Month: September 2014

What If Failure Wasn’t an Option?

Today we have a guest post from Jennifer Slattery, author of Beyond I Do.

She asks a terrific question: what if failure wasn’t an option?


 

 

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If you could do anything without fear of failure, what would that be?

Did one job or ministry jump to the surface? Okay, then, here’s a bigger question: What’s keeping you from pursuing that dream with everything you’ve got?

For most of us, the answer to that question lies within the one I first posed. Actually, the answer lies within three words of the question I first posed:

Fear of failure.

The fear of pouring ourselves into something for decades, maybe even a lifetime, with nothing to show for it.

It’s a very real possibility if we measure our success or failure based on worldly things like:

Income
Prestige
Stuff
Results

And yet, I believe God’s version of success goes much deeper. We look at the outside—what we can check off of a list or measure tangibly. God looks at what’s inside—how pliable and surrendered our heart is. Who we truly love, Who we truly serve.

Because when we get that right, everything else follows.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Colossians 3:23 NLT

Because His opinion is the only one that matters, and He is the only One who can bring our dreams and goals to fruition. More than that, He was the One that placed those dreams and goals in our heart in the first place.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.”

Philippians 2:13

In other words, as you draw near to God, He will reveal His will to you, stirring within you a desire to do that which He created you to do. As you respond with obedience, He grows you—your heart, your faith, your gifts, and your talents—to be the best writer, dancer, Bible teacher, mother, father, sister … possible.

Because we were made to do great things—things that will matter for all eternity.

Isn’t it time to get started? Failure isn’t an option, because if God is for us, who (or what) can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)


 

headshot2013 (1)Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here.
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here.
You can also visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BeyondIDocover (1)Beyond I Do

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here.

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When the Point is Not the Point

Copyright Creationswap, image by Matt Cole.

Copyright Creationswap, image by Matt Cole.

What if an issue I’m having, is actually not the real issue at hand?

For instance, I’m planning to attend a writer’s conference in America next year. I am SUPER excited to head back to the States and meet real authors who can help me improve my craft. But there’s a few hurdles to overcome first.

When’s the right time to go? When will I be ready? Which conference should I attend?

And, the one that’s concerning me the most; who will I travel with?

So far I haven’t found a travel buddy. While doing the conference alone doesn’t bother me, travelling as a tourist after the conference does. I get lost in Australia; how will I find my way around the gigantic cities of the USA? And if I never find someone to come with me, will I get to go at all?

But the other day, something occurred to me.  I’ll bet that God’s not worried about which conference I choose or who I go with.

Copyright Creationswap, photo by Joe Davis.

Copyright Creationswap, photo by Joe Davis.

Sure , if He particularly wants me at one event  He’ll direct me toward it. If if a travel buddy is necessary, He will provide one. But I think the detail He is way more interested in is whether or not I trust Him.

It’s tempting to stress. It’s tempting to set a deadline and say, ‘God, you’d better give me an answer before this date, otherwise I can’t go and my world has crashed around me’.

But I’ve learned that God usually breaks those deadlines. I think it’s on purpose to stretch me.

Far more important than the fun of the trip, the networking I do and the skills I learn, is how my relationship with God fares during the process.

As the time draws nearer, will I wonder if He has lost control? Or will I pray about my concerns, do the best I can, and then trust it to Him?

Maybe the point of the conference, isn’t actually the point of the conference at all.

I faced the same situation months ago with my job. I didn’t know if I should find a new job, which one I should pursue, or if I should work two part-time jobs. I stressed and stressed and stressed.

At the end of the day, God probably wasn’t as concerned about the job as He was about my attitude.

I wasn’t really freaked out that God wouldn’t provide; I was more worried that I’d make the wrong choice. I didn’t trust that God would come through on His promise to guide me.

It was a painful lesson, but God’s helping me to not fall in the same trap this time.

Do you have any such issues in your own life?

 

 

 

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What Can Service Look Like?

Is my God-given passion worth investing in?

Copyright CreationSwap, photo by Sandara Lee, used with permission.

Last week I learned that service is not all about me … so where does that leave my writing?

Last Friday’s blog showed how Project X has taught me that obedience is not about the perks I get; it’s about pleasing the God I love.

Around the same time as this was happening, I was pondering another question: does my writing count as service toward God?

And further to that; is it worth investing in, or should it stay as a small hobby?

The main reason this issue came up is because I’m hoping to go to an American writer’s conference next year. I am SO EXCITED, but the downside is that it’s going to cost a lot of money.

I’ve saved up, so I can afford it. But is it wise, or even right, to spend so much money on something if it’s just a hobby? I thought about this as I walked to work one morning, and I wasn’t sure. If it counted as some type of ‘ministry’, then I could justify the investment. But it felt too presumptuous to call my scribblings a ‘ministry’.

The same goes for time. I spend a lot of time on my various forms of creative writing, whether it’s writing this blog, working on my novel, researching, networking or critiquing other people’s books. Would some of that time be better spent in something church-related?

Some guidance came from an unexpected area; the main character of my book! Well, actually it was my Dad, but we were talking about my book.

We were discussing Natalie’s (my character’s) issues with God, and what verses could be applicable. During the discussion 1 Peter 4 came up.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever!

                                                                                      1 Peter 4:10-11 NLT

Natalie’s issues used the verse in a different context, but it immediately jumped out at me for my situation.

God wants me to use my gift for Him.

I think I tend to see only things with the ‘church’ label on them as ministry. But this verse seems to indicate our individual talents count too.

This makes me think of my old Uncle Noel. He loved to make wooden toys. His entire garage was full of them; hanging from the ceiling, stacked along the walls, sitting on the floor. I remember Mum telling us one day when we went to visit that he gave lots of the toys away to disadvantaged kids.

Most people would look at toy-making and just see a hobby, or maybe a job. But God saw a ministry.

It sparks the thought about other hobbies that can be ministries. I have friends who love cars, speed, and sliding around corners sideways. One of them likes to talk to his rev-head mates about God. Do I recommend drifting? Um, not really. But I like to see another hobby—a passion for cars—that God can use.

Dad’s been preaching a lot lately about how God wants to use us in our everyday lives. I guess for me, that includes my writing. And I think that means it’s okay—even wise—to invest in it.

And it doesn’t stop at writing. God wants to use all of my everyday life for Him. I’m keeping my eyes open for other ways to do so.

What’s one of those ways for you?

Project X video

Project X has helped teach me a lot lately; here’s a video showing what we did at our most recent outreach in Roma.

The best part about PX is that it’s not about anything we do. God’s the one who directed us to Roma; God’s the one who touched people’s hearts.

All we did was pray, show up, and pack up. 🙂

Project X video link.

 

 

When Serving Isn’t What You Expected

 

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I learned lesson in serving on the weekend when I took part in a youth outreach event with Project X.

Well, it was actually more of an extension of a lesson that began in March this year.

While at an event called Simply God, God challenged me about my motives behind serving Him. One of the most challenging questions was: If my books never generate money or recognition for me, do I still want to put the effort into writing them?

We all know what the ‘right’ answer is. But honestly, my motivation diminished when I considered that scenario.

Then God presented the question another way: If I never land a publishing contract or a husband—two things I’d like to find in the next 10 years—will I still be as enthusiastic in serving Him?

I knew then that my attitudes would be challenged. However, it was all head-level at that point. On the weekend, I got a taste of it in practise.

I’m part of a group called Project X, and we held our second annual youth outreach event in the outback town of Roma last weekend.

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JC Epidemic put on an awesome BMX and motorbike show.

It included freestyle motorbike riders, an X Factor competition, a gaming zone, a graffiti art zone, a girl zone and more. My job was in the girl zone, where I had prepared a creative writing workshop and brought in magazines and games, planning to chill out and chat with high-school aged girls.

In the lead-up to the event, there was a lot of talk about how teenage girls were a particularly vulnerable demographic in that area. We planned accordingly, and prayed every step of the way.

The even wasn’t supposed to kick off till 3pm Saturday, so we were pretty pumped when people started rolling through the gates at 2.45. The first few through the door were younger girls, aged between 4 and 8, so I plopped down at our nail painting station and started with them. We expected the older girls to arrive soon.

Within half an hour, the place was packed. But there wasn’t a lot of teenagers in sight. In fact, it seemed that we’d attracted every age group except girls aged 15-19. By the end of the day, I’d spent a couple hours simply asking, ‘Which colour glitter would you like?’

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time with those little girls. They were adorable and told me all about their schools and siblings and glitter preferences.

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One of my fellow nail-painters.

But the day didn’t go quite the way I expected. While I knew I’d played my part in a larger movement (our group preached the gospel to hundreds that day), I had little contact with the spiritual side of it myself.

So at the end of the night, when my friends were on a total high about the conversations they’d had and things they’d seen, I … wasn’t.

At first, this bothered me. I journaled a little during church the next day (yes, I’ll admit I wasn’t really listening…) and God used that time to point out a few things that I’d momentarily forgotten.

PX

My friend Brooke, our little buddy Tom and me at the photo booth.

The biggest one was: serving is not about me! 

I’m not supposed to serve just because I want warm fuzzies or a spiritual high. I’m not supposed to serve because it makes me look holy or important. And I’m not supposed to serve just because it’s going to be fun. (Though it was a pretty fun adventure with my mates!)

I should do this because I want to obey God. I wanted to spread His message and hopefully be part of expanding His family. And I want to glorify Him.

At the end of the day, whether 1 or 100 people responded, we were successful if we fulfilled those three objectives.

And I think we did.

New Book Blurb Revealed!

Lots of exciting things have happened this week, the first one being my new book blurb!

Below is a sneak peek at my novel-in-progress, Hating Jeremy Walters.

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I’m a good church girl. How did I end up in this weird pseudo-family with two kids and the guy who broke my heart?

 

Natalie Groves could never hate anybody. Anybody, that is, except the love of her life.

She was nineteen when Jeremy Walters declared that he wouldn’t—couldn’t—keep faking his faith in God. Not for his overbearing father, not even for her. Natalie ended their relationship and he drove off to Chicago and never looked back.

Now Natalie is 26, single, and broke from paying off her father’s medical bills. And she just lost her job.

When Jem lands back in town, desperate for a nanny for his teenage niece and infant son, some say it’s Providence. Natalie says God has lost His marbles.

But with no paycheck and no savings, she can either go bankrupt or accept his job.

She’s tempted to go bankrupt.

 

Jem Walters knows Natalie better than anyone else. She’s ridiculously ticklish. She does terrible dance moves when she thinks no one’s watching.  She’s never felt good enough for God. And she’s still angry at him for leaving.

She never understood that he couldn’t fake his faith anymore, not even to save their relationship.

But now Jem’s talking to God again, and unusual circumstances mean he and Natalie are caring for his baby son and troubled niece together.

But raising a family is never easy, and doing it with a spitfire who wants to strangle him complicates things a bit.

Jem’s family doesn’t help, either. His niece is going off the rails, his son keeps drooling everywhere, and his father is an overzealous sheriff who’s more likely to give Jem a ticket than a hug.

And then there’s the secret that will rock their makeshift family to its core …

 

This week’s other two events are the arrival of my first writing business cards (!!!!) and Project X this weekend.

I’ll be running a creative writing workshop at the youth outreach event, as well as chatting with the girls who come through our tent and hopefully sharing God’s love.

Everybody’s prayers have been great, keep them coming! 🙂

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