Girls with Gusto: From Giveaways to Community

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You probably know that I’m working on a book called Girls with Gusto. This may give you the mistaken impression that I “have it all figured out.” You may even say to yourself, “She must be the most energetic, spiritual young woman to have come up with such an idea.”

Not true.

Okay, I do like to think of myself as being young, but I struggle with a low energy level, and I don’t often feel (or think) “super spiritually.”

I’m just a Christian. I don’t use the word “just” to mitigate what God has done in my life but to clarify that all of my life is defined by this one characteristic. You could say that I’m saved. I like to think that I’m purchased, that Jesus redeemed my life at a great personal cost.

I am not who I was. I am not yet who I will be.

God is perfecting Himself in me a little more every day, if only I will let Him take control. The alternative is that I could be…well, I could be what I was: self-seeking, self-destructive, confused, frustrated, angry, and useless for the Kingdom. Been there, done that. Now I want to be everything God created me to be. I’m convinced that’s the best, and only, way to live the life He’s given me.

So that’s what the book Girls with Gusto is all about—how to find ourselves in the journey of seeking God. I believe with all my heart that this idea will resonate with other women.

Now I just need to convince publishers.

Enter to Win!

Please share on your social media! #giveaway #bigsisterknows

I’ll be attending a big writers conference next month, and I really need to show publishers that there is an audience for Girls with Gusto. To do this, I’ve developed a giveaway with some pretty cool items:

Register for the drawing today through my Facebook Author Page (at http://gvwy.io/xsq6e8x) and then let your friends and family know about it. The more folks who enter, the better. I’ll pull the winning names at the end of February.

Remember that every time you like, share, or comment, you help me get one step closer to publishing Girls with Gusto—and doesn’t the world need “girls with gusto”?!

Join the Community

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, choosing to be a Girl with Gusto—to pursue the amazing plans God has for us—can be hard at times. Although I’m an introvert at heart, I’ve come to realize that I need a community of believers, especially other women, with whom I can share my thoughts and concerns and get a little advice along the way.

That’s why I just created the Girls with Gusto group in Facebook. If you’re a Christian girl (of any age!) and the idea of a real community appeals to you, please accept this as your official invitation to join the club. (Did you notice the authors listed above, the ones who are donating their books for the giveaway? All three are members of the Girls with Gusto group. How cool is that?)

Whether you’re a girl or a guy, I encourage you to live with gusto!

 

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2 NAS).

4 Surprising Things You Can Expect from a Christian Writers Conference

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The following article was first published on TallyChristianVoice.com, a subsidiary of OneChristianVoice.com. Check them out for faith-based news and lifestyle articles that affect you.


Have you ever had a moment when you knew, with utter clarity, that God was speaking to you?

I had one of those moments in January 2015. I had just finished reading an encouraging email from a Christian blog when I heard God say these words: “I’m going to send you somewhere…and you’re going to go.”

I was so excited! Although I had often dreamed of doing missions work, God had never sent me anywhere before. Figuring He would reveal the details over time, I replied simply, “Okay, Lord. Just let me know where.”

Then I flipped over to Facebook and saw the latest post from Todd Starnes, a writer and journalist with FoxNews. In his feed, he announced that he would be the keynote speaker at the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC) the following month. “I hope to see you there,” he wrote.

So this was where God was sending me! I showed the post to my husband and said, “I think I need to go to this writers conference.” Being the super-supportive guy that he is, he said, “Okay. What’s a writers conference?”

“Um…I’m not really sure.”

 

What to Expect

I had no idea what I was getting into. After weeks of research and preparation, I still felt totally unprepared that week. The good news is that it didn’t matter; I was in the right place at the right time. God used that conference, and the ones to follow, to open doors I had never imagined for myself.

I got to meet Todd Starnes in 2015!

The sad truth is that I would have missed out on all of it if God had not spoken directly to me. Without such clear conviction, I would have drummed up a hundred reasons not to go to that conference, most of which would have centered around my inexperience and fear of failure.

If you’re a writer, you may be mulling over reasons to skip that writers conference. Perhaps you could use the money for something else, or you think you’re doing fine on your own. Or maybe you’re justifying your fear by saying that you need more time to work on your writing project, or you’ll be more prepared next year.

As someone who has now attended three conferences and will be attending two more this year, I can tell you that there’s nothing more beneficial to a writer than going to a conference. To help you understand the benefits, I’ve pulled together this list of four surprising things you can expect to find at a Christian writers conference.

1 – Community

I have a background in business, so I assumed the conferees would act like businessmen and treat each other as competition. Instead, everyone—every single person I met—was excited to share their book ideas, freely dispensed words of experience and advice, and genuinely wanted to help me succeed.

I’ve learned that this camaraderie is a hallmark of the Christian writing world. Since we are Christians first and writers second, we believe we have a responsibility to bless other writers as well as our audience. This community readily accepted me—a wanna-be-writer with no blog or platform—and has supported me in many ways over the years.

2 – Encouragement

If your mom likes your writing, that’s nice. If an award-winning author likes your writing, it’s awesome! I had the opportunity to share my ideas with people who knew the industry, the trade, and the genre I was writing in, and I was immensely grateful for their feedback. Even constructive criticism was music to my ears because it helped me grow as a writer.

After the conference, I realized that I needed year-round encouragement and accountability, so I joined an online critique group through Word Weavers International. In our monthly meetings, we pray for one another, critique each other’s writing, and encourage one another to keep working. I’m so glad the encouragement from the conference can last throughout the whole year!

3 – Education

Education is a key component of any Christian writers conference. There are usually multiple classes going on at the same time, so you can learn more about the topics that are important to you. Whether you want to dig into the craft of writing, the publishing process, or social media, there are plenty of classes to choose from.

By the end of the week, you’ll feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose! The good thing is that you can reference your notes and resources throughout the year.

4 – Opportunities

You may have already figured out that randomly mailing your manuscript to publishing houses probably won’t get you published. Statistically, you’re just one in hundreds of thousands of writers vying for the publisher’s attention. But at writers conferences, the editors and agents come to you!

While every conference has a different process, you can usually schedule time to meet one-on-one with editors and agents so you can pitch your book ideas. You can also sit with them during lunch and dinner, which is a great way to connect on a personal level. No other venue can give you this kind of face time with the very people you need to get published.

 

Where to Go

Maybe God hasn’t told you specifically to attend a writers conference, but has He been urging you to write? Have you felt led to document your story, write a devotional, or start a Bible study? Don’t try to write on your own! Seek the community, encouragement, education, and opportunities that only a Christian writers conference can provide.

Here are four exciting options for you to consider:

 

This year, I plan to attend FCWC, BRMCWC, and the Tallahassee Tour Stop. To quote Todd Starnes, “I hope to see you there.”

 

[Click to Tweet: There’s nothing more beneficial to a writer than going to a conference. #christianwriter #bigsisterknows @TChristianvoice @bigsistertweets]

3 Things Every Christian Should be Prepared For

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The following blog was first seen on KristenHogrefe.com. Thanks so much to Kristen for hosting this and sharing it with her readers! Check out her site for more encouragement and godly challenges!


 

Last week, Florida had its first measurable snow fall in nearly 30 years! Although we only received a tenth of an inch here in Tallahassee, a long section of Interstate 10 was closed for hours, FSU canceled classes, and several schools closed for the day.

Of course, social media was a-buzz as northerners made fun of us for making a big deal out of such a small amount of snow and ice. But the truth is that we weren’t prepared for this kind of weather—and we never are. That’s because the potential for it is too low to justify the expense of preparing for it.

This experience got me thinking about the topic of preparation, and I wondered what the Bible said about spiritual preparation. After a little research, I found the following three things that every Christian should be prepared for.

 

1 – Prepare to see Jesus. 

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7 NAS).

We may witness the Second Coming of Jesus, or we may pass on to Heaven before He returns. Either way, we will see Jesus face to face one day!

So, how do we get ready to meet our Savior? Through “sanctification,” which is the process of becoming holy. In his best-selling book, The Pursuit of Holiness, author Jerry Bridges states that “Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.” This is something we must do, not something that is done to us. (See Ephesians 4:20-24 and 1 Peter 1:14-16.)

Here are four ways we can pursue holiness in our lives:

  • Know God’s Word. Meditate on it and commit as much to memory as we can. (Psalm 119:15-16).
  • Focus on Jesus and everything else will fall into place. (1 Peter 1:13 NAS).
  • Do good deeds with a sincere heart. (1 Timothy 6:18 NAS).
  • Stand firm against evil but prepare for peace. (Ephesians 6:14-16 NAS). 

 [Click to Tweet: Are you ready to meet Jesus face to face? #faith #bigsisterknows]

 

2 – Prepare to pay the cost.

In The Cost of Discipleship, author Dietrich Bonhoeffer states that true grace “is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life…Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son…and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.”

As followers of Jesus, we must walk in godly discipline. Here are a few ways we can prepare ourselves to pay the cost of our discipleship.

  • Be disciplined. (Hebrews 12:4-7)
  • Carry our individual crosses. (Luke 14:27)
  • Commit all that we have to the Lord. (Luke 14:33)
  • Trust in God and do not fear (1 Peter 3:14-15)

[Click to Tweet: True grace is costly because it cost God the life of his Son. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer #grace #quote #bigsisterknows]

 

[Click to Tweet: What has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer #grace #quote #bigsisterknows]

 

3 – Prepare to share the Gospel.

It is not enough that we believe in Jesus; we must also introduce others to Him. Regardless of your calling or your role in the church, make sure you are willing and able to share the Gospel and to mentor other believers in your sphere of influence. 

“I solemnly charge you…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:1-2 NAS).

[Click to Tweet: It is not enough that we believe in Jesus; we must also introduce others to Him. #crosslife #bigsisterknows]

 

Resolve to Prepare

It rarely snows in Florida, so it makes sense that we would be less prepared than northern states.

But as Christians, being unprepared doesn’t make any sense at all. If we truly love the Lord, why wouldn’t we want to draw close to Him, to be like Him, and to introduce others to Him?

If this list seems daunting, though, don’t worry! The first step is to write down the Scriptures so you can study and meditate on them throughout the year. You may also want to check out The Pursuit of Holiness and The Cost of Discipleship referenced above.

As always, ask for God’s help and guidance. You can pray something simple like this:

“Father God, you said that I should make myself ready for your return, to pay the cost of discipleship, and to share the Gospel. Please soften my heart and harden my resolve that I would be prepared for all the wonderful things you want to accomplish in my life and through it. Let everything I do glorify You. In the name of Jesus, who was and is and is to come. Amen.”

[Click to Tweet: As Christians, being unprepared doesn’t make any sense at all. #crosslife #bigsisterknows]

Are you resolved to prepare yourself spiritually? What methods or tools are you using to help you get started and stay on track?