Life Is Not a 3 Step Formula… (Let’s stop all the lying)

clown stop lying

Man, I must be on the truth train this week but I continue to see a whole lot of things being posted about 3 steps to better lives, blogs, finances, etc. and I am ready to call out the flat-out lies being told…..

I wrote a post around the concern of all this expert advice being dished out and yet I continue to read a bunch of junk about life and blogging.

Excuse me for a moment while I go grab a hanky and start my preachin’….

There is no quick and easy way to a better anything in life or passion. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

I will be the first to admit that I want to believe that I can improve and excel in specific areas by following some mystic formula. I know there are people who hit the big time and appear to be overnight successes, but that is a rare case.

Reality is, hard work cannot be replaced with 3 steps and those promising that are full of themselves and something else….you can figure it out can’t you?

I read a blog post the other day that made my blood boil. I had the hardest time not responding because it involves something in my specific craft. I am author and blogger. I have fought for every inch I have on my social platforms. I have been writing for years and just recently have reached some type of author status (minimal as it might be).

I was published through a traditional publishing agency that just recently closed its doors. I am now in relaunch mode, better equipped, better trained and totally prepared for the work involved in the next few months (and maybe even years).

I understand the value, more than ever, of community and sweat equity.

Anyone that tells you these two things are not important is not being truthful.

Can you write a book? Sure, go for it, but make sure it’s  quality material. Those three steps that blogger shared may be the start to the process but not the end. Get an editor. Learn about formatting or pay someone who has the knowledge to do it properly.

Produce quality work because when the market is saturated with crap work, you are hurting those who actually want to do it right and provide quality reading material….

Was that harsh? Maybe so, but I am tired of seeing these bloggers tell you that if you follow these 3, 4, 5 steps, you will be able to quit your job,become a world famous author and make bank in a month.

And before you think I am “bullying” the bloggers, please understand it easily creeps into the faith community as well.

Nowhere in scripture does it tell you that your relationship with God will bring an easy life. In fact, it tells you that you will be hated and despised and yet, people stand dumbfounded when life gets hard and they are chastised for their belief in God.

Did we read different Books? I am pretty sure I was told that the road was narrow?

If it were wide, everybody and their mom would be walking it. And beyond what we have been told, just because God gives us a heart for ministry or a passion for writing does not mean it will be easy or handed to us. In fact, often times, we cannot even understand how God will work it out…that’s the faith part.

So stop believing that being a Christian means that the road will be easy or prosperous.

Was that harsh? Maybe so, but I am tired of people being fed this prosperity gospel and being swallowed by unsound doctrine.

Absolute truth does not waver based on feelings or opinions or newest trends. If it does, then you might want to check your route.

I am sure this won’t be the last time I share my thoughts on experts or unsound 3 step programs. I am not knocking those trying to advance, but I am encouraging all of us to make sure that we are bettering the blogging world by what we produce. I want to encourage believers to live out a life that is God honoring and not just world pleasing.

There are people watching us. Leaning in to every word we write. Let us lead truthfully.

Life is not a formula….

 

Author Bio:

Sarah West is a homeschool mom, freelance writer and first-time author of Walking the Talk: A Parent’s Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships. Sarah often writes on matters of faith and family, and believes in bringing back the conversation around the dinner table. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her writing through her blog at A Life Inspired, Facebook and Twitter.

Now What? Book Relaunch Team #teamparent

Walking the Talk relaunch teamThe Relaunch Team for Walking the Talk includes parents and other individuals that want to change the conversation around intimacy and healthy relationships. We are a group of people who want to see the future generations thrive spiritually, emotionally and physically! The Relaunch Team is a group of individuals that will help connect communities of parents and churches that want to turn the table on the conversation.

How can you help? There will be several ways! All our giftings are different and when you are operating in your gifting, you bring your talents and passions with you! Here are a few ways you can plug-in!


Social Media
You will be asked to share and tagged your followers on various social media accounts, using hashtags etc. to get the conversation going! There will also be a chance to put up a badge/image on your blog to help connect as well. (If you do not like social media, this may not be the best team to join. The “ideal” team member LOVES social media and is very connected.)


Book Reviewers
If you love to read and want to get a free e-copy of the book after relaunch, this is your chance. In requesting a book, you are acknowledging you will review the book and put the review on Amazon. Reviews are imperative to reaching the digital world. Please remember this is very important and should be taken as such!


Street Team
These are the individuals that will be the hands and feet in the churches/schools and community organizations. You will be the ones that help set up speaking events by sharing information with those in your sphere of influence. MOPS, ladies bible studies, book stores….you are the connectors! Media kits will be given to you to give any potential hosts! I will handle any marketing material. You help me get it out! 


Regardless of which position best suits you, please know you are very needed. The success fo one is often because of the greatness supporting them. That is YOU!

Ready to join? Click here!

Publisher and Book Announcement: Another Door Closes

Walking the Talk relaunch team

 

It is an announcement I had to make. I have prayed and meditated on the exact words I wanted to share with you to explain all of the changes  but everything I thought to say fell short. The writing was on the wall. I probably did not want to acknowledge that there were issues in-house. I went against my gut and tried to do it outside of God’s original plan for me. I am exactly where I was supposed to be in the first place. I have learned many lessons, one being to walk in God’s timing. I have also learned that HE makes everything new and even when we fall short, HE can still use us. I am thankful.

So here it is….

May 31st my Publishing House Booktrope/Vox Dei is closing its doors.

  • What does that mean for my book? June 1, 2016 I get my publishing rights back.
  • What do I plan to do? A set back is often times a set up for much greater things. I have learned a TON of lessons in this journey, some very hard, but ultimately, my prayers were answered by this closure and I plan to do exactly what I should have done the first time- I will self-publish under my own press name (Wiseman Publishing) mid-June 2016.
  • I am a store owner and purchase several copies of you book? What do I do with them? Keep them. If you purchased the book for resale purposes (organizations/bookstores) I was informed you can still sell them under “right of first sale.”
  • What happens now? I have a RELAUNCH TEAM for my book on Facebook. I am asking you all to CONSIDER joining the team. The one thing I ask is that you look and see where you would enjoy helping. One lesson learned the first time around was this: If someone does not like social media, they probably are not the best person to use for social media marketing!!!You can find the team descriptions under the description tab on our TEAM PAGE. If you are interested in joining the team, please click the link and request to join. I will be posting in the group (lightly) over the next few days with ideas etc. but I am trying to finish up the bigger things right now and need to focus on those.I am in the middle of formatting my book and finishing the new cover. I am excited, nervous and terrified all at once!PRAY on this first please. If you know of someone who would be great to join, tell them about it! I will have an image you can save to “recruit.”

Please be praying. A lot of people were displaced and disheartened by this. But this to shall pass….

 

Sarah West

Expert Opinions…..Life and Blogging

opinions mean nothing

I have felt this absolute heaviness in my chest the past few weeks. It is my body’s way of telling me I need to relax, to let go of something that is causing me to feel unsettled. Seriously, my mind feels like a billion different tabs opened all at once.

I feel like my head is going to explode with my never-ending to-do list.

Often when I get like this, I seek out counsel from my friends. But as I have grown older, those that I ask for opinions have drastically changed.

There was one time in my life that all I wanted to do was find people who would tell me what I wanted to hear. I sought out superficial opinions that brought me comfort or approval for what I was seeking. But all too often, I found myself wishing I had sought better counsel. I got what I wanted to hear, but not what I needed.

I have learned in my mid 30’s that opinions come a dime a dozen and one shoe does not fit all. The advice I need is not always easy to hear but always necessary and the person that I allow to speak life into my situation should be someone “qualified” to do so.

Yet, here we are, in an age where everyone has an expert opinion. You cannot get on social media without someone telling you they can change your life, your situation or your finances with one click of a button.

They promise that you will be a changed person in four weeks (or less).

-A better mom

-A better writer

-A better person

-A better Christian

And we trust them because they say to without ever really asking them why we should.

People are very trusting and I am fearful that it is bringing them down a road where they have all these opinions thrown at them yet no real solutions offered. It is just something else on your to-do list.

Am I saying I would never take a course or follow the advice of some? No. There are people who I hold to very high esteem but they have a track record to back up that respect.

….But we are not supposed to question anyone are we? It’s rude, right?

If someone feels they are an expert, even if they only a few months under their belt, who are we to question them?

Just as in blogging, we need to be careful about who we allow to speak over our lives, our families, our passions. I think we need to look at a few things that would make them qualified to weigh in on the areas we hold so dear.

Here are a few key factors to consider before taking to heart the opinions/advice of well-meaning people:

1. Do they have your best interest in mind?

I am not talking lip service. There are many that tell you they care and yet do nothing to back it up. I see it in blogging and life. Where are these people in your daily life? Is the only time they “drop by” when they need something from you? Do you always feel like you are getting a sales pitch? If so, why would you value anything they say?

remember your tribe

2. Do they live by the opinions they give?

Do you see them practicing what they preach ? I have always found it ironic when a doctor will tell his/her patient they need to lose weight and be healthy, yet they smoke a pack a day and are overweight themselves.

Opinions can mean nothing….A life lived out by example speaks so much louder.

3.  What qualifies them to have said opinion?

You might be thinking, “I have to ask my friend what qualifies them to be friends with me?” No, but a friend is going to have your best interest in mind, even when the truth they give to you is hard to give. Second, your friend, though not perfect, will be trying to live out the advice they give to you. A friend that encourages you to be respectful to your husband yet is completely disrespectful to theirs is not an opinion you should hold in high regards.

And this goes with our passions as well. The qualifications might be different in the blogging world but they should be looked into before you buy their line. I do not want to be rude so I will be very vague….. six months in the blogging world does not constitute experience and a title behind a name does not make an expert.

Be careful who you allow to speak direction and life into your passion and your families.

 

 

 

Finding Your People: Not All Are Created Equal

 

By Sarah West/Life and Bloggingfinding your people

 

[A big thank you to the sweet bloggers that took a moment and shared their thoughts. Your input meant so much in writing this post! Mamalode, Naptime Nation, Beyond Your Blog, Heartskeeper Community Writers]

 

The need for community is strong for most people, even us self-proclaimed introverts. And though I cherish the few hours of solitude I can get (hey, I am a mom) I still find myself longing for meaningful conversation and comradery in this thing called life and blogging. I especially find the need for community since I am a full-time SAHM and blogger. In other words, I don’t get out much.

The need for community in both my elements reminded me of the first few months of being home with my children full-time. I jumped head-first into every SAHM play group that I could find in the area I lived. If anyone even smiled my way, I vowed to be their BFF (not the best plan I learned.)

Instead of finding some great, meaningful friendships being built, I discovered how truly taxing it was to be around folks I did not really even like- all for the sake of being in community.

Where I often times loved diversity, I found myself loathing all the opinions and personalities. It was mama drama 24/7.

I felt like I was drowning in what appeared to be community but truly wasn’t, and no one even realized how miserable I was because no one truly knew me- Sarah, the mom, the coffee addict, travel enthusiast, daydreamer…..

I slowly started stepping away and began reevaluating my needs and wants from the SAHM community. It took some time to weed out those incompatible relationships, but I am now in a city where I have other SAHM mamas but no drama. It has been a great year, actually.

A few weeks back I asked a few of the blogging groups I am active in to help me navigate the true needs and wants of fellow bloggers when it came to community. I discovered, to no surprise, that bloggers are seeking very similar things in their working communities as they are in their personal relationships.

Four different blogger groups shared what they sought in community:

  • support
  • encouragement
  • inspiration
  • responsiveness
  • interaction
  • communication

And though there were slight differences in each group’s style, personalities and purpose, the overall desire to feel belonging and support were key in each one. It does not seem much different from our personal relationships.

Would you agree?

In life and blogging, we don’t always have to be with people who always share our beliefs, our gifts or ideas in the  exact same way we operate, but there can be a common ground. We all want to be supported, to share our passions, to have a place to communicate and find encouragement.

Where one group will fit the needs of some bloggers, it won’t be a good fit for others. The great thing is there are groups everywhere and with some time and effort, you can find ones that fit you. And when you do, you can begin to grow and reciprocate that same support and encouragement.

When you feel like you belong, you will begin to blossom and become a support for someone else.

If you are at a spot where it seems like an impasse, rather in mom-hood or in the blogger-sphere,  let me encourage you to push on. I find that when you have not experienced support, communication and encouragement in your own personal community, it tends to make you better at them because you know first-hand what it feels like when they lack.

Keep searching for your posse. They are there and they need you to be a part of their crew.

And in case you are still searching, you are always welcome in mine!

 

A Coffee Chat with Blogger Shelly McGraw

Coffee Chats with Authors

 

   Periodically, I will share with you about some of the great bloggers I have the honor of being with in community. Great bloggers are usually discovered because of people sharing such talent .I would be doing a disservice if I did not tell you about Shelly McGraw. Thank you, Shelly, for sharing some fun and awesome facts about yourself! Read below!

 

 

When did you start blogging and why?  I first started in late September 2015. God was leading me to start sharing my testimonies and lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) throughout my life.

 

If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why? This is such a hard one for me! I’m such a foodie and enjoy so many things. However, if I had to pick one, I would choose freshly picked strawberries…that or chocolate…or together.

 

Best childhood memory. When I was three, my mom bought me a mini piano. I sat down and start playing and I’ve never stopped. I now use this ability for worship in local churches.

 

If we were sitting in a coffee shop right now, what drink would you have in your hand? I would probably have tea or a coffee that’s mostly creamer or chocolate.

 

Extrovert or introvert?  I am an extroverted introvert! I need lots of quiet places to think, write, worship Jesus, and emotionally rest. I enjoy hidden beautiful places to be alone. Yet, I also need social time with close friends on a regular basis and love to get on stage every week to do worship. I’m constantly trying to find the balance between these two sides to my personality.

 

Favorite song or band that best describes you as a writer or your life in general? I love worship music. My favorite singer/songwriter is Brooke Fraser (now called Brooke Ligertwood). She writes such poetic lyrics and her voice cuts right through my heart. She uses a lot of analogies in her songs, which is something I also use in a lot of my writings. As a worship leader, I have used so many of her songs. I absolutely love her!

 

What do you find most difficult about blogging? On my blog, I cover a lot of difficult topics and share with my readers many personal and deep experiences I’ve had throughout my life. It’s scary to be so open about a tough childhood or emotional struggles that many other people face. I also have to fight with the “people-pleasing thorn” I have in my side, to write what God is asking me to write about and not worry what others may think of me. I’m currently praying about writing a book about my life. It’s nerve-wracking to think someone in my family would be upset about retelling something they’d rather “remember” a different way or deny happened altogether.

 

What did you want to be when you grew up? Did it come true? The two things I do better than anything else on this planet is singing and writing. Since I was a very small child, I’ve always wanted to do something in music. After deciding to follow Jesus as a teenager, I have wanted to use my talents to serve in ministry. I’ve been serving in worship, missions, and youth for over 15 years now and I love every minute of it.

 

Best advice you ever received in life? (It can be about writing, marriage, raising kids, cooking, whatever) “…But what is GOD asking you to do?” So many times, I’ve allowed myself to be swayed by someone’s else’s idea of what I should do or be instead of asking God. The best thing to do is always find out what He wants for your life and do that.

 

What would you tell someone that wanted to get into writing for pleasure or money? I would say go for it! You never know where it may lead. I would also say be authentic. Be you. Don’t write about something you have no personal knowledge of because the readers will know from the first sentence.

 

What else would you want your readers to know about you? My desire is to help disciple the Body of Christ. I pray I’m able to help my readers grow closer to Jesus.

 

Media Links:

Blog: shellymcgraw.com

Facebook Page: Lessons of Grace and Wisdom

Twitter: @shellymcgraw

Instagram: shellymcgraw

Email: shellymcgraw.ministries@gmail.com

 

Avoiding the Comparison Trap in Life and Blogging

By Sarah Westa sea of comparisons

I think I could stay connect 24/7 and never fully reached the mecca of the blogging world. It seems that every time I figure out what is the latest and greatest, it changes. I am left scratching my head, scouring the internet for what is trending and deemed successful for the next millisecond.

By no means am I saying that there is not some tried and true methods to all the blogging madness. I am very fortunate to have some individuals/groups in my corner that have helped me successfully navigate some of the forks in the blogging road. However, what I find to be alarming is that many of us are trying to fit a mold that we were never intended to fit. I see a lot of people beating their heads against the social media wall, walking away defeated and confused. If I am not careful, I can easily fall back down that rabbit hole.

Comparison is a slippery slope and one that we all must be careful to avoid.

And falling into the comparison trap is not just part of the blogging world. Comparisons are part of everyday life as well and we can thank social media for feeding that beast.

At any point of the day, you can log on to your virtual world and see image after image telling you how wonderful everyone else’s life is. It can leave you questioning your choices and yourself.

Why can’t my family look like the [Jones] family?

I wish we could go on a beautiful, exotic vacation like our friends.

I will never look like her in a bathing suit.

My husband never brings me flowers.

What’s wrong with my life?

Why does this Facebook page have more likes than mine?

Why isn’t anyone reading my book or following my blog etc.?

You can fill in your tale of woe as you wish, but the point is comparisons are killing us. Comparisons are putting a pressure on us and our families that are impossible to live up to. In fact, the voids we are demanding filled from our jobs, our families and ourselves were never meant to be fulfilled by us, but God.

Is success wrong? Is the desire for more in our life/career a bad thing?

No! The motives, however, behind our why will greatly determine our fulfillment and drive in both our personal and professional lives.

facebook post

I posted a snapshot my husband took of me over the weekend. I wrote above the picture that the same God that created all of THIS is the same God that created US. I wanted to remind people that the God who created such beautiful masterpieces in this world also created the beautiful masterpiece in each of us.

Comparison will rob of us that truth.

Don’t allow your worth to be taken away because of what you see on the computer screen or the lives of others.

You were not meant to fit that mold. Stop trying.

(If you liked this article, you can read more here on the trap of comparison.