Ring Out, Ring On!

“The Lord’s message rang out from you . . .” 1 Thessalonians 1:8 NIV

If you’ve read my writings for any length of time, you know that I want my words—whether here or in other venues—to be a source of refreshment, encouragement, and nourishment for all who read them. I hope you’ve been blessed and have heard the Lord speak to your heart when you’ve read my blog posts or other things I’ve written over the years.

But you know what? That works both ways. Many of you have blessed me at different times by telling me that my words have touched you in some way or that God has given you—through my writing—just the word you needed to hear on that particular day. I can’t tell you what an encouragement that is to me. Those are the kinds of things that keep a writer writing.

In fact, your words—whether through blog comments, notes, messages on Facebook, emails, words spoken face to face, or your own writings if you’re a writer—have many times been just the words I needed to hear.

Sometimes it’s been a message of encouragement from the Lord to help me stay committed to the calling he’s given me, but many other times he’s spoken through you to give me strength, wisdom, or direction for any number of personal issues I’ve faced.

What it boils down to is this: You don’t have to be a writer or a teacher or a preacher for the Lord’s message to ring out from you. You can simply be you. All you need is a willingness to speak words of kindness, truth, inspiration, thanks, wisdom, comfort, or encouragement. So ring on, my friends, ring on!

“But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” Job 16:5 NIV

*How have someone’s words been a message from God ringing out to you recently?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by alykat, Creative Commons License

Hard Fought

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Some victories are best described as hard fought, aren’t they? If we’ve lived this life for any length of time, we’ve discovered that many accomplishments, battle-wins, growth, or tasks completed don’t come easily. Much effort is required to get from point A to point B.

You might not guess it, but many of my blog posts and other writing projects fall into the hard fought category. Oh, some may come more easily than others, but if I’m honest, I’d have to say many are hard fought. Most require much effort.

For one thing, I’m a slow writer. For another, I have perfectionist tendencies. So unless an idea sparks and words tumble out as fast as I can write them down, they come out like a trickle or a drip rather than a flowing stream or bubbling brook. In fact, sometimes they’re birthed at an excruciatingly slow pace. It’s as if I’m stuck in mud. When that happens, getting pieces written is like struggling through a wrestling match. Any results are hard fought.

Other examples of hard fought victories in life abound. Sometimes learning a new skill or reaching an academic milestone takes all we have to see it through. Others engage in mighty struggles to lose weight or to quit smoking. Some reach their next wedding anniversary only by the grace of God and their non-negotiable commitment to honor their vows and protect their families. Still others fight to stay true to their faith in God when life deals them one blow after another.

I wonder if any of us today are currently faced with hard fought battles. Any wrestling matches underway? Any of us stuck in the mud? Let’s not give up. Let’s dig deep and press on. Like with my writing struggles, we may have to fight hard, but the victories will surely come. And oh, how sweet they’ll be.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*What in your life has come or is coming with hard fought efforts?

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 19 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 11. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Eric Langley, Creative Commons License

Climbing Towards a Goal

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“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” Psalm 18:29

I’ve been on the climb the past few years—scaling the wall toward traditional book publication. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer to having a shot than when I first started working towards my goal.

Thank goodness, I’m not making the climb on my own. God is scaling the wall with me. He’s providing guidance, the ideas and skill I need, and the strength to persevere as well as helping me connect with others in the writing world. He’s also blessed me with the support of family and friends.

I’ve had to put in the work, though. I’ve spent untold hours working to become a better writer. I’ve invested money in going to writers conferences where I can continue to learn and network. I’ve plunged into unfamiliar waters, taking steps to build my platform to reach readers. Yep, I’ve had to do the work.

Each step I’ve taken has been a step up the wall. I started my blog several years ago. Step. Joined the FCW writers group. Step. Attended my first writers conference. Step. Started publishing Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter. Step. Joined Facebook a few years ago and then just recently started my Cheryl Barker, Writer page there, too . Step, step. Became part of the FCW online critique group. Step. Launched my new website, started the Mother of the Bride Blog, and joined Pinterest all in one fell swoop. Step, step, step.

Believe it or not, these are just a few of the steps I’ve taken. And, of course, during it all, I’ve been writing. I’ve been submitting pieces for publication. And I won’t lie—it takes a lot of perseverance. I’ve experienced a lot of rejection. But the Lord has also rewarded my efforts with publication at times.

I’ve relied on God’s help and direction each step of the way. He has graciously provided technical help, instruction, and encouragement through other people just when I needed it. No doubt about it, book publication is definitely a wall I could not scale on my own.

Are you scaling a wall right now? Or does a wall loom in front of you that needs to be scaled? I hope you can learn from my climb. Put in the work, but don’t try to do it on your own. Take it a step at a time. Be patient and persistent. And most of all, rely on God. He will provide all you need.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2

*What wall has God helped you scale? 

*Flickr photo by why 137 (slow!)