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

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.

 

A Life of Remembering…..

Guest Post: Katherine Duncan
katherine duncan
I remember the day in the airport in Atlanta when we waited for my husband’s plane to take him back to Iraq for nine more months.  We had already lost friends in the war, and I did not want my husband going back.  Our three-year-old son and I waved good-bye, and I fought back tears as we walked the huge parking lot back to our truck.

I was nervous.

I remember the day in an office in Clarksville when my mom called and said that my dad was leaving.  I asked “Leaving to go where?”  She answered through tears, “No, he is LEAVING ME!”

I was shocked.

I remember the day in our car in Smiths Station when my husband told me that he felt like his dad was hiding something from us.  A week later, his dad shared with us that he had leukemia.  It was not fair to me that this loving pastor, wonderful man of God, “GDaddy” to our children, was going to have to suffer and fight through this disease.

I was confused.

I remember the day in a Hobby Lobby in Coral Springs when I got a call that my two-week-old son may have an incurable genetic disease.  The next day, in a hospital in a city that I had never even heard of, those fears were confirmed.

I was discouraged.

I remember the day in our kitchen in Canton when I got a call from one of my dearest friends saying that she had stage 4 cervical cancer.  I remember her words “This is the world’s diagnosis, and our God is bigger.”  Around a year later, I remember the call that she had been eternally healed, but she had left behind a loving husband and four precious children.

I was heartbroken.

I remember the day in our garage in Cumming when my husband felt that it was best to move, yet again, to another state for him to find a different job.  I had zero interest in going.  Our fourth child was a newborn, and I finally lived close to my sister again.  He said for me to trust him.

I was bitter.

I remember the day in our bedroom in Samford when I dumped the contents of my five-year-old’s piggy bank onto the bed to see if there was enough change to get a $5 Hot-n-Ready pizza for dinner!  My husband was a full-time college student, and we were struggling to find jobs.

I was humbled.

I remember the day on a porch in Salem when we again had to ask my husband’s parents if we could move in with them while we saved some money and figured out what the Lord’s plan was for us.  This was our 14th move in 14 years!

I was frustrated.

I remember the day in an exam room in Opelika when during a routine OB check up I found out that my well-developed baby no longer had a heartbeat.  The next day, after two back-to-back surgeries and a blood transfusion, I was empty.

I was crushed.

In all of these situations and through all of these emotions, I still had hope.  Somewhere through the pain, the confusion, the sadness, there was hope.  I know all of these stories could have ended differently-some much worse.  I cannot speak for those friends who have had to bury their parents, their spouses or their children, though my heart hurts for them. I can, however, speak to the wives, moms, sisters and daughters.

All of us have stories. We have experiences that have shaped us.  We need to own these stories.  These stories that God has given us are meant to be shared with others.

I once heard Charlotte Gambill speak at a women’s conference, and I remember her saying that if we stay in the middle of the river- in the middle of our misery, our sorrow, our struggle – and we never paddle through it, then no one on the other side will hear of our experience, of the healing, of the restoration, or the change.

No one will hear about our God who carries us through every situation if we stay silent.

For those who have stories that could have ended much worse and for those who have stories that ended in the worst possible way, there is a hope.  There is a future.  There is a covenant God who keeps his promises and nothing surprises Him.  We are in this together, and we need each other.

Lean on that God.
I know my God calls me His child and His friend.
Love and pray for your husband.  I am blessed to have a husband who fears the Lord and leads like no other.
Fight for your family.  I know mine have fought for me.
Find real friends.  I have those who sharpen me and I can share in fellowship, in good and bad times.
Have hope.  Have hope in an eternal future.  Remember that “God is preparing you for what He has prepared for you.” (Ed Young Jr.)
Remember…..
Meet the Author:
Katherine is an aspiring children’s book author, a wife and a homeschool mom of four. She is passionate about families living simple yet passionate lives.

A Sunday Thought On Contempt

sundayGuest Post: Naomi Loomis

My thoughts for the last couple of weeks have been on the word: Contempt. I have actually been studying it and praying about it. It has made me take a step back on my own life and realize that I need to fix myself.

Contempt is an emotion and it is a strong one at that. By definition, contempt means to think a person or thing is beneath consideration, worthless or deserving scorn. Sadly, contempt can be found in all of our relationships.

In order to fight against contempt, we must first understand what it sounds like, what it looks like and how contempt makes us feel.

The sound of contempt 

If you’ve ever said, “Oh, I would never do that!” when referring to the actions of other people, you have expressed contempt toward their actions.

If you’ve ever said, “Oh, I would never be like that!”, then you’ve expressed contempt toward a person.

If you have ever been made fun of or disrespected your spouse/friend, then you have expressed contempt toward those you love.

The look of contempt

Have you ever rolled your eyes? If so, you have shown signs of contempt.

Do you have a lack of empathy? If so, you have shown signs of contempt.

If you are the person who was the recipient of contempt/disgust, you are likely to choose to leave the relationship, to spit it out from your life-space.

Most people react to being treated contemptuously with the thought “If you don’t want me, then I don’t want you!”

And when we lose a relationship, who truly wins anything?

The feeling of contempt

If you have ever felt hopeless, you have felt contempt.

If you have ever had to questions your friendship or marriage, you have felt contempt.

WOW, right!!!

I am guilty, what about you?

Contempt is damaging to all relationships, including parenting. As parents, we give a lot to our children and when they are not appreciative or they are disrespectful, we can hold the view that our children are undeserving of the privileges they have. When we journey down the road to contempt, we put all our relationships at risk for a disaster.

So what can we do about it?

Pray to be humble and not hurtful.

Pray that God will help heal old wounds.

We can use, “I” instead of “You” statements.

“I feel frustrated when.…..” or “My feelings are hurt when……………”

Never assume.  

If a friend or husband does something that annoys you or hurts you, don’t assume he/she is doing it on purpose.  Talk to them and tell them your feelings, but don’t blame them for purposelessly being hurtful.

We all have faults, right? We need to pay attention to our own faults and practice compassion.

Listen to understand.

When talking to another person, appreciate what they are saying. Be positive. Being a positive person enhances our relationships. Appreciation, gratitude, affections, agreements, interest and smiles go a long way.

Be respectful.

Don’t let your aggravations and thoughts fester. Talk about your feelings. Talk about your stress. Don’t attack. Don’t assume.

None of us are perfect. We all fall short of other’s expectations and desires. When contempt is removed from the equation, we can begin to get past our broken and distorted expectations of those in our life. More importantly, we can remember that grace and compassion was given to us freely. When we see that God responded in love and not hatred to His people, it can be much easier to see past the faults in other’s lives.

“Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.”

Psalms 119:22

“Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.”

Psalms 123:3

Meet the Author:

loomis family

Naomi Loomis is a ranch wife, ranch mom and a blogger. Her and her cowboy are raising their family on their Nebraska cattle ranch.

“We all have a story to tell and this is mine.” You can follow Naomi on her blog.