Category: My Story

When you feel loved and appreciated…

loved

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to say and do the right things when you’re not worried about it?

After more than a lifetime (some days it feels like two or three), I should know that I can’t fix what I didn’t break, but the reality was staring me in the face, again. I wanted to feel something more. I wanted to feel secure, loved, and appreciated. I wanted to know everything would be okay.

Standing there in the drizzling rain. I wasn’t sure.

Looking ahead…

Fog mingled with the trees and faded into the distance. Life looked like that right now… I could only see a short distance and everything else beyond was in the fog. Life wasn’t clear, and I didn’t know if I could do it. Yet, reality had taught me that if I took the steps, the fog would move away, and the further I went, the more I could see. I knew I’d be able to see the intersection clearly, and even the crossing. I knew it would be visible when I got there. But standing there looking at it, all was hidden by the fog.

through the fog

With each step I took, I would be able to see further.

The fog would move further away, as I took steps toward along the road.

Goals sometimes work this way.

When you realize that sometimes your goals are out of sight when you create them, but as you get closer, they’ll become more visible… That’s when you begin to realize that you MUST take action to move toward your goal. Action is required. You can’t achieve anything if you don’t take action and the best way to take action is start walking in the right direction.

unstoppable

But what about those times when you can’t move?

Should you sit and wait until inspiration hits you?

This question comes up from time to time, and I know for myself, it’s a real struggle. I need to feel loved. I need to feel appreciated. In fact, one of the biggest hold-backs to accomplishing my goals at times, is my lack of confidence. When I doubt myself or wonder who loves me… It’s really hard to pick up and take that one step forward. In fact, I’ll tell you how impossible it is.

I have given up.

True story. I have absolutely given up. Sat down in the middle of the road and said, “I’m not moving God, until I feel the presence of someone who gives a crap about me.” (Maybe not the literal ROAD… But you get the idea. I ain’t budgin’.)

In those times, I hear God speak in that quiet voice. “I’m here.”

When I give up. When I stop long enough to hear him. He speaks. The reason I hear him then, is because for months, for years. For all of my life, I’ve been reading his word, listening to his word, and capturing his word in my heart – to hold for those moments when I need to hear his voice.

And then, I hear it.

He hasn’t given up on me. He’s right there, holding me tight, keeping me safe, and moving me out of the middle of the road. You can bet your bottom dollar he will take me in the direction I’m meant to go. And I will find my next step.

I have even been blessed with many friends who walk up beside me, take my hand, and walk along the way with me. Often, they’re sharing my message too.

Let’s make a difference, together!

loved and appreciated

Amanda

Growing up in the shadows of country music singers had many benefits. Not the least of which was being present when a good many songs were performed for the first time. Sometimes by the writer before they were completed. Don Williams was one of those writers.

Carrying his guitar from place to place and singing with a variety of folks before a show on stage, my first glimpse of this gentle giant was him standing beside the country bumpkin Cal Smith. I wanted a picture with them both, but Don was rushing onto the stage.

He sang Amanda that night on the Grand Ole Opry. I was smitten. I fell in love with the song, the song writer, and the man.

I still squirm when I hear him sing. It is with a sad heart that I bid him farewell, rest in peace, until we meet again.

I’m betting there’s some great song writing going on in heaven tonight. God bless…

New Books Published

Today was the day!

They arrived. A tiny box for several books, but I suppose it was big enough, when I opened it four new books fell out onto the table. I was so ready to look through them… You see, when you read your own writing in book format, you’re no longer editing.

You may find a mistake or two (I found three in one book), but you’re not reading for editing purposes. You’re reading because the story captivates you. And you have to turn the pages, just like everyone else. You want to know what happens next. And you’ve forgotten what you wrote about by the time it hits the press. Not everything… But most things.

Jan VerhoeffEvery page you turn, you read something you don’t remember writing. Even if the stories are non-fiction and you lived them, as the reader you can get right into the process.

Funny thing is, on the Influencer… I caught myself taking notes. Now, there’s a concept. I already knew this stuff well enough to write it once, and I’m taking notes! Whew! What kind of information is that?

The story here…

A while back in a writer’s group with a bunch of writers, editing a book of simple, non-fiction stories for another writer, we caught ourselves editing the edits. The depth of the story was sucked out of the writing when we edited so completely, removing all the writer’s deep, well-thought-out words that defined his characters and his stories. And yet… When we got the book back, there were 11 mistakes in his book. Eleven. We found 11 mistakes in the 179 page book that we missed while we were removing all the -ly words, that, just, and, the, and any other word we deemed superfluous. But would the readers have noticed those words?

Maybe. But none of those words would have sucked the life out of the reader had we left them in the book.

And now… I know why. As a writer, those superfluous words define who you are. They distill your voice and place you in the head of your reader, lifting them out of their own thoughts, and into yours. The key to writing a great story isn’t removing all the ‘gotcha’ words that you might have added as you write, but rather it is creating a story that flows from one page to the next, captivating your reader with every single word.

You influence your niche when your words captivate their minds, steal their hearts, and warm their souls.

And that my good and faithful reading friends is what I believe every great writer does. So, let me know if you found a misspelled word if you must, and I may change it in the next edition. But please, take a moment to be captivated, warmed, and stolen away from the struggles of life, so you can enjoy the stories written between the covers of my books.

Let me influence you.

 

Who we were…

Does it really matter who we once were?

The concept slapped me upside the head this morning with this graphic, that showed up on my Facebook wall.

whowewereThere’s this elemental truth to the concept that we all carry around a lot of luggage, or baggage, we might not need to carry. Of course, that same truth is spoken and understood when we realize that the person we are today was determined by our experiences from yesterday. And who among us might have known then, that we would be limping along now because we stepped on those stones?

Yet, with each and every step we take, we bear the weight of the world we’ve traveled through.

Dare we let it roll away?

If you were to take a glimpse at the world to come, as the person you are today, without carrying that load into the future, what would it look like?

I had a conversation yesterday with my pastor, friend, Steven Grant, and he said, “God will take you where He wants you to be.”

Before I get into a discussion of that concept, I want to let you know that I fully and completely believe we have free will, and we decide which roads we travel. I don’t believe destiny is a fate over which we have no control.

I do however, believe that God will take us where He wants us to be. I believe he will mold our lessons, our experiences, and our adventures, to give us the strengths, wisdom, and knowledge necessary to achieve the purpose for which we are born.

Life gives us opportunities. Choices, if you will, to make that mold our eventual purpose, into whatever we make of it. And I truly believe we have a choice to accept the purpose for which we are born… or decline it, and choose otherwise. Our lives may not have the same meaning and fulfillment if we decline the purpose for which we’re born, but I do believe it is our choice. Experiences Quote

When we realize the importance of the choices we make, and how they will affect our lives over the long haul… We begin to make those choices from a different perspective.

As a young woman, I remember looking at my life and thinking how important it was for me to find satisfaction, to gain presence in my life, and to be the person I believed God intended me to be. I remember how important I believed it was to live a life filled with purpose and value, and pursue those experiences that would give me wisdom and strength.

Then…

There came a point in life when it was no longer about me.

My life, the breath I took, the experiences I had, were no longer about me.

The significance of that realization escaped me for a while as I learned the value of thinking outside myself. Of thinking about those who were around me, who cared about me, of those beyond my reach. I began to think of opportunities and how they could benefit others.

What does it mean to make a difference?

Who knew ten years ago, where life would take me? I remember struggling with the first open door, and when I walked through it appeared to be a gigantic meadow of perfection. Ten years of learning. Ten years of growing, and becoming, and adventuring forth into the unknown.

I’ve been to distant places and found my way home.

I’ve traveled through the darkness alone, and survived.

I’ve lived in the light and been blessed.

God has opened an incredible door… And here I am, looking out into the distance, through that door at the miracles that can be wrought… Wondering. Should I step through the door, or should I hold onto the familiar, as the floor chips away behind me… I step forward to the security of the open door, and the knowledge that God will take me where He wants me to be.

What about you?

What does your future hold?

Share your story below… I want to know.

Without a Clue

woman success

Those days were over…

I’d made my choice and I was totally done. So, there I was waiting for something to happen. Anything. I just wanted to know there was a solution, before I moved forward with anything, I wanted to know where I was going.

Prayer.

For years, that had been my solution, my answer in times of struggle. I would pray and wait until an answer came. Whether it was an answer I found, or came up with through creative thinking, or something that just showed up, as if it were sent down from heaven. I waited.

This time was no different. I was determined to wait until an answer came.

I’d struggled through the events of a day, a week, a month… Had it really been almost a year?

I looked back at the calendar and, yes. It had been just over a year since that night.

I’d walked out and spent the first night in a place I’d probably never see again. I spent the evening staring at the stars through the sky roof in my truck, praying for an answer. I cried. I’d screamed at one point, demanding an answer from God. Silence filled the night, except for traffic on the highway, just out of sight. Sleep drifted in and out of my mind, resting my soul. My heart continued to cry out. Once in fear as a car pulled into sight. I waited, pretending, hoping I was invisible as they turned around in the parking lot and pulled out of another drive.

It was bitter cold. Wind ate through my coat as if it wasn’t there. I felt the darkness surround me, and then I couldn’t feel anything more. It was just dark. Black night of a storm dark. I stood silent on what I remembered as being the hill, I needed a light, a glimpse of something to find my way. The road had disappeared, and I was counting on the reflection of town to guide me, but the reflection on the clouds were gone too. Blackness enveloped me. 

I turned slowly, without moving my feet. I knew if I ever moved them, I’d be lost. Fog had moved in, dark creeping, cold fog. The night mist, I’d heard it called. 

I was too far from the road. I should have waited in the car. I bent down to touch the dirt at my feet. It was soil, the kind that stuck together, muck, gumbo, they called it. If I were near the water, it would be sandy. 

I remembered climbing to get to this place, but I wasn’t sure how I’d know if I were climbing in the fog. I needed to go down the hill, back to my car. But I didn’t know which direction that would be. 

Slowly, I turned facing what I thought was the opposite direction, and took a step. I took several steps, short ones, that didn’t carry me far in any direction, but I kept taking them. 

I blinked twice, looking for something to tell me which way to go, listening. Nothing. I kept walking, slowly, taking small steps. 

Then I felt it… 

Daylight erupted across the prairie in front of me. I stared at the low sliver of light that spread across the horizon, fingering the surface of clouds drifting low across the plains. I was a stranger. But I was safe.

Within a few moments the sliver of light was gone, clouds filled the sky and raindrops splashed against the windshield. A gray day surrounded me and still I waited for an answer to my prayer.

Thus far… There’d been no solution come my way. My mind was blank. I couldn’t even decide which direction to go. Much less, define the next many days.

I was alone.

Faith was all that remained.

This story would continue…