Leading vs. Following

ocean water wave photo

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

From time to time it is a good thing to take oneself aside and have a heart to heart conversation. Having the right conversation is necessary for moving forward. However, it is not always apparent as to what the right conversation is.

This conversation can be with yourself or because (as it has been stated) ‘No man is an island.” It may involve others.

In other words, it can be either a self-check or a selves check.

A self-check can help us make sure we are on the right path. We know as it says in Proverbs 16:9  “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” That doesn’t mean that every step I take is directed by the Lord. They should be directed by the Lord if we’re Christians, but…

As I’ve shared before, back in the day I had MY life planned out. After marriage, I was going to wait two years before we began our family. I would then have two children first a boy, then a girl…

There wasn’t anything wrong with those plans. We got married and began on the right foot and.

In a world of ‘Well, that didn’t work out,” that didn’t work out. The first child was a boy—born nine and a half /ten months after we were married. The second child (girl) turned out to be a boy. Well, life is what it is, and that is what it was. Three years later we decided to have a third child, which turned out to be a boy as well.

The point is in Proverbs 16:9 Are we more interested in the course we’ve charted (A man’s heart deviseth his way:) or in following in the steps God has planned for us? (but the LORD directeth his steps.)

I’m using these scriptures in the writer’s vernacular of writing, outline, critiques, and editing. God’s plan is his outline.

I read a woman’s story of how ‘she rose above the mean-spiritedness of some other women’ who told her she should not wear short shorts when she came in to worship. Those women were mean and hurt her feelings…

Maybe the woman who was unkind in telling her to wear something more modest should have been more tactful and kind. I don’t know, but there was a day when people could figure out for themselves that a woman wearing two pasty spots on their bosom and a tutu for the bottom wasn’t enough outside of their home.

Critique, we all need to endure critiques. Sometimes the criticism is valid, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it does hurt our feelings but weigh the advice. As a writer/critiquer, the advice goes: if one person questions a passage (in your writing), think it over. If two critique partners question it— seriously reconsider what you’ve written, but if there are three or more, just throw it out.

There are many people who want to give you free advice. Weigh it carefully. Free advice can be worth exactly what it costs.

 Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

If you’re a follower of Christ, God wants the best for your life. He wants to transform you to be more like Jesus. But that requires each one of us to let him lead. Back when I had my life all figured out, I didn’t have anything figured out.

I had become a Christian, yes, but I thought I was still in control. Our fourth child (unplanned, but very much loved) was a girl, but by then I could see how my prayers for ‘wisdom and patience’ were being answered. I knew I had enough wisdom and patience.

God added two more children for good measure, and then we asked for one more.

Psalms 139:

1  …O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

3  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

4  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

5  Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

Tips, Tricks, and Talent

I’ve been writing publicly for close to fifteen years now and just published my first book (https://donevywestphalauthor.com/showcase/). Still searching for ways to improve, I keep reading about making my blog great and all sorts of tips and tricks on what readers are looking for.

I first began writing a blog entitled ‘Writing to Heal the Weary Soul’ https://deborawephraim.blogspot.com/, then I went to the Wix site—https://deborawephraim.wixsite.com/ and now I write here on my very own site.

Now, what I have found to be my biggest tip is that writing every day does indeed increase readership. But I have a real wrestle with the following rules. Here are some of those rules or tips and tricks—

Highlight tips and tricks

Tip number one: start with a killer title A subnote here, since I’m writing nearly 365 posts per year, writing 365 killer titles isn’t going to happen from my brain.

Number two: Start your blog post with a gripping first line. Subnote here, that isn’t as difficult as 365 killer titles. That may happen, but sometimes what is gripping to one reader may not be to another.

Highlight tip number three: Share relevant stories from the heart. I like to share stories, and I don’t know any of them not from my heart. The difficult part is giving a story that has a take away that can be recognized.

Number Four: Think “devotion” or “article,” not “diary.” Sometimes I do both. An author’s blog should be able to share the author and the author’s world. This point is difficult for me. I’m a farm wife, a mother, grandmother (or gramme to several), and even a great grandmother. My children have grown and left home, but not my heart. I have grandchildren who have grown and left their homes, but not our hearts. But I don’t share many things on my blog because this blog goes places I don’t want all of my family going. And they are too dear to me.

Highlight tip number five: Don’t write “stiff.” Write as if you are talking to a friend. Most days that’s how I write, yet, when I look at all the ‘rules’ on use fabulous words, unique words, but repeat keywords, and similes and… they all seem to want writers to fit into their box.

Highlight tip number six: If you have written “from the heart,” go back and see if your post follows a hidden outline. After many years of writing, I’ve noticed a tendency toward a conspiracy in my writing to sort of follow a pattern.

Highlight tip number seven: End with a bang—a takeaway that the reader will treasure Note here: Don’t play with dynamite. And those are all tips and tricks to catch the reader.

The Takeaway

The original title comes from a gardening show which was popular a few years back, Tips, Tricks, and Tonics with Jerry Baker; if memory serves me (sometimes it does). Some readers may have followed me long enough to know that I do indeed garden and dabble in herbal tonics, poultices, and various and sundry old fashion housewifery practices, but not lately and not on my author blog.

Talent tips? Each writer has their own voice. I’ve had critics that have been rave reviews and I’ve had reviews that were less than kind. My grandmother used to have a saying, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Others when viewing another person’s choice of a mate have said, there’s no accounting for taste/preference. And talent is a combination of both. To some people, my writing may look like rambling, and to others, it may look like pure genius. Then there is the rest of the world.

Isaiah 42:

9)  Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.

10)  Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

11)  Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. 12)  Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands.