Living–For Real!

Photo by edaly, taken from pixabay.com

Photo by edaly, taken from pixabay.com

When I come to the end of my life, when I stand before my Creator, I want to appear before Him with empty hands, knowing I gave my all and lived each moment to the fullest, utilizing every gift and talent He gave me to their full potential.

Because what good is a gift if it’s hidden, or only partially opened?

About a week ago, my assistant Hannah Burch wrote a beautiful, thought-provoking, and poignant poem I felt would speak to many of you. Many of us have those moments where God stirs us to do, and in that moment, we’re ready to jump in, to give our all… But then the next day, with all its stressers and demands, comes, and “logic” begins to take over, and slowly but surely, that spark of action begins to fade.

As you read Hannah’s poem, ask yourself: What would I do differently right now if I knew tomorrow wouldn’t come? Or perhaps a better question, what is holding me back from being the man or woman Christ created me to be? He gave His all for us, not so we could muddle through life, but so that we could live, truly live.

1am by Hannah Burch

I’m afraid to go to sleep
Because I know I will lose this nagging feeling my empty day has given me

Photo taken from pixabay.com by iWorksphotography

Photo taken from pixabay.com by iWorksphotography

This feeling that I did not wring out all that I had to offer
This feeling that I moved too slowly and not enough
That I didn’t shout enough
Or dance enough
Cry enough
Or laugh enough
I’m afraid to go to sleep
Because in the morning I know I will be afraid to do all those things

rsz_1hannah_bio_picHannah Burch is a sophomore in college who enjoys reading, writing, and watching Star Wars in her spare time. She is the oldest of five girls (excluding the dog) and is planning on majoring in either Creative Writing or English so her parents should probably not expect her to move out of their basement anytime soon.

(And to my writer friends looking for help with your blogs, newsletters, promotional jpgs, etc., let me know via email and I’ll connect you with her. She’s amazingly helpful! And routinely does all those things I’d rather not so I can spend my time doing what I love–writing!)

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Back in 2008 and 2009, I clearly and strongly sensed God’s call to write but fought it, hard. One night at a mid-week church service, my former pastor talked about the parable of the tenants and I realized it was fear–self-preservation rooted in fear–that caused the evil tenant to hide his gifts.

I was doing the same. The answer? I needed to surrender, to die to myself and live, completely and fully, for Christ. It wasn’t easy or comfortable. Death never is! But the fruit of that initial decision, and countless times I’ve had to make it again and again over the years, has truly been amazing. Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Speaking of the fruits of surrender, I have news! Many of you have wondered if there’d be a book to follow my debut, Beyond I Do. The answer is YES! I signed a contract with New Hope Publishers Tuesday for book two in what I’ve tentatively called the Midwestern Romance series.

Here’s a preliminary blurb:

Three people held back by regret but one God to help them rise above.

Angela Meadows is ready for a clean slate, to launch a career, and to embrace her newfound freedom 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 loves?

And, speaking of taking risks and dying to one’s self, you might enjoy the post I wrote for fellow ACFW member, Ralene Burke titled Confidence in Uncertainty. 

On Tuesday, I visited More to Life to share how a motherhood struggle drew my heart to single moms, and how this impacted my latest release, Intertwined. You can read that HERE.

And, speaking of books, for those of with book-lovers on your list…

Background photo by Unsplash taken from pixabay.com

Background photo by Unsplash taken from pixabay.com

Christian Friendship

Photo by Serge Bertasius taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Serge Bertasius taken from freedigitalphotos.net

How does Christianity translate into our friendships? Author Cherie Burbach offers the answer in today’s guest blog post. As you read, keep in mind those friendships you want to nurture, and remember the ones you want to begin too.

But first, I want to announce the winner of last week’s give-away. Elizabeth Dent, congrats! You won a copy of Darlene Franklin’s latest release, Christmas Mail Order Angels. I’ll be contacting you soon to chat about the best way to get that to you.

For those of you who didn’t win, don’t fret; you have a chance to win an equally awesome novel today!

GIVE-AWAY ALERT! Cheri is giving away one free copy of her latest release, 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends. A winner will be randomly selected from the comments and shipping is only available to those living in the continental US.

Christian Friendships by author Cherie Burbach

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.

One reason I like writing about relationships is because it’s universal. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all share a desire to be liked, to feel cared about, and be respected. We just want to get along. Despite the strife and arguments the world experiences, in the end we really do want peace.

As Christians, it can be difficult to show our best to people. And yet, we must do this.

ID-100367200

photo taken from freedigitalphotos.net by tiramisustudio

John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

A very wise friend of mine once said, “We’re called to love one another. Not like each other.” Loving is harder. It involves rising above pettiness and the exterior of someone’s personality and looking instead at that person the way God would. God doesn’t always agree with our choices but He loves us. We can do the same. We can simply open our hearts and move beyond the things we don’t agree with, leave judgement to God, and show love. Friendship is the first step to that.

About 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends:

51xZ3DOlc5L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The more friends you have, the more you’ll have the right people in your life to give you the support and connection you desire. Having more friends means you’ll consistently connect with new people and also keep the good friends you already have. If your friendships don’t seem to stick, you’ll be making friends and losing them quickly. The key to having more friends is increasing the number of people you meet on a regular basis and holding on to the great pals you already have.

This book contains one hundred suggestions on how to make new friends and also strengthen the friendships you already have. The tips are varied, with suggestions on how to meet new people interspersed with ideas for nurturing your new and existing friendships.

Cherie Burbach has written about relationships for over a decade at places like About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, Christianity Today, and more. She’s penned 17 books, her latest of which is 100 Simple Ways to Have More Friends. Visit her website for more info, cherieburbach.com.

Let’s talk about this. Lately, numerous women have toldlivingbygracepic.jp me they have a difficult time forming friendships and making connections with other women. I think there are numerous reasons for this (and for those who are local, I’ll be talking about this at an upcoming Moms group meeting in January), more than can be addressed in one blog post. But I do think forming and maintaining meaningful connections takes work, and perseverance. And it requires us to embrace risk, because reaching out can be scary.

Do you feel you have meaningful connections, and if so, do you have tips to offer others who may not feel the same? If not, is there something you can do this week to connect with others? Also, look at your relationship history. Do you tend to cycle through friendships or maintain relationships? How do you handle conflict when it arises? What do you do when a friend hurts you? Do you walk away or do the hard work to move past the hurt and deepen the relationships?

Heavy subject, but an important one, I feel. Share your thoughts and experiences in the commends below, because we can all learn from one another!