“God Used My Losses”

This week I’m delighted to feature guest poster Anne Peterson. Anne is a poet, speaker, and the author of Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and most recently, her first children’s book, Emma’s Wish. Her poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries. I’ve been privileged to share her words in the capacity of proofreader and reviewer, and to witness her extraordinary commitment to encouraging our fellow Tribe Writers. No stranger to suffering, her story is one of perseverance and hope, and it has both astonished and inspired me. Please welcome her to Postcards From My Head.

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Everyone is going through something. We don’t know the trials other people face, unless they divulge them to us. You never know what another person is dealing with.

Even when God heals our hurts, mends our broken places, we have scars. Some of them go pretty deep.

Gods Tools

Anne Peterson

Anne Peterson

For me, one of the tools God uses in my life is loss. I have lost a lot of loved ones. Consequently it’s difficult for me to trust. When I was five years old, my friend Billy ran out into the street after a ball. He never came back.

When I was twelve, my cousin Julie was killed, and when my parents went to tell Grandma, her heart couldn’t take it and she died the next day.

Years ago, there were no counselors to help children process their grief. We never learned how to deal with the losses that kept coming. We just became well acquainted with death.

Not knowing the need to work through our pain, we tried numbing it. Food was one way.

Death Kept Visiting

At sixteen I lost my mother. At twenty-four we buried Dad. Six years later we would deal with losing Peggy, but this one was complicated.

It was 1982 when my sister Peggy disappeared. She never showed up at work, nor did she show up for a dentist appointment.

Her husband told us she walked out. There was even a segment done on television, but we never believed she left.

Not surprisingly, I struggled with abandonment issues. In my mind, it was only a matter of time before everyone would leave.

Emotional Pain Hurts Deeply

My emotional pain was overwhelming. And when I hurt the worst, poems would come to me.

God provided counseling for me and with it many tools from the counselors.

I learned the value of acknowledging my pain rather than stuffing it down or denying it existed. Then I learned how to embrace my pain. I believe that was a turning point.

In his book, Making Peace with Your Past, Tim Sledge deals with those painful parts of our lives we wish were gone.

As I wrote my book Broken, it was to be a story about my sister. That is, until God told me to add my story as well.

For years I’ve spoken to hundreds of people, sharing my sister’s story. I know it by heart, my broken heart.

But adding my story was life-changing. I felt a purpose for the pain I experienced. I felt gratitude for those who tried to reach out to me.

Resistance

As I wrote the book, I felt strong resistance. And yet, I pushed through—I had to.

Why? Because my intent in writing Broken was to offer something to those who were hurting. This book was not only for those who were or are being abused, but it was also for those who perhaps wanted to better understand it, so they could help someone they may know.

An interesting thing happened as I finished my book. As expected, I was totally spent. There were days I felt exhaustion. But after I rested, an interesting thing happened.

I became more aware of others and their hurts.

I still felt I needed to write, but instead of an urgency, it was more of a deliberate decision.

And another thing changed. All of a sudden, children’s books were bubbling out of me.

Day after day, I wrote children’s stories. Stories like the ones I had made up for my grandchildren.

Working Through Issues

Working through issues is so beneficial, not only for you, but for those you care about as well. I just never expected the joy I’m experiencing.

As far as the issues in your own life, have you worked through them? If not, are you ready for the hard work ahead? Will it be worth it?Real Love Cover

Yes, yes, and yes!

You won’t go through them alone. God will be with you as you process your pain.

God uses the losses in our lives. He can bring good out of our most difficult times.

God knows what you’re going through. He’s seen and even felt your pain.

Isn’t it time to see what He really has in store for you?

Trust me, it will be worth it.

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Disappointment 

God, Im so discouraged,
the plans I had fell through,
I sit with disappointment
and dont know what to do.
I had my life all figured out,
most everything was planned,
But nothing went the way I thought
and I dont understand.
He answers with compassion,
I know you are in pain,
Just trust in me completely.
Your loss will turn to gain.

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 To learn more about Anne, please visit her at http://www.annepeterson.com or https://www.facebook.com/annepetersonwrites. You can also read my reviews of Broken and Emma’s Wish at Amazon.com.

 

Emma's Wish

 

 

 

 

 

Step Into Yourself and Raise Your Standard

This month’s installment of “Be My Guest” comes to us from Devani Anjali Alderson – a fellow Tribe Writer as well as author, globetrotter, marketing maven and photographer…not to mention CEO of Marketing4Traffic…with an important message about something so many of us do and so many of us ultimately fail at – setting goals.  As in other years, I wrote up my list in January…and despite intentions to the contrary, haven’t looked at that list since.  I’m convicted…how about you?

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Goal setting. It’s such a mainstream thing to do. New Years, birthdays, five-year markers… So many people wait for a “big” occasion to set a goal. And yet very few people sit down and create a strategy for actually making it happen. You don’t need to wait for a significant event to change your life. As Tony Robbins says, “You need to be sick and tired of being SICK and TIRED.”  That’s when you decide it’s time to stop making excuses and just get things done. The time for procrastination is over. Dead and gone.

Anthony Robbins

Anthony Robbins

Crystallize your goals and have a WHY. Do you know why so many “diets” fail? It’s not necessarily that the “diet” itself doesn’t work. It’s that people jump in without crystallizing the reason behind their desire.

Recently I had a coaching session with my mentor, Jim Sheil, co-founder of Board Meetings International. He explained a process to me for setting goals that would easily get accomplished. Below are the top takeaways I got from him:

1. Write Down Three Highlights from the Previous Year: This is important so you can see the “ups” you had. It will help motivate you for the year ahead. It will also show you the activities you enjoy, so you can incorporate them into the upcoming year.

2.   Write Three Lessons From Last Year: Knowing what you learned helps you feel proud about yourself and reminds you of life’s lessons. And it crystallizes the key points you learned.

3. Write Goals: There is a specific process to writing goals.   

    a. Make them realistic. Everyone’s version of “realities” is different, so when brainstorming what you want to happen, make it doable. But remember that realistic doesn’t mean “dream small”… It just means maybe you should start with baby steps!  

    b. Make them measurable. Add a time limit and date you want each one accomplished by.

    c. Stick with a list of 3-5.  Don’t make some long list of a dozen goals. It’s much better to get a couple of goals accomplished than have a dozen that have been abandoned.

4. Look at the list DAILY!  If you don’t remind yourself each day about what you want…you’ll eventually forget and burn out. You need to ingrain your goals. Put the list everywhere – on the bathroom mirror, in the car, in your wallet, everywhere!

Here is an example of one of my goals: “On August 1st of 2014, the first draft of my marketing workbook is complete and with an editor.” For me, this is realistic; there’s a date I expect to complete this, and it’s not daunting. My original goal was: “I am a published author of a bestselling book/workbook that inspires speakers, authors, and business owners to get back to the core passion of their business.” It was too grand, and I was setting myself up for disappointment. There was no way I could realistically complete this.

You want realistic goals so you don’t get disappointed. That sets you back and makes it that much harder to accomplish what you want. You want to make it EASY to move forward. Once you’ve gone through this process, share it with close and uplifting friends. People whom you KNOW will help and cheer you on when you feel down.

Here’s the thing: goals are awesome. They give clarity and purpose to our lives. But what’s the point if we don’t act on them? We’ll end up depressed, sad, angry, bitter, and with other negative feelings that harm us and the people around us. While it may seem convenient to set goals during major events, there’s no reason to wait. Waiting means you’re letting life happen, you’re giving up your power, and you’re not living up to yourself.  That might sound harsh, but frankly, if you’re not living up to what you know you can do, you’re wasting your beautiful, precious life, and the world will not get to see or be helped by your gifts.

Love yourself enough to step into your skin and raise the standard. There’s no reason to hide, no reason to wait, and no reason for excuses.

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How about you?  Have you set goals you had trouble fulfilling because they were unrealistic or lacked passion – or have you aced them and are moving on to new ones?  Has something stopped you from even setting them?  Devani would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.  And be sure to check out her website at http://marketing4traffic.com/.

Devani Anjali Alderson

Devani Anjali Alderson

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The 3 Questions Writers Forget to Ask

Readers, I’m delighted to feature fellow Tribe Writer and playwright Lindsay Price as my latest guest poster.  This month she’s asking three very important questions any writer needs to remember — and I’m certainly filing them for future reference.  Please stop by her website and say hello when you’ve finished the post.  Take it away, Lindsay!

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Writers ask many questions during their career: How do I get published? How do I make a living? How do I sell more?

Writers who use social media to further their careers have even more questions: How do I grow my blog? How many times a day should I tweet? Which social media platform should I use?

With all these questions, it’s easy to lose sight of your writing goals.

I know. At thirty I felt lost at sea as a writer. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was headed with my career. Fifteen years later I have a writing life that I love with a clear plan for the next fifteen years.

What happened?  

Every writer only needs to ask themselves three simple questions to find career clarity.

What do I want?

It’s not enough to say, “I want to write.” You’ll need to be more specific. Do you want to make a living? Do you just want to finish something? Do you want to write as a hobby or a profession? What do you want to work on specifically? There are so many genres and subgenres of writing. Where will you focus?

Hone in on exactly what you want to achieve as a writer. This will affect how you work, what you work on, and how much time you spend writing.

Who is My Ideal Audience?

Who do you write for? Is it The Hunger Games crowd or those who love historical romance? Think specifically about your audience.

Write a description of your ideal audience member. What do they look like? What do they do for a living? How much disposable income do they have? What do they do in their spare time? Where do they hang out online?

This exercise will define every step you take with your career. A clear understanding of your audience will dictate the tone of your blog posts, what kind of material you write, what you retweet, and the publishers you approach. For example, if your audience is primarily on Instagram, don’t focus on Facebook no matter how much you like it.

Don’t cast a wide net hoping to find a hit. Instead, define your audience to create a focused career strategy.

What is My Purpose?

Why am I writing? This is a question many writers forget to ask and yet it is the most important of all. Why do you write? What does writing do for you? Does it provide you with artistic satisfaction? Does it quiet the voices in your head? Do you write to change lives? Challenge? Entertain? All of these are valid choices but what is the right answer for you?

A purpose will give you drive, help you find subject matter and help you out in your darkest writing days. When the question What am I doing? rears its ugly head, you’ll know.

When I was thirty I answered these three questions for myself. And it was the turning point of my entire career. I defined my want and my purpose. Instead of writing with an ill-focused hope of being published or produced,  I started writing for a specific audience. I became the writer I’ve always wanted to be.

Exercise

Answer these three questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Who is my ideal audience?
  • What is my purpose?

Create an action plan for each answer. For example, once you define your ideal audience, write down five blog post titles that would appeal to that audience. If your writing goal is to be published by the time you’re 30, find five publishers who focus on your ideal market.

Your action plan will make your time more productive, your writing more purposeful, and your career more enjoyable. You’ll be taking steps to achieve the best writing life possible.

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Lindsay Price is a professional playwright and dramaturg. She wants to you start writing, keep writing, and get writing done. Find her at Write. Now.  http://www.lindsay-price.com/welcome/.

Lindsay Price

 

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Quilt for the Homeless Man

I’m delighted to feature my second guest poster (and fellow Tribe Writer) Lin Sons this week with an excerpt from her just-published devotional, “We Danced!”  Lin grew up in the farmland of central Illinois, was married to her husband for 40 years, and they had two beautiful children.  Alongside her husband, she was called to the ministry of marriage and family in 1977.  Paralleled with moves in her husband’s aerospace career, God allowed them many broad strokes on the canvas of ministry.  Lin is now a widow and eagerly wants to serve marriages and families.  She has served on the speaker teams of ministries such as Christian Marriage Encounter, Christian Marriage Fulfillment, Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry, and Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.  She was also a bible study group leader through Bible Study Fellowship.  Lin has a very real grasp of applying Biblical principles to everyday events in the lives of the individuals, couples or families God sends her way, and is a relationship coach for women who desire to change their paradigm from unhealthy to life-giving.  She has discipled individuals and couples through Christian Women Todaymagazine, and currently serves as a missionary with Global Media Outreach.  She is certified to administer Prepare/Enrich marriage assessment and has completed training with FOCUS Ministries with regards to domestic violence.  Lin also served as a board member and volunteered with at-risk children for 11 years at The Master’s Workshop in Melbourne, Florida.   She  currently serves as a board member and Director of Biblical Studies for Haven of Light, a transition house ministry for the abused in the Atlanta, Georgia area.  

Lin received her B.A. in Biblical Studies summa cum laude through Atlantic Coast Bible College and Seminary.  In her spare time, she enjoys drawing portraits in graphite, and reading.  Please welcome Lin to Postcards From My Head!

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I was new to quilting and had decided to cover a worn quilt with a new quilt top.  I cut up pieces of old fabric, pieced together a top, made the backing, and voila!  With a little time and a few dollars, there was a new quilt to keep in the car for a beach blanket or to snuggle under when the moist Florida air turned chilly and the kids were cold.

Lin Sons

Lin Sons

One particular Wednesday evening at the end of our church service, a transient traveling down US 1 on that cold Florida night stopped by our church to ask for a place to stay.  The church turned him down, even though our building had a room that had only one entrance from the outside and no entrance from that room to the rest of the building.

Buck and I were very upset that the church turned this man away without providing him a warm place to stay.  As we left the parking lot, we prayed as to how the Lord might use us to share God’s love with this man.  We drove out of the parking lot.  On our way home, we knew we could give away our quilt to this man if we could find him.

We turned around and went back to town, going up and down US 1 and looking in all the nooks and shadows for that homeless man.  Finally about a mile from the church, we saw him on the sidewalk of a strip mall.  Buck approached him with the quilt under his arm and told him we were at the church when he asked for a place to stay out of the cold.  We wanted him to know we didn’t agree with the church, and that we wanted him to have the quilt to keep warm. At first he would not accept it.  However, as Buck shared how God had laid it on our hearts to try to find him, he could see our sincerity and accepted our gift of God’s love.

Dance Tip 26

God took our scraps, pieced them  together, and turned them into a blessing for someone who needed warmth and God’s love.  Our lives often look like those scraps.  In the case of Buck and Lin, we were two people from opposite areas with different talents and abilities, who were placed together to be a blessing to others by using the materials we had pieced together for His glory.  We must let the Master shape us and connect us in the exact right way to reflect His beauty.

Is He asking you to take your scraps, piece them together, and become a blessing to proclaim His name to someone who needs His love?

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Like what you just read?  To see more, head on over to Amazon.com and pick up your copy of We Danced!  A Devotional Filled with Excerpts from the Dance of a Real Fairy-Tale Romance.  Tell ’em Lucie sent you.

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