and to help each of us reach out to nonattenders. (You can read more about some of our events here.
7. Explain why you like to write.
Writing is and has always been how I process my thoughts and feelings and dig deeper into learned truths. That God could use something He’s used to grow me for years to grow others is simply amazing.
8. What legacy do you hope to leave behind when you die?
The hope of Christ.
9. Do you consider the local church important? Why or why not?
Oh, my, yes! God has placed us in a local body for a reason, and that is to be interdependent. Our gifts can build others up, and theirs can do the same for us. The local church is also God’s action plan for bringing the world to Christ. So yeah, the local body is a big deal.
10. How can women who feel alone overcome isolation?
Hm… I know the pat answer–draw near to Christ, but even so, we all need human connection. It’s how we were created. Sometimes God places us in a period of isolation for our growth, but most times, I believe He longs to see us in deep and authentic community. I think getting connected with a local body, focusing on the needs of others, and finding ways to get plugged in (most often through serving) are great ways to form authentic, healthy connections.
So now for my questions…
1. What is the best thing that happened to you in 2014?
2. What is one thing you’d like to do differently in 2015?
3. What is one thing you learned in 2014?
4. In what ways do you grow your most important relationships?
5. What one verse has stood out to you most in the past year?
6. In what ways did you see Christ this past year?
7. In what ways did you try to reveal Christ this past year?
8. Has God given you a word to focus on for 2015?
9. How has your view of grace changed this past year and why?
10. If you could be known for one thing, what would that be?
I nominate my Writing Buddies: Carole Towriss, Marji Lane Clubine, Joanne Sher, Mary Watson Hamilton, Ginger Murphey Solomon, and Lillian Kohler.