Posted by: getolife | November 26, 2019

What We’re Up to Today

I’ve been working on starting a discipleship program at home and in my church. It may have been better to start a new class and to find people who are interested in what I’m actually doing, but since I have a captive audience in my Thursday afternoon PrayerTalk Bible study group, I’ve introduced them to some of the materials I’ve decided to work with.

Our current main study is a video study by John Ortberg called If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat. It’s sort of an introduction to following God’s calling for your life that includes listening for God’s voice and stepping out in faith to do whatever that voice commands. We’ve already done a Priscilla Shirer study on Discerning the Voice of God, so this is the next step.

We have augmented that with bits and pieces from the network participant’s guide (by bruce bugby and don cousins) for finding your place to serve in the body of Christ.  It includes a “gifts” inventory and tools to start looking at what each person is interested in, gifted for, and passionate about and finding a way to make a difference in that area.

One week a month, we do a separate study in the nursing home with a member of the group who has lost her sight and is not able to get to our meetings. Once a month is what works for her, and rather than doing a video study that she can’t see, we are doing a Discipleship Gospel workbook (bill hull and ben sobels) on the gospel of Mark. It will take us a long time to get through that, but it’s my way of making my group more familiar with the discipleship gospel concept.

I want to work in some of the “Discovery Bible Class” principles, but that’s likely going to wait until we finish the current video study. I’m thinking of working our way through Mark (since we’ll be in that once a month anyway) and trying to work it into a chapter a month so it’s all working together.

Wow, the preacher who is filling in until we find someone has announced that he’ll be preaching through the book of Mark starting in the new year! You can bet I’ll be taking notes on that. Sometimes I really do feel like God has this plan and is putting people into my life to keep me on task. And sometimes I wonder, why me?

Meanwhile, back at the house, my husband has lost his job (again) and we are struggling to get by, so I’m trusting God to provide. He always does. Maybe when I get a group through this process, I can write my own study to pull it all together and earn my keep selling that.

I wish I could find a way to keep doing what I’m doing and still make enough money to feel like I’m contributing. I am doing some work housecleaning…I know…very funny…but helping someone else is very different from doing it at home. What I get hung up on is the sorting and that’s not my problem in someone else’s house. The pay is better than I’m used to and I can work it around my schedule…maybe adding clients isn’t impossible. 

Posted by: getolife | September 14, 2019

Why not the “Forgiveness Only Gospel”

Many in the church today have grown up in a forgiveness-only gospel that emphasizes “faith alone” and usually involves saying a prayer and that’s it. We’re saved. We don’t have to do anything else–in fact, we can’t do anything else to be saved. Jesus did it all. That is a common interpretation of “faith alone” but it totally misunderstands the idea of “faith.”

Faith is not simply agreeing to a set of facts–that I’m a sinner needing a savior and that Jesus died to be my savior. That’s the set-up, but faith is more than that. Faith is allowing that information to get into my heart and soul and change me, change who I am and how I live. If I truly believe that Jesus can save me, and Jesus says “follow me” and “love your neighbor” and “make disciples” and I’m accepting this gift of salvation, won’t I want to follow him and love my neighbor and make disciples? If someone offers you eternal life, can you just say “thanks” and walk away? If I truly believe what I say I believe can I continue to live as if I don’t know Jesus?

So we have millions of “Christians” who aren’t moving beyond agreeing to a set of facts and who aren’t living as if Jesus died to save them and offers them eternal life starting the minute they obey his commands and move into his kingdom. Millions of “Christians” who received the keys to the kingdom–Jesus instructions for living a heavenly life on earth–and haven’t bothered to move in.

So why is this so terrible? For one, a lot of people are missing out on being part of Jesus kingdom here on earth and bearing fruit for that kingdom. They aren’t behaving like disciples and they aren’t making new disciples. They are fruit rotting on the vine and not even seeding another generation. They don’t even have the fruit of the spirit.

They don’t live regenerated lives. They look just like every other person in the neighborhood.  They are known for the make of their car or the flowers in their garden, but not for their love of Jesus and others. They don’t stand out for how they treat people.

Their faith may as well be dead–because faith without obedience is dead. You don’t have to do works to be saved, that’s true, but you have to obey what Jesus taught because you are saved–it’s the proof  that you really believe what you say you believe.

I spent a good part of my life believing that saying that prayer was the most important thing a person could do and I still believe that it’s important, but now I understand that words without actions, accepting Jesus and not following his teachings, isn’t what it means to have faith. It’s more important to make Jesus the king of your life–to enter into his kingdom–by following his teachings, however imperfectly, and having a relationship with him. It’s what works. It’s wonderful. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

 

Posted by: getolife | July 23, 2019

Got Approval?

Well, on Sunday after church I was led to a private room by two members of the church board and told that from this point on I need to submit my curriculum for approval for any study that I want to do in the church. Guess they’re forming a committee for that purpose. I usually talk to the pastor, so it’s not like I’m just making random choices on my own, but being told I need approval privately instead of as a blanket announcement in the newsletter or during the service hit me as strange. I was too shocked to even ask exactly who I need to submit the information to–and they didn’t say.

It seems strange to everyone I tell about it and I’m pretty sure it’s not just in the way I tell it. Nobody else who is teaching or planning to teach at the church has been given the same information or been asked to submit their plans. All it means to me is that if I am called to do things that don’t get approved, we do them outside the church. Not a big deal for me.

Of course, that meant that since we are wrapping up discussion of American Gospel this week (we finished watching the video last week) we’ll have six weeks before the fall start of regular ladies Bible Study with no meetings because there isn’t a committee yet and they don’t want me starting something new without approval. I guess I need the break.

We were down a few people. I was hoping that I could let everyone know that we were finished for the summer. Still had a good discussion of what the gospel is. Still have people who don’t see the problem with false gospels or false teachers. I wish I could just continue through the summer and work through what the false gospels are and why they are a problem. Maybe I’ll do that in posts over the next few weeks. I don’t think anyone is reading this now, but putting something on here more useful than my own problems and musings might change that. Telling people that I’m blogging this journey might help, too.

Posted by: getolife | July 10, 2019

American Gospel–completed

We finished American Gospel this week. This section wasn’t as dense as I expected and we were able to get through it even pausing several times for discussion.

We talked about the fact that the movie brought out some differences that we don’t believe are important–or that may have been clumsy ways of saying the same thing in different words.

We also discussed how many of the speakers shown may have started with the truth and gradually wandered into false beliefs based on their personal experiences and without even realizing the impact of what they were saying.

We recognize that the gospel Jesus gave his disciples is a very specific message and that we need to guard that message and not stray from it.

Next week…pray for me about next week…pray for wisdom…..pray for the Holy Spirit to speak through me. Next week we discuss what the gospel is. Why this is even a question, I don’t know, but so many have grown up in Christian homes and attended regular church services and still are not comfortable sharing the good news of Jesus because they aren’t sure what the gospel is. And next week I’m going to try to help a group of ladies to sort that all out for themselves so that they are comfortable telling friends and family and strangers about who Jesus is and what he did and how that affects us.

Posted by: getolife | July 3, 2019

Learning the Gospel–what it isn’t

It’s the week of July 4, so I really didn’t know what to expect, but of the twelve people on my attendance list, there were 7 ladies present–including one who is recovering from surgery who had been unable to get time off who will not be working for a while (perhaps God wants her with us) and an older pastor’s wife who intimidates me a bit, but can be an excellent source when I don’t have answers. I believe that I will be able to get at least three or four from this group for a discipleship group before this study is done. I am convinced that discipleship groups will be central to God’s plan for me and that it will feed into the event God has promised to me.

We talked a little about some of the heresies we’d heard from popular pastors. Some of them started out fine, but grew away from the gospel as their ministries and fortunes grew.  Some seemed to have minor issues that might be more semantics than heresy. Others had specific teachings that are just plain wrong mixed in. While we aren’t prepared to call most of them out on their teachings–we will be listening more thoughtfully so we aren’t confused or deceived.

The video seems to oppose healing ministries as not of God or not real healing. Most of us have seen enough of healing ministry that we’re not so willing to discount them all based on the bad theology and trickery that some of them have fallen into.  We also talked about the idea that real miracles can come with seriously misleading teaching. Jesus did say that people would do miracles in his name without knowing him and we believe some of these are examples of that while others may know Jesus but have dangerous beliefs that aren’t consistent with the gospel.

We talked about the way some of these teachers talk about money and acquire money from their followers. Jesus always told people to give to the poor, he never suggested that giving him money was the way to buy blessings.

We closed in prayer, praying for a member of our group who was having a medical procedure while we were meeting and for a member who is so disillusioned with the church that she was having trouble coming back to the building where we meet. I totally get that, but am praying that Holy Spirit will comfort her and lead her back to us.

I’m writing these things as a record of what we’re doing so that when I look back I will be able to see what worked and what was a distraction. If you are following along–pray for us. Join us if you can–either by coming to the meetings or starting your own group. Let us know if you are doing that and we can pray for you.

Posted by: getolife | June 25, 2019

Discipleship Journey Beginning

I’ve broken the silence and told a small group of people the plan, so now I’m writing it down. I’m looking for people to join me on this journey and I’m asking for a commitment, so am not going to expect everyone I ask to be able to do this now. If I start with the four people I am looking for, that will be great. If I start with two or three, or even just the one who has already said “yes” I am going forward and keeping my part of the agreement. It is what it is.

The first part of this discipleship program is for each of the members to start with four people who they intend to pray for–in whatever way is helpful–and to ask that each of them agree to find four people who will agree to do the same.  Not only does this give all of us a commitment, but if we have a few layers in this pyramid we can have a blanket of prayer over our community. If each of us keeps praying and asking more “people of peace” to join us, we can have a blanket of prayer over our state and our nation and our world.

I talked about this in our American Gospel group this morning–it just accidentally came up (Okay, so Holy Spirit may have had something to do with it, but it wasn’t part of MY plan.) I told some of them about more of the plan, about how a person like me who didn’t really believe in modern prophets and miracles was given a prophecy a decade ago and how it seems to be coming to fruition in ways that I didn’t expect and how I had been acquiring materials for this group for years while waiting for the signal to bring it out and share in the coming revival (not sure that’s really the right term, but it’s the closest I can get to explaining it briefly) that is being brought on through disciples making disciples and a return of the people of the way to the true WAY that is Jesus.

So far the plan is to mete out information about this group at our meetings until I have a few commitments and we have finished the program we are working through. (Or God reveals something different or sets a start date.) I really don’t have a plan for what we will be doing. I have asked a friend who is a pastor for help and I’m sure he’ll have ideas. And I’m getting much better at listening for God’s plan so that I really don’t need much more than that.

Here’s how I’m seeing this as we start:

Getting together to talk about Jesus over meals or coffee

Going into the sanctuary at church and praying for the presence and blessing of God for this place and for the removal of all things evil.

Inviting the group over to watch a Christian video or to talk about Jesus.

Walking around areas in our community and praying for God’s blessing for the people there.

Talking to anyone who wants to talk while we are praying about who we are and what we’re doing.

Visiting other churches or other Bible studies together

Asking local ministers, priests and rabbis to join us for discussions.

Holding prayer vigils for the church and for our community.

Having informal worship services in homes or parks.

Being comfortable offering to pray in a variety of situations including public prayers by taking turns leading the group in prayer and making opportunities available.

Being comfortable sharing the gospel with friends and acquaintances by practicing with one another.

Visiting people from church in the hospital or nursing home together and praying with them. (Being open to talk to anyone who approaches us or shows interest.)

 

 

Posted by: getolife | July 23, 2016

Has it Been Five Years?

While I haven’t worked full time in the last five years, I haven’t spent the time I had hoped on my writing career either. At first I did a lot of marketing and pushed the book in every place I was allowed, but there never seemed to be a link between what I was doing and how well the book was selling. I had good months and months where I didn’t sell a book on any platform.

This spring I couldn’t afford the cost to keep my website hosting and my site has been down for a few months now. Little did I know, the website may have been more profitable than I’d imagined. Sales have totally tanked. Everywhere. Ebook and paperback.

So here I sit with no money to get the site running and no sales.And I’m working on another book and should probably start working on an updated edition of Love, but it feels pretty hopeless.How will I promote the new book if what people have been doing is checking out my website before checking out at Amazon? Will anyone buy the book?

I know I can work on making one of these blogs into a site for the new book and maybe another for the updated book, but it takes time and we need money now. Do I work my buns off and get the books published and the blogs set up and pray that it starts making money soon? Or do I start looking for a “real” job with regular paychecks?

Posted by: getolife | March 25, 2012

One Week Self-Employed

I have survived one week of self-employment and am learning just how hard it can be to just say “NO” to everyone who is trying to steal the time I have set aside for work. I know that I can’t jump for every little thing, but I’m going to have to really believe that this is my full-time job and that I have the right to stay at work when someone needs a ride or a loan or whatever crazy thing people need.

I did get my website deleted and the new one started with WORDPRESS on my own domain. I got several pages posted and a couple blog posts. I finished the workbook to go with my book and posted links to a WORD and a PDF downloadable file.

I also wrote a couple posts on support groups related to the bipolar spouse topic to build my reputation as a helpful resource and an expert of sorts. I took Tuesday off because it was my birthday. 

I discovered an interview I had done earlier that was posted about a month ago and posted the link to that to my facebook page–it was an interview about my marriage (the same angle as the topic of my book) and included links to the page that sells my book. http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/marriage-true-story 

I designed some bookmarks to use as give-aways. I had to wait to print them out because the black ink cartridge is almost empty and so was my bank account. I am looking for a paper cutter so I can get them cut properly, but that’s not a serious problem.

All-in-all, I did get a lot done on my first week, just not nearly as much as I’d hoped.  Meet me back here next week-end and see if I can up my productivity.

Posted by: getolife | October 4, 2011

Can I Quit My Day Job?

Almost every fledgling author prays for the day when the writing gig becomes the day job. That’s the time when it’s put up or shut up, when it’s sink or swim, when all the eggs are in that one “author” basket. That’s scary. Exciting, but scary. I haven’t arrived there yet, but I’m making plans and getting things set up and even if I don’t make a living at it, I’ll be ready for anything. If you’re thinking about quitting your day job, here are a few of the things I have worked out that you might want to also take into consideration:

  1. Have a plan and a schedule so you don’t start thinking that you have all the time in the world because you really don’t. One of my books in rough draft at this point is about organization, so I have sample dayplanner pages all filled out.  I start my day with TAW pages because I really do find that doing three pages of whatever is on my mind can free me from the details and get me inspired to be creative. I believe in The Artist’s Way. I have time scheduled for working on writing new chapters as well as time for editing and plan to keep that flexible enough to stay interesting. I have short bursts of time scheduled for promotional stuff, for support groups and blogs and fanpages and twitter. I also have facebook breaks and personal email time scheduled–sometimes as a reward for finishing sections of a project, sometimes just as a break. Instead of working 9 to 5, my plan goes from 8am to  8pm with plenty of breaks to keep me refreshed.
  2. Limit distractions. I won’t have a lot of distractions. My husband will be working as an over-the-road truck driver, so he’ll only be home every other week-end (of course I will be OFF when he’s home. ) The others living in the house all work full-time and stay pretty much in their own rooms. They are all adults and do their own cleaning and cooking–in fact, I rarely cook. I do run the dishwasher, but that isn’t much trouble. I only pick up after myself. If you have young children, you may need to figure out ways to keep them occupied while you write. It’s easier now than ever because you can take a laptop or an ipad to the park or library and write while the kids play or listen to stories. Schedule all of your work–including housework–or it will tend to infringe upon your writing time and final edits hanging over my head can provide me with a very clean house and a long wait for publication. I’d rather do anything than final edits.
  3. Set goals and deadlines. The fact that I don’t have a publisher assigning deadlines does not mean that I can procrastinate. I can take as long as it takes to get everything up to my own standards, but pushing back publishing dates makes it harder to get the publicity and promotion lined up and it is important to have everything running smoothly around the time a book actually comes out for the first time. If I work out a plan and divide the task into smaller chunks so that I can see my progress day by day, I can have a good estimate of when a new book will be ready and what I need to do to make it happen.  It might pay to pad the timing a bit so I don’t feel rushed, but giving myself too much time makes it hard to get motivated and makes the task seem larger than it is.
  4. Figure out exactly how you will pay the bills. I have been sole support for my family for the past 12 years and my husband has been on disability for the past 5. He has returned to the work force as a truck driver and when I quit my job, he will be earning about the amount we were making between my job and his disability check. Once he is earning at that level, I will start putting my whole check into savings to cover any unplanned expenses or emergencies. I fully expect to work my butt off and to increase my book sales substantially once I have the two general audience books on the market (my current book is intended for a very limited audience) and make the time to promote all of the books properly. I intend to work up a class or two that I can teach based on the books–first at the local community college and later as a public speaker at women’s events. I can fall back on substitute teaching or daycare which I am qualified to be licensed for locally, if I need money and things aren’t working out. I will have to roll my 401k from my job into another retirement account that I might also be able to access in a dire emergency. These are things that need to be thought through before making the break because emergencies DO happen. If you are single and get your insurance coverage through your employer, you will want to know how you will pay for medical expenses while self-employed.
  5. Have a life. While some people might tend to treat self-employment like a permanent vacation, others will tend to skip vacations, breaks, sleep and even meals when they are working at something they enjoy. Even writers need some down time to have something to write about. You can’t research life in the real world from your internet connection, you have to go out and experience it. Take a class, go to church, visit the library, go shopping, watch a movie, keep in touch with friends and family. While I don’t have much of a social life, one thing that I look forward to that I haven’t been able to do because of my job is attending church every week and being involved in the activities there. It’s hard to teach Sunday School when you work every other week-end. As a self-employed author, I may continue to write over the week-ends, but I will definitely keep Sunday morning free for church and even set aside time during the week for Bible study classes. I also hope to attend some live, in-person support group meetings. Not only can I learn a great deal from actually meeting with people with similar issues, but I can also share my books and the things I’ve learned through writing them and work out what to share in a short class through attending these meetings. I might even make a few in-person friends. Do you have a plan to have a life between chapters? If your day job is your life, don’t leave it until you can replace that part of it.

I’m sure there are other parts of this that I will stumble upon as I start my actual journey into self-employment as a full-time writer, author, publisher, and whatever else an indie author does.  Do you know anything I’m glossing over? Leave a comment.

Posted by: getolife | August 24, 2011

What Does it Mean to be “Indie”

I’m an independent author and publisher. The buck stops here. There are some who still say that writers should write and turn over the other tasks to the experts. That sounds like a wonderful idea, but even if I hire dozens of contractors, I’m still responsible for the final product–me, the independent author and publisher.

So whether I design my own cover art or have a friend design it or hire someone who does cover art for a living, I need to know everything possible about cover art in order to know whether I’m getting a good design and in order to communicate to a graphic artist exactly what I want my cover to say about my book and how I want to say it. I can’t just pick someone out of the Yellowpages and leave my name and the title of the book and expect artwork that really represents my book. I can’t do that with a friend who offers to design something. I need everything but the talent to put it all together into something that looks professional before I even consider who to ask or how much to spend because if I get a great cover that doesn’t work or doesn’t really fit what’s in the book, that’s on me because I’m the publisher. If I get lousy artwork that makes the book look like something put together in an afternoon, that’s on me, too.  Either way it will hurt sales and my reputation as a writer and publisher.

The same goes for editing and proof-reading. I could do it myself: ok, so it would be worse than doing my own cover art and I can’t even draw stick people. I could find people to read it who can find the worst spelling and grammar errors and maybe put it past several people to get as many problems as possible pinpointed, then decide whether I want to pay a professional editor. This gets tricky because, although I might have trouble coming up with the money up front, a good editor can really make a difference and increase sales in the future.  Exchanging editing chores with other writers may be a reasonable option. I just need to rememeber that no matter how well I edit someone else’s books, I will never have the objectivity to edit my own. No matter who does the editing and proof-reading, if I have spelling or grammar issues or formatting problems or graphic boxes that end up on top of text–that’s my responsibility. Major publishers can hire someone and blame them if things don’t turn out right, but it’s up to me to double check the people who double-check and make absolutely sure that everything is right. If it isn’t that’s on me.

If the book doesn’t look good, if the fonts change on different pages, if the chapter titles are hard to read, if there are blank pages without a good reason, if the paragraphs run together, if the book is formatted for an ereader, but the pictures are too big for the screen, if the pages are numbered with page one on the back of a page, if there are bold print or italics where they don’t make sense, if there is any problem at all with the way the book is formatted, that’s my responsibility. I can either learn the formatting software and keep going over the files and proof-reading for problems until I’ve fixed everything or I  can pay someone to do the formatting and keep going over the files for problems and make sure everything has been fixed before the files are printed or go live at any of the bookstores.

If the book is perfect but doesn’t sell because nobody knows it’s available–whose fault is that? Yep, the indie publisher is also a marketer and distributor.  It is my responsibility to make sure that the book is delivered in appropriate formats to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and as many other bookstores as possible. I need to find the people who might be interested in my book and direct them to those bookstores or to my own website where they can buy the book. I need to get the book into the hands of reviewers who will like it and write good things about it. I need to get the readers who like it to leave ratings and reviews at the store where they bought it. It’s not the job of some marketing guru–unless I hire one. Even if I do hire out marketing, I need to make sure that the marketing plan is appropriate to the book I wrote, that we agree on the target audience I had in mind when I wrote the book, and maybe others, that I hadn’t  considered.  I need to make sure that the marketing message is consistent with the message in the book. I need to make sure that everything is true and correct. If nobody buys it, that’s my problem. If people buy it and complain that it’s not what they expected, that’s my problem. If nobody comments and no reviews are written, that’s my problem , too because I’m an independent publisher and the whole business is my business.

I am also responsible for creating and maintaining all of the public relations materials, for a blog that covers the topic of the book, for a website with information about the book and why people should buy it, for discussion groups that talk about the material in the book,  for interviews and speeches and seminars and newsletters and tweets and anything else that might help to introduce me as an expert on my subject, someone to be trusted to write an accurate and honest book. It’s all part of my job and there will always be one more thing I could be doing, and one more after that. But it’s my book, my responsibility. The independent author and publisher does it all.

The only job I’ve ever had that’s been like this was the job of wife and mother–all the responsibility and scarcely any recognition. Sound familiar?  They’re still the best jobs I’ve ever had. While there’s not much fame and fortune for the average independent author and publisher, there is a lot of power in being able to write a good book, put together a package to present that book to the public in the way that YOU decide, making direct contact with potential readers to tell them about it, and living with the consequences of your actions whether that means being laughed at by the critics or seeing your book on a best-seller list.

That’s what it means to be “Indie”.

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