One Word 365 (2019)


     The purpose of One Word 365 is to put aside the usual New Year’s resolutions that we never seem to keep. Instead, you pick one word. Just one word that you want to spend the year focusing on and living out… whatever that may mean for you, personally.

I’m a bit early with this for the new year, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

My One Word for 2019 is devotion.

Our modern dictionaries define devotion as “love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.”

According to the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, there are three Greek New Testament words that are translated as “devout.” Two of these words are adjectives which “describe those who are godly, whose lives are characterized by whole-hearted, pure worship of God.” The third is a verb meaning “worship,” but is used three times to mean “God-fearing ones.”

2018 has been a year of spiritual growth for me. I faced a surgery with a peace that I know could only have come from God, and that I know I didn’t possess just a couple of years ago. I find myself at peace and content in situations that, in the past, would have left me frustrated and angry. I’m in church again after a lifetime of spotty attendance at random places, and I’ve never felt so at home. I owe God so much, and that starts with my devotion.

I’ll be cutting back on reading fiction in 2019 to focus more on books about God, faith, and the Christian life. I’m also limiting myself to one book at a time so I can truly focus.

Do you have a One Word for 2019? Drop a comment below and tell me what it is. If you have a blog post about it, leave me a link.

The Bullet Journal: To Plan or to Track?


I’ve tried a lot of ways to get myself organized with my writing. Not just in terms of keeping track of ideas and notes, but in terms of making myself sit down and get things done. I was using a Monthly/Daily planner for a while, but I eventually fell away from keeping it up. I was planning out my entire day by the hour, and I felt like it was too rigid for what I was trying to do.

Enter the Bullet Journal. I am brand new to this. I discovered it while looking for planner tips, and put off trying it for a long time because it seemed too involved. But the more I researched, the more I was drawn to how flexible and customizable it is. So, I finally gave in and purchased this lovely little journal.

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After looking at tips on what to put inside, I decided to keep mine very simple. I have lots of collections right in front, because I love lists, and it’s honestly how I best organize my thoughts.

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The logs, however, are where I cut back. I almost cut the monthly log, but the more I thought about it, it’s the daily log that is unnecessary for me. This journal will be purely for writing and reading. I work a full-time job, so I don’t do a lot of planning during the week as my schedule can vary if I suddenly need to stay an hour or so later at work. A weekly spread seemed to be more beneficial, so I came up with a layout I think will work for me, including a habit tracker.

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Unlike most weekly planners, I gave myself more space on the weekend, since this is when most of my writing will be done.

Once I had this in place, I sat to jot down a few tasks to get me started in the coming week, and I blanked. Doubt crept in that I’ll ever find something to truly work for me. Scheduling my writing tasks, at least in detail of what I need to do, just seems so burdensome. I think it’s partially due to the fact that this is my first novel, and I’m trying to take my blog in a new, broader direction. It’s unfamiliar territory. How can I plan the unknown?

As I stared at the blank Monday, I realized I shouldn’t try to plan. What I’ve decided to do instead is use this weekly spread to track what I’ve done. My monthly log with tell me specific items that must be accomplished. My habit tracker tells me what my priorities are. It’s my job to focus and do them, and I’ll keep track of my success with my weekly spread. Did I discover character details? Did I research a post for my blog? I’ll list everything I worked on when I finish for the day.

I’ll be doing this for a while, trying to get the hang of it. I don’t want to judge the progress too soon.

Do you use a bullet journal? How have you customized it to fit your needs?

You can learn about bullet journaling here.

 

One Word 365 (2018)


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Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  (Romans 12:9-18 CSB)

My One Word for 2018 is persistence.

I always look for scripture when thinking about my word for the year, but this one I could only find once. It’s placement, however, is a section of scripture that I was immediately drawn to. God has been working in me to make me more like Jesus. I feel it more and more as my heart changes. I’ve been drawn to studies lately that deal with what our external behaviors should look like when our hearts are focused on Christ, and this scripture is an amazing summary. We can’t do these things in our own power. It takes the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

With God’s help I want to be persistent in all these things. I want to be persistent in my pursuit of Him.

I also, with God’s help, want to be persistent in my writing; both in practice and in study.

I want 2018 to be a year of never giving up, even when everything is telling me I should.

Do you have a One Word? Tell me what it is in the comments. If you have a One Word post on your blog, feel free to drop a link there.

 

Photo by Ruben Mishchuk on Unsplash

Another Year Gone. A New Year Ahead.


2017 wasn’t all I wanted it to be, but it had its moments. I read some great books, learned a lot about writing, took a big step on my writing journey, and drew closer to God. Now we’re all reflecting on the time that has passed, and looking to the time ahead to make changes and grow.

Great Books from 2017

I didn’t meet my reading goal this year, but I still read a good bit. These are the books I loved.

Fiction (Christian):
Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund
A Lady in Disguise by Sandra Byrd
The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

Fiction (Secular):
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo
11/22/63 by Stephen King

Non-Fiction (Christian):
The Legacy of Luther by R.C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols
A Time for Confidence by Stephen J. Nichols
The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn

What Jesus Demands of the World by John Piper (review coming soon)

Non-Fiction (Secular):
The Inkblots by Damion Searls

On Writing:
The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Moving Forward in 2018

In the new year, I will focus on two things:

  1. God
  2. Writing

My focus on God will require the time and dedication of personal Bible reading and Bible study, theological study, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines.

My focus on writing (which includes both my novel and this blog) will require the time and dedication of writing (getting myself in a chair and making it happen, though I am outlining first), planning, research, studying the craft, and reading.

I’ve laid out my long-term and some short-term goals to start me on the right path. I know some things will change as I find the routine that works for me, but the important thing is that I have taken the first steps.

I hope you’ll join me on my journey in 2018!

What are your goals and hopes for the new year? Let me know in the comments.

 

Header photo byMorgan Sessions

A Chance at Publication


I just took a big step on my writing journey! I submitted an essay to The Writer magazine for a contest. Part of the prize will be publication in their magazine!

Unfortunately, it may be a couple of months before the winner is announced, so I’ll have this on my mind until then. But I’ve been looking at what I need to do (other than actually write my novel) to truly turn this into a career. At the very least, a part-time career. Let’s face it, not all authors can have writing as their sole income.

With that in mind, I’m going to ask a favor. This contest, as do most other writing contests, comes with an entry fee. I’ve already put out a decent amount of money on my writing journey, and if I plan to pursue this more seriously (and I do) then it will require more.

I started a Ko-fi account:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Ko-fi lets you buy me cups of coffee. These cups of coffee are completely symbolic, mind you. It’s actually a way to give small (or large, if you so choose) donations to your favorite content creators.

Part of my journey to get more serious about my writing career includes this blog. I want to provide more content here. In addition to my book reviews, I want to post more on writing and the world of publication. With a full-time job, which sometimes extends into overtime, most of my spare time would consist of writing (both for my novel and this blog) and reading for reviews. Honestly, I’ll do this without the donations, because it’s what I want to do, but I could use the motivation, and it would be nice to know that people are truly interested in the content I provide. It would be awesome to know that I have your support!

I’m also considering starting a Patreon to offer some exclusive benefits to regular supporters, but I’m not there yet. I want to be sure that I can provide good, consistent content before I ask anyone to become a consistent supporter.

With the Ko-fi donations (as well as the Patreon if I ever set one up) the money would go toward my writing career. Writing resources, memberships, conferences (possibly in the future), blog costs, entry/submission fees, etc, would be covered with your support.

So, please consider this. And let me know if you would be interested in becoming a patron through Patreon.

God bless!

Update (due to lack of updates)


It’s been a couple of months since I’ve consistently posted. Part of this is due to the fact that I’ve hit a reading slump. Life got hectic, and my brain has been exhausted to the point where reading was the last thing I wanted to do. Writing was second-to-last.

I’m trying to get back in the groove, though life is still hectic. I’m beginning by starting a new book. I was a little less than halfway though my re-read of The Fellowship of the Ring when I hit the slump, and I can’t seem to get back into it. So, I’m stopping. I won’t be counting that toward my 52 books challenge, and I am 9 books behind on that.

A co-worker loaned me a couple of books, so I’m going to start one of those tonight.

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I’m hoping that the fresh start with an unread book will help, and that I can work toward catching up on my reading goal, as well as get back to my writing.

Times like this I have to remind myself that we all hit slumps, even with things we love. Especially when we’re trying to do too much.

Planning in Progress


As 2015 comes to a close, I’ve begun reviewing the goals I laid out for myself last year and evaluating how I’ve done. The answer is either “failed” or “slightly better than last year.” Nothing epic.

In an effort to help myself focus, I decided to invest in a planner. I wanted something I could have glances at daily, weekly, and monthly. I was looking for both short-term and long-term focus. I found a few that were okay, but not quite what I was looking for.

Then I found this:

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Go ahead and click on that photo for more info on the planner… after you’re done here, of course. 😉

I bookmarked this one and continued my search, but I kept coming back to it. I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I write. I started writing a novel about three years ago, but I stopped. I’ve wanted to get back into the novel, but I never feel like I can make myself focus and do the work.

This planner will not only help me focus my novel goals, but I can use it to plan out my blog, my Bible studies, and there’s even a To-Be-Read page! I can keep track of the books I have for different review programs and when they’re due. And I can jot down other work or personal items that I need extra focus on.

So, I’m writing this post in anticipation. Expected delivery date is Wednesday! I’ll have it in time to get it all personalized for the new year and dig into 2016 with a plan that, by God’s grace, I will stick to!

Don’t forget to scroll back up and click on that picture for more information on the planner.

Where has the year gone?


I’ve let this blog slip into inactivity, and I am sorry. Life has been busy and my attention span for reading has been almost nonexistent. I had decided to do the 52 Book in 52 Weeks challenge in an attempt to get myself reading again, but that didn’t help. I will try again to get back into it. I have several books that I honestly, very much want to read. I just need to open a book and focus. I’ve made a shortlist, and hopefully will get with the program.

Inactive Reader – An Update


I’ve gone through a period where I’ve been lazy and not feeling well, and just haven’t been feeling like doing much of anything, including reading. By association, this blog has been virtually inactive. I’m making plans to change that, and am currently reading a book for review. I will do my best to finish it this coming week. My 5-year Fill in the Gaps challenge has gone unstarted up to now (I was supposed to start it in 2012). Since I never started it, I’ve changed the dates to 2014-2018. Until that time, I will be working on reading the unread books on my shelf, of which there are many. Some of those books are actually on my “Gaps” challenge list, so that’s good for me once we enter 2014. 🙂  I’m putting my Reading Goals on hold. While I love these books, and can’t wait to read them again through the eyes of what I explained on the “Goals” page, I want to read the books I haven’t read.

As a helpful list for me (and for anyone who may be interested) the following list is my shelf of unread books. If there is an * next to it, then it is also on my “Gaps” list. I hope to be posting more regularly very soon.

Fiction:
The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead
Lucifer’s Flood by Linda Rios Brook
The Last Christian by David Gregory
The Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis*
The Space Trilogy: Perelandra by C.S. Lewis*
The Space Trilogy: That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis*
The Church Invisible by Nick Page
Eyes Wide Open series: Identity by Ted Dekker
Eyes Wide Open series: Mirror by Ted Dekker
Eyes Wide Open series: Unseen by Ted Dekker
Eyes Wide Open series: Seer by Ted Dekker
The Reason by Williams Sirls
The Betrayal by Jerry B. Jenkins
Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson
The Search Committee by Tim Owens
The Book of the King by Chris Fabry & Jerry B. Jenkins
The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Ben Hur by Lew Wallace*
The Keeper by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee
The Faith of Ashish by Kay Marshall Strom
The Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis*

Non-Fiction:
Christian Reflections by C.S. Lewis*
God in the Dock by C.S. Lewis*
Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis*
Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis*
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis*
The Business of Heaven by C.S. Lewis
Tozer Speaks (A Collection) by A.W. Tozer
A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett
Christology and the New Testament: Jesus and His Earliest Followers by Christopher Tuckett
Ancient Israel’s Faith and History: An Introduction to the Bible in Context by George E. Mendenhall
The Unfinished Battle: Islam and the Jews by Mark A. Gabriel
Islam and Terrorism by Mark A. Gabriel
Practicing Exile: The Religious Odyssey of an American Jew by Marc H. Ellis
When God Prayed by Don Wilton
Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day by James Emery White
Touching Godliness Through Submission by K.P. Yohannan
How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens: Michael Williams
Majestie: The King Behind The King James Bible by David Teems
Is Your Lord Large Enough: How C.S. Lewis Expands Our View of God by Peter J. Schakel
Common Sense, Rights of Man, and Other Essential Writings (a collection) by Thomas Paine*
Restricted Nations: North Korea by The Voice of the Martyrs, with P. Todd Nettleton
The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid by Patrick Garrett
Everything the Bible Says About Angels and Demons by Bob Newman
Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien on the Human Condition by Donald T. Williams
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Out of My Later Years by Albert Einstein
Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli
The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

So, as you can see, it’s a large list. These were books that I purchased/downloaded separate from my “Gaps” list, but some of them ended up on the list because I never got to read them and have wanted to for a long time. Since compiling the “Gaps” list, I have downloaded many, many books and collections onto my Nook. So, I have them, but they are not listed here. They are on my “Gaps” list, patiently waiting. Through the end of this year, I will focus strictly on the books that are NOT on my “Gaps” list. It is more than enough to keep me busy.

2011 Year-End Reading Plan: Update


So, I’ve already strayed off my plan path. I am still 3 books behind with a total of 13 books to go on my 52 Book in 52 Weeks challenge, and 6 behind with 9 to go on my Classics challenge! Here was my original YERP list:

Attracted by Fire by Diann Mills
The Scroll by Grant R. Jeffrey & Alton L. Gansky
Forbidden by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Kingdom’s Dawn by Chuck Black
The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
The Church Invisible by Nick Page
Touching Godliness through Submission by K. P. Yohannan
Practicing Exile by Marc H. Ellis
No Longer a Slumdog by K. P. Yohannan
When God Prayed by Don Wilton
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

And now here is my new YERP list:

Attracted by Fire by Diann Mills
The Scroll by Grant R. Jeffrey & Alton L. Gansky
Forbidden by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee
P.S., I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
No Wonder They Call Him the Savior by Max Lucado

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Kingdom’s Dawn by Chuck Black
The Priest’s Graveyard by Ted Dekker
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
The Church Invisible by Nick Page
Touching Godliness through Submission by K. P. Yohannan
Practicing Exile by Marc H. Ellis
No Longer a Slumdog by K. P. Yohannan
When God Prayed by Don Wilton
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The books in green are the ones I will definitely read to make sure I meet both challenges. If I have time remaining before the year is up I will read the others on the list.

A preview of 2012:
Next year I will be hosting a challenge of my own: The Library Challenge. The idea of this challenge is to form (or re-form) a relationship with your local library by checking out books that meet the monthly challenges. You can read a bit more about it on the challenge blog.

Other than this challenge, I will not be participating in reading challenges. The two challenges I participated in this year were fun and got me motivated, but sometimes I felt overwhelmed. I’ve decided to take it a bit slower in 2012 and read deeper. I want to accomplish at least one of my reading goals and do a lot more Bible study. And I will continue to review books for publishers when one is presented that seems interesting to me.

Here’s hoping my YERP doesn’t change again. 🙂